Under Texas law, you can be brought to trial only after a formal complaint is filed. The complaint is the charging document that alleges what you have done and the fact that such action is unlawful. You can only be tried for what is alleged in the complaint. Trials are conducted under the Code of Criminal Procedure, as adopted by the State of Texas. These laws may be found in Chapter 45 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
- You have the right to inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you at the trial itself.
- You are entitled to hear all testimony introduced against you.
- You have a right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against you.
- You have the right to testify in your own behalf. You also have the right not to testify. If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot be considered in determining your innocence or guilt of the charge.
- You may call witnesses to testify in your behalf at the trial, and have the right to have the Court issue subpoenas to these witnesses to ensure their appearance at the trial.
Request for the Making of an Electronic Record (recording)
All requests for a trial to be electronically recorded must be made to the judge in writing at or before the pre-trial hearing. Failure to do so waives a defendant’s right to have the proceeding recorded.
Presenting the Case
As in all criminal trials, the City will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you. You will have the right to cross-examine each prosecution witness; however, you cannot argue with the witness. Your cross-examination of the witness must be in the form of questions only. Do not attempt to tell your version of the incident at this time – you will have an opportunity to do so later if you testify.
After the City has presented its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident, but the witness can testify only about matters of which they have personal knowledge. If you choose, you may testify in your own behalf. Since you are the defendant, however, you cannot be compelled to testify. Your silence cannot be used against you.
The City also has the right to cross-examine all witnesses called by you. If you testify in your own behalf, he City may cross-examine.
After testimony is concluded by both sides, you can make a closing argument by telling the Court why you feel that you are not guilty of the offense charged. Such statement can only be based on the testimony heard during the trial. Additional testimony is not admissible in the closing arguments.
If the case is tried by a judge, the decision is called a judgement. If the case is tried by a jury, the 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 the jury, the penalty will be announced at that time. If found not guilty, you will be acquitted of the charges.