Do I need an attorney?
If you decide to take your case to trial, an attorney WILL NOT be provided to you by the court. You may decide to choose to hire an attorney or represent yourself. If you choose to represent yourself, please read the following information carefully.
What happens at a trial?
This is a formal hearing where the Prosecuting Attorney (representing the Village) and the Defendant (you) have the opportunity to present evidence before the Municipal Judge. The Village has the burden of proving their case by clear, satisfactory, and convincing evidence. The Village will produce witnesses to testify as to the facts and circumstances of your case, including the ticketing officer. You are permitted to cross examine each witness after the Village Attorney is finished questioning. When the Village is done with its presentation, you then have the opportunity to testify on your own behalf, call your witnesses, and introduce evidence. The Village is permitted to cross examine your witnesses. After all the evidence has been heard by the Judge, you and the Village each have the opportunity for closing arguments.
The Judge then applies the admissible evidence to the specific state statute or city ordinance that you were charged with violating, and makes a determination of Guilty or Not Guilty. If you are found Not Guilty, you will be discharged and the complaint and forfeiture will be dismissed. If you are found Guilty, the Judge will impose a forfeiture and you will have 60 days to pay.
What about witnesses, my testimony, photos, maps, drawings, police reports, witness statements?
It is your responsibility to make sure your witness will be there on the date of the trial. If you have doubts that they will appear voluntarily, you have the right to subpoena them to court. Your witnesses should have personal knowledge of your case based on what they saw or heard at the time. Do not bring in letters or statements written by others at your request, they are considered hearsay and will not be admitted as evidence.
Process to Subpoena:
You do not need to use a subpoena if a witness will voluntarily appear on your behalf.
Print the Subpoena Form
At the top, fill in the name and address of the witness you are subpoenaing. If you know the business address and home address, provide both.
The clerk will fill in the rest. NOTE: The Municipal Judge must see and sign all subpoenas.
Take the original and make at least one (1) copy. Have a reliable adult personally deliver a copy to the witness or arrange for a professional process server to do so. The Sheriff's Office will also perform service on your behalf for a fee. You cannot simply mail it to the witness or leave it taped to the person's door; it must be handed to the person or left at the person's place of abode with someone at least 14 years old. It is better if it is left with an adult and you can confirm that the witness does reside where you left it.
You must pay the following witness fees at the time you serve the subpoena: $5.00, plus round-trip mileage to the courthouse from the person's home at $.20 per mile. You must pay the witness by cash, check, money order or certified check. Have the witness sign a receipt showing the payment amount and date. Bring the receipt to the trial. You will NOT be reimbursed for the witness costs even if you win at trial.
The person serving the subpoena must fill out an Affidavit of Service, which must be notarized (may be done at the village office).
Bring the notarized affidavit of service to your court date.
If you have photos, maps, drawings that you believe will help the Judge to understand your case, be sure that whoever took the photos or made the drawings are prepared to testify about how and why the items came into being.
If you want copies of your statement, witnesses’ statements taken by police, and/or the police reports, to help you prepare for trial, contact the court no later than two weeks before the scheduled trial date. The court will need time to acquire police documents pertaining to your case, after your initial appearance date.
If you plan to testify on your own behalf, think about what you are going to say beforehand. If you decide to testify on your behalf, the Village Attorney has the right to cross examine you.
How much will this cost?
There is no cost to pleading Not Guilty. However, you will be required to pay for witness fees for any witnesses you request or subpoena. The cost per witness is $5.00 + $0.20/mile of travel. If you subpoena witnesses, you will not be reimbursed for these or other expenses, even if you are found Not Guilty.
What if I cannot make it on the scheduled day?
You must call at least 48 hours in advance to cancel/reschedule a trial. Failure to attend your trial will result in a Guilty by Default verdict and you will be required to pay a forfeiture as determined by the judge.
Can I appeal if I am found Guilty?
If you are found Guilty at Trial, you have the right to an appeal. All appeals need to be in writing and submitted to the Hobart/Lawrence Municipal Court. It must be filed within 20 days after the trial. All costs including appeal fees, forfeiture and costs must all be paid when the appeal is submitted. The appeal is forwarded to the Brown County Circuit Court. They will assign a Judge and schedule the hearing. If you fail to meet your 20 day time limit, you have lost your right to appeal. More appellate information can be found here.