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Mt. Pleasant seeks to decriminalize municipal infractions for violations

MT. PLEASANT — The Mt. Pleasant Police Department, city attorney and Building and Zoning department presented an ordinance to the City Council on Wednesday evening amending penalties and definition for a municipal infraction.

Building and Zoning administrator Jack Swarm explained the ordinance would change multiple violations of city code “from misdemeanors, which are criminal, to municipal infractions, which are civil penalties.”

“If you’re convicted of a municipal infraction, it doesn’t create a criminal record,” Swarm said. The administrator added many violations of city code are “more appropriate[ly]” addressed and penalized as a municipal infraction, including violations with animals, littering or noise.

The ordinance would allow police to write tickets for the infractions, which would make enforcement “quite a bit easier and more efficient,” Swarm said. The police department has submitted a schedule of fines to the court, which would determine penalties for infractions.

Swarm said the fines would be lower than the city standard municipal infraction violation amount, which ranges from $100 to $1000.

“The police department can come in and say, ‘Well a standard municipal infraction is $100, but instead of charging you with a $100 municipal infraction, we’re going to write you a ticket for $25 or $50,’” Swarm noted.

City administrator Brent Schleisman confirmed the Ordinance Committee has reviewed the amendments. The council voted unanimously to approve the first reading of the ordinance.