Frequently Asked Questions


An Ordinance violation is an action that violates one of the rules, regulations or codes set by local municipal laws, which are known as ordinances. They are civil in nature and are not charged as criminal violations. They are fine-only offenses and do not carry jail time as a sentencing option.

A police officer, animal control officer, fire department employee or other representative of the City of Champaign will issue you a Notice to Appear. This notice will inform you of the charge against you and the minimum fine amount if the violation has a payment option. The City calls this payment option the “pay-by-mail” option and a date will be listed by which the minimum fine must be paid by in order to avoid Court proceedings. For those offenders who wish to contest the violation, there is also a court date listed on the Notice to Appear. Failure to pay the ticket by the pay-by-mail date or appear in court on the court date will likely result in a default judgment being taken against you for the amount of the minimum fine, any restitution, and court costs. At present, the lowest tier of fines results in over $400 in fines and costs when a judgment is entered.

If the officer marks the Notice to Appear as a must-appear, or “Pay-by-Mail Denied”, you do not have the option of paying the minimum fine and you must appear in Court on the date listed on the notice. Pursuant to Section 1-21 of the Champaign Municipal Code, the City Attorney may reject any “Pay-by-Mail” payment and compel your appearance in court.

If you were given the “Pay-by-Mail” option and are paying within twenty-one days after your Notice to Appear was issued, please click here for payment options.

If you are paying after a judgment has been entered against you in court, all payments will need to be made with the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office. Any questions regarding how to pay your fines and court costs will need to be directed to the Circuit Clerk’s office.

Unless your Notice to Appear was issued as a must-appear (or “Pay-by-Mail” denied), you still have the ability to pay within twenty-one days of ticket issuance. Pursuant to Section 1-21 of the Champaign Municipal Code, the City Attorney may reject any “Pay-by-Mail” payment and compel your appearance in court.

If you wish to contest your ticket and are found guilty in court, the Court may take your previous violations into consideration when assessing your fine.


No. We only accept payment in full on ordinance violations in order to avoid Court by using the pay-by-mail option.

Minimum city fines are part of the City of Champaign Municipal Code. The City Attorney does not have the discretion to modify the minimum fines set by the code.

The current minimum fine chart can be found here.

After a judgment is entered in court against you, payments are made at the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office. When the date for the judgment to be paid has passed, the City will review your case and set the matter for a Rule to Show Cause hearing if the judgment and costs have not been paid in full. At this hearing, you can explain your situation to the City and the Court and discuss payment arrangements on your case. It is likely that you will have to return to court every month to make payments until the case is paid in full.


City of Champaign – Legal Department
102 N Neil St.
Champaign, IL 61820

DO NOT SEND CASH IN THE MAIL. It is important to include your name and the Control Number (listed at the top of your Notice to Appear) on the payment instrument, made out to the City of Champaign. Also, be sure to include the waiver of trial form located on the back of your Notice to Appear. If you have lost your ticket, please click here for a copy of the waiver of trial form.

We accept payments in the form of cash, money order, cashier’s check or Visa, Mastercard or Discover. WE DO NOT ACCEPT PERSONAL CHECKS.

Credit Card payments are accepted over the telephone, by calling 217.403.8765.

Online payments can be made here.

You will need to be present at the court hearing date listed on your Notice to Appear for your arraignment. You still have the right to contest your violation in court, however you do not have the “Pay-by-Mail” option to avoid court by paying the minimum fine at the Legal Department.

For more information on why you were given a must-appear date, please contact the Legal Department at 217.403.8765.

In most cases, upon payment of the minimum fine on or before the “pay-by-mail” date, the City considers the case settled, closes the file and no charges are filed in Circuit Court.

There may be special circumstances where the City may revoke your “Pay-by-Mail” payment option and proceed with filing a charge in Circuit Court after the fine is paid. For example, in a damaging property violation, there may be damage to a victim’s property and the City may request restitution be paid by you on the victim’s behalf in addition to the minimum fine. For more information about the special circumstances of a violation, please contact the Legal Department at 217.403.8765.

You must appear in Court on the date stated on the Notice to Appear or any subsequent Notice received from the City. Court dates cannot be changed. In addition, once the case has been filed in Court, any judgment will include court costs as assessed by State law in addition to any service costs the City has incurred in your case. Presently, court costs alone are over $200 for the lowest tier of City fines.
This is a separate matter, which is processed by the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. The City of Champaign Legal Department does not decide whether or not you will lose your license.

When a person is charged with an “Unlawful Use of Identification”, “Minors in Possession of Alcohol”, or any other violation and a driver’s license is taken from that person, payment of the minimum fine in settlement of any violation issued does not terminate the Secretary of State’s administrative case against the person charged. That case will proceed independently regardless of what happens with your ordinance violation case.

If your Notice to Appear affords you the “Pay-by-Mail” option, you can pay the minimum fine set by City Council for the violation by the pay-by-mail due date listed on your notice. You may pay the fine either by mail, online, or in person within 21 days of the date your Notice to Appear is issued. Click here­ for more information on how to pay your fine.
You have the right to contest the ordinance violation by appearing in Court, either personally or with an attorney. Your initial court date information can be found on your Notice to Appear. If you have questions regarding your case, you should seek the advice of an attorney. The Legal Department is responsible for prosecuting ordinance violations and cannot give you legal advice.The Legal Department can answer your general questions about court dates and payment methods at 217.403.8765.
If you are seventeen years of age or younger, you will need to have a parent or guardian present in court with you.
You may appear in person without an attorney in City Court. Most offenders choose to represent themselves in City Court. If you wish to have an attorney present, you will need to hire one. The Court will not assign a Public Defender on City ordinance violation cases.

The Assistant City Attorneys, who represent the City of Champaign in ordinance violation cases, are in the roles of prosecutors and cannot give you legal advice. If you wish to be represented by an attorney, you should contact one prior to your court date. If your financial situation does not allow for a private attorney, legal assistance based on a sliding scale may be available through Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation at 217.356.1351. If you are a student at the University of Illinois, you may have access to legal assistance through Student Legal Services at 217.333.9053.

At your arraignment (first appearance), the Judge will hand you a copy of the charge against you, read it to you, and ask how you wish to plead: guilty or not guilty. At this time you can also request more time to talk with an attorney about your case.

If you plead GUILTY, the Judge will ordinarily assess a fine plus court costs, any restitution if pertinent, and a date by which to have the matter paid in full. Payments are made at the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office, located at the Champaign County Courthouse, 101 East Main Street, Urbana, Illinois. For case information or questions regarding payments, please visit the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s website.

If you plead NOT GUILTY, the Judge will ask you if you want a bench trial or a jury trial.

A bench trial takes place in front of a Judge only, with no jury involved. There is no fee for a bench trial and it will usually be set at least a month away from your arraignment date. For more detailed information on what to expect at a bench trial, please click here.

A jury trial takes place in front of a 6-person jury. The fee for a jury trial is presently $132.50 and this fee needs to be paid before your jury trial can be scheduled.

At the trial, you will need to bring any witnesses you may have to support your case. If you do not appear for a trial, a default judgment could be entered against you or a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

If you fail to pay the minimum fine, fail to appear as instructed on your City of Champaign Notice to Appear, or otherwise answer the charges against you, a default judgment in an amount ranging from the minimum fine for the violation up to $750.00 plus court costs may be entered against you or a warrant for your arrest may be issued.
The fine listed on your Notice to Appear is the minimum fine for the ordinance violation you were charged with. Pursuant to Section 1-21 (b) of the Champaign Municipal Code, the maximum fine for each violation is $750.00.

If you are found guilty in court, you could be fined anywhere from the minimum fine for your violation up to $750.00 for each violation, as well as court costs and restitution if pertinent.

The Assistant City Attorneys who represent the City of Champaign in ordinance violations are in the roles of a prosecutor and cannot give you legal advice. Questions such as this should be directed to an attorney hired to represent you in this matter. If you want to be represented by an attorney, you should contact one prior to your court date. If your financial situation does not allow for a private attorney, legal assistance based on a sliding scale may be available through Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation at 217.356.1351. If you are a student at the University of Illinois, you may have access to legal assistance through Student Legal Services at 217.333.9053.
The Judge will ordinarily assess a fine plus court costs at the time the judgment is entered. You will also be given a date by which to have the fine and costs paid in full by the Judge; which date is determined by the Judge at his or her discretion.

After a judgment is entered in your case, all payments need to be made through the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office, NOT at the City of Champaign Legal Department.

Your court date is listed on your Notice to Appear. If you lose your ticket, you may contact the Legal Department at 217.403.8765 and request your court date information.
No. If you are unable to attend your court appearance, you should consult with an attorney or file a motion to continue the court date with the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office. Depending on the circumstances, the City may not object to change your court date, but only the Judge can decide whether your request will be granted. If you fail to appear in court without permission from the Judge or by agreement with the City, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
Once the judgment has been satisfied with the Champaign County Circuit Clerk’s office, the City will dismiss its case against you.

City of Champaign – Legal Department
102 N. Neil St.
Champaign, IL 61820

Phone: 217.403.8765
Fax: 217.403.8755
legaldepartment@champaignil.gov