Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Court
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Municipal Court?
The Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Court handles cases of alleged violations of municipal ordinances for which the penalty is forfeiture.
What is the purpose of the initial hearing?
The purpose of the initial hearing is to enter a plea. Any questions you have regarding the charge against you or potential penalties can be answered at this time. The initial hearing is not a trial.
How do I enter a plea?
After the Municipal Court judge makes opening remarks, each person present will be asked to step forward to identify her/himself to the judge and enter a plea. Addresses will be verified in the event that future correspondence needs to be sent.
What pleas may be entered?
GUILTY. If you plead “Guilty,” you are admitting the charges that have been placed against you. You will be found guilty and given 60 days to pay the fine.
NO CONTEST. A plea of “No Contest” is similar to a plea of guilty and is treated the same as a guilty plea. However, your plea cannot be used against you in a civil action for personal injury or property damage. You will be found guilty and given 60 days to pay the fine.
NOT GUILTY. You should plead “Not Guilty” if:
After entering a “Not Guilty” plea, your case will be scheduled for a pre-trial conference. At this time, you may leave, as long as your appearance is not mandatory.
If you are in doubt about which plea to enter, it is suggested that you enter a “Not Guilty” plea. You may change a “Not Guilty” plea to a plea of "Guilty” or “No Contest” at any time.
If you are cited for a violation of Driving While Intoxicated and plead “Not Guilty,” you may request a jury trial before the Circuit Court. You must submit a written request and required fees in Municipal Court within 10 days of the initial appearance.
Do I have to come to court?
Unless your citation requires a mandatory appearance, you do not have to appear in court. You must, however, enter a plea. If you do not enter a plea, it will be considered a plea of “No Contest,” and judgment will be entered accordingly.
What happens if I plead NOT GUILTY?
A pre-trial conference will be set up with the Assistant City Attorney. If you mail in your plea, you will receive a letter notifying you of the date and time of the pre-trial conference. This is a MANDATORY APPEARANCE – if you feel you have a legitimate reason for being unable to attend your pre-trial conference as scheduled, you MUST make an alternate appointment with the Assistant City Attorney. You may change your plea to GUILTY or NO CONTEST at any time by contacting the Assistant City Attorney.
Where do I pay the fine?
You can pay your fine at the Municipal Court office, located on the first floor of City Hall, 444 West Grand Avenue. A drop box outside of City Hall is available for after-hours payments. No money is accepted in court. You can make your payment by check, money order or cash. Credit cards are accepted at the office, or online at GovPayNow.com (pay location code 1647).
Can I pay my fine before the court date?
Yes. Please send your payment to:
Wisconsin Rapids Municipal Court
444 W. Grand Avenue
Wisconsin Rapids. WI 54495
You may also pay in advance by using any of the other payment options cited under “Where do I pay my fine?”
What if I can’t pay the fine?
Fines are due within 60 days of the judgment. If you fail to pay a fine, a warrant may be issued for your arrest, or your driver’s license may be suspended for up to one year by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Your balance will be placed on tax intercept or referred to State Debt Collection, which adds a collection fee of 15% of the balance or $35, whichever is greater. (Please read NOTICE OF INTENT TO REFER DEBT FOR COLLECTION.)
Can I get a payment plan?
If you fail to pay the full fine when it is due, you will be scheduled for a Good Cause hearing. This is a MANDATORY court appearance, during which the judge will discuss with you some payment options. If you do not appear at this hearing, or do not comply with the judge’s order, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
The officer took my license. How do I get it back?
If a law enforcement officer has taken your driver’s license after issuing you a citation, will have to contact the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to obtain an alternate form of identification. Your license will not be returned.
Traffic Violation Penalties
If you are found guilty of a traffic offense, in addition to any penalty imposed by the Court, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation may assess demerit points against your driving record, which may result in the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
Your driving privileges may be automatically suspended or revoked if you are convicted of these violations:
Juveniles cited for traffic violations are subject to the same court procedures and forfeitures as adults.
For additional information concerning your driving record or demerit points assessed against it, contact the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles. The Municipal Court does not keep this information.
The Municipal Court has jurisdiction over persons between 12 and 17 years of age who are charged with non-traffic ordinance violations. Juveniles have the same rights as adults with respect to pleas; however, all juvenile proceedings are confidential.
Trials and Appeals
If your case has not been resolved at the pre-trial conference, the matter will be set for trial. At this time, witnesses may testify and be cross-examined, and evidence if presented. The Court will determine your innocence or guilt. If you are found NOT GUILTY, the complaint against you will be dismissed. If you are found guilty, the Court will impose a penalty based upon the seriousness of the violation, hazardous conditions that may have exited at the time and your past record. If necessary, you have up to 60 days to pay the forfeiture and costs.
If you are found guilty, you have the right to appeal your case to the Circuit Court. You MUST file your appeal in writing WITHIN 20 DAYS after judgment, or you will lose your right to appeal.
Do I need to attend Traffic School?
Under Wisconsin Act 105, any person who is convicted after Dec. 2, 2017 of a “failure to yield” violation or certain other “right of way” violations is required to successfully complete a “right of way” course. This course is designed to reacquaint you with vehicle right-of-way rules and provide awareness of keeping motorcyclists, pedestrians and bicyclists safe.
Wisconsin Department of Transportation guidelines for “right of way” violation penalties are as follows:
If your operating privilege is suspended, you will not be eligible to reinstate until you have successfully completed the “right of way” course. Please contact your provider of choice to obtain the cost and duration of the class.
Approved right-of-way instructors and locations include:
Private driver training schools [INSERT LINK: http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/dmv/license-drvs/susp-or-rvkd/yield.aspx] and safety organizations (online as well as classroom) options are available
Traffic safety point reduction schools [INSERT LINK: http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/dmv/license-drvs/susp-or-rvkd/traf-safety.aspx]
(Note that the entire traffic safety course must be completed to satisfy the right–of-way course requirement)
After you successfully complete the “failure to yield right of way” course” you must ensure that your instructor provides the Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) proof that you have successfully completed the course. Once notification has been provided to the DMV, please check your driving status and eligibility to reinstate your operating privilege [INSERT LINK: http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/online-srvcs/check-elig/eligibility.aspx] if you have been suspended.
For your information: The offenses covered under “failure to yield” or “right of way” violations, as outlined in Chapter 346 of the Wisconsin statutes, are:
346.05(1) Operating left of center
346.06 Failure to yield one half of single-lane road
346.07(2) Unsafe cutting in while passing
346.07(03) Failure to yield to passing vehicle
346.09 Passing into oncoming traffic/on hill or curve/in no-passing zone/vehicle indicating left or U-turn
346,18 Failure to yield right of way violation
346.23 Failure to yield to pedestrian or bicyclist
346.31 Improper turns/failure to follow indicated turn
346.37(1)(a)1 Failure to yield right of way – green light/intersection/U-turn
346.37(1)(c)2 Failure to yield right of way – red light
346.37(1)(d)1 Failure to yield right of way – green arrow
346.39(1) Failure to stop for flashing red signal
346.46(1) Failure to stop/improper stop at stop sign
346.46(4)(a) Failure to stop/improper stop at stop sign (mid-block)
346.47(1) Failure to stop or yield emerging from alley or private drive
346.47(2) Failure to stop for intersecting alley
346.87 Unsafe backing of vehicle
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR
KEEPING THE COURT AWARE OF
YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS AT ALL TIMES.