Were you recently arrested for a crime in Plano, Dallas, or anywhere else in Texas? If this is your first run-in with the “wrong side of the law,” you probably have questions, and understandably so. In order to help you better understand the criminal process in Texas, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers.
If after reading this list, you need further assistance with a criminal law matter, don’t hesitate to contact our firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced member of our legal team.
What is the difference between misdemeanors and felonies?
In Texas, crimes are classified into misdemeanors and felonies, with felonies being the more serious of the two. Misdemeanors typically involve DWIs, simple assaults, and petty theft offenses. Felonies involve serious offenses against the person, such as sexual assault, manslaughter, robbery, as well as property offenses, such as home burglaries.
What happens after an arrest?
Shortly after an arrest, the suspect is brought before a judge and informed of his or her charges. The judge sets a bond amount, and reads the defendant their rights. If the defendant cannot post bond, he or she will be transferred to a county jail as they wait for their case to proceed through the courts.
Why does the judge set bond?
The vast majority of cases allow bond to be set; the bond amount is set by the judge, NOT by the prosecutor. The purpose of bond is to ensure the defendant appears in court for future proceedings. When setting bond, the judge considers the nature of the offense, and whether the defendant is a danger to the community.
Will I always have the same prosecutor?
Not necessarily. Since it can take months, if not years to conclude a case, sometimes a defendant will have more than one prosecutor handle their case.
How long until my case goes to trial?
Unfortunately, the court dockets are quite full. Usually, the oldest cases get priority, and then the cases where defendants are in jail awaiting trial are handled next. It can take between nine months and three years from the date of arrest for a case to go to trial.