Rights, Duties and Trials

You have many rights as a defendant in Municipal Court:

  • You are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  
  • You have the right to testify on your own behalf or refuse to do so without consequences.
  • You have the right to retain an attorney, but you are not required to do so.  
  • You have the right to represent yourself as a pro se defendant.  
  • You have the right to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. 
  • You have the right to receive a copy of the complaint before trial as well as other information the state has about your case. This is formally called Discovery and is your right upon request. 

Your rights during trial:

  • You have the right to a jury trial or a trial before a judge.
  • You have the right to hear all testimony introduced against you. 
  • You have the right to cross examine witnesses who testify against you. 
  • You have the right to testify on your own behalf or refuse to do so without consequences.
  • You have the right to subpoena and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. 
  • You have the right to appeal. 

If you need the services of an interpreter, please notify the municipal court staff at the time of your request for a court date.  If you have questions about your rights, you may hire an attorney.   

If you plead “Not Guilty,” you are then scheduled for a Pre-Trial.

At the Pre-Trial

  • You may discuss your case with the prosecutor, but you are not required to do so. Please be aware that conversations with the Prosecutor are not legal advise and the Prosecutor is not your legal advisor.  The Prosecutor formally represents the State of Texas.
  • You may request a review of any information the prosecutor reasonably has available regarding your case. This is formally called Discovery and is your right upon request.
  • You may review OPTIONS such as Driver’s Safety, Deferred Disposition, and Teen Court.                                                                                              

Duties

  • You have a duty to show up to court on time and to be prepared to handle your case.
  • You have a duty to keep your contact information up to date, including address, phone number, and email. 
  • These legal duties are required and failure to honor these duties may result additional consequences such as: 
·        missing important parts of your case
·        missing critical options that are waived under the law
·        a hold being placed on your driver’s license renewal
·        a hold placed on your vehicle registration, and
·        warrants being issued for arrest 

NOTE: please do not skip court due to financial concerns. If you have issues regarding payments, you will need to let the court know of the concern so that the court may take any hardship into consideration.

Trials

As well as the rights listed above, you may also want to be aware of the following:

Continuances

If you have a court date and need to change the date, you must file a written continuance no later than 3 days prior to your court date. You may fax or email the form. If you mail the form, you should account for the longer delivery time. You must call to check on receipt of your request. You may use this form.

Trial Process

  • Both sides will have an opportunity to make opening and closing remarks, though this is not required. The State has the burden of proof and must call their witnesses first. Once their witnesses testify, you will be given the chance to question them. It is a best practice to formulate questions in the form of an actual question. 
  • Once the State completes their case, you may also call witnesses that have relevant information. Such witnesses may also be cross-examined at trial. You may choose to testify, but you are not required to do so. If you choose to testify, you may be cross-examined.
  • For more information about presenting evidence or for the trial process, see the useful links section. 

Sentencing Process

You may be sentenced by either a jury or the Judge. In either event, you will be assessed costs of court and may be assessed fines.  Costs of court are established by State Law. Fines have a range and may be up to $200 for a traffic violation, up to $500 for a penal code violation, and up to $2000 for a municipal code violation.  

Appeals

  • The Temple Municipal Court is not a court of record. In some cases, you may have the right to file a request for a new trial, called a Motion for a New Trial. This can sometimes be a requirement for an appeal. 
  • Generally, you may appeal decisions by this court within 10 days from the date of sentencing in court.