Not Guilty Pleas
All defendants have a right to plead not guilty to an offense. To plead not-guilty you must appear on the date and time listed on your citation and enter your plea to the judge. At that time, you will be set for a pre-trial setting.
Once a defendant pleads not guilty, a pre-trial is set on a different day for the defendant to return to the court. At the pre-trial setting, the city prosecutor will be present to discuss your case with you. The judge is not present during the pre-trial.
At this time, defendants may file motions to the court, discuss their case and request more information with the prosecutor. Please be aware that the prosecutor is the attorney for the State. Their involvement is to ensure that you understand your options and offer possible means of adjudication.
If adjudication is not reached at the pre-trial hearing, the case will be set for a jury trial or a trial by judge.
When a case is set for a trial, the defendant has the right to choose between a trial by jury or a trial by judge. If a defendant chooses a trial by judge, the defendant must waive their right to a trial by jury. This will be done at the pre-trial hearing.
A trial by jury requires the presence of 6 jurors selected at random from the City of Farmers Branch who will hear the evidence from both the Prosecution and Defense. At the end of the trial, they have the power to find the defendant not-guilty or impose a fine to the defendant within the statutory limits.
A trial by judge is a trial where no jury is present and the defendant has requested that the judge hear the evidence of the Prosecution and Defense. At the conclusion of the trial the judge can find the defendant not guilty or enter a final judgment against the defendant.
The following video is a good resource to review to get an idea of how the trial process unfolds in a municipal court. This video is for information purposes only.