What is Administrative Adjudication?
Administrative Adjudication is a process in which violations of certain City municipal codes are adjudicated by a hearing officer rather than through the county judicial system. Matters subject to the City’s administrative adjudication process include, but are not limited to:
- Parking violations (excluding those in the Central Business District, commuter parking lots, daily fee parking areas, and metered parking areas).
- Alcoholic beverage violations
- Animal code violations
- Zoning code violations
- Building and fire code violations
- Stormwater violations
- Business violations
- Health and sanitation concerns
In certain circumstances, the City will continue to process the foregoing matters through the DuPage County judicial system.
Where & When Hearings Take Place
Location: Wheaton City Hall, 303 W. Wesley St., in the Council Chambers (top floor)
Date & Time: Second Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.
Administrative Adjudication hearings are less formal than proceedings held at the DuPage County Courthouse. Administrative Adjudication hearings do not follow the rigid and complex rules of evidence used in court proceedings but still follow a basic structure to ensure fairness and due process of law. A hearing officer, who is independent and not a City employee, presides over the hearings. The hearing officer is an impartial, licensed attorney, who must meet strict state requirements to serve as a hearing officer.
The Administrative Adjudication process begins when the City files a case, to be heard by the hearing officer, based on the observations of City employees authorized to enforce the City of Wheaton’s Code of Ordinances. The City will serve the party accused of the alleged violation with a ticket, citation, or complaint outlining the City’s allegations.
What do I do if I receive a ticket, citation, or complaint?
If “The above violation is a must appear offense” is on the citation, you must appear at the Hearing Date, which is on the front side of the ticket, citation, or complaint.
If “The above violation is a must appear offense” is not noted on the citation, you have two options:
In lieu of appearing at the hearing, payments must be received by the City within 15 calendar days of the issuance of the ticket, citation, or complaint otherwise the violation will be routed to an Administrative Adjudication hearing. Payment options include:
- Online: https://wheaton.msicore360.com/resident/
- By Mail: enclose a check or money order (cash is not accepted) payable to the City of Wheaton and send it to:
- City of Wheaton, PO Box 727, Wheaton, Illinois, 60187-0727
- In-Person: Monday -Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at City Hall (303 W. Wesley): Credit Cards, checks, and money orders are accepted as payment.
You may contest the ticket, citation, or complaint by appearing at the Administrative Adjudication Hearing on the time and date indicated on the front of the ticket, citation, or complaint.
IGNORING A TICKET, CITATION, OR COMPLAINT MAY RESULT IN A DEFAULT JUDGMENT ENTERED AGAINST YOU AND/OR THE PROPERTY.
What should I bring to my hearing?
If you do not timely pay the required fine as allowed, it is in your best interest to attend the hearing. You are strongly encouraged to bring all of your evidence (photos, receipts, invoices, permits, etc.) and witnesses with you. If English is not your first language, bring a friend or family member to help translate. The City will not provide a translator. If you wish, you may bring an attorney to represent you, at your own expense.
What do I do when I arrive for my hearing?
Proceed to the City Hall Council Chambers on the top floor of Wheaton City Hall, 303 W. Wesley Street, Wheaton, Illinois. Check-in with the hearing clerk located in the room so the clerk can notify the hearing officer that you are present. Please be sure to arrive a few minutes early otherwise you will have to wait until there is a break in proceedings to check-in. After you have checked in, please sit down until your case is called. Food, drink, and chewing gum are not allowed in the hearing room. Please conduct yourself in a dignified, orderly, and appropriate manner at all times. Disruptive behavior will result in a failure to hear your case or the hearing officer will conduct the hearing in your absence and you will still be subject to any fines or penalties that may be levied.
Who may participate in the hearing?
Who participates in the hearing will vary, depending on the nature of the municipal code violation. Each hearing will be conducted by the hearing officer. Others present may include attorneys representing a party; and witnesses.
The City of Wheaton, as the petitioner, will have a prosecutor and/or representative there to present its case. The City may also bring witnesses to support its case. You may represent yourself or hire an attorney to represent you at your own expense.
What happens during an Administrative Adjudication hearing?
The hearing follows a trial-like structure to ensure fairness and due process of law.
- When the Hearing Officer enters the hearing room, he or she will make an opening statement identifying the Hearing Officer’s role, expectations of a hearing, and the order in which cases will be heard.
- When your case is called, you should acknowledge and step to the front of the Hearing Officer’s bench. The hearing will begin immediately and both sides will be given an opportunity to present testimony and evidence. The City is responsible for presenting its case and must proceed first. The City’s attorney will present the City’s evidence to establish a “prima facie case” or necessary allegations that a Code violation occurred. City evidence may include live sworn testimony, a sworn affidavit, documents, exhibits, or other evidence deemed admissible by the hearing officer. The ticket, citation, complaint, or notice of violation written against you may be enough evidence to prove or disprove the City’s case. If the City presents its case through the in-person testimony of a City official or other witness, you have the right to ask questions of the witness.
- After the City presents its case, you will have the opportunity to present your case. You may present your defense to the Hearing Officer through your own testimony, the testimony of witnesses, a sworn affidavit, and/or other evidence (such as photos, invoices, receipts, etc.). You are expected to bring all of your witnesses and evidence with you to your first hearing date as no continuances shall be authorized by the Hearing Officer unless a continuance is absolutely necessary. If you testify on your behalf or have witnesses testify, the City’s attorney may cross-examine you and your witnesses.
- After both sides have had an opportunity to present their case, the Hearing Officer will issue a written order stating whether or not a City Code violation existed or exists. The City’s burden of proof for an Administrative Adjudication hearing is “by a preponderance of the evidence.” That means, the Hearing Officer must find, after considering all of the evidence, that it was more likely than not that a City Code violation occurred. It differs from a criminal proceeding in which the burden of proof required to prove guilt is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
- If the Hearing Officer determines the City has not met its case by the preponderance of the evidence, the case will be dismissed.
- If the Hearing Officer finds that the City has proven its case, you will be found liable and the case will go forward on matters of compliance and penalties, as set forth in the City Code. Penalties may include fines, payment of restitution, and community service. Unlike a judicial proceeding, there are no additional hearing costs associated with an Administrative Adjudication Hearing.
- Anyone required to appear at their assigned hearing time is strongly encouraged to attend. Failure to appear to a scheduled hearing will result in a default judgment against the charged person.
- All judgments are final and enforceable by law, and all fines are made payable to the City of Wheaton. Payment is due in full at the time of ruling. Acceptable forms of payment include cashier’s check, credit card, and money order.
What if I disagree with the Hearing Officer’s decision?
Upon becoming final, an order of the Hearing Officer may be appealed in the Circuit Court of DuPage County under the Illinois Administrative Review Law (735 ILCS 5/3-101, et seq.], which allows either party thirty-five days to appeal the Hearing Officer’s findings, decision, and order.