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The Structure of Texas Criminal Courts


If you are charged with a crime, your case will follow the structure of the Texas criminal court system. Read on to learn about how your case might progress through the legal system.


Local Trial Courts

Most cases will start with the local courts. If you're charged with a minor misdemeanor, you may start in either the municipal or justice court system. Only minor misdemeanors that can be punished with fines begin in these courts. Municipal courts also have original jurisdiction over municipal ordinance criminal cases.

Each county has between one and sixteen justice courts, which have original jurisdiction in class C misdemeanor criminal cases and can issue arrest warrants.


County Courts

Each county has its own county court, overseen by a county judge called the constitutional county courts. They have jurisdiction over class A and class B misdemeanors, probate matters, and appeals de novo from municipal courts.

These larger county courts are supported by smaller ones known as statutory county courts at law in rural areas and statutory probate courts in heavily populated areas. They have jurisdiction over civil, criminal, original and appellate actions, and probate matters, respectively.


State Trial Courts of General and Special Jurisdiction

If your felony case makes it to trial, it will begin in the district court that has original jurisdiction in felony criminal matters. State trial courts of general jurisdiction are district courts.


State Appellate Courts

The judicial system in Texas is organized with the Court of Criminal Appeals as the top criminal court and some intermediate appellate courts below it.

If you lose your initial defense trial, you may appeal, and the Court of Appeals will reexamine both the case and the trial to determine if an appeal is warranted.


The state’s highest appellate court involving criminal cases is the Court of Criminal Appeals and has final appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases.


Free and Confidential Consultation with an Austin Criminal Defense Attorney

If you need help defending yourself against a criminal charge with the Texas criminal court system, call a criminal defense lawyer from Tillman Braniff, PLLC at 512-236-0505 or reach us via our website.

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