Court Process & Hearings
Under Kansas Law, a person can be brought to trial only after a complaint or traffic citation has been filed. The complaint or citation is a document that outlines what the person is charged with, and states that the action is unlawful. The person being charged is referred to as the defendant. As a defendant, you have a right to inspect the complaint or citation before trial and have it read to you.
There are no jury trials held in Emporia. A judge conducts all trials under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Code of Municipal Courts, the Kansas Rules of Evidence, and the Code of the City of Emporia, Kansas.
When you receive a citation, it will notify you whether or not your appearance is required in court. Some citations can be paid in advance. Other citations require a personal appearance from the defendant or their attorney.
Right to an Attorney
Every accused person has the right to be represented by an attorney in the Emporia Municipal Court. Defendants also have the right to represent themselves without an attorney. In cases involving a potential jail sentence, a waiver of counsel form must be signed before a defendant can represent him or herself. Court appointed attorneys are not an automatic right for all accused persons facing charges in Emporia Municipal Court. Defendants seeking a court appointed attorney or public defender must meet certain legal conditions and financial guidelines established under law and by the Court before a public defender can be appointed. Only a judge can make the determination of whether an accused is to receive a court appointed attorney.
There are various hearing types that may or may not be part of your case. Hearing types are specified near the top of the court sheet given at your court appearances. If you lose a court sheet, you can always request a copy or information about your next court date from the Court Clerk's Office. Hearing types are described below.
Arraignment is typically the first hearing in a municipal court case. At arraignment, your charges will be read to you, and you will be given an opportunity to enter a plea.
You may enter a plea of:
Guilty: You admit to committing the offense charged. The judge will enter a finding of guilty and impose sentence.
Not guilty: You disagree with the charges, deny guilt, and request a trial. Your case will be scheduled for a trial or pretrial hearing.
No contest: You do not admit guilty but you do not wish to contest the city’s charge. Upon a plea of no contest, the judge will enter a finding of guilty and impose a sentence. A plea of no contest is not an admission of fault and cannot be used against you in a civil suit for damages.
Other options at arraignment: Your case may be eligible for diversion. The prosecutor will explain the diversion program at the beginning of the arraignment docket and give defendants an opportunity to apply for the program.
Diversion is a contract between you and the prosecutor, in which you agree to comply with certain conditions for a period of time in exchange for dismissal of the charges against you. Conditions of diversion may include paying a fine, attending classes, abstaining from alcohol or drugs, or a no-contact order with victims of your offense. The prosecutor has sole discretion to offer a diversion agreement.
If you successfully complete all conditions of diversion, the charges against you will be dismissed. If you fail to comply with a condition, the diversion agreement may be terminated, the charges against you immediately reinstated.
A written application is required to be filled out for application to the diversion program. If you apply for the diversion program, a diversion hearing will be scheduled. At this hearing, the prosecutor will announce whether or not you have been approved for the diversion program. A diversion hearing may also be the scheduled on the deadline for you to sign and return an approved diversion agreement. Appearances are required at diversion hearings unless the prosecutor or court services officer has excused you from appearing.
A pretrial hearing is a status hearing where the prosecutor and defendant announce whether they are prepared to proceed to trial or whether they are pursuing another resolution to the case, such as diversion or plea agreement. The prosecutor holds open office hours on Tuesday mornings from 10:00 a.m. until noon for anyone who would like to discuss their case. If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney will speak with the prosecutor on your behalf.
Many criminal cases are concluded without a trial through a plea agreement. The prosecutor has sole discretion to offer a plea agreement.
In a plea agreement, you may agree to plead guilty or no contest to certain charges and the prosecutor agrees to dismiss others. Sometimes a prosecutor may amend the complaint to a lesser charge or be more lenient on sentencing recommendations if you agree to plead guilty. In plea negotiations, a prosecutor will consider the effect of the criminal offense on the victim, your criminal history and the seriousness of the crime.
The prosecutor holds open office hours on Tuesday mornings between 10:00 a.m. and noon to give defendants an opportunity to discuss their case. If you are represented by an attorney, your attorney may speak with the prosecutor on your behalf.
A plea hearing is a hearing at which a plea agreement is announced and approved by the court.
