What to Expect When You're Facing a Criminal Charge in Texas

Those facing criminal charges in Texas, especially for the first time, usually find the experience to be extremely intimidating. After all, the potential consequences of a criminal conviction can wreak havoc on your reputation and your ability to be employed as well as threatening your freedom.

Your first step to regaining control is to hire an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, who can help you navigate the complexities of the Texas criminal justice system and counsel you on what you can expect during the process, which includes:

Bail hearing — within 48 hours of your arrest, you will appear before a judge for the first time. This is when bail will be set.

Charging — if you have been arrested for a misdemeanor, the prosecutor will file a charging document with the court that describes the crime you are accused of committing. If you have been arrested for a felony, the prosecutor must seek an indictment from a grand jury before officially filing felony criminal charges against you.

Arraignment — once charges have been filed, you will face an arraignment where the judge will read the charges against you and a plea of guilty or not guilty will be entered. Your attorney will speak on your behalf and will likely enter a plea of not guilty. Even if you plan to eventually plead guilty, a not guilty plea will enable your attorney to negotiate a fair deal.

Pre-trial conferences and hearings — at this stage, your attorney will be able to obtain all the evidence the prosecutor has against you, which is required by Texas criminal law. During this phase, it will be extremely important for you to avoid any situation that could lead to another arrest. You must also stay away from any potential witnesses or investigators. Above all, be completely honest with your attorney — everything you tell him will be kept confidential and is critical to your defense.

Plea deal or trial — data from the Texas Office of Court Administration shows that less than one percent of misdemeanor criminal charges and less than two percent of felony criminal charges go to trial. According to that data, approximately 33% of misdemeanor charges and 13% of felony charges are dismissed. So you stand a good chance that you will not go to trial on your criminal charges. This is why having an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney works in your favor. He may be able to have the charges dismissed or significantly reduced, or negotiate a plea deal to lesser charges that carry a less severe penalty. If you decide to go to trial, you will have the choice of a bench trial, where a judge decides the outcome of your case, or a jury trial. In either case, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving the criminal charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Cogdell Law Firm is a boutique law firm focusing on large, complex business and criminal financial-related litigation, including white collar criminal defense, securities fraud, health care fraud investigation, criminal appeals and state criminal defense. When results matter most, contact Dan Cogdell at (713) 426-2244 or dan@cogdell-law.com.