Q: I am unable to appear for my arraignment on the date that I was given. Can I reschedule it?
A: Ultimately, it is up to the Judge to grant requests for continuances on a hearing. However, the Judge generally only grants those requests that involve medical emergencies. Such requests, must be done in writing and should be mailed or faxed to the Judge’s attention.
Q: I wasn’t able to complete my sentencing requirements by the deadline. Am I in trouble?
A: Your sentence is a court order. As a part of your sentencing, you were ordered to complete specific things. Such things may have included, paying fines by specific dates, completing domestic violence counseling, completing a DUI course, or completing community service. Each item had a deadline. If you fail to complete a requirement by the deadline, you could be held in contempt of court.
The Judge does allow his clerks to give one time extensions on specific sentencing requirements. If a clerk is unable to give you an extension on a certain sentencing requirement, you may request a Status Hearing to discuss the matter with the Judge. Ignoring the deadlines will ultimately result in the issuance of a Bench Warrant for your arrest. The very best thing you can do is stay in contact with the court.
Q: What is an Arraignment?
A: The defendant’s first appearance in court will normally be the arraignment. A first appearance shall be conducted within 48 hours of arrest if the defendant is still in jail. If the defendant has been released on his own recognizance or has posted a bond or cash bail, the arraignment will occur within a short time period after the defendant’s release from jail.
At the arraignment, the defendant is informed of the charges against him and he/she is asked to enter a plea. The plea may be one of not guilty, guilty, or no contest. If the defendant enters a plea of guilty or no contest (nolo contendere), the judge may, in most circumstances, impose sentence immediately. If the defendant enters a plea of not guilty, the matter is set for trial within 60 days of the arraignment date.
Prior to entering a plea, the defendant is also informed of his constitutional rights, involving the following:
- I understand that I have the following constitutional rights at the time of my arraignment:
- I may plead guilty, Nolo Contendere, or Not Guilty to the offense(s) with which I am charged. If I plead Guilty or Nolo Contendere, I give up the right listed below. If I plead Not Guilty I will be given a court date for trial.
- I have the right to a speedy trial within sixty (60) days from the date of my arraignment.
- At trial I have the right to make the City/State (prosecutor) prove the charge(s) against me beyond a reasonable doubt.
- To do this, the City is required to call witnesses. I have the right to confront and cross-examine those witnesses.
- I also have the right to use the subpoena power of this Court to Bring in witnesses to testify in my own behalf.
- I have the right to remain silent at trial and not incriminate myself. I do not have to make any statement, nor do I have to testify.
- I have the right to be represented by an attorney, and if I am charged with an offense for which I face possible jail time, I have the right to be represented by a court appointed attorney if I cannot afford to hire my own attorney.
- I understand that the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is up to six (6) months in the Elko County Jail and a fine up to $1000.00.
- I have the right to appeal the judgment. I understand that I must file the appeal within ten (10) days of judgment.
Q: What is the difference between pleas of not guilty, guilty, and nolo contendere (no contest)?
A: A not guilty plea means that the defendant asserts that he/she did not commit the offense and he/she demands a trial. A guilty plea means that the defendant admits committing the offense. A plea of nolo contendere (no contest) means that while the defendant does not admit the allegations in the citation or complaint, he/she does not deny them either. The defendant does not contest the charge and he/she is subject to the same sanctions or penalty as he/she had pled guilty. A defendant does not make an admission of guilt when he/she pleads nolo contendere.
Q: Can I speak to the Judge in an attempt to resolve the matter?
A: An ex-pa rte (direct) communication between the defendant and the Judge is improper and prohibited by law. In fact, lawyers themselves are prohibited from ex-pa rte communications with a Judge without proper notice to the adverse party (i.e. both parties must be present when meeting with the Judge to avoid both the appearance and reality of improper influence).
However, if you would like to address an issue regarding your case (i.e. motion to continue, request for legal defender), you may file a motion with the court clerk.
Q: Do I need an attorney to represent me?
A: This is ultimately a question that you alone must answer. You have a constitutional right to have an attorney represent you in a criminal matter. However, you are not entitled to an attorney at government expense unless you are subject to a jail term. In most circumstances, it would not be necessary to retain a attorney for cases such as simple traffic matters. However, due to the potential serious consequences associated with offenses such as DUI and Domestic Battery it may be advisable to secure an attorney to assist you. As stated previously, ultimately this is a personal decision that you alone should make.
You have the right to represent yourself in any proceeding. However, self-representation is almost always unwise. The City/State will be represented by an experienced prosecutor who is a trained attorney. You will be expected to know and follow the rules of procedure and evidence, as well as the proper method of asking questions. Also, remember that the Judge is not allowed to help you. Your decision to represent yourself may well affect your case adversely. The Court strongly recommends that you retain an attorney to represent you.
Q: Do I qualify for the services of a court appointed lawyer?
A: The court provides a form application for the services of a court appointed lawyer to all defendants who state that they cannot afford an attorney. Once the application is completed, the Judge will review it and determine, based upon your financial situation, whether to appoint a legal defender to represent you.
Q: Can I attend traffic school as a means of having my citation amended or to reduce the points on my driver’s license?
A: All traffic violations are reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles. We do not offer a Traffic School. However, please check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles, as they may offer a course that may reduce the total number of points on your record.
Q: Can I make payments on my fine or must I pay the full amount?
A: Yes. Generally, payment plans must be requested at the time of your sentencing. If you are requesting a payment plan on a traffic citation, a clerk can help you establish the payment plan. Generally, you must make payments of $100.00 per month. However, in exceptional circumstances, you may explain your financial situation to the Judge. Community Service may be performed in lieu of the fine, if approved by the court.
Q: What will happen if I fail to appear for court?
A: If you fail to appear for any scheduled court appearance the Judge may order a bench warrant for your arrest. The Judge that signs the bench warrant will determine whether a cash bail or bond amount is to be set.
If you fail to appear and the Judge issues a bench warrant, you must do one of the following:
- Post bail or bond and schedule a new court appearance date.
- Turn yourself in at the Elko County Jail.
- File a motion with the Court seeking to quash the warrant or to reduce the amount of bail or bond.