NOTICE REGARDING PAYMENT OF FINES AND COURT COSTS
If you are financially unable to pay a fine and/or court costs in full
(one payment), there are other options, such as time-payment plans or
performing community service hours instead of paying the fine and court
Community service options have now been expanded by the
Texas Legislature (Sep 2017) to include any hours performed by a
defendant: (a) attending work and job skills training; (b) attending
preparatory class for high school equivalency exam; and
(c) performing community service at an educational institution.
In situations in which a person is physically or mentally unable to
perform community service and that person does not have the ability to
pay their fine and court costs on a time- payment plan, the Court can
hear sworn testimony and review evidence concerning
the defendant’s financial situation to help resolve this matter.
In some unusual situations, the judge can reduce the fine and court
costs or eliminate them completely, depending on the severity of the
defendant’s financial circumstances.
Should you have any questions regarding these options,
please contact the Court. You have the legal right to ask the Court
Clerk to allow you to see the judge during her court docket hours and
discuss these options to resolve your fine and court
If at any time you are unable to complete an agreement with the court,
contact the court so that we may reassess your circumstances to assist
you. Never disregard an obligation to fulfill an agreement with the
court. If your circumstances ever change after
you enter into an agreement with the court, or you find yourself in a
hardship financially or by other means, simply contact the court.
Court Assistance Sheet
Disclaimer: The law is constantly changing and there may
be times when the information within this information sheet will not be
current. This 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 legal advice from an
attorney. This information is for your insight and not meant to be
recommendations on how to proceed with your case. Only you or your attorney can decide the best
direction for you to take.
It is not possible to include information sufficient to meet all facts
and circumstances and you are urged to consult with an attorney with any
questions that you may have. We have
made every effort to set out information accurately, but we do not warrant the
reliability or appropriateness of the information for a particular purpose, and
we do not assume liability for any consequences resulting from your sole
reliance on the information presented.
The court cannot 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.
What type of case
can I file in the Justice of the Peace Court?
Some of the civil cases the JP court, or Justice Court, has the jurisdiction to hear are civil cases in which the where the amount in controversy is not more than $20,000, eviction cases, and debt claim cases.
The JP court does not have the
jurisdiction to hear a case for slander, defamation, or disputes over title to
Justice Courts do not have the
jurisdiction to issue an injunction.
is an order requiring a person to do or refrain from doing a specific act. For
example, your neighbor is about to cut down a tree on your property; you ask a
court to issue an injunction ordering them not to cut down the tree.
relief is sought in District Court.
May I speak to the
Judge about my case?
Judge and his staff are prohibited, by law, from discussing a pending civil
case, or a case that may come before the court.
Anything his staff says is a direct extension from the Judge. The Judge must remain neutral in order to
render a fair and impartial judgment.
or his staff may answer procedural questions, but may not tell you what to do
or which option is best for you to take.
When do I appear
for my hearing?
will receive court correspondence by mail from the court. You may also call the court and ask for the
date and time the hearing has been set for court. It is up to you to decide if you appear for
court. Please have relative information
ready to give the clerk when you contact the court. (i.e.
name, case number, ect.)
If I am sued, do I
have to file a written answer?
you are sued and served with a citation from the Justice Court, you may answer
the suit by filing a written answer, agreeing or denying all or any parts of
the suit, by the 14th day after the date you were served. You must also send a copy of your answer to
the Plaintiff, the person who is suing you.
do not respond in writing, with an answer, there may be a default judgment
granted in favor of the Plaintiff. The
Plaintiff will then have the opportunity for collecting on the judgment.
Do I need an
you can answer this question.
Justice Court is the “People’s Court.”
This means it is the court that is closest to the public and the easiest
to navigate without the assistance of an attorney.
may represent himself or herself, or he/she may be represented by an attorney,
or in an eviction case a person may have an authorized agent represent
attorney is not required, but permitted.
You may be told to consult with an attorney if you present a legal
question that requires giving you legal advice (see “May I speak to the Judge about my case?” above).
Plaintiff and Defendant are permitted to hire an attorney if want to.
