While civil and criminal cases hog the limelight in most situations, many do not recognize that legal issues often stem from very minor, yet equally important, violations in city or municipal ordinances. A lot of people know international laws, criminal laws, civil laws, family laws, and federal statutes. However, and unfortunately, not many recognize the importance of municipal law.
Legally called local ordinances, municipal laws are a set of rules that govern a certain geopolitical division that can include a municipality, a parish, a country, a prefecture, or a city.
Consider municipal laws as the kind of laws that you would expect from your own community. You may not see it anywhere else. It serves as a guide for the proper conduct and behavior of the residents of a particular community.
When there are issues that relate to violations or infractions of local ordinances or municipal laws, individual perpetrators are often brought to justice through the municipal court. This will be similar to any other kind of court that you may perhaps be familiar with. However, the sole purpose of this kind of court is to hear complaints about violations to a municipal law or local ordinance. The municipal court hears the presentation of evidence as well as the rebuttal from the defendant and makes a decision on what can be done in the form of punishment or even the dissolution of the case.
There are many different forms of municipal law violations or local ordinance infractions. Depending on the municipality or local government, municipal court cases can include, but are not limited to, motor vehicle violations, vandalism, truancy, disorderly conduct and behavior, possession of illegal firearms, and food stamp fraud.
While it may seem that these are minor offenses, they are nonetheless disruptive to a democratic society at the community or municipal level. Take for instance disorderly conduct. Individuals who display aggressive and very unruly behavior can disrupt the peace in the community. Neighbors will be quarrelling as tempers will be flying out the window.
Vandalism, while it may take on a very artistic form, is considered illegal in almost all parts of the world. However, depending on what was ‘vandalized’, the penalties might range from a simple warning to a few months incarceration. Vandalism, for the most part, shows utter disrespect for properties and infrastructure that do not belong to you.
In certain communities where food is scarce or there are local feeding programs that are intended to feed the hungry, the vagabonds, and the homeless, food stamps may be very tempting to those who have a not-so-good intent.
While the American Constitution guarantees the right to own a firearm as a means to protect oneself and property, if you will be caught in the possession of an unlicensed firearm or a prohibited firearm, you would almost likely be charged with possession of illegal firearms. In some states, they pose very stiff penalties.
Regardless, knowing the local ordinances and abiding by them should keep you relatively safe. Otherwise, seeking the expertise of a lawyer who has specialization in Municipal Laws will prove a very smart move.