Misdemeanor Case Information

Complaint:      The District Attorney files a complaint in either Reno Justice Court or Sparks Justice Court.

Arrest:      Upon arrest, please keep the following items in mind:

  • DO NOT discuss the facts of your case with ANYONE BUT YOUR ATTORNEY and his/her investigator, especially if you are in jail!
  • DO NOT send letters about your case or receive letters about your case, except for mail to your attorney. The jail copies all mail and provides the copies to law enforcement.
  • DO NOT discuss your case with family or friends on the jail telephone as it is recorded and can be used against you.
  • DO NOT send or received emails at the jail regarding your case. The jail copies all email and provides the copies to law enforcement.
  • DO NOT discuss your case with ANY jail personnel, including medical staff.
  • DO NOT discuss your case with social workers as they will disclose your conversations to law enforcement and it will be used against you.
  • DO NOT meet with a social worker before speaking with your attorney.

Arraignment:      Once you are arrested, you will have an arraignment hearing within 72 hours. You will be read the charges against you and have the opportunity to enter a plea. You can request a Public Defender at this time. Court Services will make the determination of your indigency. Once you are appointed to the Washoe County Public Defender's Office, it can take 7-10 days for the paperwork to be processed. You will receive a letter from us notifying you of your Deputy Public Defender and contact information. Please be assured, if you are appointed a Public Defender, you WILL have representation for your hearing. The Public Defender's office is appointed to your case through the court, you can not request or apply for a Public Defender at our office.

Pre-Trial Hearing:      This will be your first court hearing. Be sure to arrive early and check-in with the bailiff in your assigned department. If you are incarcerated, Court Transport from the jail will transport you for your hearing. Your attorney will meet with you at this time to discuss your options with you. Your case may stop at this point (sentencing or acquittal) or go on to the trial phase. It will be up to you to decide whether you want to try to resolve your case through negotiations, or would rather fight the charges at trial. Your attorney will advise you regarding the evidence the State will use and what defenses are available. He or she will discuss with you the possible results of negotiating or trial.

Misdemeanor Trial Hearing:      This is your case trial. Your attorney will discuss your options with you regarding your specific case. Once the trial phase is finished, you will go to sentencing or be acquitted. Misdemeanor trials are not heard in District Court.


  • Always be truthful and honest with your attorney and his/her investigator(s).
  • Do not talk about your case with family, friends, social workers, jail workers, or other inmates.
  • Let your attorney know immediately if you have a change in address or phone number. If your attorney can not contact you they can not communicate information or changes in your case status.
  • Be ON TIME to court! Plan to arrive 15-30 minutes early. Check-in with the bailiff upon your arrival.
  • Dress neatly, and appropriately, for your court appearance. If you are unsure of appropriate dress, ask your attorney beforehand!