Overview of Criminal Traffic Court
Getting Information About a Case
For information about a case, call the Criminal and Traffic Court at (651) 266-1999. If you would like to view or obtain a copy of a court document, call the Records Office at (651) 266-8237. Be prepared to provide the case number or the defendant's name and the date of birth.
If you are calling about several different cases or if you want a complete record of offenses for an individual, you must come to the Suburban Court Office listed above or to the Records Office in Room 72 of the Main Courthouse. You will need to search the computer records on your own. Computers are set up with access to this information and instructions on how to use the computers are available.
Regarding Domestic Violence Cases
If you received a citation (a ticket), you may be able to pay a fine
without going to court. If court is not required, you may still contest your citation.
If the any offense on the citation requires court, you must appear on the time, date, and location of your Summons.
When is my court date?
If your hearing is within the next 7 days, consult the Alpha Roster on our Calendar page to see when and where your court appearence is scheduled. Use your browser's text search to quickly find your name. If you are unable to find the case or if it is more than 7 days away, call our office at (651) 266-1999 for the information. How the Court notifies you of your court date
If it's necessary to notify you of a first appearance or a change in a court date from a previously scheduled time, you will receive a notice in the mail. To avoid missing an appearance, keep the court informed of your correct mailing address by calling (651) 266-1999.
Note: in certain circumstances, a complaint will be filed as an arrest warrant and no court date will be mailed. In such a case, you will need to turn yourself in. See the Warrants and Bail section below for more information.
Changing a scheduled court date
What happens if you miss a court date
If you have an attorney, ask them to make the request. If you don’t have an attorney, contact the court at (651) 266-1999 for instructions.
If you miss a court appearance, a warrant for your arrest may be ordered. For traffic offenses, the judge may order a warrant, suspension of your driver's license, and/or certification of the offense to your record. You may also lose any bail or bond you have posted. If you have already failed to appear, call the court at (651) 266-1999 to find out what happened.
Applying for a public defender
If you are charged with an offense that may result in jail time, you can apply for a public defender
. Apply when you make your first appearance in court. You will need to fill out an application form to determine if you are eligible. Be sure to be on time for your court appearance—public defender applications forms are provided at the beginning of the court session.
How do I contact my public defender?
Am I allowed to represent myself?
If a public defender has already been appointed to represent you, visit the Public Defender website for contact information. You will need to provide the name of the person you wish to contact.
Yes, but keep in mind that you are required to know and follow all the rules of law and court procedure that an attorney would follow.
For more information, visit the Representing Yourself in Court help topic.
Appearing in Court
What to expect when you go to court
Court appearances are arranged in Sessions, in which several cases are scheduled at the same time. A court session typically lasts half a day (morning or afternoon). It's important to be on time. In some court sessions, you or your attorney may have an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor before court begins.
If you plead Guilty, you may be sentenced immediately. In some situations, the judge may order an investigation prior to sentencing you. If this is ordered, you will need to follow the instructions you receive and reappear later for sentencing.
Pleading Not Guilty to a court-required offense
Why do I have to go to court instead of just paying a fine?
If you plead Not Guilty, your trial will be on another day and a court date will be scheduled. The next appearance is typically a hearing for you, the judge, the prosecutor, and your attorney (if you have one) to meet to discuss legal issues and the merits of the case. If the matter cannot be resolved at that time, a trial will be scheduled.
State statutes dictate which violations are payable and which ones require a court appearance.
Witnesses and Subpoenas
Obtaining a subpoena
If you have an attorney, have your attorney obtain and arrange for service of the subpoena. If you are representing yourself, contact the court at 651-266-1999 for assistance.
Do not use online subpoena forms without first getting instructions from the Court
If you have been served with a subpoena
Attending court without a subpoena
Follow the instructions on the subpoena. You must appear on the date, time, and location specified, bring any documents named in the subpoena, and be prepared to testify under oath.
If you are an interested party who hasn't been subpoenaed, and if the trial/hearing is not closed to the public, you may attend. If you have been subpoenaed to testify, there may be restrictions. You should contact the party who issued the subpoena. If there is a No Contact Order in effect, all of the terms of the Order still apply.
Paying Court-imposed Fines
How to pay a court-imposed fine
If the court imposed fines, and you setup a payment plan with a hearing officer, you may use one of the three methods below to pay your fine:
- Call our automated payment line. Call (651) 281-3219. If you are calling from outside the metro area, call 1-800-657-3611.
NOTE: If you are calling from a phone number with area codes 612, 651, 763, or 952, the (800) number WILL NOT WORK. If you are calling from a phone number with an international area code (including Canada), you must use the (651) number listed above.
- Appear in person at the Main Office location listed at the top of this page.
- By mail: Minnesota Court Payment Center, P.O. Box 898, Willmar MN 56201. Do not mail cash.
If you do not setup a payment plan with a hearing officer, you may
- Pay in Person at the Main Office location listed above.
- By mail: Minnesota Court Payment Center, P.O. Box 898, Willmar MN 56201. Do not mail cash.
If none of the offenses you are charged with requires a court appearance, you may go directly to Online Fine Payment
. For more information about your options, visit the Violation Bureau
tab on this page.
If you are unable to pay
What will happen if I don't pay the fine?
If you need more time than you were orginally ordered to pay a Court-imposed fine, you may request an extension or make arrangements to pay on a schedule. Call (651) 266-1999 to see what can be done.
The debt may be referred to a collection agency, your driver's licence may be suspended, and/or you may be summoned back to court. If you have failed to pay a fine, call (651) 281-3219 or (800) 657-3611 (if you are outside the metro area) to find out what happened and what you need to do.
Warrants and Bail
Why do I have a warrant for my arrest?
The most common reasons for arrest warrants are failure to appear at a court hearing and violation of the terms of a sentence you received. Call our office at (651) 266-1999 for specific information.
Getting more information about a warrant
Every warrant comes with terms on which you may be released. A bail amount may be specified, supervision may be ordered or the warrant may require that you remain in custody until your trial or until the terms of your release are reviewed at a hearing.
For information on the amount of bail and conditions of release, visit the Ramsey County Arrest Warrant Search or call the Warrant Office at (651) 266-9320.
How to handle an arrest warrant
For Ramsey County warrants, turn yourself in at the Law Enforcement Center, 425 Grove Street, St. Paul, MN 55101. Go to the Jail Entrance (open 24 hours) before 4:00 a.m. if you wish to be heard on the next available court calendar. You will be taken into custody, booked, and fingerprinted. For more information, visit the Turning Yourself In page of the Ramsey County Sheriff's website.
If you are interested in contacting an inmate, picking them up upon their release, or posting their bail or bond, contact the Ramsey County Adult Detention Services Unit at (651) 266-9350.
Getting information about someone in custody in Ramsey County
The difference between bail and bond
How and when bail is returned
Bail is cash you post as a guarantee of your future appearances. Once the case is closed, your bail is either refunded to you or applied to any money owed.
Bond is a guarantee of your appearance offered by a bonding company. The bond is purchased by you or on your behalf from a bonding company and is not refunded or applied to any money owed.
Important: If you fail to appear for any scheduled hearing, you risk losing the entire bail or bond. The court may order that it be forfeited. If your bond is forfeited, the bondsman might keep any cash or property that you put up as a guarantee of your appearance.
Once the case is resolved, bail is either refunded to the defendant or applied to any money owed.
How do I contact my Probation Officer?
Where do I turn myself in to serve my sentence?
How do I get a No Contact Order dropped?
A Judge must sign a Cancellation of No Contact Order. Contact the main office at (651) 266-1999.