The Municipal Court Criminal Process

Attorney Tyson Mutrux describes in this video the Municipal Court Criminal Process.

Hi Tyson Mutrux here again with the Mutrux Law Firm and today we’re going to talk a little bit about the Municipal Court Criminal Process. It’s actually a very similar process. It’s very different to the process that you’ll see in Circuit Court whenever you’re talking misdemeanors and felonies being handled in circuit court. Now what you’re going to see in Municipal Court are typically traffic tickets or ordinance violations. Let’s say it’s a trespassing, or a marijuana violation. There are a lot, especially in St. Louis County, St. Louis City Municipal Court, a lot of the Jefferson County Municipal Court, and around the State you will see some smaller municipal courts that handle cases. The bulk of the the ones in the State are handled in St Louis, and that includes St. Charles County. I’m including the greater St. Louis area.

So what the process is, generally, whenever it comes to the attorneys, we will normally enter our appearance and request a recommendation from the prosecuting attorney, and request any evidence. Now I’m talking about the criminal cases. I’m going to talk about traffic tickets in another video. But, when it comes to criminal cases, we request discovery, enter our appearance, and request for recommendation from the prosecuting attorney. It’s basically, if you think about it, it’s like requesting a plea agreement in a felony case. It’s equivalent to that.

So, let’s say it’s a DWI handled in the Municipal Court. We’re requesting recommendation, requesting discovery, and we wait to get that information. It usually comes at one time. So we get the evidence, that’s discovery, and the recommendation from the prosecutor, that’s their offer, usually at the same time. What happens then is we usually will evaluate that, review that with the client, we’ll go through all the facts that’s in the police report that’s in the evidence, we’ll review the offer with the client and then at that time they’ll have a chance to decide whether or not they want to take the offer or go to trial.

Now, at that point you have two different routes. You can request a jury trial in the Circuit Court. At that point it’s basically sent to a higher level court, it’s sent to the Circuit Court. You can then have a trial with a jury, there. The other option is you can have a bench trial in front of a judge in the Municipal Court, basically just like you would have in the circuit court level. It’s just you, your attorney, the prosecuting attorney and the Municipal Court judge. Which is usually a private attorney acting as a judge.

Obviously, if you win the case goes away. If you lose at that level, you can request what is called a Trial De Novo. It’s essentially an appeal. You get a do-over in Circuit Court. So you can actually completely lose in the Municipal Court level and appeal it to the Circuit Court level and you’ll basically get another bite at the apple. It’s risky because if you do that, generally the prosecutor is going to withdraw any offer they have made on the case. So, if you choose that route there are consequences. So make sure you know about that.

So that should give you an idea on what the Municipal Court process is. Obviously, if you want to take a plea recommendation if they have amended it down to, let’s say, a littering, something like that where it’s just a fine, you actually do not need to appear in court in front of the judge to do that plea. You can just sign off on the paperwork, pay the fine and you’re done. Now, let’s say you’re getting probation, 9 times out of 10 you’re actually going to have to go in front of a judge, plead guilty and sign off on all the paperwork, sign up for the classes and probation that night. So, obviously it’s two different ways of doing it. You can do the plea, and if you do the plea you’re not going to be able to appeal to the next level unless there was some error made on the part of your attorney or the judge. Or you can go to trial. If you go to trial you can still actually appeal that to the next level, and if you lose at the next level you can appeal that again. There’s a different set of appeals. That’s a completely different can of worms and we’re not going to get into it in this video.

That should explain the process for you. If you have any other questions go to , or check us out at (888) 550-4026. Thanks a lot and thanks for watching.