Misdemeanor Trial Division
The Misdemeanor Division has principal responsibility for prosecuting misdemeanor crimes. The Divisions are each staffed by an Assistant District Attorney. In addition to the legal staff and supervisors, each Division has an investigator and secretary. The attorneys and investigators in the Misdemeanor Trial Division are assigned to the Parish Courts to prosecute misdemeanor criminal offenses that occur in Washington and St. Tammany parishes. Much of their time is spent in the courts on docket calls, pre-trial matters, pleas before the court, revocations, court trials, and post-trial habeas corpus matters or motions for new trial. When the attorneys and investigators are not in the courtroom they spend their time reviewing and preparing the cases for the next docket call, pre-trial, plea, revocation, court trial or post-trial matter including locating witnesses, interviewing witnesses and reviewing evidence.
What is a Misdemeanor?
The Misdemeanor Division of the District Attorney’s Office handles all misdemeanor cases that are referred to the Office by the various law enforcement agencies that have jurisdiction over St. Tammany and Washington Parishes. Generally, a misdemeanor is a crime wherein the conviction does not require imprisonment at hard labor. While sentences for misdemeanor convictions vary, generally, a sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is not more than six months and/or not more than $500.00 or both.
Individuals who are accused of having committed misdemeanor crimes are either arrested or given a misdemeanor summons (similar to a traffic citation). If an individual is arrested, posts a bond and is released from jail, his/her Arraignment date will appear on the bond paperwork. If an individual receives a Misdemeanor summons (no arrest) his/her Arraignment date will appear at the bottom of the summons. Failure to appear at your Arraignment will result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest.
At your Arraignment you may either plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, you will be given a subpoena to return for your Trial date. Failure to appear at your Trial date will result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest. If you wish to have an attorney represent you at trial, you should hire him prior to your trial date. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can contact the Public Defenders’ Office (985.892.5002).