St. Helens Municipal Court – St. Helens, OR

by | Oct 26, 2021

A municipal court is a court with limited area of authority over criminal offenses and civil disputes inside its area. These courts can be found at the city or county level.

St. Helens Municipal Court INformation

Court: St. Helens Municipal Court
Address: “277 Strand Street, PO Box 278, St. Helens, OR 97051”
Phone: 503-397-6272

City: St. Helens
County: Columbia
State: Oregon

What is the role of the St. Helens Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are commonly called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they handle minor crimes, civil cases, and traffic tickets. Courthouses like St. Helens Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

In other situations, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve divorce or other family matters, personal injury, more serious criminal infractions, or contract disputes.

County courts have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil matters that can’t exceed the amount of $15,000, while the circuits courts handle felony matters and bigger civil cases.

TYPES OF Matters adjudicated IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in St. Helens, Oregon

Municipal courts are the entry level of courthouses in the United States. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some places share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better assist their population or to save money on administrative costs. The matters that may be heard by a municipal court depend on the municipality, but typically include traffic matters, criminal misdemeanors and code violations.

You will not find a standard for what establishes a misdemeanor crime versus a felony charge, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanor crimes and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

How are cases handled in the municipal court in St. Helens?

Municipal courts are the lowest level of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic tickets, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are popularly known city courts or town courts. Cases are managed by a magistrate who is usually a lawyer, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council board to serve for a specific duration.

Judges administer hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for arrest
  • Set bail amounts and the conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against suspects by police officers
  • Issue search warrants to police officers in order to seize evidence from crime locations
  • Conduct preliminary inquiries to learn if there is enough evidence to charge

The typical process of a Municipal Court matter

The common path of a municipal court case can be difficult to navigate. The next portion is an overview of the steps involved in a regular municipal court matter.

First Step: An Issuance of Summons

A summons is sent when someone has been charged with violating a town ordinance or state law. The person who has received the summons will need to appear at their assigned time and courthouse, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they don’t appear, they may be found guilty in absentia and could be fined up to $1000 or given a jail term if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Appearance before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to respond after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the individual. 

Municipal Court Penalties in St. Helens, OR

Penalties change often, which is why it’s best to speak with licensed lawyer near you. The information below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the St. Helens Municipal Court. 

A violation is an offense that has a penalty of $500 or less, while a misdemeanor crime can carry penalties up to $1000 or one year in jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different crimes in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an crimes. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a prescription for it then you could be fined up to $2k or spend up to six months in jail.

St. Helens Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court could be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one area or system. The records that an individual might need to depend on the type of case they have in front of the court, what stage it is at in the process, and what type of information is needed by law to be available.

Common Questions ABOUT the St. Helens Municipal Court

What is municipal court in St. Helens, Oregon?

In Oregon, the municipal court is a lower court with civil and criminal jurisdiction within a town or municipality. Municipal courts will have a small location and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty offenses and misdemeanor charges.

What does the municipal court handle in St. Helens, Oregon?

Depending on the scope of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. More serious cases/crimes are deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the St. Helens Municipal Court have?

The count of judges depends on the municipality’s population.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Oregon?

A municipal court judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set duration or until they retire. Judges are sometimes chosen by the people with each precinct’s results judged according to the number of people. Municipal magistrates are generally not lawyers but have some legal education and must finish multiple hours of ongoing material every period to maintain their credentials.