December 18, 2014

Municipal Court

The City of Sterling Municipal Court is one of limited jurisdiction. It has the authority to hear cases involving violations of the City’s ordinances. They consist primarily of traffic offenses, disturbances of the peace, minor in possession of tobacco, drugs or alcohol, theft of under $500, curfew violations and animal cases which occur within the city limits.

The Court is held every Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. and continues until all cases are heard. In the morning the Court holds arraignments at which the accused is advised of his rights and enters his plea. Trials are generally held in the afternoon beginning at 1:00 p.m.

People appearing in Municipal Court may be represented by an attorney, but it isn’t required. The defendant may ask to have an attorney appointed to represent him/her if that person faces a possible jail sentence and qualifies financially.

If a trial is requested, the case is usually heard by the judge, but can be heard by a jury if requested in writing and a fee is paid. The jury would consist of three persons, unless the accused asks for a six person jury. A right to a jury trial only exists if you are over 18 at the time of the offense, if it is a traffic charge that would result in more than 4 points being assessed against your license, and is not an animal violation or City code violation. If a person wants his case heard before a jury, it is best to have an attorney help you with the trial.

The Municipal Court has authority by statue to impose a maximum fine of $999.00 or a jail sentence of 90 days or any combination of these two. Generally, if you appear in court and are found guilty, you will be assessed court costs, Useful Public Service fees, witness fees and restitution, if appropriate.

While it isn’t necessary to be trained in the law to handle your trial, you should come prepared to present a defense. If you are unsure of how a trial is conducted, you can attend any of the Wednesday afternoon trials and watch how a trial is handled. Such advance preparation could be helpful in presenting your case. At the trial the City Attorney will present and question the witnesses of the City. Each defendant may cross-examine each witness. If the defendant calls any witnesses as part of his defense, the City Attorney may cross-examine them.

The Municipal Judge is a lawyer licensed to practice law in the State of Colorado. Since the position of Municipal Judge is a part-time position, the Judge may practice law in addition to sitting on the bench. The Judge is appointed for a two-year term by the City Council. His conduct is governed by both the City Council and the State Rules of Judicial Conduct.

The Court employees consist of a full-time Municipal Court Clerk who is present to perform court business five days per week. The Clerk is present for the day to day operation of the Court.