Plea of Guilty
By a plea of guilty, you admit that you committed the act charged, that the act is prohibited by law, and that you have no defense for your act. Before entering your plea of guilty, you should understand the following:
- The State has the burden of proving its case against you. The law does not require you to prove anything. You have the right to hear the State's evidence and to require it to prove its case against you.
- If you were involved in a traffic accident at the time of the alleged offense, your plea of guilty could be used later in a civil suit for damages as an admission that you were at fault or were the party responsible for the accident.
Plea of Nolo Contendere (No Contest)
A plea of "nolo contendere" means you do not contest the State's charge against you. You will be found guilty upon a plea of "nolo contendere", but it is not an admission by you that you are guilty. Also, a plea of "nolo contendere" or "no contest" cannot be used against you in a civil suit for damages as can a plea of guilty.
A plea of guilty or "nolo contendere" and a waiver of Jury trial may be entered by mail before the trial date. You should be prepared to pay your fine upon entering a plea of guilty or "nolo contendere."
Plea of Not Guilty
A plea of not guilty means that you are informing the Court that you deny guilt in this case, and that the State must prove what it has charged against you.
If you plead not guilty, you have the right to a trial by Judge or Jury. You will need to decide whether to employ a lawyer to represent you at trial. You may defend yourself, but no one except a lawyer may represent you.
All proceedings will be conducted according to the rules of criminal procedure and the rules of evidence. If you choose to represent yourself, you must be prepared. The court staff, bailiff, prosecuting attorney or Judge cannot act as your attorney by providing legal advice or legal assistance in the presentation of your case.
Under Texas law, you can be brought to trial only after a formal complaint is filed. The complaint is the document that alleges what you are alleged to have done, and the fact that such action is unlawful. You can be tried only for what is alleged in the complaint. Trials are conducted under the Code of Criminal Procedure as adopted by the Texas Legislature. These laws may be found in Chapter 45 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
The verdict will be based on the testimony and the facts presented during the trial. In making the determination, the Judge or Jury can only consider the testimony of the witnesses who testify under oath. 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.
Fines & State Court Cost
The amount of fine assessed by the court is affected only by the facts and circumstances of the case. Court Costs will be charged if you are found guilty and assessed a fine, regardless of the amount. 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.