A Guide to Criminal Defense in Texas

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If you or someone you care about has been charged with a crime in Texas, you may be at an utter loss – with no idea about what to do or where to turn for the help you need.

While a better understanding of the criminal defense process can help you get a better handle on what to expect, the most important first step you can take is reaching out for the skilled legal representation of an experienced Round Rock criminal defense attorney as soon as you’re able to do so.

If You’ve Been Arrested

If you’ve been arrested, there’s a lot at stake in terms of your future and your reputation, and the Texas court system is complicated – with plenty of opportunities to make mistakes that can interfere with your ability to achieve a favorable resolution along the way.

The financial and legal consequences of a criminal conviction are steep, and you may not have even considered the social consequences, which – due to the fact that your record is a matter of public information – can include all the following:

  • You may have difficulty finding or keeping a job.

  • You could have difficulty renting a home or obtaining a home loan.

  • Your professional licensure may be affected – or could be lost altogether.

  • Your standing in the community could take a serious hit.

  • Your ability to further your education, such as with a federal student loan, can be directly affected.

  • Your right to vote and own a gun could be denied.

There is plenty on the line, but having a local criminal defense attorney in your corner from the start can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case – and in your future.

Carefully Consider What the Police Are Telling You

The police may give you the impression that they have you dead to rights on the charge in question, and from the position you find yourself in, you may find it difficult to argue with their logic. If they say they have insurmountable evidence against you, they must – right?

Not necessarily. In fact, the police are not required to share the whole truth with you and, if they think it will help them get a conviction, they may fudge the facts as a means of encouraging you to talk.

The police who’ve arrested you or the detective who is interviewing you want you to believe that the only way to help yourself in the difficult situation you find yourself in is by spilling your guts.

In the moment, this may strike you as a good idea, but this is exactly the right time to take a step back and think about what your Miranda rights are all about. If you grew up on police procedurals like most of us did, you know these rights well, and they include:

  • That you have the right to remain silent

  • That anything you do say can be used against you

  • That you have the right to an attorney

You recognize that you have these rights, but knowing when to call them into play is a complicated matter. If you have been arrested or detained and are being questioned, the time has arrived.

These federally mandated rights are in place for a very good reason, and this is that they protect you from the mind-bending antics that the officials investigating you may be using – when you’re likely at your most vulnerable.

If you or someone you care about is facing down a criminal charge, invoking each of these rights from the outset is always the best policy. This means not only letting the police know that you won’t be answering any questions but also refusing to answer any questions asked of you – other than basic questions about your identity.

In other words, at this juncture, the only thing left to say to the police is that you want an attorney. When you invoke your rights from the start, you help to ensure that your case will be resolved as advantageously as possible, which is always the goal.

What You’re Looking for in an Attorney

You know you need a trusted criminal defense lawyer on your side, but you may have no idea about how to go about making that happen. In your search for the right criminal defense attorney for you, keep all the following in mind:

  • Do some digging around on the firm’s website. If they share information that relates to your situation and that makes sense to you, and if their reviews and testimonials make the Texas Criminal Defense Group sound like what you’re looking for, it’s a good place to start.

  • You’re in the market for a criminal defense attorney who is there for you when you need them and who responds to your inquiries. If your phone calls go unanswered, keep looking.

  • If the firm offers free consultations, it helps to ensure that you’ll have a good feel for who you’ll be working with before you pull the trigger on hiring them.

  • Your criminal defense attorney should make you feel heard and should treat you with the respect you deserve.

  • An attorney who has a significant amount of experience handling cases like yours translates to legal counsel who is well-prepared to dive directly into building your strongest defense.

  • You’re looking for a criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of success in terms of both negotiations and litigation. While most cases settle out of court, the best path forward is sometimes straight ahead to trial, and you need an attorney who won’t miss a beat.

When you have the right criminal defense attorney behind you, it sets the stage for a better ending.

Classifying Charges in Texas

In Texas, criminal charges range from misdemeanors to felonies, and while there is nothing minor about misdemeanor charges, felony charges are still more serious. Texas employs sentencing guidelines for every level of charge, and these guidelines help determine the sentence for the charge in question.

