The initial court appearance date will be an arraignment. You are given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. Pleas of not guilty are set to a trial date.
Arraignment consists of calling the defendant by name, reading the charge, and the defendant entering a plea of guilty or not guilty.
Pleas of not guilty will be set to a trial date. You will not have an opportunity to present any defenses, facts or evidence at arraignment. For DUI and misdemeanors, you may be appointed an attorney if the judge determines that you are indigent (financially unable to employ counsel).
The City Prosecutor is not present for arraignments.
Cases disposed of at arraignment are those cases in which a plea of guilty is entered and fine/costs are paid without the option of talking to the Prosecutor. Payment in full is required at this time. If you are not able to pay in full, you may qualify for probation.
In cases set for trial, both the City Prosecutor and the defendant are present. Alabama law requires that all trials in Municipal Court be handled by a judge, not a jury. If you are found guilty and wish to appeal the decision, you have the right to file a Notice of Appeal for a trial in Circuit Court.
Typical Trial Procedure
The case is called before the Judge.
The defendant is informed of his/her charges.
Testimony is given and witnesses are questioned.
Evidence is presented.
Judge makes a ruling.
If not guilty; the defendant is released, and no fines or costs are assessed.
If found guilty; fines, costs, sentence and conditions are imposed as ordered by the Judge.
A defendant found guilty in Municipal Court has the right to appeal the decision. The Judge will advise a convicted person of the right to appeal. A written Notice of Appeal must be filed with the Municipal Court within 14 days of the conviction date.
The Judge will set the appeal bond amount. After the appeal is perfected, it is then transferred to Circuit Court for the county in which the offense occurred.