Defendant Rights

If you are arrested or receive a traffic ticket or are served with a summons or a warrant of arrest, you are considered to be a defendant and you have the following rights.

Trial


You have a right to a trial. The City or State must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In District Court, the trial is held before a Judge and you do not have a right to a jury.

Remain Silent


You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say in Court can be used against you. You will be called upon to enter a plea of "not guilty," "guilty," or "no contest." If you plead guilty or no contest, you may give information regarding the charges against you, but you are not required to do so; you may be asked to sign a plea statement and waiver of counsel.

Testifying


If you plead not guilty and the matter proceeds to trial, you do not have to testify at your trial. The Judge cannot consider your failure to testify as proof of your guilt. If you do testify, you will waive your right to remain silent and you must answer questions from the prosecutor and the Judge.

Counsel


You have the right to counsel. You have the right to consult with a lawyer prior to entering a plea and prior to trial of your case and to have a lawyer represent you during the trial. You may act as your own attorney if you choose. If you are charged with an offense that carries a jail sentence, and if you are indigent and unable to afford an attorney, you may have the right to have the public defender appointed to represent you.


Public Defender Forms


If you are requesting the public defender represent you, you will need to fill out a form provided by the District Court Clerk and the form should be filled out at the time you enter a not guilty plea at your arraignment. The Judge will then make a decision at that time whether you qualify for the public defender.

Please note that Civil and Small Claims cases do not qualify for a public defender.

Appeals


You have the right to appeal. You have the right to appeal the judgment of the District Court. Your appeal paperwork must be filed with the District Court Clerk and Circuit Clerk prior to 30 days from the day of your conviction, and you may be required to post a bond.

Appeal Costs


You will also be required to pay court costs for the appeal (cost of appeal transcript in District Court and the Circuit Clerk's filing fee). It is recommended that you consult an attorney so that the appeal papers may be properly prepared. If you appeal, you will be entitled to a new trial (called a trial de novo) before a Circuit Judge or jury in either the Circuit Court of Washington County or Benton County, Arkansas.