Frequently Asked Court Questions
You have just received a citation for a traffic or municipal ordinance violation. Please keep in mind that the officer who issued the citation is only doing the job for which he or she was trained. The officer’s main concern is for the safety of yourself and others. At this point you have some choices to make. This section is designed to answer the most commonly asked questions concerning your rights and responsibilities as they apply to Municipal Court.
Do I have to go to court?
If your citation indicates that it is a mandatory appearance, you must appear for your court date. Failure to do so may result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.
If your citation indicates that your appearance is not mandatory, you do not need to appear. If you choose not to appear, your fine will be due on or before your court date as indicated on your citation. In this case, you will be found guilty and the money posted will be accepted as payment of the forfeiture. If you fail to appear and fail to pay your fine, a default judgment will be entered against you and a notice will be mailed to you indicating the amount owed, and when it is due.
I want to plead 'Not Guilty'
If you want to plead 'Not Guilty', you have two options:
You may come to your court date and enter a plea verbally; you will receive a pre-trial conference notice at that time.
You may send this form to our office via fax, mail, email, or in person. It must be received prior to your court date; you will receive a pre-trial conference notice by return mail.
Pretrial Conferences are held on the third Wednesday of each month. The Pretrial Conference is a private meeting with the prosecuting attorney. At this meeting you have the opportunity to fully discuss your case and come to a mutually acceptable agreement concerning the disposition of your citation. If an agreement is reached, it will be presented in writing to the Judge. If the Judge approves the agreement, you will be given a copy and must follow the agreed upon terms. If you cannot come to an agreement with the prosecuting attorney, your case will be scheduled for trial in front of the judge.
What happens at a Trial?
Can I change my court date?
You may request to reschedule your court date one time. You must contact the court BEFORE your court date/time. You can request a continuance by filling out this form and sending email, fax, mail, or in person. You will be scheduled for the next available court date.
I am unable to pay my fine by the due date.
You may request a monthly payment plan or an extended due date PRIOR to your original due date in two ways:
Appear at your payment hearing
Contact the court via phone, email, fax, mail, or in person
What if I don’t pay my fine?
If you fail to pay your fine by the due date, any of the following may occur:
Suspension of driver’s license until fine is paid or for one year
Debt is sent to the Department of Revenue for Tax Refund Intercept
Issuance of a Warrant/Writ of Commitment for your arrest/incarceration
I’m worried about the points to be assessed against my driving record. How do I know if I’m in point trouble?
If you are found guilty of a traffic violation, your driving record may be charged with demerit points. The points assessed for the offense you have been charged with is indicated on top of your citation next to the forfeiture amount. If you accumulate 12 points against your driving record within a one-year period (by date of violation), your license will be suspended or revoked. If you have questions about the status of your license you should call DOT directly at 608-266-2353 or visit their web site at www.dot.wisconsin.gov. If you have a probationary license, the demerit points are doubled for your second or subsequent moving violation conviction.
What are the differences between Not Guilty, No Contest and Guilty Pleas?
NO CONTEST: This plea means you are not contesting the charge and the Court must adjudge you guilty. If you are involved in an incident where you may be sued civilly, the plea of no contest in this court may not be used against you in any other action or in any other court. You may plead no contest to any charge in this court
GUILTY: This plea is an admission against interest which can and may be used against you civilly.
NOT GUILTY: If you plead not guilty, you will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference with the Hobart/Lawrence Prosecuting Attorney before appearing in front of the judge. This will take place at a later date and time. If an agreement cannot be reached at this conference, a trial will be scheduled and held in this court.
Note: a jury trial cannot be requested for any municipal/traffic charge except operating while intoxicated or blood alcohol content. If you plead not guilty to a charge of OWI/BAC and want a jury trial, you must make a demand of this court in writing within 10 days of this appearance, and you must accompany your written demand with the jury fees of $36.00 for a six-person jury trial. You must also post the bond, or acquire a bond waiver along with a $5.00 transfer fee. Check should be made out to the Brown County Clerk of Courts. The case will then be transferred to the Brown County Circuit Court for the jury trial and all further communications would be from them. If you do not properly request the jury trial within this period, you are forever barred and your case will be heard in this court.
You also have the right to a trial in another Municipal Court. If you choose to do so, you must make a written demand in this court within 10 days of your appearance or you will be forever barred from transferring the trial.