LONG BEACH MUNICIPAL COURT
PREPARING FOR YOUR COURT TRIAL
The information provided in this section is not legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of legal counsel.
You have entered a plea of NOT GUILTY to charges brought against you and have been scheduled for a trial. Subpoenas may now be issued on behalf of the City to bring the citing officer and any witnesses to Court to testify. You also may issue subpoenas to bring witnesses to Court to testify on your behalf. If you wish to have subpoenas issued, see the clerk. Prior to the commencement of the trial, you have the right to withdraw your plea of Not Guilty and enter a plea of Guilty or No Contest to the charges that have been brought against you.
You have several rights that you may exercise during your trial. They are as follows:
1. The right to confront witnesses.
You have the right to confront or cross-examine witnesses who may be called to testify against you.
2. The right to call witnesses and present evidence.
You have the right to call witnesses to testify on your behalf and to present evidence to the Court in support of your case.
3. The right to remain silent.
You have the right not to testify in your case. If you choose to testify, you give up the right to remain silent and are subject to cross-examination.
4. You have the right to the assistance of a lawyer.
You have the right to hire a lawyer. You may also choose to represent yourself. If you believe that you require a lawyer and cannot afford to hire an attorney, then you may ask the judge to appoint a lawyer to defend you at no cost to you. The judge will make a decision on whether a lawyer will be appointed to defend you. The best time to ask the judge to appoint an attorney to defend you is at your arraignment (i.e. during your first appearance in court).
5. IF YOU ARE FOUND GUILTY, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPEAL THE DECISION.
In most cases, you have thirty (30) days from the date of a conviction to file an appeal. Any appeal from the Long Beach Municipal Court must be filed in the County Court of Harrison County, Mississippi, First Judicial District. The process of properly filing an appeal can be complicated and it is strongly recommended that you retain or seek the services of an attorney to handle an appeal from the Long Beach Municipal Court.
Your case is scheduled with other cases and will not be called in any particular order. If you are not present when your case is called, your case may be tried in your absence or the officer may be excused and your case dropped from the docket. A warrant may be issued for your arrest if you fail to appear.
When your case is called, you will be asked to come forward with your evidence and your witnesses. All parties will be sworn. The City may be represented by the City’s Prosecutor, an attorney.
The City’s Prosecutor will present the City’s case first. After testimony, but not during, you will have the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses. Cross-examination is the process by which you may ask questions to a witness who is testifying against you. You may ask questions during cross-examination, but you may not argue with the witnesses or present statements about the case. Once the City has presented its case, you will then present your case. At this time you may present evidence and testimony from any witnesses you may have called. You are not required to testify. No inferences or assumptions will be made by the Court should you choose to exercise your right to remain silent. In other words, the judge will not hold your decision to remain silent against you. The City’s Prosecutor may cross-examine you and/or your witnesses after you and/or your witness testifies.
If you are presenting physical evidence (documents, photographs, etc.), it is suggested but not required that you have copies of the evidence to offer to the City’s Prosecutor and a copy to keep for yourself. Evidence will be marked and, in most cases, retained by the Court.
Both you and the City’s Prosecutor will have the opportunity to make a closing argument. Whether you testify or not, you still have a right to make a closing, summary statement (argument) to the Court. However, the closing argument is not evidence in the case and no new
evidence may be presented at that time. The only evidence that the Court can consider is that evidence taken under oath after the witnesses have been sworn. A closing argument is merely your assessment of how the Court should view the evidence that has been submitted.
The Court may make a ruling in your case at the time of trial or may take your case under
advisement. If your case is taken under advisement, you can expect a decision within a reasonable amount of time. You are not required to be present at the ruling. If you are not present, a copy of the ruling will be mailed to you.
If you have any questions about the trial procedures or changing your plea, you should ask those questions or make those requests BEFORE your trial begins and the witnesses are sworn. At all times, you may discuss your case with the City’s Prosecutor.
NOTIFY THE COURT CLERK BEFORE YOUR TRIAL COMMENCES IF YOU WISH TO BE HEARD ON A MOTION OR OTHER REQUEST.
If, prior to your trial date, you find that you cannot appear on the scheduled date, you may file a Motion for Continuance. A Motion for Continuance is a request that the case be rescheduled for another date. The form you need to file is available at the Clerk’s office. The request should be made at least five (5) working days before your trial date. You are NOT excused from your trial date until the judge has made a decision on your request for a continuance. A motion (or request) for a continuance which is made on the date of the trial is likely to be denied.