Municipal Court Initial Appearances

Mandatory Appearances. The citation indicates whether or not you are required to appear. If you are required to and do not appear, you are at risk of a warrant being issued for your arrest. To avoid that if you are unable to appear, call the court clerk, explain your circumstances and request a different date.

Paperwork (plea form, court handout & appearance options information sheet) will be mailed out to you prior to your initial appearance. This paperwork will be mailed to the address on the citation(s) issued to you. It is critical this address is current. Notify the court immediately if this address is not current.

Non-mandatory Appearances. If you are not required to appear, you have several choices.

  • You can pay the deposit (forfeiture/bond) amount prior to the initial appearance (IA) court date. If you do that and do not appear in court you will be found guilty, the deposited money will be forfeited and the case will be closed.
  • You can appear on the IA date and enter a plea. For more information about entering a plea, read "How do I know what plea I should enter".
  • You can enter a plea by mail or email to be received before the IA date. Be sure to include the citation number, your current mailing address and telephone number.
  • You can call or email the court clerk and ask for a different IA date (an "adjournment"). Also read "Can I reschedule my court date."
  • Paperwork (plea form, court handout & appearance options information sheet) will be mailed out to you prior to your Initial Appearance. This paperwork will be mailed to the address on the citation(s) issued to you. It is critical this address is current. Notify the court immediately if this address is not current.
  • Note:  If you do not appear on the IA date or at the adjournment, the court will enter a plea of no contest on your behalf, find you guilty by default and impose a forfeiture. A notice will be mailed to you and you will be given a due date (approximately 60 days) to pay the forfeiture. If you do not pay on or before the due date and do not contact the court clerk on or before the due date to request more time, the court will issue an order to suspend your driving privileges and/or refer you to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue for collection action or sentence you to jail for a certain number of days.
  • In-Person Request will only be allowed for a Good Cause Exception.  This exception includes individuals who do not have or have very limited access to a computer or telephone. For individuals who have a need to appear in person, you must make your request to the court no later than five (5) business days in advance of your Initial Appearance court date. You can notify the court by returning the Plea form stating your need to appear in person. The Plea form can be dropped off, mailed or emailed to the Town of Cottage Grove Municipal Court. If your request is granted by the judge you will be scheduled to appear at 5:30 pm on your Initial Appearance court date at the Town of Cottage Grove Town Hall.  In-person appearances at the Town Hall will resume on August 11, 2021 at 7:00 pm.
  • Rescheduling Initial Court Appearance If you are unable to attend your initial appearance court date, you must contact the court prior to the date and time of your scheduled appearance. If possible, the court will reschedule your initial court appearance to the next scheduled court date. The court will not permit more than one continuance of your initial court date.
  • Juveniles (16 Years of Age & Younger) Initial appearances for juveniles charged with violating a Town of Cottage Grove ordinance are held on the second Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.  Upon arrival at court, please take a seat in the courtroom. A court officer will contact you when the court is ready to hear your plea. If you are appearing by telephone or videoconference the judge will contact you when the court is ready to hear your plea. Your case will be heard privately from the other scheduled cases. The judge will read the pertinent portions of the citation. You will be asked to enter a plea of not guilty, no contest, or guilty. Review an explanation of pleas for more information.
  • If you choose to enter a plea of not guilty, you will have a pretrial conference with the town attorney during the time court is in session.  If you wish to enter a not guilty plea without appearing in court for your initial court appearance, you must file a written not guilty plea with the court prior to your initial appearance.
  • If you choose to enter a plea of no contest or guilty, the judge will find you guilty and impose a sentence.
  • Failure to appear in court for an initial appearance will result in a default judgement against you, unless you have entered a written not guilty plea, paid the deposit (forfeiture) amount of your citation or rescheduled your court date.

Your Mailing Address. If your mailing address is different than the address shown on your citation, you should immediately call the court clerk in order to best assure that you will receive information about your case. It is very important that you personally notify the court clerk of any address changes that occur while your case is still active.  "Active" includes waiting for trial, or everything has been resolved except you owe a forfeiture in whole or in part. The court relies heavily on the mail to notify you of matters related to your case. Consequently, it is in your best interest to directly contact the court clerk if your address changes. Do not rely solely on a change-of-address filed with the post office. Courts are very skeptical about people claiming that they did not receive something that was mailed to them and may not be very receptive to a claimant who did not inform the court directly of an address change.