Individuals who are over 65 and/ or individuals with serious underlying health condition(s) may contact the court at (361)587-3620 and identify yourself as a vulnerable person and the court will make special arrangements for you. You must contact the court PRIOR to the date you are scheduled to appear.
If you believe you have been exposed to the COVID-19 or have the symptoms associated with COVID-19 you Must notify the court immediately and the court will make accommodations for you.
If you are not comfortable with appearing for court in person due to COVID-19 the court will have remote video conferencing and conference calls available on certain days and times. You must contact the court PRIOR to the date you are scheduled to appear so arrangements may be made to accommodate your request.
If you were issued a citation you must appear on or before the appearance date listed on the citation. A telephone call does not constitute an appearance.
If you have any questions, please call 361) 528-3512 ext 114.
NO LEGAL ADVICE
The Taft Municipal Court does not provide legal advice. We are forbidden by law from discussing your case with you prior to you entering a plea with the court.
Rights /Plea Definitions
Rights of Defendants
If you are accused of an offense within the jurisdiction of the Justice Court, you have certain rights.
You have the right to see the complaint or citation that has been filed with the court.
You have the right to a trial by jury, but you may waive the right to a trial by jury and be tried by the court.
You have the right to be represented by an attorney of your choice. You are not required to be represented by an attorney. An attorney may make an appearance on your behalf.
You have the right to remain silent and not to give evidence against yourself. You may waive this right and discuss your case with a prosecutor in an effort to dispose of your case without trial.
First Appearance in Court
Your first appearance is to determine your plea.
(which includes if you email, mail or fax your plea to the court)
If you were issued a citation you must appear on or before the appearance date listed on the citation. You may make an appearance by email, mail, fax or in person (if the City of Taft Municipal Court is open to public).
A telephone call does not constitute an appearance.
Your traffic citation or summons will specify a date and time on which you are required to appear in court. You may comply with a written promise to appear in court with an appearance by your counsel(attorney).
At the time of your first appearance, you will be identified as the defendant, and you will be asked how you plead to the offense with which you are charged.
Pleas are "Not Guilty," "Guilty," or "No Contest."
If you refuse to enter a plea, the court will enter a plea of not guilty for you, and your case will be set for a jury trial unless you waive that right.
If you plead Not Guilty, your case will be set for trial. You may waive your right to a trial by jury and have the case heard by the court(Judge).
At your request, the court will subpoena a witness on your behalf, but you must furnish the court with the name, address, and telephone number of each witness prior to trial. You may attend a pre-trial conference to discuss your case with the prosecutor prior to trial.
If you plead Guilty or No Contest, the court will find you guilty and assess a fine/sanctions as punishment. A plea of no contest has the same result as a plea of guilty, but it may not be used against you in any civil proceeding that might arise from the incident leading to your arrest.
If you are pleading Guilty or No Contest, you may present any evidence or documents to the court in connection with the offense and you may explain any mitigating circumstances that may affect the punishment (fine and/or conditions).
The court will be required to provide you certain notices, which will be sent to the address on your citation/violation.
It is your responsibility to notify the court of any change of address/phone in writing.
FAILURE TO APPEAR
Tx Trans. Code - Sec. 543.009.
COMPLIANCE WITH OR VIOLATION OF PROMISE TO APPEAR.
(b) A person who willfully violates a written promise to appear in court, given as provided by this subchapter, commits a misdemeanor regardless of the disposition of the charge on which the person was arrested.
If you fail to appear in court as promised, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest and you may be jailed and/or fined.
You may also be placed in the State’s Failure to Appear OMNI system.
If the person fails to appear in court as provided by law for the prosecution of the offense or if the person fails to pay or satisfy a judgment ordering the payment of a fine and cost in the manner ordered by the court, the person may be denied renewal of the person's driver's license;
MUNICIPAL COURT FORMS
The Municipal Court Courtesy letter may be viewed here. Please read both sides prior to contacting the court.
This is a fillable form. Please download and complete, then Email, Mail or fax to the court (with any applicable attachments)
* Please note it is the defendant's responsibility to ensure that all information and forms are accurate and complete and received by the court on or before your appearance date.
The Judge cannot speak to you about your case except when your case is being heard and the other party is present. The court staff will help you in any way they can regarding the process of your case(s) but cannot give any legal advice or recommendations on what you should do.
The Court operates with traditional formality. When you are representing yourself in Court you should act, dress, and speak in a way that helps your case. How you act is as important as how you look. You must be respectful of everyone in the Court. This includes the Judge, prosecutor, court staff, any other parties involved in the case, witnesses and other defendants.
The Court has a very busy schedule so you must be on time for the Judge. If you are late, your case may be postponed or you could be required to post bond for a new date. Make sure you bring all the court documents and information you need to support your case. It is important to have these documents readily available upon request from the Judge or court staff.
When in Court, please observe the following rules:
No weapons are permitted in the Municipal Court building.
Phones should be on silent/ vibrate while in the courtroom.
Do not approach the Judge, Prosecutor, or court staff until you case is called.
Use respect when speaking to the Judge, Prosecutor and court staff.
Please remain quiet while the Judge is giving instructions and calling the docket.
Listen to all instructions given by the Judge before court.
No food or drink is allowed in the courtroom.
Avoid bringing small children to court. When you must, please monitor their behavior so they remain quiet at all times. Parents may be asked to leave the courtroom if their child becomes noisy or unruly.
Please wear suitable clothing. Shirts with offensive slogans, language or pictures are not allowed.
Racist, Sexist obscene and profane language or gestures are strictly prohibited.
The Municipal Court has jurisdiction over juveniles 16 years of age and younger at the time of the offense who are charged with a Class C misdemeanor. All juveniles must appear in person with a parent or guardian for all proceedings in their cases.
Juveniles who fail to appear or resolve their cases will be reported to the Department of Public Safety, which will deny renewal of their driver's license. If they do not have a license, they will be unable to obtain one until they have satisfied all obligations to this court.
Requirements for Alcohol / Tobacco related offenses
All persons 17-21 years of age who have been charged with an alcohol- or tobacco-related offense must appear in person before the judge.