Every accused person has the right to a trial. There are no jury trials in Municipal Court. All trials are presented to a judge. Trial settings are fact gathering hearings in front a judge following established legal procedures wherein the prosecution attempts to prove its case against the defendant and the defendant is afforded his/her constitutional rights to present evidence, to cross examine witnesses and confront accusers. Defendants have the right not to testify at trial and the right not to make any incriminating statements should they choose to testify at trial. Only defendants or licensed attorneys representing defendants can make arguments and presentations at trial. The judge cannot act as the legal advisor for defendants and defendants, if they choose to present a defense, are required to present their cases within the confines of the law, court rules and criminal procedure. The prosecution and the defendant can present evidence, including witness testimony, but the burden of proof – beyond a reasonable doubt – is the prosecutor’s obligation to meet. The judge will review all of the evidence presented and compare it to the applicable law(s) to reach a decision. Typically, the judgment of the court is pronounced on the day of trial, but in some rare instances the judge may take matters under advisement for determination at a later date.
Both the Defendant and the Prosecutor have the right to request subpoenas from the Court seeking to have witnesses compelled to appear for and present testimony during trial. Subpoena requests must be fully completed and submitted to the Court no less than fourteen (14) days before trial. Defendants have the right to review prosecution evidence prior to trial – this right is called discovery. Defendants desiring discovery must submit a written request to the Court Clerk's Office within 10 days before the date of your trial.
Persons found guilty by plea or at trial must be sentenced. Sentencing can occur on the date of arraignment, the date of trial or they may be scheduled for a future setting by the judge. At sentencing, the prosecution and the defendant have the opportunity to address the judge to request the level of punishment that he or she thinks should be imposed. The judge may consider the nature of the offense, past offenses, etc. and rehabilitative options that he or she believes are warranted in the matter as part of the sentence imposed. Sentences can include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following:
- Other Costs
- House arrest
- Community Service
Anyone found guilty in Municipal Court has a right to appeal the conviction to Lyon County District Court.
To appeal, you must post bond and file a proper notice with a Municipal Court clerk. You have 14 days after a conviction to file this notice, which can be picked up from the court clerk's office. You must post an appearance bond and pay a filing fee.
In District Court, you are entitled to a trial de novo, or a whole new trial as though the Municipal Court trial had never taken place. Your appearance bond receipt sets forth the time and place for the first appearance in District Court. If you fail to appear at that time, or any other time during the course of the appeal, your appearance bond will be forfeited and the case will be returned to the Municipal Court for execution of the fine and sentence that were initially imposed.
If the prosecutor believes you have violated the terms of your probation or diversion, a revocation hearing will be scheduled. At that hearing, the prosecutor will present evidence showing why they believe you violated the terms of your probation or diversion. You will have an opportunity to present evidence if you choose to. You have a right to the assistance of an attorney at this hearing. You also have the right to proceed without an attorney. If the court determines that you did violate the terms of your agreement, the following actions may occur:
- The judge may revoke your diversion. If your diversion is revoked, the charges against you will be reinstated and you will proceed to trial on the facts stipulated in the police reports.
- The judge may revoked your probation and order you to serve your underlying jail sentence.
- The judge may revoke and reinstate your probation. You may have the term of your probation extended, or you may have additional probation requirements ordered.
If you are convicted, you may petition for expungement. You may need an attorney to assist you with the expungement process.
Expungement means the case information will be considered “erased.” In most cases, the public will not have access to the case information.
Most city ordinance convictions can be expunged after three years. Convictions of leaving the scene, driving on a suspended driver’s license, failure to maintain motor vehicle liability insurance, first driving under the influence convictions have a five-year wait period. Subsequent driving under the influence convictions have a ten-year wait period.
The waiting period does not begin until you have completed your sentence, or have been discharged from probation, parole or suspended sentence.
Once you have petitioned for expungement, the court will set a hearing date and send a notice to the prosecutor.
Anyone who has relevant information about you may testify at the hearing. The court may look into your background and will be given access to any reports or records including your criminal history.
At the hearing, your case may be expunged if the court finds:
- You have not been convicted of a felony in the last two years and no criminal proceedings are currently pending or being instituted.
- Your behavior and circumstances warrant it.
- Expungement is consistent with the public welfare.
Once an order of expungement is issued, you will be treated as though you were never convicted of a crime, except in certain circumstances, including if:
- You are convicted of another crime. In that case, the conviction that was expunged can be viewed as a prior conviction at sentencing.
- You apply for admission, or for an order of reinstatement, to practice law in Kansas.
- You apply for employment with a criminal justice agency, private detective agency, private patrol agency, or with the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.
- You apply for a job with the Kansas Lottery or Racing commissions.
- You apply for a commercial driver’s license.
- Other circumstances as determined by K.S.A. 12-4516(c).
A filing fee is due at the time you file your petition for expungement.