Municipal Court

Can driving safety courses be used to dismiss one or more moving traffic offense?

  • Driving Safety Course may be used to dismiss one moving traffic offense.
  • You must provide written notice to the Court within 10 calendar days of the date of the citation.
  • It must be made in person, by counsel, or by certified mail. (If you are under age 17, you must appear in open court with a parent or guardian to make the request.) If you were operating a motorcycle, you must take a motorcycle operator’s training course. If you are charged with allowing a child to ride unsecured in a seat belt or a child passenger safety seat system, you must take a special driving safety course that has four hours training on child passenger safety seat systems.

At the time of defensive driving request, you must do the following:

  • Plead guilty or no contest;
  • Pay court costs; $97.10;
  • Pay a $10 administrative fee, if required;
  • Present proof of financial responsibility (insurance); and
  • Present a Texas driver’s license or permit, or present proof of being a member of the United States Military forces serving on active duty;

To be eligible for defensive driving you:

  • Cannot have taken a driving safety course or motorcycle operator course for a traffic offense within the last 12 months from the date of the current offense;
  • Cannot be currently taking the course for another traffic violation;
  • Cannot be the holder of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or held a CDL at the time of the offense;
  • Have not committed one of the following offenses:
    • Failure to Give Information at Accident Scene;
    • Leaving Scene of Accident;
    • Passing a School Bus;
    • A serious traffic violation, which applies to commercial motor vehicle operators;
    • An offense in a construction maintenance work zone when workers are present; or
    • Speeding 25 mph or more over limit and not more than 94 MPH.

The case will be deferred for 90 days. During that time you must:

  • Complete a driving safety course approved by the Texas Education Agency or a motorcycle operator’s course approved by the Department of Public Safety and present the completion certificate to the court.
  • Present a certified 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 the current offense; and
  • Swear to an affidavit that you were not taking a driving safety course at the time of the request for the current offense and that you have not taken one that is not shown on your driving record.

If you do not present the required documents in time, the court will notify you to return to court and explain why you failed. The judge may, but is not required to, allow you to file the proper papers at that time. Your failure to be present at that hearing will result in a conviction, a fine being assessed, and a warrant for your arrest being issued.

How do I pay for my ticket?

You can make your payment in the form of exact cash (we do not make change), a personal check, cashier’s check or money order payable to City of Pecan Hill. You may make the payment in person or mail to City Hall.

What are my options on entering a plea?

A plea must be made in person or by mail with a copy of your driver’s license or 2 forms of ID or by an Attorney.

  • GUILTY – By a plea of “guilty”, you admit that the act is prohibited by law, that you committed the act charged and that you have no defense or excuse for your act.
  • NOLO CONTENDRE – A plea of “nolo contendere” (or “no contest”) means that you do not contest the State’s charge against you. While it is not an admission by you that you are guilty, you will almost certainly be found guilty. A plea of guilty or no contest, and a finding of guilt, will result in a conviction on your record. However, a plea of “no contest” cannot be used against you in a subsequent civil suit for damages.
  • NOT GUILTY – A plea of “not guilty” means that you are informing the Court that you deny guilt or that you have a good defense, and that the State must prove what is charged against you.

What are my rights?

Under our American system of justice, all persons are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The State must prove you guilty of the offense with which you are charged “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Every criminal defendant has the right to remain silent and refuse to testify (without consequences). You have the right to retain an attorney and have them try your case or answer your questions. Since offenses in this court are punishable only by fine and not by incarceration, you do not have the right to appointed counsel.

You have the right to a jury trial. You may also waive a jury trial and have a trial before the judge, commonly called a bench trial. At trial you have many rights including:

  • The right to have notice of the complaint not later than the day before any proceedings;
  • The right to inspect the complaint before trial, and have it read to you at the trial;
  • The right to hear all testimony introduced against you;
  • The right to cross-examine witnesses who testify against you;
  • The right to testify in your own behalf;
  • The right not to testify. Your refusal to do so may not be held against you in determining your innocence or guilt; and
  • 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.

In addition to your rights, you also have some legal responsibilities. The law requires you to make an appearance on your case. Your appearance date is noted on your citation, bond, summons or release papers. 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 have a separate set of rules for their appearance).

