A trial in municipal court is a fair, impartial, and public trial as in any other court. Under Texas law you can be brought to trial only after a sworn complaint is filed against you. A complaint is the document that alleges the act you are charged with committing. You can be tried only for what is alleged in the complaint.
Rights in Court
You have the following rights in court:
- The right to inspect the complaint before a trial and have it read to you at the trial.
- The right to have your case tried before a jury.
- The right to hear all testimony introduced against you.
- The right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against you.
- The right to testify on your own behalf.
- The right not to testify. If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt.
- You may call witnesses to testify on your behalf at the trial and have the Court issue a subpoena (a court order) to any witness(es) to ensure their appearance at the trial. The request for a subpoena should be in writing, at the time you enter your plea, and include all names and addresses.
If you choose to have the case tried before a jury, you have the right to question jurors about their qualifications to hear your case. If you think a juror will not be fair, impartial, or unbiased, you may ask the judge to excuse the juror. The judge will decide whether or not to grant your request. You are permitted to strike three members of the jury panel for any reason you desire, except an illegal reason (such as a strike based solely upon a person’s race, sex, or age).
If you choose to have the case tried before the bench, you waive your right to have a jury determine your guilt. Instead the judge becomes the finder of fact and renders judgment at the end of trial.
Through the trial process, each side will present their case through witness testimony and documentary, photographic, and videographic evidence. The State bears the duty to prove the Defendant is guilty of the violation alleged by a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the State presents its evidence first. All parties, whether or not represented by an attorney, are required to comply with the Texas Rules of Evidence, the Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure, and any local rules of the Court.