Appearance & Pleas

Initial Appearance

  • The Initial Appearance is the date your citation or summons states you must or may appear.
  • At the Initial Appearance, the defendant enters a plea.The only cases that will be heard at the Initial Appearance, are those cases where the defendant enters a "Guilty" or "No Contest" plea.
  • When the defendant enters a "Not Guilty" plea, the case will be heard at the Pre-Trial, later that evening.
  • A Pre-Trial is a conference between the judge, defendant and the Municipality's Attorney, in which the parties try to resolve the matter.If the matter cannot be resolved, a Trial date is then scheduled.
  • At the Trial, the municipality's attorney and witnesses will be present. You should also have your witnesses present at that time.
  • If you are cited for a violation of Operating While Intoxicated and plead "Not Guilty", you may request a Jury Trial before the Portage County Circuit Court.
  • A timely written request and payment of the required jury fees must be made within ten (10) days of the Initial Appearance.


  • If you plead "Guilty" it is an admission of the charges against you.
  • A plea of "No Contest" is similar to a plea of Guilty and the Court will treat it the same as a Guilty plea.However, you will not be admitting your civil liability for use in other litigation, which should be expected where personal injury or property damage is involved.
  • If you plead "Not Guilty," it means that you feel that the charge against you is not correct.If you are in doubt as to which plea to enter, you should plead "Not Guilty" or ask for an adjournment so you can review your case and make an intelligent plea at the adjourned date.
  • If you plead "Not Guilty," the municipality must prove your guilt by "clear and convincing evidence."In short, the facts proven by the municipality must indicate that it is highly probable that you committed the ordinance violation.
  • The law provides that you may enter a plea of "Not Guilty" by mail or FAX if you choose to do so.This plea must be in writing and be accompanied by your current address and Citation number.
  • You must keep the Court informed of your correct mailing address.Your failure to appear for your scheduled Initial Appearance date, Pre-Trial conference, or Trial will result in a "Guilty-by-Default" judgment entered by the Court.