There are crimes in the City of Champaign which can be considered ordinance violations, rather than State charges (traffic, misdemeanor or felony charges), such as:
- minors in possession of alcohol
- resisting/obstructing an officer
- assault or battery
as well as crimes that fall solely into the ordinance violation category, such as:
- loud music
The consequences of these violations are monetary fines.
- A table listing minimum fines for City ordinance violations.
About City Court
What happens if I get arrested for violating a City ordinance?
A police, animal control or fire department officer will issue you a Notice to Appear. This notice will inform you of the charge against you, the amount of the fine, the pay-by-mail date (if allowed) and the court date if you choose not to pay the fine prior to the pay-by-mail date. If the officer marks the Notice to Appear as a must-appear, you do not have the option of paying the minimum fine and you must appear in Court on the date listed on the Notice to Appear.
Can I avoid going to Court?
If you wish to avoid going to Court, you can pay the fine listed on the Notice to Appear prior to the pay-by-mail due date. After that date, the case is filed in Court and you must appear or have an attorney appear with you. Prior to the expiration of the pay-by-mail date, you may pay the fine either by mail or in person within 21 days of the date the Notice to Appear is issued. Upon payment of the minimum fine prior to the expiration of the pay-by-mail date, the City considers the case settled, closes the file and no charges are filed in Circuit Court. If the fine has not been paid within 21 days from the date the Notice to Appear was issued, you must appear in Court on the date stated on the Notice to Appear or any subsequent Notice received from the City. These court dates cannot be changed. Once the case has been filed in Court, you will be responsible for paying any court costs assessed. These costs include filing fees, amounts assessed depending on the fine ordered by the Judge, any service fees the City of Champaign may have paid to have papers served on you and other charges the Circuit Clerk may assess as allowed by State law. Pursuant to 1-21 of the Champaign Municipal Code, the City Attorney may reject a pay-by-mail payment and compel your appearance in court.
What form of payment will the City accept?
The payment needs to be in the form of cash, money order, certified check, cashier’s check, or by VISA, MasterCard or Discover. The City will not accept personal checks for ordinance violations. DO NOT SEND CASH BY MAIL WHEN PAYING A MINIMUM FINE. When making payment, please enclose or have with you a copy of your ticket and a signed copy of the Waiver of Trial form found on the back of your ticket.
What if I lose my Waiver of Trial Form?
Go to the Instructions for City Ordinance Violation form to get the form. If paying in person, forms are available in the Legal Department.
Where do I go if I want to pay in person within 21 days of the ticket being issued?
You may pay a fine within 21 days of the ticket being issued at the Legal Department on the Fifth Floor of the City of Champaign building, which is located at 102 N. Neil Street, Champaign, Illinois. Once you reach the Fifth Floor, a member of the Legal Department will assist you. Please be sure to bring your ticket with you. Pursuant to 1-21 of the Champaign Municipal Code, the City Attorney may reject a pay-by-mail payment and compel your appearance in court.
Can I make a deal to pay less than the amount listed on the Notice to Appear?
No – the City of Champaign Ordinances set out the minimum fines for all offenses. The City will not accept a payment plan for the payment of fines. We can only accept full payment of the ordinance violation. Minimum city fines are part of the Champaign Municipal Code.
Updates can be found on the Minimum Fines page.
Do I need a lawyer?
You may appear in person without a lawyer in City Court. Most defendants do not have an attorney in City Court. If you want to have an attorney present, you will need to hire one. The Court will not assign a Public Defender on city court cases.
You should realize that the Assistant City Attorneys who represent the City of Champaign in ordinance violations are in the role of a prosecutor and cannot give you legal advice. If you want to be represented by a lawyer, you should contact one prior to your court date. If you are a University of Illinois Student, please contact Student Legal Services at 217/333-9053.
Will this go on my record?
Again, the Assistant City Attorneys who represent the City of Champaign in ordinance violations are in the role of a prosecutor and cannot give you legal advice. Question such as this should be directed to a lawyer hired to represent you in this matter. If you want to be represented by a lawyer, you should contact one prior to your court date. If you are a University of Illinois Student, please contact Student Legal Services at 217/333-9053.
If I had a “fake” ID or ID of another, will I lose my license?
This is a separate matter, which is processed by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. The City of Champaign Legal Department does not decide whether or not you will lose your license.
