Zapata County Criminal Court

Zapata County Criminal Court hears all criminal cases in Zapata County. Below you will find specific information about criminal cases and how they are handled in Zapata County.

Zapata County Criminal Court hearings

Criminal hearings in Zapata County will take place at the Zapata County Criminal Courts. Please see here for a list of the Zapata County Criminal Court Locations.

Jury by Trial Right

The US Constitution (Article 3 along with the 6th Amendment) ensures an accused defendant the right to a jury trial. This applies to crimes that have a $500 fine or a potential sentence of six months in jail (aka Serious Crimes). This right to trial by jury can also be waived by a defendant.

Zapata County Criminal Court

Zapata County Criminal Court

The Right to Counsel

The Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.s. Constitution give defendants in criminal cases the right to counsel/attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed to represent you. Like other rights a defendant has, this one can be waived as well and alternatively you can choose to represent yourself.

I need help for my Zapata County criminal case

The best place to get information about your criminal case is from an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to represent you which will assist in your case. For general information about your case the Zapata County court clerk is able to provide general information about your specific case (e.g. date/time hearings, mandatory appearance, what will take place and what you will be required to do). The court clerk for Zapata County will NOT be able to provide legal advice for your case, only an attorney can provide legal advice. The court clerk can provide legal information (like the information found on this website) about your case but cannot provide advice about what you should do in your legal manner.

Appealing a Criminal Conviciton

A defendant may appeal a criminal conviction to an appellate court. In an appeal, the actual trial is not redone, but the appellate court hears arguments that the criminal case was not handled in a legal manner at the original criminal court. The appellate court can either uphold the conviction, or determine that errors were made and may request a retrial, a resentencing of the defendant or that the charges be dismissed.

Burden of Proof Requirement

In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Zapata County Prosecutor

For criminal cases in Zapata County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Zapata County. The Zapata County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.

Jury Deliberations in Zapata County

In Zapata County, jury deliberations will take place in a jury trial after the prosecution and defense have presented their cases and rested. At this point, the judge will provide a list of instructions to the jury about what they are allowed and not allowed to do and what verdict options are available for them to decide. The jury will be sent to a private room to discuss the evidence presented in the case and attempt to reach a unaminous decision. When a unaminous decision is reached, the jury will inform the judge that they have reached a verdict and will return to the courtroom for the verdict to be read allowed. In the event that the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the jury results in a deadlock and a mistrial is declared.

Zapata County Arraignments

An arraignment is a court hearing. In Zapata County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Zapata County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In Zapata County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.

Sentencing in Zapata County

In Zapata County if the defendant is found guilty (by trial or plea), the defendant will be sentenced. This sometimes occurrs immediately after being found guilty, but can also take place at a later date. In most instances, a judge will impose the sentence that is requested by the prosecution, but they also have the descretion to impose a different sentence.

Zapata County Required Court Appearances

In Zapata County, there are both required and non-required court appearances for the defendant. At a required or mandatory appearance hearing, the defendant is required to appear in person before the court. Failing to appear at your required hearing may result in a bench warrant being issued for your arrest by the judge.

Can I request a Plea Agreement?

In Zapata County you may be able to enter into a plea agreement depending upon the severity of the charges. It is also dependant upon the prosecution willing to accept a plea agreement. You can ask your attorney to attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecution to avoid having a jury trial along with the potential for a more serious sentence. Approximately 9 out of 10 criminal cases usually end in a plea agreement.

Zapata County Criminal Court Locations

  • Zapata County 49th District Court

    Address: 200 E 7th Ave, #119, PO Box 788, Zapata TX 78076
    Phone: 956-765-9930 Fax: 956-765-9931

  • Zapata County Constitutional Court

    Address: 200 E 7th Ave, #138, Zapata TX 78076
    Phone: 956-765-9915 Fax: 956-765-9933

  • Zapata County Justice of the Peace Precinct 1

    Address: Physical: 200 E 7th Ave, Zapata TX 78076
    Phone: 956-765-9165 Fax: 956-765-8622

  • Zapata County Justice of the Peace Precinct 2

    Address: PO Box 29, San Ygnacio TX 78067
    Phone: 956-765-5333 Fax: 956-765-3526

  • Zapata County Justice of the Peace Precinct 3

    Address: Physical: 200 E 7th Ave, Zapata TX 78076
    Phone: 956-765-9945 Fax: 956-765-8978

  • Zapata County Justice of the Peace Precinct 4

    Address: Physical: 200 E 7th Ave, Zapata TX 78076
    Phone: 956-765-6655 Fax: 956-765-6756

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