FAQ

Do I benefit by hiring a former prosecutor?

There are valid arguments which go both ways on this question. Many defense lawyers began their careers as prosecutors. The truth is you need to hire a lawyer who has an excellent reputation as a defense lawyer. Whether he or she was ever a prosecutor is not a major point of concern in the hiring process. You will not benefit by hiring a former prosecutor who is not competent to defend a case. There are great defense lawyers who used to prosecute, and there are great ones who never prosecuted. Base your hiring decision upon the specific attorney's present ability to properly represent you now.

What do I do if I'm not happy with my present lawyer?

This raises a difficult situation. You should obviously discuss this thoroughly with your lawyer. You need to review the written fee agreement. Then, you may want to consult with another attorney to obtain a second opinion. You always have the right to fire your lawyer, but this may present significant problems depending on how far along your case has proceeded. It is important to address any dissatisfaction with your attorney as soon as a problem arises. If you wait until the eve of trial, it may be extraordinarily difficult to obtain a satisfactory solution.

Do I need an investigator?

It is important, and ethically required, that a lawyer have a firm command of the facts. It is not always necessary to hire an investigator, but it will generally never hurt. Whether an investigator should be hired for a given case will depend on the specific case. Your lawyer should be the best judge of whether an investigator is necessary. He or she may explain precisely why the investigator is needed, and what benefit will be derived. You must realize the government has investigators available to work on its case.

It is important to understand that only through competent investigation may your attorney fully evaluate your case. If your attorney cannot accurately evaluate the case, you will make significant decisions based upon deficient advice. Further, if you proceed to trial, you will have a considerable advantage if your case has been thoroughly investigated. This may, and frequently does, make the difference between winning and losing.

The investigation costs should be discussed with your attorney. The fee agreement should clearly state who is responsible for the investigative costs and how they are to be paid. If this issue is not addressed in the written fee agreement, kindly raise the issue with your lawyer. It is important to know precisely where you stand with regard to anything concerning financial obligations.

How long will it take to resolve a criminal case?

There is no way to give a general answer to this question. The amount of time is going to vary considerably depending upon the type of case, whether it is in state or federal court, the particular judge, sometimes the particular prosecutor, whether the accused person is in jail or released on bond, the number of involved people, whether the media is placing attention on the case, and the complexity of the case. Each of these factors may affect the amount of time it will take to resolve a criminal case.

Importantly, a criminal case frequently "begins" long before the case is actually filed in a court. A law enforcement agency may work on an investigation for a long period of time before the case is filed with the prosecuting authority. If you are alerted to a law enforcement investigation of you or a family member, it is important to seek legal counsel immediately. This is particularly true in situations involving federal investigations.

Furthermore, this isn't a race. Generally, you are not rewarded for quickly resolving a criminal accusation. The goal is to achieve the best result, not a fast result. The outcome of a criminal case is going to be with you for the rest of your life. And, generally, you're only going to get one chance to handle it right. Some criminal cases take a tremendous amount of time to do it right. Each case varies, but even some relatively small cases take time to properly prepare and win.

Does it matter whether I'm a U.S. citizen?

Yes, although the ramifications will vary depending on the case. Your citizenship is an extremely important issue. It must be carefully considered in addressing any criminal accusation. Occasionally, it is necessary to retain an attorney who specializes in immigration law. However, that is generally not needed. It is important to realize that the immigration consequences may be more significant than any criminal punishment. It is important to carefully consider and investigate any potential immigration issues before proceeding to trial or any disposition of a criminal case.

DWI

Should I Submit To An Intoxilyzer Machine For The Breath Test?

No. You should not take the test unless you have not had anything to drink. The machine has been proven to be faulty and has an acceptable rate of error. If the machine is not calibrated correctly, it may measure the alcohol in your breath incorrectly.

If so, you may be providing the police with evidence they can use to convict you. If you tell them that you will not take the test without a lawyer present, they will treat your comment as a refusal and so will the court. However, this is easier to deal with at the time of trial than a breath test result that is over the legal limit.

Will I Lose My Driver's License?

If you take the breath test and the machine registers over .08 breath alcohol concentration, DPS will attempt to suspend your license for 90 days for a first DWI arrest.

If you refuse to take the breath test after having been arrested for a DWI, then the DPS will attempt to suspend your license for 180 days.

Of course, you have the right to request an administrative hearing and try to challenge the driver's license suspension. You must request that hearing within 15 days of your request or you have waived your right to that hearing. If you do not request the hearing within 15 days, then your license will automatically be suspended 40 days after you were arrested.

