Local Government Law Bulletin #130

Criminal versus Civil Enforcement of Local Ordinances-What's the Difference?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cities and counties have a range of methods available to enforce their ordinances. One method is by criminal (or infraction) enforcement, with the punishment usually being payment of a fine (or, in the case of an infraction, a penalty). A second is by civil enforcement through an action in the nature of debt, with the punishment being payment of a penalty. Local governing boards may specifically limit enforcement to one method or the other, or may provide for enforcement by either method. This bulletin explores the differences that can result because a city or county decides to enforce a particular ordinance through one or the other method of enforcement.


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Public Officials - Local and State Government Roles
Topics - Local and State Government