Frequently Asked Questions
Can I fight my charges on my own?
While you are able to represent yourself in a case, it is highly recommended that you turn this task over to a skilled attorney. Many people represent themselves looking to cut costs or believing that they will be able to accurately convey to the court their innocence. Instead, they are often left dealing with higher penalties than what they would have faced if an attorney had been representing them. It is best that you gain the defense of a qualified lawyer that can investigate the charges against you and start fighting to protect you against a guilty conviction.
At what point should I contact an attorney?
You really should turn to an attorney immediately after you or arrested or even become a suspect in a crime. When you are arrested and officers begin questioning you in regards to the allegations, they are able to bend the truth and try to push you into saying something that can be used against you. Having an attorney will mean that your rights are being protected by a professional with immense experience in this area of the law.
Your attorney can be there during the arraignment to determine how you will plead. They can start investigating the charges against you and find any areas that can work to you benefit, such as evidence that was wrongfully obtained or a lack of evidence. An attorney will be able to handle all aspects of a case, from negotiating with the prosecution, to arguing the case in court if it is the way that will get you the best results. Contact the firm for a free evaluation of your case.
What happens after I am arrested?
Once you are taken into custody by officers you will be booked, taking any personal belongings that you have, taking your picture and documenting your personal information. The arraignment will come next and during this time you will be read the official charges against you and asked how you plead. The direction of the case will be dependent on how you plead.
Once I am taken into custody, should I speak with the police?
When you are arrested, the officer will be required to read your rights to you. This includes your right to remain silent. While officers are likely going to try to get you to say something that may later be used against you, it is often a good rule to wait to speak to them until you have legal representation present that is there to protect you. Officers will often try to get to you before your attorney is with you and they may pressure you in a number of ways. Don't play into this and wait until your attorney tells you to speak with them.
What is the difference between a misdemeanor and felony charge?
Both of these charges are serious and should be dealt with serious consideration. Either of them can come with influencing effects that can greatly change your life. A felony is typically the more serious charge that can carry greater penalties, but a misdemeanor should not be overlooked by any means.
Both a misdemeanor or a felony can results in thousands of dollars in fines and jail time. Felonies can allow for longer sentences and even larger fines. There are three types of misdemeanor charges: Class A, Class B and Class C. Felonies can include State Jail, Third Degree, Second Degree, First Degree and Capital. In either case, it is best to fight the charges and avoid the penalties altogether.
What is deferred adjudication?
Deferred adjudication is essentially a type of probation through which a person admits guilty or a no contest plea and the finding of guilty is deferred. After they finish the period of probate, the case will be dismissed but the dismissal can still be evident on their criminal record. There are pros and cons to this option, such as the tradeoff of having the case dismissed but having to admit guilty. Not everyone will have the option of qualifying and it is reserved for those without a DWI charge, with no prior felony convictions and not facing sexual assault charges.
In what ways can a case be resolved?
One way is through a plea bargain. This is an agreement on the punishment that will be issued if the defendant pleads guilty or no contest. In exchange for being able to resolve the issue, the defendant may receive a reduced penalty. Another option is through an open plea, also referred to as a nonnegotiated guilty plea. Through this, the defendant may plead no contest or guilty without having any type of agreement with the prosecution in regards to the penalties that they will face. It will be up to the judge to assess the case and determine what punishment seems fitting.
The case may go to trial and this can be before a jury. The defendant may have the option of waiving the trial by jury and instead having the trial go to the court. Another way that they case may be resolved is through dismissal of the case. This may take place when the victim requests it, there are no witnesses or there is little to no evidence, along with other reasons. In some cases a plea bargain is the best option, but the main objective is always to fight the charges all together and avoid any penalties from being sustained.
Do I have to let the police search my car or house?
The police only have the ability to search your car or house if you give them permission to do so or they have a warrant that gives you this authority. Without this, they are in violation and this is sometimes reason enough for any evidence they find to be excluded from the case. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure - Chapter 18 covers the topic of search warrants and the grounds for them being issued.
If I have more than one DWI, will my penalties be the same as the first one?
Penalties for DWI charges work on an escalating basis. The more that you sustain, the higher the penalties will climb. A first offense will come with a maximum of $2,000 in fines, a suspension of your driver's license for a year and six months in jail. A second offense will carry a maximum sentence of a year in jail, a suspension of your driver's license for two years and $4,000 in fines. A third offense can result in ten years in jail, $10,000 in fines and a driver's license suspension of two years. These are serious punishments that should be diligently fought.
What is bail?
Once you are arrested you may be released through paying the bail amount. This is set by the court and it is an amount that must be met in order for you to be released from jail. It is an agreement between you and the court that if they release you, you will return to the court for your scheduled date. If you fail to show up, the bail amount will not be returned to you. Many people are unable to come up with the bail amount at such short notice and this is where a bond can be used. Read more on the site