What to expect when you go to Court
You should arrive for court at least 15 minutes early and be seated in the court room. Please remove your hat and power off your cell phone. There is no talking, eating, drinking, or smoking during court. As the Judge enters the courtroom, please rise. After everyone is seated, the Docket for the night will be called in alphabetical order. When your name is called, you should be prepared to plead either:
- Guilty with an Explanation, or
- 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 plea explanations below before deciding how to plea. If you decide that you would like to seek the services of an attorney, please inform the Judge and you will be given time to do so.
After the Docket is read, the Judge will call each case individually for consideration.
- If you plead Guilty, the judge will set your fine and / or punishment
- If you plead Guilty with anxplanation, you will have an opportunity to explain any mitigating circumstances. The judge will then set your fine and / or punishment. Your explanation does NOT guarantee a reduction in the amount of the fine assessed.
- If you plead Not Guilty, the judge will set a future court date to hold a trial.
Plea of Guilty
By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the act charged, that law prohibits the act, and that you have no defense for your act.
Before entering a 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. 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 an admission by you, and that you were at fault or were the party responsible for the accident.
You are URGED not to plead guilty if you do not feel that you are guilty.
Plea of Guilty with an Explanation
The plea has the same effect as a plea of guilty, but says that you would like to explain to the Judge mitigating circumstances with respect to the punishment only.
In both cases of a plea of guilty, a fine will be assessed. The mitigating circumstances explained to the judge may or may not have an effect on the amount of the fine assessed.
Plea of Not Guilty
A Plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt and that the City must prove its charges against you.
If you plead not guilty, the judge will set a date for the trial. You will need to decide whether to employ an attorney to represent you at trial prior to your court date. If you plead not guilty, it is up to the judge to determine if there will be a trial.
You may defend yourself, but no one else except an attorney may represent you. At the time of the trial, the City will be required to prove all the allegations against you as contained in the formal complaint “beyond a reasonable doubt”, before a verdict of guilty can be reached. Under the Missouri law, you can be brought to trial only after a formal complaint has been filed. The complaint is the document that alleges what you are supposed to have done, and that your action as unlawful. You have the right to inspect the complaint before trial, and have it read to you at a trial.
You have the right to have your case tried before a jury if you desire. To do this you must inform the judge when you plead not guilty that you wish to have a jury trial and you must pay $30.00 (money order) made payable to Clay County Circuit Court, to the Municipal Court Clerk so that the case can be certified to the Circuit Court in Liberty. This is the cost of filing for a jury trial in the Circuit Court.
You have the right to testify in 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 do choose to testify, the Prosecutor will have the right to cross-examine you. When you testify, try to be fair and calm. Do not try to evade answering any questions.
You may call witnesses to testify in your 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 as soon as possible so that they may be located and subpoenas served, at least one week prior to trial.
During the court session, your name will be called again and you will go before the Judge. The violations that you are alleged to have committed will be read.
PRESENTING THE CASE
As in all criminal trials, the City will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you. After each prosecution witness has finished testifying, you will have the right to cross-examine him or her. Your examination MUST BE IN THE FORM OF QUESTIONS. This is not a time to make a statement and you must not argue with the witness. You will have an opportunity to make a statement 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.
The Judge will base his decision only on the State Law of the City Ordinance involved and the facts as determined by the testimony and other evidence presented. The verdict will be based on the testimony, which sounds most reasonable, and on the facts presented during the trial. In making his determination, he will only consider the testimony of the witnesses who were under oath.
If the Judge finds you guilty, he will announce the penalty. You should be prepared to pay the fine at that time. You may request an extension of time to pay or an extension of ten days to appeal the ruling of the Judge. This Notice of Appeal must be filed with the Municipal Court Clerk within ten days after the verdict.
The amount of fine assessed by the court is affected by the facts and circumstances of the case. Mitigating circumstances may lower the fine. However, aggravating circumstances may increase the fine. In no case may the fine exceed $500.00. All fines are deposited in the General Fund of the City of North Kansas City.
If you are found guilty of an offense, court costs will be added to the fine. Court costs are required by state law and are remitted both to the General Fund of the City and to the State Department of Revenue. Court costs are $31.50.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
If you are not satisfied with the judgment (verdict) of this court, you have the right to appeal the verdict to the Clay County Circuit Court. If you do appeal, you must post an appeal bond which is set by the Judge, and a filing fee of $30.00 (money order) to cover the court costs with the Court Clerk who will forward the money and the case files to the Circuit Court in Liberty. You will be notified of a new court date and another Judge will hear your case again in its entirety. You must file this appeal within ten days of the judgment. If the judgment is not appealed within ten days it becomes final and you must pay the fines and costs assessed by the Court.