Deciding Guilt

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 Lakeway 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 Lakeway. 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.

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, below:

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Allows Recovery of Overtime Pay for off-duty Officers who testify at Trials.

Article 102.11 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 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.