Thousands of Texans are at risk of being arrested at any given moment for not paying fines related to traffic offenses or other city ordinance violations, according to a recently released report by Texas Appleseed and the Texas Fair Defense Project. Those who can't afford to pay often find themselves hit with additional fines or other restrictions such as being blocked from renewing their driver's licenses and vehicle registrations.
The Texas Indigent Defense Commission reports that Collin County spent $4.4 million for indigent defense. Collin County Commissioners say they spent more than twice that amount. Where is the missing $5 million dollars?
With the wealth of information available online, many people turn to Google before they decide whether they should hire a criminal defense attorney for their case. While there is some good information available online, there is no replacement for hiring an attorney in many cases. A qualified attorney will fully explain your options for plea agreements, suppression, and trials. Most importantly, he or she will fully understand how your choices will affect your life.
What Can An Attorney Do For Me?
My first is to answer that question is with a couple of my own questions. Do you know what plea agreement options are available to you? Do you know what the reasonable probation terms are for your offense? Do you know how to obtain all evidence the State may use against you?
One common example I see is a person who decided not to hire an attorney for a criminal case. The District Attorney offered a deferred plea, where a person is placed on probation for a length of time and the offense is eligible to be non-disclosed from their record when probation is completed. The client believes they saved money by not hiring an attorney and they have a chance to get the arrest off their public record. Sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, people will accept probation terms that are much longer than attorney represented defendants, with higher fines. In addition, they do not fully understand the terms of their probation and how to shorten the length of probation. Often the results will include jail time, additional fees, and a permanent criminal record.
Did The Police Have a Right to Arrest or Search You?
I thoroughly review every criminal case for my clients. During my case review, I look for areas where the police officers may have made mistakes. If your rights under the Texas Constitution or US Constitution were violated, I may be able to get the case dismissed. Even if your case does not warrant dismissal, presenting arguments to the DA about Constitutional concerns can aid in the negotiations of plea agreements.
Where Do You Find All of the Evidence?
The DA is required to provide certain evidence to you, called discovery. Most offices will give you the basic information: police reports, videos, and known exculpatory information. However, in some cases there is additional evidence you should have to thoroughly evaluate your options.
An example is the charge of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). The DA will usually give you the items I mentioned above, but they do not provide maintenance records for an Intoxilyzer or lab records if you gave a blood specimen. I order all records when a client hires me to defend him or her for DWI.
The decision to take a criminal case to trial is not a light one. Preparing for a trial is a labor intensive process and requires the experience of an attorney. Considerations before going to trial include whether to have a judge or jury hear the case, electing who decides your punishment and if you will face a "Trial Penalty", if you are found guilty.
In Texas, if you choose to represent yourself at trial, you are required to know all rules of evidence and procedure. Failing to object to evidence or testimony will prevent you from future appeals.
What is Right For You?
Before you make any decisions, your attorney should know about you. During my initial consultations, I always ask my clients what their top two goals are. The first is usually some variation of getting the case dismissed, but the second is different for each client. Sometimes it's about lower fines and others it is for the shortest jail sentences.
Spending the time to know and understand my clients is one of the most important things I do. By taking this time to get to know you, I am able to provide a personal approach to every case to get you the outcome you deserve.
If you are facing criminal charges, please call me today atto schedule a free consultation.