Can I Drive During The Suspension Period?

You are required to obtain a restricted driver's license during this suspension period. My law office has obtained hundreds of driver's licenses for clients in this situation. We can normally obtain a license from the court that allows you to drive for 12 hours per day. You can pick the 12 hours that you want to drive. For example, you could drive from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or you split the hours up in just about any manner you choose. These "occupational licenses" can usually be obtained for a client within 48 hours.

What Is A Driving Log?

In some instances, we can obtain a license that allows you to keep a driving log in your car. This log allows the driver to drive when needed as long as the hours do not reach more than 12 hours in any one-calendar day.

How Do I Get My License Reinstated?

After obtaining a restricted driver's license from the court, there is another step in the process you must understand. Within 30 days of obtaining the order from the court, the driver must file his Occupational License with the Department of Public Safety in Austin along with the following documents:

An SR-22 (this is a statement from an insurance company indicating that the driver is insured), a copy of the order granting the restricted driver's license, a reinstatement fee of $125, a $10 fee for the brown occupational driver's license, and an SR-37 (this is a very small informational sheet that takes one minute to fill out).

Will Your Law Firm Help Me Obtain All Of These Documents?

Yes. Our law firm will take care of every step of the occupational driver's license process. We can make it so that all you have to do is give us a copy of your insurance and choose the hours that you drive. We handle the rest!

Will I Go To Jail?

Whether or not you go to jail depends upon a variety of factors. Among these are the skill of your attorney, your criminal record and the individual factors in your case. However, for a typical first-time DWI, going to jail is not the normal sentence if convicted.

However, sometimes going to jail for a few days is easier than a lengthy probation.

If you do not succeed on probation, the state can file a motion to revoke your probation, which may result in a longer jail sentence than what you could have obtained before being put on probation.

What If I Think I Am Not Guilty?

Each person arrested for DWI has an absolute right to a trial. Many people arrested for DWI end up disputing the DWI allegation. Our law firm would be honored to represent you if you choose to go to trial.

Can I Get Out On Bond If I Am Arrested For DWI?

Yes. Each county handles bond and release procedures differently. In some counties, you are more likely to need a bondsman, some counties are easier for personal bonds. In Dallas County, it is not common for a lawyer to arrange a personal bond for someone arrested for DWI. It is more common and more efficient to use a bondsman.

If My Driver's License Is Suspended, How Do I Get It Back?

If you pay your reinstatement fee, when your suspension period is over, your license will normally go back into effect.

If I Am Under 21, Will I Be Treated Differently?

Yes. A person under 21 arrested for DWI will be treated differently mostly in regard to his or her driver's license. Driver's license restrictions and suspensions are more severe for a person under 21 arrested and convicted of DWI. A person who is under 21 will have a one-year suspension period even if he or she receives probation for a DWI. Thus, he or she may need a restricted driver's license for one year.

Marijuana Possession

For What Will I Go To Jail?

Everyone arrested for possession of marijuana stands a good chance of going to jail at the time of arrest. However, in some cases, a person may be released on the scene if it is a small class C misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. Once the case is disposed of at a later date, a jail sentence is a possibility depending on the facts in the case.

Each case is different and many factors are involved concerning what may happen; however, for a typical first-time misdemeanor possession of marijuana, a jail sentence is not the normal outcome.

May I Lose My Driver's License?

If your case is not dismissed and you do not obtain deferred adjudication probation, you may lose your license for 180 days if you are over 21. If you are under 21, you may lose your license for one year.

If I Lose My License, May I Obtain A Restricted License?

Yes. Your lawyer may obtain a restricted driver's license that will allow you to drive for 12 hours per day.

Will It Be A Misdemeanor or Felony?

Possession Of Marijuana Amount Penalty

Two ounces or less Class B Misdemeanor
Two to four ounces Class A Misdemeanor
Four ounces to five pounds State Jail Felony
Five pounds to 50 pounds Third-Degree Felony
50 pounds to 2,000 pounds Second-Degree Felony
2,000 pounds and up First-Degree Felony

What Is the Penalty For Selling Marijuana?

The penalty is more severe than for a simple possession. Selling more than one-forth ounce of marijuana is likely to bring you a felony charge.

DWI Cases And Minors

Laws Pertaining to Minors in Texas DWI Cases ("Zero Tolerance")

Effective September 1, 1997, drastic changes in the laws pertaining to minors were made by the Texas Legislature in response to the increased frequency of arrests involving minors and alcohol. This law is new and has not been subject to appellate review at this time. Until these new laws have been tested in the court system, they must be taken at face value and challenged on all levels. I have included the verbatim law as enacted by the Legislature and offered it here for your review and thought.

