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Tigard Municipal Court

Civil Infractions

Civil Infractions in the Tigard Municipal Court: 
Frequently Asked Questions

What is a civil infraction?
A civil infraction is a violation of the Tigard Municipal Code ("TMC").  The TMC contains all the laws ("ordinances") enacted by the City Council.  Though a civil penalty (a fine) may be assessed for a civil infraction, it is not a criminal offense.  
Typical civil infractions include neighborhood nuisances such as noxious vegetation (weeds and  grass over 10" in height), accumulations of rubbish or junk, obstructed sidewalks, unsanitary conditions, hazardous buildings and inoperable automobiles in residential yards.  
Other common civil infractions include illegal signs, business license violations, building code violations and zoning violations. 


¿Qué es una infracción civil?
Una infracción civil es una violación del Código Municipal Tigard ("CMT"). El CMT contiene todas las leyes (“ordenanzas"), promulgada por el consejo municipal. Aparte una multa, no es un delito.  Infracciones civiles típicas incluyen molestias vecinales, tales como vegetación nociva (malezas y pasto más de 10" de altura), acumulaciones de basura o chatarra, banquetas obstruidas, condiciones insalubres, edificios peligrosos y automóviles inoperables en patios residenciales.  Otras infracciones civiles comunes incluyen letreros ilegales, violaciones de licencias comerciales, violaciones de reglamento de construcción, y las violaciones de zonificación.

The Tigard Municipal Code is available electronically and at the Tigard Public Library.

Why was I cited into court?

A summons was issued because a code compliance officer concluded that you (the "respondent") were in violation of one or more provisions of the Tigard Municipal Code.  The code enforcement officer may have sent a notice of the infraction before issuing a complaint, but a prior warning is not required by law.

You were named as a respondent because the Code Compliance Officer concluded that you are a "responsible party" as defined in TMC Section 7.40.020 as follows:
  1. The owner of the property, the owner's manager or agent or other person control of the property on behalf of the owner;
  2. The person occupying the property, including bailee, lessee, tenant or other person having possession;
  3. The person who is alleged to have committed the acts or omissions, created or allowed the condition to exist, or placed the object or allowed the object to exist on the property.
Important:  If another party appears in court on your behalf, you will remain jointly liable for any penalties if the court finds that a code violation has occurred.  Be sure that your interests will be fully protected before you authorize another party to represent you. 

What are my options?

You must respond to a summons either in writing or by appearing in court for your "first appearance."  The date and time of the first appearance are noted on the front of your citation.  If you wish to contest the infraction you may submit your denial, in writing, prior to the first appearance. You do not have to appear if the court receives a written denial before the scheduled date for your first appearance.  The court will then send you a date for your hearing.

If you decide not to respond by mail, you must go to court for your "first appearance" at the time stated on your summons.  When your case is called, the judge ("hearings officer") will ask whether you wish to:  1)  deny the infraction and request a hearing;  or 2)  admit the infraction.  If you do not wish to contest the infraction, you may make a statement before the court determines any penalty. 


What happens if I want to contest the infraction?

Your case will be set for a hearing on another date.  At that hearing, the City will have the burden of proving by a "preponderance of the evidence" that you committed the violation.  The hearing will be conducted by a "hearings officer."

What if I'm unable to appear in court as scheduled?

You should contact the court to arrange another date. Under court rules, you may be required to post a bond in the amount of the base fine on the front of your citation.
If you fail to appear in court for a required first appearance or hearing, the court may enter a default judgment against you in the full amount of the base fine for the violation.  

Can I be represented by an attorney?

You have the right to be represented by an attorney at your own expense. If you do not have an attorney, you may contact the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 503-620-0222 or 800-452-8260.  If an attorney will be appearing with you in court, please have him or her notify the court at least five days before your scheduled hearing.

How are penalties determined?

