City Attorney FAQs

Question:

I am in need of legal advice, however, I cannot afford an attorney. Can the City Attorney’s Office help me?

Answer:

The City Attorney’s Office does not provide private legal assistance. If you would like court appointed counsel, you must attend your first court appearance and request counsel from the Judge.

Question:

What ordinances regulate common complaints/issues regarding neighborhood and tenant concerns?

Answer:

Click here to see a list of Good Neighbor Ordinances for the City of Lawrence. Other ordinances (including the environmental code and the weed ordinance) and City programs concerning neighborhoods can be found on the Department of Development Services web site.

Question:

Where do I find a copy of the municipal laws of the City of Lawrence?

Answer:

A copy of the municipal laws (city code or city ordinances) can be found at the following locations:

The Office of the City Clerk – 3rd floor of City Hall, 6 E. 6th St., Lawrence, KS 66044, (785) 832-3000

and

The most recent version of the Code of the City of Lawrence is available at: http://lawrenceks.org/city_code

Question:

What is Home Rule?

Answer:

In Kansas, home rule is a city’s power to determine its affairs and to govern without having to rely upon a specific Kansas statute authorizing the exercise of a particular power. Home rule power has been granted to Kansas cities by the Kansas Constitution.

Article 12, Sec. 5 of the Kansas Constitution states that cities are empowered to determine their local affairs through ordinances passed by the governing body and by referendum in cases as prescribed by the Kansas Legislature. It also states that these powers are to be “liberally construed for the purpose of giving to cities the largest measure of self-government”.

Cities may pass ordinances in areas not addressed by state statute or in areas not expressly pre-empted by the Kansas Legislature. Cities may also supplement state law with more stringent local regulation. They may also pass ordinances on state enactments that are not uniformly applicable to all Kansas cities through the passing of a charter ordinance.

Question:

What is a Charter Ordinance?

Answer:

A Charter Ordinance is an ordinance which exempts a city from the whole or part of any enactment of the Kansas Legislature and may provide substitute and/or additional provisions on the same subject. Charter ordinances must be approved by a 2/3 vote of the City Commission.

Question:

Does the City of Lawrence have a noise ordinance?

Answer:

Yes. To view the code provisions, see below or see the Police Department’s web site: Noise Ordinance

Question:

Can a citizen file a noise complaint under the city’s noise ordinance if a police citation or report is not available?

Answer:

Yes. First, the citizen should review the provisions of the city’s Noise Ordinance to determine whether a municipal code violation has occurred. In order for City Prosecutors to file charges, the following information needs to be submitted.

A report from the citizen filing the complaint outlining all the essential facts. The report must include the location and address, time and circumstances of the alleged offense and facts to support the charge. The report should include the name, address and telephone number of the person filing the complaint. It should also include the name(s), addresses and telephone numbers of any other witnesses or complainants to the incident.

The report must include the name(s), address and telephone number of the suspect(s) and if possible, the suspect’s driver’s license and social security number. A description of the suspect, including height, weight, age, sex, etc., will also be needed. If this information is not readily available, it may be possible to request law enforcement assistance in obtaining this information. City prosecutors are available to discuss the necessary requirements for filing a noise complaint without a police citation or police report. The City Prosecutor’s office is located at 1006 New Hampshire, (785) 832-6195.

Question:

What are the animal control laws of the City of Lawrence?

Answer:

Chapter 3 of the Municipal Code of the City of Lawrence governs animals. To view the code provisions, or to contact Animal Control, see the Police Department’s web site: Animal Control

Question:

How can I obtain a copy of a city ordinance?

Answer:

The ordinances of the City of Lawrence are available from the City Clerk’s Office. The City Clerk is the official record custodian for the City of Lawrence. The City Clerk is also the designated Freedom of Information Officer as required under the Kansas Open Records Act. The City Clerk’s office is on the 3rd floor of City Hall.

Question:

Where can I learn more about the policies of the Lawrence Police Department?

Answer:

For questions regarding Police Department policies, see the Police Department’s web site.

Question:

A tree in my neighbor’s yard, overhangs my property – can I trim it without my neighbor’s permission?

Answer:

The City of Lawrence only maintains trees on public property and City Right-of-Way. The City Attorney’s Office cannot provide private legal advice. It has been our experience that determining the legal property lines and researching any restrictive covenants may be key elements in resolving tree disputes. To obtain specific legal advice on your situation, you need to consult a private attorney. A commonsensical Kansas Appellate Court decision involving a tree branch dispute between neighbors can be found at 711 P.2d 766, 11 Kan. App. 2d 23.

In the 1985 case of Pierce v. Casady, the Kansas Court of Appeals found that a landowner could trim branches which were overhanging onto their property from a tree with a base or trunk on their neighbor’s property, because the tree branch constituted a nuisance. The Court also found that the tree owner had acquired no right to the airspace which the tree occupied on their neighbor’s property. If you are uncertain about your legal rights, consultation with a private attorney is advised.

Question:

Which ordinances regulate underage drinking in Lawrence?

Answer:

There are multiple state statutes and municipal ordinances governing underage drinking and alcohol. Click here to view a brochure entitled: Legal Consequences of Underage Involvement With Alcohol prepared by the City of Lawrence which addresses frequently asked questions and summarizes municipal court penalties.

Question:

Whose responsibility is it to maintain sidewalks in Lawrence?

Answer:

According to K.S.A. 12-1808 – “It shall be the duty of the owner of the abutting property to keep the sidewalk in repair…” City code also requires that property owners prevent sidewalks from becoming a hazard.

