McLennan County Criminal Defense Attorneys
Providing Sound Defense Throughout the Texas Criminal Process
If you have been accused of a crime, you may feel fearful and uncertain about your future, but you are not alone. The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard has over two decades of experience defending clients at every step of the criminal process. Our team understands that this a pivotal time in your life, which is why we work hard to fight for your future.
Call the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard at (254) 220-4225 and speak to our McLennan County criminal defense lawyers today.
The Criminal Justice System
The Texas criminal justice system exists to protect victims, convict those who are guilty, and allow the accused to have a defender plead their case in court.
The system has several objectives:
- Discover the truth
- Provide for public safety
- Assist victims of crime
- Punish the guilty
- Promote positive change in offender behavior
While much of the focus on the criminal process exists to prove guilt, an equally important element of a trial is to prove innocence. The U.S. justice system abides by the idea that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. This means that while an individual may be accused of a crime, unless there is proof without a shadow of doubt that they are guilty, they remain innocent.
What Happens After Arrest in Texas?
Within 48 hours or less of your arrest, you will need to attend the first appearance before a judge. At the first appearance, the judge will inform you of your rights and the charges against you.
You have the right to:
- Retain counsel
- Remain silent
- Have an attorney present during questioning
- Terminate the interview at any time
- Conduct an examining trial to determine probable cause
After the first appearance, the prosecutor must file the charges against you. Depending on your situation, you may remain in jail or be released on bond. This means that you are free to live your daily life, but you cannot leave the state or violate the terms of your release. For example, if you are charged with theft, shoplifting an item from a store would violate the terms of your release. Violations do not have to be similar to the crime you are accused of committing, and in most situations committing any further crimes is against the terms of your release.
Once the prosecutor files the charges, the court will schedule the arraignment. This is a hearing before the court where the charges are read before the jury, and the accused may plead guilty or not guilty. At this point, the prosecutor may offer a plea deal. For example, a plea deal may require you to plead guilty to the charges in exchange for a shorter jail sentence or minor fine. Many cases end with a plea deal, but others go to trial.
What to Expect at Trial
A series of pretrial hearings occur before trial to set bail or suppress evidence from being used in court. After this, the case progresses to trial. Texas trials have two phases: the guilt/innocence phase and the punishment phase.
The guilt/innocence phase allows the prosecution to persuade the judge and jury of the accused person’s guilt. They do this by presenting evidence and witness statements to the court that they believe support their argument. This is the “guilt” half of the guilt/innocence phase. The “innocence” part of the trial involves the defense cross-examining the prosecution’s witnesses and calling witnesses on their client’s behalf.
If the accused is found guilty, the trial moves on to the punishment phase. At this point, the judge will announce the sentence, including jail time, fines, community service, or other punishments that the judge believes are befitting of the crime.
You should always discuss the possible punishments before you take your case to trial. In some cases, you may be able to avoid trial altogether if you can make a plea deal.
Defending Your Rights from Arrest to Trial and Beyond
If you have been accused of a crime, the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is here to defend your rights throughout the criminal process. We have worked with many cases, from arrest to trial and even the appeals process. Our firm has experience with both sides of the justice system – prosecution and defense. This allows us to work with you to create a comprehensive case strategy.
Don’t wait to contact the McLennan County criminal defense team at the Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard.
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