[HISTORY: Adopted by the Township Board of Trustees of the Township of Lawrence 3-14-2013 (Ord. No. 25 of the 2005 Code). Amendments noted where applicable.]
An ordinance providing for the enforcement of local Township ordinances within the Township of Lawrence, Van Buren County, Michigan, as municipal civil infractions pursuant to the terms of the Michigan Revised Judicature Act, being Public Act 236 of 1961, as amended, as such local ordinances may, from and after the date of this chapter, be specifically designated as enforceable as a municipal civil infraction.
Editor's Note: See MCLA § 600.101 et seq.
The purpose of this chapter is to establish that all Township ordinances may be enforced as municipal civil infractions unless a different penalty is provided in the chapter itself. If an ordinance provides for its own penalties and procedures, those penalties and procedures govern to the extent they conflict with this chapter. The failure to provide for a penalty section in an ordinance does not preclude application of this general penalty provision.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this article, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
- Refer to the Public Act No. 236 of 1961 (MCLA § 600.101 et seq.), as amended.
- AUTHORIZED TOWNSHIP OFFICIAL
- A police officer, Code Enforcement Officer, Building Official or other personnel of the Township authorized by this or any Township ordinance to issue a municipal civil infraction citation or municipal ordinance violation notice.
- MUNICIPAL CIVIL INFRACTION ACTION
- A civil action in which the defendant is alleged to be responsible for a municipal civil infraction.
- MUNICIPAL CIVIL INFRACTION CITATION
- A written complaint or notice prepared by an authorized Township official, directing a person to pay a fine or appear in court regarding the occurrence or existence of a municipal civil infraction violation by the person cited.
- PERSON AND ITS DERIVATIVES
- A natural person, partnership, association, legal entity, a limited liability corporation or company or a corporate body or any body of persons corporate or incorporate. Whenever used in a clause prescribing and imposing a penalty, the term "person," as applied to any unincorporated entity, means the partners or members thereof, and as applied to corporations, the officers thereof.
- The Township of Lawrence, a municipal corporation in Van Buren County in the State of Michigan.
A municipal civil infraction action may be commenced upon the issuance of a municipal civil infraction citation by an authorized Township official directing the alleged violator to appear in court.
Municipal civil infraction citations shall be issued and served by authorized Township officials as follows:
The time for appearance specified in a citation shall be within a reasonable time after the citation is issued.
The place for appearance specified in a citation shall be the location of the District Court as identified in the citation.
Each citation shall be numbered consecutively and shall be in a form approved by the State Court Administrator. The original citation shall be filed with the District Court. Copies of the citation shall be retained by the Township and issued to the alleged violator as provided by Section 8705 of the Act (MCLA § 600.8705).
A citation for a municipal civil infraction, signed by an authorized Township official, shall be treated as if it were made under oath and as if the violation alleged in the citation occurred in the presence of the official signing the complaint. The citation shall contain the following statement immediately above the date and signature of the official issuing the citation:
An authorized Township official who witnesses a person committing a municipal civil infraction shall prepare and subscribe, as soon as and as completely as possible, an original and required copies of a citation.
An authorized Township official may issue a citation to a person if:
Based upon the investigation, the official has reasonable cause to believe that the person is responsible for a municipal civil infraction;
Based upon investigation of a complaint by someone who allegedly witnessed the person commit a municipal civil infraction, the official has reasonable cause to believe that the person is responsible for such an infraction and if the Township Attorney approves, in writing, the issuance of the citation.
Municipal civil infraction citations shall be served by an authorized Township official as follows:
If the municipal civil infraction action involves:
The use or occupancy of land, a building or other structure, a copy of the citation does not need to be personally served upon the alleged violator, but may be served upon an owner or occupant of the land, building or structure by posting the copy on the land or attaching the copy to the building or structure. In addition, a copy of the citation shall be sent by first class mail to the owner of the land, building or structure at the owner's last known address; or
A vehicle located on a parcel within the corporate limits and is improperly stored, junked or abandoned, improperly parked, is in an inoperable condition, or is otherwise a municipal civil infraction under Lawrence Township ordinance, a copy of the citation does not need to be personally served upon the alleged violator, but may be served upon an owner or occupant of the land, building or structure by posting the copy on the land or attaching the copy to the building or structure. In addition, a copy of the citation shall be sent by first class mail to the owner of the land, building or structure at the owner's last known address.
Sworn police officers, acting with authority of the Lawrence Township Board of Trustees, shall have general discretion as to whether or not to cite violation of a Lawrence Township ordinance enforceable as a municipal civil infraction. Non-sworn officials of the Township shall likewise have discretion to cite such violations as a municipal civil infraction, if empowered to cite violations by the Lawrence Township Board of Trustees. All persons authorized to enforce Lawrence Township ordinances can enforce all ordinances without limitation, both zoning and nonzoning, unless prohibited by other law. Enforcement includes but is not limited to issuing citations, notices of violations, testifying, and otherwise investigating and enforcing violations of the Code of the Township of Lawrence.
A municipal civil infraction citation shall contain the name and address of the alleged violator, the municipal civil infraction alleged, the place where the alleged violator shall appear in Court, the telephone number of the Court and the time at or by which the appearance shall be made.
Further, the citation shall inform the alleged violator that he may do one of the following:
Admit responsibility for the municipal civil infraction by mail, in person or by representation, at or by the time specified for appearance.
Admit responsibility for the municipal civil infraction with explanation by mail, by the time specified for appearance, or in person or by representation.
Deny responsibility for the municipal civil infraction by doing one of the following:
Appear in person for an informal hearing before a Judge or District Court Magistrate, without the opportunity of being represented by an attorney, unless a formal hearing before a Judge is requested by the Township.
Appear in Court for a formal hearing before a Judge, with the opportunity of being represented by an attorney.
