Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19) – Houston, TX

by | Oct 28, 2021

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

Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19) INformation

Court: Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19)
Address: “3203 S Dairy Ashford St, Houston, TX 77082”
Phone: 281-584-4889

City: Houston
County: Harris
State: Texas

What is the purpose of the Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19)?

Municipal Courts are commonly called “courts of limited jurisdiction.” Which means that they deal with minor criminal charges, civil matters, and traffic violations. Courts like Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19) are the first level of court for this group of matters.

On the other hand, the purpose of a county court is to deal with a large number of civil disputes within the respective region. Most cases involve family matters, personal injury cases, more serious criminal infractions, or contract disputes.

County courts 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 felonies and more expansive civil cases.

TYPES OF Matters HEARD IN A MUNICIPAL COURT in Houston, Texas

Municipal courts are the bottom rung 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 service their population or to save money on administrative costs. The matters that may be heard by a municipal court vary depending on the municipality, but typically include traffic tickets, low level criminal charges and code infractions.

There is no set definition for what establishes a misdemeanor charge versus a felony, 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 Houston?

Municipal courts are the entry level of the court system in the United States. They have jurisdiction over minor crimes, traffic matters, and other civil matters. Municipal courts are often known as city courts or town courts. Cases are handled by a magistrate who is usually a lawyer, judge, or retired judge. Magistrates may be appointed by the mayor or city council board to serve for a specific time period.

Magistrates manage hearings to determine:

  • Probable cause for arrest
  • Set bail amounts and the 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 protect evidence from crime scenes
  • start preliminary inquiries to understand if there is enough evidence to charge

The usual process of a Municipal Court matter

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

First Step: Issuance of Summons

A summons is sent when an individual has been charged with violating a city rule or state law. The person who has received the summons will need to appear at their assigned time and place, which is usually the municipal courtroom, to answer for the charge(s) against them. If they don’t show up, they may be found guilty in absentia and could be fined up to $1,000.00 or given a jail term if it’s a serious enough offense.

Step Two: Appearance before Judge or Magistrate

If someone fails to respond after being summoned by the judge, there may be a warrant issued for the individual. 

Municipal Court Penalties in Houston, TX

Penalties change often, which is why it’s best to speak with licensed attorney. The information below represents common penalties, but may not be 100% accurate for the Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19). 

A violation is an offense that carries a penalty of $500 or less, while a misdemeanor can have penalties up to $1k or one year in 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 courthouses vary depending on the severity of an offenses. 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.

Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19) Records

Municipal Court records from a municipal court may 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 needed by law to be present.

Common Questions ABOUT the Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19)

What is municipal court in Houston, Texas?

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

What does the municipal court handle in Houston, 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. Serious cases/crimes are deal with by higher authorities.

How many judges does the Houston Municipal Court – Westside (Courts 18 & 19) have?

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

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 they retire. Judges are commonly chosen by the people with each precinct’s results judged based on the number of people. Municipal judges are generally not lawyers but have some legal education and must complete multiple hours of ongoing courses every year to maintain their licenses.