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The Court Process

There are several steps in the judicial process. The first step after being arrested is the arraignment. You will be asked to appear in court for the first time within 48 hours of the arrest. The primary function of the arraignment is to enter a plea. This is not the time to tell the judge your story. If you are given a citation, as opposed to actually being taken into custody, your arraignment may be some time further in the future. If you are not sure of your court date you can find out by calling the Clerk of Courts, or coming in to see the attorneys at Student Legal Services.

The following information is provided to give you information about the arraignment process.


When: The time and date for your arraignment will be listed on the citation. The actual time appearing before the judge will be 5–10 minutes. Be sure to allow at least 1–2 hours for the whole process.

Where : The Fairborn Municipal Courthouse is located at 1148 Kauffman Avenue. That is in the plaza behind the Cadillac Jack's on Kauffman. Directions to other local courthouses can be obtained from SLS.

What Happens : When you first arrive you will need to present your citation to the municipal clerk's office. They will file the citation and present you with a copy before you enter the court room. Then you will be asked to wait in the court room until the judge calls your name. When your name is called, approach the court standing where indicated. The judge will ask you if you understand the charges. The judge will then read the charges and ask you to enter a plea. At this point, one of two things can happen: 1) Not Guilty - A later court date is set, or 2) Guilty or No Contest - Judge pronounces sentence.

Entering a Plea
By Pleading "Not Guilty" you have time to explore your options and seek council. IF YOU ARE NOT SURE OR DON'T KNOW, PLEAD NOT GUILTY. The judge will set a later court date for you to appear. This provides time for you to seek council or ask for a public defender, if you meet certain financial requirements. Student Legal Services is available to answer any questions you might have. This also provides time to deal with individual circumstances and finding possible defenses.

By pleading "guilty" or "no contest," your options are limited. The judge will review the police officer's report and any additional comments. Then you will have the opportunity to make a statement before the court. Once the judge has heard your statement and read the police report, he/she will render his/her sentence. Remember that you are pleading guilty and he/she can impose the maximum sentence.

Different Pleas

Not Guilty
A "not guilty" plea means that you do not want to give up any of your constitutional rights at this time and the trial will be scheduled for a later date. At this trial, the prosecution will have to prove you are guilty as to each and every element of the offense charged against you beyond a reasonable doubt. You will be able to subpoena witness in your defense at the trial.

No Contest
A "no contest" plea does not admit your guilt, but does admit the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint against you. Both you and the prosecutor will be permitted to make statements and then you will be found either guilty or not guilty depending on the evidence. If the facts which you do not dispute meet all the elements of the offense which you are charged with, the judge will find you guilty and you will be sentenced. If you enter a "no contest" plea it cannot be used against you in a later civil or criminal case.

A "guilty plea" is a complete admission of your guilt as to the charge(s) against you. You will be permitted to make a statement explaining any justification before the judge imposes the sentence.

There are several levels of misdemeanor offenses and each carries with it a different maximum fine and possible jail time. The misdemeanor that is committed will correspond with one of the following categories. (See Chart) If you are found guilty, the Judge can give the maximum sentence. The Judge also has the right to suspend or add any condition to the sentence, such as community service or being a law abiding citizen for one or more years.


Possible Jail


1st Degree

Six Months


2nd Degree

90 Days


3rd Degree

60 Days


4th Degree

30 Days


Minor Misdemeanor

No Jail


In determining your sentence, the court will consider the following: your prior criminal record; the risk that you will commit another offense; the nature and circumstances of the current offense (i.e., violence vs. no violence); and statements made by any victim. Possible penalties that can be meted out by the court are fines, community service, probation, house arrest, jail, or some combination of all of these sanctions.

Your Rights as a Defendant
As a defendant in a criminal or traffic case you have several rights in court.

  1. The right to an attorney and a reasonable continuance to obtain the services of an attorney. If you are unemployed and/or cannot afford an attorney, the court may appoint an attorney for you if the offense carries any jail time.

  2. The right to know the nature of the charge(s) against you, identity of the complaint(s), and the right to read the complaint.

  3. The right to remain silent to the charge(s) against you. You also have the right to testify for yourself or tell the court of any fact or circumstances that the court should know about. However, anything you do say regarding the charges may be used against you.

  4. The right to a jury trial of eight people on any charge where jail time is possible.
  5. The right to a speedy trial.

  6. The right to cross-examine any witness who is called to testify against you.

It is likely that a conviction for a minor misdemeanor offense will not affect your employment prospects; however, it is our understanding that a report is made of these convictions to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), therefore it still may be in your best interests to expunge the charge.  Additionally, if the minor misdemeanor was for marijuana possession, you may want to expunge it because it would make you ineligible for federally subsidized student loans. If you are convicted of any misdemeanor, you must wait at least one year from your final discharge to apply for an expungement order. You will need to do something to make this happen. Expungements do not happen automatically. You can only expunge your first offense! Fore more information, check out our expungement section.

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Last updated: Fri. Nov-17-06, 10:58
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