Important San Antonio Criminal Questions & Answers
The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is the severity of the criminal offense. Misdemeanors start at the lowest level, such as class C misdemeanor, which would be a traffic ticket or a minor possession of alcohol, an offense which is punishable by fine only.
Then you have class B and A misdemeanors, in which the penalty is jail time in the county jail and fines. Felony charges are more serious. In a felony conviction, you can potentially be sent to the Texas Department of Corrections prison.
There are multiple grades of felonies. The lowest is state jail felony with a maximum of 2 years in the state jail. There is a third-degree felony, which carries a sentence of 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections (TDC) prison and a second-degree felony, which can be 2 to 10 in prison.
A first-degree felony can entail a sentence of 5 to 99 years to life. In addition, you have a capital felony or capital offense, which carries a life sentence or the death penalty.
Talk. If you are being questioned by any law enforcement or any kind of governmental agency, do not volunteer information because eventually you will say something that can be used against you.
I would recommend contacting an attorney immediately. The detective is not your friend. He’s not there to help you. He’s not there to prove that you are innocent.
He’s there for one purpose, which is to do an investigation of a criminal case and you can to make his job a lot easier if he is able obtain a confession from you. Anytime you’re contacted by law enforcement, talk to an attorney first.
Under Texas law an indictment is the formal criminal charge of felony against a defendant. What happens is a grand jury, which is comprised of a group of citizens, will convene and hear a brief presentation by the district attorney, and the district attorney will ask for a true-bill of indictment.
An indictment doesn’t mean you’re guilty. Basically what it means is that there is probable cause, there is a possibility this criminal case happened, and it should be moved to the court system. When someone is no-billed by the grand jury that basically means that there is no evidence whatsoever to support a charge against them.
After somebody is arrested on a criminal offense case, they usually are brought before a magistrate. A magistrate is a minor judge who sets bail. Bail is basically an obligation of the defendant that he or she will appear in court at the time designated.
Often people receive what are called surety bonds. These are insurance policies guaranteed by bail bondsmen that indicate you will show up in court. If you don’t show up in court, the bail, the amount of money set by the court, will be forfeited to the county.
The benefit of a private attorney versus a court-appointed attorney is that the private attorney has more experience in representing defendants in criminal cases. He or she has more resources than the court-appointed attorney.
Basically, a court-appointed attorney is going to be paid a set amount by the county to represent the defendant. It could be as little as 100 dollars in misdemeanor cases to 400 dollars in felony cases. So bottom line is you get what you pay for.
That is not to say that all court-appointed attorneys are unqualified. But some of them are young unexperienced lawyers; some of them are lawyers that feel they have an obligation to do court appointments. The bottom line is usually with a retained attorney, you’re going to receive a more thorough defense of your case.
That is a common misconception that people have. They think that if they’re not Mirandized that their case will go away. That’s not true. Basically, the first time people are usually Mirandized is when they go before the magistrate and they’re advised of their rights.
In a situation where there is a custodial interrogation, that’s where Miranda protection comes in. In other words, you’ve been arrested, you’ve been handcuffed, you’ve been put in the back of the squad car, and the officer starts asking you questions. If you answer those questions without being Mirandized and having your rights read to you, then any information that the detective or officer obtains through that interrogation would be inadmissible.
If you are properly Mirandized, anything you say can and will be used against you.
Probation is one and there are 2 types of probation. There is a deferred adjudication probation, which is a type of probation that the court does not enter a finding of guilt against the defendant, puts the defendant on probation, and if the probationary terms are successfully completed, the case is dismissed.
The second type would be straight probation where the court says, I find you guilty, I sentence you to 10 years in prison, I’m going to probate that sentence for 10 years and put you on supervised probation. If you do everything you’re supposed to do, your case will be closed out satisfactory and you don’t have to go to prison.
However, if for some reason, you violate your probation, you’re looking at being brought in before the judge and potentially being either adjudicated guilty, with the deferred adjudication and sent to prison or having your probation revoked and sent to prison.
Probation is a court-ordered supervision by a probation officer of the terms and conditions of your probation. Usually you’re required to report to your probation officer. It can be a weekly basis or it can be a monthly basis.
There usually are urine analysis’ taken for drug and alcohol use. You have to do community service. You’ll pay fines, court costs, and supervisory fees, and of course, stay out of trouble. Any violations of your terms and conditions of your probation can cause your probation to be revoked, a warrant issued for your arrest, and potentially you could wind up in jail or prison.
What usually happens is the probation officer will send a report to the district attorney’s office. The district attorney or county attorney will prepare a motion to adjudicate or a motion to revoke probation that is submitted to the judge.
The judge will sign an arrest warrant for your arrest, and depending on the situation, you may have a bond set or you may not have a bond set. Eventually you will be arrested and taken to jail.
It is a very good idea that if you have an inkling your probation’s going to be revoked, you should contact an attorney. The attorney can begin to make arrangements to have you possibly bond out of jail. It is important to have legal representation as soon as possible in the event of your probation being revoked.