When a person is charged with an “Unlawful Use of I.D.”, “Minors in Possession of Alcohol”, or any other violation and a driver’s license is taken from that person, payment of the minimum fine in settlement of the violation issued does not terminate the Secretary of State’s case against the person charged. That case will proceed independently regardless of what happens to your City Court case.
What happens if I do not pay in time and I go to Court?
If you do not or cannot pay the fine, you must appear in Court. At your first appearance, the Judge will ask you to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge stated on the ticket. You have a right to a trial on an ordinance violation. The City would then have to prove its case at that trial and you would have the right to cross-examine the City’s witnesses and call witnesses of your own at that time.
If you plead GUILTY, the Judge will immediately assess a fine or sentence you to public service work. Once a defendant has been fined or sentenced to public service work, the Judge will give the defendant a date to have the fine paid by or the public service work completed. Fines and costs are paid at the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s Office, at the Champaign County Courthouse, 101 East Main Street, Urbana, Illinois. See the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s website for case information once the case is filed or to pay a case once a sentence has been ordered.Proof of completion of public service work should be submitted to the City of Champaign Legal Department at 102 North Neil Street, Champaign, Illinois, the week prior to the due date for completion so that the hours worked can be verified.
If you plead NOT GUILTY, the Judge will ask you if you want a bench trial (in front of a judge) or a jury trial. The fee for a jury is presently $132.50 for a 12 person jury or $66.25 for a 6 person jury. There is no fee for a bench trial. A bench trial will be usually be set at least a month from the original appearance date, whereas a jury trial will be set for the trial call until a jury is available for the case. At the trial, you will need to bring in any witnesses you may have to support your case. If you do not appear for trial, a default judgment could be entered against you or you may be found guilty in absentia and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Do my parents need to come to court?
Yes – if you are under seventeen years of age.
What do you have to do if you choose public service work?
If you have been sentenced to public service work, you will be given public service work information in Court. Usually a person will be assigned one hour of public service work for every $5 of the minimum fine for the offense you are charged with violating. It is important to know that the City must approve all public service agency work sites BEFORE you start working there. It is your responsibility to make sure that proof of completed hours is turned in to the City of Champaign Legal Department prior to the date the public service work is completed.
Can the City change my court date if I have a good excuse?
No. Only the Judge can excuse your appearance from Court. If you are unable to attend your court appearance, you should file a written motion to continue and contact the City immediately. Depending on the circumstances, the City may not object to a change to your court date, but only the Judge can decide whether your request will be granted. If you fail to appear in court without permission of the Judge, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
What happens if I plead guilty and I pay my fine or do my public service work?
Once the fine has been paid or the public service work has been completed, the City will close its case against you. If you are interested in having your case expunged, you will need to contact the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s Office at 217/384-3727.
Instructions to Pay a Fine or Contest the Charge Against You:
If you have been charged with a City of Champaign ordinance violation. You have two choices:
- Settle the case within 21 days of the date you receive the violation by paying by mail or paying in person; or
- Appear in court.
How to Pay by Mail
- Mail appropriate fine to:
City of Champaign
102 North Neil Street
Champaign, Illinois 61820
- Use sufficient postage
- Enclose minimum fine in cashier’s check, certified check or money order. (NO PERSONAL CHECKS-personal checks will not be accepted as settlement of the case and will be returned to you!) DO NOT SEND CASH THROUGH THE MAIL
- Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope if a receipt is desired
- Enclose a copy of the ticket
- Sign and enclose the “Waiver of Trial” form located on the back of your ticket or print one below.
- Mail in sufficient time to be received by the payment deadline
Includes “Waiver of Trial” form.
The time and location of the court hearing are stated on the Notice to Appear that was issued to you by the City officer.
How to Pay in Person
- Bring payment to the Legal Department, 5th Floor of the City Building, at 102 North Neil (corner of University and Neil), Champaign, Illinois, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
- Only cash, certified check, cashier’s check, money order, VISA , MASTERCARD or Discover will be accepted. PERSONAL CHECKS ARE NOT ACCEPTED!
How to Contest the Charge
You have the right to contest the ordinance violation by appearing personally in court or with an attorney at the court date listed on the Notice to Appear. If you have questions regarding these matters, you should seek the advice of an attorney. The Legal Department prosecutes these charges and cannot provide legal advice.