The Devine Municipal Court only handles citation or cases generated by the Devine Police Department. If your citation was issued from the Department of Public Safety you need to contact 830-665-8020.
Under 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 guilty of the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt” of the offense charged in the compliant before a defendant can be found guilty by a judge or jury.
Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. Please consider each plea carefully before making a decision. If you plead “Guilty” or “Nolo Contendere” in open court, you should be prepared to pay the fine and court costs immediately. You should contact the court clerk’s office regarding how to make payment.
Plea of Guilty
By a plea of Guilty, you admit the act is prohibited by law, that you committed the act charged and that you have no defense or excuse for your act. Before entering your plea of Guilty you should understand the following:
- The State has the burden of proving that you violated the law (the law does not require that you prove you did not violate the law);
- You have the right to hear the State’s evidence and to require the State to prove you violated the law; and
- A plea of Guilty may be used against you later in a civil suit if there was a traffic accident (another party can say you were at fault or responsible for the accident because you pled guilty to the traffic charge).
Plea of Nolo Contendere or No Contest
A plea of No Contest means that you do no contest the State’s charge against you. You will almost certainly be found guilty, unless you are eligible and successfully complete a driving safety course and/or court-ordered probation. A plea of No Contest cannot be used against you in a subsequent civil suit.
Plea of Not Guilty
A plea of Not Guilty means that you are informing the court that you deny guilt or that you have a defense in your case and that the State must prove what is has charged against you. If you plead not guilty, you will need to decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you. If you represent yourself, please see the section on Presenting the Case at Trail to help you better understand the trial process.
PRESENTING THE CASE AT TRIAL
As in all criminal trials, the State will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you. After prosecution witnesses have finished testifying, you have the right to cross-examine. In other words, you may ask the witnesses questions about their testimony or any other facts relevant to the case. You cannot, however, argue with the witness. Your cross-examination of the witness must be in the form of questions only. You may not tell your version of the incident at this time-you will have an opportunity to do so later in the trial.
After the prosecution has presented the case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident. The State has the right to cross-examine any witness you call.
If you so desire, you may testify in your behalf, but as a defendant, you cannot be compelled to testify. It is your choice and your silence cannot be used against you. If you do testify, the State has the right to cross-examine you.
After all testimony is concluded, both sides can make a closing argument. This is your opportunity to tell the Court why you think that you are not guilty of the offense charged. The State has the right to present the first and last arguments. The closing arguments may be based only on the testimony presented during trial.
Why is Jury Service important?
The United States Constitution and the Texas Constitution guarantee all people the right to trial by an impartial jury of their peers, regardless of race, religion, sex, nation origin or economic status.
What is my duty as a Juror?
As a juror, you must be fair and impartial. Your actions and decisions must also be free of any bias or prejudice because your actions and decisions are the foundation of our judicial system.
How was I selected?
You were selected at random from the current Voter’s Registration list for the City of Devine.
Am I eligible?
Jurors must be:
- A citizen of the United States.
- A resident of the City of Devine.
- At least 18 years of age.
- Able to read and write the English language.
- Of sound mind.
You cannot serve on a jury if you:
- Have been convicted of a felony or of any type of theft offense (unless your rights have been restored);
- Are now on probation or deferred adjudication for a felony or for any type of theft; or
- Are now under indictment for a felony or are now under criminal charges for any type of theft.
- If you are in doubt or think you may not be qualified to serve on a jury for one of the above or any other reasons, please notify the judge.
Who can be excused from Jury Service?
You are entitled to be excused as a juror if you:
- Are over 70 years of age;
- Have legal custody of a child under 10 years of age and jury service would leave the child unsupervised;
- Are a student in class;
- Are the caretaker of a person who is unable to care for themselves (an invalid); or
- Can show a physical or mental impairment or an inability to comprehend to communicate in English.
There is a penalty for jurors failing to respond to summons. A juror may be fined up to $100 if he: 1) fails to attend court in disobedience to the notice without reasonable excuse; or 2) files a false claim of exemption from jury service.
