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General Information

Municipal Court (Court) is held on Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. You must appear before the Municipal Court Clerk (Clerk) to sign a formal document setting a court date, including resets. A court setting is required to speak with the Municipal Court Judge (Judge) for any municipal/city related matter. It is illegal for the Judge to speak with you regarding your citation, legal matter, etc. outside of Court.

All juveniles (16 years and younger) are REQUIRED to appear in Court before the Judge with a parent or legal guardian for all citations. This includes requesting the Driving Safety Course.

It is your responsibility to notify the Court of any changes in your mailing address.

PLEAS:

Guilty – A plea of GUILTY means that you are informing the Court that you are guilty of the State’s charge against you, that you admit that the act was prohibited by law, and that you committed the act you are charged with. Also, a plea of guilty may be used against you later in a subsequent civil suit for damages.

Nolo Contendere (No Contest) – a plea of NO CONTEST means that you do not contest the State’s charge against you. You will almost certainly be found guilty, unless you successfully complete a driving safety course and/or court ordered deferred disposition, or the violation is eligible for a compliance dismissal under Texas compliance laws. Also in most cases, a plea of no contest cannot be used against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages.

Not Guilty – On a plea of NOT GUILTY, a pre-trial hearing will be scheduled. At this point you can request a trial by judge or a trial by jury. As in all criminal trials, the State is required to prove the guilt of the defendant “beyond a reasonable doubt” of the offense charged in the complaint before a defendant can be found guilty by a judge or Jury. A plea of not guilty means that you are informing the Court that you deny guilt and that the State must prove what it has charged against you. If you plead not guilty, you must decide whether to hire an attorney to represent you or represent yourself. For more information, contact the Clerk. Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

CITATIONS:

All citations written by the Port Neches Police Department are due by the 10th business day from the day you received the citation. If you find that you cannot take care of the citation by the 10th business day, you must appear before the Clerk and complete the necessary paper work that will allow either a payment plan, no more than a 30 day extension or a court setting to see the Judge. Payment plans require an initial down payment of no less than $25.

If you do not appear by the 10th business day, you will receive a past due notice and this will eventually result in the issuance of a warrant for your arrest if you fail to respond to the past due notice in a timely manner. Additionally, this will result in extra costs added to your citation.

It is the responsibility of the party who received the citation to notify the Court of the correct address information in the event the address on the citation is incorrect.

PAYMENT OPTIONS:

For information regarding the balance on your citation, please call 409.722.1438.

Payments can be accepted in person at the Port Neches Police Department or by credit/debit card payment through the City’s website. www.ci.port-neches.tx.us

We currently accept local checks only, money orders and cashier checks. However, no personal checks will be accepted once a warrant/capias pro fine has been issued.

Payment can be mailed to the following address but must include a signed and marked plea on the bottom of your citation if it is prior to an initial appearance. Without a plea and signature, payment may be returned and case will remain open:

Port Neches Municipal Court
1201 Merriman
Port Neches, Texas 77651

Checks, money orders and cashier’s checks should be made payable to “Port Neches Municipal Court.”

https://www.municipalonlinepayments.com/portnechestx

DRIVING SAFETY COURSE:

You can only take a Driving Safety Course for moving violations and are not allowed to take the course on violations cited for 25 miles per hour or more over the speed limit (Article 45.0511(c)(4), Code of Criminal Procedures). You are not eligible if you hold a Commercial Driver’s License (Article 45.0511(a), Code of Criminal Procedures). You are not eligible if you have already taken the course in the past 12 months. You are not eligible on offenses committed in a construction zone when workers were present (Sections 472.002, 543.404 and 729.004, Transportation Code). You are not eligible on the offense of passing a school bus loading or unloading children or for the offense of leaving the scene of an accident (Sec. 550.022 or 550.023, Transportation Code).

If you are 16 or younger, you must appear before the Judge.

You can request to take a Driving Safety Course in person or by mail. The request must be made prior to the initial appearance date which is the same as 10 business days from the date the citation was issued.

When requesting by mail, defendant should provide a marked and signed plea, which is found at the bottom of the citation, a signed affidavit, a copy of your valid Texas driver’s license, a copy of your valid insurance policy issued in your name or showing you listed as a driver on the policy and a cashier check or money order in the amount of $110.00 for moving violations that occurred outside of a school zone; or a cashier check or money order in the amount of $130.00 if issued in a school zone. All forms of payments shall be made payable to the Port Neches Municipal Court. Please do not mail cash.

Driving Safety Course Request and Affidavit Form

When requesting in person, defendants 17 years and older must appear by the 10th business day of receipt of their citation, proof of valid insurance and valid driver’s license and $110 for regular moving violations. The fee is $130 if the citation was issued in a school zone. You cannot have taken the course within the last 12 months. Once that amount has been paid, you will have 90 days to complete the course and an additional 30 days to bring in the certification of course completion along with a certified copy of your driving record.

Once your request has been granted, you will receive notice of your 90 day due date in which to obtain your certificate of completion and certified driving record, along with further instructions for completing the course.

The course may be completed online or in person as long as the course is administered by a Texas Education Agency approved instructor. A list of approved courses can be obtained online at www.tea.state.tx.us.

A certified copy 3A of your driving record can be obtained at www.texas.gov.

Failure to complete the Driving Safety Course in the amount of time allotted will result in a show cause notice or you being required to pay the remainder of your fine and court costs. If you fail to comply, a warrant may be issued for your arrest. Failure to comply will result in a conviction on your driving record.

