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 Municipal Court

Hours of Operation:
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday

Judge Availability: Walk In Times
8:00 AM to 10:30 AM Monday - Friday
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM Monday
3:00 PM to  5:00 PM Wednesday
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Friday


Juvenile Court Times :
Regular Juvenile Docket - 1:00 PM to finish Tuesday
Failure to Attend School  - 1:00 PM to finish Thursday


J
udge Craig Lively, Chief Magistrate
Judge James McNicholas, City Magistrate
Judge JD Hamm, City Magistrate
Judge Terrence Holmes, City Magistrate
Sheryl Reese, Court Administrator


The municipal court is the judicial branch of city government. In addition, the municipal court is part of the state judicial system. The municipal court processes and adjudicates all Class "C" misdemeanor violations of state law and city ordinances which occur within the corporate limits of the city. All traffic violations issued by the city are processed by the court.  Punishment of these offenses is by fine only. The Court maintains records of all traffic and misdemeanor complaints and convictions, processes payments of fines, prepares documents and schedules trials, notifies witnesses and attorneys of court dates, processes overdue notices of outstanding fines and collects data for reporting purposes. The office also processes warrants issued for non-payment of outstanding fines.


Nothing contained herein is intended to be nor should be construed as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.


COURT APPEARANCES

The law requires that you appear in court on your case. If you were issued a citation, your appearance date is noted on the citation. If you were issued a summons, the appearance date is indicated in the summons.  If you have been released on bond, your appearance date is set on the bond. If you request and are granted a reset or continuance by the judge, the court will notify you of your new appearance date by mail. (Please refer to the section entitled “continuances”).  You or your attorney may appear in person in open court, by mail, or you may make an appearance in person at the court facility.  Juveniles have a separate set of rules for their appearance. (Please refer to the section entitled “juveniles”). With respect to any alcohol related charges, anyone from 17-20 years of age must appear in court in person.

Your first appearance is to determine your plea (“Not Guilty”, “Guilty” or “No Contest”). (Please refer to the section entitled “pleas”).  If you waive a jury trial and plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest), you may talk to the judge about extenuating circumstances that you want the judge to consider. If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a jury trial unless you waive that right. If you waive your right to a jury trial, the trial will be before the judge. When you make your appearance by mail, the court must receive your plea before your scheduled appearance date. If you plead guilty or no contest, you must include a waiver of jury trial. If you plead not guilty, the court will send you a notice setting the date of your trial.  
Juveniles (16 years old or younger) and persons under the age of 21 charged with alcohol offenses must appear in court in person and cannot enter a plea by mail.

COURTROOM DECORUM

All electronic devices including cell phones and pagers must be turned off before entering the Courtroom unless you have received express prior approval from the Court. Failure to comply will result in the person's removal from the Courtroom.  Absolutely no weapons of any sort shall be allowed in the Courtroom except those on the person of commissioned peace officers. Any persons entering the Courthouse are subject to search.  No food, chewing gum, candy or drinks of any type shall be consumed in or brought into the Courtroom.

DRESS CODE
To be permitted in the Courtroom, you must be dressed appropriately so as to maintain the dignity, decorum and
professional atmosphere of the Court and the administration of justice. 
No one will be permitted in the Courtroom in
shorts or in any immodest or revealing wear such as halter tops or tube tops.  Any clothing with offensive, vulgar, racist, sexist, obscene, or suggestive words, slogans, depictions, or pictures will not be allowed in the courtroom. Pants are to be worn at the waist.  No exposed undergarments are permitted. Pants that are tattered, shredded or that exposes skin are not permitted.  No hats, caps, head coverings or sunglasses may be worn in the Courtroom, except with prior permission of the Court. Any person not dressed in appropriate Courtroom attire is subject to removal from the Courtroom.
Printable copy of Court Dress Code


PLEAS

Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. On a plea of not guilty, a 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.

Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. Please consider each plea carefully before making a decision. If you plead guilty or nolo contendere in open court, you should be prepared to pay the fine and court costs. You should contact the court regarding how to make payment.


Plea of Guilty
- By a plea of guilty, you admit that the act is prohibited by law, that you committed the act charged,
and that you have no defense or excuse for your act. Before entering your plea of guilty, however, you should
understand the following:

(1) 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);
(2) You have the right to hear the State's evidence and to require the State to prove you violated the law;
and
(3) A plea of guilty may be used against you later in a civil suit if there was a traffic accident (another party
can say you were at fault or responsible for the accident because you pled guilty to the traffic charge).


