Let Us Evaluate Your Case Se Habla EspaƱol

Criminal Process

Plano Criminal Lawyer

Understanding the Criminal Process

If you have been charged with a crime in Texas it can be overwhelming and frightening. It is possible that you could lose your freedom or diminish your ability to survive in the workplace. It is vital that you contact a Plano criminal defense attorney immediately if you have been charged with a crime in Texas. The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC can assist you in navigating through this complicated process.

1. The Arrest

Criminal cases start when it is determined that there is "probable cause" to believe a crime has been committed. There are several ways that a person could be arrested for a crime:

  1. An individual could be arrested at the scene of the crime or soon after;
  2. He/she could be arrested based on a warrant based on a sworn complaint; or
  3. He/she could be arrested based on an indictment by a grand jury.

If you have a jury trial, after all evidence / witnesses have been presented and closing arguments completed, the jury will deliberate your case. It is the jury's job to decide whether the prosecutor has proven "beyond reasonable doubt" that the defendant was guilty of the crime. If the defendant is found "not guilty" by the jury, they are free to leave. If found guilty, sentencing will take place.

The judge will assess punishment unless the defendant asks for a jury to assess the punishment, or the state is asking for the death penalty in a capital felony. It is possible that the judge could be required to ask for a probation officer to prepare a "pre-sentencing investigation report." When the judge is sentencing the guilty, certain factors are reviewed, such as degree of physical or emotional damage to the victim, prior criminal record, reputation and character of the defendant and any other evidence deemed relevant in sentencing. The sentence will then be passed.

If you have been arrested for a crime it is absolutely vital that you remain silent. Contact a Plano criminal defense lawyer from The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC quickly so the attorney can advise you of your rights.

2. The Arraignment

An arraignment is a formal appearance by the defendant before the court where the accused is advised of his constitutional rights and the individual is formally charged. This is the appearance where the accused bail is set. Bail is an important part of the process, as its purpose is to ensure that the defendant does not leave the area. It is similar to an insurance policy for the court.

Depending on the severity of the crime and whether the accused is a repeat offender or considered to be a danger to the community, bail will be set by the judge. Bail amounts vary greatly, from released on your own recognizance to millions of dollars. On some occasions, the court will not allow bail. It is vital to have an attorney at this point as your attorney can argue that there is not a flight risk in your case. The defendant's bail amount could possibly be reduced or the accused could be released on his own recognizance with the assistance of an attorney.

3. Pre-Trial Conference

A pre-trial conference is a mandatory conference between the attorney and prosecutor of the case. At this conference, items such as plea bargains can be discussed. If a plea agreement is not reached or approved by the judge, it is decided whether to waive the right to a trial by jury and have the case heard only by the judge. The pre-trial conference is a vital part of the criminal process and it is important that you are represented by competent counsel familiar with the criminal justice system.

4. The Trial

A defendant has the right to have a jury of 12 impartial jurors. The selection of these jurors is done in a legal setting prior to the trial. The trial begins with opening statements from each side. The trial then moves into bringing forth witnesses and evidence proving each side of the case. Both the prosecution and the defense attorneys now have the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses brought forth by the other side. This section of the trial is very important as the defense attorney must be capable and competent in his cross-examination of the witnesses.

5. Jury Deliberation

If you have a jury trial, after all evidence / witnesses have been presented and closing arguments completed, the jury will deliberate your case. It is the jury's job to decide whether the prosecutor has proven "beyond reasonable doubt" that the defendant was guilty of the crime. If the defendant is found "not guilty" by the jury, they are free to leave. If found guilty, sentencing will take place.

The judge will assess punishment unless the defendant asks for a jury to assess the punishment, or the state is asking for the death penalty in a capital felony. It is possible that the judge could be required to ask for a probation officer to prepare a "pre-sentencing investigation report." When the judge is sentencing the guilty, certain factors are reviewed, such as degree of physical or emotional damage to the victim, prior criminal record, reputation and character of the defendant and any other evidence deemed relevant in sentencing. The sentence will then be passed.

Have more questions about what to expect? Contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC!