What You Can Expect When You Come To Court:
Under Texas State law, you are classified as a juvenile if you are under the age of 17. You must appear in Court with a parent or a legal guardian. You may also bring a lawyer, but the presence of your parent/guardian is still required. At your court appearance, you have certain options available to you:
- You may contest the ticket and plead not guilty to the charge filed against you.
If you plead not guilty, you must decide whether or not you want a trial by a Judge or by a jury. Your trial will not be held the same day. Your case(s) will then be reset for a new trial date at which time you may present your case to the Court. At your trial, a Judge or a jury will determine your guilt or innocence.
- You may agree with the ticket and enter a plea of guilty or no contest.
If you plead guilty or no contest, the Judge will find you guilty and assess a fine from $1.00 up to $500.00. The exact amount of the fine will depend on the nature of the offense and other circumstances reviewed by the Judge.
- You may enter a plea of guilty or no contest and request deferred disposition.
If you request deferred disposition and it is granted by the Judge, you may be referred to work with a Juvenile Case Manager in order to successfully resolve your case. Court fines and costs will be suspended during the compliance period. The Judge, working with the Juvenile Case Manager, will set the terms and conditions of the deferred disposition, which you must follow for a period up to 6 months. Terms of deferred disposition may include: community service hours, workshop attendance, parental involvement, as well as sanctions that are in your best interest. Once the deferred disposition order has been signed, your case will be reset. If the terms and conditions are successfully completed, your case will be dismissed. When the case is dismissed, there will be no record of a conviction. Deferred disposition allows you to receive a "second chance." You are required to maintain updated phone number and address information with the Court until your case has been concluded.
- You may enter a plea of guilty or no contest and request community service hours in lieu of paying a fine.
You may ask the Judge to assign your case to the Teenage Community Alternative Program (TCAP) where you do have the option of community service in lieu of paying a fine. The number of hours you work is determined by the amount of the fine and the violation itself. Typically, community service hours will involve projects such as the clean-up of city parks, city buildings, non-profit organization, graffiti removal as well as many others.
- You may be required to attend a workshop.
The following workshops are also available via our Juvenile Case Manager Program:
- First Offender’s Education Program,
- Positive Choices,
- Alcohol Education Program for Minors (AEPM), and
- Texas Youth Tobacco Awareness Program (TYTAP)
Juvenile defendants may also be ordered to participate in Teen Court proceedings. Information regarding Teen Court is available by visiting: http://www.houstontx.gov/courts/teen_court.html
- You should be prepared to pay the fine at the time you are found guilty.
There Are Two Other Important Things You Need To Keep In Mind:
- If you do not appear in court as scheduled, an additional charge of Failure to Appear (FTA) may be filed against you, which could result in a warrant issued for your arrest; and a warrant could be issued for your arrest; and
- You are expected to act and dress properly and follow the rules of the Court. Shorts, tank tops, halters, caps or hats, and any type of clothing displaying vulgar or offensive graphics are not permitted.
* PLEASE WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING WHEN YOU APPEAR IN COURT.
* THE USE OF CELL PHONES AND OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES ARE STRICTLY PROHIBITED UNLESS PERMISSION HAS BEEN GRANTED BY THE JUDGE FOR A SPECIFIC PURPOSE.