At what point should I contact an attorney?

You really should turn to an attorney immediately after you are 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 practical experience in criminal 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 Cleburne Criminal Defense Attorney David E. Houston for a free evaluation of your case.

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, or at least minimize the effect of any punishment.

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 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 happens after I am arrested?

Once you are taken into custody by officers you will be booked into jail, all of your personal belongings in your possession will be taken from you, you will have your picture taken and be fingerprinted. The arraignment will come next and during this time you will be read the charges against you and your bond will be set. If you are unable to make your bond, you will remain in jail until your case is resolved.

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. Misdemeanors are generally considered to have a penalty one year in jail or less. Felony offenses are punishable by more than one year of incarceration. Both misdemeanors and felonies can have thousands of dollars in fines and court costs.

What is deferred adjudication?

Deferred adjudication is usually the result of a plea bargain and is essentially a type of probation through which a person admits guilt or enters a no contest plea before the judge, and the judge places the defendant on probation without a finding of guilt. If the person successfully completes the period of deferred adjudication probation, the case will be dismissed, but the fact that the defendant served a period of deferred adjudication probation may still be evident on their criminal record. There are pros and cons to this option, such as the trade off of having the case dismissed but having to admit guilt, and that if the defendant does not successfully complete the period of deferred adjudication probation, the defendant will be subject to being sentenced by the judge to any punishment within the range of punishment for that offense. A defendant cannot get deferred adjudication from a jury. Since deferred adjudication is usually the result of a plea bargain, if the prosecutor refuses to offer deferred adjudication, it will generally not be available.

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.

The case may go to trial and this can be before either the judge or a jury. The defendant has the absolute right to a trial by jury, but the accused may waive the right to a jury trial and let the judge of the court decide the case. Usually a trial, whether in front of the judge or a jury, is to determine whether or not the accused is guilty, and if so, what the punishment should be.

A third possibility is through an open plea, also referred to as a non-negotiated 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. When this happens, there is a contested trial before the judge or a jury to assess the case and determine what punishment the defendant will receive.

Finally, the case may be dismissed by the court after a recommendation to dismiss the case is made by the prosecutor. This is the least common way that cases are resolved. Dismissal of a case is fact-specific, and dismissals are always on a case by case basis. If the prosecutor believes he may get a conviction, the case will usually not be dismissed.

Do I have to let the police search my car or house?

The police only have the right to search your car or house if you or someone who appears to have the capacity to give permission actually gives them permission to do so, or if they have a warrant signed by a magistrate that allows them to search your car or home. Without either permission or a warrant, any search could be in violation of the law and after a hearing, the judge may issue an order excluding any evidence they obtained from being used against you in a trial.

Do you accept credit cards?

Yes, we accept major credit cards and can set up payment plans. We also offer a free initial consultation with attorney David E. Houston so you can discuss your case without pressure or obligation in the privacy of our Cleburne law office.

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 bondman may be hired to post the bond for you.

What is the Texas law on intoxication?

Legally speaking, intoxication is not the same as drunk. As defined by the DWI statute, you are intoxicated when you have lost the normal use of either your mental or physical abilities to drive because of use of alcohol, drugs, and/or controlled substances, or a combination of them. You are also considered intoxicated if your blood alcohol content is at .08 or more.

What are the consequences of POM (possession of marijuana)?

Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2000 fine, plus court costs. Possession of four ounces or less, but more than 2 ounces is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to a $4000 fine, plus court costs. Possession of five pounds or less, but more than four ounces of marijuana is a state jail felony, punishable by up to 2 years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine, plus court costs. Penalties continue to increase as the amount of marijuana increases.

If I have more than one DWI / DUI, will my penalties be the same as the first one?

No. Penalties for DWI / DUI charges work on an escalating basis. The more convictions you have, the worse your penalties will be. A first offense will come with a maximum of $2,000 in fines, a possible suspension of your driver's license for a year and up to six months in jail. If your blood alcohol level is found to be 1.5 or above, a first offense will be punished as a second offense. A second offense will carry a maximum sentence of a year in jail, a suspension of your driver's license, and up to $4,000 in fines. A third conviction of driving while intoxicated is a third degree felony, and can result in a ten years in jail, $10,000 in fines and a driver's license suspension. If you have other felony convictions for any other criminal offense, the State can use those convictions to raise the third degree felony conviction to a higher range of punishment. If you have a child under 15 years of age as a passenger in your vehicle, a first offense with be a state jail felony, a maximum sentence of two years in state jail facility, a suspension of your driver's license, and up to $10,000 in fines.

How long must I wait to get a divorce?

You must wait a minimum of sixty days from the date you file your petition for divorce before you are eligible to have your final hearing. The only exception to this waiting period is if there has been family violence in the marriage.

You Deserve Answers & Real Results

Take Action To Protect Your Future