A MESSAGE FROM THE MUNICIPAL COURT
Your appearance in the Moscow Mills Municipal Court is perhaps your first experience in any court. This information has been prepared to help you understand the court proceedings and to inform you of your rights and duties. Every person should leave this court feeling that he or she has had a fair and impartial hearing or trial.
YOUR RIGHT TO AN ATTORNEY
You have the right to be represented by an attorney. You may employ one to represent you before pleading to any charge, to defend you against charges and to protect your rights in any court procedure before or after the trial.
At the first setting of your case, you have the right to obtain a continuance in order to obtain a lawyer or to prepare your defense. If you desire a continuance, you should request it after your case is called and before entering your plea.
If you are indigent and unable to hire an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney for you if you can show that you can not afford one in a case where a conviction would possibly lead to jail time. However, you may waive such right if you choose. You must appear on your scheduled court date to present your request to the Judge. The Judge will advise if your case and circumstances fit the criteria for appointment of an attorney.
When you are given a citation, you are also given a date and time to appear in court. An arraignment is your first appearance in court. When your name is called, step forward and wait to be summoned before the Judge. The violations that you are alleged to have committed will be read and at that time you should be prepared to plead either:
- Guilty with an explanation, or
- Not guilty.
If you signed a citation in front of an officer, you did not plead guilty, but only signed a promise to appear in court. If you do not come to court when summoned to do so, you are subject to a warrant being issued for your arrest.
Your decision on what plea to enter is the most important decision you will have to make. We suggest that you read the following explanations before entering your plea. If you decide that you would like to seek the services of an attorney, please inform the Judge and you will be given time to do so.
IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY
By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the act charged, that the act is prohibited by law, and that you have no defense for your act.
Before entering a plea of guilty, you need to understand the following:
The City has the burden of proving its case against you. You have the right to hear the City’s evidence and to require the City to prove its case. The law does not require you to prove anything.
You will be sentenced that evening.
The court may allow you time to pay your fine. If you are given an extension to pay the fine, you will receive a sheet explaining payment. Read the sheet carefully. You are responsible to meet any and all deadlines, payment amounts and other sentencing guidelines. The court is not responsible for your failure to do so.
Make sure you appear on the court date noted on the sheet if you have not paid your court fine and/or costs as instructed. Failure to appear in court on the date required will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest
IF YOU PLEAD GUILTY WITH AN EXPLANATION
This plea has the same effect as a plea of guilty, but this gives the Judge the opportunity to consider any unusual circumstances which you believe may be in your favor before you are sentenced.
In both cases of a plea of guilty, a fine will be assessed. The mitigating circumstances explained to the Judge may or may not have an effect on the amount of the fines assessed.
IF YOU PLEAD NOT GUILTY
A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt and that the City must prove its charges against you. Your case will be set for trial and you will be given a date to appear.
If you plead not guilty, you will need to decide whether to employ an attorney to represent you at trial. You may defend yourself, but NO ONE else except an attorney may represent you.
At the time of the trial, the City will be required to prove all the allegations against you as contained in the formal complaint beyond a reasonable doubt, before a verdict of guilty can be reached.
Under Missouri law, you can be brought to trial only after a formal complaint has been filed. The complaint is the document which alleges what you are supposed to have done, and that your action was unlawful.
You have the right to inspect the complaint before trial, and have it read to you at trial.
You have the right to have your case tried before a jury. If you desire to do this, the Judge shall forthwith certify your case to the Lincoln County Circuit Court to be heard on the record in accordance with the procedures applicable before circuit judges with there being no right of trial de novo.
You are entitled to hear all testimony introduced against you.
You have the right to cross examine any witness who testifies against you.
You have the right to testify in your own behalf. You also have a constitutional right not to testify. If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot and will not be used against you in determining your guilt or innocence. However, if you do choose to testify, the prosecutor will have the right to cross examine you.
PRESENTING THE CASE AT TRIAL
As in all criminal trials, the City will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you.
After each prosecution witness has finished testifying, you will have the right to cross examine him or her. Your examination must be in the form of questions. This is not a time to make a statement, and you must not argue with the witness.
You will have an opportunity to make a statement later in the trial.
After the prosecution has presented its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident.
You may also testify in your own behalf, but cannot be compelled to do so.
You may call witnesses to testify in your behalf.
You also have the right to have the Court issue a subpoena for witnesses to ensure their appearance at trial. However, you must furnish the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of these witnesses to the Court as soon as possible so that they may be located and subpoenas served, at least three weeks prior to the trial.
Whether the case is presented by an attorney or the defendant, all parties are held to the same standard of law and legal guidelines for presenting a case at trial.
Court clerks cannot assist you with preparation of your case. You will be responsible for knowing how to present your case at trial.
THE VERDICT AND YOUR RIGHT OF APPEAL
The Court’s verdict will be based on the testimony of witnesses who testified under oath and on the other evidence formally received. The Judge will base his or her decision only on the applicable law involved and the facts, as determined by the testimony and other evidence presented.
If you are found not guilty, the case ends.
If you are found guilty, you may accept the Court’s decision or appeal your case to the Lincoln County Circuit Court, where you will have a new trial with a different judge. The request for appeal must be made within ten days of the Court’s decision and cannot be extended for any reason. A filing fee may be collected with your appeal which will be sent to the Lincoln County Circuit Court. Complete details of the appeal procedure will be explained to you by court personnel upon request.