{All citations are taken from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Chapter 106.}

106.02. Purchase of Alcohol by a Minor

(a) A minor commits an offense if the minor purchases an alcoholic beverage. A minor does not commit an offense if the minor purchases an alcoholic beverage under the immediate supervision of a commissioned peace officer engaged in enforcing the provisions of this code.

(b) An offense under this section is punishable as provided by Section 106.071.

106.025. Attempt to Purchase Alcohol by a Minor

(a) A minor commits an offense if, with specific intent to commit an offense under Section 106.02 of this code, the minor does an act amounting to more than mere preparation that tends but fails to effect the commission of the offense intended.

(b) An offense under this section is punishable as provided by Section 106.071.

106.03. Sale to Minors

(a) A person commits an offense if with criminal negligence he sells an alcoholic beverage to a minor.

(b) A person who sells a minor an alcoholic beverage does not commit an offense if the minor falsely represents himself to be 21 years old or older by displaying an apparently valid Texas driver's license or an identification card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, containing a physical description consistent with his appearance for the purpose of inducing the person to sell him an alcoholic beverage.

(c) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

106.04. Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor

(a) A minor commits an offense if he consumes an alcoholic beverage.
(b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the alcoholic beverage was consumed in the visible presence of the minor's adult parent, guardian, or spouse.

(c) An offense under this section is punishable as provided by Section 106.071.

(d) A minor who commits an offense under this section and who has been previously convicted twice or more of offenses under this section is not eligible for deferred adjudication. For the purposes of this subsection:

(1) an adjudication under Title 3, Family Code, > [FN1] that the minor engaged in conduct described by this section is considered a conviction of an offense under this section; and

(2) an order of deferred adjudication for an offense alleged under this section is considered a conviction of an offense under this section.

106.041. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by Minor

(a) A minor commits an offense if the minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor's system.

(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

(c) If it is shown at the trial of the defendant that the defendant is a minor who is not a child and who has been previously convicted at least twice of an offense under this section, the offense is punishable by:

(1) a fine of not less than $500 or more than $2,000;

(2) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days; or

(3) both the fine and confinement.

(d) In addition to any fine and any order issued under Section 106.115, the court shall order a minor convicted of an offense under this section to perform community service for:

(1) not less than 20 or more than 40 hours, if the minor has not been previously convicted of an offense under this section; or

(2) not less than 40 or more than 60 hours, if the minor has been previously convicted of an offense under this section.

(e) Community service ordered under this section must be related to education about or prevention of misuse of alcohol.

(f) A minor who commits an offense under this section and who has been previously convicted twice or more of offenses under this section is not eligible for deferred adjudication.

(g) An offense under this section is not a lesser included offense under > Section 49.04, Penal Code.

(h) For the purpose of determining whether a minor has been previously convicted of an offense under this section:

(1) an adjudication under Title 3, Family Code, that the minor engaged in conduct described by this section is considered a conviction under this section; and

(2) an order of deferred adjudication for an offense alleged under this section is considered a conviction of an offense under this section.

(I) A peace officer who is charging a minor with committing an offense under this section is not required to take the minor into custody but may issue a citation to the minor that contains written notice of the time and place the minor must appear before a magistrate, the name and address of the minor charged, and the offense charged.

106.05. Possession of Alcohol by a Minor (MIP)

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (b) of this section, a minor commits an offense if he possesses an alcoholic beverage.

(b) A minor may possess an alcoholic beverage:

(1) while in the course and scope of the minor's employment if the minor is an employee of a licensee or permittee and the employment is not prohibited by this code;

(2) if the minor is in the visible presence of his adult parent, guardian, or spouse, or other adult to whom the minor has been committed by a court; or

(3) if the minor is under the immediate supervision of a commissioned peace officer engaged in enforcing the provisions of this code.

(c) An offense under this section is punishable as provided by Section 106.071.

106.06. Purchase of Alcohol for a Minor; Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (b) of this section, a person commits an offense if he purchases an alcoholic beverage for or gives or with criminal negligence makes available an alcoholic beverage to a minor.

(b) A person may purchase an alcoholic beverage for or give an alcoholic beverage to a minor if he is the minor's adult parent, guardian, or spouse, or an adult in whose custody the minor has been committed by a court, and he is visibly present when the minor possesses or consumes the alcoholic beverage.

