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General Information
General Information about Municipal Court


CITATIONS

Once a citation is received you will have until the appearance date listed at the bottom of the citation in which to take care of the charges filed against you.

COURT APPEARANCES

After receiving a citation, you have thirty (30) days to enter an appearance with the Court. A phone call does not constitute an appearance. Failure to appear or answer on the citation within this 30 day period may result in a warrant for your arrest being issued and an additional charge of Failure to Appear may be issued. An additional warrant fee is incurred on each violation when a warrant is issued. Although not required by law, the Warrant Division will notify you by mail at the address listed on the citation when a warrant for your arrest has been issued. When issuing an arrest warrant for Class C misdemeanor offenses, the relevant information is added to the State’s criminal database. Be advised that you are subject to arrest by any agency confirming the warrant for your arrest. An arrest warrant will remain active until the fines and fees have been paid or a bond has been posted following your arrest. If you have outstanding warrants, the renewal of your driver’s license may be denied.

To plead guilty, you must check the guilty plea and sign the citation. It should then be mailed or delivered in person to the Court along with the appropriate fine amount. A receipt for your payment will be provided to you if a self-addressed stamped envelope is enclosed with your payment. A guilty plea will be considered a conviction and recorded as such on your criminal and/or driving record. You cannot plead guilty and request deferred adjudication/probation to keep the offense from appearing on your record(s).

If you wish to plead nolo contendere or no contest, you will be responsible for the fees and costs, including the deferred adjudication fee, assessed for your citation(s). A request for deferred adjudication must be made in person at the clerk’s office. You will need to contact the clerk’s office for the amount of the deferred fee that will be due for your citation(s).

If you wish to enter a plea of not guilty, you will need to appear at the clerk’s office prior to the expiration of your 30 day period. You cannot enter a plea of not guilty or schedule a court date by telephone. If you plead not guilty, a Pre-Trial or First Appearance hearing will be scheduled so that you can meet with the Municipal Prosecutor to discuss your case. If the citations are not dismissed and no plea agreement is made, a trial date will be scheduled. Bench trials or trails before the Judge are held during a regularly scheduled Court session. Jury trials are held as necessary.

TRIALS AND APPEALS

Trials conducted in the Pantego Municipal Court of Record are in accordance with the due process requirements of the United States Constitution, Texas Constitution and Code of Criminal Procedure. Defendants may be represented by an attorney or may act “pro se” which is a Latin term meaning that the defendant represents himself or herself at trial.

Article 1.05 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure states that a defendant cannot be brought to trial until after being formally charged with the offense in a complaint. The complaint is a sworn document which alleges the offense you are alleged to have committed and that your conduct was unlawful, Only the offenses alleged in the complaint may be brought to trial.

Each defendant is assured of the following rights in Court:

  1. The right to inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you at trial;
  2. The right to have your case tried before a jury;
  3. The right to hear all testimony introduced against you;
  4. The right to cross-examine any and all witnesses who testify against you;
  5. The right to testify on your own behalf;
  6. The right not to testify (the 5th Amendment of the United States constitution ensures that your refusal to testify cannot be held against you in determining your guilt or innocence); and,
  7. The right to call witnesses to testify in your behalf at the trial and have the Court issue a subpoena to any witnesses to demand their appearance at the trial. A subpoena is a Court order notifying the witness that he must be in Court for the trial. If a witness does not appear after receiving a subpoena, he or she may be cited with contempt and a warrant for the witness’ arrest may be issued. Request for subpoena’s are due at least ten (10) days before trial and must be in writing or requested in person at the clerk’s office.

Any time a defendant pleads not guilty, he or she will be scheduled on the Pre-Trial or First Appearance docket. During this hearing, the defendant will have an opportunity to discuss the case with the Municipal Prosecutor and present evidence as to why the case should be dismissed or the fine lessened due to the fact and circumstances involved. If the case is not dismissed and no plea agreement can be reached between the defendant and the Municipal Prosecutor, the case will be set for trial at a later date. This enables both the defendant and prosecutor to gather evidence, subpoena witnesses, and prepare for trial. A trial date will be scheduled only after the defendant has appeared for his or her Pre-Trial or First Appearance hearing.

TRIAL BY JURY

Jury trials are conducted on an as needed basis. Jurors from the Pantego community will be summoned to appear for service. Be advised that juror fees may be assessed against you as costs of Court if you are found guilty following a trial by jury.

The Municipal Prosecutor and defendant will have the opportunity to question potential jurors to learn of any biases or prejudices present which could prevent a fair or impartial trial. The defendant and the prosecutor may each strike three (3) potential jurors from the service. All cases tried in the Municipal Court will be heard by a petit jury which consists of six (6) persons. The jury will select a foreperson. The foreperson is responsible for polling the jury, signing the verdict form, and transmitting questions or requests to the Judge. The verdict of the jury must be unanimous. The jury panel will receive the charge of the Court before rendering a verdict. The charge sets forth the law applicable in the case, the range of fines allowed in the case, and directions on how the jurors must conduct themselves during deliberations to arrive at a fair and impartial verdict based on the evidence presented at trial.

EXTENSIONS

If you have a citation and you wish to pay the citation but are unable to by the appearance date on your citation you can appear at the court clerk’s office on or before the appearance date on your citation and request a 30 day extension to pay your citation. At the end of the 30 day extension period you will either need to pay the citation in full or pay a $25 fee per violation to place your violations on a time payment plan. Failure to take care of your citation within your extension period will result in a “Capias pro fine” warrant being issued for your arrest and an additional warrant fee added to your total cost.