City of Marion, Wisconsin 

 
 
 
 
 
 

Intial Appearance and Trial Information


 

INITIAL APPEARANCE INFORMATION


 

The court date and time on the front of the citation is the date and time of your initial appearance. This is your opportunity to enter a plea to the charge also listed on the citation. This is not a trial date and the prosecuting attorney nor the judge will not talk to you about the charge until a plea is entered.

Do I need to appear in court on the date and time listed on the citation?

If on the citation it indicates your appearance is mandatory you must appear in court. If you fail to do so the judge may enter a default judgment against you and the judge may issue a warrant for your arrest.

If on the citation it indicates your appearance is not mandatory and depending if you wish to contest the charges you may or may not wish to appear in court.

However, if you choose not to contest the citation and your citation does not designate your appearance is mandatory, you do not have to appear in court. However, you must pay the forfieture listed on the citaiton prior to the court date.

Failure to do so will result in a default judgment being entered against you, and if the forfeiture has not been paid, the judge will order the payment of the forfeiture. Depending on the nature of the charges, if the forfeiture is not paid the judge may enter an order suspending your driver’s license, suspending your vehicle registration or issue a warrant for your arrest.

Please see the informational pamphlet given to you by the issuing officer and the back of the citation you received for additional information.

What are the different pleas I may enter?

You may plead that you are GUILTY, NOT GUILTY or NO CONTEST to the charge against you.

"GULITY” - Admitting to committing the violation

 

"NOT GUILITY” - Denying, in whole or in part, committing the violation

 

NO CONTEST” - Not admitting to the violation but allow the court to find guilt. This plea can not be used in any potential civil litigation. 

 

A continuance may be requested before entering a plea. 

If you enter a plea of Guilty or No Contest, the judge will find you guilty of the charge, impose sanctions, and tell you when it is due. If you cannot pay the forfeiture immediately, you may ask the judge for more time to pay.

How do I enter a plea?

You may enter a plea by either mailing your plea to the municipal court at least two weeks prior to the court date or by making a personal appearance in court on your scheduled court date and time.

.If you decide to mail your not guility plea to the muncipal court, please include your name, date of birth, citation number, type of violation and court date.

What will happen after I plead NOT GUILTY?

The court will notify you in person or by mail of your new court date if you plead not guilty before your initial court date. On that next court date you with have a pretrial conferance with the prosecuting municpal attorney with jurisdiction.  If you do not attend, you will be found in default and guilty of the charge.

What is a pretrial conferance?

At the pretrial conferance you or your attorney will meet the attorney representing the municipality where the alleged violation occured. The municipal attorney does not represent you or the court. The judge stays neutral and independent. The pretrial conferance is not a trial. The judge will not hear any testimony that day. You or your attorney will discuss your case with the municipal attorney. It is up to you or your attorney to decide what evidence or facts you want to share with the municipal attorney concerning your case in the hopes of reaching a settlement. If you reach an agreement, the municipal attorney will submit it in writing to the judge. The judge does not have to accept the agreement, but often does. If you do not reach an agreement with the municipal attorney, the case will be set for a trial.


 

TRIAL INFORMATION


Do I need an attorney for the trial?

You may or may not have an attorney represent you at the trial. An attorney will not be appointed to represent you by the court because the trials do not involve criminal charges.

What happens at trial?

The each municipality retains an attorney to represent it's interest, commonly referred to at a City Attorney or Village Attorney. The municipality has the burden of proving the violation(s) by clear, satisfactory and convincing evidence. The municipality will present their side of the case first. This usually involves calling witnesses and presenting other types of evidence, such as documents, photographs or maps. The municipality may call you to testify as a witness in their case. You will have an opportunity to question the municipality's witness(es). Your questions should be limited to the facts of the case and not arguments about the case. Once the City has presented their side of the case, you will have the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence if you so choose. You may testify in your own behalf. The municipal attorney is entitled to question your witness(es), including yourself if you testify.

After the municipality and you have presented your cases, each party is given the chance to make a closing argument. The municipal attorney makes the first closing argument, and then you have an opportunity to make a closing argument. The municipality has another chance to argue their position after that because they have the burden of proof in this case. After closing arguments, the Judge considers all the admissible evidence and applies that evidence to the municipal ordinance(s) that form the basis for the charge(s) to determine whether you are guilty or not guilty of the violation(s).

Preparing for Trial

Witnesses:
You need to make sure your witnesses are present for the trial. You will need at least two weeks before trial to subpoena them. A subpoena is a document, which orders a person to appear in court for trial. Subpoenas can be obtained from the court. Subpoenas must be personally served on the witnesses and the appropriate witness fees must be paid at the time the person is served with the subpoena.

Do not mail the subpoena to the witness. The Court will provide you with the subpoena information. Do not bring in letters, written statements or affidavits. In most cases those documents are not allowed because they are hearsay.

What information can I get from the municipality about my case?

If you want copies of the police reports to prepare for the trial, you should request those reports in writing from the municipal attorney on the date of your initial appearance or pretrial conferance or within 30 days of that date. You may also request in writing from the municipal attorney a list of the witness(es) the municipality intends to call at the trial. Usually the names listed on the police reports are the witnesses who may appear at the trial. Refer to Wisconsin State Statute 800.07 for more information on discovery in Municipal Court. The Judge will not read the police report before the trial and cannot read the report unless either party properly submits it at the trial. In some cases it may not be admitted because of hearsay issues.

If you have any questions about police reports call the attorney representing the municipality where the alleged violation occured.

Photos, maps and drawings:

If the items are relevant to the case, you may bring them to court. However, the person who drew the drawing(s) or took the photograph(s) must testify as to when, where and how the items were created.

Will I have to pay more than the amount on the citation if I do not appear for my trial, or if I lose at trial?

You might have to pay more. The dollar amount on your citation is not the maximum forfeiture in most cases. If you do not appear for your trial, or if you are found guilty after a trial, a judgment will be entered against you and the Judge has the discretion to impose a higher forfeiture. In addition, there can be extra costs for witness fees, mileage fees and subpoenas.

If I lose at trial, can I appeal?

Yes, there are three appeal options. Each one requires a filing fee. The judge will provide you with a copy of your appeal rights after the trial if you are found guilty. If the muncipality loses the trial, the municipality can also appeal the decision. See the Court Procedure and Decorum for additional information.

Can I settle my case before the trial?

Usually you can settle the case before the trial if you do so at least two weeks in advance of your trial date. Call the attorney representing the municipality where the alleged violation occured.