COURT PROCEEDINGS

The initial court appearance date will be an arraignment. You are given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. Pleas of not guilty are set to a trial date.

ARRAIGNMENT :

Arraignment consists of calling the defendant by name, reading the charge, and requiring a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Pleas of not guilty will be set to a trial date. You will not have an opportunity to present any defenses, facts or evidence at arraignment. For DUI and misdemeaners; if the judge determines that you are indigent (financially unable to employ counsel) you may be appointed an attorney.

The prosecutor is not present for arraignments.

Cases disposed of at arraignment are those cases in which a plea of guilty is entered and fine/costs are paid without the option of talking to the prosecutor. Payment in full is required at this time. If you are not able to pay in full, you may qualify for probation.

TRIAL:

In cases set for trial, both the city prosecutor and the defendant are present. Alabama law requires that all trials in Municipal Court be handled by a judge, not a jury. If you are found guilty and wish to appeal the decision you may request a trial in Circuit Court.

Typical Trial Procedure

  • The case is called before the judge.
  • The defendant is informed of his/her charges.
  • Testimony is given and witnesses are questioned.
  • Evidence is presented.
  • Judge makes a ruling.

If not guilty, the defendant is released and no fines or costs are assessed.

If found guilty, appropriate fines, costs, sentence and conditions are imposed as ordered by the judge.

APPEALS:

A defendant found guilty in Municipal Court may appeal the decision. The judge will advise a convicted person of the right to appeal. Written notice must be filed with the Municipal Court within 14 days of the conviction date.

The judge will set the appeal bond amount. Once a case is appealed, it is then transferred to Circuit Court for the county in which the offense occurred.

MISSED COURT APPEARANCE:

Failure to Appear warrants are issued the same day of the scheduled court appearances. Hartselle Municipal Court offers no grace period for missing court and no notices will be sent. If you are arrested and place a bond to get out of jail, your bond may be forfeited if you fail to appear.

COURT ATTORNEYS

Defendants charged with DUI and misdemeanor offenses that are financially unable to employ counsel (indigent), may have counsel appointed to them. In order for the Judge to make this determination, the defendant must truthfully complete a sworn Affidavit of Indigency. If the Judge determines the defendant is indigent, the court will appoint an attorney for the defendant.

The City of Hartselle is not obligated to appoint counsel to criminal defendants who can afford their own counsel.

TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS

Alabama traffic laws are defined in Title 32 of the Alabama Code.

All violations of Alabama traffic laws are charged on a uniform traffic citation form (ticket). By signing the ticket you are not admitting to guilt. You are promising to appear in court.

COURT APPEARANCE NOT REQUIRED:
To take care of tickets not requiring a court appearance, you may bring your ticket in person to the court clerk’s window at City Hall, sign a plea of guilt to the traffic offense and pay for the citation. The deadline for payment is 24 hours before your scheduled court date. Accepted forms of payment made in person are cash, money order or cashier’s check. Personal checks are not accepted.

Payments will not be accepted after the deadline. You must appear in court on your scheduled court date for tickets not paid before the deadline.

To pay your citation by mail, we must receive the signed plea of guilt (located on the back of the citation) and payment within our Municipal Court office at least 24 hours before your prescribed court date. Postmark dates will not be honored as meeting the deadline. Accepted forms of payment by mail are money order or cashier’s check. Personal checks are not accepted.

The address for mailing your plea and payment is:

Hartselle Municipal Court
200 Sparkman St NW
Hartselle, AL 35640

You may also pay your citation online using a debit/credit card.

See Fine/Costs Schedule for a list of fines/costs that are payable without appearing in court.

If you choose to enter a plea of not guilty, you must appear in court on your scheduled court date.

COURT APPEARANCE REQUIRED:
For citations requiring a court appearance, you must appear in court on the date listed on the citation. You will appear before the municipal judge and enter a plea on the charge(s). If you plead guilty, the judge will determine your fine amount and you will be able to pay the fine/costs at that time. If you plead not guilty, your case will be set to a trial date.

Court is held in Hartselle at the Municipal Building (City Hall): 200 Sparkman St NW

If you’re not sure if your citation requires a court appearance, you may check the fine schedule on our website. If you do not see the charge on the list, you may contact the court office at 256-773-2703.

First time traffic offenses may be eligible for defensive driving school allowing you to keep a clean driving record. Requests for driving school are done at your court appearance and granted by the judge.

  • Certain traffic offenses require a court appearance such as:
  • Driving while license suspended, revoked or canceled
  • Passing a school or church bus
  • Reckless Driving
  • Failure to register vehicle
  • Racing on highway
  • Improper Passing – double yellow lines
  • Crossing Median