Your Rights

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The Pearland Municipal Court is the Judicial Branch of Pearland City Government. This Web Page is offered to help you understand Municipal Court proceedings, including your rights and duties.


Pearland Municipal Court handles Class "C" misdemeanors alleged to have occurred in the City Limits of Pearland. Class "C" misdemeanors filed in our court are punishable by fine. Under Texas law, you can be brought to trial only after a formal citation or complaint has been filed. The citation or complaint is a document that states the charge(s) against you and alleges that your actions were unlawful. If you were given a citation by a police officer, the arraignment date will be the appearance date on your citation. If you receive a summons from the Court, your arraignment date will be the court date indicated on your summons. If you are released from jail your release order will have your Court date on it.


Before the Court can consider your case, you must enter a plea. There are three possible pleas to a criminal charge:

  1. NOT GUILTY
  2. NO CONTEST (Nolo Contendere)
  3. GUILTY

Your decision on what plea to enter is one of the most important decisions you will make. No witnesses are present at arraignment and no testimony will be taken. The judge at arraignment will not grant a defendant's request to dismiss any charges or hear any evidence in the case. Instead, you must decide upon, and enter a plea to the charge against you.

PLEA OF NOT GUILTY
A plea of "Not Guilty" means that you are informing the Court that you deny guilt and the State must prove the criminal charge(s) against you. Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. At the trial setting, the State will be required to present evidence to prove all charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you plead "Not Guilty", you must decide whether to employ an attorney to represent you (one will not be appointed). If you choose to represent yourself, please consult this information carefully regarding trial procedure and the proper manner of presenting your case.

PLEA OF GUILTY
By a plea of "Guilty", you admit that you have committed the act you have been charged with and agree to pay the fine as assessed.

PLEA OF NO CONTEST

A plea of "No Contest," also known as "Nolo Contendere", simply means that you do not wish to contest the State's charge against you. Upon a plea of "No Contest," the Judge will enter a judgment of guilty. If you enter a plea of "Guilty" or "No Contest," you will be fined at that time by the Judge.