DEFERRED DISPOSITIONS:

The Clerk may process deferred dispositions for a single violation only. The defendant can have no other pending violations, if so, he/she must see the Judge. Individuals 24 years of age or younger and citations including Failed to Maintain Financial Responsibility, Driving While License Invalid, Alcohol Violations, Tobacco Violations, or anyone with an active warrant must appear before the Judge to request a deferred disposition. Any deferral given in the Clerk’s office will have a 90 day deferral period and the defendant cannot be on a deferred disposition for any other charge at the time of the request. When requesting deferred before the Clerk, the defendant cannot currently be taking the Driving Safety Course. If the defendant has had more than two (2) deferrals in the past, then he/she must go before the Judge to request deferred. All other State laws regarding eligibility apply. Payment in full will be due at the time the deferral is granted. A deferral requires a plea of guilty or no contest.

The following offenses do not qualify for Deferred Disposition:

1. Anyone who holds a CDL at the time of the offense
2. Traffic offenses committed in a school zone
3. Passing a school bus
4. Serious traffic violations, as outlined by the Transportation Code, that apply to drivers with a CDL
5. Speeding 25 mph or more over the speed limit

Failure to comply with the terms of your deferral will result in a show cause notice being issued and failure to show for the hearing will result in a conviction and Capias Pro Fine warrant for your arrest.

PAYMENT PLANS:

Driving Safety Course and compliance dismissal fees are not eligible for a payment plan. A minimum $25 down payment is required. Standard payment plan agreements are $100 a month or $50 bi-weekly and an application for payment plan must be completed. If the defendant is already on a payment plan that is not in good standing, then he/she must see the Judge. The payment fee of $25.00 required by Texas Local Government Code will be added to each charge if any amount of the fine or costs is paid after 30 days from the date of the plea. Adult defendants with active arrest warrants may be eligible for a payment plan, but an application and down payment will be required. Once the payment plan has been established, payments can be made by clicking on the following link:

https://www.municipalonlinepayments.com/portnechestx

EXTENSIONS:

A 30 day extension may be granted to defendants. However, if the defendant does not appear to pay in 30 days then the State time payment fee required by Texas Local Government Code will be added and warrant will be issued.

MINOR IN POSSESSION CHARGES INCLUDING TOBACCO/ALCOHOL:

All offenses for minors in possession of tobacco and/or alcohol require the defendant to appear in Court before the Judge. Fines and punishments are determined by the Judge and are mandated by the State.

COMPLIANCE DISMISSALS:

Certain citations are eligible for compliance dismissals. Applicable citations are as follows:

Expired Driver’s License: Upon proof of renewal presented to the Court and payment of a $20.00 administrative fee by initial appearance due date.

Expired Registration: Upon proof of renewal showing that the penalty fee was paid to the Tax Office and presented to the Court and payment of a $20.00 administrative fee by initial appearance due date.

Fail to Report Change of Address or Name: Upon proof that the address/name was changed. Provide a print out from DPS and presented to the Court and payment of a $10.00 administrative fee by initial appearance due date.

Fail to Display Driver’s License: Upon presenting proof of a valid driver’s license, valid at the time of the offense, may by dismissed at no charge.

INSURANCE CITATIONS:

Citations for Fail to Maintain Financial Responsibility are eligible for dismissal at no charge to the defendant, if the defendant provides verifiable proof of financial responsibility at the time of the offense. You must present a liability insurance policy issued by the State that was effective on the date and time you were cited. The policy should be in your name or show you as a listed driver on the vehicle. In the event your insurance was not valid upon verification, you will receive a summons in the mail to appear in Court.

WARRANTS/CAPIAS PRO FINES:

A $50.00 warrant fee will be added to each offense once a warrant is issued.

If the Court issues a warrant for your arrest, it is because you missed your initial appearance date after the citation has been issued, an initial appearance notice has been mailed and a late notice has been issued to the last known address we have on file and you have failed to appear to make arrangements to take care of your citation(s). In addition to the original charge, a Failure to Appear or Violate Promise to Appear will be issued also resulting in additional charges. Arrest warrants are bondable by either cash bond or surety.

If you appear before the Clerk to request a court date, you will be required to post a PR bond for each charge as your promise to appear.

Your Arrest Warrant options:
1. Enter a plea of guilty or no contest and pay your fine in full to clear your warrants
2. Enter a plea of guilty or no contest and complete an application for payments; be set on a payment plan. A significant down payment will be required.
3. Post a cash bond to clear your warrants and request a setting for the Judge.
4. Post a surety or PR bond to clear your warrants and request a setting for the Judge.

Capias Pro Fine warrants are issued if you have made an appearance, entered a plea and have defaulted or failed to satisfy the terms of the judgement issued by the Court. Capias Pro Fine warrants are non-bondable.

Your Capias Pro Fine Warrant options:
1. You or someone you know may pay your fine in full to clear your warrants.
2. If you claim you are unable to pay in full, you must complete an indigence application for the Judge to determine your indigence. You may do this by requesting a court date and setting an appearance before the Judge. Once you have a court date set, your warrants will be recalled pending your appearance in Court. Should you fail to appear, the warrants will be reissued.

You may pay arrest warrants and capias pro fine warrants in person with cash, money order, cashier check or online at https://www.municipalonlinepayments.com/portnechestx; however you will have to call the office beforehand to have the status changed for the online payment acceptance at 409.722.1438.

When you have active warrants, you are subject to being arrested at your home or place of business. The Port Neches Police Department has been provided with your warrant information and other identifying information. To avoid arrest, contact the Court to try to resolve your warrants as soon as possible. The Clerk can be contacted at 409.722.1438 for further inquiries and information.

ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION:

If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney must provide the Court with a Letter of Representation no later than the initial appearance date of the violation.

SELF-HELP REMINDER:

The Office of Court Administration’s Self-Help website can be accessed at www.TexasCourtHelp.gov