Frequently Asked questions regarding the Municipal Court

Is there a way to pay for a ticket without appearing in Court?

Some tickets can be paid without appearing in Court. You must, however, pay the ticket on or before your court date. If the ticket is not paid on or before your court date and you do not appear in court, a warrant for your arrest will be issued.

What if I need to change the date of my arraignment or trial?

If you need to change the date of your arraignment, contact the office of the Municipal Court Clerk. It is within the Court's discretion to grant delays or continuances from the Court date, but the Court is reluctant to change Court dates. Before granting a continuance, the Court may require written proof of your excuse. If you need to change your trial date, you are required to personally appear before the Judge to request a continuance.

What if I do not appear in Court on the date set for my arraignment or Trial?

A warrant may be issued for your arrest. If a warrant is issued, you will be required to post bond or be taken to jail and required to remain in jail until the earliest court date. Also, you may pay a fee when a warrant is issued.

Do I have the right to be represented by an attorney?

Yes. You have the right to hire an attorney and have him or her speak for you in Court. If jail is the possible punishment, you may request a court appointed attorney. If you are financially eligible, an attorney will be appointed to represent you.

Do I have the right to trial by jury?

You do have the right to request a trial by jury. There is a filing fee that is required by the Circuit Court and an application must be filed in order to transfer the case to the Circuit Court level.

What is Municipal Court?

The Municipal Court is a division of the Circuit Court. Cases in Municipal Court involve alleged violations of City laws. If you have received a ticket for a municipal ordinance violations, you have certain rights and responsibilities. The information on this web page is to help you understand these rights and responsibilities.

What is an Arraignment?

An arraignment is your first appearance in Municipal Court. When you are given a ticket, you are also given a court date and time to appear in Municipal Court. When you appear at your arraignment, your name will be called. When your name is called, approach the bench. The Judge will read the charge that has been filed against you. If you do not understand the charge, ask the Judge to explain it. When the Judge asks how you plead, you must say either "Guilty" or "Not Guilty". "No Contest" pleas are not allowed in Missouri Courts.

What does a plea of Guilty mean?

If you plead guilty, you are admitting to the Judge that you have committed acts which violate a valid City law. The Judge will then decide what penalty will be assessed. At this time, you will have an opportunity to tell the Judge any special circumstances that you believe lessen the seriousness of the violation. You cannot plead guilty and then in your explanation to the Judge say that you did not violate the law.

After listening to your explanation, the Judge will assess a penalty, considering the seriousness of the offense and any explanation offered by you. Remember, if you plead guilty, the Judge will find you guilty. Any explanation offered by you can only affect the penalty. When you plead guilty you will be giving up the following rights: To hire an attorney to represent you; to have a trial before a court or jury; to call witnesses to testify for you; to testify for yourself; to cross-examine any witnesses that the City may call; and the right to appeal the judgment.

What does a plea of Not Guilty Mean?

A plea of not guilty means you believe you have not violated the law. When you plead not guilty, the Judge will set a date for trial. You do not need to be represented by an attorney if you want to plead not guilty. You may represent yourself at trial. If you plead not guilty and later decide to change your plea to guilty, you must reappear in court.

What is a Trial?

At the trial, the City Prosecutor will first present evidence against you. Then you will have a chance to tell your side of the story. At the trial, the Prosecutor must prove your guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The Prosecutor will call witnesses to testify about the facts alleged in the charge. When each witness has finished answering the Prosecutor's questions, you or your attorney will have the right to question the witness. This is called cross-examination. Cross examination is not a time when you can testify or argue with the witness.

After all the witnesses for the City have testified, you will have an opportunity to present your case. You may testify and you may call witnesses to testify; however, you are not required to testify. If you do testify, you may also be questioned by the Prosecutor.

After you have presented your case, the Prosecutor has the right to present "rebuttal" evidence. Rebuttal evidence is evidence that explains or denies your evidence. After all witnesses have testified, each side may give a closing argument.

The Judge must then decide if you are guilty or not guilty. If you are found guilty, the Judge will assess a punishment, considering the seriousness of the offense and any explanation offered by you during your evidence. If the Judge finds you not guilty, you are free to go.

Appointment of Counsel

If the Prosecuting Attorney is requesting that you be sentenced to jail for the violation for which you are charged, the Judge will notify you before you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If jail is a possible punishment and you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint an attorney for you . You do not have a constitutional right to have an attorney appointed if jail is not a possible punishment.

Right of Appeal, Jury Trial/Trial de Novo

If you wish to have your case tried before a jury, you must notify the Judge prior to entering a plea. An application for jury trial must be submitted to the Court Clerk.

If the Judge finds you guilty during trial, you have the right to appeal the decision. When you appeal, you are asking for a new trial. The new trial is called a Trial de Novo. Your application for Trial de Novo must be done within ten days of the first trial. Payment of any portion of the fine or failure to file within ten days forfeits your right to appeal.

An application for Trial de Novo must be filed with the Clerk before transferring the case to Circuit Court. This payment must be in the form of cash or money order ONLY.

If you wish to appeal, you must tell the Judge or the Municipal Court Clerk. Forms are available for an appeal at the Violations Bureau.