Biggest Little City

Getting Ready for Your Court Visit

Where is the court located?
The Court is located at One South Sierra Street in Downtown Reno.

Where can I park?
Parking is extremely limited around the courthouse and therefore extra time should be allowed to secure parking. Additionally, please allow an extra 10 to 15 minutes to pass through the court security system.

What if I need special accommodations for my disability?
Any persons with disabilities who require special accommodations or assistance should notify the Reno Municipal Court Security at 775-334-2464 prior to the date of their hearing.

Where can I find information on my charge(s)?
The Court highly recommends that you obtain a copy of the Reno Municipal Code or Nevada Revised Statute under which you were charged.

Do I have to appear in court?
If your violation requires a mandatory appearance, or you are at fault in a traffic accident, you must appear in court. If you wish to contest any charge you can appear at the date and time listed on your citation. If your violation does not require a mandatory appearance, you can pay your fine using one of several options.

What should I expect from the security screening process?
Providing a safe environment at the Reno Municipal Court is considered a high priority. Visitors to the court are required to enter through a metal detector and all briefcases, backpacks, purses, etc. will go through an X-ray machine. All weapons such as mace, knives, guns, and any other object that could be construed as a dangerous weapon (i.e., small hand tools such as screwdrivers) will be confiscated and retained by court security personnel until the individual exits the building. Surveillance cameras are mounted at various locations around and throughout the courthouse.

Court security is comprised of court security officers who are supervised by the Chief Marshal. The courtrooms are protected by marshals who are trained police officers. Any questions or concerns regarding court security should be directed to Chief Marshal at 775-334-2464.

Do I need an attorney to represent me in court?
This is ultimately a question that you alone must answer.  You have the constitutional right to represent yourself in any criminal proceeding in the Reno Municipal Court.  In most circumstances, it would not be necessary to retain an attorney for cases such as simple traffic matters.  However, due to the potential serious consequences associated with offenses such as DUI or Domestic Battery, it may be advisable to secure an attorney to assist you.

The City will be represented by an experienced prosecutor who is a trained attorney. You will be expected to know and follow the rules of procedure and evidence, as well as the proper method of asking questions. Also, remember that the Judge is not allowed to help you. Your decision to represent yourself may well affect your case adversely. The Court strongly recommends that you retain an attorney to represent you.

Do I qualify for the services of a court appointed lawyer?
The Reno Municipal Court provides an application for the services of a court appointed lawyer to all defendants who state that they cannot afford an attorney. Once the application is completed, the Judge will review it and determine, based upon your financial situation, whether to appoint a legal defender to represent you.

Can I speak to the Judge in an attempt to resolve my case?
An ex-parte (direct) communication between the defendant and the Judge is improper and prohibited by law. In fact, lawyers themselves are prohibited from ex-parte communications with a Judge without proper notice to the adverse party (i.e. both parties must be present when meeting with the Judge to avoid both the appearance and reality of improper influence).  However, if you would like to address an issue regarding your case (i.e. motion to continue, request for legal defender), you may file a motion with the court clerk.

What is an arraignment?
The defendant's first appearance in court will normally be the arraignment. An arraignment shall be conducted within 48 hours of arrest if the defendant is still in jail. If the defendant has been released on his own recognizance or has posted a bond or cash bail, the arraignment will occur within a short time period after the defendant's release from jail.

At the arraignment, the defendant is informed of the charges against him and he/she is asked to enter a plea. The plea may be one of not guilty, guilty, or no contest. If the defendant enters a plea of guilty or no contest (nolo contendere), the judge may, in most circumstances, impose sentence immediately. If the defendant enters a plea of not guilty, the matter is set for trial within 60 days of the arraignment date. Prior to entering a plea, the defendant is also informed of his constitutional rights, involving the following:

I understand that I have the following constitutional rights at the time of my arraignment in Reno Municipal Court:

  1. I may plead Guilty, Nolo Contendere, or Not Guilty to the offense(s) with which I am charged. If I plead Guilty or Nolo Contendere, I give up the right listed below. If I plead Not Guilty I will be given a court date for trial.
  2. I have the right to a speedy trial within sixty (60) days from the date of my arraignment.
  3. At trial I have the right to make the City (prosecutor) prove the charge(s) against me beyond a reasonable doubt.
  4. To do this, the City is required to call witnesses. I have the right to confront and cross-examine those witnesses.
  5. I also have the right to use the subpoena power of this Court to bring in witnesses to testify in my own behalf.
  6. I have the right to remain silent at trial and not incriminate myself. I do not have to make any statement, nor do I have to testify.
  7. I have the right to be represented by an attorney, and if I am charged with an offense for which I face possible jail time, I have the right to be represented by a court appointed attorney if I cannot afford to hire my own attorney.
  8. I understand that the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is up to six (6) months in the Washoe County Jail and a fine up to $1,000.
  9. I have the right to appeal any judgment of the Reno Municipal Court. I understand that I must file the appeal within ten (10) days of judgment.

