There are specified days and times you need to appear depending on the matter you are trying resolve.
For traffic tickets or citations, you must appear on a weekday morning on or before your summons date. Check-in begins at 7:00 a.m. and must be completed by 8:30 a.m. Late check-ins are not allowed, so please plan accordingly. On average, court will last from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., but could run longer.
For criminal matters, you must appear personally at your summons date and time which appear on the citation or on your jail release agreement. This appearance cannot be rescheduled.
View the full
Municipal Court weekly schedule.
When you come to court for the first time to resolve an outstanding ticket, you must be prepared to enter a plea. You can either plead “not guilty” or “no contest.” Refer to the back of your ticket for detailed instructions about the plea options. For most tickets, you have the option to submit your plea in person to the Violations Bureau.
Pleas for parking violations
For parking violations, you must appear in person if you want to:
- Enter a plea of “not guilty.”
- Enter a plea of “no contest” and be considered for a reduction of the fine, based on previous parking history.
Plea by mail
You may file a plea by mail under certain circumstances. A plea will be accepted by mail for a traffic violation if you live more than 100 miles away from Salem, Oregon. You may request a trial by affidavit by entering a plea of “not guilty” and completing the proper forms.
If you plead “no contest” by mail, you must include payment in full and may include a letter explaining your circumstances which could result in a reduction of the fine. If you plead “not guilty” by mail, court staff will mail you a date and time to appear in court.
Pleas are not accepted by mail for parking violations or criminal matters.
The Violations Bureau is staffed by court clerks who are authorized by the judge to handle specific court matters. It is located in the lobby of the Municipal Court.
The Violations Bureau is able to accept pleas for most tickets. If you submit a plea of “not guilty,” the clerk will set a trial date for you to appear before a judge. If you intend to plead “no contest” and are able to pay the fine amount on your citation, the clerks will check your driving record to see if you qualify for a reduction of the fine. There are some circumstances in which the court clerks are unable to resolve your citation at the counter, and you will be required to appear before the judge on or before your scheduled date and time.
Appear before a judge
If you need to appear before a judge, here is what may happen in court.
Ticket or fine
After you check in for court, you will go into the courtroom. The judge will enter and read the Municipal Court Rights and Procedures. Individuals will then be called up one at a time. The judge will read the charge against them and ask how they would like to plead. The judge handles the proceedings from there on a case-by-case basis.
If you miss your court date and fail to appear, you will be found guilty by default, the full fine amount on your citation will be assessed against you, and you will be notified by mail. If you are unable to pay the assessed fine, you must see a judge. Court staff will set a specific date and time for you to appear. If you have questions, you may call the court to ask about options.
At your first appearance before a judge, you will be advised of the charge against you and the next appearance date will be set. You will also receive information about obtaining a court-appointed attorney. If you have retained an attorney, they will usually appear with you.
If you were cited for a crime and do not appear as ordered, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Your appearance date and time cannot be rescheduled.
Minors must appear in court
Children under the age of 18 who receive a ticket must appear in court with a parent or legal guardian. Court appearance is required regardless of the offense or the intent to pay the ticket in full.
Since the court provides individual justice for individual cases, there are many different outcomes possible from appearing in court. The two most common situations are explained below.
If fines are imposed and you cannot pay in full, a judge can approve a payment plan. In order to for the judge to approve a payment plan, you need to fill out a form about your financial status. This form is also available when you check in for your court appearance. The monthly amount of the plan is determined by the judge on a case-by-case basis.
You may qualify for a traffic diversion program outlined in the Salem Municipal Court Rules. To enter the program, you must see a judge on or before your summons date and meet the following conditions:
- No convictions for traffic crimes in the past 10 years in any state.
- Must not have attended in a traffic school in the past 10 years in any state.
- No pending traffic tickets in any other court.
- No traffic convictions during the 120 day diversion period.
- The violation is not for speed racing or speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour.
- Plead no contest to the traffic offense.
- Pay the minimum fine for the offense.
- Complete and pass the traffic safety program and submit proof to the court within 120 days.
- Complete a
Traffic Safety Diversion Application.
Court forms and applications