State law currently allows private citizens the right to press charges under certain circumstances. In order to pursue charges with Hoover Municipal Court, the offense must have occurred within Hoover’s jurisdiction.
- If you wish to pursue criminal charges with the City of Hoover, please first notify the police department and file a report. This not only begins the documentation trail, but it also helps us verify the offense occurred within Hoover’s police jurisdiction.
- In the event a warrant is issued, the warrant will remain active until the warrant is served. Upon the defendant’s arrest, he/she will remain in jail until he makes bail. In Alabama, all non-capital defendants are entitled to bail; therefore, we cannot hold the defendant without allowing him to bond out of jail. If the defendant cannot bond out of jail, he will go through the trial proceedings while incarcerated. If the defendant bonds out, he will be given an arraignment date in the future, usually at least a month in advance. In either case, you will be notified of his first court date.
- Municipal courts can only hear cases within our jurisdictional limits. As such, we will be unable to address any offenses in which the accused is a minor. Such cases will need to be referred to the Family Court for the county in which the offense occurred. Similarly, we are unable to handle any felony cases. Those cases will need to be brought in the Circuit Court for the county in which the offense occurred. The current statute of limitations for misdemeanor offenses is one year; if the offense occurred more than one year ago, no charges may be brought.
- Obtaining an arrest warrant can carry civil risks. If you are considering pressing charges and are concerned about these risks, you should consult with an attorney. The City of Hoover cannot provide legal advice on the matter.
- Please understand that as a citizen complainant, you are merely initiating criminal prosecution. The City of Hoover is the entity actually prosecuting the case against the defendant. Therefore, you cannot decide the terms of the prosecution. Nor can you request the charges be dropped. Even if you decide you would prefer to not testify, the judge can force your appearance and testimony through a subpoena or warrant.
- The magistrate may require the police to do additional investigation before a warrant can issue. This may include selecting the accused from a photo lineup.
- The magistrate will take a brief oral statement from you to get a general idea of your concerns. The magistrate will inform you of the city’s warrant procedures and have you sign an acknowledgement form. The magistrate will then have you begin a sworn written statement, or deposition. You will need to fill this out while at the court; you may not take it with you.
- The magistrate will then review your written statement. If necessary, the magistrate is authorized to request any additional information which he feels is required in order to determine probable cause. This may extend to subpoenaing additional witnesses or physical evidence.
- Upon arriving at the Municipal Court, inform the court staff you wish to seek an arrest warrant. A magistrate will swear you in; be warned that from this point on, any statement you make is a sworn statement, and any falsehoods uttered subject you perjury charges. Once sworn in, you will deal with only this magistrate; if you need to leave, please make an appointment to meet with that magistrate upon your return.