Civil citations explained

Jessica Spweike and Jessica Spweike

Noxious weeds, open burning, abandoned refrigerators – all these things qualify as civil citations, which have appeared more in recent Bowling Green police blotters.

The Civil Infraction Ordinance was implemented on September 5, 2006, according to the Civil Offense Citations pamphlet from the Bowling Green Police Department (BGPD).

Civil citations are citations that are not processed through municipal courts and they can range from offenses such as public urination to noise complaints.

“It’s for low level misdemeanor offenses,” said Lt. Dan Mancuso of the BGPD.

There are three classes of civil citations – A, B, C and D – and, depending on the offense, the amount of the fine varies within each classification, according to the Civil Offense Citation pamphlet.

A Class A civil citation fine begins at $50 and if the fine is not paid within 10 days then the amount doubles. The same rule applies to Class B, C and D civil citations.

Class B, C and D civil citations begin at higher dollar amounts than Class A, and if it is an individual’s second or third offense within a classification, then the fine amount continues to increase.

“Civil citations are done, typically, through a municipality,” said University Police Capt. Mike Campbell, “so they set up, maybe, a city ordinance that would allow a law enforcement officer to utilize that as opposed to a criminal citation.”

These types of citations vary from city to city and can be issued to anyone from students to owners of businesses.

“(A) civil citation has less penalties than a criminal citation,” said Mancuso. “That’s why officers have the ability to write it that way.”

Civil citations are issued through the BGPD whereas the University police will issue criminal citations within their jurisdiction – the University’s campus.

“If it was a noise complaint in the city, we would refer them to the city because that’s their jurisdiction,” said Campbell.

Like criminal citations, civil citations can be appealed and removed or the fine can be reduced.

Mancuso said criminal citations would show up on an individual’s criminal history, but civil citations never show up on an individual’s record.

A lesser offense than a criminal citation, Mancuso said there is a process for the officers to issue civil citations.

“A lot of times officers…would give a verbal warning – that’s not mandatory though. If they think that the violation is a little more than would normally be for that verbal warning, then they may issue a civil citation,” said Mancuso.

The time of year and the events taking place in the city or on the University’s campus affect the amount of civil citations issued.

“Towards the beginning of the school year, our activity increases that time of year, so we would write more civil citations,” said Mancuso. “Let’s say the tractor pull, that’s a big weekend for us. We may write a bunch of civil citations that weekend (too).”

Though there have been more civil citations recorded recently in the blotter, Mancuso said the amount of civil citations has decreased by about 140 citations compared to this time of year in 2014.