Municipal Court

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The Municipal Court is located at 100 W. Main Street, Royse City, Texas. The Municipal Court is a Court of Record, established in accordance with Chapter 30 of the Texas Government Code.

Municipal Courts are the judicial branch of city government. In addition, the Municipal Court is part of the state judicial system. Municipal Court hears Class C Misdemeanor criminal cases, including traffic violations, for which the maximum fine, upon conviction, does not exceed $500, and for which no jail sentence may be assessed. They also hear cases involving violation of city ordinances, which may have fines up to $2,000 for certain offenses. The Municipal Court also entertains civil abatement and property hearings.

When you receive a citation, the options you have to resolve your case can vary depending on many different factors including, but not limited to: the type of violation, the severity of the offense, the age of the defendant, etc. The first thing you will need to do is enter a plea on or before your appearance date. Once you announce your intended plea, you may be scheduled for a court date, or you may have the option of disposing of the case without appearing in open court. If your situation allows you to resolve the matter without appearing in open court, you may pay the fine, provide proof for compliance dismissals, or you may be eligible for an alternate sentencing option such as deferred disposition or a driving safety course.

General Procedures

The Role of the Municipal Court in the City Government

Court Appearances

The law requires that you appear in person or by mail or pay the fine and court costs on or before your court date. If you were issued a citation, you are required to appear within 15 days from the date you received the citation. If you have been released on bond, you are required to appear in court on or before the 10th day following your release (weekends and holidays not included in the 10 days) or the date specified in your bond. You or your attorney may appear in person in open court or by mail. A TELEPHONE CALL WILL NOT CONSTITUTE A COURT APPEARANCE, GRANT YOU ADDITIONAL TIME OR PRESERVE YOUR RIGHTS.

Your first appearance is to determine your plea. If you waive a jury trial and plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest), you may talk to the judge about extenuating circumstances. Appearance by mail is considered timely filed with the clerk of the court if the document is deposited with the United States Postal Service in a first class postage prepaid envelope, properly addressed to the clerk, on or before the appearance date. If you plead not guilty, a pre-trial hearing will be scheduled. Absent the entry of a plea bargain at pre-trial, a trial date will be scheduled. You may request a trial by a jury or by a judge.

Dress Code and Rules of Decorum

The Municipal Court is a court of law and proper dress and decorum will be observed.

Proper Attire is required. No shorts, flip flops, tank tops, midriffs, or torn clothing shall be permitted. If you appear in improper dress you may be prevented from entering the court room and if you miss your court appearance date, a warrant may issue.

No use of cell phones is permitted while in the court room. Your phone will be confiscated if it is used during the court session and there may be a fee to have it returned. Use of the cell phone may also constitute direct contempt of court which is punishable by fine not to exceed $100.00 and up to 3 days in jail.

Pleas

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.

Plea of Guilty

By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the criminal offense charged, are waiving your right to have a trial by judge or by jury, and may be convicted purely on the plea alone. Depending upon the offense, a conviction may be reported and appear on your driving record or criminal history.

Plea of Nolo Contendere (No Contest)

A plea of nolo contendere or no contest means that you do not wish to fight (or contest) the charge against you, are waiving your right to have a trial by judge or by jury and may be convicted of the offense purely on the plea alone, similar to if you had pled guilty. Depending upon the offense, a conviction may be reported and appear on your driving record or criminal history.

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 any of your rights. A plea of not guilty does not prevent a plea of guilty or no contest at a later time. If you plea not guilty, you will be set a pretrial hearing date and then a trial setting, either by jury or before the court, at your election.

On a plea of not guilty, a formal trial is held. As in all criminal trials, the State is required to prove the guilt of the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt.” You have a choice of a trial by judge or a jury trial. A jury trial is a constitutional right. If you prefer a trial by judge, you must sign a form waiving your right to a jury trial.

If you plead not guilty, you will need to decide whether to employ an attorney to represent you at the trial. You may defend yourself, but no one other than an attorney may represent you.

If you defend yourself, please be advised that this court is a court of record. All proceedings will be conducted according to the rules of criminal procedure and the rules of evidence. If you choose to represent yourself, you must be prepared. The court staff, bailiff, prosecuting attorney or judge cannot act as your attorney by providing legal advice or assistance in the presentation of your case.

Law libraries are located at all county courthouses and are generally open to the public during regular business hours.

Pretrial

The pre-trial setting is your opportunity to be apprised of the charges against you and to consider your options. A pretrial will only be set after your initial appearance where you have entered a plea of either not guilty, guilty or no contest. The prosecutor meets with you to review the case. Depending on the circumstances, the prosecutor may offer deferred disposition or a driver’s safety course and may offer to reduce the fine or fee. If no agreement can be reached, the case will be set for trial.

