Plea of Guilty

By pleading guilty, you admit that you committed the act charged, that the act is prohibited by law, and that you believe that you do not have a defense for your act.

Before entering a guilty plea, you need to understand the following:

  • The county prosecutor has the burden of proving its case against you, and you have the right to make the County prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The law does not require you to prove your innocence.
  • If you were involved in a traffic accident at the time of the alleged offense, your guilty plea could be used later in a civil suit for damages as an admission by you that you were at fault or were the party responsible for the accident.
  • If you enter a guilty plea to an offense classified by Missouri law as a "moving violation," the court is required to report a record of your conviction to the Department of Revenue, and points will be assessed to your driving record accordingly. The court has no discretion with regard to points assessed by the Department of Revenue following a plea of guilty or a finding of guilt to a moving violation.

You are URGED not to plead guilty if you do not feel that you are guilty.

Plea of Guilty with an Explanation

This plea has the same effect as a plea of guilty, but allows you to to explain to the Judge the circumstances surrounding the offense with respect to the punishment only. In both cases of a plea of guilty, a punishment (usually a fine) will be assessed. The explanation to the Judge may or may not have an effect on the punishment.

Plea of Not Guilty

A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt and that the county prosecutor must prove its charges against you. Your case will be set for trial and you will be given a date to appear. You will receive no other notice with regard to your trial date.

Trials are held one Thursday a month at 9 a.m. No trials will be held in the evenings. See the “Trials” section for more information.

Continuance to Retain an Attorney

If you plead not guilty, you will need to decide whether to employ an attorney to represent you at trial. You may defend yourself, but no one else except an attorney may represent you. The Municipal Court does not have "public defenders" available, so if you choose to have an attorney represent you, you must hire and retain that attorney at your own cost.