What are The Different Types of Cases?
There are two basic types of cases, criminal and civil (including family cases).
A criminal case results when a person is accused of committing a crime. You , as a Juror, must decide whether the person charged is guilty or not. The accused person is presumed innocent and the State, represented by the city prosecutor, must prove the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
A civil case results from a disagreement or dispute between two or more private parties. In a civil case, you, a juror, must answer questions of disputed facts based upon the testimony and evidence admitted by the Judge. The answers to these questions are called the verdict. Note: Municipal Court does not hear civil cases.
Will I be paid for being a Juror?
Yes. You will be paid $6.00 for appearing for the jury “venire” or pool and if you are selected, to serve on the jury, $10 for each day you actually serve.
Must my employer pay me while I am on Jury Duty?
Your employer is not required to pay you while on jury duty. However, employers are prohibited by law from firing an employee for serving as a Juror. An employee whose employment is terminated in violation of this section is entitled to return to the same employment that was held when summoned for jury service if the employee, as soon as practical after release from jury service, gives the employer actual notice that the employee plans to return. (Civil Practice and Remedies Code, section 122.001).
Who Can Have a Jury Trial?
Any person charged with a criminal offense or any party to a civil case has a right to a jury trial. All parties are equal before the law and each is entitled to the same fair treatment.
Are There Rules about Jury Conduct?
Yes. The Texas Supreme Court has rules to assist you in your conduct as a Juror which will be given to you by the Judge.
How is a Juror Selected for a Particular Case?
Cases will be heard by juries of 6 jurors. A larger group, called a panel, will be sent to the trial court (courtroom) where the jurors will be questioned (Voir Dire Process) under the supervision of the judge.
A juror may be excused from the panel if it is shown that the juror cannot act impartially concerning the case to be heard. In addition each side is allowed to remove a given number of jurors from the panel without having to show any reason. The trial jury will be the first 6 of the remaining jurors on the panel.
What is Voir Dire or Questioning of the Jury Panel?
It is a way for the parties to select a fair and impartial jury. Under the justice system, you may be questioned by each of the lawyers before they decide to remove a certain number of jurors from the jury panel.
For example, the lawyer may ask you questions to see if you are connected to the trial or if you have any prejudice or bias toward anyone in the trial. These questions are not intended to embarrass you, but rather to help the lawyers in the jury selection process. You may ask the judge to allow you to answer some questions away from the other jurors.
What if I have a Special need or Emergency?
After you have been selected as a juror on a trial panel, if you have a special need or an emergency, tell the baliff.
How do we act during the trial?
A court session begins when the court officer raps for order. Everyone in the court rises. The judge takes his or her place on the bench and the court officer announces the opening of the court. A similar procedure is used when court adjourns. Common courtesy and politeness are safe guides as to the way jurors should act. Of course, you will not be permitted to read newspapers or magazines in the courtroom, nor should you carry on a conversation with another juror in the courtroom during the trial.
You will be treated with consideration and your comfort and convenience will be served whenever possible. If there is an emergency or a matter affecting your service, you should bring it to the attention of the judge. In the event of a personal emergency, notify the judge through any court personnel or you may ask to see the judge privately.
You must give close attention to the testimony. You are sworn to disregard your prejudices and follow the Court’s instructions by rendering a verdict according to your best judgment. You should keep an open mind. Human experience shows that once a person comes to a preliminary conclusion to a set of facts, they hesitate to change their view.
Similarly, jurors should not discuss the case even among themselves until it is finally concluded. Therefore, it is wise for you not even to attempt to make up your mind on the facts of a case until all the evidence has been presented to you and you have been instructed on the law applicable to the case. Also keep in mind that proper clothing is required. All persons entering the courtroom should be dressed in clothing reasonably befitting the dignity and solemnity of the courtroom proceedings (e.g., shorts, flip-flops, tank-tops, or T-shirts are not permitted).