Criminal - Traffic
The Texas Judicial System has three levels of trial court - district, county, and justice or municipal and two appellate courts. The justice of the peace falls into the justice court. This court has the most uniform court in the state.
Each county is required to have a justice of the peace, and generally there is one for each precinct. The precincts are based on population. These precincts can be changed through redistricting by the commissioners court.
The justice court has jurisdiction over civil, small claims, and eviction suits up to $10,000 exclusive of interest. Because the justice court is not a court of record, any appeal to county court is trial de novo, or a new trial.
Juveniles: If you are under the age of 17 and have any type of violation, you must appear in court with your parent or guardian. The court will notify you of your appearance date.
Minors: If you are under the age of 21 and you have an alcohol related violation, you must appear in open court to enter your plea. The court will notify you of your appearance date.
Alternative to Payment of Fines and Costs
A defendant who is convicted of a criminal offense punishable by fine only is entitled to alternative methods of satisfying the judgment against them if they are unable to pay the fine or costs, in whole or in part.
Those alternative methods include:
1) A payment plan, allowing the defendant to make payments toward the fine and costs in designated intervals. Note that if any amount is paid more than 30 days after the judgment assessing the fine or costs then a $25 time payment fee must be assessed.
2) Disposition of the amount assessed by performing community service. There are many options that meet the requirements of the law for community service, see Art. 45.049 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for full details. A defendant is entitled to a minimum of $100 credit for every 8 hours of community service performed.
3) If performing community service imposes an undue hardship, a defendant who is indigent or who lacks sufficient resources to pay is entitled to a waiver of the fine and costs, in whole or in part.