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Appearance and Entry of Plea

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Southeast Bend neighborhood with the Three Sisters in the background at dawn.

You must make an appearance and enter a plea to each violation or infraction listed on your citation.  Your appearance can be made either in person or in writing on or before the court date listed on your citation.  Please read your citation carefully for your appearance methods and plea options which are explained in further detail below.


HOW TO APPEAR: 

  • You may NOT appear by telephone, email or online.
  • You may appear in person before the Judge on your Court Date. Contact the Court Clerk on or before your Court Date to check in.  Court arraignments begin 8:15am or 10:00am on Thursdays.
  • You may appear in person before the Violations Bureau Clerks under the authority of General Order 203 and complete a "NO CONTEST PLEA" form.  The Violations Bureau is not available when court is in session on Thursday mornings.
  • You may appear in writing by mailing or delivering either your signed citation; or written statement/letter; or the “NOT GUILTY PLEA” form; or the "NO CONTEST PLEA" form to the Court.

ENTRY OF PLEA:

You may enter a plea of “Not Guilty/Contesting” or you may enter a plea of “No Contest”.  You do not have to enter the same plea for each violation or infraction; however, you must enter a plea for each of the violations or infractions listed on your citation. Pursuant to General Order 202 – Entry of Plea:

  • If you enter plea of “Guilty”, the Court shall treat it as a no contest plea or an admission of the City Code infraction.
  • If you fail to enter a plea or your plea is unclear, the Court will presume that you entered a plea of “No Contest”.    
  • If you refuse to enter a “No Contest” or “Not Guilty/Contesting” plea, the Court will enter a plea of “Not Guilty” on your behalf and set the matter for trial.   

NOT GUILTY/CONTESTING: 

Entering a “Not Guilty/Contesting” plea means that you did not do what is on your citation or you did do it but you have a legally recognized defense therefore you are requesting a trial.  You may choose either an in-person trial or a trial by affidavit/declaration (written trial).  Please carefully read the Trial Notice provided by the Court so that you understand your responsibilities.   You are encouraged to speak to an attorney and/or read the code or statute that pertains to your particular citation so that you understand the elements that need to be proven at trial and so that you understand your legally recognized defenses. 

The Court wants you to be aware that if you are found guilty at trial:

  • There are no reductions to the dollar amount listed on your citation the court has the authority to increase fines/penalties, in some cases up to $2,000.
  • You are no longer eligible to participate in any of our court programs, like the traffic safety school or the fix it program, which may have resulted in your case being dismissed. 

In-Person Trial:  You will be mailed a Trial Notice with the date and time to appear.  In person trials are typically scheduled a minimum of 40 days out.  Both you and the officer(s) involved in your citation(s) are to appear at the scheduled date and time.

Trial by Affidavit/Declaration (Written Trial): You will be mailed or given a Trial Notice will include Declaration forms for you and the officer(s) involved in your citation(s) to complete and return to the Court.  The declaration due dates are scheduled for a minimum of 40 days out.  After the due date, the Judge will review both declarations and a copy of the Judge’s decision will be mailed to you.

NO CONTEST PLEA:

Entering a plea of “No Contest” means that you are not contesting or fighting your citation and you would like to resolve the matter without a trial.  A no contest plea may result in a conviction/upholding of the citation and an imposition of a fine/penalty.  If you qualify, you may be authorized to participate in one of the court programs, such as Traffic Safety Program or the Vehicle Compliance/Fix-it program which may result in a dismissal of the violation/infraction.   There are fees associated with each program.   If you are interested in one of the Traffic Safety Programs, please see the Court Programs page or contact the court clerk for details and eligibility. 

FAILURE TO APPEAR:

If you fail to make your appearance by the Court Date shown on your citation, the Court will mail a NOTICE OF FAILURE TO APPEAR to the address listed on your citation.  You are allowed 30 days from your original court appearance date to appear in person or in writing.  Failure to receive this notice does not extend the 30 day period or prevent the entry of a Default Judgment. 

Failure to appear within 30 days from the date of your original appearance will result in the following Default Judgment:

  • A conviction will be entered for the violation or the infraction will be upheld. 
  • If this is a traffic violation, the conviction and an order to suspend your driving privileges will be forwarded to the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 
  • The full amount of the presumptive fine/penalty for the violation/infraction plus a $15.00 Suspension Fee (if applicable) and a $50.00 Failure to Appear Fee will be imposed. 
  • Your balance due may be forwarded to a collection agency with additional collection fees of up to 25% of the total amount due.  Note: If you are under age 18, your debt will be forwarded to the collection agency after your 18th birthday.  
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