A trial in Municipal Court is a fair, impartial and public trial as in any other court. Under Texas law, you can be brought to trial only after a sworn complaint is filed against you. A complaint is the charging instrument (document) which alleges the act you are accused of committing and that the act was unlawful. You can be tried only for what is alleged in the complaint.
Please be aware of the Court Dress Code.
Your Rights in Court
- The right to inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you at the time of trial.
- The right to have your case tried before a jury unless you waive that right.
- The right to hear all testimony introduced against you.
- The right to cross-examine or question any witness who testifies against you.
- The right to testify on your own behalf.
- The right not to testify if you desire. If you choose not to testify, your refusal to do so cannot be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt.
- You have a right to call witnesses to testify on your behalf at the trial and have the court issue a subpoena to any witnesses to ensure their appearance at the trial. The subpoena request must be submitted to the court in writing at least 10 days prior to the trial date to ensure service.
Trial by Jury
If you choose a jury trial, you have the right to question jurors about their qualifications to hear your case during the Voir Dire (questioning of the panel). If you think a juror might not be fair, impartial, or unbiased, you may ask the judge to excuse the juror. The judge will decide whether to grant your request
You are permitted to strike three members of the jury panel for any reason you desire, except an illegal reason (such as a strike based solely upon a person's race, sex, or age).
Presenting the Case
- As in all criminal trials, the State will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you.
- After the prosecution's witnesses have finished testifying, you have the right to cross-examine or question the witnesses about their testimony or other fact relevant to the case. You cannot argue with the witness. Your cross-examination must be in form of a question. You may not tell your version of the incident at this time. You will have the opportunity to do so later in the trial.
- After the prosecution has presented its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows about the incident. The State has the right to cross-examine any witness you call.
- You have the right to testify on your own behalf. As a defendant you cannot be compelled or forced to testify. It is your choice. If you do testify, the State has the right to cross-examine you.
- After all testimony is concluded, both sides may make a closing argument. This is your opportunity to tell the court why you think you are not guilty of the offense in which you are charged. The State has the right to present the first and last arguments. The closing argument can be based only on the testimony presented during the trial.
Judgment and Verdict
- When the judge tries the case, the judge's decision is called a Judgment.
- When the jury tries the case, the jury decision is called a Verdict.
- The judge or jury may consider only the testimony of witnesses and any evidence admitted during the trial proceedings.
- If you are found guilty by either the judge or jury, the penalty will be announced at that time.
- You should be prepared to pay the fine and costs at this time.
- If you are found guilty, you may appeal within 10 days after judgment
- The appeal must be within 10 days after a judgment or guilty has been rendered against you.
- Appeal bond is twice the amount of the penalty assessed and is due within 10 days after judgment or guilty has been rendered.
6243 Brookside Road
Brookside Village, TX 77581