The law requires that you appear in court to enter a plea on your case. If you were issued a citation, you must appear the 10th day of receipt of the citation. Your initial appearance may be in-person or by your attorney appearing in person at the court. The purpose of your initial appearance is to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or nolo contendere) and to advise the court as to the type of trial (jury or non-jury) that you want if you are pleading not guilty.
If you have been released on bond, your appearance date is set on the bond.
If you waive a jury trial and plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest), you may talk to the judge about extenuating circumstances that you want the judge to consider when setting your fine, but the judge is not required to reduce your fine.
If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a trial. If you waive your right to a Jury Trial, the trial will be before a Judge.
When you make your appearance by mail, your envelope must be postmarked on or before the 14th day after you received your citation. If you plead guilty or no contest, you must include a waiver of jury trial. If you plead not guilty, the court will send you a notice setting the date of your pre trial hearing.
Failure to Appear
If you fail to appear in person, by mail, or fax by the 10th day after the date you received your citation or summons, or if you subsequently fail to appear for a pre-trial or trial setting, you can be charged with an additional offense of “Violation of Promise to Appear” or “Failure to Appear” and a warrant for your arrest will be issued.
The offenses of Violation of Promise to Appear” and “Failure to Appear” carry with them additional court costs, fees, and fines. Your failure to resolve your offenses will result in reports being made to the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Transportation and Shelby County. You may be denied your right to renew your driver’s license or to register a vehicle in your name.