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Your Rights in Court
All City ordinance violations including traffic, criminal, housing, zoning and various other types of violations are tried by the Municipal Division Court. Appearing in Municipal Division Court is usually the first time someone has had to appear in court. The following information is provided so that everyone may be prepared when they appear before the Judge.
Before Court Begins
Please dress appropriately for Court. Hats are not to be worn and cell phones must be turned off or set to silent. There is no drinking or eating allowed in the Courtroom. No smoking or weapons are allowed in the building.
The Judge will make opening remarks, stating how Court will proceed and what your rights are in Court. When your name is called, you will approach the bench and be told what you are charged with. You have three options:
- Plead Guilty
- Plead Guilty With an Explanation
- Plead Not Guilty
Upon pleading guilty, a conviction will most likely be entered on your case.
Upon pleading guilty with an explanation, you have the right to tell the Judge anything you feel is relevant to your case. If this is a moving traffic violation, you may ask to attend traffic school to avoid points on your state operator’s license.
The Judge may impose a fine not to exceed $1,000.00 per violation and/or a sentence in jail not to exceed 90 days per violation.
Upon pleading not guilty, the judge will set your case for trial for a future court date.
Please note the following concerning trials:
- No continuance of a trial setting may be given through the Court office. You must appear as indicated by the Judge.
- You may be at a disadvantage if you try the case without legal representation. The City has a Prosecuting Attorney that is experienced with all the rules and laws governing trials and you will be held to the same level of standards.
- The trial will be a trial before the Judge. You have the right to a trial by jury, but jury trials are not held in municipal courts. You will need to "certify" your case to St. Louis County Circuit Court for a jury trial. You must request this jury trial no later than ten working days before the trial is scheduled in municipal court. The court staff will instruct you on how to request this.
At the end of the trial, if the Judge finds you guilty, you have the right to appeal this finding by filing a Trial De Novo request within ten days of the end of the trial. If you pay any portion of the fine/sentence imposed, you forfeit your chance for an appeal in the St. Louis County Circuit Court. This information will be provided to you by the court staff.