Arrested? Loved one facing criminal charges? You need to know what you
are up against. The criminal process in Texas can be challenging. If you
don’t know how to navigate it effectively, you could find yourself
behind bars, paying exorbitant fees and fines, or dealing with a tarnished
Read through what you can expect when going through criminal processing below.
1. Arrest & Booking
Once you’ve been arrested, you should be read your Miranda rights.
These include the right to remain silent, to have an attorney present
during police questioning, and to have a lawyer appointed if you cannot
afford one. After you’ve been taken into custody, you will be booked
into a facility. During booking, you will have all your personal effects
taken and inventoried. You will also provide your personal information
and be photographed and fingerprinted. One phone will be provided.
It is also important to note that bail may be designated and a court date
set. As long as you weren't taken in on a weekend, you will always
appear before a judge within 48 hours of your arrest.
2. Getting Out on Bail
In cases where bail is ordered, you may post bail through cash, a personal
bond, or a surety bond. You may need to call a bail bondsman for assistance
meeting your bail through a surety bond. If the judge approves, you may
be able to get a personal bond, which is a sworn agreement by the defendant
to appear before the judge on the date of trial set by the court.
3. First Court Date: Arraignment & Pleas
In Texas, county courts will handle misdemeanor arraignments. During this,
the defendant will be identified and have their charges presented, rights
read, and a plea entered. They will have the chance to enter a plea of
guilty, not guilty, or no contest. No contest means the defendant doesn’t
admit guilt, but won't contesting the charges. Also, felony charges
are filed by indictment before a grand jury.
4. Plea Bargain Process
In misdemeanor cases especially, a plea bargain is often agreed upon instead
of a full trial. A majority of cases are resolved through a plea bargain,
which is an agreement reached with the prosecution. The defendant will
agree to plead guilty or no contest for reduced charges and penalties
or other options. The point is to benefit the defendant in a small way
while resolving their case in a faster process.
5. Grand Jury for Felony Cases
Texas requires that felony charges be brought before grand jury indictments.
In cases where a defendant isn’t indicted, they may request a preliminary
hearing if they wish to contest the probable cause involved in their charges.
6. Trial & Sentencing
Unless a case is appealed, the trial is the final part of criminal processing
in Texas. Felony trials utilize 12 jurors, while any misdemeanor trial
will only have 6. Regardless of whether an individual is facing felony
or misdemeanor level charges, the jury must decide guilt in a unanimous verdict.
Individuals who are found guilty of misdemeanor crimes will usually be
sentenced right after the trial. A judge must consider pre-sentencing
reports that include a number of factors to decide on sentencing for the
convicted. These sentences often carry fines, jail, probation, and more.
The criminal justice system in Texas is complex. Don’t face it alone.
Reach out to our Austin criminal defense lawyers for guidance!