This page is designed to provide information about court proceedings. It is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. If you have questions about your best course of action, what plea you should enter, your rights, or the consequence of a conviction of the offense for which you are charged you should contact an attorney. Neither the clerk, judge nor City is allowed to give you legal advice.
Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. In the case of a violation charge, Oregon law requires the City prove you guilty of the offense with which you are charged by the preponderance of the evidence. Every defendant has the right to remain silent and refuse to testify (without consequences). You have the right to retain an attorney and have them try your case or answer your questions. Since offenses in this court are punishable only by fine and not by incarceration, you do not have the right to appointed counsel.
You have the right to a trial before the judge, commonly called a bench trial. At trial you have many rights including:
In addition to your rights, you also have some legal responsibilities. The law requires you to make an appearance in your case. Your appearance date is noted on your citation. You or your attorney may appear in person in open court, by mail, or you may deliver your plea in person to the court. The options are listed on the back side of your citation.
Your first appearance is to determine your plea. You must be present at the date and time listed on your citation, unless you have made an appearance in writing or by choosing another option on the reverse side of the citation. If your case is called and you do not appear, you may be found guilty by default with fines and fees assessed. You could also face other penalties including a suspended driver license.
If you waive a trial and plead guilty or no contest you may present extenuating circumstances for the judge to consider when setting your fine.
If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a trial. When you make your appearance by mail, the court must receive your plea before your scheduled appearance date. If you plead not guilty, the court will notify you of the date of your trial. It is imperative that the court have your most recent mailing address on file as the court may send important information to you.
If you plead guilty or no contest, you waive your right to a trial. You must mail or deliver your fine to the court by your appearance date.
Unless your case is covered by the information later in this page, you may enter one of these three pleas:
Plea of Not Guilty – A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt, and require the City to prove the charge. A plea of not guilty does not waive any of your rights. A plea of not guilty does not prevent a plea of guilty or no contest at a later time.
Plea of Guilty – By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the alleged violation.
Plea of No Contest – A plea of no contest means that while you are not admitting guilt, you do not contest the City’s charge against you.
If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be found guilty and should be prepared to pay the fine. A plea of guilty waives all of the trial rights discussed earlier. You should contact the court regarding how to make payments if you are unable to pay the entire fine and cost.
The amount of the fine the court assesses is determined by State law, City ordinance and by the facts and circumstances of the case. Mitigating circumstances may lower the fine and aggravating circumstances may increase the fine.
Reasonable court costs may be assessed if your case goes to trial and you are found guilty, if your case is deferred for a driving safety course, or if your case is deferred and you are placed on probation. If you are found not guilty courts costs are not assessed.
The municipal judge is responsible for conducting a fair, impartial and public trial. The case against you is brought by the City, not the court. Therefore the City has the right to try cases within the jurisdiction of the court.
Per the Newport Municipal Code, a municipal judge may:
You must be present at the time set for your trial. If you are not present when the case is called, the judge may find you guilty, assess a fine, court costs, suspended your driver license and issue an arrest warrant.
The City will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you. Generally this is the police officer who issued you the citation.
You then have the right to cross-examine. You may not, however, argue with the witness. Cross-examination must be in the form of questions.
After the City, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident. The City has the right to cross-examine any witness that you call.
If you so desire, you may testify on your own behalf, but as a defendant, you may not be compelled to testify. It is your choice, and your silence cannot be used against you. If you do testify, the City has the right to cross-examine you.
After all testimony is concluded, both sides can make a closing argument. This is your opportunity to tell the court why you are not guilty of the offense. The City, with the burden of proof, has the right to present the first and last arguments.
In determining the defendant’s guilt or innocence, the judge may consider only the testimony of witnesses and any evidence admitted during the trial.
You should be prepared to pay the fine if you are convicted.
If you are charged with a minor traffic offense and have an excellent driving record, you may be eligible to ask the judge to take a driving safety course in exchange for a dismissal, reduced fine or probation. The request must be made by the appearance date on the citation. It must be made in person, by counsel, or by mail. At the time of the request, you must do the following:
Your driving record will be reviewed prior to the court’s decision. If the Judge does grant your request, you must complete the following within the time frame set by the judge:
If you do not take the course in the time required, fail to present the court with any of the required documents, fail to pay any administrative fees assessed or receive a new citation, you must return to court. If you are not present at the scheduled hearing, it will result in a conviction, a fine being assessed, possible additional court fees and other sanctions.
The judge may, in its sole discretion, defer disposition on some cases. Cost must be paid, and the court may impose a special expense not to exceed the fine amount in addition to other terms or assignments. If you complete the required terms the case is dismissed at the end of a period not to exceed 180 days.
As part of the City’s focus on making Newport a safer community for our citizens and guests, we offer a vehicle compliance program for certain violations. For a list of eligible violations and the procedure, obtain a Newport Police Department Vehicle Compliance Brochure.
If you correct the violation, have the correction inspected by a DPSST certified police officer and submit the completed form to the court no later than one business day prior to the time you are scheduled to appear in court, the Judge MAY dismiss your citation. If your citation is dismissed as part of this program, you must pay an administrative fee. See the brochure for more details and restrictions.
As with any courtroom, certain etiquette is required.
Stand when addressing the court. Please advise the judge or clerk if you have a disability that would make this difficult.
Generally, you will address the court from a counsel table in front of the judge at the head of the courtroom.
Disruptive behavior such as talking, laughing, shouting or creating other loud disturbances will not be tolerated. Offenders may be removed from the building and the judge may hold violators in contempt of court. Mild-toned conversations may be conducted in the lobby outside the courtroom.
The court room is equipped with extremely sensitive microphones and recording devices. Conversations in or around the courtroom may be recorded.
Cell phones and other electronic devices must be turned off or placed in silent mode. Unapproved use of cell phones and other electronic devices are not allowed in the courtroom.
Be respectful of the judge, court staff, attorneys, witnesses and litigants. Maintain a respectful attitude at all times in the court building and in the courtroom.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against any qualified individual with a disability. The City of Newport does not permit discrimination against any individual on the basis of physical or mental disability in accessing the judicial programs. In accordance with the ADA, if necessary, the Newport Municipal Court will provide reasonable modifications and or accommodations in order to access all programs and services to qualified individuals with disabilities.
The court room is equipped with extremely sensitive microphones and recording devices allowing us to provide our hearing impaired participants with assistive listening devices, upon request.
If you need assistance, have questions or need additional information, please contact the court clerk well in advance of your scheduled appearance.
DISCLAIMER: This page and information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek legal counsel for advice on legal matters.