Being arrested and having to deal with the criminal justice system can be a frightening and overwhelming experience, especially when it’s your first time being charged with a crime. In Texas, the court has conflicting responsibilities. On the one hand, they must protect civilians, and on the other, they must ensure the accused is dealt with fairly on legal grounds.
Here’s a rundown of the criminal defense process in Texas in case you are facing arrest and are unsure of what to expect in the time that follows.
Before the actual arrest, law enforcement must have probable cause in order to arrest you. They’re going to turn to a number of methods to investigate you for evidence of a crime, which can include search warrants or an interrogation.
Once grounds for arrest have been established, the police will take you into custody at your local station or prison. During this time, your biometric data will be taken and the charges filed against you will be recorded. Remember that you have the right to remain silent until your attorney is present with you.
Arraignment and Bail
The arraignment is your very first appearance in court. It is a short hearing that is usually scheduled soon after your arrest, wherein you’re allowed to decide how you plead for the charge (guilty, not guilty, or no contest). Most people opt to plead not guilty because this gives their attorneys the time to prepare for the case.
This step is also when your bail is set. Bail involves being released from custody by paying an amount of money that’s been set by the judge as a surety that you will show up for all your future court hearings. Because bail money can total up to thousands of dollars, people who are unable to afford the sum can use the help of a bail bonds agency to secure a bail bond.
Pre-trial hearings are meetings that happen before the actual trials when prosecution and defense discuss strengths and weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, in addition to pre-trial motions that can greatly affect the course of future trials. This step is also where you get to bargain and plead guilty to a lesser crime in order to get a lighter sentence or get the charges dropped altogether.
If a plea agreement is not reached, the case then enters the actual trial phase, which can continue for as little as a few months or for two or more years, depending on the complexity of your case. The trial stage is when the prosecution makes their case against you using evidence such as witness testimonies, photographic or footage evidence, etc. Afterward, it is your turn to make your case. Your attorney will do what they can to find loopholes and weaknesses in the opponent’s case, and you’re able to present your own set of evidence using witnesses, etc., to prove your innocence.
Once a decision has been reached by the jury, the final verdict is read to you in court. The decision can be made within minutes or even take up to weeks.
If you or a loved one cannot afford bail money, contact us at Freedom Libertad in San Angelo, Texas, and we’ll help you be released from prison with our bail bonds service. We are a bail bondsman agency that specializes in bail bonds, immigration bonds, and many other services, including a warrant search.