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Welcome to the City of Pharr Municipal Court

Striving to be the most respected, effective, efficient, and impartial Municipal Court in Texas

Court Hours

Monday  –  Friday:  8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday : CLOSED

The Court is closed on all legal holidays.

The Municipal Court is the judicial branch of the government of the City of Pharr. It is committed to administering justice in a fair, efficient, and timely manner. Court services are increasingly available online, by telephone, email, and through the mail.

The courts adjudicate Class C misdemeanor cases most of which are criminal, including traffic, city ordinance, state code, juvenile, and disabled parking.

Within this website you will be able to obtain information on how to take care of your case(s). If you are unable to locate the information needed regarding your case, you will need to contact the Court. Give the Court your citation number to expedite matters.

Need to make a payment?

There is a night deposit box available for after hour payments.  It is located to the right of the front doors of the municipal court.  TO ENSURE PROPER CREDIT AND TIMELY POSTING, PLEASE INCLUDE THE CITATION NUMBER ON YOUR CHECK.

The Municipal Judges hold magistrate hearings every day of the week in order to inform defendants about their charge(s) and their rights and to set bond.

Court Information

The law requires you to appear in court on your case. If you were issued a citation, your appearance date is noted on the citation. If you have been released on bond, your appearance date is set on the bond. If you request a continuance (read the specific section in the pamphlet on continuances), the court will notify you of your new appearance date. You or your attorney may appear in person in open court, by mail, or you may deliver your plea in person to the court. (Juveniles and minors have a separate set of rules for their appearance. Please read the specific section on juveniles in this pamphlet).

Your first appearance is to determine your plea. If you waive a jury trial and plead guilty or nolo contendere (no contest), you may talk to the judge about extenuating circumstances that you want the judge to consider when setting your fine, but the judge is not required to reduce your fine. Before pleading guilty or no contest you will want to read the section on pleas. If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a jury trial unless you waive that right. If you do, the trial will be before the judge. When you make your appearance by mail, the court must receive your plea before your scheduled appearance date. If you plead guilty or no contest, you must include a waiver of jury trial. If you plead not guilty, the court will notify you of the date of your trial

Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. On a plea of not guilty, a trial is held. As in all criminal trials, the State must prove the guilt of a defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt” of the offense charged in the complaint before the defendant can be found guilty by a judge or jury.

Your decision concerning which plea to enter is very important. You should read the following explanation of all three types of pleas and think carefully before making your decision. If you plead guilty or nolo contendere, you should be prepared to pay the fine. You should contact the court regarding how to make payment.

Plea of Guilty — By a plea of guilty, you admit that the act is prohibited by law and that you committed the act charged. Before entering your plea of guilty, however, you should understand the following:

(1) The State has the burden of proving that you violated the law (the law does not require that you prove you did not violate the law);

(2) You have the right to hear the State’s evidence and to require the State to prove you violated the law; and

(3) A plea of guilty may be used against you later in a civil suit if there was a traffic accident (another party can say you were at fault or responsible for the accident because you pled guilty to the traffic charge).

Plea of Nolo Contendere (no contest) — A plea of nolo contendere means that you do not contest the State’s charge against you. You will almost certainly be found guilty, unless you are eligible and successfully complete a driving safety course and/or court ordered probation.  Also, a plea of nolo contendere may not be used against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages.

Plea of Not Guilty — A plea of not guilty means that you deny guilt, and that the State must prove the charge that it filed against you. If you plead not guilty, you need to decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you. If you represent yourself, the following section on [intlink id=”the-trial” type=”page”]The Trial[/intlink] may help you to understand your rights and trial procedure.

The amount of fine the court assesses is determined only by the facts and circumstances of the case.  Mitigating circumstances may lower the fine, even if you are guilty. On the other hand, aggravating circumstances may increase the fine. The maximum fine for most municipal court traffic violations is $200; for municipal court penal violations–$500; for certain city ordinance violations–$2,000; and for other city ordinance violations–$500

In addition to a fine, court costs mandated by state law will be charged. The costs are different depending on the offense. You need to check with the court for the amount that will be assessed to the violation for which you are charged. If you request a trial, you may have to also pay the costs of overtime paid to a peace officer spent testifying in the trial. If you request a jury trial, an additional $3 jury fee is assessed. If a warrant was served or processed by a peace officer, an additional $50 fee is also assessed.

