Appearances & Pleas
A telephone call to the Court does not constitute an appearance.
Walking up to the Court cashier window and asking questions does not constitute an appearance.
Appearances can be made in two ways:
- In person
- By mail (fax, e-mail, and the drop-box are considered mail) There are some cases in which you cannot appear by mail and this will be explained below.
- Timely response on mailed correspondence is determined by the postmark and or time stamp. (We allow a ten (10) business day grace period.)
Please Read: An initial appearance on a citation (violation), on which you have NOT entered a plea, must be made by either yourself or your attorney. You cannot send a friend or family member to enter a plea for you and pay your citation.
The law requires that you appear in Court on your cases. If you were issued a citation, your appearance date and time is noted on the citation. If you were issued or mailed a summons, your appearance date and time is indicated in the summons. If you have been released on bond, you may call the Court office to schedule an appearance date or you (and your bondsman if applicable) will be mailed a bond hearing notice with your date and time to appear. In most circumstances you may appear by mail rather than in open Court. We give everyone a ten (10) business day grace period when appearing by mail or in person to take care of a citation. As stated previously, if you wish to appear in Court before the Judge, you MUST be on the Court docket. Walk ins will not be added to the Court session on the day of Court.
Circumstances in which you CANNOT appear by mail are:
- You are a juvenile (10-16 years of age). All juveniles MUST appear in open Court on all violations with a parent or legal guardian pursuant to state law.
- You are a minor (17-20) charged with an alcohol or tobacco related offense.
- You have been mailed a Court summons ordering you to appear before the Judge for a show cause hearing, contempt hearing, indigent hearing, bond hearing, pre-trial hearing, or a trial, unless prior arrangements have been made with the Court.
- You have received an official court summons or subpoena ORDERING you to appear in open Court, unless prior arrangements have been made with the Court.
- If you were cited for multiple violations or are already on a payment plan and/or deferred disposition with the Court, it is best to go ahead and appear before the Judge in open Court.
Please Note: If you choose to enter a plea of guilty or no contest by mail (fax / e-mail / online), you are declining to request discovery in your case.
The Initial Appearance: The first thing the Judge will ask you when you appear in open Court for the first time on a citation is how you want to plea to each violation you are charged with, this is called arraignment.
Plea of Nolo Contendere (No Contest): A plea of no contest means that you do not contest the State’s charge against you. You will almost certainly be found guilty, unless you successfully complete a driving safety course and/or court ordered deferred disposition, or the violation is eligible for a compliance dismissal under Texas compliance laws. Also is most cases, a plea of no contest cannot be used against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages.
- The No Contest Plea Form can be found by clicking HERE.
Plea of Guilty: A plea of guilty means that you are informing the Court that you are guilty of the State’s charge against you, that you admit that the act was prohibited by law, and that you committed the act you are charged with. Also a plea of guilty may be used against you later in a subsequent civil suit for damages.
- The Guilty Plea Form can be found by clicking HERE.
Plea of NOT Guilty: Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. On a plea of not guilty, a pre-trial hearing and formal trial is held. As in all criminal trials, the State is required to prove the guilt of the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt” of the offense charged in the complaint before a defendant can be found guilty by a Judge or Jury. A plea of not guilty means that you are informing the Court that you deny guilt and that the State must prove what it has charged against you. If you plead not guilty, you must decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you or represent yourself. If you choose to represent yourself, the trial packet will help you. If you are 17 years of age or older, you may mail or fax in the not guilty plea form or you may come to the court office to sign your plea. For more information on this process, click the Pre-Trial / Trial information link on the right.
- The Not Guilty Plea Form and the Trial Packet can be found by clicking HERE.
Failing to enter an appearance on your citation, either in person or by mail if applicable, will result in the issuance of a failure to appear or violate promise to appear and warrants for your arrest.