TRAFFIC TICKETS 101: MUNICIPAL COURT V. CIRCUIT COURT
If you are pulled over in Missouri for a traffic ticket, your case could be heard either in a Missouri municipal court or a Missouri circuit court.
What’s the difference? A municipal court is the court where a town or city enforces their own municipal ordinances. A circuit court is where the state of Missouri enforces its own statutes.
At the bottom of every ticket where the officer can state select whether the violation is of a local ordinance or state law.
When a person speeds say in O’Fallon, Missouri, that speeding ticket is both a violation of a local O’Fallon ordinance prohibiting speeding and of Missouri state law. However, revenue from fines and court costs goes to O’Fallon if it is charged as an ordinance violation and to the state of Missouri if charged as a state law violation.
If you are caught speeding on the highway by a Missouri State Highway Patrol officer or in an unincorporated part of a county by a sheriff’s deputy, both of those tickets are codes as state law violations to be heard at the circuit court in the county where the violation occurred.
If you have a prior offense like a DWI, it likely will be heard in circuit court because of the level of seriousness. That is another factor in determining which court will hear your case.
Generally speaking, it is better to be in municipal court than state circuit court. Municipal prosecutors are much more likely to amend a ticket in exchange for a fine. That can happen at the circuit court too, but often prosecutors are much more reluctant to amend charges or to not attach some period of probation if the charge is serious enough.
Traffic Ticket Center is your traffic ticket lawyer for violations in St. Peters, O’Fallon, Wentzville, Cottleville and St. Charles. We can help you understand how your particular circumstances might differ if you are charged in state circuit court versus a local municipal court.
Remember, you should always hire a traffic ticket lawyer to help you avoid rising insurance premiums and points on your license. Pleading guilty to moving violations can lead to both and affect your ability to drive and to drive affordably.