Court costs are assessed if you are found guilty at trial, if you plead guilty or nolo contendere, if your case is deferred for a driving safety course, or if your case is deferred and you are placed on probation. If you are found not guilty, court costs may not be assessed.

COURTROOM DECORUM

All electronic devices including cell phones and pagers must be turned off before entering the Courtroom unless you have received express prior approval from the Court. Failure to comply will result in the person’s removal from the Courtroom.  Absolutely no weapons of any sort shall be allowed in the Courtroom except those on the person of commissioned peace officers. Any persons entering the Courthouse are subject to search.  No food, chewing gum, candy or drinks of any type shall be consumed in or brought into the Courtroom.

DRESS CODE

To be permitted in the Courtroom, you must be dressed appropriately so as to maintain the dignity, decorum and professional atmosphere of the Court and the administration of justice.  No one will be permitted in the Courtroom in shorts or in any immodest or revealing wear such as halter tops or tube tops.  Any clothing with offensive, vulgar, racist, sexist, obscene, or suggestive words, slogans, depictions, or pictures will not be allowed in the courtroom. Pants are to be worn at the waist.  No exposed undergarments are permitted. Pants that are tattered, shredded or that exposes skin are not permitted.  No hats, caps, head coverings or sunglasses may be worn in the Courtroom, except with prior permission of the Court. Any person not dressed in appropriate Courtroom attire is subject to removal from the Courtroom.

If you received a citation for Expired Drivers License, Expired License Plates, or Expired MVI Sticker, and you get these items renewed before your due date, bring a receipt for each, and present these items to the Judge, then the Judge may dismiss these charges with a $10 fee on each.

If you received a citation for No Financial Responsibility, you must present a liability insurance policy or a certificate of insurance issued by the State that was effective on the date you were cited. The insurance card issued for carrying in the car is SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE. Your proof of insurance will be verified and your case dismissed, if the insurance is valid. Any attempts to pass a faulty or altered insurance card to get a case dismissed will result in a criminal charges filed against you at the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office.

If you were charged with No Valid License, and you do indeed have a valid license, you will need to come to Municipal Court and show this evidence to the Judge to have the case dismissed.

If you are charged with a traffic offense, you may be eligible to ask the judge to take a driving safety course (DSC) to dismiss the charge. The request must be made on or before the appearance date on the citation. It may be made either orally or in writing. If you were operating a motorcycle, you must take a motorcycle operator course (MOC). If you were the driver charged with not wearing a safety belt or transporting a child not in a safety belt or child passenger safety seat system, you must take a driving safety course that has four hours of instruction about seat belts and child passenger safety seat systems. At the time of the request, you must do the following:

(1) Present proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance);
(2) Present proof of a valid Texas DL or permit;
(2) Plead guilty or nolo contendere; and
(3) Pay court costs and an administrative fee, if required.

The case will be postponed for 90 days to allow you time to complete the course. You must attend a driving safety course that has been approved by the Texas Education Agency or a motorcycle operator’s course approved by the Department of Public Safety.

You are eligible to request this course if you:

(1) Have not taken a driving safety course or motorcycle operator course for a traffic offense within the 12 months preceding the current offense;
(2) Are not currently taking the course for another traffic violation;
(3) Do not have a commercial driver’s license; and
(4) Have not committed one of the following offenses:

(a) Failure to Give Information at Accident Scene;
(b) Leaving Scene of Accident;
(c) Passing a School Bus;
(d) A serious traffic violation, which applies to commercial motor vehicle operators;
(e)  An offense in a construction maintenance zone when workers are present; or
(f)   Speeding 25 mph or more over limit.

On or before the end of 90 days you must present to the court
(1) a copy of your driving record from the Department of Public Safety that shows that you have not had a driving safety course within the preceding 12 months from the date of request for the current offense;
(2) an affidavit that you were not taking a driving safety course at the date of request and that you have not taken one that is not shown on your driving record in the 12 months preceding the date of request.
(3) A uniform certificate of course completion from the driving safety school or a verification of course completion from the motorcycle operator course.
If you do not take the course in the time required and/or fail to present the court with all the required evidence, the court will notify to appear for a show cause hearing. If you have a good reason why you were unable to present your proof within the time required, the judge may, but is not required to, grant you an extension. Your failure to be present at that hearing will result in a capias pro fine warrant for your arrest being issued.

