Our system of justice is built on the principal that all individuals are presumed innocent until proven guilty. On a plea of “not guilty,” a formal trial is held where the State must prove the defendant committed the offense charged in the complaint “beyond a reasonable doubt” before a defendant can be found guilty by a judge or jury.
You have many rights as a defendant in municipal court:
- You are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- You have the right to testify on your own behalf or refuse to do so without consequences.
- You have the right to retain an attorney, but you are not required to do so.
- You have the right to represent yourself as a pro se defendant.
- You have the right to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
- You have the right to request and receive a copy of the complaint before trial as well as other information the state has about your case (discovery).
Plea of “Not Guilty”
A plea of “not guilty” means you are denying your guilt of the charges identified in the citation or the complaint. You have the right to a trial by judge or jury. You may hire an attorney to represent you, or you may represent yourself “pro se.” However, no one else may represent you.
If you choose to defend yourself, the section on Trials will help you understand trial procedure. All proceedings will be conducted according to the Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Texas Rules of Evidence. Please be advised that the City of Kerrville Municipal Court is a court of non-record.
Plea of “Guilty”
A plea of “guilty” is a formal admission of guilt. By so pleading, the defendant is confessing that they committed the charged crime. Therefore, the defendant will be found guilty and assessed a fine and costs. A defendant entering a “guilty” plea may also be eligible for Deferred Disposition or a Driving Safety Course.
Before entering a plea of guilty, you should understand the following:
- The State has the burden of proving that you violated the law (the law does not require that you prove you did not violate the law);
- You have the right to hear the State’s evidence and to require the State to prove you violated the law;
- A plea of guilty may be used against you later in a civil suit arising out of the same incident giving rise to the citation; and
- A plea of guilty may be used against you later to enhance any subsequent violations of state law that would otherwise constitute class C misdemeanors.
Plea of “Nolo Contendere” (No Contest)
A plea of “nolo contendere” (no contest) means the defendant is not contesting the charges filed against them. The defendant will be found guilty and assessed a fine and costs. A defendant entering a plea of “nolo contendere” may also be eligible for Deferred Disposition or a Driving Safety Course. While the defendant does not admit or deny the charges through a plea of "nolo contendere" (no contest), such a plea has a similar effect as a “guilty” plea and presents the same issues raised above with respect to guilty pleas.