Request for the Making of an Electronic Record (recording)
All requests for a trial to be electronically recorded, in order to provide a record for appeal, must be made to the Judge in writing at or before the pre-trial hearing. Failure to do so waives a defendant’s right to have the proceedings (trial) recorded.
Presenting the Case
As in all criminal trials, the State will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you. You will have the right to cross-examine each prosecution witness. In other words, you can ask the witness questions about their testimony. However, you cannot argue with the witness. Your cross-examination of the witness must be in the form of questions only. Do not attempt to tell your version of the incident at this time - you will have an opportunity to do so later if you testify.
After the State has presented its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident, but the witnesses can testify only about matters of which they have personal knowledge.
If you choose, you may testify in your own behalf. Since you are the defendant, you cannot be compelled to testify. It is your choice, you may do as you wish, and your silence cannot be used against you.
The State also has the right to cross-examine all witnesses called by you. If you testify in your own behalf, the State may cross-examine.
After testimony is concluded by both sides, you can make a closing argument by telling the Court why you feel that you are not guilty of the offense charged. But such statement can only be based on the testimony heard during the trial. Additional testimony is not admissible in the closing argument.
If the case is tried by a judge, the decision is called a judgment. If the case is tried by a jury, the decision is called a verdict. In determining the defendant's guilt or innocence, the judge or jury can consider only the testimony of witnesses and any evidence admitted during the trial. If you are found guilty by either the judge or jury, the penalty will be announced at that time. If found Not Guilty, you will be acquitted of the charges. If you are found Guilty, the Judge will announce the penalty at that time.
If you are found guilty, you may make a written motion to the Court for a new trial. The motion must be filed within ten (10) days after a judgment or verdict of guilt has been rendered against you and must specifically include what grounds you rely upon. The judge may grant a new trial if confident that an error has occurred in the trial of your case. Only one new trial may be granted for each offense.
If you are found guilty and are not satisfied with the judgment of the Court, you have the right to appeal your case. You must file a timely motion for a new trial to perfect your appeal. To appeal, you must file an appeal bond with the Municipal Court within ten (10) days after the motion for new trial is overruled by the Court or operation of law and follow. If you appeal you will have to obtain a record. In order to obtain a copy of the record you must pay the fees required by the court reporter.
Attorneys and pro se litigants understand that they are not excused from attending Court based on the filing of a motion for continuance or any request for continuance. All motions and requests for continuance must be sworn to, in writing, and must be submitted to and received by the Court no less than 24 hours before the date of the hearing sought to be continued. When submitting a motion for continuance, as in all motions, the defendant and his/her attorney are required to attach an order for the Judge to sign indicating whether the motion has been granted or denied. There will be no re-sets of any jury trials except upon an emergency situation. Only if the motion is granted are attorneys and parties excused from appearing. It is the duty of the movant to ascertain whether the Judge has granted or denied their motion for continuance. If the motion has not been granted, the attorneys and parties are required to attend the court session to which they were assigned. If the motion for continuance was granted by the Judge, the attorneys, pro-se litigants, and all parties agree to appear at the new court date. It is the duty of all attorneys and pro-se litigants to contact the court and ascertain the time and date to which the case is reset. Failure to appear at the time and date on which your case is re-set shall constitute a Failure To Appear/Bail Jumping criminal charge to be issued against the defendant and may also be grounds for a contempt of court (order) charge being filed against the attorney as well as referral to the State Bar of Texas for disciplinary proceedings. A continuance may be requested for the reasons set forth in the Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 28.01.
The amount of fine assessed by the court is affected only by the facts and circumstances of the case. Mitigating circumstances may lower the fine, even if you are found guilty. On the other hand, aggravating circumstances may increase the fine. If a police officer is a witness and has to appear off-duty to testify in your case and you are found guilty, the court may order you to pay the cost of the officer’s overtime pay for his court time. This is in addition to the fine and state mandated court costs.
Court Costs will be charged if you are found guilty and assessed a fine, regardless of the amount of that fine. Court costs in the municipal court are set by the State, not by the court. Court costs must also be charged even if the fine is suspended and final disposition of your case is dismissed under the Deferred Disposition procedure. If an arrest warrant is issued, a warrant fee of $50 will be added to the fine and state court costs and possibly another $30 fee for entry of your case into the DPS Omni Court Reporting System.