Court Appearances

(What to expect when you come to court)

Minor Traffic/Criminal/Ordinance Violation Court

Municipal Court is held at 6:00 p.m. on the fourth (4th) Thursday of each month. This is the only time you may appear before the judge to enter your plea if you have received a citation.

A minor traffic matter is an infraction. Examples are speeding tickets, failing to wear seatbelts, and failing to obey a traffic control device. Be prepared to enter a plea if you come to court on a minor traffic infraction. Examples of Ordinance violations include: Dog as a Public Nuisance, Dog at Large, Maintenance of Property and Dismantled Vehicle violations. Criminal citations may include: Criminal Trespass, Criminal Mischief and Assault. Please be seated until your name is called. Arraignments are handled first, followed by any matters scheduled for trial. The judge will explain your rights and call each person in order. When your name is called, step forward to the table and respond to the judge's questions.

Entering a Plea

Guilty Plea: Be sure you are actually guilty before you enter a guilty plea. You cannot have a trial if you plead guilty; however, you may explain to the judge what happened. The judge will consider your explanation and your driving record when deciding the penalty. Both a fine and assessments will be imposed. If you cannot pay at this time, make sure the judge is aware of this so a payment agreement can be set up.

Not Guilty Plea

You must enter a not guilty plea if you want to have a trial. This may be done in one of the following ways:

  1. You may come to court on your scheduled court date and tell the judge you want to enter a not guilty plea. If you cannot post your entire bail, you can ask for a payment agreement.
  2. You may send your full bail to the court with a letter saying that you wish to plead not guilty. Do not include any explanations about what happened at this time. Save all explanations for your trial so as to not prejudice your case.
  3. You may pay your bail at the court on or before your court date and tell the court clerk that you wish to plead not guilty.

You should be ready to pay bail. Your trial date may be given to you when you enter your not guilty plea in court. A trial notice will be mailed to you if you are not given a trial date at court or if you pay your bail and enter your not guilty plea by letter. You are responsible for telling the court your present address. You are also responsible for letting the court know if your address changes. Not receiving your correspondence from the court because your address has changed is not an acceptable defense should you be found guilty by default or are given an alternate court date.

Entering a Plea by Mail: Bail Forfeiture

You must pay the bail on or before your court date if you do not wish to appear in court. If you want, you may write a letter to the judge to explain your side of the case when you pay your bail. You may either give this letter to the court clerk or send it in the mail.

If bail is posted, the judge will read your letter and order part or all of the bail to be kept by the court (forfeited). If only part of the bail is kept by the court, the rest of the bail will be returned by mail within two to three weeks.

You cannot be found not guilty when you write a letter to the judge. The only way to be found not guilty is to enter a not guilty plea and have a trial.

Failure to Appear or Pay Bail

If you do not pay your bail or appear before the judge, a Guilty by Default judgement may be entered against you, your driver's license ordered suspended and/or a warrant ordered for your arrest. Additional fees will also be ordered by the judge.


Minor traffic trials are held following arraignments at 7:00 p.m. on the 4th Thursdays of each month. These cases are heard by a judge without a jury. You will have a chance to ask questions of the police officer at the trial. You may bring witnesses, photographs and anything else that will support your case.

You may have an attorney speak for you at the trial, or you may present your own case. The City Prosecutor will appear for the city if you use an attorney. You must notify the court ten (10) days prior to your court date if you will be represented by an attorney.

The law does not allow a person to have a jury trial or court-appointed attorney for minor traffic cases.


Violations are similar to traffic infractions in that there is no possibility of a jail sentence. Violations are charges of failing to comply with the city ordinances. The maximum possible fine for most violations is $250.00, although some violations carry a mandatory state imposed penalty. Possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana carries a mandatory fine of $500.00.


If you are found guilty at your trial, you may appeal your case. An appeal is a new trial which is held in the Umatilla County Circuit Court.

You may only appeal your case if you have plead not guilty to the charge and were found guilty. Guilty pleas and bail forfeitures are final and cannot be appealed. If you want to appeal, you must let the court clerk know in writing within thirty (30) calendar days from the date you were found guilty.

There is a filing fee which must be paid to the Circuit Court when you appeal. In addition, the judge may order an appeal bail paid and held by the court in place of fines or fees while the case is on appeal.

The court clerk can help you with further information.


If the total amount of fines and assessments ordered by the judge is less than the amount of bail you posted, you will receive a refund by mail. Again, make sure the court has your current address. The processing time for refunds is two to three weeks. If you believe you should have received a refund and it has been over one month from the time of your last court appearance, please contact the court clerk at 541-443-2811.

If someone else paid your bail and an Assignment of Bail form has been signed, your refund will be sent to the person who paid your bail.

Make checks payable to:

Pilot Rock Municipal Court
P.O. Box 130
Pilot Rock, OR 97868

For more information

Contact the Court Clerk at 541-443-2811 or email ( )