The Law Offices of Gary Churak P.C.

San Antonio

14310 Northbrook Drive #210
San Antonio, Texas 78232
San Antonio TX Criminal Defense Attorney

Video FAQs on San Antonio, TX Criminal Defense

Frequently Asked Criminal Defense Questions and Video Answers

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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.

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You will get a court date. Once again, it depends on the amount that you’re charged with is where you’ll be. You could be in municipal or JP court, you could be in county court, or you could be in district court charged with a felony. You will have usually a number of court dates. The first court date would be your arraignment. That’s where you’d come in and enter your plea of guilty or not guilty. You could have some pretrial dates and eventually a trial date. You can decide to take the case to trial. Often on shoplifting cases, we set those for trial because a lot of the stores just simply do not send their people down, spend all day in court to testify in shoplifting cases. They’re more valuable working in the store than they are in the courtroom. As a matter of course, they basically don’t send a witness down to testify. After a couple of times, you make a speedy trial motion and if you’re lucky, your case gets dismissed. Once again, if the case is dismissed, you are eligible for an expunction to seal the case from your criminal record.

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Sure. Hot checks are notoriously persecuted by most district attorneys and county attorneys. Basically, the amount of the check determines the severity of the case. Often, hot checks writers have more than one check outstanding. What they do is they take you the accumulative amount of the checks, or they take one or two checks, and then file it. Hot checks are theft. My advice to individuals are, initially, they will receive a letter from the district attorney’s office or the county attorney’s office saying that they have these checks there and you need to pay them before we take criminal action. If there’s any way possible to work a deal to get these checks paid off, so the case is not filed against you, that’s what I’d recommend that you do. If by chance you can’t swing that, you can’t pay them all, then the next best thing is go get yourself a lawyer real quick because what the attorney can do is he can make arrangements to bond out of jail once you’re arrested. He can make arrangements to delay the case long enough, so you could pay the checks off. Often, I’ve been able to have cases delayed to the point where my clients had been able to pay the checks off, and then have the cases dismissed, so there would be no conviction or probation on their record which would mean that at a later date, you can come in and do an expunction of the charge.

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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.

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In Texas, the severity of the theft charge is based upon the amount of the item or money allegedly stolen. If it is under $50, it is a Class C misdemeanor subject by fine only and no jail time. If it is $50 to $500, it becomes a Class B misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail. If it is over $500 but less than $1,500, it is a Class A misdemeanor subject to a potential jail term of 1 year. Over $1,500 to $20,000 is a state jail felony, $20,000 to a $100,000 is a third degree, and the severity of the theft case goes up as the amount in question rises. In addition, certain types of thefts automatically become felonies. If you were to use someone’s credit card, identity theft, it is a felony regardless of the amount of dollars alleged to may have been taken. As an example, if you take somebody’s credit card, unauthorized charge and buy a $500 item, it’s still a felony.

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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.

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