Municipal Court Procedures
Your presence in Municipal Court today is perhaps your first experience in any Court. This brochure has been prepared to help you understand the Court proceedings and to inform you of your rights and duties. We want every person to leave this Court feeling that he or she has been treated fairly.
Municipal Court is the judicial branch of City Government. Traffic violations and violations of City Ordinances are tried in Municipal Court, and upon conviction carry a maximum fine of $2500 and a possible jail term. Trials are conducted under the Code of Criminal Procedure, Code of Municipal Courts and the Kansas Rules of Evidence as adopted by the Kansas Legislature.
Appearance in Court
When you appear in Court, you will be required to obey the following rules:
- Appropriate clothing and shoes shall be worn.
- The wearing of hats or caps is not allowed.
- Food and drinks are not allowed in the Courtroom.
- While the Court is in session, talking is not allowed, except with authorized Court personnel.
- There will be NO SMOKING in the courtroom.
Before Court Begins
You must decide upon and enter a plea to the charge against you. If you signed a citation in front of an officer, you did not plead guilty, but only signed a promise to appear in Court on your appearance date. There are three possible pleas to a complaint
- NO CONTEST
- NOT GUILTY
YOUR DECISION ON WHAT PLEA TO ENTER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE. WE SUGGEST THAT YOU READ THE FOLLOWING PLEA EXPLANATIONS BEFORE ENTERING YOUR PLEA.
Plea of Guilty
By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the act charged, that the act is prohibited by law, and that you have no defense for your act.
Before entering your plea of guilty, you need to understand the following:
- The City has the burden of proving its case against you. You have the right to hear the City’s evidence and to require it to prove its case, when you go to trial. The law does not require you to prove anything.
- If you were involved in a traffic accident at the time of the alleged offense, your plea of guilty could be used later in a civil suit for damages as a admission by you that you were at fault or were the party responsible for the accident.
Plea of No Contest
A plea of No Contest simply means that you do not wish to contest the City’s charge against you, but wish to talk to the Judge about mitigating circumstances. Judgment will be entered by the Judge and some penalty will be set. A plea of no contest cannot be used as an admission in a civil suit for damages in Kansas.
Plea of Not Guilty
A plea of not guilty means that you are informing the Court that you deny any charges against you.
If you plead not guilty, you will need to decide to employ an attorney to represent you at trial. You may defend yourself, but no one else except an attorney may represent you. However, if you are a minor (under 18 years of age) one of your parents should be present.
If you defend yourself, please consult the following sections of this brochure regarding the trial procedure and the manner of presenting your case.
Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On a plea of “Not Guilty,” a trial is held and the City is required to prove all the allegations against you as contained in the formal complaint “beyond a reasonable doubt,” before a judgment can be reached.
Under Kansas law, you can be brought to trial only after a complaint or traffic citation has been filed. The complaint or citation is a document that alleges what you are supposed to have done, and that your actions were unlawful.
You have a right to inspect this complaint before trial, and have it read to you at trial.
You DO NOT have the right to have your case tried before a jury in Municipal Court.
You have a right to testify on your own behalf. You also have a constitutional right not to testify. If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot and will not be used against you in determining your guilt or innocence. However, if you choose to testify, the prosecutor will have the right to cross-examine you.
You may call witnesses to testify on your own behalf. You also have the right to have the court issue subpoenas for witnesses to ensure their appearance at trial. However, you must furnish the names, addresses and telephone numbers of these witnesses to the Court Clerk at least 10 working days before your trial date. The Court will only serve subpoenas within the City of Eastborough. Service outside of the City of Eastborough will be your responsibility and at your expense.
Presenting the Case
As in all trials, the City will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you.
After each prosecution witness has finished his/her testimony, you will have the right to cross-examine him/her. Your examination must be in the form of questions and you must not argue with the witness. Do not attempt to tell your side of the story at this time. You will have an opportunity to do so later in the trial.
After the prosecution has presented its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident, and to introduce exhibits such as photographs and diagrams
The verdict of the Judge will be based on the testimony that sounds most reasonable and on the facts presented during the trial. In making his determination he can only consider the testimony of the witnesses who are under oath.
If the Judge finds you guilty, he normally will announce the penalty at the time. You should be prepared to pay the fine at this time. However, you may be granted an extension of ten (10) days to appeal the ruling of the Judge.
Right to Appeal
If you are not satisfied with the judgment of the Court, you have the right to appeal your case to the County District Court. If you do appeal the Judge’s judgment, you should file a written notice of appeal with the clerk of the District Court, serve a copy to the City Attorney, and post an appeal Appearance Bond in the amount set out by the Judge. The appeal must be filed within ten (10) days from the date of judgment.
After filing your appeal you will be assigned a new court date to appear in District Court for a new arraignment date. After arraignment another date will then be scheduled for a complete new trial before a different Judge or jury in the District Court.
The amount of fine assessed by the Court is affected by the facts, circumstances of the case, and any mitigating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances may lower the fine, even if you are guilty. However, aggravating circumstances may increase the fine. A fine will not exceed $500 for most traffic violations; and up to $2500 for City ordinance violations involving serious offenses.
The Municipal Court has no jurisdiction over damages caused by an auto accident. Settlement of damages is a matter for a Civil Court to decide, and in order to recover for any damages you will have to file a separate civil suit in another Court. Municipal Courts hear only criminal misdemeanor cases involving violations of City Ordinances.
The State of Kansas has ordered the Municipal Courts to collect $20.50 fees on each case that involved a moving violation, criminal charge, or violation of a city ordinance.
Because of these orders, the City is required to collect $20.50, which is forwarded to the State of Kansas. This $20.50 is factored into your fine amount as stated in your summons.
Additionally, the State of Kansas requires that the Municipal Court collect $122.00 per offense to reinstate a suspended license.
Court convenes at 6:00 pm the first Tuesday and third Wednesday of each month. Defendants must be on the docket to speak with the judge. Please call the court clerk at 316-682-4111 to ask to be placed on the docket.
Payments may be made by cash, check or money order in person or by mail. Payments may be made by check, credit or debit card online here or by calling 1-888-604-7888. A small fee will apply to all online or phone payments.
Driver’s License Violations
If you were charged with a driver’s license violation, you are encouraged to have a valid license before your court appearance.
Proof of Insurance
If you were charged with not having proof of insurance you may present your proof of insurance in person, by fax, or by mail within 10 days to have that charge dismissed. If you did not have insurance at the time of your traffic stop, you are required to appear in court. You are encouraged to purchase liability insurance before your court appearance.