If you are accused of committing a misdemeanor crime and you are not arrested, you are generally entitled to a "show cause hearing". The hearing is held before a district court clerk magistrate to determine if there is probable cause to believe you committed a crime. You may also request a show cause hearing within four days of receiving a motor vehicle citation that charges only misdemeanor offenses. The hearing is generally not open to the public but you may bring witnesses. The magistrate will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to issue the complaint. When you arrive at the court building you should go the district court criminal clerk's office and ask where your show cause hearing will be held. See Standards of Judicial Practice: The Complaint Procedure for more information.
If the magistrate finds probable cause a complaint will be issued and you will be given a date to appear for your arraignment. This information may be provided by mail. If you do not receive the information shortly, you should go to the clerk's office and ask if there has been a decision.
You are not entitled to a show cause hearing if you were arrested on the charges; if the charges include a felony; or if the magistrate determines that you appear dangerous, likely to injure someone or to commit another crime.
Part 1: Before Arraignment
- What happens if I am arrested?
- What are my rights?
- Can I be released after I am booked at the police station?
- What happens if I receive a complaint and notice of criminal charges and a date to appear in court in the mail (and I am not arrested)?
- What is a show cause hearing?
- What is the difference between criminal charges in superior court and criminal charges in district court?
- What is an arraignment date?
- What should I do before I go to court?
- Part 2: Arraignment or First Appearance in Court