Criminal Offenses Other Than Traffic Tickets
Justices of the Peace have original jurisdiction in criminal cases punishable by fine only, or punishable by fine and a sanction not consisting of confinement.
Criminal procedures of cases that are within the criminal jurisdiction of the Bandera County Justice Courts are found in Chapter 45 of the Code of Criminal Procedures.
The Rules of Evidence governing the trials of criminal cases in the District and County Courts apply to a criminal proceeding in Justice Courts.
Filing Criminal Complaints
A peace officer who is charging a person with committing an offense that is a Class C Misdemeanor or Fine Only offense may, instead of taking the person before a magistrate, issue a citation that contains written notice of the offense charged and of the time and place the person must appear before a magistrate.
A criminal proceeding in Justice Court may be commenced by the filing of a written notice or complaint in the Justice of the Peace precinct in which the offense was committed or in which the accused resides.
Responding to Criminal Complaints
Rights of Defendant
If you are accused of an offense within the jurisdiction of the Justice Court, you have certain rights.
If you are convicted of “assault” by threatening another with imminent bodily injury, or “assault” by causing offensive or provocative physical contact with another, and the person assaulted is a member of your family or household, or against an individual with whom you have or had a dating relationship, you are notified that it is unlawful for you to possess or transfer firearms or ammunition.
Offenses Involving Violence
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense involving violence where you are or where a spouse, intimate partner, parent, or guardian of the victim are or were involved in another, similar relationship with the victim, it may be unlawful for you to possess or purchase a firearm, including a handgun or long gun, or ammunition, pursuant to federal law under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g) (9) or Section 46.049(b), Texas Penal Code. If you have any questions whether these laws make it illegal for you to possess or purchase a firearm, you should consult an attorney.
First Appearance in Court
At the time of your first appearance, you will be identified as the defendant, and will be asked how you plead to the offense with which you are charged.
Pleas are “not guilty,” “guilty,” or “nolo-contendere (no contest).”
The court may be required to provide you certain notices, and it is your responsibility to notify the court of any change of address. It is not a defense you did not receive the notices sent by the court.
Alternatives to Payment of Fines and Costs
A defendant who is convicted of a criminal offense punishable by fine only is entitled to alternative methods of satisfying the judgment against them if they are unable to pay the fine or costs, in whole or in part.
Those alternative methods include:
Criminal Indigency Affidavit - Use this form if you are unable to afford to pay fines and costs in a criminal case.
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.
If You do not Want to Appear in Court
Pay the Acceptable Fine in Person, by Mail, or Online
If you do not want to appear in court, you have the option of paying your fine by mail, by paying in person at the Justice Court as directed on your citation, summons, or notice or paying online at the link listed below. Before the time you must appear in Court, you may pay by mail, or bring to the court a Plea form-Guilty or Nolo-Contendere (No Contest) together with your payment of the acceptable fine and court costs for the offense with which you are charged if you are seventeen (17) years of age or older.
The acceptable fine amount will include the court cost for the offense with which you are charged. If you are paying by mail, you must pay by cashier’s check or money order, payable to the Bandera County Justice Court. If you are paying in person, you may pay your fine in cash, by cashier’s check or money order, or with a credit or debit card. If you want to pay with a credit card or debit card at the Justice Court Office or online, the court does accept this method of payment. However, the court cannot accept credit card payments for the following:
Payment of the acceptable fine and court costs constitutes a finding of guilty in open court as though you had entered a plea of no contest.
You must contact the court at 830-751-3535 to obtain the case number and the amount of the fine and costs due prior to paying online.
Juveniles (someone under the age of 17 at the time the offense was committed) charged with a crime or issued a traffic citation, cannot pay online or by mail.
