Your First Appearance in Court

When you appear before the Judge for the first time on a new case:

  1. The Judge will call your name and you will then walk up to the podium in front of the Judge.
  2. You will discuss your case with the Judge.  The Judge will help you understand what charges have been filed against you in your case.
  3. One of the questions the Judge will ask you is whether or not you are going to hire an attorney to help you with your case.
  4. If you are charged with any offense that could result in a jail sentence, you have a right to have an attorney help you with your case.  If you cannot afford an attorney, the Montgomery County Public Defender's Office may be able to represent you.  The Judge will give you time to talk with the Public Defender's Office to see if their licensed attorneys can represent you.
  5. If you are charged with an offense that cannot result in a jail sentence, you still have the right to hire a private attorney to help you with your case.  However, the Public Defender's Office cannot be your attorney in this type of case.
  6. If you need more time to speak with a private attorney, the Judge will discuss that with you in court.
  7. If you want to go forward on your case, without an attorney, the Judge will ask you to enter a plea.  Under Ohio law, you can "plead" one of these three pleas:
    • I plead "Not guilty"
    • I plead "Guilty"
    • I plead "No contest"

Here is a summary of what each plea means:

  • "Not Guilty" means that you do not admit to the charge(s).
    • If you plead "Not Guilty" then your case will be set for a Trial.  You will select the date and time for your trial before you leave court today.  You will be given a printed copy of your trial date and time.  Please be sure to be at Court on time for your trial.
    • You should bring your witnesses with you on the date of your trial.  If you have pictures or papers that you want to use at your trial, you should bring those with you also. 
  • "Guilty" means that you admit to the charge(s).
    • The Judge will find you guilty and impose sentence.  In most cases this means your case will be done today.
  • "No Contest" means that you are not admitting to the charge(s), but you also do not dispute the paperwork which has been provided to the Judge by the Police or Prosecutor.
    • A plea of "No Contest" cannot be used against you as an admission of your guilt in any future civil or criminal case.
    • However, when you plead "No Contest," that means that you are willing to let the Judge decide your case without a trial.
    • The Judge can find you "Guilty" if all the paperwork is in order.  If you are found guilty, the Judge will then impose sentence.  In most cases, this means your case will be finished that day in front of the Judge.


On a plea or finding of guilty, the Court will normally impose a fine and court costs. You are charged court costs even if you are cited for a “waiverable” offense which allows you to waive your appearance in Court and pay a fine through the Violations Bureau at the Clerk’s Office window without appearing before the Judge.

In addition to these costs, your sentence may include a monetary fine amount and a term of probation or jail time, depending on the facts of your case.

Points On Your License

The Court is required to report the results of its findings to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  If you have accumulated twelve (12) or more points within the previous two years, your license is subject to a suspension by the State of Ohio for a period of six (6) months. The Judge has the authority to suspend your privilege to drive in certain types of cases, and in some cases the Judge is required to include a driver's license suspension as part of your sentence.