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Can the Public Attend Texas Court Proceedings?

Are you a crime victim who is interested in attending a court proceeding? Or, are you a family member of a crime victim, or even the accused who has a court date coming up?

If you are any of these individuals, or if you’re simply interested in attending a court hearing you may be curious to know, “Can the public attend court hearings?”

In Texas, the grand jury proceedings are not only “secret” in nature, but they are not open to the public. However, the trials themselves in all Texas courts are open to the public, with the exception of some juvenile proceedings.

When it comes to certain juvenile court hearings, it’s at the discretion of judges to decide whether they will be open to the public or not. Sometimes, a judge will prohibit the public from attending a juvenile hearing, specifically when the child is under the age of 14 and the judge feels it's in the child’s best interests to prohibit the public from attending.

The ‘Rule’ About Witnesses

Sometimes, witnesses are not allowed to hear the testimony of other witnesses. Under “the rule,” the court may elect to bar a witness from hearing another witness’ testimony. The rule can apply to any witness in a criminal hearing, with the exception of the criminal defendant.

Under “the rule,” the court may prohibit witnesses from talking to each other about a case, but they can speak to the attorneys involved in the case. Going further, witnesses can be prohibited from reading, watching, listening to, or commenting on anything about the case while the trial is pending in the courts.

Usually, the rule does not apply to the victims in a case, unless the court feels the victim’s testimony could be materially affected by him or her hearing others’ testimony during the trial.

Are you facing criminal charges and a possible public trial? Contact our firm to meet with a Plano criminal defense lawyer who’s on your side!