To pay online with a credit or debit card go to:
or call 1-800-300-8007
Enter a Plea of Not Guilty by Mail
Before the time you must appear in court, you may mail or bring to the court a Plea of Not Guilty. You may be required to post a personal bond. The personal bond is your assurance you will appear at all proceedings and hearings as required by the court. You will NOT have to pay any monies with the personal bond, only your signature to ensure you will appear at all required proceedings. You may be requested to appear for a pretrial hearing. The court will set your case for a jury trial. If you notify the court that you waive your right to a jury trial, your case will be set for trial before a Judge.
Dismissal by Suspension of Sentence & Deferral of Final Disposition
At your request, the court may consider allowing you a suspended sentence and deferral of final disposition or “deferred disposition.” You must plead guilty or nolo-contendere (no contest) and pay an administrative fee and complete any court ordered requirements.
Under this procedure, the court will assess an administrative fee, but will defer further proceedings and place you on probation for up to 180 days. During the probation period the court may require you to:
You may be required to pay a special expense fee in an amount not to exceed the amount of the maximum fine for the offense committed.
You will be required to present to the court satisfactory evidence that you have complied with each requirement imposed.
When the court determines that you have complied with the requirements imposed, your case will be dismissed.
If you fail to present satisfactory evidence that you have complied with the requirements, the court will impose the fine assessed and you will be required to pay that fine. If you paid a special expense, that amount will be credited toward the payment of the amount of the fine imposed. The imposition of the fine constitutes a final conviction.
Juveniles Charged with Criminal Offense
Appearance in Court Required
If you are sixteen (16) years of age or younger, the law requires that you appear in court with parent, guardian, or managing conservator. A person sixteen (16) years of age or younger cannot pay the fine by mail or in person without a parent, guardian, or managing conservator before the appearance date.
Parent Must Appear with Juveniles
The court is required to take the plea of a person sixteen (16) years of age or younger in open court and will issue a summons to compel the juvenile’s parent, guardian, or managing conservator to be present.
Failure of the parent to appear as required by the summons is an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00 and may result in the arrest of the parent.
Obligation to Provide Current Address
A juvenile and the juvenile’s parent have an obligation to provide the court with the current address and residence of the juvenile. This obligation does not end when the juvenile reaches seventeen (17) years of age, but continues until the case is concluded and any judgment is fully satisfied. Notice of a new address must be given to the court, in writing, on or before the seventh (7th) day after the date the juvenile or juvenile’s parent changes residence.
Failure to notify the court of the current address is an offense punishable by fine not to exceed $500.00.
When Juvenile Becomes an Adult
If a juvenile charged with an offense filed in the Justice Court fails to appear in court as required, the court will issue a warning to the juvenile when the juvenile reaches seventeen (17) years of age. The notice will warn the individual of continuing obligation to appear to conclude the case. The notice will further warn that the failure to appear as required by notice is a criminal offense punishable by fine not to exceed $500.00 and will result in the issuance of an arrest warrant.
Expunction of Certain Conviction Records of Juveniles
A person convicted of not more than one offense punishable by fine only, committed when the person was a juvenile, is entitled to request that the record of that conviction be expunged. The request must be made on or after the person’s seventeenth (17th) birthday. The fee of filing an Application for Expunction is $30.00, plus fees for postage for notices of hearing and orders of expunction, if issued.
There are specific provisions for expunction of offenses relating to the possession and consumption of alcohol, the possession of cigarettes and tobacco products and for failure to attend school.
Convictions Relating to Alcohol
Any person convicted of not more than one offense related to the purchase, consumption, or possession of alcohol while a minor, or driving under the influence of alcohol by a minor, or misrepresenting age, on attaining the age of 21 years, may apply to the court in which the individual was convicted to have the conviction expunged. If the court finds that the applicant was not convicted in any other violation of the Alcoholic Beverage Code while the individual was a minor, the court will order the records relating to the offense to be expunged and the conviction may not be shown or made known for any purpose.
