Municipal Court FAQ
- Who can I talk to about my case?
Concerns about the actions of a police officer should be taken up with the Chief of Police, Gene Garcia, 316-584-2349. However, he will not comment on the validity of a ticket/charge nor will he take legal action on your behalf (such as voiding the ticket).
The Court Clerk will be happy to explain the court’s rules and procedures, and give other general information that you may need. She cannot give advice nor discuss particulars of the case with persons not directly involved.
Questions about plea bargains, reduction of charges, sentencing alternatives should be taken up with the City Prosecutor at the time of hearing. You may be required to set the matter for court so the prosecutor will speak with you.
- Can I speak with the Judge before my court date?
No. It is unethical for the Judge to hear only one side of a case or without the other side being present. You can speak to the Judge at the time of your arraignment hearing.
- Can I speak with the City Prosecutor before my court date?
- It is better that you come before the Court and request to speak with the Prosecutor at that time. He is an attorney who works in the Wichita area and generally does not have the court records with him. If you feel it is imperative that you speak with the Prosecutor, please contact the Court Clerk first and see if she is able to help you. If not, she will obtain your phone number and have the Prosecutor contact you.
- Can I pay my ticket before coming to Court?
- In some instances you may be able to pay your ticket before coming to court; however, it depends upon the ticket you have received. Most traffic infraction can be paid prior to court. If the officer issuing your ticket has written the fine and cost amount on the back of your ticket, then you may pay prior to court. Payments are received in the form of check, cash or money order, and credit cards are also now accepted at an additional cost of $3.95 per transaction. The mailing address is located on the back of the ticket.
- Can I obtain an extension for first appearance or payment?
By court rules, a defendant can request an extension of his first appearance from the Court Clerk; however, this is dependent upon the type of ticket you have received. On some misdemeanor charges, the court prefers not to continue. On infraction charges, an extension must be requested to the Court Clerk before 3:00 p.m. on the date of appearance and can be extended to the next court date. Further extensions or continuances may be granted depending on the necessity for such extension, but must be agreed upon by the City Prosecutor and/or approved by the Judge.
If you are scheduled on the Pay or Appear docket and cannot make payment, you are required to come before the Court to request additional time to pay. Under extenuating circumstances, the Court may allow an extension of your appearance, but you must contact the Court Clerk prior to court so that approval from the Judge can be obtained.
- Can I pay my fine in installment payments?
- At the time you are sentenced, the Judge and Clerk can set up installment payments. These payments are also set on the Pay or Appear docket. As long as payments are made according to the Pay or Appear agreement, then you will not be required to appear in Court. If you fail to pay as agreed and also fail to appear in Court, a warrant can be issued for your arrest. If there is a problem with making the agreed upon payment and/or not being able to appear, contact the Court Clerk prior to your scheduled court date.
- What are administrative fees and court costs and why must I pay them?
If a defendant receives a traffic infraction or minor in possession of tobacco products and then defendant fails to appear at first appearance and has not requested a continuance, the Judge will assess an administrative (or fail to appear) fee of $25.00 for failure to appear.
In addition to your fine, the state and local governments also assess court costs. The Clearwater Municipal Court assesses court costs of $65.00 in all cases involving traffic infractions, tobacco charges, curfew violations, nuisance, animal and loud sound violations. In all cases that are not infractions and are considered to be misdemeanors, which include serious traffic violations, the court assesses court costs of $130.00. The Municipal Court does not retain the entire amount. $20.50 of that amount is paid to the State of Kansas for Law Enforcement Training and Municipal Judges Training as required by state law.
- Do I need an attorney?
- Whether or not you need an attorney is your choice. Each defendant has the right to representation by an attorney. The City has a City Prosecutor who is the legal counsel for the City of Clearwater. Some traffic and misdemeanor cases carry a jail sentence and if convicted, the defendant can be sentenced to jail. If a defendant wishes to represent him/herself and the charge is a jail able offense, the Judge will require the defendant to sign a Waiver of Counsel. Furthermore, before a defendant is allowed to speak with the prosecutor regarding his/her charges and if the offense is jailable, a Waiver of Counsel must also be signed.
