A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt and the State must prove your guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt" of the offense charged. If you plead not guilty, you need to decide whether to have a trial by judge or by jury, and whether to hire an attorney to represent you. If you represent yourself, the section below "The Trial" may help you understand your rights and the trial process. All individuals who plead not guilty are required to attend a pre-trial conference.
At the Pre-trial Conference:
- You can explain your side of the story to the prosecutor if you wish to do so.
- The prosecutor can explain various sentencing options, including deferred disposition, driving safety courses, and payment options.
- The prosecutor can recommend that the charge against you be dismissed if the evidence shows no crime was committed or that you have a legal defense to the charge.
- The pre-trial conference will be your last opportunity to accept a plea bargain.
A trial in Municipal Court is a fair, impartial, and public trial as in any other court. Under Texas law, you may be brought to trial only after a sworn complaint is filed against you. A complaint is a document that charges you with the offense that you are alleged to have committed. You may be tried only for what is alleged in the complaint.
Defendants who are not licensed attorneys may be at a disadvantage if they choose to represent themselves in court if they do not research and are not prepared for proper trial procedures. When a person represents themselves in court, without the assistance of an attorney, they are called "pro-se" defendants. At trial, the State of Texas and City of Boerne will be represented by a prosecutor who is a licensed attorney. The court (judge) cannot assist pro-se defendants just as the court cannot assist the prosecutor. The judge must remain neutral and impartial. The prosecutor is unlikely to assist pro-se defendants either, since the prosecutor will be the defendant's adversary at trial.
All pro-se defendants will be expected to understand and comply with the Texas Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Texas Penal Code, and the Texas Rules of Evidence.
Defendants should be aware that if they proceed to trial and are convicted, the court may consider full range of the fine when assessing punishment. Defendants should also be aware that additional fees may be assessed by the court upon a finding of guilt after a trial, including officer overtime fees, subpoena fees, and a jury fee.
Of course, if a defendant is found not guilty, then there is an acquittal and no fine / fees are imposed.
If you have plead "not guilty," please read the Trial Information (PDF) document.