Handling Criminal Charges In Alabama Municipal Court
Many misdemeanor cases and municipal ordinance violations are handled in an Alabama Municipal Court. Municipal courts are established throughout the state of Alabama under the Alabama State Code. Almost every city and town in the state has a Municipal Court. Alabama Municipal Court is presided over by a locally appointed or selected municipal court judge. Each Municipal Court has its own prosecutor. Typically, Alabama cities and towns are allowed to establish their own sets of city ordinances which governs matters within the city limits, including criminal activity. Cities and towns establish criminal ordinances which criminalize various types of behaviors and acts. In addition, all cities and towns adopt the Alabama Criminal Code and its criminal offenses as part of their own city and town ordinances.
Typical municipal court cases include: DUI, criminal trespass, domestic violence, harassment, shoplifting, public intoxication, misdemeanor marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, speeding tickets, and other traffic violations
If you are arrested or charged in a city or town in Alabama with either a misdemeanor, a violation, or an ordinance violation the charge will be brought in the case will be heard in an Alabama Municipal Court within the town or city where the offense occurred. Because the cases heard in an Alabama Municipal Court are either misdemeanors, violations, or city ordinance violations the punishment imposed is limited to one year in jail and fines typically not exceeding $500.00. There are exceptions to the limits on fines for various specific criminal acts such as Driving Under the Influence. In these circumstances the Alabama Criminal Code provides the appropriate minimum and maximum punishments both in terms of jail time and criminal fines.
Alabama Municipal Courts do not have jury trials. Instead they are presided over by a municipal court judge who decides the case. Court proceedings in an Alabama Municipal Court are typically not as formal as those in Alabama district and circuit courts. Nevertheless, a municipal court charge is a serious charge. You could be incarcerated in the city jail for up to one year and you could face fines in the thousands of dollars depending on the particular charge. In addition you can be placed on probation, required to pay restitution, or required to attend particular classes or programs as part of your sentence. An Alabama Municipal Court charge is still a criminal charge, and results in a criminal record.
Because the United States Constitution and the Alabama Constitution guarantees its citizens the right to a jury trial, all municipal court proceedings in Alabama can be appealed to a higher court for a jury determination. If you are convicted in an Alabama Municipal Court, you may file an appeal within 14 days. The appeal goes to the local County Circuit Court. Appealing and Municipal Court conviction is a technical process, and the assistance of an experienced Alabama criminal defense attorney is essential. More information on Municipal Court Appeals.
The lawyers at Bradford Ladner LLP are experienced in handling municipal court matters. Early in his career, William Bradford served as a city prosecutor for the City of Birmingham. Later, he served for several years as the prosecutor for the City of Adamsville, Alabama, handling cases in the Municipal Court as well as representing the City in appeals in Jefferson County Circuit Court. Amber Ladner also has experience as a city prosecutor, handling city court appeals on behalf of the City of Kimberly. Beyond our experience as prosecutors, we have handled thousands of Municipal Court cases on behalf of clients throughout Alabama. We’ve also handled countless appeals from Municipal Court proceedings and successfully defended clients in jury trials at the circuit court level.
If you’re been charged in a Municipal Court case, please call us for a free consultation.