Alabama has 273 Municipal Courts located throughout the state. Municipal Courts are locally funded by the city or town that they serve. These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over local violations and municipal ordinances such as misdemeanors, traffic violations and parking tickets that fall under the jurisdiction of the city police department. Municipal Courts are not jury trial courts. Therefore, a judge hears pleas and makes his or her decision based on the evidence presented. Most cities in Alabama have a Municipal Court.
Alabama Municipal Courts are considered stand-alone courts that have limited jurisdiction only in the towns and cities they serve. They are sometimes referred to as “citizen courts.” The types of cases heard in these courts are domestic abuse, parking tickets, traffic violations, town ordinance violations, small claims cases, criminal misdemeanors, and sometimes preliminary hearings for felony cases. Municipal Courts set the tone for the relationship between residents and the justice system because these courts resolve so many personal civil and criminal conflicts within the local area.
For the year 2016, the last year statistics were available, Alabama Municipal Courts resolved 36,279 civil cases and 81,959 criminal cases. For that year, Mobile was the city with the highest number of criminal infractions totaling 11,892 cases. Jefferson Alabama had the highest number of civil matters disposed of that year.
The state spends $1,181,800 annually on Municipal Court expenses, and Mobile Alabama incurs the highest costs. For 2016, that figure was $186,330. During that same year, Alabama Municipal Courts disposed of 5,637 DUIs, 273,677 traffic violations including parking tickets, and 67,263 non-traffic related legal matters.
Although Alabama’s judicial website does not include an area where someone can search for a specific Municipal Court, most of them have their own websites where they provide a lot of information about their services, cases, and access to documents.