Municipal Citations

What do you do if you receive a municipal citation?  Is it worth fighting?  Do I even need an attorney?  The attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. believe that there’s always something worth fighting for, even if it’s just a seemingly minor municipal citation.

Court date information

Nearly every officer in the state uses the Wisconsin Uniform Citation when they write a citation.  Whether it’s for a traffic offense such as speeding or a citation for possession of marijuana, the citations are going to look the same.  The most important section to be aware of is in the top left corner.  This is where the court date and time is listed, as well as whether your appearance is required and where the court is located.

What happens next?

If you mail in the deposit amount, the court will treat that as a plea of no contest and you will be found guilty of the violation.  If you want to fight the citation or try to work out a deal with the prosecutor, do not mail in the deposit amount.  Instead, you need to enter a not guilty plea, either in person at your court date or by sending a letter to the court prior to your court date.  Most courts will then give you a new court date, called a pretrial, to come back and speak with the prosecutor about your case.  The prosecutor will often present you with an offer to resolve the case, which you can either accept or reject.  If you accept the offer, judgment will be entered based on your agreement with the prosecutor.  If you reject the offer, your case will be scheduled for trial.

Why do I need an attorney for a municipal citation?

Many people wonder why they need an attorney for a municipal citation.  First, if you hire an attorney, you never have to appear in court.  Your appearance is waived and your attorney will make all of the appearances on your behalf.  This can be very beneficial because there are often two to three separate court appearances required if you were to handle the case on your own.  Further, municipal courts often start with the attorneys when they call the cases, so  you may have to wait over an hour for your case to be called if you’re representing yourself.

Second, prosecutors often give only one “take it or leave it” offer to people handling cases on their own.  There is no negotiating.  However, prosecutors are typically much more receptive to negotiating with other attorneys, especially attorneys who have a reputation for taking cases to trial when they don’t receive a good offer.  They attorneys at Meyer Van Severen, S.C. are never afraid to take a case to trial, even at the municipal court level.

Finally, even if you reach a resolution with the prosecutor, some municipal convictions can have severe impacts beyond just paying a fine.  For example, along with an OWI 1st citation comes a license revocation and a possible ignition interlock order.  A possession of marijuana ticket can impact your eligibility for federal student loans and participation in the military.  An underage drinking ticket can also result in your driver’s license being suspended.  Your attorney will be aware of these collateral consequences and may be able to negotiate a resolution where no conviction is ever entered.

If you or someone you know received a municipal citation, do not hesitate to contact Meyer Van Severen, S.C.  We have experience handling municipal cases throughout the state of Wisconsin and we are willing to fight for the best result possible.