Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. On a plea of not guilty, a formal trial is held. As in all criminal trials, the State is required to prove the guilt of the defendant "beyond a reasonable doubt" of the offense charged in the complaint before a defendant can be found guilty by a judge or jury.
Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. Please consider each plea carefully before making a decision. If you plead guilty or nolo contendere in open court, you should be prepared to pay the fine and court costs. You should contact the court regarding how to make payment.
Plea of Guilty
By a plea of guilty, you admit that the act is prohibited by law, that you committed the act charged, and that you have no defense or excuse for your act. Before entering your plea of guilty, however, you should understand the following:
The State has the burden of proving that you violated the law (the law does not require that you prove you did not violate the law)
You have the right to hear the State's evidence and to require the State to prove you violated the law.
A plea of guilty may be used against you later in a civil suit if there was a traffic accident (another party can say you were at fault or responsible for the accident because you pled guilty to the traffic charge).
Find out more information about Plea of Guilty (PDF)
Plea of Nolo Contendere (No Contest)
A plea of nolo contendere means that you do not contest the State's charge against you. You will almost certainly be found guilty unless you are eligible and successfully complete a driving safety course and/or court-ordered deferred disposition (probation). Also, a plea of nolo contendere cannot be used against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages.
Find out more information about Plea of No Contest (PDF).
Plea of Not Guilty
A plea of not guilty means that you are informing the court that you deny guilt or that you have a defense in your case, and that the State must prove what it has charged against you.
If you plead not guilty, you will need to decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you. If you represent yourself, the following section on the Trial will help you to understand the trial procedure.
Learn more about Plea of Not Guilty (PDF).
In limited circumstances, if you are entering a plea of guilty or no contest, you may be eligible for a deferred disposition (probation) of your citation if your request is made on or before your answer date.
To be considered for deferred disposition, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements. Failure to meet all eligibility requirements or to fully complete the application process will result in the denial of your request and may result in the entry of a judgment against you.
Deferred disposition is not a right but is a privilege offered at the sole discretion of the court. Applying for a deferred disposition of your case does not guarantee that deferred disposition will be granted. The court will review each application on a case-by-case basis. You are responsible for following up on your request for deferred disposition and making sure your charges are timely answered.
If deferred disposition is granted and you comply with all terms of the deferred disposition order, the charges will be dismissed at the end of the deferral period and no final conviction will be entered against you on that charge. The deferral period can be up to 180 days.
Stay informed about the Application for Deferred Disposition (PDF).