1018 Fairpark Blvd.
Harlingen, Texas 78550
(956) 216-5121



Harlingen Municipal Court
Court Appearances
 
Court Appearances
Pre-Trial Conference
The Trial
Appeal
 
 
 
Court Appearances
The law requires you to appear in court on your case. If you were issued a citation, your appearance date is noted at the bottom of the citation. You or your attorney may appear in person in open court, by mail, or you may deliver your plea in person to the court, except for juveniles (under 17 years of age) and minors (under 21 years of age).
Juveniles (under 17 years of age) are required by law to appear in person with a parent or legal guardian before the Court.
Minors (under 21 years of age) charged with any type of alcohol offense are required to appear in Court as follows:
Your first appearance is to enter your plea. Before pleading guilty or no contest, you will want to read the following section regarding pleas. If you plead guilty, the Court will schedule a pre-trial conference with the prosecutor, then you will be scheduled for a jury trial unless you waive that right. If you waive that right, the trial will be set before the judge. When you make your appearance by mail, the Court must receive your plea before your scheduled appointment date and the Court will notify you by mail at the address provided on your citation.
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Pre-Trial Conference
All individuals who plead "Not Guilty" are required to attend a pre-trial conference. At the pre-trial conference, you will meet with the prosecutor who may explain various sentencing options, including deferred disposition and driving safety course (DSC).
You do not have to explain your side to the prosecutor if you do not want to, as you have the right to remain silent and not say anything at all. If you do choose to speak to the prosecutor, anything you may say, may be used against you. In addition, you do not have to accept a plea bargain if one is offered, as you still have a right to a trial. If you agree to a plea bargain, be prepared to pay court cost and a special expense fee usually in the amount of the fine at the time of your pre-trial conference.
Failure to appear at the pre-trial conference may result in a failure to appear charge being filed against you and warrants for your arrest will be issued.
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The Trial
Your Rights
A trial in the municipal court is fair, impartial, and public trial as in any other court. Under Texas law, you may be brought to trial only after a sworn complaint is filed against you. A complaint is a document that charges you wit the offense that you are alleged to have committed. You may be tried only for what is alleged in the complaint. You have the following rights in court:
  • The right to have a notice of complaint not later than the day before any proceedings
  • The right to inspect the complaint before trial, and have it read to you at trial
  • The right to have your case tried before a jury, if you so desire
  • The right to hear all testimony introduced against you
  • The right to testify on your behalf
  • The right not to testify, if you so desire. If you choose not to testify, your refusal to do so may not be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt
  • You may call witnesses to testify on your behalf at trial, and the court issue a subpoena (a court order) to any witness to ensure his or her appearance at trial. The request for a subpoena must be in writing, directed to the Clerk of Court at least three weeks prior to your trial date, and you must give the name, current address, and telephone number of each witness that you want subpoenaed
Jury Trial
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 that a juror will not be fair, impartial, or unbiased, you may ask the judge for a challenge for cause to excuse the juror. The judge will decide whether to grant your request. In each jury trial, you are also permitted to strike three members of the jury panel for any reason you choose, except an illegal reason (such as based solely upon a person's race or gender). This is referred to as a peremptory strike and each side has three peremptory strikes. Most jurors are selected from the first twelve members of the jury panel, as a municipal court jury composed of six jurors, not twelve.
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Appeal
If you are found guilty, and are not satisfied with the judgement of the Court, you have the right to appeal. Since the Harlingen Municipal Court is not a court of record, an appeal is sent to the Cameron County Court and is a "trial de novo," which means the case is tried over again as if the trial in the Municipal Court never happened.  To appeal your case, you must give notice of appeal and post an appeal bond with the Court within 10 calendar days of the judgement. The appeal bond is twice the amount of the fine and court costs.
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