Plea of Guilty form (Send to Court)

Plea of Nolo Contendere (no contest) - A plea of nolo contendere means that you do not contest the State's charge against you. You will almost certainly be found guilty, unless you are eligible and successfully complete a driving safety course and/or court ordered deferred disposition (probation). Also, a plea of nolo contendere cannot be used against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages.
Plea of no contest form (Send to Court)

Plea of Not Guilty
- A plea of not guilty means that you are informing the Court that you deny guilt or that you have a
defense in your case, and that the State must prove what it has charged against you. If you plead not guilty, you will need to decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you. If you represent yourself, the following section on The Trial will help you to understand trial procedure.


Plea of not guilty form(send to Court)

In limited circumstances, if you are entering a plea of guilty or no contest, you may be eligible for a deferred
disposition (probation) of your citation if your request is made on our before your answer date.  To be considered
for deferred disposition, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements.  Failure to meet all eligibility requirements or to fully complete the application process will result in the denial of your request and may result in the entry of a judgment against you.  Deferred disposition is not a right but is a privilege offered at the sole discretion of the Court.  Applying for a deferred disposition of your case does not guarantee that deferred disposition will be granted.   The court will review each application on a case by case basis.  You are responsible for following up on your request for deferred disposition and making sure your charges are timely answered.  If deferred disposition is granted and you comply with all terms of the deferred disposition order, the charges will be dismissed at the end of the deferral period and no final conviction will be entered against you on that charge. The deferral period can be up to 180 days.

Application for Deferred Disposition form (Send to Court)

DRIVING SAFETY COURSES

If you are charged with a traffic offense under the Subtitle C. Tran. Code, you may ask the judge before the appearance date on the citation, either orally or in writing, to take a driving safety course for one charge.  You may not take a driving safety course without first obtaining permission from the court.  You must also pay the appropriate court costs and administrative fee.   No extension will be given for defensive driving. If you were operating a motorcycle and request to take a driving safety course, you must take a motorcycle operator's training course. At the time of the request, you must do the following:
 
(1) Present a valid Texas drivers license;
(2 Present proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance);  showing defendant's name,
vehicle coverage, effective and expiration date;
(3) Plead guilty or nolo contendere; and
(4) Pay court costs and an administrative fee, if required.


Prosecution of the traffic offense will be postponed for 90 days to allow you time to complete the course. You are 
required to attend a driving safety course that has been approved by the Texas Education Agency or a motorcycle
operator's course approved by the Department of Public Safety.

You are eligible to request this course if you:

(1) Were charged with a moving violation;
(2) Have not requested and taken a driving safety course for a traffic offense within the last 12 months;
(3) Are not currently taking the course for another traffic violation;
(4) Do not hold a commercial drivers license;
(5) Have not committed the offense of speeding 25 mph (or more) over the speed limit; and
(6) Have not been charged with one of the following sections of the Transportation Code:
(A) §472.022 - Construction zone when workers are present
     (B) §545.066 - Passing a school bus
    
(C) §545.401 - Reckless driving
     (D) §545.421 - Fleeing/Elude police officers
     (E) §550.022 - Accident involving damage/Fleeing scene

     (F) §550.023 - Duty to give information and render aid
     (G) §522.003 - Serious traffic violations

Prior to the end of the 90-day period, you must present to the court a copy of your driving record from the Department of Public Safety. You are required to take the course within 90 days from the date of the request. You have an additional 30 days to show the court a completion certificate issued by the Texas Education Agency or the Texas Department of Public Safety. You must also have paid all required court costs and administrative fees.  If you do not, the court will send you a notice requiring you to return to court and explain why you failed to show proof of completion or pay the costs and fees required. Your failure to be present at that hearing will result in a final conviction on the charge and the issuance of warrant for your arrest.

