Every state has its own set of criminal laws that govern the state. These supplement federal laws, and most criminal prosecutions take place at the state level. In all criminal cases in Texas, a prosecutor represents the sovereignty – be it the county or the city. A criminal defense attorney represents the individuals who are accused of crimes. Our Texas state crimes lawyers handle cases ranging from misdemeanor assaults and DWIs all the way up to capital murder cases. We have gone to trial on everything from a DWI to capital murder. We have tried over 500 cases to juries in Texas. If you have a question about criminal laws in Texas, our firm has an answer.
There are thousands of criminal offenses in the state of Texas. They range from Class C tickets all the way up to capital offenses that are punishable by death. You can find a list of all the felonies in Texas and all the misdemeanors in Texas on our felony and misdemeanor pages.
In order to understand what a criminal defense attorney does, you have to understand how criminal cases are filed. An officer can arrest you on a Probable Cause Standard.
Probable Cause simply means that there are specific articulable facts that an offense occurred. This is a far cry from Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt.
In fact, it is not uncommon for police officers to make arrests based on the word of just one person with no additional physical evidence. Imagine an officer going out to the scene of an alleged assault. Imagine that neither party has any visible injuries but one says the other attacked them. It is not only possible but also very likely that the officer will arrest one of these individuals. That’s how low the burden of proof is to make an arrest.
Once an arrest is made the case is then sent to the district attorney’s office. The district attorney, just like the police officer, is screening the case to see if there is probable cause that an offense took place. A prosecutor, at the intake stage, is not yet trying to figure out if they can prove their case Beyond A Reasonable Doubt.
A criminal defense attorneys job is to first determine whether or not the State can prove an offense to place. Sometimes that means disputing whether or not there was Reasonable Suspicion to make a stop. Sometimes that means attacking whether there was probable cause to make an arrest. Many times that means looking at the police procedures applied in a particular case to see if the police actions were lawful. They are going to analyze the quantity and quality of evidence as well as looking at the chain of custody for each piece of evidence to see if there are legal issues with that evidence.
In every case, a defense attorney is making a number of decisions. First and foremost they are looking for ways to avoid a conviction, a prison sentence, a jail sentence, or even a probated sentence. Dismissals, diversion programs, no bills, reduced charges may be good outcomes depending on the facts of the case.
A criminal defense attorney may decide to make a grand jury presentation to avoid an indictment in a case. Similarly, a defense attorney might decide to file a motion to suppress arguing that the evidence obtained in the case was inadmissible either because there was not reachable suspicion for the stop or because there was not probable cause for an arrest. There are also additional ways to keep evidence out of the courtroom. These include issues with prolonged detentions, chain of custody issues, coercive police tactics, improper interrogations, and through the impeachment of witnesses.
In short, a Texas state crimes attorney’s job involves seeking the truth, seeking the best possible outcome for a client, advising a client on the risks and rewards of going to trial, and preserving legal issues for appeal when necessary.
Deciding who your criminal defense attorney will be, which is finding the best criminal defense attorney for your case, is not an easy decision to make. First and foremost, who you decide to hire as your criminal defense attorney is a very personal decision. Every attorney brings a different perspective and a unique skill set to the table. Things you might want to consider include whether or not the attorney is Board Certified in Criminal Law, how many cases the attorney has tried to juries in your jurisdiction, whether the defense attorney know the prosecutor and the judge, whether the defense attorney give you a good description of how the criminal process works, what to expect, and outline some strategies for your defense. Unlike doctors, lawyers are unable to truly give second opinions. The reason for this is there may be different ways to obtain to obtain a good outcome for a given case. Look for an attorney who seeks the best possible outcome without over-promising. The best defense attorneys under promise and over deliver.
The cost of a criminal defense attorney will vary greatly based on the level of experience of the attorney, whether the attorney operates in volume, and the nature of the case. Some attorneys operate on a volume basis. This means they take on as many cases as they can, which often results in very little individualized attention from the attorney. Other attorneys are highly selective in the cases they take, and as a result, their prices might be higher. Similarly, it is generally true that the more experienced attorneys are more expensive they are going to be. Finally, the price of criminal representation will depend on the complexity of the matter at hand and the potential punishment range for the offense charged. Most attorneys on state and even some federal defense matters will operate on a flat-fee basis. Occasionally, on complex cases such as white collar crime cases, an attorney may work on an hourly model. By way of example, it would not be surprising for the cost of a DWI case to be $5,000 whereas the cost of a white color case may very well go into six figures or even higher. If you were to call 10 attorneys after you’re arrested for an offense it is very likely that you will get 10 different prices to represent you covering a wide price spectrum. Remember that while price is certainly a factor in deciding who your criminal attorney should be, price should not be the deciding factor in determining who you are going to trust with your criminal record, your freedom, and your future.
The most important piece of advice that I can give a client or a potential client is to not talk to the police law enforcement CPS or any other law enforcement or quasi-law enforcement agency without an attorney. time and time again, we see cases that are made by the prosecution solely on the basis of facts that were elicited during a conversation with a detective or other law enforcement agent. Understand that it is a common tactic for detectives or police officers to invite people down to the station to give a statement voluntarily. The police do this because they know if someone comes into the station and is free to leave the police officer does not have to advise them that they have a right to an attorney and they have the right not to answer questions. In other words, the officers eliminate the possibility that a person after hearing their Miranda rights will ask for their attorney. For the same reason, it is not at all uncommon for police officers not to arrest individuals when they come in for those voluntary statements. In fact, even if a person goes in and gives a full-blown confession, the officer is still not going to arrest that person at that time. Instead, they will get a warrant and come back at a later time to arrest the individual. Also, understand that the police officers are not necessarily looking for full-blown confessions. Instead, they are looking for any facts that corroborate what the officer already believes to be true. Additionally by speaking and a defendant often eliminates potential defenses and potential alibis. It is of the utmost importance that a person does not talk to any law enforcement agent see without the presence of an attorney.
Learn more about the stages of a criminal case.
If you’ve ever seen the commercials that say “not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization” that is because only attorneys who have passed the rigorous state specialization examination can advertise themselves as an expert in a particular area or as a Board Certified Specialist. Three of the attorneys at Varghese Summersett PLLC are Board Certified Criminal Specialist. This means they are among the very few criminal defense attorneys in Texas that have reached the highest level of certification possible in criminal law. These attorneys stand out because of not only their experience but also their success in passing a rigorous certification examination that allows them to use the designation of criminal law expert or criminal defense specialist. In addition to our attorneys who are Board Certified in criminal law, we have one attorney who is also Board Certified in criminal appellate law. This means that whenever you bring a case to Varghese Summersett PLLC, you have multiple Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists reviewing your case, analyzing it, and looking for the best possible outcome be that a dismissal, a no bill, a reduced charge, or preparing the case to go to trial.
The Texas state crimes lawyers of Varghese Summersett PLLC, have the experience to help you navigate through your legal troubles when under an accusation of violating one or more crimes in Texas.