Trial Process

On a plea of not guilty, a formal trial will be held. As in all criminal trials, the State is required to prove the guilt of the defendant "beyond a reasonable doubt". Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. You should read the following explanation of the three types of pleas and think carefully before making your decision. If you plead guilty or nolo contendere in open court, you should be prepared to pay the fine in full or request other arrangements. Contact Municipal Court for information on how to make the payment. 

You have the right to contest the charges against you and you can enter a plea of NOT GUILTY and ask for a trial before the Judge or before a jury panel. Once you enter your not guilty plea, you will be scheduled for a pretrial with the City Prosecutor. 

You will need to decide if you are going to hire an attorney or represent yourself. If you hire an attorney, your attorney needs to submit a letter of representation to the court PRIOR to your pretrial and needs to appear at the pretrial. 

What to expect at pretrial: You and your attorney, if you have representation, will meet with the prosecutor and review the evidence in the case. You will be able to discuss any relative circumstances with the prosecutor that may be considered in your case. You may agree to a settlement with the prosecutor on that day or you may ask to proceed to trial. If you proceed to trial, your trial will be scheduled at a later date.

You have two options for trial:

  • Judge Trial: also commonly referred to as a Bench Trial. This means the case with all witnesses will present the evidence to the Municipal Judge for a decision to be made on guilt or innocence. If you are found guilty by the Judge, the amount due will be assessed and payment arrangements will be discussed with you.
  • Jury Trial: a jury pool of about 30-40 peers will be called in to select a panel of six jurors to hear the evidence and rule on guilt or innocence. You may select to have your fine determined by the Judge or by the Jury. If you are found guilty, your fine will be assessed according to your decision and court costs incurred will also be assessed.

NOTICE: If you are found NOT GUILTY, you will not have any fines or fees assessed and your case will be dismissed. If you are found GUILTY, your fine and court costs will be assessed and you may have additional court costs. See the following chart of other fees that may be added.

Procedure Amount Statute
Summoning a Defendant $35.00 Art 102.011 (a)(4), CCP
Summoning a Witness $5.00 Art 102.011 (a)(3), CCP
Summoning a Jury $5.00 Art 102.011 (a)(7), CCP
Summoning Parents (Juveniles) $35.00 Art 102.011 (a)(4), CCP
Jury Fee (if convicted by Jury) $3.00 Art 102.004, CCP
Officer's Overtime for Testifying ACTUAL COST Art 102.011 (i), CCP
Late Withdraw of Request for
    Jury Trial (Less than 24 hours)
$3.00 Art 102.004, CCP
**Failure to Appear for Jury Trial ACTUAL COST Art 45.026, CCP
** This fee will include postage and paper for Jury summons.  In addition to the above costs that will be added to the original charge, a charge for Failure to Appear will be added for failing to appear for your jury trial without notice.