The Harker Heights Municipal Court has conducted a Teen Court program since before 1979. In 1989, the Texas Legislature passed the first enabling legislation. The current statutory provisions for the teen court program can be found in Article 45.052, Code of Criminal Procedures.
Teen court is a form of deferred disposition and is intended to offer juvenile offenders the opportunity to dispose of their cases without having a conviction on their records.
To qualify for the teen court program, a juvenile offender must first appear with a parent in open court; enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere; and request teen court. The teen may then be referred to Teen Court. A teen jury, composed of the defendant's peers, hears the case and sets punishment according to a schedule approved by the Harker Heights Municipal Court. Punishment consist of performing community service and serving as a teen juror.
Upon successful completion of the program, the charge(s) filed against the defendant will be dismissed. If the defendant fails to complete the requirements of the teen court or fails to meet the standards of the teen court, the defendant will be returned to municipal court; removed from the program; a guilty finding will be entered; and the fine will become due.
A teen defendant may only attend teen court once every two years. Teen court is a privilege, not a right, and is not offered for all offenses.
Harker Heights Teen Court
Rules of Court Decorum
I. COURTS WHERE APPLICABLE. Under the inherent power and duty of all Texas courts as codified in Section 21.002, Government Code and/or Article 45.050, Code of Criminal Procedure, the following rules of decorum shall apply and govern all proceedings before the Teen Court of the City of Harker Heights in the County of Bell, Texas.
II. FORMAL OPENING. Each daily session of the Court shall be brought by announcement of the Bailiff, Clerk or other officer of the court requiring all to rise as the Judge takes the bench.
III. CONDUCT REQUIRED OF ALL PERSONS WHILE ATTENDING COURT. While the Court is in session there shall be:
A. No smoking or use of tobacco products.
B. No reading of newspapers or magazines.
C. No propping of feet on tables, chairs, benches, or railings.
D. No sitting on tables or railings.
E. No loud noises or talking.
F. No pagers or cellular telephones.
G. No gum chewing.
H. No food or beverages.
I. No gestures, facial expressions, or sounds indicating approval or disapproval of any testimony or any statement or transaction.
IV. DRESS CODE
a. Gentlemen must wear slacks, a dress shirt/shirt with a collar, and a tie. Shirts must be tucked in. Jeans, shorts, torn frayed or baggy clothing, T-shirts, tanks tops, athletic clothing, caps or head gear, and shower shoes or flip flops are inappropriate and are not allowed. No visible body piercing is allowed except for earrings.
b. Ladies must wear dresses, skirts (no be shorter than four (4) inches above the knee), or full length dress slacks, and blouses (blouses must have sleeves and must cover the stomach). Jeans, capris, shorts, short dresses or skirts, sun dresses, athletic clothing, tank/halter tops, cropped tops, T-shirts, torn frayed or baggy clothing, caps or head gear, and shower shoes or flip flops are not allowed. No visible body piercing is allowed except for earrings.
INAPPROPRIATELY ADDRESSED TEENS/DEFENDANTS WILL BE REFUSED ENTRY TO TEEN COURT.
V. CONDUCT REQUIRED OF COUNSEL AND TEEN DEFENDANTS
A. Attorneys shall observe the letter and spirit of all canons of ethics, including those concerning improper ex parte communications with the Judge and with those dealing with discussion of cases with representatives of the media.
B. Attorneys shall advise their clients and witnesses of Rules of Decorum that may be applicable.
C. Teen defendants shall conform their behavior to all provisions applicable to Counsel.
D. Counsel shall be dressed appropriately while in attendance of the court, unless otherwise permitted by the Court.
E. All parties shall be prompt in arriving for Court and in attending to Court business.
F. Once a party has entered the courtroom and appeared before the Court, he/she shall not leave without obtaining permission from the Court.
G. All remarks of counsel to the Court shall be addressed to the Court formally.
H. The Court and opposing parties shall address each other and members of the Jury without familiarity. The use of first names shall be avoided.
I. All objections, arguments, and other comments shall be directed to the Judge or Jury and not to opposing counsel.
J. Objection shall be in proper legal form. Argument will not be entertained upon an objection except with the Court's permission.
K. In addressing the Court, counsel shall rise and remain standing at their positions at counsel table.
L. Counsel shall remain seated at the counsel tables at all times except:
1. when the Judge enters and leaves;
2. when addressing the Judge or jury;
3. whenever it may be proper to handle documents, exhibits, or other evidence; and
4. when objecting to opposing counsel.
M. Counsel shall not approach the bench except with permission or on request of the Court.
N. Counsel shall not lean on the bench, sit on rails or tables, or appear to engage the Court in a confidential manner.
O. No attorney or party shall expect any Court attendant to request his or her presence prior to the commencement or resumption of any Court proceedings
P. The Court may enforce these rules of conduct and decorum by appropriate action or sanctions.
Q. Nothing herein shall prevent or prohibit the further adoption of additional rules of decorum.
A. The Bailiff or Bailiffs shall be present at all times when the Court is in session or in recess, unless excused by the Judge. No duty shall be assigned to the Bailiff without prior approval of the Judge.
B. The Bailiff shall see that the flag of the United States of America and the flag of the State of Texas are properly displayed and respected in the Courtroom.
C. The Bailiff shall enforce all rules of conduct and decorum and other duties assigned by the Judge.