What We Do
The Municipal Court provides a neutral forum for hearing City Ordinance cases, where the penalty includes a forfeiture. The court handles approximately 38,000 cases per year. These are not criminal charges and defendants are not entitled to a free lawyer. Common cases include all traffic, parking, first offense drunk driving, disorderly conduct, trespass, truancy, underage alcohol, building code, health code and animal control violations. The judge may order a driver's license suspension in addition to the forfeiture, in some cases. Examples include underage alcohol violations, habitual truancy and any traffic violation where the judge finds it appropriate for public safety reasons to do so. Driver's license revocations are required in drunk driving cases. The Court hears both adult and juvenile cases. Juvenile cases are confidential, except traffic violations. Juveniles can be charged with the same violations as adults, but can also be charged with truancy, curfew, tobacco and alcohol violations.
At pretrials, defendants meet with the assigned City Attorney and negotiate. Any agreements are submitted in writing and subject to the judge's approval. If no agreement is reached, a trial is scheduled. All trials are without a jury, except when a proper request is made on drunk driving cases. The rules of evidence apply to all trials. The City has the burden of proving the violation(s) by evidence that is clear, is satisfactory and convinces the judge to a reasonable certainty. The judge's rulings on trials and motions can be appealed to circuit court, upon proper filing of papers and fees.
The judge can issue arrest warrants for nonpayment of forfeitures or failure to appear in court. The judge can also issue inspection warrants for Building Code cases. Some unpaid forfeitures are sent to a collection agency and/or a tax refund is intercepted and/or in certain cases the judge can order a 2 year license suspension and/or suspension of your vehicle(s) registration.