Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding adult and juvenile criminal defense cases in Texas. If you have specific questions regarding an urgent matter related to you or your loved one, please contact us now.
Being charged with a felony is usually punishable by a year or longer in jail. You may also go to prison. A misdemeanor offense may be punishable by one year or less in jail.
No - the U.S. Constitution, as well as Federal and State laws, do not require an individual who has been arrested to speak to the authorities, with the exception of providing basic information about one’s identity.
The only statement you should ever make to law enforcement when being questioned is: “I would like to speak to my attorney.” Don’t make the mistake of giving a statement to police or investigators by yourself just because you think asking for an attorney will make you look guilty. This is a bad misconception. If the police are questioning you, it typically means they don’t have enough evidence to arrest you and are waiting to see if you make an incriminating statement. An attorney represents your best interests by communicating with investigators without saying anything that is admissible in court, while at the same time seeking any information that can be used to get your charges dropped or lowered. If you choose to talk with police without a lawyer present, then - as the saying goes - anything you say can and will be used against you in court.
If there is a warrant for your arrest, it is important to review your situation with a qualified criminal defense attorney so that a defense strategy can be established for your case.
After a person is arrested, they are brought to the police station where he/she is “booked”. The police will take your photograph and fingerprints as well as any additional personal, historical & biographical information. The police will use this information to determine if the individual has any warrants or a criminal history in order to evaluate whether or not he/she can be released from custody and whether the payment of a bail/bond is required. During the arrest procedure, officers may also seize property, records, and/or materials as evidence.
2. Magistration: After you are booked, you will appear before a magistrate judge for a hearing. At this hearing, the magistrate judge will make sure you understand the charge(s) against you, and the judge will usually set a bond/bail amount for your release.
3. Bond: The magistrate judge will set a bond/bail amount you have to post in order to get out of jail. The most common bond is a cash or surety bond that requires money and sometimes a co-signer to secure his/her release from jail.
4. Preliminary Hearing: A preliminary hearing is any hearing in court that is not a trial. Generally, this is when a defense attorney may engage in plea negotiations with a prosecutor.
5. Trial: In a criminal trial, a prosecutor’s role is to present evidence before the judge or jury whether, "beyond a reasonable doubt," the defendant committed the crime in question. It is at this time, the defense will have the opportunity to refute the state’s evidence, and to offer its own evidence in some cases. After both sides have presented their arguments, the jury considers as a group whether to find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the crime(s) charged.
6. Sentencing: After a defendant is convicted or pleads guilty, a judge will decide on the appropriate punishment (or sentence) during this phase of a criminal case. Sentencing for criminal offenses can range from probation and community service to prison and even the death penalty. A judge will consider several factors when determining a criminal sentence.
7. Fine, Probation, Jail Fines - The purposes of imposing a criminal fine are to punish the offender, help compensate the state for the offense, and deter any future criminal acts. A fine can take the place of a prison sentence or probation or it may be in conjunction with a period of time behind bars or on probation.
Probation - Probation releases the person back into the community, although they don't have the same level of freedom as a normal citizen. There are a variety of conditions that restrict their behavior, and if they violate one of those conditions, the court may revoke or modify the probation. The main goals of probation are to rehabilitate the defendant, protect society from further criminal conduct by the defendant and to protect the rights of the victim.
Jail - After a judge gives a jail sentence, the offender is taken to jail and a conviction is registered against them. An offender has to apply for a pardon in order to have a jail sentence removed from their record.
There are 3 types of bonds that are designed to ensure the defendant’s presence in court.
The three types of bond are:
• Surety Bond This type of bond involves hiring a company that will pay the bail amount and will ensure you are present at each court setting. When you use a bond company, you are only required to pay 10% of the bond amount. The bond company may charge some fees. For example, if your bond is set at $1,000, you would pay $100 plus fees to the bond company to get out of jail. Keep in mind, you will not get this money back once your case is closed. Many bond companies will also make you report with them once a week or more, and may impose additional conditions.
• Cash Bond This bond must be paid in full when/if the jail magistrate judge requires it. The amount of money paid will be held until the case is resolved. Once the case is closed, the person who paid the bond will be given their money back. The benefits of cash bonds are that you get your money back and you do not have to report to anyone. However, you still have to attend all required court hearings.
• Personal Recognizance Bond Although a bail amount is set, this type of bond does not require you to pay anything to be released. However, there are certain qualifying factors and conditions that come with this type of bond. For example, the type of crime and the individual’s criminal history are factors taken into consideration by a magistrate judge in granting a PR bond. When you are granted a PR bond, you are promising to the court that you will be present at every court setting, among other possible conditions (such as reporting, urine and breath analysis test, program fees, etc.). Failure to comply with these conditions will result in your re-arrest, thus holding you responsible for the total bond amount originally set.
