A  brief guide to the Role & Terminology of Municipal Courts
Municipal Courts deal with town and/or city code violations. These include traffic enforcement, shoplifting, leash law violations, and disturbances. The violations a Municipal Court handles is dependent upon the Town's code. If unfamiliar with this, please contact your Town Attorney.

A court is considered:
  •  Original jurisdiction if trial court and cases are originally filed there
  •  Special jurisdiction if they hear only ordinance/charter violations
  •  Exclusive jurisdiction if the arraignment can only be heard in the city/town where the violation occurred
  •  Limited jurisdiction if they do not hear felonies, DUIs, DWAIs
  •  Concurrent jurisdiction if they also hear domestic violence cases, no proof of insurance and non-felony offenses

The American Judicial system has its roots in England's legal system.

Our three branches of federal government are Executive, Judicial and Legislative.

On the municipal level, the three branches of government are City Council, City Manager, and Court.

In Colorado, the top-down structure of the Court system is:
  1. Supreme Court
  2. Court of Appeals
  3. District Court
  4. County Court
  5. Municipal Court
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Court Glossary / Terminology
 
Acquit – to find a defendant NOT GUILTY in a criminal trial
 
Advisement – First court appearance where charges are read to defendant in open court (advised of constitutional rights, may enter plea of guilty, no contest or not guilty)
 
Amendment – Written proposal to change or modify a criminal action, filed by the Prosecutor
 
Appeal – Written request made after trial, filed with District Court
 
Appellant – The person or entity filing an appeal, usually the defendant
 
Appellee – The person whom the appeal is filed against (i.e. the Court)
 
Bail – Money or other security provided to the court to allow a person’s release from jail
 
Bailiff – Court attendant who keeps order in the courtroom, has custody of the jury
 
Bench Warrant  - Order issued by the Judge for the arrest of a defendant for failure to appear in Court
 
Bond Forfeiture – Court action taken against a defendant or surety for failure to appear while on bond
 
Brief – A written statement summarizing the facts of the case, the applicable laws, and arguments of how the law applies to the facts supporting your position
 
Citation – Directive to appear in court rather than being arrested, reference to a source of legal authority
 
Concurrent Sentence – Sentences for more than one time where jail time is served concurrently (at the same time)
 
Consecutive Sentence – Sentences for more than one time where jail time is served after completion of the first crime’s time
 
Continuance – Postponement of proceedings to a later date
 
Conviction – Judgment of Guilty or No lo contendre (No Contest) against a defendant in a criminal matter
 
Deferred Judgment – Plea agreement procedure prior to trial where defendant enters a plea of Guilty. The Court continues the case for up to 12 months and the defendant is obligated to adhere to conditions. Upon compliance, the action is dismissed with prejudice.
 
Deferred Prosecution – Plea agreement procedure which may postpone a trial. No formal plea is entered and the defendant is obligated to adhere to conditions. Upon compliance, pleas are withdrawn the action is dismissed with prejudice.
 
Deferred Sentence – Plea agreement procedure where defendant enters a plea of Guilty an dthe court continues the case for sentencing.
 
Dismissal – Termination of a lawsuit. With prejudice means cannot bring suit again on the same action. Without prejudice means can bring suit again on same action.
 
Ex Parte – On behalf of only one party, without notice to the other party. (i.e. Request for a search warrant)
 
Exonerate – Removal of a charge, responsibility or a duty
 
Jurisdiction – Legal power to hear and decide a case. The territorial range of such power
 
Mittimus – Court order directing Sheriff or other officer to imprison a defendant in a detention facility for a specified time; Directs jailer or other appropriate official to receive and safely keep the person until his/her fate shall be determined by due course
 
No lo contendre – Plea meaning “no contest”, no admission of guilt; Same effect as a guilty plea for sentencing
 
Outstanding judgment warrant (OJW) – Issued for defendant’s failure to appear or comply with a court appearance or order; Court notifies DMV to place hold on the defendant’s record and imposes a $30 fee; Defendant unable to obtain/renew license until the fee is paid
 
Overrule – Judge’s decision NOT to allow an objection; Overturn or make void; Decision by higher court finding a lower court in error
 
Plea bargain – Compromise between defendant and prosecution; Defendant pleads guilty to a reduced charge
 
Process Service – The official means by which a party is notified that an appeal has been filed; aka Service of Process
 
Quash – Void, overthrow, or vacate summons/subpoena by judicial decision
 
Service of Process – The official means by which a party is notified that an appeal has been filed; aka Process Service
 
Stay of Execution – An order stopping a judicial proceeding or execution of a judgment; Defendant granted time to complete sentence
 
Suppress – Forbid use of evidence at trial due to it being improper or improperly obtained
 
Sustain – Judge’s decision to ALLOW an objection; To support or approve
 
Trial de novo – A form of appeal in which the Appeals Court holds a trial as if no prior trial had been held
 
Vacate – Set aside judgment
 
Voir Dire – Question potential jurors to determine qualifications and fitness to sit on jury panel
 
Writ – Judicial order directing a person to perform a specific act
 
 
Other resources
 
National Association for Court Management – Glossary -  https://nacmnet.org/glossary.html
 
Black’s Law Dictionary-  http://thelawdictionary.org/