>> The Legal Process
The Legal Process
What should I do when someone I know is arrested?
When someone you know is arrested, you should contact an attorney immediately to protect his rights. That person has the right to be arraigned quickly. At an arraignment hearing, a judge will tell that person what he is being charged with and will set a bond
. Sometimes this bond
is reasonable, but sometimes you will need to hire an attorney to go directly to the judge to try to get that bond reduced
. Most people choose to post bail using a bondsman, which means they pay him a small fee and he posts the large bond
. But you can always pay a cash bond
directly to Dallas County
or Collin County
and get that money back once the criminal case
is disposed of.
What should I do if I find out there's a warrant for my arrest?
If you learn that there is an active warrant out for your arrest, you need to take care of this immediately. You can even go to a bonding company before turning yourself in so that the paperwork is in place to post your bond the minute you are arraigned. Your attorney can find out from the court what your bond amount is; in fact, I can often get bonds lowered for my clients before they go into custody. If you are able to post a cash bond, you can get this money back when your case is disposed of. Otherwise, a bond company will charge you a percentage of your total bond amount to post the bond for you. Once a bond has been posted, a court date will be set and your attorney will have plenty of time to thoroughly work your criminal case. If you ignore the warrant, on the other hand, you will be arrested even if you are pulled over for a minor traffic violation.
Can't I just turn myself in and sit it out?
Not exactly. The court will usually appoint you an attorney if you are in custody. However, you will have to be taken to court to enter a plea on your case. If you are facing a felony, however, this could take months. The most important thing to understand about taking a "time served" offer from the State is that it will result in a conviction—a conviction that will remain on your criminal record permanently.
The court appointed me an attorney when I was in jail; why do I need to hire one now?
The attorney appointed to you when you are in jail was for arraignment purposes only. If you took several days or longer to bond out, you may have actually been taken to court and had a new attorney appointed to represent you. However, once you post a bond, the court will take this person off of your case. The general theory is that, if you can afford to post a bond, you can afford to hire an attorney. I understand that this is often unrealistic, because a person can often bond out through a bonding agency for a tenth of what their legal fees will be. This is why I offer all clients a payment plan and work with the courts to get you as much time as possible to pay me.
I've been arrested for a felony; is there anything I can do to prevent an indictment?
Absolutely. You have the right to make a presentation to the Grand Jury
in an effort to convince them that the State does not have probable cause to proceed with its criminal case
against you. You also have the right to testify in front of the Grand Jury
, but this is a dangerous option and I rarely recommend it. What I do more often is a Grand Jury Packet
, which is essentially a letter to the jurors explaining the facts of your case and why the State does not have enough evidence to continue its case against you. It is often helpful to include affidavits, medical records, photographs, and other pieces of evidence in the Grand Jury
Packet. The effect of a Grand Jury
Packet is powerful because, if the jurors return a "no bill" (meaning they choose not to indict you), your case is over and you can file for an expunction of the charges from your criminal record
. This means you will never be in the position of negotiating with a prosecutor and weighing a plea bargain offer against the risk of going to trial. Remember, a Grand Jury
Packet can only be done by an attorney before
your case has been indicted. This is just another reason it is always best to hire an attorney to start fighting for you immediately.
What will the judge do to me if I get arrested on a probation violation?
When the State files a Motion to Revoke your probation (or a Motion to Adjudicate if you are on deferred probation), you simply hire an attorney and go through the negotiation process all over again. If you are on deferred probation, you are entitled to have a bond set. If you are on a straight probation, the judge does not have to allow you a bond but almost always will—especially if she knows you have an attorney working on your case. The outcome of this negotiation process will depend on several things: what kind of probation you are on, what the terms of that probation are, how you violated your probation, and how creative your attorney can be at coming up with a solution that keeps you out of jail or prison!
How long should I expect my case to take?
First, it is important to realize that, if you are on a payment plan, your case may be stretched out simply to allow you time to pay. Second, time almost always benefits the client rather than the State. At each court date
, I will point out to the prosecutor another weakness in the State's case against you. I do this by gathering documents and tracking down witnesses, which can be a time-consuming process. The more ammunition I fire at the prosecutor, the more likely she is to want to make your case go away.