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What Kind of Offenses Are Handled in Municipal Court?

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What Kind of Offenses Are Handled in Municipal Court?

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For the average person without legal experience, it can be tricky to figure out what offenses are specifically handled in municipal court. It may help to know that a municipality is any city or town with its own local government and corporate status, so it follows that municipal courts handle matters which occur within that municipality’s jurisdiction. A municipal court might have limited civil and criminal jurisdiction over cases that arise in its area.

Common offenses handled in municipal court may include the following:

  • Traffic violations
  • Assault charges
  • Threat charges
  • Theft totaling less than $100
  • Public intoxication
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Minor in possession of tobacco or alcohol
  • Reckless damage or destruction
  • Violation of Fish and Game laws
  • Violation of boating regulations
  • Violation of Parks and Forests
  • Violations of local laws

While other offenses may also be handled in municipal court, the offenses listed above are the most common and generally result in less severe consequences. Most issues handled in municipal court fall into the category of Class C Misdemeanors.

If you were issued a citation and assigned a court date, you are expected to appear in municipal court.

Failing to attend a court date will result in the court issuing a warrant for your arrest. This means if you run into law enforcement for any other reason after missing your court date, even if only to receive a minor traffic ticket, you could likely be arrested with more severe consequences. Some attorneys may be able to lift your warrant, but you will likely have to pay your bond amount at least partially if not in full.

Municipal courts are also responsible for enforcing city ordinances.

This means if you violate a city ordinance, you could find yourself standing trial in municipal court. City ordinances are specific to the city in which they are set and are generally responsible for governing public health and/or sanitation. A common violation of city ordinance occurs when a property owner fails to keep their building up to fire code, or fails to control an animal they were aware was potentially dangerous or could cause damage.

If your offense is considered non-criminal, your fine may be paid through the mail or at the court office.

As long as “court appearance required” has not been indicated or checked on your citation, if you wish to plead guilty to the offense and pay the fine you can do so without having to go to court. Of course this waves your right to a hearing, but can save time if you know it’s unlikely you will win your case. If you feel that your charge is unfair and you would like to contest it, it’s a good idea to reach out to an attorney and seek legal counsel to find out what your options are.

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