All trials in the Municipal Court are presided over by a fair and impartial Judge. Your first appearance in court is to enter your plea. If you decide to plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) you may request to speak to the judge to discuss extenuating circumstances that you want the judge to consider. If you plead not guilty, that means that you deny guilt and the State must prove the charge that is filed against you you will need to decide whether you want a trial by jury or a trial before the judge. You will need to decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you. If you choose to represent yourself, you are held to the same standards of the prosecutor.
Upon your not guilty plea, the court will more than likely reset your case to the next available court docket. You will have the opportunity to speak to the prosecutor prior to going to trial if you want. The prosecutor may offer you a plea agreement. You may accept this agreement or refuse the offer and proceed to trial. Any plea agreement is subject to approval of the court. The following are some of the rights you have in court.
1. The right to inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you at the trial
2. The right to have your case tried before a jury, if you so desire
3. The right to hear all testimony introduced against you
4. The right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against you
5. The right to testify in your behalf
6. The right not to testify, if you so desire
If you choose not to testify, your refusal to do so may not be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt.
If you choose a trial by jury, you have the right to question jurors about their qualifications to hear your case. If you think a juror will not be fair, impartial or unbiased, you may ask the judge to excuse the juror. You are permitted to strike three members of the jury panel for any reason you choose for any non-discriminatory reason.
Each side has three strikes. Most jurors are selected from the first twelve members of the jury panel, as a municipal court jury is composed of six jurors, not twelve.
The City of Fair Oaks Ranch Municipal court requires a minimum or 72 hours written notice for all trial reset requests.
You may call witnesses to testify in your behalf at trial, and have the court issue a subpoena (a court order) to any witness to ensure his or her appearance at trial.
The request for a subpoena must be in writing, directed to the Court Clerk at least three weeks prior to your trial date, and you must give the name, current address, and telephone number of each witness that you want subpoenaed.