The municipal court has jurisdiction over juveniles (under age 17) charged with most Class C misdemeanor offenses except Sec. 49.02, Penal Code, public intoxication, and the following traffic offenses: Sec. 502.282, Transportation Code, registration with amateur radio plates; Sec. 502.412, Transportation Code, operating a vehicle at a weight greater than the registration application; Sec. 550.021, Transportation Code, accident involving personal injury or death; Sec. 550.022, Transportation Code, accident involving damage to vehicle; and Sec. 550.024, Transportation Code, duty on striking unattended vehicle. All juveniles are required to appear in open court for all proceedings in their cases. The parent of a juvenile charged in municipal court must be present in court with their child. Juveniles who fail to appear in court may have an additional charge of failure to appear filed against them. Juveniles who fail to appear or who fail to pay their fine will be reported to the Department of Public Safety who will suspend or deny issuance of a driver's license. If a juvenile disobeys a court order, the court may order DPS to suspend or deny issuance of a driver's license or find the child in contempt of court and asses a fine not to exceed $500.00, or refer the child to juvenile court for contempt.
Notice to Children and Parents
Article 45.057(j), Code of Criminal Procedure, provides:
- A child and parent required to appear before the Court have an obligation to provide the Court in writing with the current address and residence of the child.
- The obligation does not end when the child reaches age 17.
- On or before the seventh day after the date the child or parent changes residence (any place where the child lives or resides for a period of at least 30 days), the child or parent shall notify the Court of the current address in writing at: 305 Miller's Crossing, Harker Heights, Texas 76548.
- Failure to provide notice is a Class C misdemeanor and may result in arrest.
- The obligation to provide notice terminates on discharge and satisfaction of the judgment of final disposition not requiring a finding of guilt.
- If an appellate Court accepts an appeal for a trial de novo, the child and parent shall provide the notice to the appellate Court.
The Harker Heights Municipal Court has conducted a Teen Court program since before 1979. In 1989, the Texas Legislature passed the first enabling legislation. The current statutory provisions for the teen court program can be found in Article 45.052, Code of Criminal Procedures.
Teen court is a form of deferred disposition and is intended to offer juvenile offenders the opportunity to dispose of their cases without having a conviction on their records.
To qualify for the teen court program, a juvenile offender must first appear with a parent in open court; enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere; and request teen court. The teen may then be referred to Teen Court. A teen jury, composed of the defendant's peers, hears the case and sets punishment according to a schedule approved by the Harker Heights Municipal Court. Punishment consist of performing community service and serving as a teen juror.
Upon successful completion of the program, the charge(s) filed against the defendant will be dismissed. If the defendant fails to complete the requirements of the teen court or fails to meet the standards of the teen court, the defendant will be returned to municipal court; removed from the program; a guilty finding will be entered; and the fine will become due.
A teen defendant may only attend teen court once every two years. Teen court is a privilege, not a right, and is not offered for all offenses.Harker Heights Teen Court
Rules of Court Decorum
I. COURTS WHERE APPLICABLE. Under the inherent power and duty of all Texas courts as codified in Section 21.002, Government Code and/or Article 45.050, Code of Criminal Procedure, the following rules of decorum shall apply and govern all proceedings before the Teen Court of the City of Harker Heights in the County of Bell, Texas.
II. FORMAL OPENING. Each daily session of the Court shall be brought by announcement of the Bailiff, Clerk or other officer of the court requiring all to rise as the Judge takes the bench.
III. CONDUCT REQUIRED OF ALL PERSONS WHILE ATTENDING COURT. While the Court is in session there shall be:
A. No smoking or use of tobacco products.
B. No reading of newspapers or magazines.
C. No propping of feet on tables, chairs, benches, or railings.
D. No sitting on tables or railings.
E. No loud noises or talking.
F. No pagers or cellular telephones.
G. No gum chewing.
H. No food or beverages.
I. No gestures, facial expressions, or sounds indicating approval or disapproval of any testimony or any statement or transaction.
IV. DRESS CODE
a. Gentlemen must wear slacks, a dress shirt/shirt with a collar, and a tie. Shirts must be tucked in. Jeans, shorts, torn frayed or baggy clothing, T-shirts, tanks tops, athletic clothing, caps or head gear, and shower shoes or flip flops are inappropriate and are not allowed. No visible body piercing is allowed except for earrings.
b. Ladies must wear dresses, skirts (no be shorter than four (4) inches above the knee), or full length dress slacks, and blouses (blouses must have sleeves and must cover the stomach). Jeans, capris, shorts, short dresses or skirts, sun dresses, athletic clothing, tank/halter tops, cropped tops, T-shirts, torn frayed or baggy clothing, caps or head gear, and shower shoes or flip flops are not allowed. No visible body piercing is allowed except for earrings.
INAPPROPRIATELY ADDRESSED TEENS/DEFENDANTS WILL BE REFUSED ENTRY TO TEEN COURT.
V. CONDUCT REQUIRED OF COUNSEL AND TEEN DEFENDANTS
A. Attorneys shall observe the letter and spirit of all canons of ethics, including those concerning improper ex parte communications with the Judge and with those dealing with discussion of cases with representatives of the media.
B. Attorneys shall advise their clients and witnesses of Rules of Decorum that may be applicable.
C. Teen defendants shall conform their behavior to all provisions applicable to Counsel.
D. Counsel shall be dressed appropriately while in attendance of the court, unless otherwise permitted by the Court.
E. All parties shall be prompt in arriving for Court and in attending to Court business.
F. Once a party has entered the courtroom and appeared before the Court, he/she shall not leave without obtaining permission from the Court.
G. All remarks of counsel to the Court shall be addressed to the Court formally.
H. The Court and opposing parties shall address each other and members of the Jury without familiarity. The use of first names shall be avoided.
I. All objections, arguments, and other comments shall be directed to the Judge or Jury and not to opposing counsel.
J. Objection shall be in proper legal form. Argument will not be entertained upon an objection except with the Court's permission.
K. In addressing the Court, counsel shall rise and remain standing at their positions at counsel table.
L. Counsel shall remain seated at the counsel tables at all times except:
1. when the Judge enters and leaves;
2. when addressing the Judge or jury;
3. whenever it may be proper to handle documents, exhibits, or other evidence; and
4. when objecting to opposing counsel.
M. Counsel shall not approach the bench except with permission or on request of the Court.
N. Counsel shall not lean on the bench, sit on rails or tables, or appear to engage the Court in a confidential manner.
O. No attorney or party shall expect any Court attendant to request his or her presence prior to the commencement or resumption of any Court proceedings
P. The Court may enforce these rules of conduct and decorum by appropriate action or sanctions.
Q. Nothing herein shall prevent or prohibit the further adoption of additional rules of decorum.
A. The Bailiff or Bailiffs shall be present at all times when the Court is in session or in recess, unless excused by the Judge. No duty shall be assigned to the Bailiff without prior approval of the Judge.
B. The Bailiff shall see that the flag of the United States of America and the flag of the State of Texas are properly displayed and respected in the Courtroom.
C. The Bailiff shall enforce all rules of conduct and decorum and other duties assigned by the Judge.
For a list of helpful numbers and programs for parents
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