Criminal Defense Lawyers

Serving Austin, TX

Free Case Evaluation: 512.472.6565

Criminal Processing in Texas: What to Expect

Posted By Hines Ranc & Holub || 20-Jan-2016

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 reputation.

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!

Categories: Criminal Defense