What is the difference between pleas of not guilty, guilty, and nolo contendere (no contest)?
A not guilty plea means that the defendant asserts that he/she did not commit the offense and he/she demands a trial. A guilty plea means that the defendant admits committing the offense. A plea of nolo contendere (no contest) means that while the defendant does not admit the allegations in the citation or complaint, he/she does not deny them either. The defendant does not contest the charge and he/she is subject to the same sanctions or penalty as he/she had pled guilty. A defendant does not make an admission of guilt when he/she pleads nolo contendere.

How can I get my witnesses to appear in court?
At the Defendant's request, the Court Clerk will issue subpoenas to ensure the appearance of witnesses and/or the production of evidence on behalf of the Defendant. However, service of the subpoenas is the sole responsibility of the Defendant. The Defendant should obtain subpoenas as soon as the trial is set.

How can I request a continuance on my trial date?
All requests for continuance or postponement of the trial must be made in writing and should be made at least 10 (ten) days before trial. You must serve a written copy of your request on the City Attorney. The Court will only grant your request if you have shown good cause. Do not assume your request has been granted. Check back with the Court. Absolutely no requests for continuance by telephone will be granted.

What can I expect at my trial?
All trials in Municipal Court are bench trials; that is, the Judge alone hears the evidence and decides the case. There is no jury.

Opening Statements
The Prosecutor and the Defendant will be given the opportunity to make an opening statement. An opening statement is not required. It may be reserved for later in the trial or it may be waived. The opening statement is intended to allow the parties to state to the Court what the evidence presented will show. It is not evidence to be used by the Court in making a decision.

City Prosecutor's Case
The City Attorney will call witnesses, some of whom may be police officers. The City Attorney will question the witness concerning any knowledge they may have of the facts of the case. After the City Attorney finishes questioning a particular witness, you as the Defendant then have a right to cross-examine the witness. Cross-examination means asking questions concerning the facts to which the particular witness has testified. This is not the time for you to testify. The cross-examination questions should be directed to the witness' testimony to test the witness' recollection of facts. Each witness is treated in this same fashion. After the cross-examination is completed, the City Attorney will have the opportunity to conduct a re-direct examination. This means the City Attorney may ask additional questions only on facts or statements of a witness given on cross-examination.

When the City Attorney finishes calling all his/her witnesses, the City will rest its case. The City has the burden of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt by competent evidence presented to the Court. If the City has failed to prove its case at this time in the trial, the case may be dismissed.

Defendant's Case
If the Defendant elects to proceed, he may testify under oath but is not, and cannot be, required to testify. If the Defendant chooses to testify, the City Attorney has the right to conduct a cross-examination. Also, the Defendant may present witnesses at this time in the trial. The City Attorney may cross-examine these witnesses.

Testimony should be restricted to the facts surrounding the charge before the Court. Testimony as to what someone said is not admissible as evidence unless the person who made the statement is present for cross-examination. Prior driving habits and prior driving records are not admissible as evidence at a trial.

At the conclusion of the Defendant's case, the City Attorney will be given the opportunity to call witnesses to rebut the testimony of the Defendant or his witness. If the City Attorney calls rebuttal witnesses, the Defendant is allowed to call witnesses to rebut that testimony.

Conclusion of the Trial
When both the City and the Defendant have finished presenting their testimony and evidence, they will have the opportunity to make a closing argument. The City makes the first argument; the Defendant then makes an argument, and the City can then rebut the Defendant's argument. A closing argument is each side’s summary of the evidence presented to the Court as viewed by each party. Closing arguments are not required and are not received by the Court as evidence to be used in making a decision. When all evidence is presented and final arguments are completed the Judge will decide the case.

If the Defendant is found guilty the Judge will then impose sentence. Before sentencing, the Defendant will be given an opportunity to make a statement. The victim (if any) will be given an opportunity to make a victim impact statement. Any fine imposed is presumed due on the date sentence is imposed.

Can I attend traffic school as a means of having my citation amended or to reduce the points on my driver's license?
Generally, if the citation was not for a serious traffic violation (5 points or more) and you have not had an accident or other moving traffic violation in the past three years, you can attend traffic school in order to have the citation amended to a non-moving violation. Only the traffic Judge can authorize you to attend traffic school and receive the benefit described above. If you complete the traffic school as directed and supply proof of the completion within the allotted time period to the court clerks office, neither the original nor the amended charge will be reported to the DMV.  Traffic School is separate and apart from the court. You will be charged a fee to attend class.

Can I make payments on my fine or must I pay the full amount? 
You can apply for a payment extension in order to satisfy your fine. The average fine amount will be given a two week payment extension. In exceptional circumstances, you may explain your financial situation to the Court. Community Service may be performed in lieu of the fine if approved by the court. If you are unable to satisfy the full amount of the fine on the sentencing date, you will be assessed an additional payment extension fee of 10% of the total amount owing, minimum $25, maximum $100.

 

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