Entering A Plea – What Are Your Options?
Entering a plea.
Your first appearance is called an arraignment. At this hearing the judge is seeking to determine how your case will proceed. When your case is called in court you will be required to enter one of the following:
- GUILTY – If you feel you are guilty. The matter will be disposed of and the court may proceed to sentencing immediately.
- NOT GUILTY – If you feel you are not guilty or if you are in doubt. If you enter a plea of not guilty your case will then be continued to a later date for trial or other disposition.
- NO CONTEST – Generally used in accident cases. You give up the hearsay rule and allow the Court to make a finding of “guilty” or “not guilty” from the papers in your case and any comment you might have.
Make sure that you understand the ramifications of your actions. It is always advisable that you speak to an attorney prior to making a decision about your case.
The following rights are guaranteed to you by the Constitution of the United States and the Ohio Constitution. Understanding these rights is vital as your decision may be irrevocable.
- To proclaim your innocence or your guilt by stating that you are “guilty” or “not guilty.”
- To enter a plea of “no contest” and allow the Judge to make a finding of “guilty” or “not guilty” from the facts in your case.
- To have your own attorney or, in certain cases, the public defender represent you.
- To be granted a continuance to allow you to get an attorney and prepare a proper defense.
- To demand a jury trial in certain cases by filing a written jury demand.
- To subpoena witnesses to testify for or on your behalf. This subpoena requires them to appear at trial.
- To testify or not to testify on your own behalf. You alone make this decision. No one can require you to testify.
We see many people who decide not to hire an attorney. They want to “get it over with.” Sometimes this has dire consequences not just for the immediate case, but for any future case. Entering a plea to an OVI can have consequences in ways you do not anticipate.