How can I have my citation dismissed?
Typically, only the prosecutor may dismiss a complaint. Some offenses that are dismissed by the Court are:
1) Failure to Provide Financial Responsibility – This offense may be dismissed if the defendant can bring his/her original insurance policy to the Court to show liability coverage on the date and time that the citation was issued. The policy must have a declarations page that specifies that either the vehicle or defendant was covered on the date and time of the offense. The court is required to obtain verbal verification from the insurance carrier. If it is determined that the vehicle or the defendant was covered on the date and time of the offense the charge will be dismissed without costs. Adults and Minors wishing to dispose of this type of charge can appear at the court office during regular business hours before their court appearance date to provide proof of coverage and sign the necessary documents. You may also wish to appear at your court appearance date to discuss any extenuating circumstances with the Judge and Prosecutor. Please keep in mind that it is a FELONY offense to file a FRAUDULANT document with the court.
2) Failure to Display Driver’s License – If the defendant can produce a Texas driver’s license that was current on the date and time of offense, the Court may dismiss the citation for this particular offense. This offense can only be dismissed on a motion from the Prosecutor and requires the defendant to appear in front of the Judge and Prosecutor on their court appearance date.
3) Expired Violations – If you are charged with an expired driver’s license, registration or inspection, the charge may be dismissed by the Court with a $20.00 dismissal fee. Adults and Minors wanting to dispose of these types of charges can appear at the court office during regular business hours before their court appearance date to provide written proof of the compliance and pay the dismissal fee. You may also wish to appear at your court appearance date to discuss any extenuating circumstances with the Judge and Prosecutor.
How can I keep a citation from affecting my driving record?
The law provides two alternatives designed to keep offenses from adversely affecting your driving record. These programs are deferred disposition and a successful completion of a driving safety course. Deferred disposition is associated with a special expense fee and a probation period in lieu of the fine. A Driving Safety Course allows you to pay state costs and an administrative fee and take a Texas state approved driver’s driving safety course for the dismissal of your fine and offense.
I cannot pay the fine in full. Is it possible to pay my citation in installments?
Yes. The Court allows you to set up a payment plan to help you dispose of the pending charge(s) against you. You may not be eligible for this option if you previously defaulted on a payment plan. The Judge is the only person authorized to approve a payment plan and requires the defendant to appear in person on their court appearance date.
Do I have to have an attorney to represent my case?
No. yYou may retain an attorney but you do not have to have one to appear before the court. The Heath Municipal Court deals with Class C, fine only offenses and therefore the defendant is not entitled to a court appointed attorney.
If I cannot appear on my court date, what do I do?
You must file a motion for continuance stating the reasons you cannot appear. This can be in the form of a letter addressed to the Court but must be timely received in order to qualify. All written motions must be received by the court no later than 1 PM on the Wednesday preceding their Monday court appearance date.
I have another appointment. Can my mom or husband appear for me?
It depends. The law requires a defendant to enter a written plea in person before the court or by mail. An adult or minor may hire an attorney to make an appearance on their behalf. A juvenile defendant and their parent or guardian are still required to make an appearance in person on their court appearance date even if they retain an attorney to represent them.
Will I be able to dispose of my case at the front desk?
Not necessarily. Certain offenses and age requirements mandate the defendant to appear before the Judge and Prosecutor in an open courtroom. By law, the Judge performs all judicial functions but can delegate clerical duties to other court personnel. However, all decisions on matters pending before the court must be approved by a Judge before the case is adjudicated.
What should I do if I do not have the money to pay the fine?
If you are indigent, please contact the court office at least FIVE (5) working days before your court appearance date for additional forms necessary to complete your request or see the related documents link located on the Municipal Court’s home page to download and print the forms. You will be required to complete and return the forms to the court no later than 1 PM on the Thursday preceding your Monday court appearance date. Your case will be set for an Indigent Hearing at 2 PM. You must appear on your court appearance date to discuss other options available in helping you dispose of your pending case. By delaying, you will only make matters worse and you may subject yourself to being arrested because you ignored your promise to appear.
What happens if I miss my court date?
If you are an adult, or minor (see exceptions that follow), you will receive written notification from the court advising you of your failure to appear. You will be given 20 days to either:
1) Pay your fine/costs in full;
2) Post a bond double the amount of your fine and state costs in order to receive a new court appearance date; OR
3) Hire an attorney to help you dispose of your pending case.
Failure to comply within the 20 day grace period will force the court to issue a warrant for your arrest on your pending charge(s) and an additional warrant for your Failure to Appear. Additional fees and costs of up to $600 will be applied in addition to the amount of your original charge(s).
All Juveniles, regardless of their offense, and Minors charged with any alcohol or tobacco related offense failing to appear for their court appearance date faces an automatic suspension of their driver’s license or a denial to receive a driver’s license until their case is completely adjudicated by the court. In most instances, a bond will be required in order to receive a new court appearance date. Parent’s or guardian’s failing to obey a court summons can also be charged with a Class C offense and fined up to $500 plus state costs for their failure to appear and failure to bring said child to the court as ordered.