New Orleans Municipal Court is where people charged with minor misdemeanor offenses in New Orleans will have their cases heard. Your case will be allotted to Municipal Court either because you have been arrested for a municipal or state misdemeanor charge, or because you have been cited for such a charge and received a summons to appear in court.
In either case you will have a date set for a first appearance in municipal court, generally anywhere from three days to two weeks from the date of your arrest or citation. This is for your arraignment – a date to plead “guilty” or “not guilty” to the charges. Either you or an attorney on your behalf will need to appear in court at your arraignment to enter a plea. You cannot do this by telephone, mail or online.
My advice to anyone charged with a crime in Municipal Court is to plead “not guilty” on the arraignment date. Your case will then be set for trial. On the trial date, you or your attorney can attempt to negotiate either a reduction or a dismissal of the charges. If you are comfortable appearing and representing yourself, you may generally be allowed to do that in Municipal Court. There are some cases where the judge may require you to hire a lawyer to represent you however.
I suggest getting a lawyer to assist you for at least two important reasons, among others. One, an attorney can help you navigate your way to a better deal in court, through either a reduction or dismissal of the charges. Secondly, a lawyer can represent you in your absence without you needing to be there. This is very beneficial if you are from out of town or can’t be in court for some other reason.
If you are interested in having a more detailed conversation about your case in Municipal Court, you should consult with a lawyer who has experience there. He or she can advise you of the various options for representation that you have, and whether or not you need to be in court yourself, or if the attorney can appear for you.