At the lowest level of the Texas Judicial System are the Justice of the Peace and Municipal Courts. More citizens come in contact with the Municipal Court than all other Texas courts combined. The Municipal Court has criminal jurisdiction over Class C Misdemeanors and some other fine-only State Law violations. Municipal Courts do not have jurisdiction for small claims, drivers license suspension hearings, hearings under the Safety Responsibility Act and medical revocation hearings. Those types of matters are handled in the Justice of the Peace courts. The Municipal Courts have authority to enforce municipal ordinances and the Municipal Courts enforcement powers generally stop at the city limits.
The existence of Municipal Courts provides cities with enforcement of certain misdemeanor criminal laws and ordinances within their boundaries. Although the Municipal Court is created by State statute, it is also a part of the City Government.
As a result, it must operate within the overall governmental context yet maintain its independence from the other governmental branches and agencies of the City.
The laws that govern Municipal Court authority and jurisdiction are spread through many different statutes and codes including: