Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the questions you may have should you be required to go to court are outlined below.  If you have any questions that are not covered on this web page, please call our Court Clerks at 573-475-3705 or 573-471-2512.  Download Printable Document

What is Municipal Court?
Can you pay a ticket without appearing in court?
What forms of payment are accepted?
What if I do not appear in court on the date set?
What happens at Municipal Court?
What happens if I plead Guilty?
What happens if I plead Not Guilty?
What is a trial?
Do I have the right to be represented by an attorney?
What if I can't afford an attorney?
What if I need to change the date of my court appearance or trial?

Q: What is Municipal Court?

A:  The Municipal Court is a division of the Circuit Court.  Cases in Municipal Court involve alleged violations of City laws.  If you have received a ticket for a municipal ordinance violation, you have certain rights and responsibilities.  The information on this web page is to help you understand these rights and responsibilities.
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Q:  Can you pay a ticket without appearing in court?

A:  Some tickets can be paid without appearing in Court.  You must, however, pay the ticket by 4:00 P.M. the day before your court date.  Sign the back of the ticket and present or mail it to the Court Clerk's office.  If mailing in payment, please be sure to include court costs. (See Citation List and Fine Amounts).   If you are unsure of your fine amount, you must call the court clerk at 573-475-3705.

IMPORTANT: If the ticket is not paid before your court date and you do not appear in court, you may be subject to additional fees and/or penalties.
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Q: What forms of payment are accepted?

A:  Forms of payment accepted are Cash, Money Order, Cashiers Check, and debit or credit cards (VISA, MasterCard, & Discover Card).  DO NOT MAIL CASH.  Sikeston Municipal Court will not be responsible if cash is lost in the mail.
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Q:  What if I do not appear in court on the date set?

A:  You will be mailed a summons or an Order to Appear and Show Cause.  This will be sent to the address on your ticket and it will order you to appear on a given date.  If you do not appear on the date specified, a Warrant may be issued for your arrest.  (An incorrect address on your citation will not absolve you from an Order to Appear, or a Warrant)

If a Warrant is issued, you may be required to post bond to be released from custody.
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Q:  What happens at Municipal Court?

A:  When you are given a ticket, a promise to appear, or a summons, you are also given a court date and time to appear in Municipal Court.

Remember:

  • Persons, purses and backpacks are subject to search.
  • No hats, or chewing gum is allowed in the Court Room.
  • Proper dress and personal hygiene is required.
  • All cell phones must be turned off.
  • Unruly visitors and children will be asked to leave the courtroom per judge's discretion.

When you appear in court, your name will be called.  When your name is called, approach the bench.  The Judge will read the violation that has been filed against you.  If you do not understand the violation, ask the Judge to explain it.  When the Judge asks how you plead, you must say either "Guilty" or "Not Guilty".  Pleas of "No Contest" are not allowed in Missouri Courts.
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Q:  What happens if I plead Guilty?

A:  If you plead guilty, you are admitting to the Judge that you have committed acts which violate a valid City ordinance.  The Judge will then decide what penalty, if any, will be assessed.  At this time, you will have an opportunity to tell the Judge any special circumstances that you believe lessen the seriousness of the violation.  Back to Top

Q:  What happens if I plead Not Guilty?

A:  A plea of Not Guilty means you believe you have not violated the ordinance.  When you plead not guilty, the Judge will set a date for trial.  You may be represented by an attorney at trial or you may represent yourself at trial. If you plead not guilty and later decide to change your plea to guilty, you must reappear in court.
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Q:  What is a trial?

A:  At the trial, the City Prosecutor will first present evidence against you; then you will have a chance to tell your side of the story.  The Prosecutor will call witnesses to testify about the facts alleged in the charge.  When each witness has finished answering the Prosecutor's questions, you or your attorney will have the right to question the witness.  This is called cross-examination.  Cross-examination is not a time when you can testify or argue with the witness.

After all the witnesses for the City have testified, you will have an opportunity to present your case.  You may testify and you may call witnesses to testify; however, you are not required to testify.  If you do testify, the Prosecutor may also question you.

After you have presented your case, the Prosecutor has the right to present "rebuttal" evidence.  Rebuttal evidence is evidence that explains or denies your evidence.  After all witnesses have testified, each side may give a closing argument.

The Judge must then decide if you are guilty or not guilty.  If you are found guilty, the Judge may assess a punishment, considering any explanation offered by you during your evidence while also considering the seriousness of the offense.  If the Judge finds you not guilty, you are free to go.
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Q:  Do I have the right to be represented by an attorney?

A:  Yes.  You have the right to hire an attorney and have him or her speak for you in Court.  If jail is the possible punishment, you may request a court appointed attorney.  If you are financially eligible, an attorney will be appointed to represent you.
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Q:  What if I can't afford an attorney?

A:  If the Prosecutor is requesting that you be sentenced to jail for the violation for which you are charged, the Judge will notify you before you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.  If jail is a possible punishment and you cannot afford an attorney, the Court will appoint an attorney for you.  You do not have a constitutional right to have an attorney appointed if jail is not a possible punishment.
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Q:  What if I need to change the date of my court appearance or trial?

A:  If you need to change your court date, contact the office of the Municipal Court Clerk before the day of court.  It is within the Court's discretion to grant continuances from the Court date,  Before granting a continuance, the Court may require written proof of your excuse.  If you need to change your trial date, you are required to personally appear before the Judge to request a continuance.
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