Under Texas law, you can be brought to trial only after a formal complaint is filed. The complaint is the document that alleges what you are alleged to have done, and the fact that such action is unlawful. You can be tried only for what is alleged in the complaint. Trials are conducted under the Code of Criminal Procedure as adopted by the Texas Legislature. These laws may be found in Chapter 45 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
- You have the right to inspect the complaint before trial and have it read to you at the trial itself.
- You are entitled to hear all testimony introduced against you.
- You have a right to cross-examine any witness who testifies against you.
Testify On Your Own Behalf
You have the right to testify in your own behalf. You also have the right not to testify. If you choose not to testify, your refusal cannot be considered in determining your innocence or guilt of the charge.
You may call witnesses to testify in your own behalf at the trial, and have the right to have the Court issue subpoenas to these witnesses to ensure their appearance at the trial. The State also has the right to cross-examine all witnesses called by you. If you testify in your own behalf, the State may cross-examine.
Presenting the Case
As in all criminal trials, the State will present its case first by calling witnesses to testify against you. You will have the right to cross-examine each prosecution witness. In other words, you can ask the witness questions about their testimony. However, you cannot argue with the witness. Your cross-examination of the witness must be in the form of questions only. Do not attempt to tell your version of the incident at this time - you will have an opportunity to do so later if you testify.
After the State has presented its case, you may present your case. You have the right to call any witness who knows anything about the incident, but the witnesses can testify only about matters of which they have personal knowledge.
After testimony is concluded by both sides, you can make a closing argument by telling the Court why you feel that you are not guilty of the offense charged. But such a statement can only be based on the testimony heard during the trial. Additional testimony is not admissible in the closing argument.
The verdict will be based on the testimony and the facts presented during the trial. In making the determination, the judge or jury can only consider the testimony of the witnesses who testify under oath. If found not guilty, you will be acquitted of the charges. If you are found guilty, the judge will announce the penalty at that time.