What happens at court?

The Richmond County State Court is held on the third floor of the courthouse. Check your paperwork or the video screen in the courthouse lobby to see which courtroom to go to. Come into your courtroom a few minutes before you are scheduled to appear and be seated. Sometimes the courtroom is busy and it can take some time for the court to call your case. It is important that the court gives every person’s case enough time to be heard. We appreciate your patience while you wait.

 [Click here] to see a helpful guide how criminal and traffic cases work.

 In a criminal or traffic case:
Arraignment
Your first appearance in court is called an arraignment. At arraignment the court will read the charges against you and confirm your contact information. The court will then ask you to enter a plea. You can plead not guilty, no contest, or guilty. You may resolve your case during arraignment if you wish to do so.

 The court may also add additional bond conditions during arraignment.  

 The court strongly encourages you to hire an attorney or apply for a public defender before your arraignment.

 At arraignment, you should:

  • Enter a plea. You can plead not guilty, no contest, or guilty;
  • Ask the court about having an attorney represent you; and
  • Write down any instructions the court tells you

 Pretrial hearings
You might have one or more pretrial hearings in your case. At pretrial hearings, the court makes sure the case is moving toward resolution. Your attorney will let you know how to prepare for pretrial hearings. Unless the court tells you otherwise, you must appear in person for each pretrial hearing. Check your citation, paperwork received from the jail or the  letter you received from the Solicitor General to see your court dates.

 If you are not represented by an attorney, you should be prepared to file or respond to motions in the appropriate time frame.

 If you need special accommodations to attend court (such as an interpreter or assistive devices), ask your attorney or call the court at 706-432-5499 and follow the extension for your judge. If you don’t know your judge, check your paperwork or call the Solicitor General’s Office for additional information

 At pretrial hearings, listen for the judge to call your case. Come to the podium when you hear your name. Then the judge will speak with the attorneys. If the judge addresses you, speak clearly and directly to the judge. 

 If you are not represented by an attorney, the judge will speak directly to you.

 At all pretrial hearings you should write down any instructions the court tells you.

 Trial or plea
You have the right to a trial in your case. You can also decide to accept a plea offer from the Solicitor General, if one is offered. 

 Your attorney will discuss the case with the Solicitor General between your pretrial hearings. If you accept a plea offer, that means you will plead guilty or no contest the court will impose sentence. The court will ask you questions to make sure you understand the process and what you are agreeing to. 

 If you are represented by an attorney, talk with your attorney to discuss how to prepare for trial. You can also watch a short video: Coming to court on your own.

Show All Answers

1. Where can I find information about my court date?
2. Can I reschedule my court date?
3. How can I make payments to the court?
4. I have questions about pretrial supervision/conditional bond.
5. What happens at court?
6. What are the penalties if I am convicted of a crime or a traffic offense in State Court?
7. How can I get a lawyer to represent me?
8. What should I do if I have a warrant?
9. How can I get information on restoring my driver’s license?
10. What if I want to resolve my case sooner than the anticipated trial date?
11. I got a letter telling me I have jury duty. What do I have to do?
12. What should I expect in a civil case?