You and the Civil Court

What to expect when charges have been filed against you.

Why you've had charges filed against you

In this situation, you're the defendant. You're going to be attempting to defend yourself in court and give reasons why you're innocent of the charges filed against you. The person who filed those charges is the plaintiff. The plaintiff has complaints about you and has decided to take those complaints to court. If they have the preponderance of evidence for the claim, you'll go to court to be tried.

The pretrial conference

Before you proceed with a full trial, you'll meet with the judge and they'll inform you of what needs to happen before the trial in something called a pretrial conference. It's here that you may or may not mediate, with the help of an arbitrator. If you don't mediate, the trial will proceed.

The trial

After the pretrial conference, you'll be summoned to the court to proceed with the full trial. The pleadings, or the reason you've been summoned, will be read aloud again. After the evidence is presented, the judge will decide if you are innocent of the charges, or guilty. His decision is called the verdict. If you are innocent but are proclaimed guilty, you have the option of requesting an appeal from a higher court to have the verdict reversed.