Your first appearance is to determine your plea. If you waive a jury trial and plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest), you may present to the judge any extenuating circumstances that you want the judge to consider when setting your fine. Before pleading guilty or no contest you will want to read the section on pleas. If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a jury trial unless you waive that right. If you waive your right to a jury trial, the trial will be before the judge (bench trial). When you make your appearance by mail, the court must receive your plea before your scheduled appearance date. If you plead guilty or no contest, you must include a waiver of jury trial. If you plead not guilty, the court will notify you of the date of your trial.
Click the following link to down load the Plea Form.
ArraignmentIf you were issued a citation, your appearance date is noted on the citation. If you have been released on bond, your appearance date is set on the bond.
The purpose of the arraignment setting is to determine the defendant’s plea to the offense charged. At the arraignment, the defendant may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (no contest). If the plea is guilty or nolo contendere, the defendant may give an explanation in mitigation of any fine to be assessed prior to the judge assessing a fine. If a not guilty plea is entered, the case will be set for a trial at a later date. If the defendant wishes to have a trial by jury, a jury request may be made at the arraignment or the defendant may waive his/her right to a jury trial and request a trial before the judge (bench trial).
PleasUnder our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. On a plea of not guilty, a formal trial is held. As in all criminal trials, the State is required to prove the guilt of the defendant "beyond a reasonable doubt" of the offense charged in the complaint before a defendant can be found guilty by a judge or jury.
Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. If you plea guilty or nolo contendere in open court, you should be prepared to pay the fine and court costs.
Plea of Nolo Contendere (No Contest) – If you enter a plea of Nolo Contendere, you are not admitting guilt but are allowing the court to make that decision. This plea will usually result in a finding of guilt.
Plea of Guilty - By a plea of guilty, you admit that the act is prohibited by law, that you committed the act charged, and that you have no defense or excuse for your act.
Plea of Not Guilty – If you enter a plea of not guilty the State has the burden of proving that you violated the law (at trial).
Self-Help ResourcesThese resources may be able to assist you and guide you through the Texas court system.
Texas State Law Library: Free Self Help Information
Texas Constitutions and Statutes
Self-help legal forms and videos
Texas Free Legal Aid: Low Income Legal Aid
Local Office: 512 S. Main Street
Belton, Texas 76513
Office of Court Administration
• Legal Aid: www.txcourts.gov/programs-services/legal-aid
• Self Help: www.txcourts.gov/programs-services/self-help
Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans (TLTV): Legal assistance for Veterans