Options: When you come to court for an informal hearing you have three options.
Admit Responsibility without Explanation: You may tell the magistrate you want to just pay the ticket. The magistrate will hear no explanation nor take any testimony from you. Rather, the magistrate will just assess fine and costs and send you out to the cashier to pay the ticket.
Admit Responsibility with Explanation: By choosing this option, you are telling the magistrate the violation did occur, but you wish to offer an explanation as to the mitigating circumstances which caused the violation to occur. After hearing your explanation, the magistrate may decide to adjust your fines and costs based on your explanation. The magistrate cannot waive or reduce the points associated with your ticket. Points or driving records are not within the jurisdiction of the district court.
Deny Responsibility: If you choose not to admit responsibility, the magistrate will conduct the informal hearing by taking sworn testimony from you and the officer who issued the violation. After hearing the testimony, it is the magistrateís job to determine if you are responsible for the violation.
Responsibility for a civil infraction is established by a preponderance of the evidence, NOT beyond a reasonable doubt as in a criminal trial. What this means is the officer only needs to show by a 51% to 49% majority of the evidence that the violation was committed.
If you plead not responsible: If you plead not responsible and are found responsible for the violation and you are not satisfied with the judgment, an appeal is a matter of right and you may appeal the judgment to a formal hearing which will be held before one of the judges. The procedure to appeal the magistrateís decision is as follows:
- The appeal must
be made within seven (7) calendar days of the decision. If the appeal
is received anytime after the 7th day, it will not be accepted.
- You must post a cash appeal bond at the time of your appeal equal to the fines/costs imposed by the magistrate pursuant to the Court Rule.
Once these two procedures are completed, you will receive a formal hearing date. At the formal hearing, the judge will rehear all the testimony and decide if you are responsible for the violation.
If you plead responsible: If you plead responsible, and the magistrate accepted your plea of responsibility, there is no appeal of the right. However, you may do the following:
- Within fourteen
(14) calendar days after the admission of responsibility, you may
file a motion to withdraw the admission. If the request is received
anytime after the 14th day, it will not be accepted.
- 2. You must post a cash bond at the time of your request, equal to the fines/costs imposed by the magistrate pursuant to Court Rule.
If the court grants the request, the case will be scheduled for either a formal hearing or an informal hearing. If the court denies the request, the bond will be applied to the fines/costs.
Points: A judgment of responsible for a civil infraction results in the assessment of violation points on your driving record. These points are assessed by the Secretary of State, and NOT by the District Court. Many people ask the magistrate to waive or reduce the points. Unlike fines and costs, the magistrate and judges have absolutely no power to adjust the number of points to be assessed.
Under Advisement Programs: Many people ask the magistrate to take the civil infraction "under advisement" or to place them on probation for the civil infraction. There is no statutory authority allowing magistrates or judges to provide for this practice. The 17th District Court does not take civil infractions "under advisement".
Informal Hearings Adjournment Policy: Please contact the court for out policy
Failure to Appear:
Failure to appear for your scheduled Informal Hearing will result in a $40 default fee being added to the fines and costs of the violation. Additionally, you will be required to post a cash bond in the full amount of your fines/costs in order to file a motion to set aside default. If the motion is granted, you will receive a new court date. If the motion is denied, the bond will be applied to the ticket.
All fines and costs must be paid on the day of your informal hearing.
Proper Attire: Proper attire is required for all courtrooms.
Check-In Policy: You are required to sign in on the sheet in the magistrate's courtroom.