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remain silent and refuse to testify (without Your first appearance is to determine your Fines, Cost and Fees Municipal Court consequences). You have the right to plea. If you waive a jury trial and plead retain an attorney and have them try your guilty or no contest you may present The amount of fine the court assesses is Procedures case or answer your questions. Since offenses in this court are punishable only extenuating circumstances for the judge to consider when setting your fine. If you determined by the facts and circumstances of the case. Mitigating circumstances may (Adults) by fine and not by incarceration, you do not have the right to appointed counsel. plead not guilty, the court will schedule a jury trial. You may waive a jury trial and lower the fine and aggravating circumstances may increase the fine. The be set for trial before the court. When you maximum fine amount allowed for most You have the right to a jury trial. You may make your appearance by mail, the court traffic violations is $200; for most other also waive a jury trial and have a trial must receive your plea before your violations of State law and city ordinances- before the judge, commonly called a bench scheduled appearance date. If you plead -$500; for health and safety city ordinance trial. At trial you have many rights not guilty, the court will notify you of the violations--$2,000. The court may set the including: date of your trial. fine between $1 and the maximum. Prepared and Distributed by the Texas Municipal Courts 1) The right to have notice of the If you plead guilty or no contest, you Courts are required by State law to collect Association complaint not later than the day waive your right to a jury trial. You may court costs and fees for the State of Texas. before any proceedings; request the amount of fine and appeal bond If you go to trial, you may have to also pay and Texas Municipal Courts in writing and mail or deliver it to the court the costs of overtime paid to a peace Education Center 2) The right to inspect the complaint before your appearance date. You then officer spent testifying in the trial. If you TMCEC is funded by a grant before trial, and have it read to you at have up to 31 days from the time you request a jury trial, a $3 jury fee is from the Texas Court of trial; received a certified notice from the court to assessed. If you do not pay the whole fine pay the fine or file an appeal bond with the and costs within 30 days of the court’s Criminal Appeals 3) The right to hear all testimony municipal court. judgment you must pay a $25 time introduced against you; payment fee. City: TOM BEAN Pleas 4) The right to cross-examine witnesses Court costs are assessed if you are found Address: PO BOX 312 who testify against you; Unless your case is covered by the guilty at trial, if you plead guilty or nolo TOM BEAN, TX 75489 information on the back of this pamphlet, contendere, if your case is deferred for a 5) The right to testify in your own you must enter one of these three pleas: driving safety course, or if your case is Telephone: 903-546-6321 behalf; deferred and you are placed on probation. Plea of Not Guilty – A plea of not guilty If you are found not guilty courts costs are Purpose 6) The right not to testify. Your refusal means that you deny guilt, and require the not assessed. to do so many not be held against you State to prove the charge. A plea of not This pamphlet is designed to provide in determining your innocence or guilty does not waive any of your rights. Judge’s Ability to Dismiss information about court proceedings. It is guilty; and A plea of not guilty does not prevent a plea not a substitute for legal advice from a of guilty or no contest at a later time. The municipal judge is responsible for licensed attorney. If you have questions 7) You may call witnesses to testify in conducting a fair, impartial and public about your best course of action, what plea your behalf at the trial, and have the Plea of Guilty – By a plea of guilty, you trial. The case against you is brought by you should enter, your rights, or the court issue a subpoena (a court order) admit that the act is prohibited by law and the State of Texas through the prosecutor, consequence of a conviction of the offense to any witnesses to ensure their that you committed the act charged. not the court. Therefore, the judge may for which you are charged you should appearance at the trial. not dismiss a case without the prosecutor contact an attorney. Neither the clerk, Plea of Nolo Contendere (no contest) – A having the right to try the case. judge nor prosecutor can give you legal Appearance plea of nolo contendere means that you do advice. not contest the State’s charge against you. Exceptions In addition to your rights, you also have Your Rights some legal responsibilities. The law There are several exceptions to this rule, requires you to make an appearance on If you plead guilty or nolo contendere, you they are contained later in this pamphlet Under our American system of justice, all your case. Your appearance date is noted will be found guilty and should be and include Driver’s Safety Courses, persons are presumed to be innocent until on your citation, bond, summons, or prepared to pay the fine. A plea of guilty Deferred Disposition, Inspection, proven guilty. The State must prove you release papers. You or your attorney may waives all of the trail rights discussed Registration, some Driver’s License guilty of the offense with which you are appear in person in open court, by mail, or earlier. You should contact the court violations, and No Insurance violations. charged “beyond a reasonable doubt”. you may deliver your plea in person to the regarding how to make payments if you Every criminal defendant has the right to court. (Juveniles have a separate set of are unable to pay the entire fine and cost. rules for their appearance. Please read the juveniles