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Helpful Resources


Am I Facing Misdemeanor or Felony Charges? Show Answer

You have likely heard the terms “misdemeanor” and “felony,” but you may not fully understand what they mean and how they may apply to your case. In short, a felony is a more serious offense than a misdemeanor, meaning that it will usually result in greater consequences, including more expensive fines and a longer prison sentence. However, in Texas, both misdemeanors and felonies are further divided into categories based on their severity.

The least serious criminal offense in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor, with the primary consequence being a fine of up to $500. Class B misdemeanors come with a larger fine and a possible jail sentence of up to 180 days, while Class A misdemeanors can result in a jail sentence of up to one year. Common examples of misdemeanors include traffic offenses, marijuana possession, shoplifting and minor forms of theft, and first-time DWI offenses. However, repeat misdemeanor offenses can sometimes be charged as felonies.

Felonies start at the level of state jail felony, with fines of up to $10,000 and jail time of up to two years. Felonies of the third, second, and first degree can result in state prison sentences of between 2 and 99 years depending on the severity of the crime. A capital felony, the most serious kind of offense under Texas state law, can result in a sentence of death or life without parole. Violent crimes, drug crimes, and serious property crimes are often charged as felonies.

What Happens if I Do Not Show Up for My Court Date? Show Answer

In many criminal cases in Texas, you can be released from custody pending your court appearance on your own recognizance or after posting bail. However, if you miss your scheduled court date, you can face serious consequences. The court will issue a bench warrant, granting law enforcement the authority to find you and take you back into custody. This often means that you will be held in jail until your court date. You will also be charged with the criminal offense of failure to appear, which can add an additional misdemeanor or felony to your sentence depending on the circumstances. If you posted bail, that bail will also be forfeited.

Hiring an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest can help you avoid missing your court date, as your lawyer will receive notices from the court and can remind you of your upcoming appearance. If you do miss your court appearance and you are subject to a bench warrant and a charge of failure to appeal, your attorney may be able to have them dismissed by demonstrating that you had a reasonable excuse, potentially allowing you to stay out of custody while you wait for a new court date.

What Should I Do if I am Arrested? Show Answer

If you are arrested on any criminal charges, you should be aware of your Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. You should hire an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest, and certainly before answering any questions from law enforcement. Your attorney can advise you of how to proceed to avoid making mistakes that can hurt your case, and if you affirmatively assert your rights, your attorney can be present for police questioning. Securing your conditional release from custody is also important, and this may require you or a family member or friend to post bail.

Do the Police Have to Be Honest With Me? Show Answer

Many people have misconceptions about interactions with police officers, including that they are required to answer an officer’s questions and that the police are required to be honest with a suspect during questioning. In fact, neither of these things are true.

There is very little information that you are legally obligated to share with a police officer. If you are pulled over for a traffic stop, you are required to show your driver’s license if an officer requests it, and if you are arrested for any charges, you must provide your name, date of birth, and address. If you are arrested for DWI, you are required to submit to chemical testing or face a driver’s license suspension. However, you can decline to answer any further questions or provide any other information until you have spoken to your attorney. If the officer informs of you of your Miranda rights upon your arrest, any information you provide after that point can be used against you in court.

However, the police will often use dishonest and misleading tactics to convince you to share more information, and they are legally permitted to do so. You should be wary of common strategies used by law enforcement, such as claiming that they already have enough information or evidence to convict you, or making false promises of leniency if you answer their questions.

What Happens on the First Day in Court? Show Answer

In most cases, your first day in court will be for an arraignment. At your arraignment, the judge will inform you of your rights and the charges that have been filed against you, and you will typically be asked to enter a plea in response to the charges.

It is extremely important that you appear for your arraignment, and that you arrive at the courthouse on time. You should plan for traffic and the time it takes to park and go through security. You should also come to court dressed appropriately, similar to how you would dress for church or a professional job. If you are wearing shorts, flip-flops, a sleeveless shirt, or other inappropriate attire, you may not be permitted in court.

If you have already hired an attorney, they can be present at your arraignment with you. Your lawyer will make sure that the judge knows you are present when your name is called on the docket, as well as answer your questions and provide advice throughout the process, including when you are asked to enter a plea.

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  • “Barrera was my attorney for a criminal and misterminor case. I couldnt ask for a better attorney. At first I was a little nervous because he is a very quiet man, but when he is up there asking questions and cross examination Stephen is amazing and I knew i would be alright. We won both cases with no plea deals. I would recommend Stephen Barrera to everyone. I wish his law firm many years of success. Thank you for helping me keep my freedom.”

    - Laura Egelston

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