Need an Answer? Our FAQs Will Help
At the Willett Law Office, P.L.L.C. my goal is to fully inform you of all the possible consequences of your case and the risks involved with each choice. I will tell it to you straight, based on my expert Board Certified legal opinion. I won’t tell you what you want to hear to obtain your business. Anyone can make false promises – I work in reality.
My experience includes over 20 years of practice in criminal and juvenile law. I have handled thousands of cases and taken over 300 of these offenses to trial as a DEFENSE ATTORNEY. I can be found hard at work throughout the courtrooms of Texas.
NO, NO, NO. The police will try to get you to voluntarily come in and give a statement concerning the offense for which you are under investigation. They may tell you that “You are not under arrest and you will be allowed to go home.” This may be true but what they didn’t tell you was the rest of the statement. “You are not under arrest and you will be allowed to go home…until we arrest you tomorrow.” First, the police are not your friend and they are allowed, under the law, when you are not in custody, to lie to you about witness’s statement and claim they have imaginary evidence in an effort to get a confession from you. Second, it is far much worse than that. If you voluntarily go in to the station and during questioning tell the police that you want an attorney the police can keep asking you questions and ignore your requests because you are always free to get up and leave since you are not under arrest. Third, even if you sit in silence and refuse to answer a question if you are not under arrest your silence can be used against you as an admission of guilt. And finally, if you are not in custody (or being asked questions about the offense if in custody) the police are not required to read you your Miranda Rights. ALWAYS CONTACT A BOARD CERTIFIED ATTORNEY BEFORE YOU ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS BY THE POLICE.
Also remember to copy and carry my Search and Seizure Rights Card which spells out to the police that you are not giving up any of your rights until you speak with me. I’ve included my office and personal cell number in case of an emergency. Download your card here.
If you get arrested do not speak with the police about the offense. Don’t apologize, don’t give an explanation and don’t be disrespectful. Many people find themselves under arrest because they fail the attitude test. Remember the phrase “You might beat the rap (crime) but you won’t beat the ride (arrest). Additionally, if you get into a physical altercation with a police officer you could face additional charges of Resisting Arrest or possibly even the felony offense of Assault on a Public Servant.
Generally there are four ways to make a bond. Whether you will qualify for some of these possibilities will depend on your criminal history and the nature of the offense you are accused of committing. First, is a personal bond. This is where you are allowed to post a bond strictly upon your promise to appear. This rarely happens for any criminal offense that carries a possibility of jail time. Second, you can post a cash bond for the full amount of the bond. The advantage of posting this type of bond is that as long as you show up to court, regardless of the outcome of the case, you will get you money returned. Third, a person may be able to get a pretrial release bond. This is a bond made with the county generally at a discounted rate to that of a bondsman or an attorney. Pretrial will generally only make bonds for defendants who have lower level criminal charges and no criminal history. And fourth, you can make a surety bond through either a bondsman or an attorney. Generally a bondsman will be more expensive than an attorney but may have more flexible terms. An attorney will cost less but you have to intend to use that attorney for your case for him or her to post your bond. Additionally, it is harder and less likely for an attorney to withdraw from your bond than it is for a bondsman because he or she is also on your criminal case. One note on attorney bonds, don’t be fooled by the “We apply your bond fees to your attorney fees.” All that means is that they are going to charge you more in attorney fees to make up the difference from posting your bond.
Board Certified attorneys are attorney who have made the extra effort to reach the highest level of knowledge in the certified field. A Board Certified attorney is held to a higher level of competency by the state of Texas than a non board certified attorney. To be board certified you must have practiced for several years in your area of expertise, successfully completed numerous trials, received recommendations for judges and fellow attorneys and passed a rigorous six hour examination in your certified area. There are only three reason a person would not be a Board Certified attorney. One they don’t want to take the time or make the effort to learn the intricacies of the Texas Criminal Justice system. Two, they don’t possess the intelligence necessary to pass the certification test, or three, they are not experienced enough to even qualify to take the Board Certification test. Under any of these scenarios why would you want to hire a non certified attorney? Unlike Texas Super Lawyers or Fort Worth Magazine it’s not just a popularity contest where the members of your own firm can vote for you to make a list. Board Certification has to be earned. You can expect to pay a little more for a certified attorney but don’t assume that to always be the case. On many occasions my fees are lower than non certified attorneys.
