After being arrested or charged with a crime, it is not uncommon for criminal suspects to be left with a number of different questions about their legal rights and what they can do to defend themselves. Sometimes getting the answers you need to these questions can be unreasonably difficult however. In order to ensure that Austin residents have the information they need, Ian Inglis Attorney at Law and his legal team has worked to put together the following list of answers to frequently asked questions, providing you with the help you need.
If your question isn’t here, or if you would prefer to discuss your case with a qualified lawyer, do not hesitate to call our offices at (512) 472-1950 today.
How long will a trial take?
Without knowing the particulars of your case, it is exceedingly difficult to determine exactly how long a trial might take should you choose to pursue one. Before you make a decision on how to approach your defense against the allegations brought against you, it is highly advisable that you seek legal advice from an experienced attorney. One of our criminal defense lawyers can advise you on what to expect from a trial in your specific case and may be able to produce an estimate as to trial length.
Do I have to let a police officer into my home?
Should an individual be suspected of any criminal activity, police officers will likely attempt to enter and search their residence for any evidence that may be used against him or her. However, any police officer who wishes to enter and search your residence must present you with a search warrant that was legally obtained from a judge; the Fourth Amendment protects your home and belongings from any unlawful search and seizure. Any evidence discovered and collected in your home without the presence of a search warrant cannot be considered in court.
If I plan to plead guilty, how can a lawyer help me?
Even if you are planning to plead guilty to the allegations leveled against you, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can be a highly beneficial asset. With the help of a criminal defense lawyer, the crimes you plan to plead guilty to may be reduced or somehow mitigated. Aside from reducing the consequences of a conviction, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can advise you toward the best possible course of action in your circumstances and in turn prevent you from taking a course of action you may later regret.
How can a criminal defense lawyer help?
If you have been charged with a criminal offense it is advisable that you retain the services of a criminal defense lawyer as early on in the legal process as possible. Having a lawyer present during any questioning or investigation can be critical in protecting your rights. Additionally, an experienced criminal defense attorney will know how your charges are likely to be prosecuted and, moreover, how defend against them. With proper legal representation, it may be possible to reduce or altogether eliminate the charges being brought against you.
Will my case go to trial?
It depends on the factors of your individual case. Depending upon the circumstances surrounding your case, you may benefit from reaching an out of court agreement. Under other circumstances, it may be in your best interest to pursue a trial. To best understand how the particulars of your case are likely to affect any possible sentencing, and to more generally understand the extent of the charges brought against you, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Should I take a plea bargain?
Before you accept the terms of any plea bargain, you should consult with a criminal defense lawyer. Depending upon the particulars of your case, it may or may not be in your best interest to accept a plea bargain. In some instances, a trial may be more beneficial for you and your family. Many individuals feel pressured to accept plea bargains that prosecutors offer since the consequences of a trial conviction may be much more severe. In any case, you can benefit from experienced legal representation.
What is a hot check?
A hot check refers to a check that does not have sufficient funding in the bank to pay the amount promised. Writing a hot check has serious consequences in Texas, including up to two years in a county jail and a $1,000 fine in addition to what is owed. These are serious punishments to potentially face if the check was written unintentionally. Sometimes people make mistakes and write hot checks unknowingly, and a defense lawyer may be able to help defend you from harsh punishments if you face similar charges.
Can I be punished for marijuana possession intended for personal use?
Yes. The penalties for marijuana possession vary depending on the intention of the person in possession of the drug and the amount of the drug. Those who are caught with less than 2 oz or less may only be charged with a misdemeanor and up to 180 days in jail. Those who are caught with more marijuana may face increasingly strict punishments. Having a drug crimes criminal defense lawyer can be invaluable in minimizing or eliminating the punishment for marijuana possession.
What’s the difference between DUI and DWI?
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a violation of the law regardless of the circumstances, but there are separate criminal charges for this crime based on a number of factors. In particular, an individual who is under the legal drinking age and who is found to have any amount of alcohol in their system can be charged with DUI, while adults who are above the legal drinking age can only be charged with DWI if their blood alcohol level is above a certain limit (.08% for most drivers, .04% for commercial drivers).
Can I still be charged with assault if I didn’t hurt anyone?
Under the law, an accusation of assault does not require a showing of physical harm or even contact between the accused and the victim of the assault. In fact, simply threatening to harm someone else may be grounds for an assault charge. Unfortunately, in domestic contexts and other situations, this can frequently mean that an innocent individual will be charged with a serious criminal violation on the basis of little more than a heated verbal exchange, and it can be difficult to defend yourself against these charges without legal representation.
If I have a criminal record, can I seek expunction?
Expunction is a valuable option for many individuals whose lives have been negatively affected by their criminal records. However, not everyone who has a criminal record is entitled to seek expunction under Texas law. Furthermore, even those who may eventually be able to pursue expunction of a criminal record will have to wait before a certain period of time has passed before they are allowed to do so. Discussing your specific case with Ian Inglis Attorney at Law is the best way to determine whether you may qualify for expunction.
What is probable cause?
Probable cause is a legal standard required for law enforcement officials to arrest an individual or obtain a warrant for an arrest or search. In effect, probable cause requires a law enforcement official to be able to demonstrate their grounds for pursuing an arrest or search warrant to a degree sufficient to lead a reasonable person to conclude that certain beliefs, particularly that an individual may have been involved in the commission of a crime, are probably true. An absence of probable cause in a search or arrest may be grounds for criminal charges to be dismissed.
Do I have to take a breathalyzer test if I’m stopped while driving?
An individual who is stopped by a police officer while driving is not required to submit to a breathalyzer test if they wish to refuse. However, under Texas law, those who drive on public roadways provide their implied consent to these types of tests, and refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test may result in arrest and the suspension of a driver’s license. Furthermore, law enforcement officials may still be able to obtain a warrant requiring the suspect to take a Breathalyzer or other type of test after initial refusal.
