Harlingen Municipal Court – Harlingen, TX

Oct 28, 2021

A municipal court is a court with limited area of authority over criminal offenses and civil disputes inside its area. These courts can be found at the city or county level.

Harlingen Municipal Court INformation

Court: Harlingen Municipal Court
Address: “1018 Fair Park Blvd, Harlingen, TX 78550”
Phone: 956-216-5121

City: Harlingen
County: Cameron
State: Texas

What is the purpose of the Harlingen Municipal Court?

Municipal Courts are often called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” This means that they work with minor crimes, civil cases, and traffic incidents. Courts like Harlingen Municipal Court are the first level of court for these types of cases.

In other situations, the role of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family matters, injury cases, more serious criminal infractions, or lawsuits.

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

TYPES OF affairs HEARD IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Harlingen, Texas

Municipal courts are the lowest level of courthouses in the U.S.. 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 serve their people or to save money on costs. The cases that may be heard by a municipal court depend on the municipality, but typically include traffic tickets, low level crimes and code infractions.

You will not find a standard for what constitutes a misdemeanor versus a felony, but generally speaking felonies would require more time in jail than misdemeanors and fines may also be higher for felonies. Traffic violations usually result in points against your driver’s license as well

how are cases managed in the municipal court in Harlingen?

Municipal courts are the first level of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic violations, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are popularly known city courts or town courts. Cases are managed by a magistrate who is usually an attorney, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council members to help for a specific duration.

Judges manage hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for an arrest
  • Set bail amounts and the conditions of release
  • Conduct arraignment hearings when charges are filed against defendants by police officers
  • Issue search warrants to police officers in order to protect evidence from crime scenes
  • start preliminary examinations to determine if there is enough evidence to mount a charge

The Process of a Municipal Court matter

The process of a municipal court case can be difficult to navigate. The next portion is an overview of the most common steps involved in a typical municipal court case.

First Step: Issuance of Summons

A court summons is sent when an individual has been charged with violating a town rule or state law. The person who has received the summons from the court will need to show up at their assigned time and courthouse, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to respond for the charge(s) against them. If they fail to appear, they may be found guilty in absentia and could be fined up to $1000 or given a jail sentence 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 Harlingen, TX

Penalties change often, which is why it’s best to speak with licensed attorney. The material below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the Harlingen Municipal Court. 

A violation is a crime that carries a penalty of $500 or below, while a misdemeanor can possess 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 crimes in municipal courts vary depending on the severity of an charges. For example, if you are caught with marijuana without having a license for it then you could be fined up to $2,000 or spend up to six months in jail.

Harlingen Municipal Court Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal government could be difficult to find because they are not always stored in one place or system. The records that an individual might need to depend on the matter they have before the court, what stage it is at in the process, and what kind of of information is required by law to be present.

FAQs ABOUT the Harlingen Municipal Court

What is municipal court in Harlingen, Texas?

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

What does the municipal court handle in Harlingen, Texas?

Depending on the area 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 deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Harlingen Municipal Court have?

The count of judges depends on the municipality’s population.

How are cases heard in municipal courts in Texas?

A municipal court judge may be either elected or appointed to serve for a set duration or until retirement. Judges are commonly chosen by precincts with each precinct’s results weighted based on the number of people. Municipal judges are generally not attorneys but have some legal education and must complete several hours of ongoing education every period to maintain their credentials.