A pretrial is your opportunity to:

Make any motions you have with regard to the offense of which you are charged.
Make any requests for information you might need in order to present your defense that is in the possession of the State and in accordance with CCP 39.14.
Request the subpoena of any witnesses you might need for your defense.

If agreement cannot be reached on any motion, you must present your legal arguments to the court for determination at a Pretrial Hearing generally held that same date.

The Trial

Under Texas law, you can be brought to trial only after a formal complaint has been filed. The complaint, rather than the citation, is the formal charging instrument, which alleges the specific offense.

  • You have a right to inspect the complaint before trial and to have it read at trial.
  • You have the right to have your case tried before a judge or a jury at your request.
  • You are entitled to hear all testimony introduced against you.
  • You have a right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against you.
  • You have a right to testify on your own behalf. You also have a constitutional right not to testify. If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot and will not be used against you in determining your guilt or innocence. However, the prosecutor will have the right to cross-examine you if you do testify.
  • You may call witnesses to testify on your behalf. You also have the right to have the court issue subpoenas for witnesses to ensure their appearance at trial. However, you must furnish the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of these witnesses to the Court at least fifteen days in advance so that the witnesses may be located and the subpoenas served. Subpoenas will be served by mail unless otherwise requested.

Trials are conducted under the Code of Criminal Procedure, Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence as adopted by the Texas Legislature. The order of proceedings is as follows:

Voir Dire: Jury Selection

Opening Statements

Prosecution Case in Chief

Defense Case in Chief

Prosecution Rebuttal Case

Charge to the Jury

Closing Arguments

Presenting the Case

As in all criminal trials, the State will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you.

After each prosecution witness has finished his testimony, you will have the right to cross-examine the witness. Your examination must be in the form of questions and you must not argue with the witness. Do not attempt to tell your side of the story at this time. You will have an opportunity to do so later in the trial.

After the prosecution has presented its case, you may present your case by calling witnesses, presenting physical evidence and/or testifying on your own behalf.

Judgment / Verdict

If the case is tried by the judge, the decision is called a judgment. If the case is tried by a jury, the decision is called a verdict. The judge or jury can consider only the testimony of witnesses under oath and any evidence admitted during the trial. If you are found guilty by either the judge or jury, the penalty will be announced at that time.

You have a statutory right to appeal after a finding of guilty at trial. It is your obligation to determine how to preserve error and the legal procedures for appeal.

Fines

The amount of fine the court assesses is determined only by the facts and circumstances of the case. The maximum fine for most municipal court traffic violations is $200; for penal code offenses: $500; for certain city ordinance violations, $2000; and for other city ordinance violations, $500. Fines are payable by cash, check, money order and MasterCard or Visa credit/debit cards.

Schedule of Fines

Court Costs/Fees

If you are found guilty of an offense, mandated state court costs are included in the amount due. These charges vary according to the offense. Court costs are applicable to all judgments including defensive driving and deferred disposition. Additional fees may be added in accordance with law, such as the OMNI fee, if a hold has been placed on your drivers license, or a warrant fee if a warrant has been issued for your arrest.

Right to Appeal – Motions for New Trial

If you are found guilty and are not satisfied with the judgment of the court, you have the right to appeal your case. Since the Royse City Municipal Court is a court of record, you must adhere to the appeal process as outlined in the Government Code. Appeals will be based on any “legal” error – not a new trial (trial de novo) of the facts.

Appeals and Motions for New Trial are statutory procedures with specific time lines. It is your obligation to research and understand all legal proceedings for an appeal and/or a request for a new trial.

Juveniles

Municipal Court has jurisdiction over all juveniles (ages 10 – 16) charged with Class C misdemeanor offenses. All juveniles are required to appear in open court for all proceedings in their cases. The parent(s) or legal guardians of any juvenile charged in municipal court is required to be present in court with his or her child, even if represented by legal counsel.

Juveniles who fail to appear or complete their sentence will be reported to the Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety may suspend a juvenile’s drivers license or deny the right to obtain a drivers license.

Minors:

Alcohol Related Offenses: If you are under the age of 21, and are charged with an alcohol related offense you MUST take an alcohol awareness course and perform alcohol related community service, whether it is part of a deferred disposition or straight plea conviction order. Failure to take the class and/or perform the alcohol related community service will result in the suspension of your drivers license consistent with state law.

Tobacco Related Offenses. If you are under the age of 18, and are charged with a tobacco related offense you MUST take a tobacco awareness course, whether it is part of a deferred disposition or straight plea conviction order. Failure to take the class will result in the suspension of your drivers license consistent with state law.