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Understanding the Criminal Trial Process in Texas

Those who have been charged with a crime in Texas are afforded several rights through the criminal process. This ensures consistency and fairness during the judicial proceedings. In most states, the procedures are quite similar, though with slight variations. Our San Antonio criminal defense lawyer at The Law Office of John J. Fox can provide you with a general overview of the process with regards to Texas law, from the beginning stages until the case’s conclusion.

1. Arrest, Miranda Rights, and Booking.

An officer can only lawfully arrest someone if there is reasonable enough cause to show that a crime has been committed. Let’s say an officer stops a driver because the registration tags on the vehicle have expired. The officer then discovers the driver is intoxicated and has uncovered clear, reliable evidence to support the claim.

The officer may arrest the driver and then remind the arrested person of his or her Miranda rights: the right to remain silent, anything said can be used against them, and the right to an attorney. The last stage is booking. A bail amount will be set, and a court date is arranged.

2. The First Court Appearance and Arraignment.

Early on, even before the first court appearance, hiring a San Antonio criminal defense attorney is highly recommended. Going without one can be hurtful to the case outcome, and it can be difficult to take advantage of one’s full legal rights. It is at this point that the arrested person, will now be called the defendant, and the state charging the crime, will be called the prosecution. During the arraignment, the defendant will have the chance to make a plea. The attorney can advise the defendant on which plea to enter, and in most scenarios, a “not guilty” plea is typical.

3. Plea Bargains.

The defense attorney can also negotiate with prosecutors for a plea bargain. How does it work? The defendant will plead either “guilty” or “no contest” in exchange for a lighter sentence, reduced jail time, and other forms of relief.

4. Preliminary Hearings.

A preliminary hearing occurs before trial to determine whether or not the evidence is strong enough to show that the defendant committed the crime. This is the defendant’s chance to hear and challenge the prosecution’s evidence on hand. If the judge believes that there is probable cause demonstrating that a crime was committed, the case may move to trial.

5. Trial.

Under Texas law, for felonies, the trial must commence at least 180 days from the date of arrest. These trials will have 12 jurors while a misdemeanor case will have six. It is at this time that the prosecutors will make their arguments, and the defense can bring forth counter claims. Both counsels will also have a chance to cross-examine witnesses. Jurors must come to a unanimous conclusion over whether or not the defendant is guilty of the charge, based on the evidence and the arguments heard during the trial.

6. Sentencing.

For sentencing of felony cases, the judges examine the “pre-sentence report.” Judges may also consider all elements of the case, including the defendant’s demeanor and attitude (does he or she show remorse?), past criminal records, if any, and any other additional factors. Misdemeanor cases are sentenced right away after the jury has rendered its verdict.

If you have been charged with a crime, note that there may be additional elements specific to your case and the circumstances of your case. We urge you to contact The Law Office of John J. Fox to have a dedicated San Antonio criminal attorney focused solely on the issues with respect to your case. We are known for obtaining results in our 15+ years of experience.

Begin your defense and contact our firm today to request your free appointment.

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