Your first appearance is to determine your plea. If you waive a jury trial and plead guilty or no contest you may present extenuating circumstances for the judge to consider when setting your fine. If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule a jury trial. You may waive a jury trial and be set for trial before the court. When you make your appearance by mail, the court must receive your plea before your scheduled appearance date. If you plead not guilty, the court will notify you of the date of your trial.

If you plead guilty or no contest, you waive your right to a jury trial. You may request the amount of fine and appeal bond in writing and mail or deliver it to the court before your appearance date.

What happens at trial?

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. You are also permitted to strike three members of the jury panel for any reason you choose, (except a strike based solely upon race or gender). As in all criminal trials, the State will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you.

You then have the right to cross-examine. You may not, however, argue with the witness. Cross-examination must be in the form of questions.
After the prosecution, 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 jury or court why you are not guilty of the offense. The State has the right to present the first and last arguments.

In determining the defendant’s guilt or innocence, the judge or jury may consider only the testimony of witnesses and any evidence admitted during the trial.

You may elect the jury to assess the fine if you are convicted. If you do not file an election the judge will assess the fine. You should be prepared to pay the fine or post an appeal bond if you are convicted.

What if I am a juvenile?

Juveniles must appear in person before the Judge, accompanied by a parent or guardian. Juveniles do not have to take action on a citation within ten days. Notice of their court date and time will be mailed by the clerk to the address shown on the citation. If the mailing address on the citation is incorrect it is your responsibility to contact the court. If the Juvenile fails to appear their driver’s license may be denied or suspended until they do appear in court with a parent or guardian.

What if I cannot make it to my Court date or if I need to reschedule it?

If you need a continuance, you must put the request with your reason in writing and submit it to the court prior to trial. The judge decides whether or not to grant the continuances. Failure to submit the request in writing may cause your request not to be considered and failure to appear may be filed as well as a warrant for your arrest may be issued.

What if I need to make payment arrangements?

You can contact the Court to make arrangements.

What if I want to talk to the Judge about my ticket?

You may set your citation for a trial before the judge or jury. You will be set for a Pre-Trial hearing. The Judge cannot discuss the merits of a pending judicial proceeding prior to actual trial (Canon 6 (c), Code of Judicial Conduct). This means that the Judge is forbidden from discussing your ticket with you before trial, except, as to procedural matters. If you choose to plead guilty and have extenuating circumstances, then the Judge may discuss them with you.

What if I want to appeal my case?

If you are found guilty, and are not satisfied with the judgment of the court, you have the right to appeal your case. To appeal you must file an appeal bond with the municipal court within 10 days of the judgment. The court must set the appeal bond amount at least twice the amount of the fine and costs.


Do I need a permit for a Garage Sale?

No, but there are rules in place for holding them. Garage sales are limited to 10 sales during any 12 month period and not more than five (5) consecutive days and two (2) consecutive weekends. Signs must be removed no later than the day after the sale.

Do I need a permit for a Security System?

The City of Pecan Hill does not require a permit for alarms. Ellis County Sheriff’s office also provides law enforcement. Please check with them on any requirements.

Do I need a permit to replace my water heater?

Yes. The Texas State Plumbing License Law requires that a plumbing permit be obtained and the work inspected by a State licensed plumbing inspector authorized by the City of Pecan Hill. A licensed master plumber must register with the City and pull the required permit.

What are the submittal requirements for building a new house?

Please contact City Hall for this information.

What building codes does the City of Pecan Hill use?

The 2006 International Building Codes series.

Do I need a permit for anything I build on my property?

Yes. Any kind of structure, anything with a roof, any type fence will require a permit. There are some exceptions but you must contact City Hall to see if you qualify.

Do I need a permit From Ellis County Department of Development?

Yes. Any structure, fence, or flat work will require Ellis County Department of Development to approve the work prior to being issued a permit from the City of Pecan Hill. This approval is strictly for the septic system and does not constitute a permit from the City of Pecan Hill.

What are the penalties for not getting a permit?

The property owner will be ordered to “STOP WORK” and can have any permit fees doubled. Further measures may be taken if the property owner does not bring the situation into compliance.