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.
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 Lakeway 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, below:
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.