The consequences of a criminal conviction become progressively more serious, and the basics include the following:

  • Class C misdemeanors include theft of less than $100, simple assault, disorderly conduct, and beyond, and a conviction carries fines of up to $500 with no jail time involved.

  • Class B misdemeanors include theft of from $100 to $750, a first DWI, and criminal trespassing, and a conviction carries fines of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

  • Class A misdemeanors include theft of $750 to $2,500, violating a protective order, and assault, and a conviction carries fines of up to $4,000 and up to a year in jail.

  • State jail felonies include burglary of a building, credit card abuse, and DWI with a child passenger, and a conviction carries fines of up to $10,000 and from 180 days to 2 years in jail.

  • Third-degree felonies include tampering with physical evidence and kidnapping, and a conviction carries fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of from 2 to 10 years.

  • Second-degree felonies include arson, robbery, and sexual assault, and a conviction carries fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of from 2 to 20 years.

  • First-degree felonies include aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated assault on a public servant, and a conviction carries fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of from 5 to 99 years.

  • Capital felonies refer to capital murder, and a conviction carries either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death sentence.

Factors Considered During Sentencing

While every case is unique to the circumstances involved and the charge attached, the court takes a range of relevant factors into consideration during the sentencing process, including:

  • Whether the criminal offense is your first

  • If you’ve reached the point that you’re considered a repeat offender

  • Whether you have been identified as an accomplice or as the primary suspect

  • Whether any innocent parties were harmed during the commission of the crime and whether or not the crime in question was likely to cause injury

  • Whether you were suffering from mental illness, such as extreme duress, at the time the crime was committed

  • Whether you acted in a way that can be interpreted as being especially cruel or destructive

  • Whether or not the court considers you remorseful for your part in the crime in question

When the Person Charged Is a Juvenile

Things are generally very different if the person charged with the crime is a juvenile. The guiding focus of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation, while the adult justice system is motivated to punish the convicted person for their crime.

If your child has been charged with one of the crimes that are often associated with teen offenders, they’ll likely be subject to either some form of diversion or a relatively short period of supervision, and skilled legal guidance can help.

If, however, the crime alleged against your child is very serious, the matter itself becomes far more serious, and your child could be channeled into the adult system. Don’t wait to consult with a dedicated criminal defense attorney who has an impressive range of experience successfully representing juveniles charged with serious crimes.

If the Police Ask You to Come Down to the Station for Questioning

If you haven’t been arrested but the police let you know they’d like you to come down to the station for questioning, the bottom line is that they are fishing for information. You need to know that they are very good at teasing statements out of interviewees like you and that they are also very good at twisting these statements into charges against interviewees like you.

Instead of telling the police that you refuse to be interviewed, let them know that you won’t be answering their questions under the advice of counsel – then make sure to reach out and secure skilled legal counsel.

In rare instances, volunteering to be interviewed by the police is considered advisable, but doing so without an attorney backing you up is a terrible idea. Depending upon the circumstances involved in the situation you’re facing, your attorney will help strategize the surest path forward.

If You’re Facing a Motion to Revoke

If you are currently on deferred adjudication or probation and you’re facing a motion to revoke, it means that the court has issued a warrant for your arrest regarding your alleged failure to live up to the involved terms.

This can lead to your arrest, processing in jail, and bonding out—along with a subsequent hearing regarding whether or not your deferred adjudication or probation will be revoked.

If you’ve failed to report according to your requirements, have been charged with a subsequent crime, or have tested positive for either alcohol or drugs, don’t wait to take action. A practiced criminal defense attorney may be able to have the motion to revoke dropped – or will take the steps necessary to better protect your legal rights and to secure a better outcome.

Reach Out to an Experienced Round Rock Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is a savvy Round Rock criminal defense attorney who is well prepared to zealously defend your legal rights in the face of a criminal charge –┬áin focused pursuit of a beneficial resolution that supports your future.

Whether this means having the charge against you dropped, making an advantageous plea deal, or trying your case in court, we’re on your side and here to help.

The outcome of your case is important, so do not put off reaching out and contacting or calling us at 254-781-4222 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about what we can do to help you today.

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