TO ALL DEFENDANTS:
Municipal Court has jurisdiction over traffic and non-traffic ordinance violations in the City of Kenosha. All Defendants have a right to be represented by an attorney at their own expense, or may proceed without one. The court cannot provide Defendants with a Public Defender, regardless of economic status.
This is a court of law and the rules of proper decorum will apply. All parties must remain quiet while the court is in session. This is a courtesy to other defendants as well as the court. Persons who fail to conduct themselves in an orderly manner may be cited for contempt.
When the Defendant’s name is called by the Court Officer, the Defendant move promptly to a position in front of the bench. The Judge will then inform the Defendant of the charge or charges and of the consequences of conviction, i.e., traffic demerit points, minimum and maximum forfeitures, and any suspension or revocation of driving privileges.
Defendants who plead Not Guilty will be required to return for a pretrial date, scheduled at the Initial Appearance. At the pretrial hearing, each Defendant will have an opportunity to negotiate his or her case with an attorney from the City Attorney's office.
Defendants who plead Guilty or No Contest at the Initial appearance will be given an opportunity to make a brief statement. The Judge will then review the police reports and, depending on the seriousness of the present charge and any prior record of relevant offenses, impose an appropriate forfeiture (fine) and any mandatory demerit points against the Defendant’s driving privileges. The Court generally grants 60 days to pay the forfeiture, but the Defendant may request a reasonable payment plan or extension in writing. If the Defendant fails to pay the forfeiture, the Defendant may be committed to jail for up to ninety (90) days or have his or her driver's license suspended for up to one (1) year for each separate citation.
At the initial appearance, a Defendant may enter one of the following pleas:
A plea of GUILTY, is an admission of guilt to the charge or charges. The Judge will find the Defendant Guilty, but will allow the Defendant to speak on his or her own behalf prior to determining the outcome of the case.
A plea of NO CONTEST means that the Defendant does do not wish to contest the charge or charges. Such a plea will result in a finding of Guilt, but the Defendant will not be admitting any liability. This is helpful if the Defendant is concerned that there might be lawsuit filed in Kenosha County Circuit Court for personal injury or property damage arising from the incident. After a plea of No Contest, the Judge will find the Defendant Guilty, but will allow the Defendant to speak prior to determining the outcome of the case
A Defendant’s plea of NOT GUILTY, means that the Defendant feels he or she has some defense to the charge or believes it is incorrect. If a Defendant is in doubt as to which plea to enter, the Defendant should plead Not Guilty.
If found Guilty of a traffic offense, in addition to any judgment imposed by the court, the State Department of Transportation may assess demerit points against the Defendant’s driving record, which may result in the suspension or revocation of driving privileges. The assessment of 12 or more demerit points in one year will result in the loss of driving privileges.
Any person holding a probationary license will be assessed additional demerit points for the second and all subsequent violations. Juveniles cited for traffic ordinance violations are subject to the same forfeitures and court procedures as adults.
DRUNK DRIVING CASES
If charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant (drunk or drugged driving) or with a blood alcohol concentration at .08% or greater, the Defendant has the right to request a jury trial.
To secure a jury trial, the Defendant must file a written request in Kenosha Municipal Court and submit the appropriate jury fee for a six person jury within ten (10) days of the first scheduled court appearance. If this is not done, the Defendant loses the right to a jury trial but is still entitled to a court trial before the Municipal Judge. If a proper jury trial demand is made, the case will be transferred to the Kenosha County Circuit Court.
If accused of Refusing to Consent to Chemical Testing, the Defendant MUST request a Refusal Hearing within the ten day deadline outlined in the Notice of Intent to Revoke Operating Privilege if the Defendant wishes to contest the issue of Refusal. Failure to make this request in writing within this deadline will result in the mandatory imposition of all mandatory penalties for refusal. This Court does not have the ability to reopen or dismiss a finding of refusal to consent to chemical testing if the Defendant does not submit the request in a timely manner.
The Municipal Court has jurisdiction over persons between 12 and 17 years of age. Juveniles have the same rights as adults with respect to pleas. They also have a right to a private (closed) hearing. A forfeiture may be entered against a juvenile found Guilty of a traffic or non-traffic ordinance violation. If the juvenile is found Guilty of a traffic or ordinance violation and fails to pay the forfeiture within the sixty (60) days given, his/her driver's license generally may be suspended for up to two (2) years. A juvenile may request Community Service as an alternative, but if the juvenile fails to perform the community service or to pay the forfeiture, his/her license may be suspended for up to two (2) years. If the offense is alcohol, drug, or truancy related, the driver's license of the defendant may also be suspended.
Defendants are not automatically entitled to Discovery in Municipal Court. However, Defendants may request discovery in writing from the City Attorney’s Office. If a request for discovery is denied in full or in part, the Defendant may request that the Clerk’s office schedule a hearing and request the Judge to force the City Attorney to turn over discovery. The Defendant MAY NOT make this request for the first time on the morning of trial.
Every case is scheduled for a pretrial conference if the Defendant pleads Not Guilty. At this meeting the Defendant meets with the City Attorney to attempt to reach an agreement. If no agreement can be reached, the matter will be scheduled for trial. All Pretrial Conferences are held on Tuesday afternoons. If a Defendant fails to appear at Pretrial Conference, a finding of Guilty will be entered and penalties imposed against the Defendant in the Defendant’s absence. If an agreement cannot be reached at Pretrial Conference, a trial date is scheduled at the Pretrial Conference.
To assist Defendants in preparation for trial, an instruction form is given to all Defendants at Pretrial Conference if a trial is scheduled. The Defendant is responsible to read these instructions immediately and to prepare for trial in accordance with the instructions in this document. If the Defendant does not understand or requires assistance, the Defendant may request assistance from the Clerk or may request a motion hearing as necessary. Continuances will not be granted on trial day if the Defendant is not prepared due to failure to comply with the instructions within this document
It is the prosecutor (City Attorney) who bears the burden of proving the case against each Defendant by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence.
The prosecution will produce its witnesses to testify as to the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. The defense will be permitted to cross-examine each witness. When the prosecution has completed its case, the Defendant will be given the opportunity to testify and will be subjected to cross-examination by the prosecution, and to present any witnesses brought by the defense.
After all the evidence has been presented, the prosecution and the defense will be given an opportunity to summarize their respective cases to the court through brief argument. Thereafter, the Judge will determine whether the Defendant is Guilty or Not Guilty.
If the Judge finds the Defendant Not Guilty, the citation dismissed. If the Defendant is found Guilty, the Judge will impose a forfeiture, taking into consideration the seriousness of the violation and the Defendant’s past record. The Judge will grant up to sixty (60) days to pay the forfeiture plus costs and restitution.
If the Defendant is found Guilty, the Defendant has the right to appeal to the Kenosha County Circuit Court. All appeals must be filed in writing in the Municipal Court office and the City Attorney’s office within twenty (20) days after a Guilty finding is entered. The appeal fee, forfeiture and costs must be posted upon filing the appeal.
It is the sincere hope of this Court that all persons accused of traffic or ordinance violations avail themselves of this process in order to achieve the best outcome for each individual and this community overall.
BY THE COURT:
Michael M. Easton Municipal Judge