If you are a defendant that is appearing at Yuma Municipal Court for an arraignment, we understand that you may have many questions about what to expect. Once you have gone through the security process, the court officers will hand you a form entitled "Notice As To Arraignments, Pretrials, Trials and Sentencings". The information on the form is also listed below for your convenience.
Note: This information is important to you. It will answer many of your questions, so please read it carefully. If you do not understand or have questions, you may ask the judge.
- Arraignment: The purpose of an arraignment is to inform you, the defendant, of the charge[s] against you, to provide you with a copy of the charges, to answer any questions you might have, to have you enter a plea to the charge[s], to set a date for your pretrial conference and trial or to sentence you. You have a right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. In some cases the defendant may be eligible for a court-appointed attorney at a reduced cost or at no cost, if the defendant cannot afford one.
- Your Plea: When you are called to stand before the judge you will be required to enter a plea as follows:
You Give Up Your Constitutional Rights By Pleading Guilty or No Contest: You give up your right to a trial, your right to the assistance of an attorney at all stages of the proceedings, including appeal. In some cases the defendant may be eligible for a court-appointed attorney at a reduced cost or at no cost, if the defendant cannot afford one. You give up your right to confront the witnesses and to cross-examine them, your right to present evidence on your own behalf, the right to have subpoenas issued to compel witnesses of your choosing to appear and testify, your right to remain silent and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, by pleading guilty or no contest you give up the right to appeal, but may seek review by filing for post-conviction relief. Your plea must be free and voluntary and not the result of any force, threats, or promises (except a plea agreement, if any).
- Guilty: A plea of guilty means that you are admitting that you did what the state accuses you of doing. It will result in a conviction for the charge[s].
- No Contest: A plea of no contest means that you are not admitting guilt and not denying it. You are saying that you do not intend to contest the charge[s]. In this case, the judge will find you guilty of the charge[s]. It will result in a conviction for the charge[s] and the provisions under "Guilty" above apply.
- Not Guilty: A plea of not guilty means that you are denying the charge[s] and are demanding that the state prove them at trial "beyond a reasonable doubt".
- IF ARRESTED ON A SUBSEQUENT OFFENSE, DEFENDANTS THAT PLEAD GUILTY OR NO CONTEST MAY BE CHARGED WITH A MORE SERIOUS OFFENSE AND ASSOCIATED PENALTIES. DEFENDANT IS ADVISED THAT A GUILTY OR NO CONTEST PLEA MAY RESULT IN A VIOLATION OF PROBATION OR PAROLE, IF APPLICABLE AND/OR THE RECHARGING OF A COMPLAINT THAT HAS BEEN DEFERRED.
If You Are Not A Citizen: Pleading guilty or no contest may affect your immigration status. Admitting guilt may result in deportation, even if the charge is later dismissed. The admission of guilt could result in your deportation or removal, could prevent you from being able to get legal status, or from becoming a U.S. citizen.
Sentencing: If you plead guilty or no contest or are found guilty/responsible (civil cases) after a trial, the judge will sentence you. The sentence will usually be pronounced right after you enter your plea or at the conclusion of the trial resulting in your being found guilty/responsible.
If You Plead Not Guilty: You should plead not guilty if you wish to contest the charges and have a trial. You should also plead not guilty if you are not sure what to do, or if you are confused, or if you want to think about it further. A plea of not guilty has the effect of keeping your options open. You can later decide to change your plea to guilty or no contest if you wish. If you plead not guilty you may be able to have an immediate pretrial conference with the City Prosecutor to try to settle your case.
* THERE IS NO PENALTY FOR PLEADING NOT GUILTY, YOUR SENTENCE WILL NOT BE MORE SEVERE NOR LESS SEVERE BASED MERELY ON WHAT YOU PLEAD.
Mandatory Pretrial Conference: You MUST attend the pretrial conference with the City Prosecutor if one has been set in your case. You will receive a copy of the form entitled "NOTICE TO DEFENDANT OF COURT ORDERED MANDATORY ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENT AT A PRETRIAL CONFERENCE". It will normally be stapled to your copy of the form entitled "DETERMINATION OF RELEASE CONDITIONS AND RELEASE ORDER". It will have the date, time and location of the pretrial conference and will explain its purpose. Although you must attend (appear) you do not have to discuss your case with the prosecutor if you do not want to.
If You Are Representing Yourself At Trial: You will receive from the court at your arraignment or if your case is a civil or criminal traffic offense, from the clerk of the court when your trial date is set, a form entitled "NOTICE AS TO PROCEDURES FOR TRIAL". This document will explain the procedures that will be followed at your trial.