Search Harris County    


Information about Criminal Cases

Responding to Criminal Complaints

Rights of Defendants

If you are accused of an offense within the jurisdiction of the Justice Court, you have certain rights.

You have the right to see the complaint or citation that has been filed with the court.

You have the right to a trial by jury, but you may waive the right to a trial by jury and be tried by the court.

You have the right to be represented by an attorney of your choice. You are not required to be represented by an attorney. An attorney may make an appearance on your behalf.

You have the right to remain silent and not to give evidence against yourself. You may waive this right and discuss your case with a prosecutor in an effort to dispose of your case without trial.


If you are convicted of “assault” by threatening another with imminent bodily injury, or “assault” by causing offensive or provocative physical contact with another, and the person assaulted is a member of your family or household, or against an individual with whom you have or had a dating relationship, you are notified that it is unlawful for you to possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Offenses Involving Violence

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense involving violence where you are or were a spouse, intimate partner, parent, or guardian of the victim or are or were involved in another, similar relationship with the victim, it may be unlawful for you to possess or purchase a firearm, including a handgun or long gun, or ammunition, pursuant to federal law under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g) (9) or Section 46.04(b), Texas Penal Code.  If you have any questions whether these laws make it illegal for you to possess or purchase a firearm, you should consult an attorney.

First Appearance in Court

At the time of your first appearance, you will be identified as the defendant, and you will be asked how you plead to the offense with which you are charged.

Pleas are "not guilty," "guilty," or "no contest."

If you plead not guilty, your case will be set for trial. You may waive your right to a trial by jury and have the case heard by the court. At your request, the court will subpoena a witness on your behalf, but you must furnish the court with the name, address, and telephone number of each witness prior to trial. You may be required to attend a pre-trial conference.

If you refuse to enter a plea, the court will enter a plea of not guilty for you, and your case will be set for a jury trial unless you waive that right.

If you plead guilty or no contest, the court will find you guilty and assess a fine as punishment. A plea of no contest has the same result as a plea of guilty, but it may not be used against you in any civil proceeding that might arise from the incident leading to your arrest.

If you are pleading guilty or no contest, you may present any evidence or documents to the court in connection with the offense and you may explain any mitigating circumstances that may affect punishment.

If you are unsure about how to plead, do not hesitate to enter a plea of not guilty.

The court may be required to provide you certain notices, and it is your responsibility to notify the court of any change of address.


You may request documents and evidence in your case from the State by following the discovery procedures set out in Art. 39.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. ("Discovery" is the process by which the defendant may request evidence related to the case from the State.)

More Information about Criminal Cases >>


General Information

This information is furnished to you to provide basic information relative to the law governing procedures for criminal cases in the Harris County Justice Courts.

The Harris County Justices of the Peace and the Clerks of the Harris County Justice Courts are not allowed to give legal advice. You are urged to review the applicable laws and to consult an attorney of your choice for further information or answers to specific legal questions.

You have the right to a trial by a jury and to be represented by an attorney of your choice, or to represent yourself.

Disclaimer: The law is constantly changing and there may be times when the information on this web site will not be current. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. This information is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.