Stages of Criminal Prosecution in Texas
Like all court systems, the Texas court system has two conflicting goals: they aim to protect the public on one hand and must also protect the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the criminally accused. To uphold the rights of defendants, all Texas criminal courts and law enforcement authorities should follow specific procedures during the criminal prosecution process. This is what is referred to or known as “due process,” and you want a Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer aggressively protecting your rights if you face criminal charges.
To ensure maximum due process, there are steps that must be taken in a Texas criminal prosecution, and these are:
An arrest cannot be arbitrary - meaning, it cannot be just at the whim of the arresting officer. Rather, the officer must have what is known as “probable cause,” which means a legally sufficient reason to arrest. Once the officer makes an arrest, they must inform the arrested person of their Miranda Rights. These are rights that include the right to remain silent and to have the representation of an attorney. It is important that anyone arrested invoke these rights, politely decline to answer questions, and contact a Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Once the police have detained a person and do not want to release them, they must bring that person to court and have the person formally charged. A judge will publicly read the charges and ask the defendant to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The judge might also hear arguments from both sides (the prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyer, if they have one) as to whether the defendant should be held in custody pending all proceedings or to be released on bail. Never plead guilty at an arraignment - or at all - without first speaking with a criminal defense lawyer.
Courts are overloaded with cases, and Texas is no exception, so to help in moving things along and to reduce overcrowding of dockets, plea bargaining is the most prevalent method for having criminal cases resolved in Texas. Plea bargaining is when the prosecutor and the defense attorney bargain and hopefully agree on terms and conditions to end the case without going to trial, as doing this helps in saving time and money. Plea bargaining is not right for everyone, and your lawyer can help you decide whether to accept a deal or not.
If you decide to fight your charges, the case must go to trial, where the prosecutor will have the burden to prove that the defendant has committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Most criminal trials take place in front of a jury, and you need an experienced criminal defense litigator on your side.
Talk to A Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer Right Away
If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is important you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side every step of the way. Contact the office of Kyle Whitaker today to schedule a meeting with our team to discuss your case.