A trial in municipal court is a fair, impartial and public trial as in any other court. Under Texas law, you may be brought to trial only after a sworn complaint is filed against you. A complaint is a document that alleges the act you are supposed to have committed and that the act is unlawful. You may be tried only for what is alleged in the complaint. You have the following rights in court:

(1)    The right to have notice of the complaint not later than the day before any proceedings;
(1)    The right to inspect the complaint before trial, and have it read to you at the trial;
(2)    The right to have your case tried before a jury, if you so desire;
(3)    The right to hear all testimony introduced against you;
(4)    The right to cross-examine witnesses who testifies against you;
(5)    The right to testify in your behalf;
(6)    The right not to testify, if you so desire. If you choose not to testify, your refusal to do so may not be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt; and
(7)    You may call witnesses to testify in your behalf at the trial, and have the court issue a subpoena (a court order) to any witnesses to ensure their appearance at the trial. The request for a subpoena may be oral or in writing.

If you choose to have the case tried before a jury, you have the right to question jurors about their qualifications to hear your case. If you think that a juror will not be fair, impartial or unbiased, you may ask the judge to excuse the juror. The judge will decide whether or not to grant your request. In each jury trial, you are also permitted to strike three members of the jury panel for any reason you choose, except an illegal reason (such as a strike based solely upon a person’s race or gender).

If you need a continuance for your trial, you must put the request in writing and submit it to the court with your reasons prior to trial. The judge will make a decision whether or not to grant the continuance. You may request a continuance for the following reasons:

(1)    A religious holy day where the tenets of your religious organization prohibit members from participating in secular activities such as court proceedings (you must file an affidavit with the court stating this information); or
(2)  That you feel it is necessary for justice in your case.

As in all criminal trials, the State will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you.

After prosecution witnesses have finished testifying, you have the right to cross-examine. In other words, you may ask the witnesses questions about their testimony or any other facts relevant to the case. You may not, however, argue with the witness. Your cross-examination of the witness must be in the form of questions only. You may not tell your version of the incident at this time—you will have an opportunity to do so later in the trial.

After the prosecution has presented its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident. The State has the right to cross-examine any witness that you call.

If you so desire, you may testify in your own behalf, but as a defendant, you may not be compelled to testify. It is your choice, and your silence cannot be used against you. If you do testify, the State has the right to cross-examine you.

After all testimony is concluded, both sides can make a closing argument. This is your opportunity to tell the court why you think that you are not guilty of the offense charged. The State has the right to present the first and last arguments. The closing argument may be based only on the testimony presented during the trial.

If you are found guilty, you may make an oral or written motion to the court for a new trial. The motion must be made within one day after a judgment of guilt has been rendered against you. The judge may grant a new trial if the judge is persuaded that justice has not been done in the trial of your case. Only one new trial may be granted for each offense.

The municipal court has jurisdiction over juveniles (under age 17) charged with most Class C misdemeanor offenses except Sec. 49.02, P.C., public intoxication, and the following traffic offenses: Sec. 502.282, T.C., registration with amateur radio plates; Sec. 502.412, T.C., operating a vehicle at a weight greater than the registration application; Sec. 550.021, T.C., accident involving personal injury or death; Sec. 550.022, T.C., accident involving damage to vehicle; and Sec. 550.024, T.C., duty on striking unattended vehicle. All juveniles are required to appear in open court for all proceedings in their cases. The parent of a juvenile charged in municipal court must be present in court with their child. Juveniles who fail to appear in court may have an additional charge of failure to appear filed against them. Juveniles who fail to appear or who fail to pay their fine will be reported to the Department of Public Safety who will suspend or deny issuance of a driver’s license. If a juvenile disobeys a court order, the court may order DPS to suspend or deny issuance of a driver’s license or find the child in contempt and assess a fine not to exceed $500, or referred to juvenile court for contempt.

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