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Municipal Court Procedures
This information is not a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney. If you have questions about your best course of action, what plea to enter, your rights, or the consequences of a conviction of the offense for which you are charged, you should contact an attorney. Clerks, judges and prosecutors cannot give legal advice. 

Your Rights
  • Under the American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
  • The State must prove you guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt."
  • Every criminal defendant has the right to remain silent and refuse to testify without consequences.
Your Rights Before Trial
  • You have the right to retain an attorney.
  • No attorney will be appointed for you.
  • You have the right to a jury trial.
  • You may waive a jury trial and have a trial before the judge.
  • If you elect to represent yourself, no person other than a licensed attorney can assist you during a trial.
Your Rights At Trial
  • To have notice of the complaint.
  • To inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you.
  • To hear all testimony introduced against you.
  • To cross examine witnesses who testify against you.
  • To testify on your own behalf or refuse without consequences.
  • To subpoena and call witnesses to testify on your behalf.
Your Legal Obligation
  • The law requires you to make an appearance.
  • Your appearance date is noted on your citation, bond, summons or release papers.
  • You or your attorney may appear:
    • in person in open court
    • by mail, postmarked by the appearance date (adults only)
    • delivering your plea in person to the court (adults only)
  • Your first appearance is to determine your plea of guilty, nolo contendere (no contest) or not guilty.
Entering a Plea
  • Plea of Guilty: By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the criminal offense charged.
  • Plea of Nolo Contendere (no contest): A plea of no contest means that you do not contest the State's charge against you.
  • Plea of Not Guilty: A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt and require the State to prove the charge. A plea of not guilty does not waive your right to appeal or to a jury trial. A plea of not guilty does not prevent a plea of guilty or no contest prior to trial.
The difference between a plea of guilty and no contest is that the no contest plea may not later be used against you in a civil suit for damages.

For example, in a civil suit arising from a traffic crash, a guilty plea can be used as evidence of your responsibility or fault.
After a Finding of Guilt
If you plead guilty or no contest, or are found guilty by a judge, you should be prepared to pay your fine and costs in full. If you are unable to pay in full, you should be prepared to document and explain your financial situation.

How to Enter a Plea of Not Guilty

  • You may appear in person or you may appear by mail by completing the plea form on this website under forms.
  • The plea form must be received before your appearance date on your citation.
  • If you choose to appear by mail you must include a self addressed envelope.

Please Note: Persons entering a plea of not guilty are not eligible for Defensive Driving or Deferred Disposition. 

 

After a Plea of Not Guilty
The Court will place your case on a Pretrial Docket where the following may occur:
  • You may waive a jury trial and request a Court Trial.
  • You may file motions.
  • You may speak with the prosecutor if you choose to do so.
  • You may be required to post a bond to ensure your appearance at trial.
  • You may choose to have your trial recorded and pay a $25 fee.
  • You may be scheduled for a Jury Trial or Court Trial date.
  • You may no longer be eligible for a driver safety course or deferred disposition if your case is set for a Jury Trial or Court Trial.
  • The request must be in person, by counsel, by certified mail or by Email. (If under 17, you must appear in open court with a parent or guardian to make the request.)
Motions and Continuances

  • Written motions are required at least 10 days before the court date. 
  • The court, as a matter of policy, will grant one continuance per party without good cause shown.
  • Subsequent requests for continuance will be on good cause shown, which may include but is not limited to:

a)      Pre-existing court dates, with appropriate documentation regarding when notified of the conflicting court date.

b)      Pre-scheduled vacation dates with no-refund statement attached.

c)       Conflicting subpoenas for witnesses.

  • Second motions for continuance shall be filed at least 10 days before the court date:

a)      A date for a hearing on the motion will be provided to the Defendant.

b)      If the defendant elects they may pay a $200 cash bond in lieu of appearing for the continuance motion and the case will be reset.

c)       Cash bond is refundable upon acquittal or dismissal of the charge.

  • Third and subsequent motions of continuance shall be filed at least 10 days before the court date:

a)      A date for a hearing on the motion will be provided to the Defendant.

b)      Hearing date will be before Defendant’s next scheduled court appearance.

  • Motions untimely filed or without good cause shown, may be denied by the court. 
  • Motions denied, and subsequent failure to appear will result in a failure to appear charge being filed, a warrant executed and a bond for new court setting required. 
  • A cash bond will be required if the failure to appear occurred on a surety or attorney bond.
Fines, Fees and Costs
The amount of the fines assessed by the court is determined  by the facts and circumstances in the case. 

Courts are required by laws of the State of Texas to collect court costs and fees.

