What To Do When Charged In Municipal Court

Posted almost 4 years ago. 1 helpful vote



Don't Just Pay The Fine

If you didn't commit the offense you're accused of you shouldn't pay the fine and have a mark on your record. Many times, officers are in a situation where they, by department policy have to write a ticket if called to the scene. In that instance, you could be innocent and a victim of the department's policy. The first step, if you want to fight the charge, is to hire a local attorney familiar with the courts and has a practice focusing on your needs. You should hire an attorney before your hearing, and preferably give them a decent amount of time to prepare for your initial appearance.


Don't Talk With The Prosecutor or The Police Department

Whether you hire an attorney or not, the prosecutor and the police department are not going to want to help you. Any conversations you may have with them, or letters you write will be used against you at a later time.


Keep Any Information or Evidence That Supports You

Many times, the citation was issued to you based on little fact more than the officer's subjective belief. If you have photos, emails, text messages, audio or video recordings or other forms of information that support your defense, hold onto them and make sure your attorney knows about them. While a defendant does not have to put on a defense, it can help if you have information on your side that shows you're innocent.


Show Up To The Hearing & Look Ready

Most city municipal dockets are FULL every day. There are docket calls usually twice a day in bigger cities and the city prosecutor is tasked with determining who is present, who wants to fight their charges and then must arrange to have the citing officer present. More often than not, if you appear, especially with an attorney in tow, the officer will not be present and the charge will be dismissed. What it costs to pay an attorney is usually much less than the fine and court costs and definitely is better than having a mark on your record. Even if the officer is present, the likelihood that the officer can recall sufficient facts to support the charge is minimal.

Additional Resources

Most cities have a local bar association that can recommend certain attorneys for tickets, and can provide information regarding the courts, and the necessary forms. The most important thing is to be prepared and to be respectful of the court and the prosecutor. If you are present and appear ready to fight the charge, the majority of the time the charge will be dropped.

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