judge slamming down gavelThis is the next post in my series on the handling of misdemeanor charges in Laredo, Texas. My last article addressed the question of “do first-time misdemeanor offenders go to jail?” The fact of the matter is that whether a first-offender will receive a term of incarceration will often depend on the specifics of the situation as well as any other charges which are brought. It is important that you discuss your situation with an attorney as soon as possible in order to ensure that your rights remain protected. This article will be used to discuss the process which a defendant typically faces when they have been charged with a crime. If you are facing charges then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer. My office also serves other areas in south Texas.

Texas is like many other states in that misdemeanor charges begin through one of two methods. The first of these methods begins when a defendant is arrested by law enforcement. The accused individual will have an arraignment hearing within two days. The judge overseeing the arraignment will either release the defendant on their own recognizance or they will state that a bond must be posted for the individual to be released. A later hearing will be held where the defendant will plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” A trial date will be set and the case will proceed. The second method by which a misdemeanor case begins is when the defendant is not arrested at the time of the offense. This can occur when the officer at the scene chooses to not arrest the defendant but, instead, provides them a notice of when they must appear in Court. A Defendant can also be sent a Summons saying that they must appear. The notice provided by law enforcement, or the Summons, will state when the accused must be in Court to enter a plea.

The Court, as stated above, will set a trial date when the defendant enters a “not guilty” plea. The defendant’s lawyer will use the time in between the arraignment and the trial to conduct an investigation, to file any necessary Motions, etc. They will also use this time to discuss the matter with the prosecutor and attempt to reach a favorable resolution. Most misdemeanor charges resolve without going to trial. Such a resolution can sometimes include an agreement that the accused individual enters a guilty plea but serves a term of supervision, with the case being dismissed at the end of the supervision. The accused individual would typically be eligible to seal their record once the case is dismissed. It is important to remember that how any matter will proceed through the system, as well as the outcome, will depend on the facts of the case, the defendant’s prior history, and more. One of the best ways to ensure that your rights are being protected throughout the process is to retain an experienced lawyer.

If you or a family member have been charged with a first-offense misdemeanor then it is important that you take the matter seriously. A conviction can mean being saddled with a permanent criminal record. This can make it difficult to secure a job, a place to live, and more. As a Laredo criminal defense attorney, I assist those in our area who have been charged with a misdemeanor. I understand that this is a serious time in your life and my office will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone today to schedule an initial consultation. We look forward to speaking with you.