May I request a
new hearing date?
find that the date set for the hearing or trial does not accommodate your
schedule or conflicts with another obligation, you may present a written
request within 7 days of the date of the hearing. The Judge will then consider this as a motion
for continuance and may approve or deny the motion, or request.
What should I
bring to court with me?
court cannot specifically answer this question directly. When you go before the court, you will need
to be prepared to prove your case.
Whether you are the Plaintiff, suing someone, or the Defendant, being
sued by another person, you will want to be prepared with any evidence that you
want to present or witnesses that you will want to testify.
your burden to prove your case. The
court cannot advise you what to present as evidence or who to have present to
testify for you. The court will hear all
testimony and consider the preponderance of the evidence when making a ruling
on the matter.
you will want to bring any evidence and witnesses that you feel will prove what
you're telling or asking the court to believe.
Where do I file a
as laid out under the Texas Government Code, Chapter 28.011, an action in small
claims court must be brought in the county and precinct in which the defendant
resides. However, if the defendant has contracted to perform an
obligation in a certain county, an action may be brought in the county where
the obligation was to be performed. The court cannot, and will not, advise you where
to file a law suit.
When filing an eviction
suit, the suit must be filed in the Justice Court precinct where the property
is located. The court can tell you which
precinct the property is located.
Can I request the
case be heard in different court?
A defendant may file a motion in the
small claims court asking that the case be transferred to a different
precinct. This must be done in writing
at the earliest opportunity and must state why the case was filed in an
improper precinct. The written request
must also state what precinct the case to be transferred. See Section
28.014, Texas Government Code. The
Rules concerning the motion to transfer are found in the Texas Rules of Civil
Procedure, See Rule 527, Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.
Can I request that
a jury hear a civil case?
Either the plaintiff or the
defendant may demand a jury trial. The request must be made not later than one
(1) day before the date on which the hearing is scheduled. At the same time
that the request is made, the party must pay the jury fee to the justice of the
What if I don’t
come to court for trial?
Texas Government Code, chapter
28.031, Failure to Appear.
If a defendant does
not appear for court at the time and place specified in the citation, the
judge shall enter a default judgment for the plaintiff in the amount proved to
If a plaintiff does
not appear for court at the time and place specified in the citation, the
judge may enter an order dismissing the action.
How do I appeal?
defendant or a plaintiff does not prevail in court and a judgment is entered
against that party, they will have 21 days after the judgment is signed to
appeal the court’s decision.
plaintiff appeals, a $500 appeal bond will need to be filed with the
court. If the defendant appeals, a bond
equal to twice the amount of the judgment will need to be filed with the
court. (For example: If the plaintiff is awarded $5,000 in a suit,
the appeal bond will be $10,000)
If a party appeals,
the case will be heard again in the County Court-at-Law Court. This will be a “Trial De Novo” (See Texas
Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 506.3 Trial De Novo). The trial will be heard as a new trial, and
nothing of the Justice Court ruling will be discussed. All parties will be required to present their
case as if the first trial did not occur.
How do I collect
on a judgment?
several options that are available to a prevailing plaintiff. It is up to you to determine which option is
best for you to pursue. The
court will not suggest, direct, or present opinion as to which option you must
choose or file.
is a list of commonly used methods to collect a judgment. This is not a complete list and it is up to
you to decide which option is best for your situation. It is also suggested
that you seek the advice of an attorney if you need further assistance.
Upon the plaintiff’s
request, the court can:
- Issue a Writ of Execution directing the sheriff or constable to
satisfy the judgment out of the defendant’s non-exempt property. The
execution must specify the total amount of the judgment, the amount
received to date, and the amount remaining to be executed on. TRCP 630.
- Issue an Abstract of Judgment that puts a lien on, and attaches to,
real property of the defendant. Property Code §52.001.
- Issue a Writ of Garnishment if the plaintiff swears there is
insufficient property to satisfy the judgment on execution. TRCP 658.
- In an eviction suit a Writ of Possession can be issued
on the seventh day after the judgment is signed.
How do I pay a
the court renders judgment, all further actions and discussions regarding the
judgment are to be addressed by the parties involved. It is your responsibility
to determine the best course of action to satisfy a judgment. The court would encourage you to seek the
advice of an attorney to determine the best option for you if you have any