(c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

106.07. Misrepresentation of Age by a Minor

(a) A minor commits an offense if he falsely states that he is 21 years of age or older or presents any document that indicates he is 21 years of age or older to a person engaged in selling or serving alcoholic beverages.

(b) An offense under this section is punishable as provided by Section 106.071.

106.071. Punishment for Alcohol-Related Offense by Minor

(a) This section applies to an offense under Section 106.02, 106.025, 106.04, 106.05, or 106.07.

(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), an offense to which this section applies is a Class C misdemeanor.

(c) If it is shown at the trial of the defendant that the defendant is a minor who is not a child and who has been previously convicted at least twice of an offense to which this section applies, the offense is punishable by:

(1) a fine of not less than $250 or more than $2,000;

(2) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days; or

(3) both the fine and confinement.

(d) In addition to any fine and any order issued under Section 106.115:

(1) the court shall order a minor convicted of an offense to which this section applies to perform community service for:

(A) not less than eight or more than 12 hours, if the minor has not been previously convicted of an offense to which this section applies; or

(B) not less than 20 or more than 40 hours, if the minor has been previously convicted once of an offense to which this section applies; and

(2) the court shall order the Department of Public Safety to suspend the minor's driver's license or permit or, if the minor does not have a driver's license or permit, to deny the issuance of a driver's license or permit for:
(A) 30 days, if the minor has not been previously convicted of an offense to which this section applies;

(B) 60 days, if the minor has been previously convicted once of an offense to which this section applies; or

(c) 180 days, if the minor has been previously convicted twice or more of an offense to which this section applies.

(e) Community service ordered under this section must be related to education about or prevention of misuse of alcohol.

(f) For the purpose of determining whether a minor has been previously convicted of an offense to which this section applies:

(1) an adjudication under Title 3, Family Code, > [FN1] that the minor engaged in conduct described by this section is considered a conviction under this section; and

(2) an order of deferred adjudication for an offense alleged under this section is considered a conviction of an offense under this section.

106.09. Employment of Minors

(a) Except as provided in Subsections (b) and © of this section, no person may employ a person under 18 years of age to sell, prepare, serve, or otherwise handle liquor, or to assist in doing so.

(b) A holder of a wine only package store permit may employ a person 16 years old or older to work in any capacity.

(c) A holder of a mixed beverage permit may employ a person under 18 years of age to work in any capacity other than the actual selling, preparing, or serving of mixed beverages.

(d) The fact that a person is 18, 19, or 20 years of age is not a ground for refusal of an original or renewal permit or license issued under Chapter 35 or 73 of this code, provided that such a person to whom a permit or license is issued may carry out the activities authorized by those chapters only while in the actual course and scope of the person's employment.

106.115. Attendance at Alcohol Awareness Course; License Suspension

(a) On conviction of a minor of an offense under Section 106.02, 106.025, 106.04, 106.041, 106.05, or 106.07 the court, in addition to assessing a fine as provided by those sections, shall require a defendant who has not been previously convicted of an offense under one of those sections to attend an alcohol awareness program approved by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. If the defendant has been previously convicted once or more of an offense under one or more of those sections, the court may require the defendant to attend the alcohol awareness course. If the defendant is younger than 18 years of age, the court may require the parent or guardian of the defendant to attend the program with the defendant

Automatic License Revocation (ALR)

Summary of Texas Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Law ("Automatic License Revocation")

Texas is one of many states to have an implied consent law. This law states that each person who has applied for and been granted a license to operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway has impliedly consented to providing a specimen of breath or blood if arrested for DWI and provided with the applicable consequences of refusal to submit to testing (Texas Transportation Code §724). Texas appellate courts have also held that an individual does not have the right to consult with an attorney before making the decision to refuse or provide a requested specimen. If there was an accident which produced serious life-threatening injury or possibility of death, a citizen can be compelled to provide the requested sample.

Substantial and significant changes in how suspensions under implied consent violations went into effect on January 1, 1995. Each year the Texas Legislature meets, the topic of DWI is addressed in some fashion. Significant changes in this law removed jurisdiction from Justice of the Peace Courts (J.P.) and established a new bureaucracy called the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). This bureaucracy is staffed by "pseudoemployees" of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) and given the direct objective to increase the number of license suspensions for persons refusing to provide the requested sample of breath or blood. This new law also added suspension for providing a specimen upon request that indicated an alcohol concentration above the legal limit (0.08 gm/210 l — breath or 0.08 gm/100 ml — blood). Another major change in the prior law withheld from the SOAH administrative judge, the authority to "probate" or "suspend" any period of license suspension that was ordered. As a result, the TDPS objective of suspending more licenses has been achieved.

