You must decide upon and enter a plea to the charge against you on or before the response date on your citation. If you signed a citation in front of an officer, you did not plead guilty, but only signed a promise to appear in Court. There are three (3) possible pleas to a complaint: Guilty, Nolo Contendere (No Contest), or Not Guilty. Your decision on what plea to enter is the most important decision you will make during this process.
Plea of Not Guilty
A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt, you have a good defense in your case, or you desire to have the City prove its assertion of your guilt at a formal trial by a judge or jury. A plea of not guilty requires that a trial be held. The City must prove the guilt of the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt” of the offense charged. You will elect to have a jury trial, or, if you waive a trial by jury, you may have a trial before a judge. If you plead “not guilty,” you must decide whether to hire an attorney or represent yourself.
If you defend yourself, please be advised that the Johnson City Municipal Court of Record #1 is a Court of Record, and all proceedings will be conducted in accordance with the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and the Rules of Evidence. If you choose to represent yourself, you must be prepared. The Court staff, bailiff, prosecuting attorney, or Judge cannot act as your attorney, nor can they provide legal advice and/or assistance in the presentation of your case.
Plea of Guilty
A plea of guilty means that the act with which you are charged is prohibited by law, that you committed the act, and that you have no defense or excuse for the act. Before you enter a plea of guilty, consider the following:
- The City has the burden of proving that you violated the law.
- You have the right to hear the City’s evidence against you.
- A plea of guilty may be used against you later in a civil suit.
Plea of Nolo Contendere (No Contest)
A plea of nolo contendere means that you do not contest the City’s charge against you, and you will, almost certainly, be found guilty. This plea cannot be held against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages. If you plead nolo contendere in open Court, you should be prepared to pay the fine.