Criminal Defense Lawyers in Pearland Helping Clients Fight Back After Being Charged With a Crime
Whether you’ve made a mistake and found yourself facing criminal charges or have been blindsided by false accusations, it may feel like it is just you against the whole world. Fortunately, being charged with a crime does not have to mean you’ve reached the end of the road. Learn how criminal charges work in Texas and the key role a criminal defense attorney can play in helping you fight back.
What Happens if You Are Charged With a Crime in Texas?
Many steps take place before, during, and after someone is arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced for a crime. It all begins with law enforcement gathering evidence against you during the investigation process – this is when the police may use search warrants, interrogations, and other methods to justify a criminal charge and show they have enough probable cause to arrest someone. If you know you are being investigated, it is best to reach out to a criminal defense attorney now rather than waiting until after you are arrested.
Once the suspect is arrested and booked, the next step is to appear before a judge for arraignment and bail. This is when formal charges are pressed, bail is set, and the suspect may plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If bail is paid, the suspect may go home and wait for pre-trial hearings. During these hearings, the prosecution and the defense meet and discuss a variety of aspects regarding the case, and the defense may try to reach a plea bargain deal to avoid taking the case to trial. If no plea deal is reached, the case moves on to a jury trial. The trial may yield a verdict of guilty (which means the case moves on to sentencing) or not guilty. Those found guilty of their charges may appeal their verdict to the Texas Court of Appeals.
What Are the Differences Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
There are two different types of criminal charges in Texas: felonies and misdemeanors. In technical terms, misdemeanors are less serious than felonies and are classified into three different classes. A Class A misdemeanor is the most serious type and may result in a fine of up to $4000 and up to one year in jail. Carrying a gun without a permit or committing a burglary are examples of Class A misdemeanors. The least serious type of misdemeanor is Class C, which may result in a fine of up to $500 and no jail time. Public intoxication and criminal trespassing are examples of Class C misdemeanors.
Felonies are more serious crimes that may usually result in prison sentences. The least serious type of felony is a state jail felony, which may mean a fine of up to $10,000 and up to two years in state prison. Penalties get progressively harsher for third, second, and first-degree felonies (a first-degree felony could even mean life in prison). The most serious type of felony is a capital felony, which could mean life in prison without parole or even the death penalty.
Does Texas Have a Death Penalty?
The state of Texas is said to have the third-largest death-row population in the nation after California and Florida. There are currently 186 inmates awaiting a death sentence in the state, including seven women. Defendants charged with a capital felony could be facing life in prison without the possibility of parole, and many end up being sentenced to death.
The number of people sentenced to death in Texas has decreased steadily since 1999 when as many as 49 people were given the death penalty. As of 2022, two people have been sentenced to death – one for the murder of a Harris County police officer in 2019 and the second one for murdering a woman and her unborn child in 2020.
Is It Really Necessary to Hire an Attorney if I Was Charged With a Misdemeanor?
While Texas does have a death penalty, in reality, most criminal charges are less serious but can still have significant consequences, such as hefty fines and jail or prison time. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor and are able to avoid jail time, you will still have a criminal record that may affect you for years to come, impacting your ability to obtain employment, and housing, and even making it difficult to obtain certain professional licenses.
Anyone charged with a crime has the right to defend themselves and can choose to hire an attorney or to self-represent. Many people may be tempted to choose the self-representation route, thinking that a misdemeanor is not serious, especially if they don’t believe they may be sentenced to any jail time. However, it is important to understand that this is a risky approach – choosing to represent yourself may lead you to make serious mistakes, such as giving in to the prosecution and accepting a plea bargain too soon rather than fighting back to get charges dropped.
A criminal defense lawyer takes years to master the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the court system and help those charged with a crime to have a chance at a positive outcome. The safest choice is to hire a criminal defense lawyer as early as possible in order to maximize your chances of reaching a more favorable resolution for your case.
What Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Do for Me?
When you choose to hire a criminal defense lawyer such as the ones at the Kahn Law Firm, P.C., you can rest assured your lawyer will spring into action immediately and help you understand your charges, potential penalties, and the best route to take. Every case is unique, so your lawyer can advise you on potential defense strategies for your case, such as questioning the legality of the evidence presented.
For example, suppose you are facing a variety of drug-related charges after you were pulled over by a police officer while driving home one evening. The officer allegedly saw you driving erratically, and upon stopping your vehicle and conducting a search, they found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in your car. In this case, your attorney could question whether the officer truly had enough probable cause to stop your vehicle. If your lawyer can convince the court that there was not enough probable cause and that the search was illegal, any property apprehended during that search becomes inadmissible as evidence in court, often meaning your charges may be dropped.
If you have been charged with a crime in Pearland, Texas, or surrounding areas, it does not automatically mean you will be convicted, especially if you act quickly and retain the help of an attorney. Call the Kahn Law Firm, P.C., at 713-999-6549 and get the legal help you need to protect your rights.