Municipal Courts are local trial courts with limited jurisdiction over violations of city ordinances and very minor criminal misdemeanors. They are located within Texas incorporated cities and towns.
Under its constitutional authority to create “such other courts as may be provided by law,” the Legislature has created municipal courts in each incorporated municipality in the state. In lieu of a municipal court created by the Legislature, municipalities may choose to establish municipal courts of record.
The jurisdiction of municipal courts is provided in Chapters 29 and 30 of the Texas Government Code. Municipal courts have:
- Original and exclusive jurisdiction over criminal violations of certain municipal ordinances and airport board rules, orders, or resolutions that do not exceed $2,000 in some instances and $500 in others;
- Concurrent jurisdiction with the justice courts in certain misdemeanor criminal cases; and
- Concurrent jurisdiction over truancy cases.
In addition to the jurisdiction of a regular municipal court, municipal courts of record also have jurisdiction over criminal cases arising under ordinances authorized by certain provisions of the Local Government Code. The municipality may also provide by ordinance that a municipal court of record have additional jurisdiction in certain civil and criminal matters.
Municipal judges also serve in the capacity of a committing magistrate, with the authority to issue warrants for the apprehension and arrest of persons charged with the commission of felony or misdemeanor offenses. As a magistrate, the municipal judge may hold preliminary hearings, reduce testimony to writing, discharge the accused, or remand the accused to jail and set bail.
Trials in municipal courts are not generally “of record;” many appeals go to the county court, county court at law, or district court by a trial de novo. Appeals from municipal courts of record are generally heard in the county criminal courts, county criminal courts of appeal or municipal courts of appeal. If none of these courts exist in the county or municipality, appeals are to a county court at law.
Categories: Municipal Court