DPS Surcharge Brochure

Application for Driving Safety Course (Send application to Court)

Application for Driving Record (Send application to Driver Records Bureau, Texas Department of Public Safety, Box
     149246, Austin, TX 78714-9246)


    
THE TRIAL
     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 document which alleges what act you are
     supposed to have committed and that the act is unlawful. You can be tried only for what is alleged in the complaint.
     You have the following rights in court:

    
     (1) The right to inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you at the trial;
     (2) The right to have your case tried before a jury, if you so desire;
     (3) The right to hear all testimony introduced against you;
     (4) The right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against you;
     (5) The right to testify in your behalf;
     (6) The right not to testify; if you so desire. If you choose not to testify, your refusal to do so cannot  be held against you
          in determining your innocence or guilt; and
     (7) You may call witnesses to testify in your behalf at the trial, and have the court issue a subpoena (a court order) to any
          witnesses to ensure their appearance at the trial. The request for a subpoena may be oral or in writing.

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 the juror. The judge will decide whether or not to grant your request. You are also permitted to strike three members of the jury panel for any reason you choose, except an illegal reason (such as a strike based solely upon a person's race).

           Trial Information Brochure

CONTINUANCES
If you need a continuance for your trial, you must put the request in writing and submit it to the court with your reasons prior to trial. The judge will make a decision whether or not to grant the continuance. You may request a continuance for the following reasons:

(1) 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); or

(2) That you feel it is necessary for justice in your case.

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 knows anything about the incident. The State has the right to cross-examine any witness that you call.

If you so desire, you may testify in your own behalf, but as a defendant, you cannot be compelled to testify. It is your choice, and your silence cannot be used against you. If you do testify, 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 court why you think that 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 by 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 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.

COURT FEES


Warning - Obligation for Payment of Fines and Costs

Fines

The amount of fine the court assesses is determined only by the facts and circumstances of the case. Mitigating circumstances may lower the fine, even if you are guilty. On the other hand, aggravating circumstances may increase the fine. The maximum fine for most municipal court traffic violations is $200; for municipal court penal violations - $500; for certain city ordinance violations - $2,000; and for other city ordinance violations - $500.

Court Costs
In addition to a fine, other court costs mandated by state law will be charged. The costs are different depending  on the offense. You need to check with the court for the amount that will be assessed to the violation for which you are charged. If you request a trial, you may have to also pay the costs of overtime paid to a peace officer, spent testifying in the trial. If you request a jury trial, an additional $3 jury fee is assessed. If a warrant was served or processed by a peace officer, an additional $50 fee is also assessed, along with additional state of collection fees.

Court costs are assessed if you are found guilty at trial, if you plead nolo contendere, if your case is deferred for a driving safety course, or if your case is deferred and you are placed on probation. If you are found not guilty, court costs cannot be assessed.

NEW TRIAL & APPEALS


New Trials
If you are found guilty, you may make an oral or written motion to the court for a new trial. The motion must be made
within one day after a judgment of guilt has been rendered against you. The judge may grant a new trial if the judge is persuaded that justice has not been done in the trial of your case. Only one new trial may be granted for each offense.

Appeals
If you are found guilty, and are not satisfied with the judgment of the court, you have the right to appeal your case. To appeal, unless you are in a court of record, you must file an appeal bond with the municipal court within 10 days of the judgment if you appeared in open court. If you have entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere before your scheduled court appearance date, waived your right to a jury trial and have requested in writing the amount of fine and appeal bond, you have 31 days from the time you received a notice from the court sent to you by certified mail to pay the fine or file an appeal bond with the municipal court.
JUVENILES
The municipal court has jurisdiction over juveniles (16 years or younger) charged with class C misdemeanor offenses except public intoxication. All juveniles are required to appear in open court for all proceedings with a parent or legal guardian. A letter will be mailed to the address on the citation with the date and time of the arraignment. Failure to comply with court requirements or failure to complete all terms regarding juvenile charges may result in additional charges against the parent and the child.  In addition, such failure may result in the juvenile having his/her drivers license suspended or prevent the juvenile from obtaining a driver’s license from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Address Notification - You and your parent or guardian are required by law to provide the Court, in writing, your current address and residence. If your place of residence changes, you have 7 days to notify the Court, in writing, of your new address and residence. Failure to keep the Court informed of your new residence may result in Failure to Appear and Failure to Notify charges filed against both you and your parent or guardian. The obligation of keeping the Court informed of your current address and residence is required until your case is finalized/terminated.

     All juveniles must comply with the court’s dress code when appearing for court.

