Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal Defense Overview
The criminal process can be complex and confusing. But it's important to know your legal rights. The best way to be informed is to contact a Houston criminal defense attorney of the Adrogué Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible. A criminal defense attorney will understand the law as it relates to the crime you've been charged with, and will be able to help you in making informed decisions as your case moves through the process.
The Adrogué Law Firm would like to provide you with a general overview of the sequence of events in legal proceedings for criminal charges:
Stopped for Questioning
You may initially be stopped for questioning, which is not an arrest. When you are stopped you may be asked questions but you are not legally required to answer. You will not be moved to a different location (such as the police station) but may be detained.
Searches may be legally conducted when a judge has issued a search warrant. In order to get the warrant, "probable cause" must be proven. In some cases a search warrant is not required, such as when you are legally arrested for a crime, your body can be searched. Your vehicle can be searched if you are arrested while driving, but only the interior of the vehicle. A locked glove compartment must have a search warrant. If you agree to be searched, either your body or your residence, no search warrant is necessary.
In order to be arrested, law enforcement must have probable cause to arrest you. You do have rights when arrested, and one of these rights is the right to remain silent and another is the right to an attorney. You are allowed to contact an attorney and remain silent until you speak with your lawyer. It is crucial that you have an attorney before answering any questions when you are charged with a crime.
Reading of your Miranda Rights
These rights are read to you after you have been taken into custody. This is a vital part of a legal arrest. These rights are the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney, and the right to have a court appointed attorney if you cannot afford a lawyer. It is vital to note that anything you have said prior to being read your rights can be used against you. It is best to contact the Adrogué Law Firm, PLLC before discussing anything with law enforcement.
Booked for the Charge
After being arrested, you are "booked," This means that you will be taken to a law enforcement facility and fingerprinted, photographed, and your personal items taken from you, logged and set aside until your release. You will usually be put in a holding cell initially, and later may be moved to a jail while waiting for your arraignment, which is usually within 72 hours.
To be formally charged with a crime, a hearing is held called an "arraignment." At this hearing, you will make your plea. You have four options in Texas, which are:
Guilty (You admit to be responsible for the crime.)
Not guilty (You deny that you are responsible for the crime.)
No Contest (You do not admit to the crime but you do not deny it either. This can be a valuable option to make it more difficult to face a civil suit later.)
Stand Mute (This is when you do not say anything, and a "not guilty" plea is entered on your behalf. This plea may assist you in contesting the prior events in your case)
At the arraignment, your bail amount will also be set. You could also be released on your own recognizance. It is vital that you are represented by an attorney from the Adrogué Law Firm, PLLC at your arraignment, to fight for your release and to represent you when making a plea.
In Texas, you have the right to a trial by jury. This right can be waived if you plead guilty or if you choose to be tried by a judge only, which is called a "bench trial." A criminal defense lawyer from the Adrogué Law Firm, PLLC will advise you what to do in your case. The trial gives both the prosecution and the defense the opportunity to present their case. Cross-examination of witnesses takes place as well. A skilled criminal defense attorney will take advantage of the courtroom environment to present your defense case with compelling reasons to find you "not guilty" of the charge. The jury, or the judge in bench trials, will then decide if you are guilty or not guilty of the crime.
The Appeal Process
If you are found guilty of a crime and you believe that it is an unfair or incorrect conviction, you have the right to appeal the conviction. Not all appeals are granted, and the skill of the appeals attorney has much to do with this decision. Appeals take research and dedication and many attorneys do not choose to deal with appeals. Legal errors are one reason that an appeal may be sought and granted in your case.
Criminal Defense Lawyers in Houston
The prosecutor will have certain evidence against you that led to your arrest. This evidence must be reviewed immediately. There may be conflicting and strong defense evidence to find, and witnesses to the event may need to be interviewed. This procedure is a crucial part of a powerful defense. Not only will the evidence be reviewed, but the actual law enforcement procedure followed in your arrest must be evaluated for any errors. Arrest procedures are very specific, and if any errors were made, it can lead to important court challenges and even a dismissal of your case.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, it is crucial that you get powerful legal representation immediately. The legal process can be overwhelming, confusing and frightening. You need strong support from defense counsel to protect your rights each step of the way.
Contact a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney from the Adrogué Law Firm, PLLC, if you are seeking exceptional legal representation in a criminal charge.