If you are classified as a juvenile (under the age of 17) under Texas State law and charged with a traffic or criminal violation, 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.
A minor is a person who is over 16 but under the age of 21. Any person under the age of 21 charged with alcohol, curfew, or tobacco violation must appear in court.
What You Can Expect When You Come to Court
You May Plead Not Guilty
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 set for trial date at which time you may present your case to the court. At your trial, a judge or jury will hear the evidence and determine if you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
You May Plead Guilty or No Contest
You should be prepared to pay the fine at the time you are found guilty.
You May Plead Guilty or No Contest & Request Community Service
You may ask the judge to assign your case for 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.
The judge has a very specific list of approved community service providers. Deviating from the list may result in the community service not being accepted, additional hours being required, and/or additional fees being added.
Expectations of You in Court
You are expected to act and dress properly and follow the rules of the court. Please wear appropriate clothing when you appear in court.
You and your parent or guardian are required by law to provide the court, in writing, your current address and residence. If your place of residence changes, you have seven days to notify the court, in writing, of your new address and residence.
Failure to keep the court informed of your new residence may result in failure to appear and failure to notify charges filed against both you and your parent or guardian. The obligation of keeping the court informed of your current address and residence is required until your case is finalized / terminated.
Mandatory Alcohol and Tobacco Courses and Community Service
If you are found guilty of, or placed on deferred disposition for an alcohol offense, the court must order you to complete an alcohol awareness course. The court must also order you to complete a period of community service. If you are found guilty of, or placed on deferred for a tobacco offense, the court must order you to complete a tobacco awareness course.
Driver’s License Suspension
You may be denied issuance of a driver’s license or if you have a driver’s license, your privilege to drive may be suspended until you comply with the order(s) of this court. The following is a list of acts that can cause you to be denied or to lose your license:
1) Failing to appear in court
2) Failing to pay or discharge your fine and costs
3) Failing to take a present proof of taking an alcohol or tobacco course; and
4) Violating a court order in the court’s judgment
Some offenses, such as the Alcohol Beverage Code offenses, require courts upon conviction to order the Department of Public Safety to deny issuance of or to suspend a defendant’s driver’s license for a period of time.