For the most part court dates are a complete waste of your time. Here is how it normally works. Generally, a few days before your first court date your attorney will be given access to police reports and any audio/visual evidence. But sometimes things are not available until much later than the first court date. One of the main purposes of the first court date is to receive an initial offer from the prosecutor. This is not necessarily a final offer. It is, however, a good gauge of how close you are from receiving the offer that you desire. You will never have to make a final decision about an offer on the first court setting. Usually you will have a couple of court settings (a couple of months) to decided if you want to take a deal or set the case for trial. During that time more evidence may become available, witnesses can be contacted, statements collected and negotiations finalized. At some point you will receive a final best offer and your choice will be to either accept that offer or set the case for trial. IF YOU SAY YOU ARE NOT GUILITY OF AN OFFENSE ONLY TWO OUTCOMES WILL HAPPEN. YOUR CASE WILL BE DISMISSED OR YOU WILL BE GOING TO TRIAL TO HAVE A JUDGE OR JURY DECIDE YOUR FATE.
A lot depends on your decision whether or not to go to trial. If a deal can be worked out on your case you can expect to go to court 3 or 4 times. Roughly this will be about 3 or 4 months. If you decided to request a trial then generally will take much longer. The length of time before you get your trial can be as short as 10 days from the date it is set for trial to well over a year for a misdemeanor case or up to a few years for a felony charge. The wheels of justice may move slow but remember, attorney fees for a trial must be paid in full before trial and that added time allows for payment plans on trial fees.
Technically you don’t. The State has to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But who are we kidding? Most jurors think you are guilty just because you were arrested and charged. So often we did need to present evidence and witnesses and give them a reason why you are not guilty of the offense.
This is probably one of the first questions on your mind. No matter how you proceed to dispose of your case it is going to be somewhat costly, be it financially, your time, or your peace of mind. It is impossible to give a fair assessment of the costs involved with your case without first sitting down and discussing the facts of what happened and what was alleged to have happened.
If you decide to plead your case, which is roughly done about 96% of the time, the cost will vary depending upon your prior criminal history and the level of the criminal offense charged. Even within the same criminal level you will have varying levels of costs because some cases are more difficult than others. A Class B Theft case is usually far easier to defend and negotiate than a Class B DWI blood test. A second degree Burglary case is normally far easier to defend than a Second Degree Indecency with a Child offense. Some cases are fact specific such as an Aggravated Assault /Deadly Weapon case. If you shoot someone with a gun or stab them with a knife, it is the same level of offense as if you just threatened a person with the same weapons. But your plea bargain recommendation will vary greatly.
Attorney fees with vary significantly as well. An experienced Board Certified attorney will generally charge more than a non certified attorney. This is for good reason. A Board Certified attorney is held to a higher level of competency than a non certified attorney by the Texas Bar. But with that said, don’t always assume that a Board Certified attorney will be more expensive than a non certified attorney. Many times I have been told that my fees are more affordable than less qualified non certified attorneys. Also, attorney fees can be somewhat negotiable. Factors such as court settings, payment plans or multiple charges can all factor into the final price that you will pay. Always look for value for your hard earned money.
Another major factor in attorney fees will be trial fees. If your case is placed on a trial docket, trial costs will also vary somewhat depending on complexity of the case, type of offense and your prior criminal history. These fees do not include investigator fees, expert witness fees, court costs or fines just to name a few items. I italicized “placed on a trial docket” because often offers will get better or cases dismissed just prior to going to trial. I refer to this as “who blinks first.” Sometimes you need to be willing to go to trial in order to force the State to make a reasonable offer or to dismiss the case. Trial fees include the extra time involved for trial preparation, court settings and time that must be blocked off to try the case.
No, we don’t have a loser pay system in criminal law. And we do not want to have one. First, if the State was required to pay back the accused on a case that was dismissed, the State would never agree to dismiss a case for such things as counseling or drug rehabilitation. Second, a person is found not guilty of an offense. They are not found innocent of an offense. A jury could believe that a person committed an offense but they did not believe it was beyond a reasonable doubt.
It depends on what you mean by cleared. If you mean you won’t have a criminal conviction on your record, then the answer is yes. But if you mean will the records of my arrest and criminal charge be erased from the public the answer is no, not until you have the case expunged.
If your case is dismissed, no billed or you are found not guilty at trial you still must affirmatively take actions to eliminate those records from the general public. It is important that you do this as soon as you are eligible to have your records erased. The process takes at a minimum of 4 months to complete. Which means if you have a job opportunity at hand and you need your criminal records cleared before you will get the position, you may lose that opportunity due to the length of time necessary to clear your records. Expunctions benefit you for future rewards.
The answer is generally no. The police have a thick blanket of governmental immunity for almost all of their actions. Unless you have an egregious act perpetrated by the police which results in some significant harm or injury, the police and for that matter anyone involved on the government side of the case is protected.