Convictions Relating to Cigarettes and Tobacco Products
An individual convicted of the possession, purchase, consumption, or receipt of cigarettes or tobacco by minor, may apply to the court to have the convictions expunged. If the court finds that the individual satisfactorily completed the tobacco awareness program or tobacco-related community service ordered by the court, the court will order the records relating to the offense to be expunged and the convictions may not be shown or made known for any purpose.
Convictions Relating to Truancy
Under Article 45.0541, Code of Criminal Procedures, an individual who has been convicted of a truancy offense or has had a complaint for a truancy offense dismissed is entitled to have the conviction or complaint and records relating to the conviction or complaint expunged. Regardless of whether the individual has filed a petition for expunction, the court in which the individual was convicted or a complaint for a truancy offense was filed shall order the conviction, complaints, verdicts, sentences, and other documents relating to the offense, including any documents in the possession of a school district or law enforcement agency, to be expunged from the individual’s record. After entry of the order, the individual is released from all disabilities resulting from the conviction or complaint, and the conviction or complaint may not be shown or made known for any purpose.
If you plead guilty or nolo-contendere (no contest), or if you are found guilty after trial, you will be assessed a fine as your punishment. You will also be responsible for court costs. Full payment of the fine and cost will satisfy your obligation in connection with the charge filed against you.
Time to Pay the Fine and Costs
If you must make payment arrangements for more time to pay your fine and costs, you will need to make that request to the court. You should be aware that the court is required to impose an additional Time Payment Fee of $25.00 if the fine and cost are not paid in full before the expiration of 30 days. This fee is required by Article 103.033 of the Local Government Code.
Failure to Pay Fine and Costs
Failure to Appear on your Court Date
If you fail to take care of your citation prior to the appearance date on the citation, or fail to appear in court as required, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. You may be also charged with an additional offense of violating your promise to appear or failure to appear. The issuance of a warrant for Violate Promise to Appear carries additional fines and costs, and the punishment is a fine not more than $200.00 plus court costs. Failure to Appear is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00 plus court costs.
Denial of Renewal of Driver’s License: If you fail to appear in court as required, the court may notify the Department of Public Safety to deny the renewal of your driver’s license. You will be required to pay an administrative fee of $30.00 prior to the renewal of your license. This fee is required by Section 706.006 of the Texas Transportation Code.
If a Warrant is issued, you may avoid arrest by:
Posting bail at the Justice Court in which your case is filed. Bail may be in the form of a surety bond or a cash bond. If you are posting a cash bond, you must tender cash in the form of a cashier’s check or money order, payable to the Justice of the Peace, in the amount of the bail.
A magistrate may consider allowing you a personal bond or a surety bond.
When you have posted the bail, you will be notified of the place, date, and time you are to appear in Court.
Paying the Fine at the Court:
New Trial and Appeal
A motion for a new trial must be made within five (5) days after the rendition of the judgment. A motion for new trial cannot be made afterwards. If you enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) at the time of magistration at the jail, you will have ten (10) days to make a motion for new trial.
The Judge has ten (10) days after the date of the judgment was entered within which to grant a new trial. If a motion for new trial is not granted before the eleventh (11th) day after the date of the judgment was entered, the motion for new trial is considered denied.
Information on Alternatives to Payment of Fine and Costs - This form explains what the alternatives to payment of fines and costs in criminal cases are, such as community service.
An appeal from judgment of a Bandera County Justice Court is heard by the Bandera County Court.
An appeal is perfected by filing an Appeal Bond in the amount of two times the amount of the fine and costs. The bond is filed with the Justice Court in which the case was filed, and must be filed not later than the tenth (10th) day after the date of the judgment was entered. When an appeal bond has been timely filed, all proceedings in the Justice Court will cease.
The information provided on this web site is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. No warranty is made as to the accuracy or correctness of any information contained on this web page. Every legal problem has a unique set of facts and circumstances behind it. Persons seeking legal advice should contact their own attorney for that advice and should not rely on anything presented herein.
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