Just like State laws create State crimes, and Federal laws create Federal crimes, individual towns, cities and villages also create laws, called Municipal Ordinances, which can give rise to charges alleging a violation of a Municipal Ordinance. I’ve been handling criminal cases for the past 25 years throughout Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. I’ve noticed a dramatic rise in the number of Municipal Ordinance Violation cases throughout all of these counties. Many cities, towns and villages have established their own Municipal Violation Ordinance courts which mainly impose monetary civil penalties upon violators that have become big sources of revenue for these municipalities. I’m seeing more and more cases being charged as Municipal Ordinance Violations rather than criminal cases in Circuit Court. This is especially true in Chicago, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County.
The rise in the number of Municipal Ordinance Violation cases has led to more and more clients calling me and asking me to explain what a Municipal Ordinance Violation is and what will happen when they appear in Court. Perhaps the most common question I get from clients is whether they need to hire a lawyer to handle their Municipal Violation Case. My advice is that you should have a lawyer representing you for a Municipal Violation Case. There’s several reasons for that so let me explain to you why you should have a lawyer with you for your Municipal Ordinance Violation case.
The consequences of being found guilty, or liable, for a Municipal Ordinance Violation are much less severe than the criminal penalties for a misdemeanor or a felony under state law. Typically, the consequences for a Municipal Violation involve paying a civil penalty, or a fine. A Municipal Ordinance Violation is generally not considered a criminal case. However, some of the conduct that could give rise to a Municipal Ordinance Violation charge can also be enough to charge you with a misdemeanor. For instance, if you shoplift from a store, the police can charge you with a Retail Theft misdemeanor. The police can also charge you with a Retail Theft under the Municipal Ordinance of the town in which the shoplifting occurred. This is a choice that’s made by the police officer. So, if you try to shoplift and you receive a Municipal Ordinance violation ticket, instead of going to the Circuit Court for your case, you will have to go to the Village City Hall for a hearing before a Hearing Officer.