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A Breakdown of the Texas Justice System

Texas Justice System

The Texas justice system has streamlined processes and produces that are followed following every arrest leading up to the trial. If you’ve been arrested, your situation will be unique to the charges you face; however, there are some standard procedures that you can expect to occur after you’ve been arrested in Texas.

The arrest

During the arrest itself, the officer is required to read your Miranda rights, which include that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. They will also inform you of your right to have an attorney, and that if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you.

Facing the judge

After the arrest, the law requires you to be seen by a judge within at least 48 hours. The judge will explain what you are facing and what the charges meanwhile making sure that you understand your rights. After appearing before the judge, you will be given a reasonable amount of time to consult with an attorney and set up a bond.

The bail/bond hearing

Once you’ve consulted with a lawyer, they will request a bond hearing. The bond hearing is when the judge decides upon the conditions you must follow to make sure that you return to court for your hearing. If you are being held in jail, they will determine a bail amount that you can pay to be released until your trial. The amount set for your bail is determined on a case by case basis. Your attorney can help negotiate a reasonable bail amount depending on the circumstances of your case.

Filing the charges

After bail is set, then the prosecutor will file charges via a complaint, information, or an indictment, depending on the case. A complaint is used for Class C misdemeanors, an information request is used for Class A and B misdemeanors, and an indictment is used for felonies. Indictments are almost always presented to grand juries of 12 people who will vote to determine if the defendant is guilty.

The Arraignment

After charges are filed, you are expected to appear in court and hear your charges read in open court. You will be given a copy of the complaint and have the option to enter a plea or to request a continuance. If you either the defense or the prosecution need to investigate further or explore additional evidence, then a continuance will be granted. If you and your attorney come to an agreement with the prosecution about a plea bargain, then you will present this to judge and announce how you will plead. The judge has the right to accept or reject a plea agreement.

The Trial

There are two parts to trials that take place in Texas. The guilt/innocence phase is where the state will try and prove that the defendant is guilty by presenting their evidence and calling witnesses. The defense will also be able to cross-examine the witnesses and present their case in favor of the defendant.

After the guilt/innocence phase, the judge or jury will deliberate and announce their verdict to the court.

After the verdict is announced, if the defendant is found guilty, you move on to the punishment phase. During this phase, the judge will announce their recommendation for sentencing or set another date for a sentencing hearing.

While this is a pretty accurate depiction of the justice system’s process following an arrest, remember that each case is unique and may be treated differently. It’s highly recommended that you consult with an experienced attorney that can help you navigate the logistics of your case. If you’re looking for a criminal defense attorney you understand the circumstances of your case in Texas, contact Christopher T. Gore for more info on how he can represent you.

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