What to Expect

Your First Appearance in Court  

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

The judge will call your name and you will then walk up to the podium in front of the judge. You will discuss your case with the judge who will help you understand what charges have been filed against you in your case.

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.

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.

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.

If you need more time to speak with a private attorney, the judge will discuss that with you in court. If you want to go forward with 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:

“Not guilty”


“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 that day.  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 that day.

“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.

Information Regarding Court Costs

If you are found guilty after a plea or a trial, the judge will normally impose a fine amount plus “court costs.” “Court costs” is a term that includes a variety of fixed fees which are attached to every case that is filed with the court. 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.

Court costs can typically add $125 or more to your total amount owed. 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.  The exact amount of your court costs depend upon the outcome of your criminal or traffic charges in court. You may also have additional costs that have been added during the case, such as witness fees, subpoena fees, warrant fees, etc.

Here is an example: The judge sentences you to pay a $50 fine plus court costs. When you go to the Clerk’s Office to pay, you are told that the total is $175. That is the $50 fine plus the $125 in court costs.

Points On Your License

The Court is required to report the results of its findings to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Most moving violations are two points. 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. 

The BMV sends out warning letters when six points are accumulated on a driving record within a two-year period. The warning letter lists the violations with the number of points for each. The BMV mails the letter to the address they have on file so be sure that they have your correct mailing address. Please reach out to the BMV for further information regarding points on your license.

Finally, in addition to points being added to your license, the judge has the authority to suspend your privilege to drive in certain types of cases. In some cases the judge is required to include a driver’s license suspension as part of your sentence. Please click here to read about the Court’s policy on obtaining driving privileges while under a court suspension.