TEEN COURT
The Beaumont Municipal Court actively participates in the Evelyn M. Lord Teen Court Program. Teen Court is a volunteer program for non-traffic criminal offenses which allows first time misdemeanor juvenile offenders an alternative to the adult criminal justice system. To participate, a first time offender must first make an initial appearance in open court with their parent or guardian and enter a plea of guilty or no contest to the charge. 
The juvenile must then pay a onetime $20 fee.  Thereafter, the juvenile offender then appears at a Teen Court session before a jury of the teen’s peers and is offered an opportunity to make restitution for the offense through community service, Teen Court participation, and other appropriate punishments ordered by the teen jury.  After successfully completing the sanctions ordered by the teen jury, the charge against the juvenile is dismissed
and no conviction of guilt is entered on the juvenile’s permanent criminal record.

For more information regarding juvenile offenders or Teen Court, contact the Juvenile Coordinator at (409) 980-7200.

DISMISSALS
If you received a citation for Expired Drivers License, Expired License Plates, or Expired MVI Sticker, and you get these
items renewed before your due date, bring a receipt for each, and present these items to the Judge, then the Judge may dismiss these charges with a $10 fee on each.

If you received a citation for No Financial Responsibility, you must present a liability insurance policy or a certificate of insurance issued by the State that was effective on the date you were cited. The insurance card issued for carrying in the car is SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE. Your proof of insurance will be verified and your case dismissed, if the insurance is valid. Any attempts to pass a faulty or altered insurance card to get a case dismissed will result in a criminal charges filed against you at the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office. 

If you were charged with No Valid License, and you do indeed have a valid license, you will need to come to Municipal Court and show this evidence to the Judge to have the case dismissed.

PAYMENT OPTIONS
Expect to pay your fine in full at the time judgment is entered.  We accept payments in person or through the internet at
www.cityofbeaumont.com . You may also mail payments to Beaumont Municipal Court, PO Box 3827, Beaumont,
Texas 77701

. We will accept payments by cash, personal checks, money orders, cashier’s checks, and credit cards (MasterCard and Visa). Personal checks will not be accepted for payments on cases that have ever been in warrant status. There is a night deposit box located on the Forsythe Street side, by the door, where you may also deposit payments and correspondence. We do not recommend and the City of Beaumont is not responsible for cash sent by mail or dropped into the night deposit box.


If you are financially unable to pay your fine in full, you must qualify for any additional time to pay if you have an income. You are required to complete a lengthy financial application and you must be interviewed by a Collection Specialist. Be aware that this process will include verification of your current address, phone number(s), source of income, and place of employment.

Any other arrangements to satisfy fines and court costs must be made by the defendant's personal appearance.

Pay plan application form (Send to Courts)
Financial statement
form (Send to Courts)

COMMUNITY SERVICE
The Community Service Program provides an alternative payment method to defendants who may have a difficult time paying the fine and court costs assessed by the Beaumont Municipal Court.

One option to satisfy community service requirements is through a work program provided through the City of Beaumont Solid Waste Department’s litter abatement program. This program is presently offered Monday through Saturday.  Participants in this program will receive a credit of $12.50 per hour toward their fines and costs for every hour worked.

Each participant will be required to read and sign the TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF THE COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAM CONTRACT, as well as keep an accurate time log (provided by the Court Clerk) to submit upon completion. The participant will also be required to sign a waiver of liability.

You must first see the judge to request community service. If community service is allowed, the judge will also set a deadline to complete the community service. When an applicant is approved for community service, he or she has 72 hours to contact the assigned supervisor to schedule the work assignment.

ADDITIONAL RULES – ADULT COMMUNITY SERVICE - BEAUMONT SOLID WASTE DEPARTMENT

 
 
WARRANTS   View Active Warrants List
If a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you may pay the fine in full by cash, money order, cashier’s check or credit card. No personal checks will be accepted for payments on warrants. Any partial payments received will be posted  towards the warrant, but the warrant will remain active until paid in full.br />
If you have never appeared in court or failed to appear for a court date, you may speak to a judge regarding your case and you will not be arrested. If you have been before a judge and a judgment has been entered and a fine assessed, your only option is to pay the fine in full or risk the chance of arrest.

JURY SERVICE
Cases heard by the Beaumont Municipal Court are Class C criminal misdemeanor violations that are punishable by fine only. Jurors are randomly selected from voter registration lists. If selected, jury service is normally for one day.  Jury trials are held every Tuesday.  Jurors are paid at a rate of $6.00 per day.