Please note: The process of getting out of jail with a PR Bond is longer than with a bail bondsman. You must participate in an interview with a pretrial officer. You will also need to acquire personal references that can vouch for your stability in the community. This process works on the judiciary system’s time frame, not yours.
Criminal defense attorney costs are determined on a case-by-case basis. Such factors include: the severity of the charges you are facing, the complexity of the legal issues, and whether the case may go to trial, etc.
Here at CLM Law Firm, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation so that we can review your case step-by-step and provide you with a legal solution. This consultation will allow us to determine the legal fees associated with your case. Call us at (915) 225-1555 to schedule your consultation.
Yes, please visit www.clmfirm.com/payment to make a payment online as well as to view our other acceptable payment methods.
A “juvenile” is defined as a person who is at least 10 years old but not yet 17 at the time he/she committed an act defined as “delinquent conduct” or “conduct in need of supervision.”
Delinquent conduct is a violation of the state or federal criminal law or disobedience of an order of a municipal or justice court. It is generally conduct that, if committed by an adult, could result in imprisonment or confinement in jail.
A summons is a notice that charges have been filed against your child and that the case is going to juvenile court. The summons must be served at least two days before the hearing, and it should contain information regarding the date, time, and location of the hearing, as well as a copy of the petition.
A petition is a document that contains the allegations of delinquent conduct. Upon receiving a summons and petition, you should hire a criminal defense attorney experienced in juvenile law to determine the best way to respond to the allegations contained in the petition and get legal help right away.
In addition to having the right to communicate privately with your child, parents are entitled to information including, but not limited to: the date and time your child was taken into custody; the name of the offense for which your child is charged, the names of other persons taken into custody with your child, and whether a weapon was involved.
Juveniles do not have a constitutional right to seek bail. But many juveniles are released to their parents or guardians prior to appearing in juvenile court.
A detention hearing is held after a child is taken into custody. Although it is one of the most informal of the hearings conducted in a juvenile case, a child still has the right to be represented by a juvenile defense attorney at this stage.
An adjudication hearing is the equivalent of a trial in a criminal case, and is separate from a disposition hearing.
A disposition hearing is the equivalent of a sentencing hearing in a criminal case. A child has the right to an attorney in both the adjudication and disposition hearings.
The Texas Family Code requires a disposition to be made in every case where it is found that the child needs rehabilitation, or there is a need to protect the child or the public. If none of these findings are made, a final judgment may be entered without a disposition.
A service for qualifying individuals to resolve outstanding warrants, that involves being processed and released, without having to go to jail. Contact us to find out if you qualify for this service. The satellite booking office is located in the lower level of the El Paso County Courthouse (RM LL-110). They are open Monday - Friday from 8 AM to 5PM, excluding holidays. For more information, please contact (915) 546-2121.
Pretrial Diversion Program (PTD)
A voluntary program for offenders charged with misdemeanors, where the prosecutor will halt the case, so the defendant can complete the conditions of the diversion program. The conditions of a Pretrial Diversion Program can include counseling, reporting to a probation officer and paying the fees of the program. When the defendant successfully completes the Pretrial Diversion Program, a recommendation is made to the court to dismiss the charges.
A situation in which the judge, instead of finding a defendant guilty when they begin their probation, “defers,” or puts off, a finding of guilt to see if they comply with their probationary requirements. This is a common request for an attorney who has a client that is a first-time offender. If the client makes it through the probationary period and stays within its guidelines, the case goes on public record as a dismissal, rather than a conviction. You are never convicted of the charges. Deferred probation is also known as deferred adjudication probation.
A situation in which the judge finds a defendant guilty of the charges. The defendant is legally convicted of the crime and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. However, instead of imposing a jail sentence, the judge places him/her on probation and orders him/her to comply with probation conditions. The issue here is that the conviction can never be removed from his/her public record and can prove to be challenging when applying for jobs, colleges, student loans, etc.
Also known as expunction, is a court-ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest is erased from the individuals record.
When a criminal history record is sealed, the general public will not be able to view it. Under Texas law, criminal justice agencies will have access to sealed information, and they may disclose it only to you, other criminal justice agencies, or the licensing and employment entities specified in the law. Record Sealing in Juvenile Cases – records are completely and sealed and are not discoverable by any agency, either governmental or private.