Your Missouri Municipal Courts
Know your rights
• Right to trial
• Right to know when the court is open
• Right to attend court
• Right to an attorney
• Right to release pending hearing
• Right to have a judge decide if you can afford a lawyer or afford to pay fines
• Right to a court-appointed attorney
• Right to access court records
• Right to request a different judge
1. The case is ready to be heard by the judge.
2. Witnesses are given an oath to testify.
3. The city’s witnesses explain their version of what happened.
4. You or your attorney can ask questions of the City's witnesses.
5. You may testify and call witnesses to explain your version of what happened.
6. The city prosecutor may question you and your witnesses, if you and your witnesses testify.
7. The judge makes the decision.
Punishments and Fines
If you plead guilty or are found guilty, you may face the following punishments or fines:
1. Minor traffic violations—up to $225 total fine and costs.
2. Housing, zoning or building code violations—up to $200 total fine and costs for the first violation in a year, $275 for the second violation in a year, $350 for the third violation in a year, and $450 for the fourth and any subsequent violation in a year.
3. All other municipal code violations—up to $500 fine plus costs.
4. In addition to these fines and costs, certain violations may result in jail time. Such violations include any violation involving alcohol or drugs, violations endangering the health or welfare of others, or giving false information to a police officer. You may face up to 90 days in jail.
You may be able to pay your fines by mail, online, or in person instead of appearing in court. Please check with the clerk of the municipality in which your case is located or go online at www.kennettmo.org to get information on how you can pay fees and fines in the municipality.
Right to Trial
If you plead not guilty, your case will be scheduled for trial. You will be given a future court date for trial.
When your case is scheduled for trial, it will be in the same municipal court in which you appear, UNLESS you request a jury trial. A request for a jury trial should be made by written motion 10 days prior to the scheduled trial date. If the motion is timely, your case will be sent to the presiding judge of the circuit court for a new trial date with a jury.
1. At trial, you have a right to testify or remain silent. If you remain silent, it is not considered an admission of guilt. If you testify, the judge may consider any statement you make in deciding your guilt or innocence.
2. At trial, witnesses testifying against you may be asked questions.
3. The Court can issue subpoenas for witnesses if you make a timely request.
4. If you are found not guilty, the case ends.
5. If you are found guilty, you can accept the decision or appeal to the circuit court. If you appeal your case, you will be granted a new trial before a different judge. The request for appeal must be made within 10 (ten) days of the court’s decision and cannot be extended for any reason. You can appeal even if you are not able to pay. You may also ask the clerk for information on the process.
OVERVIEW OF MUNICIPAL COURTS
Municipal courts are authorized by the Missouri Constitution and are part of the circuit courts. They are open to the public. The purpose of these courts is to provide you with a place to obtain a fair and impartial trial on any alleged violation of a city ordinance. While this is a general overview of your rights in municipal court, each individual court may have local rules that may apply to your case. Please check with your local municipal court for the local court rules.
Municipal courts are a court of law established to protect the rights of all citizens. If there is anything you do not understand, do not hesitate to ask the judge any questions.
RIGHTS IN MUNICIPAL COURT
Right to know when the court is open
Every municipal court has different hours it is open. It is important that you check the court’s website or call the court’s clerk to determine when it is open. A comprehensive listing of the websites and phone numbers for all municipal courts in Missouri can be found at http://www.courts.mo.gov/mcw/findacourt/muniDivisionList.htm
Right to attend court
Municipal courts in Missouri are open to the public.
Right to release pending hearing
If you are in jail for a municipal court charge, you have the right to be released unless the court decides you need to be in jail for the protection of the community. If the court orders your release from jail, there may be conditions on your release, including bail.
Right to access court records
If you have a case in municipal court, you have the right to see the court records for your case. This includes records that show charges, court rulings, fines, and other information for your case.
Right to an attorney
You have the right to be represented by an attorney and may hire one at any time. When you first appear in court, you can ask to postpone the hearing one time so you can hire an attorney. However, you are not required to have an attorney represent you. You may represent yourself.
Right to have a judge decide if you can afford a lawyer or pay fines
If you want an attorney, but cannot afford one, you can ask that the judge decide if you qualify for a court-appointed attorney. You may be required to fill out paper work about your finances as a part of this process.
You can also request the judge to decide if you are able to pay court fines or to be granted an alternative sentence. You may be required to fill out paper work regarding your finances as a part of this process.
Right to a court-appointed attorney
If you show you cannot afford an attorney, and the city is seeking to put you in jail, the court will provide an attorney to represent you.
Right to request a different judge
You may request a change of judge for any reason within ten (10) days after you enter your initial plea. If it is past the ten (10) days, then you must show cause why the judge should be changed.
If you are a non-U. S. citizen
If you do not have the proper documentation to be in the United States, you should know that a guilty plea or conviction may result in your deportation, denial of admission to the United States, or you may be denied naturalization under United States law. You may wish to speak with an attorney, especially before entering a guilty plea to any charges.
If you need ADA accommodations
You have rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For example, if you or a witness are deaf or hearing impaired, you have the right to request assistance, including an interpreter. For help, please contact the court’s ADA coordinator. A list of ADA coordinators can be found at http://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=180.
If you need help with other ADA disabilities, please call (573)751-4377 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While in the courtroom, please:
Stay seated until your case is ready to be heard by the judge. Do not smoke or consume food or drink. Silence any phones or pagers, and remain quiet. Do not sleep or disrupt the court proceedings.