Westerly Municipal Court – Westerly, RI

Oct 26, 2021

A municipal court is a court with small area of authority over criminal charges and civil disputes within its location. These courts can be located at the county or city tier.

Westerly Municipal Court INformation

Court: Westerly Municipal Court
Address: “45 Broad Street, Westerly, RI 02891”
Phone: 401-596-7374

City: Westerly
County: Washington
State: Rhode Island

What is the purpose of the Westerly Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are routinely called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” This means that they deal with minor criminal charges, civil cases, and traffic violations. Courthouses like Westerly Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

On the other hand, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family matters, accident cases, more serious criminal infractions, or lawsuits.

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

TYPES OF Matters adjudicated IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Westerly, Rhode Island

Municipal courts are the lowest level of courts in the U.S.. 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 citizens or to save money on expenditures. The matters that will be heard by a municipal court can change based on on the municipality, but typically include traffic tickets, small criminal charges and code infractions.

There is no set definition for what establishes a misdemeanor versus a felony charge, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanors and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

what is the procedure for cases in the municipal court in Westerly?

Municipal courts are the first level of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic matters, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are have often been called city courts or town courts. Cases are handled by a magistrate who is usually an attorney, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council members to assist for a specific time period.

Magistrates administer hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for an arrest
  • Set bail amounts and conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against individuals by police officers
  • Issue search warrants to law enforcement officers in order to secure evidence from crime scenes
  • start preliminary examinations to learn if there is enough evidence to charge

The typical process of a Municipal Court matter

The process of a municipal courthouse case can be difficult to navigate. The following material is an overview of the common items involved in a regular municipal court case.

Step One: Issuance of Summons

A court summons is given when an individual has been charged with violating a town ordinance or state law. The individual who has received the summons from the court will need to be present at their assigned time and courthouse, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to respond for the charge(s) against them. If they don’t come, they may be found guilty anyways and could be fined up to $1k or given a jail sentence if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Show Up before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to show up after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the person. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Westerly, RI

Penalties change often, which is why it’s good to speak with licensed lawyer near you. The material below represents common penalties, but may not be accurate for the Westerly Municipal Court. 

A violation is a crime that carries a penalty of $500 or below, while a misdemeanor 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 offenses in municipal courthouses vary depending on the severity of an offenses. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a medical prescription for it then you could be fined up to $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

Westerly Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court may be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one location or system. The records that an individual might need to depend on the type of case they have in front of the court, where it’s at in the process, and what type of information is required by law to be present.

Common Questions ABOUT the Westerly Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Westerly, Rhode Island?

In Rhode Island, the municipal court is a lower level with civil and criminal jurisdiction within a city or municipality. Municipal courts have a small area of influence and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty crimes and misdemeanor crimes.

What does the municipal court handle in Westerly, Rhode Island?

Depending on the size 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. Serious cases/crimes are deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Westerly Municipal Court have?

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

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Rhode Island?

A municipal courthouse judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set term of years or until retirement. Judges are commonly chosen by precincts with each precinct’s results judged based on population. Municipal judges are often not attorneys but have some legal training and must finish several hours of ongoing material every year to maintain their credentials.