Maximum fines allowed:
  • Most Traffic Violations = $200 + costs + fees
  • State Law = $500 + costs + fees
  • Most City Ordinances = $500 + costs + fees
  • Fire Safety Ordinances = $2,000 + costs + fees
  • Health & Sanitation Ordinances = $2,000 + costs + fees
  • Zoning Ordinances = $2,000 + costs + fees

Examples of additional cost:
  • Peace Officer Overtime – Actual cost
  • Jury Fee - $3
  • Warrant Fee - $50
  • OMNI Fee - $30
  • Collection Agency Fee – 30% of total
  • Time Payment Fee - $25
  • Parental Summons Fee - $35
Fair and Impartial Justice
The Municipal Judge is responsible for conducting a fair, impartial, and public trial. The case against you is brought by the State of Texas through the prosecutor, not the court. The Judge may not dismiss a case without the prosecutor having the right to try the case. The only exceptions are: Compliance Dismissals, Driver Safety Courses and Deferred Disposition.
Compliance Dismissals
With $10 fee:
  • Unclean License Plate
  • No License Plate or Only One LP
  • Violate Driver License Restrictions
  • Defective Equipment
  • Fail to Display Driver License
  • Expired Vessel Certificate

With $20 fee:
  • Expired Registration
  • Expired Driver License
  • Fail to Report Change of Address
  • Expired Handicap Placard
Driving Safety Course
  • If you are charged with a traffic offense, you may be eligible to ask the judge to take a driving safety course to dismiss the charge.
  • The request must be made on or before the appearance date on the citation.
  • The request must be in person, by counsel, by certified mail or by Email. (If under 17, you must appear in open court with a parent or guardian to make the request.)
  • If you were operating a motorcycle, you may be required to take a motorcycle operator’s training course.
Driving Safety Eligibility
  • Cannot have taken a driving safety course or motorcycle operator’s course for a traffic offense within the last 12 months from the date of the offense.
  • Cannot currently be taking the course for another traffic violation.
  • Cannot be the holder of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or have held a CDL at the time of the offense.
Driving Safety Exclusions
You are not eligible for a Driving Safety Course for the following serious traffic offenses:
  • Failure to Give Information at Accident Scene
  • Leaving Scene of Accident
  • Passing a School Bus
  • Offense in a Construction Zone/Workers Present
  • Speeding 25 mph or More Over the Speed Limit
  • Speeding 95 mph or More Regardless of Speed Limit
Driving Safety Requirements
  • You must plead guilty or no contest.
  • Pay court costs of $109.10/ For Speeding in a School Zone pay $134.10.
  • Present proof of financial responsibility (insurance) with your name on it.
  • Present a valid Texas driver’s license or permit.
  • Present valid driver’s license from any state if active military, spouse or dependent child of active military.

 

Driving Safety Dismissal
The case will be deferred for 90 days. During that time you must:
  • Complete a driving safety course approved by the Texas Education Agency (http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/offendered/default.shtm) or a motorcycle operators course approved by TXDPS and present a certificate of completion to the court; along with
  • A certified copy of your driving record from TXDPS that shows that you have not completed a driving safety course within the preceding 12 months from the date of the current offense; and
  • Swear to an affidavit that you were not taking a driving safety course at the time of the request for the current offense and that you have not taken one that is not shown on your driving record.
Failure to Comply with Requirements
If you do not present the required documents in time, the court will notify you to return to the court and explain why you failed. The judge may, but is not required to, allow you to file the proper papers for an extension at that time. Your failure to be present at that hearing will result in a conviction, a fine being assessed, and a capias pro fine warrant for your arrest being issued.
Deferred Disposition
  • The judge may, at the judge's sole discretion, defer disposition on most cases.
  • The holder of a commercial driver’s license is not eligible for deferred disposition on moving traffic violations.
  • Costs must be paid when the court grants deferred.
  • Receive no additional citations for the term of the deferred.
  • If you complete the required terms, the case is dismissed, and the court will impose a special expense fee not to exceed the maximum fine amount authorized by state law.
  • The deferred period cannot exceed 180 days.
  • The request must be in person, by counsel, by certified mail or by Email. (If under 17, you must appear in open court with a parent or guardian to make the request.)
Deferred Disposition Cost/Terms
Offense Cost Term
Speeding 1-20 Miles Over $275 90 days
Speeding 21-25 Miles Over $275 120 days
Speeding 26-35 Miles Over $275 180 days + DSC
Speeding 35+ Miles Over N/A N/A
Accidents $200+ 180 days
Moving Violations $275 90 days
Cell Phone Violations $275 90 days
FMFR (No insurance) compliance $350 180 days+
Disorderly Conduct $375 180 days
Theft $400 180 days
Passing Emergency Vehicle N/A N/A
Work Zone Violation N/A N/A
Passing a School Bus N/A N/A
Assault N/A N/A
Appeals
The Texas City Municipal Court is a Court of Record. All defendants have the right to appeal their convictions.
  • You must to go trial and a record of the trial must be made.
  • Judgment must be entered against you.
  • You must make a motion for a new trial no later than the 10th day after judgment.
  • If the motion for a new trial is overruled, you must give notice of appeal and post an appeal bond no later than the 10th day after the motion for new trial was overruled.
  • The appeal bond must be at least double the amount of the fine and costs.
  • You must pay a $25 fee for the clerk’s record.
  • You must pay for the actual transcription of trial proceedings, approximately $3000-$5000.
  • You must pay for the reporter’s record.
  • You may file a bill of exception with the transcript.

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