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What Happens if You are Not Indicted Within 180 Days in Texas?

If a criminal case falls through the cracks, the court might dismiss it.

Under Texas law, if prosecutors do not file formal charging instruments (indictment or information) within 180 days of an arrest, the matter is subject to dismissal. Usually, the court grants a dismissal without prejudice, which means prosecutors can re-file a case that, more than likely, fell through the cracks.

Furthermore, an article 32.01 dismissal is not automatic. A Ft. Worth criminal defense lawyer must file a motion. Filing such a motion might be a bad idea. Sometimes, it is better to let sleeping dogs lie. With each passing day, witness memory fades a little more, making it harder and harder for prosecutors to prove guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.

Bail Conditions

The “to file or not to file” question often depends on the conditions of bail and the amount of evidence against the defendant.

Bail conditions remain in effect until a Ft. Worth criminal defense lawyer permanently resolves a case. These conditions usually include:

Bail often includes offense-specific conditions as well, such as an IID in a DWI and a no-contact order in an assault.

IIDs (Ignition Interlock Devices) are portable Breathalyzers attached to a vehicle’s ignition. The driver must provide a sample below a pre-set limit, usually .04, to start the car. Drivers must also submit rolling chemical samples while the vehicle is running.

No-contact orders often force defendants to find alternative housing, frequently while they remain financially responsible for the old residence. No-contact orders could have additional conditions as well, such as an anger management course or alcohol evaluation.

These conditions are often oppressive. However, in many cases, they are not much more oppressive than probation conditions. In these cases, bail is basically deferred disposition probation. After more time passes (the amount of time depends on the judge), an attorney can make a speedy trial motion and obtain a dismissal with prejudice, which prevents the state from filing charges.

Amount of Evidence

If the state has a substantial amount of evidence, especially if that evidence includes an eyewitness or lineup identification, filing a 32.01 motion is often a mistake. Frequently, judges allow prosecutors to throw together charging instruments and amend them later. The case could once again fall through the cracks and prosecutors might not update the documents, but lightning usually does not strike twice in the same place.

Marginal evidence claims are different. In these cases, a 32.01 motion basically dares prosecutors to file charges. If the evidence is weak, many prosecutors do not accept that challenge. Instead, they agree to a favorable plea bargain agreement, once again on the spot.

The burden of proof in criminal court is beyond any reasonable doubt. In practical terms, prosecutors have a very high mountain to climb.

Rely on a Tough-Minded Tarrant County Criminal Defense Attorney

Knowing what to do, and what not to do, is often the key to a successful outcome. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal law attorney in Fort Worth, contact the Law Office of Kyle Whittaker. We routinely handle matters throughout the Lone Star State.