Court Procedures

This may be your 1st visit to this Court, and it is our desire that you be fully advised of your rights and the Court’s procedures. The Initial Appearance session of the Court is primarily for the purpose of taking your plea to the alleged violation of the law.

When your name is called, come forward promptly to the podium immediately in front of the Judge.
Judge Jerome F. Wittstock and Clerk Court Debra Trandum
The Court will inform you of the exact charge against you, the range of possible penalties including points that may be imposed in traffic cases, and will request that you enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or no contest.

Entering a Plea
  • A plea of guilty is an admission that you committed the offense, and the Judge will find you guilty and a penalty will be imposed.
  • A plea of no contest is similar to a plea of Guilty and will be treated the same as a Guilty plea. You are neither pleading guilty nor not guilty, but merely want to have the matter resolved and pay the penalty. However, a conviction arising from a No Contest plea cannot be used against you in a civil action, which could be expected where personal injury or property damage is involved.
  • If you are convicted, you will be given an opportunity, if you wish, to make a statement, before the Court examines your conviction record and sets the penalties.
  • Should you need time to pay the penalty – if you cannot pay in full today – the Court may grant you a reasonable time to pay. If you fail to pay, the Court may set an alternative penalty of imprisonment in jail, suspend your driving privileges (license), intercept your tax refund, and/or send the information to a collections service.
  • If you enter a plea of not guilty, you deny committing the offense, and the matter will be set for a pretrial conference at a later date and possibly a Court trial.
Pretrials
If you plead not guilty, a pretrial conference will be conducted at a later date, so that you can discuss possible settlement with the Prosecutor. Your personal appearance is mandatory at the pretrial. The Judge does not participate in the pretrial hearings, nor does he have to accept any negotiated or amended charge.

Trial

If you desire an attorney, you must retain 1 at your own expense. This Court will not be able to provide you with an attorney. An attorney can explain your rights, and assist you. We urge you to retain your own attorney.

All trials, except non-traffic juvenile cases are public trials. You have the right to retain your own attorney, and to subpoena witnesses. You are presumed innocent and will be convicted only if evidence is clear, convincing, and satisfactory that you committed the violation with which you have been charged. All witnesses must testify in person, and under oath.

The prosecution will produce its witnesses to testify as to the facts and circumstances surrounding your alleged violation. You or your lawyer will be permitted to cross-examine each witness that testifies.

When the prosecution has completed its case, you (or your attorney) will be able to present your case with testimony and/or witnesses surrounding the alleged allegation. The Attorney for the municipality will be permitted to cross-examine each witness who testifies.

When you and the municipality have completed your cases, each will be given the opportunity to summarize, by brief argument, your respective case to the Court. Thereafter, the Court will decide, based upon the testimony, the evidence, and the law, whether to find you guilty or not guilty.

If the Court finds you not guilty, you will be discharged and the complaint against you will be dismissed. If you are found guilty, the extent of the penalty is dependent upon the circumstances surrounding the violation and your past record. The forfeiture amount may be higher or lower than the amount listed on your citation.

Failure to Appear
If you fail to appear at your scheduled pretrial conference or trial, the Court will either issue a warrant for your immediate arrest, or enter a Default Judgment against you and order payment.

Jury Trials
Only if you have been charged with the offense of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (OMVWI), are you entitled to a jury trial in Polk County Circuit Court on a plea of not guilty. You must file a written request for a jury trial with the court clerk within 10 days of your initial appearance, post the jury fee, and post your bond. Failure to comply with the above will result in a trial to this Court.

Appeals
Either party has a right to appeal a Municipal Court decision to the Polk County Circuit Court, or may have a new trial in the Circuit Court.

If you decide to appeal, you must do so by filing a written notice of appeal with the Municipal Court within 20 days of the date of your conviction (judgment). At the same time, you must remit appellate fees payable to “Polk County Clerk of Courts”. New trials in the Circuit Court are tried without a jury, unless you request a jury trial in your Notice of Appeal. Upon payment of the appellate fee, jury fee, and the amount of your penalty, you will then receive a jury trial in the Circuit Court.

You may have a right to file a motion to reopen a judgment, within 6 months of your judgment only for good cause, and upon payment of the reopening fee. Motions to re-open are heard during normal court hours.

Payment Methods
If paying in person, Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. If you mail your payment, please enclose a copy of your citation, along with cash, check, cashier’s check or money order made payable to: Amery Municipal Court. To make a credit card payment, call Government Payment EXP at 888-604-7888 or log on to their website. There is a 4.75% fee charged for this service. Please refer to Pay Location Code #2021.

Failure to Pay Forfeiture

There may be serious consequences if you fail to follow the Court’s orders or pay the forfeiture. The Court may commit a person to jail for not more than 90 days or the Court may order a suspension of your driver’s license for a maximum of 2 years, or until the forfeiture is paid. The Court may send you notice requiring your appearance at a good cause/indigency hearing. We do use Tax Intercept Program to obtain payment and may employ a collections firm to assist in the delinquent payment process.

Probationary Licenses

If you hold a GDL license, points will double the standard number of points assigned to your violation, on the second and subsequent conviction. There will be a 6 month suspension for an accumulation of 12 points in a 12 month period.

Occupational Licenses
You may be eligible to file a Petition with the Department of Transportation for an Occupational License. Petitions are available from the Department of Transportation.

Restitution
If the violation you are charged with involves damage to property, physical injury to a person other than yourself, or monies to cover a bad check (Issuance of Worthless Checks), the court will order you to pay restitution.

Suspension or Revocation of Drivers License
If your driving privileges are suspended or revoked for any reason, you must pay a fee to reinstate your driving privileges at the Department of Transportation.

General Rules
This Court has jurisdiction over traffic and nontraffic ordinance violations in the City of Amery. This is a Court of Law and the rules of proper behavior will be followed. We request that you remove your hats and turn your cell phones off. All attendants are requested to rise when the Judge enters the courtroom. Smoking and foul language are prohibited. Please remain quiet and give others the courtesy to be heard and present their case. Please remove loud children or crying babies. Respect the rights and needs of others. Person who fail to conduct themselves in an orderly manner shall be charged with contempt of court.

We offer this brochure of rules and procedures to help you understand how the Court functions. We wish to leave a lasting, positive impression on each of you, regarding our country’s system of justice.

In conclusion, whether you are found not guilty or guilty, the Court would like to impress upon you the necessity of all of us to voluntarily observe all laws. Each of us desires to make our roads safer places to drive, and our communities’ better places to live and work. Thank you very much.

Remember: Your driver’s license is a privilege, not a right.