FAQs

 

Wise County Texas
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1
Honorable Judge Jan Morrow

 

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Constable Dennis Hudson

Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Part V. Rules of Practice In Justice Courts
(Effective September 1, 2013; Amended September 1, 2016)

Texas Rules of Evidence

Chapter 15, Subchapter E of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code
 

State Law Library Self-Help

 

FAQ's

What are the Fees Charged by the Justice Court?

Download the Fee Schedule here.

Can the Justice Court Help???

The Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a Judge or court staff from “practicing law” (giving legal advice). The Code further prohibits the Justice of the Peace from engaging in communications concerning the merits of a pending judicial proceeding, or the merits of an impending claim or dispute.  The following information is intended to be basic, procedural and informational, and is not offered as legal advice.  The information is not exhaustive.  There may be other remedies and procedures not listed below.  You should seek professional, licensed, legal counsel for advice.

The Court and its staff are strictly prohibited from giving legal advice and can only assist on  procedural questions.

What kind of civil cases can I file?

(a) Small Claims Case. A small claims case is a lawsuit brought for the recovery of money damages, civil penalties, personal property, or other relief allowed by law. The claim can be for no more than $10,000, excluding statutory interest and court costs but including attorney fees, if any. Small claims cases are governed by Rules 500-507 of Part V of the Rules of Civil Procedure.

(b) Debt Claim Case. A debt claim case is a lawsuit brought to recover a debt by an assignee of a claim, a debt collector or collection agency, a financial institution, or a person or entity primarily engaged in the business of lending money at interest. The claim can be for no more than $10,000, excluding statutory interest and court costs but including attorney fees, if any. Debt claim cases injustice court are governed by Rules 500-507 and 508 of Part V of the Rules of Civil Procedure. To the extent of any conflict between Rule 508 and the rest of Part V, Rule 508 applies.

(c) Repair and Remedy Case. A repair and remedy case is a lawsuit filed by a residential tenant under Chapter 92, Subchapter B of the Texas Property Code to enforce the landlord's duty to repair or remedy a condition materially affecting the physical health or safety of an ordinary tenant. The relief sought can be for no more than $10,000, excluding statutory interest and court costs but including attorney fees, if any. Repair and remedy cases are governed by Rules 500-507 and 509 of Part V of the Rules of Civil Procedure. To the extent of any conflict between Rule 509 and the rest of Part V, Rule 509 applies.

(d) Eviction Case. An eviction case is a lawsuit brought to recover possession of real property under Chapter 24 of the Texas Property Code, often by a landlord against a tenant. A claim for rent may be joined with an eviction case if the amount of rent due and unpaid is not more than $10,000, excluding statutory interest and court costs but including attorney fees, if any. Eviction cases are governed by Rules 500-507 and 510 of Part V of the Rules of Civil Procedure. To the extent of any conflict between Rule 510 and the rest of Part V, Rule 510 applies.

Do I need a lawyer?

In most circumstances legal representation is not required to appear in Justice or Small Claims Court.  In many cases legal representation is desirable to safeguard your rights and interests.  In certain, more complex issues, legal representation is advisable.

What about criminal cases?

Justice Courts have jurisdiction of:

  • Traffic offenses
  • Class C misdemeanors (punishable by fines only up to $500)
  • Criminal cases punishable by fine only, or a fine and a sanction not consisting of confinement or imprisonment that is rehabilitative or remedial in nature.

How are criminal cases filed?

Most frequently, cases are filed by law enforcement agencies, such as the Sheriff, the police department, the Department of Public Safety, Parks & Wildlife, and others.

Attorney representation  Again, it is not required that you be represented by legal counsel, but the State of Texas will be represented by the office of the Wise County Attorney, and you are certainly free to hire a lawyer to represent you in Court.  But if you cannot afford an attorney, no lawyer will be appointed for you, because the offenses within the Justice Court’s jurisdiction are punishable by fine only, (and not by imprisonment).

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR EXTENSIONS AND PAYMENT PLANS

 

  1. Do I have to drive to Decatur to the JP Office?  No, you may request an application from the Justice of the Peace (JP) office or you can download the application from the JP#1 web site and then mail or fax the completed application to the court.  We will verify at least 2 contact numbers.  Once a payment agreement is established you will be mailed a copy of the agreement.  The payment agreement may be signed at the JP#1 office when the payment is made OR the signed agreement may be mailed along with your first payment to the Court.  Failure to pay your fines and court costs will result in a warrant for your immediate arrest and/or a hold being placed on your driver’s license.

 

  1. Do I need to make a payment today?  How much?  In most cases, you will have 10 days from the date of sentencing to pay your fine in full or request a payment plan.  If you request a payment plan, a significant payment will be required the day of sentencing or within 72 hours.  A $25 “time payment fee” is assessed per case for any payment plan.

 

  1. What happens if I do not contact the Court and execute my Court ordered payment plan?  A warrant will be issued for your immediate arrest and/or there will be a hold placed on your driver’s license through the OMNI Datasystem.  It is the defendant’s responsibility to complete their financial responsibility and to advise the Court of any address changes.

 

  1. What happens if I do not fill out my application in full?  You will be asked to complete the application and failure to do so will delay the process.  If you do not know the answer to the question write “I do not know” or place a question mark where your answer should be.  If a question does not apply to your circumstances write N/A (non-applicable).  All the spaces must be filled in for the application to be complete.

 

  1. Will the information I give on the application be verified and checked?  Yes, some of the information will be verified before you leave.  Other items will be checked after your payment plan is signed and executed.

 

  1. What happens if I do not tell the truth on the application?  Giving wrongful or false information on your application may result in your prosecution for the offense of aggravated perjury, a felony punishable by imprisonment no to exceed ten (10) years and a fine not to exceed ten thousand ($10,000) or both fine and imprisonment.

 

  1. During the 10 days after sentencing and before I must enter a payment plan, can I pay it off in full early?  How?  Yes, you may go to the JP#1 office and pay with cash, money order, or cashier’s check in person or you may pay by mail.  You may also pay on-line with a credit or debit card, however; you must contact the Court for information on your case before doing this, and there is a convenience fee added.  No personal checks accepted.

 

  1. What happens if I make a payment and forget to make the rest?  You will be notified by phone and given written notice when you become delinquent on your payments.  If you do not comply with all the provisions of your Court ordered payment plan, at some point your case will be remanded to the OMNI Datasystem to place a hold on your driver’s license and/or a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

 

  1. How long do I have to pay out my fines, court costs and fees?  The majority of the payment plans are structured where 100% of your fines, court costs and fees will be paid within thirty days of your court sentence.