How are jurors selected for a trial?
From the community where the crime was allegedly committed, community members will be randomly selected to form the initial pool of potential jurors. After determining whether these potential jurors qualify to serve in the case, both legal teams involved in the case will then select the jury from these qualifying community members. During this final process, each lawyer will interview all of the potential jurors in order to determine how open-minded they are and to determine whether any bias may potentially pre-determine their judgment on a case. Only when each lawyer has been able to question each of the potential jurors will a final selection be made to form the jury.
Can I be convicted if I was never read my rights?
Intended to inform a criminal suspect of his or her rights throughout the criminal process, the Miranda rights are an important aspect of the criminal justice system. Though most suspects may be read their Miranda rights while they are being taken into custody by law enforcement, it is only legally required that they do so before the suspect is interrogated by police officers. As such, if law enforcement does not intend to and never does interrogate a suspect, it is not legally required that law enforcement read a suspect their Miranda rights. Conversely, if you were not read your rights and were interrogated by police officers, you should contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
After being charged with a crime, when should I retain a criminal defense lawyer?
If you have been charged with any crime, it is almost always going to be beneficial for you to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A criminal defense lawyer can help you ensure that your rights are being observed and upheld at every point during the criminal investigation and, should the event arise, help you hold those who abuse your rights accountable for their actions. Having tried other cases like your own, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will know how your charges are likely to be prosecuted and, thereby, how best to defend against them.
What is expunction?
Expunction offers certain people the ability to seal their records from the government and essentially erase any public knowledge of previous criminal charges. This can be a great benefit for people who are looking to move forward with a new job or find housing. Those who are able to have their records expunged do not have to disclose their criminal record to employers or landlords. However, only certain people are eligible for expunction. If you are interested in having your record expunged, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible to file for expunction.
What is the difference between first, second, and third degree crimes?
First and second degree crimes carry the most severe consequences. These degrees of crime can be punished the most severely under Texas law, possibly including up to 99 years in prison. Third degree crimes may not be punished by incarceration time of more than 10 years. All felonies are punishable with a $10,000 fine. If you have been convicted of a first or second degree crime, it is critical that you seek legal guidance from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
What kinds of gun crimes can I be charged with?
While Texans have the right to legally own a gun, there are still many things that you cannot do with a gun. The sale, manufacturing, transport, and possession of an unlawful gun can put you at risk of being charged with a gun crime. If you have been charged with a gun crime, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel from a criminal defense lawyer. Gun crime convictions can carry hefty monetary fines and incarceration time. A criminal defense lawyer can help you protect your legal rights and interests.
What are the eligibility requirements for expunction?
Expunction is the legal act of sealing criminal records from the government and public record. In order to apply for expunction, one must fulfill certain eligibility requirements. Those who were pardoned, acquitted, released from charges, or plead guilty to a Class C misdemeanor may seek expunction. While expunction is not guaranteed if you qualify under one of these classifications, a lawyer can help you take legal action to seal your criminal record.
What is a state jail felony?
Under Texas law, criminal activities are sorted into multiple categories for punishment. The lowest class of criminal activity is classified as a state jail felony. Those convicted of a state jail felony could spend up to two years in jail and pay up to $10,000 in fines. Some of the most common state jail felonies include: stealing, burglary, credit card abuse, evading arrest, and possession of less than one gram of a controlled substance. Convictions of state jail felonies can affect people’s reputations and limit their opportunities later in life. If you have been charged with a state jail felony, a criminal defense lawyer could be invaluable in helping you avoid severe punishment.
What is the difference between battery and assault?
Battery and assault are often linked together and many people may think that they are the same thing. However, the two are separate offenses. Assault is the threat of harm against a person with the intention and ability to carry out that threat. Battery is the act of touching someone in an unwanted or offensive way. If you have been charged with assault and battery, you could be facing years in prison and hefty fines. An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that your legal rights are protected.
What Is a Public Defender?
A public defender is an attorney appointed by the court to represent someone accused of a crime. The U.S. Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright decided that the government must provide free legal counsel to people who cannot afford to hire a criminal defense lawyer.
Can Anyone Request a Public Defender?
No, you can request a public defender only if you meet certain requirements for financial need. After your arrest, you will go before a judge for something known as an arraignment. At this point, you will discuss your charges and the judge will ask if you need a public defender. If you request a public defender, you will need to make a sworn statement concerning your financial status.
Is a Public Defender a Good Option?
The answer to this question depends on your situation. The biggest drawback of public defenders is that they are often overworked and overloaded with cases, so they do not always have the time they would like to give to each client and must make decisions about which cases to focus on. However, the close relationships they have with judges could work to your advantage.
Should I Consider Hiring a Private Criminal Defense Attorney?
The biggest drawback of a private attorney is the cost. However, the advantage of a private attorney is that they have fewer cases, meaning they can focus on your case and the best strategy for you. Increased costs also allow for additional resources, such as expert witnesses or specialized tests, which could be integral to the case. In addition, the court does not appoint private attorneys, so their successes are what get them more work. Getting the best outcome for you is to their advantage.
Can I Switch to a Private Criminal Defense Attorney?
Yes! You can switch to a private attorney after choosing a public defender, or even switch to a different private attorney. It is best to do this as soon as possible in order to allow your attorney plenty of time to prepare for the trial.
To get the absolute best outcome, you need a lawyer who is able to focus on you. At Ian Inglis Attorney at Law, our experienced criminal defense attorney will do everything possible to fight the charges brought against you. Please contact our Austin offices at (512) 472-1950 today to discuss the particulars of your case and let us start defending your rights.