Austin Municipal Court – Austin, TX

by | Oct 28, 2021

A municipal court is a court with small jurisdiction over criminal charges and civil disputes within its area. These courts can be located at the county or city tier.

Austin Municipal Court INformation

Court: Austin Municipal Court
Address: “700 E 7th St, PO Box 2135, Austin, TX 78768”
Phone: 512-974-4800

City: Austin
County: Travis
State: Texas

What is the purpose of the Austin Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are commonly called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they deal with minor criminal charges, civil disputes, and traffic tickets. Courts like Austin Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

In other situations, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family law matters, accident cases, more serious criminal charges, or contract disputes.

County courthouses have the jurisdiction to deal with misdemeanors and civil actions that can’t exceed the amount of $15,000.00, while the circuits courts handle felony cases and bigger civil matters.

TYPES OF Matters seen IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Austin, Texas

Municipal courts are the lowest level of courthouses in the United States. They are usually found within the jurisdiction where they are located, but some locales share municipal courts with other municipalities.

This can be done to better service their citizens or to save money on administrative costs. The cases that will be heard by a municipal court can change based on on the municipality, but typically include traffic violations, low level criminal charges and code violations.

You will not see a set definition for what makes a misdemeanor crime versus a felony case, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanor charges and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

What’s the process for cases in the municipal court in Austin?

Municipal courts are the first tier of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic matters, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are popularly known city courts or town courts. Matters are managed by a magistrate who is usually a lawyer, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council members to serve for a specific time period.

Judges administer hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for arrest
  • Set bail amounts and conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against suspects by police officers
  • Distribute search warrants to law enforcement officers in order to seize evidence from crime scenes
  • start preliminary inquiries to learn if there is enough evidence to issue a charge

The Process of a Municipal Court Case

The common path of a municipal court case can be tricky. The following is an overview of the common items involved in a typical municipal court matter.

Step One: Issuance of Summons

A summons from the court is sent when an individual has been charged with violating a town ordinance or state law. The individual who has received the summons from the court will need to appear at their assigned time and courthouse, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they don’t appear, they may be found guilty anyways and could be fined up to $1k or sentenced to jail time if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Show Up before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to show up after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the person. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Austin, TX

Penalties change often, which is why it’s best to speak with licensed lawyer. The material below represents common penalties, but may not be accurate for the Austin Municipal Court. 

A violation is a crime that carries a penalty of $500 or less, while a misdemeanor can carry penalties up to $1k or one year in local jail. A person’s driving privileges may be suspended for six months if they receive three speeding tickets within 12 months.

The penalties for different offenses in municipal courts vary depending on the severity of an crimes. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a prescription for it then you will be fined up to $2k or spend up to six months in jail.

Austin Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal government could be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one location or system. The records that a person might need to depend on the type of case they have in front of the court, what stage it is at in the process, and what type of information is required by law to be available.

Questions ABOUT the Austin Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Austin, Texas?

In Texas, the municipal court is a lower level with civil and criminal jurisdiction within a town or municipality. Municipal courts will have a small jurisdiction and have limited authority as well, dealing only with petty offenses and misdemeanor charges.

What does the municipal court handle in Austin, Texas?

Depending on the scope of the municipality, a municipal court can handle a civil division (cases with less than  $15,000 at issue), a traffic/criminal division, or a housing and environmental division. More serious cases/crimes are handled by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Austin Municipal Court have?

The number of judges depends on the municipality’s size.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Texas?

A municipal courthouse judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set duration or until they retire. Judges are commonly chosen by precincts with each precinct’s results weighted according to the number of people. Municipal judges are often not attorneys but have some legal training and must finish multiple hours of continuing education every period to maintain their credentials.