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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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What Information Will Your Lawyer Need To Assist Your Long-Term Defense?

Important legal information for Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

What Information Will Your Lawyer Need To Assist Your Long-Term Defense? 

When you’re accused of a crime, your lawyer needs specific information about what happened so they can prepare for your longer-term defense. This includes preparing suppression motions, preparing for the trial, negotiating plea deals, and preparing for sentencing. Usually, the facts will be enough to refuse a false story from the prosecution. This makes it even more crucial to tell your lawyer exactly what happened and be forthcoming from the start. 

Here is a breakdown of the information your lawyer will need to build the best case for your defense. 

What happened on the day of your arrest?

Give your lawyer a timeline of where you went, who you saw, and what you did that day. Try to remember specific details like when you woke up, how much you slept, what you ate, and any medications you took. 

What were the circumstances surrounding your arrest? 

Your lawyer will need to know how you approached by law enforcement. Did they have a warrant for your arrest? Recall at what point the police told you were under arrest or if there was a moment when you felt you were not free to leave. After the initial encounter with the police, what restrictions were immediately places on your freedom. Recall when and what time you were arrested, how you were physically restrained, and whether you were taken to jail. Try to provide as much detail as possible about your encounter with the police. 

What happened immediately following your arrest?

It’s common for law enforcement to transport you to their stated for further questioning following the arrest. Try as best you can to remember what questions they asked you and let your lawyer know how they interrogated you. If possible, recall how long you spent talking to the police, who was present during the questioning and if the interview was recorded. YIt’sour attorney needs to know if the officers took notes during the interrogation or if the session was recorded. They will also need to know what questions were asked, whether or not you signed any documents. Give your lawyer details about what you discussed with the officers while you were in their custody. 

What evidence and witnesses did the police obtain?

If the event took place somewhere with witnesses, it’s likely the police have identified them for potential questioning. Try your best to remember if there were any witnesses at the and scene if you saw them. A witness can also be someone who heard about the crime or anyone you spoke to about the crime. Your lawyer will ask you to provide names and contact information for these witnesses that you know personally as well as the status of your relationship with the witness. In addition to witnesses, think of any potential evidence the police collected from the scene. Was there any evidence that could have been left behind that the officers did not see?

We hope this article sheds some light on the information you should be ready to share with your attorney to get the ball rolling on your defense. While we hope you learned what to expect, remember that content online is not to be interpreted as legal advice. You need to speak to a qualified defense attorney who can provide the best information on how to move forward. 

If you’re looking for a defense attorney in Houston to represent your case, call the offices of Christoper T. Gore to learn more about setting up a consultation.

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9 Tips for Dealing with Police (COPS)

Tips for Dealing with the Police

Having a police officer or law enforcement official stop you is never a fun moment. Whether you are pulled over in your vehicle or stopped on the street, there are things to remember to protect your rights and make the situation as pleasant as possible.

Be Polite and remain calm

Police officers deal with a lot of stress and dangers in their day to day, which puts them on alert for difficult people. Even if an officer is rude, treat them with respect. This will be helpful if you need to face them later in court. Avoid escalating the situation with nasty or snarky comments.

Don’t agree to unlawful searches

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, giving you the right to refuse to be searched if you don’t feel the officer is justified. Most searches require an officer to have a warrant. However, there are exceptions for when a warrant is required. If an officer asks to have a look around your home or vehicle, you can say “no, I don’t agree to a search.”

Remain silent

The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination, meaning that you have no obligation to say anything to the officers. Even if you are innocent, anything you say to law enforcement can be used against you. It’s important to say as little as possible until you can speak to an attorney. You can answer standard questions for identification purposes like your name, but don’t make small talk or try to explain yourself because your words could be taken out of context.

Ask if you’re free to go

It is always okay to ask the officer if you are free to leave. If you are not being detained, then it is possible that the officer wants you to stick around for further questioning. Ask the officer, “Am I free to leave?” If they say yes, then you can politely exit the situation and carry on with your day. If they say no, then ask if you are under arrest. They may say that you are not under arrest but are required to stay for questioning.

Don’t flee the scene

It doesn’t matter if you’re on foot or in your car. If an officer asks you to stop, you should never use that as an opportunity to flee. Fleeing from law enforcement is a criminal act in itself and can also be used against you later as a “consciousness of guilt” in court.

