When an inspector or a police officer issues a citation or "tag" to someone for violating a City ordinance, that person is charged with a criminal violation. A citation is similar to a parking ticket. It is not the same as a written inspector's order - which is a warning that if the violation is not corrected, a tag will be issued. Most nuisance violations are misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors. A few may be gross misdemeanors or, more rarely, felonies.
Paying the Fine
For most citations, a person pleading guilty can come to the Criminal & Traffic Division - Violations Bureau located in Room 130 of the courthouse and pay the fine, just as they would for a parking or traffic ticket. Some violations require a court appearance. Any person who receives a citation can request a court appearance either to plead not guilty or to explain mitigating circumstances.
If a person receiving a citation pleads not guilty, the person is presumed innocent. The prosecutor has to prove the person guilty of the violation beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge or jury finds the person guilty, the judge may levy a fine or sentence the person to a short jail sentence. The judge may require the person to correct the violation - if it is a housing code violation or other violation which can be corrected. However, there is no requirement that the judge do so. The role of the criminal justice system is primarily to punish offenders, not to improve property. There is a separate Housing Court which deals exclusively with housing issues.
Citations & Complaints
If a person receives a citation and does not respond by appearing in court or paying the fine, a warrant can be issued by the court for the person's arrest. If you know that a tag has been issued for a violation and want to know the status of your complaint, call the City department involved. However, if the violation is in the criminal justice system, the City department may not be able to tell you its status. There is no requirement that the courts inform a complainant about the status or disposition of a misdemeanor violation. However, the Housing Court office has a computer terminal which may be viewed by the public for final dispositions of orders, etc. For information call the Criminal & Traffic Division - Violations Bureau at 651-266-1999 or go to Room 130 within the City Hall/Court House Building.