City of Bel Aire
The Municipal Court's goal is that every person leaves 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 Ordinances Code for Municipal Courts and Kansas Rule of Evidence adopted by the Kansas Legislature. For 2015, Municipal Court will be meeting according to the following schedule
Appearing in Court
The Bel Aire Community Room serves as the Court room for the Municipal Court. The Municipal Judge, Court Clerk and Bel Aire Police Officers will be in attendance at every scheduled event. When you appear in Court you will be required to obey the following rules:
- Appropriate clothing and shoes will be worn.
- The wearing of hats or caps is not allowed.
- Food and drink are not allowed in the Courtroom.
- Cell phones and pagers will be turned off.
Before Court Begins
You must decide upon and enter a plea to the charges against you. If you signed a citation when the officer presented you the ticket, you did not plead guilty. You only signed a promise to appear in Court on your appearance date. Your decision on what Plea to enter is the most important decision you will have to make. We suggest that you read the following pleas and explanations BEFORE entering a plea.
There are three possible pleas to a complaint:
|Guilty||A guilty plea means that 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:
A "Not Guilty" plea means that you are informing the Court that you deny the charges against you.
If you plead "Not Guilty" you will need to decide whether to employ an attorney to represent you. You may defend yourself, but no one else except an attorney may represent you. If you are a minor under the 18 years of age, then one parent should be present at your appearance.
Under the 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 verdict of guilty can be reached.
A plea of no contest 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 against you in a civil suit for damages.
The Right to Trial
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 which alleges what you are supposed to have done, and that your actions were unlawful. You have a right to inspect this complaint before the trial, and have it read to you at the time of trial.
In Municipal Court, you do not have the right to have your case tried before a jury. You do have the right to hear all testimony introduced against you. 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 do 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, at least ten working days before your trial date, so that the witnesses may be located and subpoenas served. The Court will only serve subpoenas within the City; any service outside of the City will be your responsibility.
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 will 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 which sounds most reasonable and on the facts presented during the trial. In making his/her determination he/she can only consider the testimony which sounds most reasonable and on the facts presented during the trial.
If you are found guilty by the judge, he/she 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 days to appeal the ruling of the judge. If you are not satisfied with the judgment of the Court, you have the right to appeal your case to the Sedgwick County District Court. If you do appeal the Judge's judgment, you must file a written notice of appeal with the clerk of the Municipal Court and District Court, deliver a copy to the City Attorney's office, and post an Appeal Appearance Bond in the amount set by the judge. Appeals must be filed within ten (10) days from the date of the original 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 Sedgwick County District Court.
The amount of fine assessed by the Court is affected by the facts and circumstances of the case. 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 $2,500 for City ordinance violations involving driving under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.
A diversion can be offered by the City Prosecutor on certain charges. Neither the Judge nor the Court Clerk has any control over diversions being granted. If you have a good record and no violations of the same type of charge, then you may be eligible for a diversion. The City Prosecutor will be available at Court to discuss possible diversion with defendants.
An attorney is not always required in Municipal Court. You have the right to consult an attorney and obtain one if you desire. Certain cases cannot be disposed of without an attorney. You will be advised by the Judge of your rights if you are charged with one or more of these types of offenses. You will have several options if your charge is of a serious nature. Those choices are:
- You may hire an attorney.
- You may sign a formal waiver of your right to an attorney. If you decide to sign the waiver of counsel, then you are stating to the Court that you are freely choosing to represent yourself and that you will be acting in your own interest instead of an attorney.
- In certain cases, if you desire to have an attorney, ask the Judge to appoint you an attorney because of indigence. The Judge has the right to appoint you one if he finds you indigent. If you have an attorney appointed for you, and are found guilty of any of the charges, then you will be responsible for reimbursing the City for the attorney's fee.