Clarify the reasons for the encounter

There are many reasons you could be stopped or approached by a police officer. It is within your right to ask why you’ve been stopped. The three main types of police encounters include arrest based on probable cause, detention based on reasonable suspicion, and consensual contact, where you agree to answer an officer’s questions at your own free will.

Be assertive

Many people are taught to comply with law enforcement despite the scenario. Your right to remain silent and your right to refuse unlawful search and seizure are fundamental when dealing with law enforcement. As long as you are polite and calm, standing your ground on these rights will benefit you greatly in the long run. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied or persuaded by officers who are trying to convince you to give up your rights.

Wait for your day in court

If you feel like the officer has abused their power or violated your rights, still try to remain calm at the moment. If you’ve been unlawfully searched or detained, make a mental note of the events leading up to this moment. You can recount all of those things to your attorney later. Don’t try to fight or engage with the officer on the scene. This will only make matters worse, and if it feels like you are resisting or fighting against law enforcement, this could come back to haunt you later on.

Don’t replace internet advice for real legal advice

If you’ve been stopped by law enforcement and are concerned for your future, always consult an attorney for legal advice. Information on the internet can be useful and informative, but it is NOT an alternative to personalized legal advice. Every case is different and make sure to contact an experienced attorney to ensure that your questions are answered and you are on the right path moving forward.

If you are looking for a Houston criminal defense attorney, or advice on legal issues including DWIs, domestic violence, shoplifting, or other offenses, contact Christopher T. Gore for more info on how he can best represent your case.

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What To Do When Your Loved One is Arrested

Handcuffs When Arrested

It’s never a fun day when a loved gets arrested. You want to help, but if you’ve never been in this situation, you won’t know what to do or who to call.

We’re here to help. In this article, you’ll learn what steps to take to assist and comfort your loved one during the aftermath of the arrest. Depending on where you are at the time of the arrest, there are different ways to react to ensure the best possible outcome.

If you are present at the time of the arrest

Gather information

At the moment, it’s important to keep calm and not panic. You will want to be level-headed and calm when approaching the situation. First, ask the officers if your loved one is free to go or if they’re being detained. If they’ve been arrested, you are allowed to ask why. If the arrest happened under a warrant, ask which jurisdiction issued the order and how much to expect to pay for the bond.

Always be respectful

It is okay to ask the police questions, but be respectful when talking to law enforcement. As long as you are not getting in the way of them doing their jobs, and ask politely, they will provide with the necessary information you need.

Be reassuring and available

If you can speak to your loved one before they’re taken to the station, tell them not to answer any questions beyond the standard booking questions. Tell them that you will do your best to bond them out of as fast as possible. It’s also comforting to let them know that you will contact an attorney for them.

If your loved one calls from jail

Don’t ask for details

Remember that virtually all police stations record phone calls and the prosecution will obtain a copy of the recording, so don’t ask for more information over the phone. Don’t ask about the circumstances leading up to the event surrounding your loved one’s arrest. Instead, ask what facility they are.

Urge them to remain silent

Tell your loved one not to discuss the case with anyone until they meet with a lawyer. Help them get through police interrogations by telling them exactly what to say which is “I don’t want to answer questions. I want to talk to a lawyer.”

Contact a criminal defense lawyer

There is a lot at stake immediately after the arrest, so don’t delay hiring a lawyer as soon as possible. You will need a criminal defense lawyer on your side. Inform your loved one’s attorney of exactly where they are being held and urge them to get down there as soon as possible to speak to their client.

If you hear about the arrest from a third party

Find your loved one

You may be able to find your loved one using your local government’s website, but don’t waste time or money on a commercial inmate locator. Note that it will take some time for your loved one to show up on the computer. You can also call your local non-emergency line for help. When calling, have as much information as possible, including their full name and date of birth. You can also look up the number for your country jail and call there to speak with the booking department directly. If your loved one is being housed a local precinct, it is helpful if you know where the arrest took place when it occurred, and your loved one’s current address.

Remain calm

Your loved one will be scared and desperate to get out of custody, so you need to reflect calm and reassurance. Remind them that they are not alone and you will work to get them out of custody as soon as possible.