In the USA, there are different types of courthouses for different types of legal matters, many for handling complicated and serious issues and others for less severe cases. Federal crimes and other federal-level matters will be processed through the federal court system. State-level cases are handled through their own judicial systems. In Texas, there are four court system types: district, county, justice, and municipal. District being the most general, handling many cases regarding more complex areas of the law, and municipal being the smaller, more specific type of courthouse handling low-level cases. In this article, we will focus on the court system in Frisco, Texas.
Municipal courts, handle what is called “Class C misdemeanor criminal cases”. For example, the municipal court in Frisco, Texas handles all the city ordinance violations including traffic violations. A citation will usually be given to the defendant, the person who is being charged with violating a law, at the time the violation is committed or identified. The type of citation will determine which court system department will process the citation. If the citation is something minor, the procedure may only take an hour or so simply by the defendant paying a fine, if not, the case will go the trial and can last up to a full day or even longer.
For more serious cases in the Frisco district court, a criminal defense lawyer or public defender may be required to help the defendant understand the charges and to form a plan of defense to win the case against prosecutors. Depending on the seriousness of the case, the lawyer will begin by discussing with their client how to plead the case. Cases can be pleaded in one of three ways: Guilty, Nolo Contendere, and Not Guilty. Each of these represent different results depending on the, some ending with a fine, some involving probation for a period of time, and others requiring the defendant to serve time in jail or prison.
In a courtroom, the layout may differ depending on the building, but generally the Judge will sit at the front/center of the room with the witness stand just to the right. Below them are the court reporter and clerk. The jury is usually located on the right side of the room close to the witness stand. Then there are the defendant and prosecution tables. And in front of them is an open area for the lawyers to walk around and to present evidence before the judge and jury. The gallery, or the audience area, will be located in the rear area by the courtroom entrance.
While hearing the details about each court case may seem stressful or even boring, Class C cases in Frisco, Texas are usually handled swiftly and efficiently. The important thing to remember at these case hearings is that the burden to prove the defendant guilty is on the prosecutors, so there is no pressure on the defendant to plead guilty or nolo contendere if the situation is muddled. At the end, the judge, jury, and lawyers will determine what happens with the case and the best way to resolve the issues at hand.