- Can I have a court-appointed attorney?
Before a defendant is eligible for a court-appointed attorney, he/she must meet certain requirements.
- The charge must be a jailable offense.
- A defendant must be without financial means to retain and attorney. He/She will be required to complete an Affidavit of Indigence sworn before the court verifying his/her financial situation.
The Judge will then make a decision based on the information contained in the Affidavit as to whether or not a defendant is indigent. At that time, the Judge will then appoint an attorney to represent the defendant and the defendant is provided information to contact his/her attorney at the time of appointment. The Court will further furnish the attorney with all pertinent records relating to the defendant’s charges. THIS ATTORNEY IS NOT FREE. The attorneys are appointed to represent the defendant at a reduced charge and the defendant is responsible for repayment to the City for these charges.
- What happens if I miss a court date?
Should you miss a court date without obtaining an extension of your first appearance, then the Judge can either issue a bench warrant for your arrest (depending upon the type of charge), or charge an additional administrative fee of $25.00 to your costs and order that a letter be forwarded to you advising of your failure to appear. This entirely depends upon the charge and is at the Judge’s discretion.
In addition, if you miss your first appearance court date, a Notice of Failure to Comply will be forwarded to you automatically setting your appearance on the next court date. You will have 30-days to comply by either contacting the Court Clerk to reset your case on the docket, or forwarding payment as indicated on the letter to the Court if your charge is an infraction. If you fail to do either, then notification will be sent to the State of Kansas, Driver Control Bureau requesting suspension of your driver’s license.
If a defendant is under a bond, the bond will be forfeited and a bench warrant will be issued.
Failure to appear for trial or sentencing will also result in an immediate warrant being issued.
- Do you offer diversions on traffic tickets?
- The Clearwater Municipal Court does not normally offer diversion on traffic tickets. Although, it is possible that at the time of a defendant’s appearance before the Court, if they request to speak to the City Prosecutor about their charges, these charges can be reduced to a lesser charge. This is entirely at the prosecutor’s discretion and the fine for said reduction will usually be higher than that of the original charge. These reduced charges sometimes are considered a non-moving violation and do not go against your driving record.
- How do I get my driver’s license reinstated after the Court has it suspended?
- Before the Clearwater Municipal Court can request for reinstatement of your driver’s license, all other fines, costs and fees due to the City of Clearwater must be paid first, along with the mandatory reinstatement fee. The reinstatement fees are $59.00 for each charge against you, along with a $22.00 surcharge, both of which are assessed by the State of Kansas. For example, if you have a speeding ticket and failure to use turn signal, then the fee would be $81.00 each, or a total of $162.00. Upon payment of all amounts due, the Clerk will forward to the State of Kansas, (via electronic transmission) an Order Withdrawing Suspension. The Court forwards the reinstatement fee to the State. It takes approximately five to seven days for the State to complete the suspension withdrawal. Should you drive while your license is suspended, you can be arrested and taken to jail.
- Can my spouse come to court for me?
- No. The person who received the ticket or charge must appear before the court. His/her spouse cannot speak for the defendant. Your spouse may come with you to court; however, they cannot appear for you.
- When I come to court on my first appearance, do I need to provide evidence or witnesses?
- No. The date indicated on your ticket or notice to appear is for your first appearance. If you request a trial, you will be given a later date for your trial. Then on the date of your trial you can present your evidence and/or witnesses. If you do have witnesses that you want to be present, please furnish their names, addresses and phone numbers to the Court Clerk so that proper subpoenas can be issued.
- What do I wear to court?
Please dress appropriately. DO NOT wear halter, crop or tank tops, or cut-off shorts to court. Baseball caps and other hats should be removed. Please dress to show respect.
Food is not allowed into the court.
Turn off all cell phones. Should your phone go off during court, it could be confiscated by the Bailiff and then returned at the end of the court session.