It is possible to take a municipal court appeal from a city court conviction in an Alabama city court. A municipal court judge presides over the city court, hears evidence and testimony, and determines guilty or innocence in municipal courts. Typically, municipal court trials are quite informal, and the opportunity to present your case is somewhat limited. Alabama municipal courts are not courts of record, and therefore it is possible to appeal a municipal court conviction “de novo.” “De novo” means that the case is heard from the beginning as if no trial took place.
Alabama municipal court appeals go directly to the Circuit Court of the county where the municipal court is located. Circuit courts are where jury trial take place. When appealing a municipal court conviction you are entitled to demand a jury trial on the case. In order to appeal an Alabama municipal court conviction, you must file a notice of appeal and make an appeal bond. The notice of appeal must be filed no later than fourteen (14) days from the date that you are convicted. The filing of any appeal, including a municipal court appeal can be complicated, and the rules are stringent and often complex. It is highly advised that you seek the assistance of an experienced Alabama criminal law attorney in order to fully protect your rights and to ensure that your appeal is perfected.
At times, defendants in Alabama city courts will agree to “stipulate and appeal” their case. This means that the defendant agrees that the minimum amount of evidence exists for the municipal court to conclude that the defendant is guilty if the judge hears only the evidence put on by the city. There is no trial, but the municipal court judge indicates on the court record that the defendant was found guilty. The municipal court judge imposes a sentence and/or fine on the defendant, and the defendant then may file their appeal of the municipal court conviction. This device is used when the defendant knows beforehand that they intend to appeal their conviction to the circuit court for a jury trial. It eliminates the need for having an unnecessary trial at the municipal court level.
Certain legal rights and arguments must be made at the municipal court level in order to be preserved for a later appeal and jury trial. For instance, if there is a technical problem with a traffic ticket that may result in the ticket being defective and thrown out, this must be brought to the attention of the municipal court. Otherwise the argument is considered waived. For this reason, you should seek legal assistance to ensure that your rights are protected.
If you need assistance with a municipal court appeal, please call Bradford Ladner, LLP. We have successfully defended countless clients in municipal courts throughout Alabama, frequently filing appeals of the conviction for jury trials.
BRADFORD LADNER, LLP.