Courtroom Code of Conduct
When visiting Satsuma Municipal Court, please abide by the following rules of conduct while court is in session. This is for the consideration of court proceedings and those around you.
- You must silence all cell phones and electronic devices while court is in session. The bailiff will confiscate any devices in violation of this rule and return it when court is over after your fine is paid in full.
- You should dress appropriately for court. You should not wear shorts, tank tops, muscle shirts, or dirty or torn clothing. You should wear clothing that fits and does not expose your mid-section. Men will not be allowed to wear hats in the court room. No hoods or sunglasses may be worn inside the court.
- You should find a babysitter for your child. Court is no place for children. If you have no alternative but to bring them with you, you will be expected to keep them under supervision. If your children disrupt court proceedings they will be asked to leave.
- You will be expected to be on your best behavior while visiting the court. You will be expected to be polite, courteous, and respectful to the judge, court personnel, and your fellow citizens.
- You will not be allowed to bring food or drink (including bottled water) into the court room.
- You will not be allowed to enter the Municipal Court with any type of weapon. Court security will not be responsible for holding prohibited items.
- You will not be permitted to use any type of tobacco products while inside the municipal court building.
Coming to Court
About Your Court Date
- Traffic Citations
The court appearance date will be at the bottom of the citation in the space marked Court Appearance Date.
The court appearance date was given to you at the time you bonded out of jail.
- General Information
The court is obligated to follow the date on our copy of the records.
If you have questions about your court date, please contact the court as soon as possible, but no later than the day before your scheduled court date.
Court Security Screening
Upon entering the municipal court area, you will be subject to a search of your person and your belongings. This search is carried out via a walk-through metal detector for your person. You may also be searched with a handheld metal detector and/or an actual physical pat down.
To ensure a quick and smooth entry into the court area, you should not have any of the items listed below:
- Alcohol or drugs
- Clothing with lewd or suggestive writing or images
- Mace or pepper spray
You will not be allowed to leave any of these prohibited items at the security check point. You must leave the prohibited items in your vehicle. This is for your safety and the safety of others.
Appeal Process in Satsuma
A defendant who has been found guilty in municipal court may appeal the decision. The judge will advise a convicted person of the right to appeal and that written notice must be filed with the municipal court within 14 days of the conviction date. A mere oral statement of a desire to appeal is insufficient; the notice must be in writing and an appeal bond must be filed within the 14 day period.
The judge will set the appeal bond amount, which by law cannot exceed two times the total fines and costs or the $1,000 if no fine and court costs are assessed. Once a case is appealed, the case is then transferred to circuit court for the county in which the offense occurred and the entire case is heard anew (de novo).
Most tickets are not eligible for dismissal. Specifically, expired tag tickets are not dismissible, even if you can show you have since renewed the tag. Regardless of ownership of the vehicle, if you are issued the ticket the ticket is your responsibility.
Certain tickets may be dismissed if various criteria are met, prior to the court appearance date:
- No License in Possession
If you are issued a citation for driving with no license in possession, a judge or magistrate may dismiss your citation if you can show that you had a license, which was valid at the time you received your ticket.
- No Insurance
If you are issued a citation for driving a vehicle without insurance, the judge may dismiss your citation upon payment of court costs if you present insurance on that vehicle, which was valid at the time of your citation. This proof must show, at a minimum, the vehicle covered, the policy number, the starting date of coverage, and the end date of coverage.
Court staff may contact your insurance company to determine if the insurance was valid. Presentation of false insurance is a crime. If you did not have insurance at the time of your citation, but have since purchased it, the ticket will not be dismissed. A ticket for no insurance requires your appearance in court if there was an accident involved.
- Child Restraint Violations
If you have received a citation for a child restraint violation, state law grants the judge the discretion to dismiss the ticket upon proof that you have purchased an appropriate child restraint. The judge is not obligated to dismiss the ticket, however.
