I've always wondered aside from a "hearing" to contest a citation, as described here is there any way to get an actual Jury Trial for a parking citation?

There is a mention of an appeal if you're "dissatisfied with the hearing officer's decision". This appeal is done at the Municipal Court, but it doesn't say whether or not this appeal means your entitled to a jury trial.

If I really want a jury trial on a parking ticket, can I get one in Houston? If so, how?

1 Answer 1


Traffic offenses, which are generally class C misdemeanors in Texas, and more generally, pretty much any offense for which you are required to appear in person at the court in Texas (which can result in issuance of a warrant for your arrest if you fail to appear) will generally be subject to the right to trial by jury in Texas.

Note that this is not a U.S. constitutional requirement unless one can be incarcerated for six months or more for the offense, so, in all other cases, the right to a jury trial in traffic cases is a right that arises solely under the State of Texas Constitution and by state statute and state court rules.

But, generally speaking, a parking violation in Texas in punishable with an administrative citation for which only a small fine is authorized, in which there is no right to a jury trial. See, e.g., this regulation governing parking violations on the property of the state capitol in Austin. More pertinent to the question, in particular, this also appears to be the case in the City of Houston (see also here).

This process is governed by Texas Transportation Code §§ 682.001 to 682.011. This makes parking violations under municipal ordinances civil offenses punishable by civil fines imposed in administrative hearings before a "hearing officer" (i.e. a parking court judge). Failure to attend the hearing confesses liability but is not otherwise wrongful. An unpaid fine is enforced by a lawsuit rather than a criminal charge.

The U.S. Constitution's 7th Amendment does not confer a right to a trial by jury in civil matters which is strictly a function of state law. And, while the Texas Right to a Jury Trial under Article 1, Section 15 of the Texas Constitution is very broad, it does not include reviews of administrative decisions, which are what parking hearings and appeals of them to a municipal court are classified as being.

  • 1
    Great answer a quick follow up law.stackexchange.com/q/76921/218 Jan 11, 2022 at 17:17
  • Also could you explain in this answer what happens if I go to the hearing but I refuse to accept liability? Presumably they find me guilty? I can then appeal it. If I again refuse to accept liability and they find me guilty, then that's it. I am required to pay it and while they can sue me to collect, the actual facts and law behind the original citation won't be allowed at trial? Jan 11, 2022 at 17:23
  • You have to prove that you don't have liability in a way that ether convinces the hearing officer, or convinces a municipal court judge reviewing the hearing officer decision on appeal that the hearing officer abused his or her discretion in holding your liable. The link you made discusses the next steps in more detail that were beyond the scope of this question.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 11, 2022 at 20:19

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