If you have decided to discuss your case with a prosecutor and/or a judge, you will appear at your court hearing. Here is what to expect at an Austin Municipal Court hearing.
1. Find out when your hearing is scheduled
If you cannot attend the hearing, you can file a motion for continuance to reschedule your appearance.
If you do not have a court date already, but would like to request a hearing, you can do so online
2. Reserve 30-90 minutes of time for the virtual hearing.
Select a room environment that allows you to focus on discussing your case with the judge and/or prosecutor. Minimize interruptions or background noise.
Be patient with unexpected technical issues or inactivity during the session as we work through the challenges associated with the management of virtual dockets.
Have your documentation at hand to review along with the judge.
3. All cases start with an appearance docket unless you have chosen to go directly to trial. In that hearing, the judge will begin by explaining your rights.
4. You will then be called up individually to talk to a prosecutor. The prosecutor is the attorney who represents the State of Texas in your case.
The prosecutor will go over options with you for handling your case such as deferrals and plea bargains.
In a deferral, you agree to complete certain terms in up to 180 days and the charges do not appear on your record. Terms of a deferral could include:
- Community service
- An educational program related to the charge
- A fee
The fee can be between $0-$2,000 and is agreed upon by the prosecutor and you. Alternative payment options are available based on financial need.
5. You will see the judge again. This happens within the same hearing.
- Deferrals and plea bargains
If you came to an agreement with the prosecutor, the judge will go over the terms of that agreement and make them legally binding.
You can discuss alternative payment options with the judge at this time, if needed.
You must complete the terms of your deferral within the agreed-upon time frame and submit proof to the court. If you do not, you will need to appear before the judge again.
- Pay the fine
You may plead no contest or guilty and pay the full fine for the charge. Alternative payment options are available based on financial need.
You may plead not guilty and request a trial by judge or jury. You have the right to do this even without going to a hearing.
Attorneys and representing yourself
You have the right to have an attorney represent you. However, you will have to hire one on your own because attorneys are not appointed for Class C offenses. You may also represent yourself. Here are some resources to help you represent yourself or find an attorney.
Rules of the court
Before the trial, please familiarize yourself with the rules of the court.
If you are going to bring digital evidence to the court, you must submit it 48 hours in advance so that it can be scanned for viruses, and it must be compatible with court technology. Please review the digital evidence standards.