Court Procedures

Dress Code
Clothing should be consistent with the respect and dignity of the judicial process. It should be constructed and worn in such a manner that it is not unduly revealing or offensive.

The Following Clothing Will Not Be Permitted in the Courtroom:
  • Anything containing words, pictures or symbols that are
    • Obscene
    • Profane
    • Related to drugs
    • Related to gangs
    • Sexually suggestive
  • Bathing suits
  • Body piercings, unless they are covered
  • Facial piercings will need to be removed
  • Hats
  • Lingerie
  • Pajamas
  • Pants that allow undergarments or bare skin to show, such as low cut hip-huggers and loose fitting pants that expose boxer shorts
  • Swim wear
  • Tops That Aren't Allowed:
    • Bare shoulders
    • Bare-midriff tops
    • Halter tops
    • See-through tops
    • Spaghetti straps
    • Tank tops
    • Tops with open backs
This dress code is strictly enforced. The defendant will be asked to leave the court and return in proper attire if not in compliance with this code.

Pleas
All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty. You have the choice to choose one of several pleas. Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. Please see the Plea page for your options.

Trials
A trial in municipal court is a fair, impartial, and public trial as in any other court. Under Texas law, you can be brought to trial only after a sworn complaint is filed against you. A complaint is the charging instrument, and you can only be tried for what is alleged in the complaint. You have the following rights in court:
  • The right to call witnesses to testify on your behalf at trial (The court can issue a subpoena (a court order) to ensure their appearance at trial. The request for a subpoena must be made in writing at least 10 days prior to trial.)
  • The right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against you
  • The right to have your case tried before a jury, if you so desire
  • The right to hear all testimony introduced against you
  • The right to inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you at the trial
  • The right to testify or not testify on your own behalf (If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot be held against you in determining innocence or guilt.)
If you choose to have the case tried before a jury, you have the right to question jurors about their qualifications to hear your case. If you think that a juror will not be fair, impartial, or unbiased, you may ask the judge to excuse that juror. The judge will decide whether or not to grant your request. You are also permitted to strike 3 members of the jury panel for any reason you choose, except an illegal reason (such as the person's race, sex, etc).

Continuances
If you need a continuance for your trial, you must submit the request in writing prior to your trial. The judge will make the decision whether or not to grant the continuance. You may request a continuance for the following reasons:
  • A religious holy day where the tenets of your religious organization prohibit members from participating in secular activities such as court proceedings (You must file an affidavit with the court stating this information.)
  • If you feel it is necessary for justice in your case (You must state the reasons in your request.)
Presenting the Case
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 its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who may know something about the incident in question. The state has the right to cross-examine any witness that you call. If you so desire, you may testify on your own behalf, but as a defendant, you cannot be compelled to testify. It is your choice, and if you choose not to testify, it cannot be held against you. If you do choose to testify on your own behalf, 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 judge or jury why you feel you are not guilty of the offense charged. The state has the right to present the first and last arguments. The closing argument can be based only on the testimony presented during the trial.

Case Decisions
If the case is tried before the judge, the judge's decision is called a judgment. If the case is tried by a jury, the jury's decision is called a verdict. In determining the defendant's guilt or innocence, the judge or jury can consider only the testimony of witnesses and/or any evidence admitted during the trial. If you are found guilty by either the judge or jury, the penalty will be announced at that time. Unless you plan to appeal your case, you should be prepared to pay the fine at this time.

Appeals
The Roanoke Municipal Court is a Court of Record. If you are found guilty, you have the right to appeal the decision of the court. Appeals are limited to a review of errors present in the record of the trial court. You must make a written motion to the court requesting a new trial. The motion must be made within 10 days after a judgment and sentence are rendered against you, and it must state specifically why you believe you did not receive a fair trial. If you fail to state a reason the judgment is wrong or how the court made a mistake, you may not asset the mistake if you decide to appeal.

A transcript and statement of facts will be necessary if the defendant chooses to appeal. The defendant will generally be responsible for paying for the preparation of those items. Requests for the transcription of the trial must be made in advance. You must file an appeal bond with the Municipal Court within 10 days of the date of the judgment. It must include a bond of twice the amount of fine and costs assessed in court.