If an individual has been accused of a crime in the Texas, even if the accusations are false, it is important to consult with a defense attorney who is experienced with the Texas criminal process.
After you have been arrested for a crime, it is important to hire an attorney who will post your bond and continue to represent you throughout all crucial periods in your case. It is also essential to hire a defense attorney who has trial experienced and has defending cases like yours.
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Criminal Court Process for Alleged Offenders
Contact Dunham & Jones, Attorneys at Law for a consultation about your criminal allegations and impending criminal trial process. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in defending all types of criminal allegations at trial and will make every effort to fight the allegations against you prior to trial and, if necessary, in court. Call 800-499-8455 for a free consultation on your legal options.
Texas Criminal Court Process Information Center
- Booking and Case Filing
- Bail and Arraignment in Texas
- PreTrial Negations
- PreTrial Motions, Hearings and Appearances
- Criminal Trial Process
Once you have been arrested for an alleged crime throughout in Texas, you will be placed in jail until your initial appearance in front of a judge. After the arrest, you will be taken to booking where they will be photographed, searched and fingerprinted.
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor crime, the arresting officer will file the criminal charges with the district attorney. If the DA decides to pursue the case, they will file a charging instrument called an information. This charging instrument is a written statement filed and presented on behalf of the state of Texas that puts the alleged offender on notice they have been charged with a criminal offense. Once the information has been processed, the case is then assigned to a random misdemeanor court in the county where the alleged offense occurred.
If you have been charged with a felony offense, the arresting officer will also file the criminal charges with the district attorney. However, the charges are then presented to a grand jury. The grand jury is comprised of random citizens in the county where the charge was filed to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge the alleged offender with a criminal offense.
If the grand jury determines there is insufficient evidence to charge the alleged offender with a crime, the defendant is said to have received a no bill where the alleged offender will then not be charged with a criminal offense and released from custody. If the grand jury determines there is sufficient evidence to charge the alleged offender with a criminal offense, they will file an indictment. An indictment is a charging instrument that formally charges the alleged offender with a criminal offense. This is also called giving the alleged offender a true bill. If the alleged offender is true billed, their case will be assigned to a felony court where the alleged offense occurred.
Before the alleged offender is taken before a judge for his initial appearance, the judge will determine whether to set bail, whether to release the alleged offender without bail on person recognizance or to keep the alleged offender in jail without bail. If the judge sets bail, the alleged offender can post bail at any time after their bail is set by the alleged offender’s attorney, a friend or family member or a bail bondsman.
Once the alleged offender posts bail, they guarantee they will appear at any hearings or trial associated with their case. The amount of bond is held by the court once it has been posted. If the alleged offender appears as ordered by the court, the amount of the bond will be returned to the individual who posted it, less any fees paid. If the alleged offender fails to appear in court, the total amount of the bond will be forfeited by the individual who posted it on the alleged offender’s behalf.
At the alleged offender’s initial appearance or arraignment, the charges against them are formally read in court. The judge also identifies the alleged offender’s lawyer and sets any conditions to bail, if bail is set by the judge. At the initial appearance, your attorney will also have an opportunity to argue the amount set for bail, whether bail was set or not, or any conditions to your bail. The judge will then ask you to formally set a plea of not guilty, nolo contendere (no contest) or guilty.
Before any subsequent hearings or appearances after your arraignment, your attorney will have an opportunity to enter a plea deal or pre-trial negotiations with the state prosecutor. For example, your attorney and the prosecutor can determine if there are any immediate reasons for dismissal or to delay or speed up the trial process.
A plea deal can occur if you and the prosecutor agree to a certain term of punishment or enter a certain plea without a trial. Entering a plea deal resolves the case and may be in your best interest. Although your attorney can recommend what would be best for you, you are the only person who can decide whether to agree to a plea deal or fight the charges against you at trial.
Once you have been arraigned, the judge will inform you of your next hearing date. You will also receive notice in mail regarding the hearing date and the court where any subsequent hearings and appearances will be held. You must appear as scheduled, unless your attorney informs you otherwise. If not, you will risk forfeiting your bail and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Prior to your trial at any hearings for your case, your attorney may file a pre-trial motion on your behalf. A pre-trial motion basically argues why certain evidence should be suppressed or why your case should be dismissed. Some of the most common pre-trial motions are:
- Motion to Exclude an Non-credible Witnesses’ Testimony
- Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Probable Cause
- Motion to Suppress Illegally Obtained Evidence
- Motion to Strike Prior Convictions
- Motion to Exclude the Defendant’s Confession
If you have rejected any plea deal and your case has not been dismissed, your case will proceed to trial. At trial, you can choose whether have your trial in front of a jury of your peers or only have the judge determine your guilt or innocence. A bench trial, or a trial in front of the judge, you waive any errors in case upon an appeal. In a jury trial, 12 jury members (if a felony) or 6 jury members (if a misdemeanor) will determine whether you are guilty or innocent. The jury is comprised of random citizens in the court where the trial is held.
Once you have chosen to have a bench trial or a jury trial, the guilt/innocence phase of your trial will commence. Evidence is presented at this phase and all witnesses are called to testify. The prosecutor has the burden of proving you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, which is often a very difficult burden of proof to satisfy. If the prosecution does not sufficiently prove their case, the defense does not have to put any defense evidence. The prosecution has the only burden of proof in a criminal case, which is the highest burden of proof.
Once both sides have presented their cases or rested, the jurors will determine whether the alleged offender is guilty or innocent. In order to convict the alleged offender, all of the jurors must unanimously agree that the alleged offender is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the jurors do not unanimously agree, they are called a hung jury and they judge will declare a mistrial. If the judge determines another jury will be able to make a decision, the alleged offender will be tried again at a later date.
If the jurors find the alleged offender guilty, the punishment phase of the trial occurs after the guilt/innocence phase. In this phase, the jurors or judge determine the alleged offender’s punishment for their conviction.
A convicted offender may be able to appeal the court’s decision to the next highest court if they believe a legal error occurred or the judge made a mistake by giving erroneous juror instruction or by admitting certain evidence to be presented at trial. The appeal does not allow the convicted offender to have another trial or present additional evidence.
What Happens After an Arrest?
If you have been falsely accused of a crime and want to take your case to trial contact our dedicated team of lawyers today. The criminal defense lawyers at Dunham & Jones are experienced and qualified to handle your case, and will make every effort to help you achieve the most desirable outcome for your particular situation by either entering a plea deal or taking your case to trial throughout Texas.