- Equipment Violations
Many equipment violations may be dismissible if, within 72 hours (excluding Sundays and legal holidays) of when you receive the ticket, you have the defect repaired and inspected by a City of Satsuma police officer. If your repaired vehicle conforms with state law, the officer will sign off on the back of your ticket. You must deliver this ticket to the court offices on or before your court appearance date.
Convictions of certain offenses such as DUI, and minor in possession of alcohol, among others, carry a mandatory suspension of the driver’s license under Alabama law. Satsuma Municipal Court does not suspend driver licenses, the Alabama Department of Public Safety does.
For questions regarding your drivers license status, suspension, reinstatements, or points assessed against your license, please visit the Alabama Department of Public Safety website.
Not Guilty Plea
If you entered a plea of not guilty, you will be set for a trial court date. During your trial date, you will speak with the prosecutor. The prosecutor, at his sole discretion, may offer a plea agreement or recommend the defendant for a pre-trial diversion program. Any such agreement will need to be approved by the judge in order to become effective.
If the prosecutor does not offer an alternative agreement, or if the defendant does not accept an agreement offered by the prosecutor, the trial will proceed as scheduled.
State law currently allows private citizens the right to press charges under certain circumstances. In order to pursue charges with Satsuma Municipal Court, the offense must have occurred within Satsuma’s jurisdiction.
- If you wish to pursue criminal charges with the City of Satsuma, please first notify the police department and file a report. This not only begins the documentation trail, but it also helps us verify the offense occurred within Satsuma’s police jurisdiction.
- In the event a warrant is issued, the warrant will remain active until the warrant is served. Upon the defendant’s arrest, he/she will remain in jail until he makes bail. In Alabama, all non-capital defendants are entitled to bail; therefore, we cannot hold the defendant without allowing him to bond out of jail. If the defendant cannot bond out of jail, he will go through the trial proceedings while incarcerated. If the defendant bonds out, he will be given an arraignment date in the future, usually at least a month in advance. In either case, you will be notified of his first court date.
- Municipal courts can only hear cases within our jurisdictional limits. As such, we will be unable to address any offenses in which the accused is a minor. Such cases will need to be referred to the Family Court for the county in which the offense occurred. Similarly, we are unable to handle any felony cases. Those cases will need to be brought in the Circuit Court for the county in which the offense occurred. The current statute of limitations for misdemeanor offenses is one year; if the offense occurred more than one year ago, no charges may be brought.
- Obtaining an arrest warrant can carry civil risks. If you are considering pressing charges and are concerned about these risks, you should consult with an attorney. The City of Satsuma cannot provide legal advice on the matter.
- Please understand that as a citizen complainant, you are merely initiating criminal prosecution. The City of Satsuma is the entity actually prosecuting the case against the defendant. Therefore, you cannot decide the terms of the prosecution. Nor can you request the charges be dropped. Even if you decide you would prefer to not testify, the judge can force your appearance and testimony through a subpoena or warrant.
- The magistrate may require the police to do additional investigation before a warrant can issue. This may include selecting the accused from a photo lineup.
- The magistrate will take a brief oral statement from you to get a general idea of your concerns. The magistrate will inform you of the city’s warrant procedures and have you sign an acknowledgement form. The magistrate will then have you begin a sworn written statement, or deposition. You will need to fill this out while at the court; you may not take it with you.
- The magistrate will then review your written statement. If necessary, the magistrate is authorized to request any additional information which he feels is required in order to determine probable cause. This may extend to subpoenaing additional witnesses or physical evidence.
- Upon arriving at the Municipal Court, inform the court staff you wish to seek an arrest warrant. A magistrate will swear you in; be warned that from this point on, any statement you make is a sworn statement, and any falsehoods uttered subject you perjury charges. Once sworn in, you will deal with only this magistrate; if you need to leave, please make an appointment to meet with that magistrate upon your return.
Municipal Courts do not have the authority to issue restraining orders. Restraining Orders are a civil matter, please contact District Court-Civil Division within the county where the act occurred.