- Municipal Judge & Court
- Types of Hearings
Types of Hearings
These hearings are designed to advise the defendant of his or her rights, provide a reading of the charges by the judge to the defendant, and seek a plea from the defendant.
A plea is the defendant’s answer to the charges. Generally, the pleas available to a defendant are:
- Not Guilty - This plea is entered to inform the Court that the defendant disagrees with the charges and desires to have a trial in front of a judge. Defendants entering a not guilty plea will be set for trial and the defendant must appear for trial.
- Guilty - This plea constitutes an admission by the defendant of the charges and material facts alleged by the Prosecution. If a guilty plea is entered, then the judge will enter a finding of guilt and impose a sentence.
- Alford Plea - This plea is entered if the defendant does not admit the act but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge.
Every accused person has the right to a trial, but there are no jury trials in Municipal Court. All trials are presented to a judge. Trial settings are fact gathering hearings in front of a judge following established legal procedures wherein the prosecution attempts to prove its case against the defendant and the defendant is afforded his/her constitutional rights to present evidence, cross examine witnesses, and confront accusers.
Defendants have the right not to testify at trial and the right not to make any incriminating statements should they choose to testify at trial because any testimony that is given can be used against them. Only defendants or licensed attorneys representing defendants can make arguments and presentations at trial.
The judge cannot act as the legal advisor for defendants. Defendants, if they choose to present a defense, are required to present their cases within the confines of the law, court rules, and criminal procedure.
The prosecution and the defendant can present evidence, including witness testimony, but the burden of proof - beyond a reasonable doubt - is the prosecutor’s obligation to meet.
The judge will review all of the evidence presented and compare it to the applicable law(s) to reach a decision. Typically, the judgment of the court is pronounced on the day of trial, but in some rare instances the judge may take matters under advisement for determination at a later date.
Both the defendant and the prosecutor have the right to request subpoenas from the Court seeking to have witnesses compelled to appear for and present testimony during trial. Subpoena requests must be fully completed and submitted to the Court no less than fourteen (14) days before trial.
Defendants have the right to review prosecution evidence prior to trial - this right is called “discovery”. Defendants desiring discovery must submit a written request to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office within ten (10) days before the date of the trial.
The City Attorney, Prosecution Division, is located at 303 East 3rd, Joplin, Missouri 64801.
Persons found guilty by plea or at trial must be sentenced. Sentencing can occur on the date of arraignment, the date of trial, or may be scheduled for a future setting by the judge.
At sentencing, the prosecution and the defendant have the opportunity to address the judge to request the level of punishment that he or she thinks should be imposed. If found guilty, a minimum judgement of no jail time to 100 days and $1 to $500 can be imposed.
The judge may consider the nature of the offense, past offenses, etc. and rehabilitative options that he or she believes are warranted in the matter as part of the sentence imposed.
Sentences can include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following: fines, fees, costs, incarceration, house arrest, restitution, and/or probation.
Each defendant who is found guilty has the right to appeal his/her conviction to Jasper County District Court. Appeals must be filed within ten (10) days after sentencing in Municipal Court. Moreover, the defendant has the right to be represented by an attorney on appeal, including the right to utilize the same attorney appointed by the Municipal Court judge in the original action. A cost of $30, which must be paid by cashier's check to the Jasper County Circuit Court, is charged for all appeals.
Defendants also have the right to seek expungement of an arrest and/or certain conviction records. Generally, an expungement is the process by which records of criminal arrests or convictions are destroyed or sealed after an expiration of time. A DWI requires a ten-year waiting period with no other DWI violations pending. Other violations may also have more specific requirements. For additional information concerning applications for expungement, please contact the Municipal Court Clerk’s Office.