How will I be notified of my court date? When do I need to come to court?
Domestic violence and child abuse victims:
If you were the victim of domestic violence or child abuse, call the Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Office at 816-513-6750.
Witnesses and non-domestic violence victims:
For traffic cases and other cases not involving domestic violence or child abuse, you should have received a pink subpoena notifying you of the court date. If the case has been in court previously you may receive a witness continuance notice with a new court date. If you have any other questions, call the City Prosecutor’s Office at 816-513-6750. Before calling, please be prepared to provide as much information as possible to help identify the case; type of case or charges, case number, name and date of birth of the defendant, date of offense, etc.
Please come to the courthouse at least 10 minutes before the scheduled hearing.
What should I bring to court?
Please bring with you the subpoena you received, any photographs, damage estimates and other evidence you may possess that is relevant to the case.
What if I am unable to appear for court?
If you are unable to appear for the scheduled court hearing, please contact the City Prosecutor’s Office so we may request a continuance on the scheduled court date. The judge will ultimately decide whether the City’s request for a continuance will be granted.
What if I have moved or changed my phone number?
If your address or telephone number has changed, contact the City Prosecutor’s Office to make sure we have current information in the event it becomes necessary to contact you.
How can I talk to the prosecutor?
Prosecutors are assigned to courtrooms at the beginning of each day. Dockets are scheduled at 9, 10 and 11 a.m. and 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. You will have an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor in the courtroom in between dockets. If you can not locate the prosecutor, please tell the clerk or bailiff and they will locate him or her. Please do not approach the prosecutor while the judge is on the bench.
What will happen in court?
Each courtroom runs slightly differently. When the case is called, please respond that you are present or come forward.
If the defendant fails to appear, the judge will issue a bench warrant for the defendant. You will be notified if you are needed to testify at a trial once the defendant is arrested.
Why am I a witness? I didn’t see the crime occur.
Witnesses are not limited to “eye witnesses.” You may have seen or heard the crime happen or may know something about it. You also may know something about a piece of evidence or may know something that contradicts another witness’ testimony.
You may not think that what you know about the case is very significant; however, small pieces of information are often required to determine what really happened. If you wonder “why” you are testifying in a particular case, ask the assistant city prosecutor handling it.
Your presence and willingness to testify may be the deciding factor in determining what will be done in the case. Many defendants hope you or other witnesses will not show up. Your presence at the courthouse before the trial may cause the defendant to plead guilty.
What if someone threatens me?
Concerns about your well-being and safety after being victimized or witnessing a crime are normal. If you have any fears or receive any threats concerning your involvement in a case, you should immediately contact the law enforcement agency that investigated the case. In an emergency situation, call 911. Do so as soon as possible so that the threats can be documented and appropriate action taken. There are laws to protect you against people who attempt to bribe, intimidate, threaten or harass you.
What if the defense attorney contacts me?
In representing a client, a defense attorney may contact you and want to talk to you about the case. Keep in mind that you do not have to talk to anyone about the crime, including the defense attorney or his or her investigator prior to testifying in court. If you choose to do so, always request proper identification and an explanation of the purpose of the interview.
Do I have to testify in front of the defendant?
The defendant must be present in court to hear what all the witnesses say about him or her. The lawyer for the defendant is called the defense attorney and will ask you questions after the assistant prosecuting attorney does.
How long will I be at court? How many times will I have to appear in court?
No one can tell in advance how many times or how long you will have to be in court. The process of justice takes time. The number of times you may be called to appear in court and the delays you may encounter are the result of many factors, including motions or other scheduled events with your case or congestion on the judge’s court calendar.
What if my employer won’t let me come to court?
If you are lawfully subpoenaed to court, an employer cannot prevent court attendance. When appropriate, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office will contact your employer to discuss the importance of your role as a witness. The bailiff also can provide you with a note on letterhead confirming the days/hours when you were in court.
What if I need an interpreter?
Foreign language interpreters and interpreters for the hearing and/or speech impaired are available. If you are in need of interpreting services while in attendance at court, let the court clerk know at the first setting and they can arrange for an interpreter at the next court setting.
I am the victim. Can I drop the charge?
Many people incorrectly believe a victim has the power to “press charges” against the defendant or to later “drop the charges.”
All crimes are offenses against the community, not just the individual victim. Ordinance violation complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the City of Kansas City, Mo., not the individual who called the police or the person who may have been personally harmed by the defendant’s conduct. Only the prosecuting attorney can dismiss charges. This is important because it takes the responsibility for prosecuting the defendant off the victim’s shoulders and puts it on the prosecuting attorney’s, where it legally belongs. It also means that the defendant cannot “pressure” the victim into dropping the charges.
Although the decision whether to prosecute or not prosecute is ultimately up to the prosecuting attorney, the victim’s opinion is important and the prosecuting attorney will take those wishes into account when making decisions about the case. A variety of factors are taken into account when deciding whether to honor a complainant’s request not to proceed with a prosecution, including the nature and extent of the defendant’s prior criminal history, the severity of the alleged crime, whether the defendant has other pending charges in the criminal justice system, and future danger to the community (including the current victim).
The defendant is not paying court-ordered restitution. Who can help me?
Call the Municipal Court at 816-513-2700 and ask for the probation department. The probation officer can help you get your money if restitution was a condition of the defendant’s probation and if the defendant is still on probation.
I was involved in an accident and the other driver did not have insurance. What can I do?
Find information at the Missouri Department of Revenue or Missouri Department of Revenue Motor Vehicle Accident Report.