If you are found guilty in Municipal Court and you want to appeal your case, this information will guide you through the process. It is not exhaustive. You must follow the law, or hire an attorney, to make certain that you do not lose your ability to appeal.
1. File a motion for new trial
If the motion is granted, you will have a new trial with Austin Municipal Court. If the motion is denied, you may proceed with the appeal process.
2. File a notice of appeal and an appeal bond with the Municipal Court Clerk within 10 days of being denied a new trial.
Main Courthouse, Austin Municipal Court
6800 Burleson Road, Building 310, Suite 175, Austin, TX 78744
Jaime Padron Substation, Austin Municipal Court
12425 Lamplight Village Ave., Austin, TX 78758
3. Obtain a reporter's record (disk), formerly called a statement of facts, from the Municipal Court Clerk, have it transcribed by a certified court reporter and file the transcription with the Municipal Court no later than the 60th day after the notice of appeal is filed.
While this step is optional, the reporter's record is often critically important to the appellate court's ability to offer you a meaningful appeal. Please read more about the purpose of a reporter's record in your appeal.
4. File a brief with the Appellate Court Clerk no later than 15 days after the filing of the reporter's record.
Your brief should set out the reasons you think the trial court was in error in its decision, and cite any legal authorities which support your position. Although there are specific requirements for the contents of a brief, the appellate court accepts briefs in letter form. Be sure that the brief is legible, preferably typewritten, and submitted in English or an English translation.
If you fail to file your brief as required, the appellate court may notify you that it intends to dismiss your appeal for such failure, and provide you a time limit in which to resolve that omission.
5. A docket number will be assigned to your case and you will be notified.
Please include that docket number on any further correspondence or documents filed with the appellate court.
6. 20 days after the notice of appeal is filed and the appeal bond is posted a clerk will prepare a record of the case.
You then have 10 days in which you may examine the clerk’s record at the Austin Municipal Court. If you are unable to come to the municipal court, please contact the court for options.
All recommended changes must be made in writing and submitted to the court no later than the 30th day following the date of the notice to appeal.
7. The appellate court will decide the case based on the briefs filed by the parties and the applicable laws.
You no longer have a right to present oral argument to the appellate court, but upon your request for oral argument, the appellate court, can, in its discretionary authority, grant oral argument if it believes that it would assist in the decision making process relating to the case.
8 .The appellate court will render a decision and you will be notified by mail.
- Affirm trial court’s decision
The appellate court can affirm the trial court’s decision. If so, the trial court decision stands, and you must pay the fine and court costs assessed.
A decision of the appellate court becomes final 15 days after rendering its decision. Generally, that is the final stage of appeal, although a limited right of appeal is provided to the Third Court of Appeals if the fine assessed against you in the municipal court exceeded $100.00 or if you are contesting the constitutionality of a statute or ordinance on which your conviction is based.
- Reverse trial court’s decision and call for a new trial
The appellate court can reverse and remand the case and you will be afforded a new trial at the trial court level.
- Reverse and render a decision in your favor
The appellate court can reverse and render a decision in your favor. The trial court then will be directed to enter a judgment of acquittal or "not guilty" on your behalf.
Do I have the right to be represented by an attorney?
You do have a right to hire an attorney to represent you in all proceedings in the municipal court. However, Class C Misdemeanors, over which municipal courts have jurisdiction, are considered “fine only offenses” and you do not have an automatic right to have a court appointed attorney unless determined by a judge that it is in the interest of justice.
Many people represent themselves on their appeal. However, if after reading this guide and after reviewing the Texas Government Code Sections 30.0014-30.0027, you need more assistance, it may be advisable to seek the advice of an attorney. Please understand that the staff of the Austin Municipal Court cannot recommend a specific attorney to you, or give legal advice.
Will the appellate court rehear the evidence in the case?
No. The appeal is not an opportunity to retry the case before a different judge. An appeal is an opportunity to determine whether the trial judge applied the law properly to the evidence that was presented in your case. The appellate court will review the record of the case and decide whether or not an error in the application of the law was made.