Court Rules & Procedures

This is intended to outline the general rules and procedures of the Shorewood Municipal Court. Many people are concerned about appearing in court. It is hoped that by reviewing the court’s procedures, you will better understand what to expect as your case proceeds through the court system. If you have any questions regarding these matters, the time to ask is before, not after, your initial court appearance.

Court Conduct

This is a court of law. While proceedings at times are somewhat informal, respect and proper decorum must be observed at all times.

  • Please remain silent while court is in session and give others the courtesy to be heard and present their cases.
  • Hats must be removed prior to entering the courtroom.
  • Smoking is prohibited.
  • Pagers and cell phones must be turned off.
  • Persons who fail to conduct themselves in an orderly manner may be cited for contempt.

Entry of Plea

The court date indicated on the citation is commonly referred to as the initial appearance. The court will call cases in the order you check in with the bailiff. When your name is called, the court will advise you of the charge(s) that has been made against you and the potential penalties in the event that you are found guilty of that charge. You will then be asked to enter a plea to the charge. You may plead not guilty, guilty, or no contest.

  • Not Guilty 

By entering this plea, you deny the charge made against you. The Judge will have you meet with the village prosecutor for a pre-trial conference. If the case cannot be resolved through a pretrial conference with the village prosecutor, the matter will be set for trial at a later date. You will be given a written notice of the trial date. All trials in Municipal Court are before the Municipal Judge (not a jury). At the time of trial, the burden is on the Village to prove your guilt by evidence that is clear, satisfactory, and convincing.

  • Guilty

By entering this plea, you admit the charge against you. The court will find you guilty and impose a penalty as explained later.

  • No Contest

By entering this plea, you neither admit guilt nor deny the charge, but state that you do not wish to contest the charge. The effect is the same as a plea of guilty, except that you are not admitting to any civil liability that may arise if personal injury or property damage is involved and you are later sued by a private party.

Pre-trial Procedures

The pre-trial conference is an opportunity to negotiate and perhaps settle the case or discuss disagreements about what happened or the effect of the law on your specific circumstances. The pre-trial conference is between you and the village prosecutor. The village prosecutor’s job is to pursue the case against you on the Village's behalf. However, he/she is also a court officer under duty to treat you with respect. It is assumed that you will do likewise. Keep in mind that the village prosecutor does not represent you, he/she represents the Village of Shorewood.

Traffic Violations

If you are found guilty of a traffic offense, in addition to any judgment made by the court, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) may assess demerit points against your driving record. The assessment of 12 demerit points in a 12-month period will result in the suspension of your license. Any person holding a probationary license will be assessed double the demerit points for the second and all subsequent traffic convictions except for vehicle equipment violations under Chapter 347 of the Wisconsin Statutes. The Shorewood Municipal Court has no control over the assessment of demerit points by the DOT.

Penalties

Upon your plea of guilty or no contest, or if you are convicted following trial, you will be formally found guilty of the charge and a penalty will be imposed in accordance with the law. The penalty will be a monetary forfeiture. In some cases, you may also receive a driver’s license suspension or be ordered to pay restitution.

If you cannot pay the forfeiture immediately, the court may grant an extension of time to pay or authorize a payment plan. Contact the court clerk to request any extension on payment plan.

 If you fail to pay the forfeiture, the outstanding amount will be referred to State Debt Collection (SDC) at the Department of Revenue (DOR) or Tax Refund Intercept. Once debt has been referred to the DOR, the Village of Shorewood cannot accept any payments on your behalf. You must work directly with the DOR. 

If you fail to pay the forfeiture, the court also has the authority to suspend your driver’s license up to 1 year. The court has the authority to order your arrest and commitment to the Milwaukee County House of Correction for a period of time equivalent to 1 day for each $50.00 forfeiture imposed, not to exceed 90 days.

If you have any questions regarding your debt balance with SDC, please contact the WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE, STATE DEBT COLLECTION PROGRAM 1-608-264-0345 or email DORSDCReferredDebt@wisconsin.gov.

Unable to pay due to Indigence/Poverty

You may request that the court conduct a hearing as to whether you are indigent (not capable of paying any forfeiture assessed against you). Contact the court clerk to request an indigency hearing.

Request for Poverty Finding - Please complete form and bring to court on your scheduled indigency hearing date.

Miscellaneous

  • Wisconsin law requires defendants in municipal cases to notify the court of any address change within 5 days.
  • You may request a substitution of the Judge. Such a request must be in writing and made within 7 days from the day on which you enter your plea.
  • You may request one continuance or adjournment of hearings in your case if you desire. Subsequent adjournments of hearings and adjournment of a trial date are in the Judge's discretion.
  • You may be represented by an attorney in these proceedings. You must hire the attorney at your own expense.
  • You may request that the court conduct a hearing as to whether you are indigent (not capable of paying any forfeiture assessed against you). Contact the court clerk to request an indigency hearing.

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