The law requires you to appear in court on your case.
If you were issued a citation, your appearance date is noted on the citation.
If you have been released on bond, your appearance date is set on the bond.
If you request a continuance, the court will notify you of your new appearance date.
You or your attorney may appear in person in open court, by mail, or you may deliver your plea in person to the court.
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 that you want the judge to consider when setting your fine, but the judge is not required to reduce your fine.
If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a jury trial unless you waive that right. If you do, the trial will be before the judge.
When you make your appearance by mail, the court must receive your plea before your scheduled appearance date.
If you plead guilty or no contest, you must include a waiver of jury trial.
If you plead not guilty, the court will notify you of the date of your trial.
Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
On a plea of not guilty, a trial is held. As in all criminal trials, the State must prove the guilt of a defendant "beyond a reasonable doubt" of the offense charged in the complaint before the defendant can be found guilty by a judge or jury.
Defendants, who are not licensed attorneys, are at a disadvantage if they choose to represent themselves in court. When a person represents themselves in court, without the assistance of an attorney, they are called "pro-se" defendants. At trial, the State of Texas and City of Liberty Hill will be represented by a prosecutor who is a licensed attorney and who is a seasoned prosecutor. The court (judge) cannot assist pro-se defendants just as the court cannot assist the attorney representing the State and the City of Nolanville. The judge must remain neutral and impartial. The prosecutor is unlikely to assist pro-se defendants either, since the prosecutor will be the defendant's adversary at trial. Pro-se defendants who proceed to trial (by judge or jury) must read the Court's Local Rules of Decorum and Conduct and sign an acknowledgment of compliance and understanding that is required to be turned in to the Court Clerk before trial. A copy of the Local Rules is located on this website. Additional copies of the Local Rules are posted in the lobby of the courtroom and may be obtained without cost from the Court Clerk.
It is suggested that all pro-se defendants observe at least one trial so they have a grasp of the "trial process." All pro-se defendants will be held to the same standard as an attorney at law. All pro-se defendants will be expected to understand and comply with the Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Texas Penal Code, the Texas Rules of Evidence, and Nolanville Municipal Court of Record #1 Local Rules of Decorum and Conduct.
Defendants should be aware that if they proceed to trial and are convicted that the Court may consider the full range of the fine, upon a finding of guilt. The fine assessed by the court upon a finding of guilt may be higher than the "window fine" which is the amount a defendant would pay before a trial or as part of deferred disposition probation. Pro-se defendants should also be aware that additional fees may be assessed by the Court (as court costs) upon a finding of guilt after a trial, including, but not limited to: subpoena fees, jury fee, and officer overtime fees. The Code of Criminal Procedures allows the court to impose the actual overtime costs for off-duty officers having to testify at trial, if the defendant is found guilty of the offense. These overtime cost fees can be significant and usually range from $75 - $150. Please see the actual statute allowing these officer overtime fees:
Police Officers Testifying
Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Allows Recovery of Overtime Pay for off-duty Officers who testify at Trials.
Article 102.011 of The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows additional fees that the court is required to collect upon conviction of any fine-only offense when a peace officer performs the service. One of these services officers perform is testifying as witnesses at trials. If the officer is off-duty when testifying at a trial, the overtime costs that the city is required by state law to pay the officer is recoverable to the city as a court cost. Litigants who elect a trial (by judge or trial by jury) should be aware that if they are convicted of the offense, with which they are charged that the costs of overtime paid to a peace officer for time spent testifying in a trial or for traveling to or from testifying in a trial will be added in as a court cost, in addition to state court costs and fine.
Of course, if a Defendant is found not guilty at trial, then there is an acquittal and no fees or costs are imposed or paid by the defendant.
If you want to waive your right to trial and pay your fine or warrant, you can now do so online
NOTICE - RIGHT TO DISCOVERY
You have the right to request from the State (prosecutor) all documents, items, and information regarding your case that is in the possession of the State; and, the State is required to provide you with the documents, items and information requested.
YOU WAIVE YOUR RIGHT TO DISCOVERY WHEN YOU PAY THE FINE.