Prepare for a Municipal Court trial

If you have decided to bring your case to trial before a judge or jury, this is what you can expect during that process.

  1. Find out when your trial is scheduledopen_in_new

    If you cannot attend the trial, you can file a continuanceopen_in_new to reschedule your appearance.

    If you do not have a trial date already, but would like to request a trial by judgeopen_in_new or jury, you can do so online.

  2. You may be called up individually to talk to a prosecutor about options for handling your case such as deferrals and plea bargains. The prosecutor is the attorney who represents the State of Texas in your case.

  3. Many cases are resolved with the prosecutor and do not go to trial. However, if multiple defendants that were scheduled for that day's docket want to go to trial, your trial may be rescheduled. Nevertheless, you must be prepared to go to trial that day. A docket is the schedule for a particular date and time for a particular court.

  4. Every trial begins with the judge explaining your rights.

  5. If you choose a jury trial you will have the opportunity to question the jurors about their ability to serve on the jury. This is called voir dire.

    The State of Texas has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, they will present their case first. This means that after you both give your opening statement they will call their witnesses first. This usually will include the officer that gave you the ticket. You will have an opportunity to ask questions of their witnesses.

    After, you will have the opportunity to put on your case. You can offer your own testimony or call your own witnesses. The State will have the ability to question your witnesses. Both the State and you can make closing arguments. Because the State has the burden, they always have the last word.

  6. The jury or the judge will then determine your guilt and your punishment. The range of punishment can include the full fine plus court costs or a reduced fine and court costs after the judge and the jury consider your particular financial circumstances.

Attorneys & representing yourself

You have the right to have an attorney represent you. However, you will have to hire one on your own because attorneys are not appointed for Class C offenses. You may also represent yourself if you choose. Here are some resources to help you represent yourself or find an attorney.open_in_new

Rules of the court

Before the trial, please familiarize yourself with the rules of the court.open_in_new

If you are going to bring digital evidence to the court, you must submit it 48 hours in advance so that it can be scanned for viruses and it must be compatible with court technology. Please review the digital evidence standards.open_in_new

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