The citation shall also inform the alleged violator of all of the following:
If the alleged violator desires to admit responsibility with explanation in person or by representation, the alleged violator must apply to the Court in person, by mail, by telephone or by representation within the time specified for appearance and obtain a scheduled date and time for an appearance.
If the alleged violator desires to deny responsibility, the alleged violator must apply to the Court in person, by mail, by telephone or by representation within the time specified for appearance and obtain a scheduled date and time to appear for a hearing, unless a hearing date is specified on the citation.
A hearing shall be an informal hearing unless a formal hearing is requested by the alleged violator or the Township.
At an informal hearing, the alleged violator must appear in person before a Judge or District Court Magistrate, without the opportunity of being represented by an attorney.
At a formal hearing, the alleged violator must appear in person before a Judge with the opportunity of being represented by an attorney.
The citation shall contain a notice that the failure of the alleged violator to appear within the time specified in the citation or at the time scheduled for a hearing or appearance will result in entry of a default judgment against the alleged violator on the municipal civil infraction.
A person who fails to comply with any and all requirements of the Code of the Township of Lawrence, regardless to intent or culpability, is responsible for a municipal civil infraction and may be penalized as provided herein.
Violations include but are not limited to failing to obtain permits, failing to repair dangerous buildings, blight, building or using a structure in violation of zoning or applicable building codes, violating Chapter 26, Barking Dogs, and other ordinance violations.
A person found to have violated a provision of an ordinance by a court of competent jurisdiction shall be penalized as follows:
[Amended at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 20, Code Adoption, Art. II)]
First offense. A civil fine of $100, plus costs of up to $500;
Second offense. Where the defendant has one prior violation, a civil fine of $250, plus costs of up to $500;
Third offense. Where the defendant has two prior violations, a civil fine of $500, plus costs of up to $500;
Fourth offense. Where the defendant has three prior violations, a civil fine of $1,000, plus costs of up to $500; and
Fifth offense. Where the defendant has four prior violations, a civil fine of $5,000, plus costs of up to $500.
In addition to the above, said Court may issue and enforce any judgment, writ, or order necessary to enforce this or other Township ordinances, including but not limited to ordering abatement, permitting removal or abatement of a violation by the Township itself, allowing the Township to assess the costs of abatement, investigation, prosecution, and other costs against real property as a single lot special assessment, or grant any other relief permitted by MCLA § 600.8302, or other law.
For violations involving the use or occupancy of land or a building or other structure of land, if 31 days after payment is due in the judgment or order of the Court, the amount due in said judgment or order (excluding damages) is not paid, and if the legal description is contained in the judgment itself, the judgment may be recorded as a lien on the real property pursuant to MCLA § 600.8731(1).
The costs recoverable are not limited to the costs taxable in ordinary civil actions and may include all expenses, direct and indirect, to which the Township has incurred pursuant to MCLA § 600.8727(3), including reasonable attorney fees, court reporter fees, other expenses of litigation, costs of investigation and enforcement of any ordinance, and all other actual costs. In addition to Subsection E above, the Township may have all costs and expenses incurred in investigating, litigating, and abating any violations deemed to be a single lot, special assessment and charged against the land of a person found to have violated Township ordinances as in cases of ad valorem property taxes, with said costs and expenses to be collected in the same manner as such taxes.
Each day on which a violation shall occur, or continue to occur, shall be deemed a separate and distinct offense.
A "prior violation" as defined by this chapter, includes a judgment in favor of the Township for a violation of any Township ordinance, and any alleged violation of a Township ordinance that was dismissed pursuant to an agreement entered into between the Township and the person maintaining, permitting, responsible, or alleged to be responsible for a violation of its ordinances.
Pursuant to MCLA § 600.8729, the Township may initiate a show cause action against the defendant, both criminal and civil, for nonpayment of civil fines, costs, assessments, damages and expenses, and order the defendant incarcerated. A defendant committed for nonpayment of a civil fine, costs, assessment, or damages or expenses shall be given credit toward payment for each day of imprisonment and each day of detention in default of recognizance before judgment at the rate of $30 per day, and the defendant shall not be held more than one day for each $30 owed. The defendant, pursuant to MCLA § 600.8729, shall not be discharged until the amount due is paid, whether by collection, execution, garnishment, credit for jail, or a combination of them. This doesn't limit the Township's ability to show cause the defendant criminally, or for civil contempt for matters other than nonpayment.
The provisions herein should be construed as consistent with state and federal law and regulations. In the event state or federal law or regulations, or other Township ordinances, are more restrictive or they provide for a more severe penalty, they shall govern.
The penalty provided by this section, unless another penalty is expressly provided, shall apply to the amendment of any section of this Code whether or not the penalty is reenacted in the amendatory ordinance.
Any person, firm or entity that assists with or enables the violation of this or any other ordinance shall be responsible for aiding and abetting, and shall be considered to have violated the provision of the chapter for which such aiding and abetting occurred. Furthermore, any attempt to violate this chapter or any other ordinance shall be deemed a violation of the provision of this chapter involved as if the violation had been successful or completed.
All remedies available to the Township under this chapter and Michigan law shall be deemed to the cumulative and not exclusive.
Any and all violations of this chapter, or any other ordinances of the Township, are also hereby declared to be a nuisance per se.
All fines and costs may be reduced or waived by the Township Attorney.
[Added at time of adoption of Code (see Ch. 20, Code Adoption, Art. II)]
The various parts, sections and clauses of this chapter are hereby declared to be severable. If any part, sentence, paragraph, section or clause is adjudged unconstitutional or invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of the chapter shall not be affected thereby.
This chapter shall become effective 30 days after its adoption and publication. Upon its effective date, this chapter supersedes and repeals prior ordinances.