If you admit the infraction or are found to have committed an infraction after a hearing, a civil penalty may be imposed by the hearings officer.  The penalty will reflect the seriousness and duration of the infraction, the extent of compliance and any recommendation from the code enforcement officer.  

The court will likely impose lower penalties if the infraction was promptly corrected after the complaint was issued. By law, persons with a record of recent civil infractions during the previous 24 months may be subject to double or quadruple penalties.  If the violation still exists at the time of the hearing, the court may order you to comply within a specified period of time (usually 14 days).  Failure to comply with the court's judgment order may be treated as a separate infraction with additional penalties.  You will be given a copy of the hearings officer's written order, either in person or by mail.

Q:  What is a "respondent," and why was I named in the complaint?

Important Information about your Legal Obligations as a Respondent

If you are named as a "respondent" in a civil complaint filed in the Tigard Municipal Court, you must "respond" by appearing in court or taking other action required by the Tigard Municipal Code ("Code").  Your citation and the Civil Infractions in the Tigard Municipal Court brochure provide information about how and when to respond to the complaint. 

You have been designated a "respondent" because a Code Enforcement Officer for the City of Tigard (the "City") believes that you are a "responsible party" under the following Code provisions:

Section 7.040.020 (A): "'Responsible party' means the person responsible for curing or remedying a nuisance [or other infraction], which includes:
  • "The owner of the property, or the owner's manager or agent or other person in control of the property on behalf of the owner;
  • "The person occupying the property, including bailee, lessee, tenant or other person having possession;
  • "The person who is alleged to have committed the acts or omissions, created or allowed the condition to exist, or placed the object or allowed the object to exist on the property."
Depending on the circumstances of each case, either individuals or organizations, or both, may be named as "respondents" in a complaint.

Q: What is my potential liability as a Respondent?

Once you or your organization have been named and properly served with a complaint, you are subject to all judgments, orders and penalties entered by the court.  Your potential liability continues even if you authorize another named respondent to appear in court on your behalf.  When another named party appears in court for you, please be aware that you will remain jointly liable for any penalties if the court finds that a violation has occurred.  Be sure that your interests will be fully protected before you authorize another named respondent to appear for you.  In its discretion, the court may require written evidence of a party's authority to appear on behalf of another named party. 

Q: What can I do if I was improperly named as a Respondent?

If you believe that you are not a "responsible party" under the Code and were improperly named in the complaint, you must file a written request to have your name removed from the complaint. You should clearly state the reasons why you believe you are not a "responsible party." The court will make a decision on your request after considering your written statement and the City's reply. You may attach supporting documents, such as deeds, to your request.

The court will not add, remove or substitute any party until the City has been given an opportunity to state its position on the request. 

Q: How can I substitute another responsible party for myself?

If you feel that another party should have been named in the complaint instead of you or your organization, you must submit a written request for substitution. You may attach any supporting documents to your request. You must clearly identify the other party, with a full name and address, and explain why that party should replace you. That party must also consent in writing to your request, and the City has a right to object to any proposed substitution. The court will rule on your request after considering the positions of both sides. 

Q: What is a "Contested Hearing?"

The court will schedule a case for a contested hearing whenever one or more respondents denies the allegations in the complaint. To enter a "denial," follow the instructions provided with the complaint. 

Q: Who can take part in a Contested Hearing?

Only a named individual or organization will be allowed to take part in a contested court hearing.  The following persons may appear on behalf of a named organization:  a proprietor, partner, owner, corporate officer, employee or other person directly connected with the organization.  Attorneys and witnesses for a party can participate without being named in the complaint. 

Q: What Happens if the Court finds that a Code Violation has occurred?

All named respondents may be jointly and severally liable for any judgments or penalties imposed by the court. This means that any one of the respondents may be responsible for the entire monetary sanction ordered by the hearings officer. Alternatively, the court may allocate financial responsibility based on each respondent's role in the case.
Court Clerk
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» Tigard Municipal Code
(The code can also be found at the Tigard Public Library.)
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