pamphlet). Trial Procedures Driver’s Safety Courses During that time you must: Registration If you choose to have the case tried before If you are charged with a traffic offense, 1) Complete a driving safety course that The court may dismiss a expired a jury, you have the right to question jurors you may be eligible to ask the judge to has been approved by the Texas registration charge if the defect is remedied about their qualifications to hear your case. take a driving safety course to dismiss the Education Agency or a motorcycle with 10 days of citation, all late If you think that a juror will not be fair, charge. The request must be made before operator’s course approved by the registration fees were paid to the county, impartial or unbiased, you may ask the the appearance date on the citation. It Department o Public Safety. and a $10 fee is paid. judge to excuse the juror. You are also must be made in person, by counsel, or by permitted to strike three members of the certified mail. If you were operating a 2) Present a certified copy of your Failure to Display DL, Expired DL jury panel for any reason you chose, motorcycle, you must take a motorcycle driving record from the Department (except a strike based solely upon race or operator’s training course. At the time of of Public Safety that shows that you Failure to Display a Driver’s License gender). the request, you must do the following: have not had a driving safety course offenses must be dismissed without any fee within the preceding 12 months; and if you present evidence of a DL, valid at As in all criminal trials, the State will 1) Plead guilty or no contest; the time of the offense, to the court. present its case first by calling witnesses to 3) Swear to an affidavit that you are not Expired DL cases may be dismissed if testify against you. 2) Pay court costs and a $10 currently taking a driving safety remedied within 10 days of citation and a administrative fee, if required; course and that you have not taken $10 fee is paid. You then have the right to cross-examine. one that is not shown on your driving You may not, however, argue with the 3) Present proof of financial record. Failure to Provide Financial witness. Cross-examination must be in the responsibility (insurance); Responsibility (No Insurance) form of questions. If you do not take the course in the time 4) Present a Texas Driver’s License; required and/or fail to present the court Failure to Provide Financial Responsibility After the prosecution, you may present with any of the required documents, the (No Insurance) offenses must be dismissed your case. You have the right to call any 5) Have not requested and taken a court will notify you to return to court and without a fee if you present evidence of witness who knows anything about the driving safety course or motorcycle explain why you failed. The judge may, financial responsibility (insurance), valid incident. The State has the right to cross- operator course for a traffic offense but is not required to, allow you to file the at the time of the offenses, to the court, and examine any witness that you call. with the last 12 months; proper papers at that time. Your failure to the court verified the coverage. be present at that hearing will result in a If you so desire, you may testify in your 6) Are not currently taking the course for conviction, a fine being assessed, and a Appeal and New Trial own behalf, but as a defendant, you may another traffic violation; warrant for your arrest being issued. not be compelled to testify. It is your If you are found guilty, and are not choice, and your silence cannot be used 7) Do not hold a Commercial Driver’s Deferred Disposition satisfied with the judgment of the court, against you. If you do testify the State has License; and you have the right to appeal your case. To the right to cross-examine you. The judge may, in its sole discretion, defer appeal you must file an appeal bond 8) Have not committed one of the disposition on most cases. Cost must be amount at least twice the amount of the After all testimony is concluded, both sides following offenses: paid, and the court may impose a special fine and costs. Look at the section can make a closing argument. This is your expense not to exceed the fine amount. If appearance for the special rules for opportunity to tell the jury or court why Failure to Give Information at you complete the required terms the case is appealing pleas made by mail. Defendants you are not guilty of the offense. The State Accident Scene; dismissed at the end of a period not to in courts of record should check with the has the right to present the first and last Leaving Scene of Accident; exceed 180 days. court for rules regarding appeals. arguments. Passing a School Bus; A serious traffic violation, which Inspection If you are found guilty, you may make an In determining the defendant’s guilt or applies to commercial motor oral or written motion to the court for a innocence, the judge or jury may consider vehicle operators; Expired vehicle inspection cases must be new trial. The motion must be made only the testimony of witnesses and any An offense in a construction dismissed for the payment of a $10 fee if within one day after the court’s rendering a evidence admitted during the trial. maintenance work zone when the defect is remedied with 10 days of the judgment of guilty. The judge may grant a workers are present; or citation, and it was expired less that 60 new trial if persuaded that justice has not You may elect the jury to assess the fine if Speeding 25 mph or more over days. If it was expired more than 60 days been done in your case. Only one new trial you are convicted. If you do not file an limit. the court may dismiss. may be granted. election the judge will assess the fine. You should be prepared to pay the fine or post The case will be deferred for 90 days. an appeal bond if you are convicted.
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