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Municipal Court FAQs from a Missouri Attorney
The municipal court system has jurisdiction over local violations and misdemeanors. These courts are often people’s first and only interactions with the judicial system. Even so, many do not know much about the courts and how they work. Thus, keep reading to learn more about municipal courts in Missouri.
About the Missouri Municipal Court
Municipal courts handle a range of cases, such as simple assault, driving while intoxicated, and petty theft. The courts have the authority to convict and sentence offenders if found guilty. Additionally, people can hire attorneys to represent them during the case. Find out more about the court system to know what to expect during a case.
Requesting a jury trial
If a case goes to trial, defendants have the right to request a jury trial if they wish. However, the defendant must submit a written request for a jury trial at least 10 days before the trial date. Otherwise, a judge will hear the case and render the final decision. Attorneys can discuss both options with clients to help them decide the path forward.
Defendants can call witnesses
When a case goes to trial, the prosecution and defense can call witnesses to support the case. First, a defense attorney will review the evidence and gather witness information if available. Then, the lawyer can contact the witnesses to strengthen the defense. As with other trials, the prosecution can cross-examine witnesses. Additionally, the defense can cross-examine witnesses brought forth by the prosecution.
Penalties if convicted
Because the municipal court sits at the lowest level of the judicial system, many assume a guilty verdict does not come with harsh penalties. However, clients can pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines and spend time in jail, depending on the charges. Thus, many clients choose to hire an attorney to defend them in court. Then, they can build a defense to try to avoid harsh penalties.
Paying the full fine
Fines are often part of the punishment when found guilty in municipal court. However, people might not be able to pay the full fine at once. Thus, offenders can set up payment plans through the court. An attorney can assist the client with this if needed.
Awaiting the court date
Depending on the crime, people might be arrested for municipal violations or misdemeanors. Defendants have the right to be released from jail before the court date. However, the judge might put conditions on the release, including bail. An attorney can represent clients during the release hearing.
Consult with a municipal court attorney
If you are set to appear in municipal court, you have the right to counsel. Your attorney can represent you during the trial or attempt to get the charges reduced or dropped beforehand. The process begins by setting up a consultation; then, you can learn more about your legal rights.
Call us at (732) 449-0449 for more information from Anthony J. Cafaro, P.C. or to schedule a consultation in our office in Sea Girt.
NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
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