Section 16-105 of the municipal code states: “No owner of any property having a sidewalk adjacent thereto shall permit any plank, brick, stone or segment of such sidewalk to be raised above the established level of such sidewalk more than one-half inch, in any manner which might catch the foot of a pedestrian, or to permit any holes or depressions to occur in the sidewalk in which a pedestrian might step or catch their foot in a manner to cause injury.” To report sidewalk hazards, contact the Department of Public Works at (785) 832-3123.

It is also the duty of the property owner to remove snow, ice and any other hazardous accumulations from the sidewalk abutting their property, per Section 16-102 of the City code.

Question:

How do I keep a ticket off of my driving record?

Answer:

The process through which a charge is reduced or amended is called a “plea agreement.” Plea agreements are made at the sole discretion of the City Prosecutor. If you are trying to keep a ticket off your driving record you must first appear at your arraignment and enter a “not guilty” plea in front of the judge, you will be given another court date. After you appear in front of the judge you can then go down the hall to the City Prosecutor’s Office and make an appointment to discuss what options might be available to you.

Question:

I think I may have a warrant, what do I do now?

Answer:

A warrant is a court order instructing any law enforcement officer to arrest you. To resolve a warrant you must either appear in person at the Municipal Court on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday at 8 a.m. and get your name added to the docket, or you may post an appearance bond. Bonds can be posted at the court office Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or after hours at the Douglas County Jail.

Question:

My driver’s license has been suspended, how do I get it back?

Answer:

If your driver’s license was suspended for failing to take care of a ticket, the only way to get your license back is to resolve the charge against you through the court that handled the ticket and pay a reinstatement fee. If your driver’s license was suspended for any other reason, you must contact the Department of Motor Vehicles by calling (785) 296-3671. Regardless of your driver’s license status, if you were cited for Driving While Suspended – you are still required to appear in the Lawrence Municipal Court to address the charge.

City Prosecutor FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What tickets are handled in Lawrence Municipal Court?
Tickets issued by the Lawrence Police Department, KU Police Department, and Alcohol Beverage Control are handled in Lawrence Municipal Court. Check your ticket to determine your appropriate jurisdiction.

Do I have to go to court?
If your ticket requires a court appearance, (court is written on the back or your ticket instead of fine amount) you must appear in court at the time and date shown on the bottom of your ticket. Failing to appear may resort in the suspension of your driving privileges or the issuance of a warrant for your arrest. If your ticket does not require a court appearance, you may pay the ticket in full at Lawrence Municipal Court.

What if I can’t make my court date?
The City Prosecutor’s Office does not grant continuances over the phone. You may fill out a request for continuance located at lawrenceks.org/attorney and fax it to the Municipal Court Clerk at 785-832-6199 or contact the Lawrence Municipal Court Clerk by phone at 785-832-6190.

What if I missed my court date?
You must come to Lawrence Municipal Court at 8:00 am on any weekday and be added to the docket by the Clerk. You will then have the opportunity to explain your absence to the Judge. If a warrant has been issued, the Prosecutor’s Office will not talk to you and you must see the Judge at 8:00am.

What is diversion?
Diversion is an agreement between you and the City Prosecutor that if you follow certain conditions, the City Prosecutor will dismiss your case after twelve months. Successful completion of Diversion will keep your charges from being on your record. You may access the diversion application at lawrenceks.org/attorney and submit your completed application Lawrence Municipal Court Clerk. You are responsible for all court appearances while your application is being processed.

How do I keep my traffic ticket off my record?
An amendment is when the original charge is changed to a charge that is not reported to driver control in exchange for a higher fine. You may request an amendment from a Prosecutor on your court date. You may contact driver control at 785-296-3671 to find out whether your charge is a moving violation.

How do I contest my charges?
If you want to plead not guilty and request a trial, you must come to court. The court date listed on your ticket is a first appearance date, not a trial date. At your first appearance date, you may plead “not guilty” and request a trial date. The Judge will assign you a trial date. Trials take place on Thursdays.

How do I obtain a copy of my police report?
Obtain a release form from the Lawrence Municipal Court Clerk and take it to the Police Department. Accident reports may be obtained at police.lawrenceks.org

What if I want to speak with a prosecutor about my case?
Prosecutors are available immediately following the court date scheduled on your ticket.

What if I need to show proof of insurance?
You may show your proof of insurance to the Lawrence Municipal Court Clerk within 10 days of your ticket. If you miss the 10 day deadline, bring your proof of insurance with you to the court date scheduled on your ticket.

The City Prosecutor’s Office does not give legal advice. Persons requesting legal advice should contact a private attorney.

Question:

Where can I requst to dismiss or void a citation?

Answer:

To discuss a request to dismiss or void a citation, please contact the Prosecutor‰Ûªs Office at (785) 832-6195.

The Lawrence Police Department will follow the Administrative Policy for Municipal Citation Accountability when asked to void or dismiss a citation. Voiding a ticket is a term utilized to describe the action of cancelling a citation that has been initiated or completed, but has not yet been filed with, or submitted to Municipal Court. Dismissal of a citation is the term used to utilized to describe the action of cancelling charging or prosecution after a citation has been filed with or submitted to Municipal Court. The Municipal Court and City Prosecutor’s office will adhere to the Administrative Policy for the Dismissal of Citations in Municipal Court by Prosecutor and Court Staff when dismissing a citation.