JUROR'S RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Right to Reemployment:
A private employer may not terminate the employment of a permanent employee because the employee serves as a juror. An employee whose employment is terminated in violation of this section is entitled to return
to the same employment that the employee held when summoned for jury service if the employee, as soon as practical
after release from jury service, gives the employer actual notice that the employee intends to return. (Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 122.001). Terminating an employee for performing jury duty is punishable by up to 180 days in
jail and/or a fine not to exceed $2,000 (Civil Practice & Remedies Code, Sec. 122.002).


Failure to Answer Summons and Penalties : Any person summoned who fails to attend or who fails to remain in attendance until discharged by the Court may be fined an amount not to exceed $100 for contempt (Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 45.027). Additionally, a person shall be fined not less than $10 nor more than $100 if the person:
(1) fails to attend court in obedience to the notice without reasonable excuse; or (2) files a false claim of exemption from jury service (Government Code, Section 62.111). Furthermore, if a person knowingly provides false information in a request for an exemption to be excused from jury service, the person is subject to a contempt action punishable by a fine not less than $100 or more than $1,000 (Government Code, Section 62.0140).

Proper Clothing Required : All persons entering the courtroom must be dressed appropriately so as to maintain the
dignity, decorum and professional atmosphere of the Court and the administration of justice.  No one will be permitted in the Courtroom in shorts or in any immodest or revealing wear such as halter tops or tube tops.  Any clothing with offensive, vulgar, racist, sexist, obscene, or suggestive words, slogans, depictions, or pictures will not be allowed in the courtroom. Pants are to be worn at the waist.  No exposed undergarments are permitted.  Pants that are tattered, shredded or that exposes skin are not permitted. No hats, caps, head coverings or sunglasses may be worn in the Courtroom, except with prior permission of the Court.

Exempt or Disqualified: You do not need to appear in person if you are exempt or not qualified for jury service. To claim an exemption or report your disqualification you must complete the jury service exemption form, sign it, and mail or hand deliver it to the Beaumont Municipal Court.

 QUALIFICATIONS FOR JURY SERVICE
(Govt. Code, Section 62.102)

EXEMPTIONS FROM JURY SERVICE*
(Govt. Code, Section 62.106)

To serve as a juror you must meet the following qualifications:
1. be at least 18 years of age;
2. be a citizen/resident of the City of Beaumont, Jefferson County, Texas. (Government Code, Section 62.501; specific to municipal courts)
3. be qualified under the Constitution and laws to vote in the county in which you are to serve as a juror (Note: you DO NOT have to be registered to vote to be qualified to vote);
4. be of sound mind and good moral character;
5. be able to read and write;
6. not have served as a juror for six days during the preceding three months in the county court or during the preceding six months in the district court;
7. not have been convicted of theft or any felony;
8. not be under indictment or other legal accusation of a misdemeanor theft, felony theft or any other felony charge.

You may be excused from jury service if:
1. you are over 70 years of age;
2. you have legal custody of a child less than 15 years of age and jury service would require leaving the child unsupervised;
3. you are a student at a public or private high school;
4. you are enrolled and attend college;
5. you are an officer or an employee of the senate, the house of representatives, or any department, commission, board, office, or other agency in the legislative branch of state govt;
6. you are the primary caretaker of a person who is an invalid unable to care for himself or herself (This exemption does not apply to health care workers.);
7. you are a member of the U.S. military forces serving on active duty and deployed to a location away from your home station and out of your county of residence.
* You are not required to claim an exemption. It is your choice.

Nothing contained herein is intended to be nor should be construed as legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.


   Court Procedures

  ►Pay Tickets On-Line

  View Active Warrants

  ►On-Line Forms

  ►Court Appearances


  ►Courtroom Decorum

  ►Dress Code

  ►Pleas

  ►Driving Safety Courses

  ►The Trial

  ►Continuances

  ►Presenting The Case

  ►Case Decisions

  ►Court Fees

  ►New Trial & Appeals

  ►Juveniles

  ►Teen Court

  ►Dismissals

  Payment Options

  ►Warrants

  ►Jury Service



   700 Orleans
   PO Box 3827
   Beaumont, TX 77701-3827
   Phone: 409.980.7200
   Fax: 409.980.7244

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                                  P.O. Box 3827 Beaumont, Texas 77704-3827 |   409.980.8311  |  2009  City of Beaumont, Texas  | All Rights Reserved