Court Room Procedures
CITY OF FERGUSON - COURTROOM PROCEDURES NOTICECourt will start on time.
Cellphones and devices
Attorneys may bring cellphones to court, set on SILENT due to their use of calendars. Calls will not be answered or made in the courtroom while court is in session.
All other electronic devices are banned (cellphones, recorders, cameras, pagers, etc.). People appearing in court have a right to privacy. You may wish to return to your vehicle and lock such items out of sight.
When your name is called, please come and stand before the Bench.
You are presumed to be innocent until you plead guilty or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt after a trial.
- You have the right to be represented by an attorney
- You will be informed of the charge that has been filed against you. The range of punishment in the City of Ferguson is a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence of up to 3 months.
You have the right to plead not guilty and have a trial, including a jury trial.
- At a trial, the City is required to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
- You or your attorney will have the right to question the witnesses who testify against you
- You can call witnesses to testify on your behalf
- You may testify if you want to, but you cannot be required to testify
- If you want a jury trial, the case will be certified to the Circuit Court and the trial will take place in Clayton.
If you are found guilty after a trial, you are entitled to a “trial de novo” (basically, a “do-over”) before a different judge in State Court – again, that will be in Clayton.
If you plead guilty, there is no trial of any type and you waive your right to trial, to appeal, to an attorney, and to confront the witnesses against you.
If a fine is assessed and you are unable to pay in full, a payment plan can (and will) be arranged. The plan may require that you appear at a later date if you are not complying with the plan – if you don’t appear as required, a warrant for your arrest could be issued. You will not be penalized for missing a payment, you will be arrested because you did not appear to explain why you are not complying with the plan YOU agreed to.
If you are unable to pay any type of fine, community service in lieu of a fine will be considered. You may be required to appear in court at a future date if you fail to meet your community service obligations – if you fail to appear to discuss why you were unable to fulfill the obligation YOU requested, a warrant may be issued for your arrest for failing to appear.
There is a Uniform Fine Schedule in place for ‘routine’ offenses. By law, some offenses cannot be resolved without a Court appearance – those exceptions include:
- Any violation resulting in personal injury or property damage
- Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of intoxicants or drugs
- Operating a vehicle with a counterfeited, altered, suspended, or revoked license
- Fleeing or attempting to elude an officer
- Any other violation excluded by law.
You should also be aware of:
MISSOURI STATUTE 302.341. 1. If a Missouri resident charged with a moving traffic violation of this state or any county or municipality of this state fails to dispose of the charges of which the resident is accused through authorized prepayment of fine and court costs and fails to appear on the return date or at any subsequent date to which the case has been continued, or without good cause fails to pay any fine or court costs assessed against the resident for any such violation within the period of time specified or in such installments as approved by the court or as otherwise provided by law, any court having jurisdiction over the charges shall within ten days of the failure to comply inform the defendant by ordinary mail at the last address shown on the court records that the court will order the director of revenue to suspend the defendant's driving privileges if the charges are not disposed of and fully paid within thirty days from the date of mailing. Thereafter, if the defendant fails to timely act to dispose of the charges and fully pay any applicable fines and court costs, the court shall notify the director of revenue of such failure and of the pending charges against the defendant. Upon receipt of this notification, the director shall suspend the license of the driver, effective immediately, and provide notice of the suspension to the driver at the last address for the driver shown on the records of the department of revenue. Such suspension shall remain in effect until the court requests setting aside the noncompliance suspension pending final disposition, or satisfactory evidence of disposition of pending charges and payment of fine and court costs, if applicable, is furnished to the director by the individual.