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The Right to a Language Interpreter

Asking for an Interpreter

What to do if you need an interpreter.

This article explains what a language interpreter is and when you are entitled to one.

What is a language interpreter?

A language interpreter (also known as a court interpreter or translator) is someone that a judge orders to translate what is said in a court proceeding into your language. Understanding what is spoken in your case can help you fully participate in court. 

Who is entitled to an interpreter?

Any person who does not understand or communicate in English.  

Am I still entitled to an interpreter if I speak a little English?

Yes. If English is not the language you feel most comfortable in communicating in, you are still entitled to an interpreter. 

Is a language interpreter a lawyer?

No. A language interpreter is not a lawyer and does not give legal advice. 

When am I entitled to an interpreter?

Texas Government Code, Chapter 57, states that by law, a language interpreter is required in a civil or criminal case if: 

(1) you file a motion asking for a language interpreter, and 

(2) the judge determines that you need an interpreter because you have a hearing impairment or are not able to understand or communicate in English. 

Can I get a language interpreter if I am a witness?

Yes. A witness may be appointed a language interpreter and will need to follow the same process to get one. 

Do I need to pay for a language interpreter?

No. You do not have to pay for a court appointed language interpreter, so long as you submit and qualify for a fee waiver. A party who files a statement of inability to afford payment of court costs is not required to provide an interpreter at the party's expense, unless the statement has been contested. 

See Court Fees and Fee Waivers for more information on submitting a statement of inability to afford payment of court costs.

Will I get the same language interpreter each time?

No. The court assigns language interpreters based on their availability. 

Does the court give me in an interpreter for an out-of-court proceeding? Like a deposition or mediation?

No. For out-of-court proceedings the parties are responsible for obtaining an interpreter. Usually, your lawyer or the other party’s lawyer will ask if anyone requires an interpreter and make one available for the proceedings. 

Right to American Sign Language Interpreter in Court

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