Fort Hood Criminal Defense Attorney
Defending Clients for Decades
In 2019, nearly 700,000 people were arrested by Texas law enforcement. If you have been arrested, you understand the fear and uncertainty of being accused of a crime. Whether it be a misdemeanor or a felony, criminal charges can have penalties that affect the accused for a long time.
That is why the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard provides quality legal counsel to those accused of criminal acts. Our case strategies are backed by decades of experience in and out of the courtroom. We have handled many criminal cases, and we are proud to serve the Fort Hood area.
Call the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard at (254) 220-4225 for more information.
The Criminal Process: Arrest to Arraignment
The court process for criminal cases is complex, but there are some criminal law basics to keep in mind. One of the most important parts of the criminal process is your rights. If you have been arrested, you have the right to remain silent, speak with an attorney, and have an attorney present for questioning. You should be informed of these rights upon arrest.
Typically, individuals go before a judge within 48 hours of their arrest. The point of the first appearance is to establish the charges, set bond, and ensure that the accused knows their rights. The accused person is usually referred to as the defendant.
Suppose a person is unable to pay their bond amount and remains in police custody. In that case, the prosecution must file official charges against them within 15-30 days for a misdemeanor or 90 days for a felony. The prosecutor is responsible for filing charges and presenting a case to prove that the defendant is guilty of a crime.
In cases where the defendant is not in jail, the prosecution can file misdemeanor charges within two years of the arrest or 5-10 years for a felony. If the prosecutor does not file charges within the time limit, the accused is released from jail if they were in custody or the case is dismissed.
The only exception is for more serious criminal charges like murder, sexual assault, and indecency with a child. In these cases, the prosecutor does not have a time limit to file charges.
The arraignment is a more formal appearance before the court. This involves a reading of the charges before the court and a plea from the defendant. The accused can either plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against them. It is best to consult an attorney before making a plea before a judge.
Rights in Court
The accused has rights throughout the criminal process. They are informed of their rights at the time of their arrest, at the first appearance, and in the pre-trial phase. Pre-trial procedures are a series of hearings that often happen before a trial.
For example, a standard procedure during pre-trail is a bail or bond hearing. These hearings are to establish conditions for release and ensure that the amount is reasonable.
Keep in mind that bail is the amount of money the accused must pay to get out of jail. Bond is money posted on the defendant’s behalf to secure their release.
There are three main types of bonds:
- Cash bonds: the defendant pays the full amount of money, which is refunded after the case
- Bail bonds: the defendant uses a bond company or bail bondsman to borrow collateral in exchange for a nonrefundable fee
- Personal recognizance (PR) bond: the court releases the defendant without requiring a payment
The judge can set the bail/bond amount according to their best judgment, or they may choose to deny bail. Felony charges usually have a much higher bail amount.
Even at this stage of the process, you have rights. These rights are critical to a fair trial, and an attorney can help protect your rights and interests at every stage of your case.
Rights during the trial and pre-trial include all of the following:
- You are innocent until proven guilty
- The prosecutor is responsible for proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
- You do not have to testify
- You have the right to a fair trial by an impartial jury
- The defense may cross-examine witnesses
- Your attorney may subpoena witnesses on your behalf
- You can file an appeal after your trial is complete
Defendants should always consult their lawyer before waiving their rights or testifying.
Criminal Trials in Texas
There are two phases to criminal trials: the guilt/innocence phase and the punishment phase. The purpose of the guilt/innocence phase is to prove whether the defendant is guilty by using evidence and witness statements to persuade the jury. At this time, the defense can cross-examine any witnesses called by the prosecutor. They may also call witnesses of their own on the defendant’s behalf.
The punishment phase is a separate process that involves sentencing. In Texas, the accused can choose to be sentenced by a jury. This means that if the defendant disagrees with the prosecution’s plea bargain, they can choose to have the jury consider the case and determine a fair sentence.
Understanding Your Case
If you have been arrested, you likely have questions about the criminal process and how it affects you. An arrest does not mean an automatic conviction, which is why it is critical that you choose a legal representative as soon as possible.
We have a team of legal advocates with years of experience helping hundreds of clients throughout their criminal cases. Our team understands that the criminal process is complex, which is why we work with our clients to help them understand the details of their case. The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard has a unique understanding of both sides of the court – the defense and prosecution. We put our experience to work by evaluating your case, creating a personalized strategy, and advocating for you every step of the way.
Brett H. PritchardOur lead lawyer, Brett H. Pritchard, is a graduate from Brigham Young University and Texas Tech University. Earning an exemplary reputation as an aggressive and formidable trial lawyer, Attorney Pritchard is ultimately passionate about protecting his clients' rights.
Andrew ThompsonIn 2016 Andrew was licensed to practice law in Texas and opened his own solo practice. His practice focused primarily on Child Protective Services and Criminal Law. Andrew has been working with the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard since 2017. Andrew is passionate about fighting for his client’s rights and serving the military community.
Brent T. SykoraAttorney Brent T. Sykora has a wealth of experience in the legal realm, stemming firstly from his First Chair litigation experience in both federal and state courts, administrative hearings, and ADR proceedings.
Jeff LinickWith a background in business and finance prior to going to law school, Mr. Linick worked for several years in the insurance industry with USAA, a company closely associated with the armed services.
Darmeisha SlayAfter graduating from St. Mary’s University, she practiced as a Paralegal at the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard until her acceptance into the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Texas. While at TMSL, Darmeisha was accepted to practice in the pro bono Family Law Clinic where she represented indigent clients in uncontested and contested divorces.
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Killeen, TX 76543