Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein

Zach Klein
Columbus City Attorney
77 North Front Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
[email protected]

Traffic Arraignment FAQ

If you have received a ticket for a traffic offense other than Operating a Vehicle Under The Influence (OVI), your case will be set for arraignment in Courtroom 1A or 1B.

What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is an appearance where you are told what you are charged with and what possible penalties you face. An arraignment is not a trial date. The officer that cited you will not be present at the arraignment and the case will not be tried on that day.

At arraignment, you may enter a plea of Guilty, No Contest, or Not Guilty.

Guilty and No Contest pleas are similar. A plea of Guilty means you are admitting to the allegations contained in the ticket. A plea of No Contest means you are not contesting the facts alleged in the ticket. Either plea will result in a finding of guilt and you will be sentenced that day. If you need time to pay the ticket the Magistrate Judge that hears your case will generally give you up to 90 days, although this is at the Magistrate Judge’s discretion.

Not Guilty means you are contesting the facts alleged on the ticket. Your case will be assigned for another court date. If you are charged with a minor misdemeanor offense (such a speeding charge), your case will be set for a court trial date.

If you are charged with a misdemeanor that carries a possibility of jail time, your case will be set for a pretrial date. After you appear on the pretrial date, if your case is not resolved, your case may be set for a jury or court trial date.

Can I get my case taken care of at the arraignment date?

Your case will be heard by a Magistrate if you are prepared to enter a plea of Guilty or No Contest. If you enter a plea of Not Guilty, your case will be set for a pretrial or trial date, usually within the next 30 days.

Will the officer that cited me be at the arraignment court?

No. The purpose of the arraignment court is to advise you of the charges against you and to have you enter a plea of Guilty, No Contest, or Not Guilty. It is not a trial court. The citing officer will not be present.

How does appearing at arraignment effect court costs?

If you have been charged with a “payable” offense you do not need to appear in court if you simply wish to pay the ticket. By appearing in court, you will automatically be subject to court costs for an initial appearance. This could cause a ticket to be more expensive than it would have been if you had paid it by mail. For example, a minor misdemeanor speeding offense can carry a possible fine of $0-150. With court costs, a total penalty could be $75 - $225.

Paying the ticket is the same as entering a guilty plea.

If you wish to pay the ticket but you need time to do so, you can appear at arraignment court and ask for time to pay. You will need to enter a guilty or no-contest plea to the offense you have been charged with, but the presiding judicial officer will give you up to 90 days to pay the ticket at his or her discretion. By appearing at arraignment you will be subject to court costs.

What should you do to prepare for your arraignment date?

If your ticket does not indicate that you showed proof of insurance at the time the ticket was issued, you should bring proof of insurance that shows the vehicle you were driving was insured at the time you got the ticket.

If you were charged with Driving Under Suspension or Driving Without an Operator’s License and you have been able to get your license valid, you should bring a newly issued license or proof that your license has been reinstated.

If you were charged with an equipment violation (muffler, tint, etc.) and you have remedied the problem, it is in your best interest to bring proof of the remedy to court. Receipts and photographs may be helpful in resolving the case quickly. Similarly, if you were charged with a registration violation (such as an expired license plate), please bring in proof that your vehicle is properly registered.

What if I can’t make my arraignment date?

Arraignment is an official court appearance. You are required to appear unless your case has been continued or your ticket is a payable ticket and you have paid it before the arraignment. If you fail to appear for a mandatory court date, a warrant will be issued for your arrest and your driver’s license will be placed under suspension.

If you know that you cannot appear for your arraignment date, you should immediately go to the 10th floor of 375 South High Street to request a continuance. You will need to fill out the appropriate continuance paperwork and have it signed by a Prosecuting Attorney (located on the 7th and 17th floor of the same building). You should then return it to the Duty Judge on the 10th floor for approval.

What if I miss my arraignment date?

If you miss your court date, you should come to the courthouse on the next business day that you can make it before 9:00 AM. You should go to the Clerk of Court’s Office on the first floor, and ask to be added on to the docket. You must do this before 9:00 AM. You will have a warrant for your arrest issued until you appear in arraignment court.