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 on that same date.
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.
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.
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 the law, such as the OMNI fee if a hold has been placed on your driver's 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 timelines. It is your obligation to research and understand all legal proceedings for an appeal and/or a request for a new trial.
Municipal Court has jurisdiction over all juveniles, ages 10 through 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 driver's license or deny the right to obtain a driver's license.
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 driver's license consistent with state law.
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 driver's license consistent with state law.