The fact that a person has received a criminal citation means that a person has been accused of a violation of law. It does not mean that a person is guilty of an offense. A criminal defendant has a right to a jury trial. A defendant can waive that right and request a trial by judge. A judge or jury will determine the disposition of the case based on the law and the arguments and evidence presented.
Municipal court cases are fine only offenses. In most traffic cases, the maximum fine is $200 plus court costs. The maximum fine in most penal code offenses is $500 plus court costs. The maximum fine in many city ordinance violations is $2,000.
To enter a plea of not guilty and request an appearance date, an individual must contact the Department of Court and Detention Services in person or in writing within twenty-one (21) days after receipt of a citation. The service hours are listed on the reverse side of the citation.
A defendant may hire an attorney to represent him/her in court. Some defendants elect to represent themselves. If a defendant chooses to represent himself/herself, the defendant must conduct himself/herself as an attorney would and is responsible for following all court rules including the dress code, rules of evidence and the rules of procedure.
Pursuant to state law, (whether or not they are represented by an attorney) defendants must personally appear at the pretrial hearing. Pretrial motions must be filed at least seven (7) days before the hearing date unless leave of court is granted.
At trial the defendant is presumed innocent and does not have to prove his/her innocence. The State has the burden of proving the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the offense charged. The defense will have the opportunity to question the State’s witnesses after the prosecutor has finished questioning the witness. Once the State has rested, the defense may call witnesses in his/her own behalf. All witnesses must be subpoenaed in a timely fashion prior to the trial date.
A defendant may testify in his/her own behalf but the defendant has the right not to testify. If the defendant chooses not to testify, that fact cannot be held against him/her.
If a defendant decides he/she does not want to request a trial and wishes to enter a guilty plea of a no contest plea, the fine can be paid by mail or at the municipal court cashier window. A list of fine amounts is on the on the back of the citation. If the offense does not appear on the back of the citation, contact the Department of Court and Detention Services at (214) 670-0109.
Failure to appear in court either in person or by written correspondence within twenty-one (21) days after the issuance of a citation may result in a warrant being issued for the defendant’s arrest and a Failure to Appear case being filed against him/her.
A defendant may request permission to participate in the deferred disposition or driving safety course programs which result in a dismissal if the defendant complies with all the requirements of the court order.
Any person seventeen (17) years old or younger must personally appear in court and must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Receiving a Civil Citation
A civil citation issued for the Hearing Official’s Court carries a presumption that the defendant is liable for the alleged offense. Defendants must appear for all scheduled pre-hearing conference and contested hearing dates. Failure to appear at any scheduled pre-hearing conference or contested hearing date may result in a default finding of liability.