We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Police Court?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A police court is a lower court which handles minor criminal matters and may also remand people to jail to await trial if they are suspected of more serious crimes. Many jurisdictions use police courts to handle minor matters so that upper courts can be freed to handle more serious legal issues. This type of court is also sometimes referred to as a municipal court, a magistrate's court, and a judge's court. It is important to be aware that the term “municipal court” is also sometimes used to refer to a court which can handle civil as well as criminal cases, which is not the case with a police court.

The police court is presided over by a judge. Many cases are decided by the judge alone without the need for a jury, although a jury can be assembled for cases in which a jury trial is required. Jury service in a police court counts as a session of jury service, and once people have served they cannot be called again in another court until a set period of time has elapsed. The amount of time which is required between jury summons varies depending on the regional need for jurors.

Matters handled in a police court include very mild misdemeanors as well as violations of municipal ordinances. The judge can fine people or sentence them to community service, and in some cases people may face a brief period of time in jail. In the event that someone is accused of a more serious crime and brought into a police court, the court cannot try the case, but it can rule that the suspect be held in jail pending trial or a bail hearing.

A classic example of a matter which might be handled in a police court is a traffic infraction. Many people who receive traffic tickets simply plead guilty, in which case they will be asked to pay a fine and may be asked to attend traffic school. In the event that someone intends to plead not guilty, the case can be tried in the police court. Other minor infractions which might be handled by such a court include violations of the municipal code such as littering, failing to abide by noise ordinances, and so forth.

Although a police court is an inferior court, people are expected to maintain the same behavioral standards they would observe in any courtroom. People must dress neatly and reasonably for the court, although they do not need to adopt the formal dress which might be required for an appearance in federal or national court. Attendees of the court must also rise when the judge enters, comply with requests for quiet, and refrain from being disrespectful.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.