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Criminal Defense FAQ

Overview

A criminal conviction can have devastating consequences. Depending on the severity of the crime, you could be facing jail or prison time, probation, or heavy fines. It is important to remember that even when you have been arrested, you still have rights. You are not obligated to say anything to the arresting officer. You will want to speak with a lawyer who will provide you with competent legal advice.

George Tyson is an experienced Defense Lawyer in Houston, Texas dedicated to defending clients in Texas against criminal charges. This page is intended to provide you with a general overview of criminal law.

George Tyson is an experienced Defense Lawyer in Houston, Texas dedicated to defending clients in Texas against criminal charges. This page is intended to provide you with a general overview of criminal law.

For more information, contact George Tyson for a free case review.

Criminal Procedure

The Arrest

Your case begins when there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. There are three ways that a case can be brought to court:

  • arrest of the accused at the scene of the crime or soon thereafter

  • arrest based on a warrant issued by a court as a result of a sworn complaint

  • arrest based on an indictment by a grand jury after investigation

The arrested individual will then be taken to jail. Until the network of government clerks, prosecutors, and law enforcement have completed the paperwork and computer entries necessary for identifying and formally charging the individual, he won’t be recognized on the system. This is why it takes some time for the individual to be bailed out. No notice will be given to family or friends waiting to bail out the accused when the accused has made the computer. The best they can do is to have a bondsman continuously check the status of the accused's case.

If you have been made aware that a warrant is out for your arrest, you should seek competent legal counsel from a defense lawyer, such as George Tyson.

Preliminary Appearance

The person making the arrest must, without unnecessary delay, take the accused before a magistrate. The magistrate must inform the accused of his constitutional rights and determine whether probable cause exists for the arrest. This first appearance usually occurs within twenty-four hours of the arrest.

Sometimes the accused bails out of jail before he can be brought before the magistrate. In those cases, the trial judge may bring the accused before their bench on the first setting to explain the accused their constitutional rights and review probable cause to determine whether bail is sufficient. This is one of the most important reasons we advise charged citizens to get legal representation early. A skilled lawyer may be able to dissuade the judge from raising bail or attaching bail conditions.

Bail

For many crimes, bail has been previously determined by the courts and is in a list of standard bail amounts. In certain circumstances, bond is denied to the accused. The judge assigned to the case may set bail or change the bail amount depending on the circumstances. In federal court, the magistrate will often require that an accused satisfy the conditions of a pretrial release. In some circumstances, the bail is set too high for the accused to make. A skilled defense lawyer can often help you get this lowered or pursue a writ of habeas corpus.

Pretrial Services

The Federal system has a pretrial service agency that administers the pretrial release of prisoners. Essentially, pretrial services have replaced the familiar bail system found in State courts, and it does a very good job.

Some Texas counties, like Harris County, have a pretrial release department. However, the department makes fewer bonds than the traditional bail system.

Grand Jury

The district attorney is required to present a felony case to the grand jury. Most presentations before the grand jury are without witnesses. A misdemeanor charge does not require a grand jury indictment.

The Grand Jury does not determine guilt or innocence. The members of the Grand Jury can have serious doubts about the guilt of the accused and still indict. It is concerned only with probable cause.

A defense lawyer may fight your case at this stage by submitting information packets or petitions describing why there is no probable cause and the case should be dropped. When a case is dismissed at this stage it is considered "no-billed." Although the State can continue to pursue prosecution, a "no-bill" often ends the case for practical purposes.

Arraignment

The first appearance of the accused after indictment is called an arraignment. Unless formal arraignment is waived, the judge will verify the identity of the accused and ask for his plea. Except in Federal Court, this usually just entails the accused identifying themself at docket call.

At this point, the representation of a competent defense lawyer is required by the Court. If you are indigent and cannot afford a lawyer the court will appoint one for you. For the best outcome of your case, however, it is important you seek the counsel of a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.