The burden of proof at the ALR hearing is on the Department of Public Safety. The following elements must be proven only by a preponderance of the evidence and not beyond a reasonable doubt as in criminal matters:

1. Refusal to provide specimen.

2. That reasonable suspicion to stop or probable cause to arrest the defendant existed.

3. That probable cause existed that the defendant was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated.

4. That the defendant was placed under arrest and was offered an opportunity to give a specimen of breath or blood under the provisions of Texas Transportation Code Chapter 724 AND...

5. ...that the defendant refused to give a specimen on request of the officer.

It is important to note that "refusal" for purposes of suspension is any failure to provide the requested specimen for any reason. Examples of what courts have deemed refusal are: requesting an attorney, insufficient sample as measured by the machine, failure to make decision in a timely manner, etc.

Providing a Specimen of 0.08 or Greater

As stated earlier, providing any sample that yields an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater can also result in the suspension of driving privileges under the current Texas law. The issues to be proven at a failure hearing are:

1. That reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant or probable cause to arrest the defendant existed AND...

2. ...that the defendant had an alcohol concentration of a level specified in §49.01 of the Texas Penal Code while driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in a public place.

Without any prior alcohol or drug-related contacts occurring within the preceding five years,
the periods of suspension are:

Age of Driver Refusal Penalty Failure Penalty
21 or older 180 days 90 days
Prior Contact
Within five years Up to two years Up to two years
Minor(<21 at arrest) 180 days 90 days
Prior Contact
Within five years Up to two years Up to two years

NOTE: "Prior alcohol/drug-related enforcement contact" used to lengthen the period of suspensions stated above is defined as a driver's license suspension, disqualification, or prohibition order under the laws of this state or any other state resulting from:

1. A conviction of driving while intoxicated

2. A refusal to provide a requested specimen

3. Providing a specimen showing an alcohol concentration of a level specified in §49.01 Texas Penal Code (alcohol concentration > 0.08)

Hearing Request Provisions

WARNING!! The ALR suspension is AUTOMATIC — UNLESS you request a hearing on the issue, in writing, WITHIN FIFTEEN (15) DAYS after receiving the notice of suspension from the arresting agency on a Department of Public Safety approved form (generally received on the day of arrest). If a hearing has not been timely requested, the suspension will automatically begin on the fortieth (40th) day after notice was received. If a hearing is requested, no action will be taken regarding suspension until after the hearing and all appeals have occurred. (Call our office immediately for assistance if you think your license is at risk — 214-651-1121.)

Reinstatement of Driver's License After Suspension

If a suspension is ordered either automatically or after hearing, a driver must submit a reinstatement fee of $125 to TDPS before the license will be reinstated. I advise my clients to send their fee to TDPS as soon as they learn that a suspension has been ordered. Again, because of the huge bureaucracy that has been created under the new law, waiting until the 60th or 90th day to submit your reinstatement fee will prolong reinstatement of your license until the fee has been both received and entered on the TDPS computer system.

There is a special TDPS form that must be submitted to reinstate your driving privileges. This form together with the reinstatement fee must be paid by money order, cashier's check or personal check and sent by certified mail, return receipt requested for proper documentation of payment and receipt to:

Driver Improvement and Control, Texas Department of Public Safety, P.O. Box 15999, Austin, Texas 78761-5999

NOTE: Driving privileges will be suspended INDEFINITELY until the reinstatement fee has been received and posted on the TDPS computer.

Stages Of A Criminal Case

THE CRIMES
Felony — A crime which is punishable by one year or more in state prison. Before a case is flied as a felony, an indictment must be returned by a grand jury. All felonies in Texas are filed in a District Court.
Misdemeanor — A crime punishable by up to one year in county jail. Misdemeanors are only dealt with in the County Courts in Texas.

THE ATTORNEY:

You may retain an attorney at any time, regardless of how far along your case may have progressed. It is most often best to retain an attorney when you first learn that there may be an investigation. You may be represented by the public defender (or appointed attorney) if you cannot afford to retain private counsel. However, you may be responsible for paying the costs of a public defender (or appointed attorney) at the conclusion of your case.

THE ARREST

FELONY: Arrests must be based on probable cause. While there is no simple test to define probable cause, the police must rely on what they believe to be good information.

MISDEMEANOR: Arrests can only be made for crimes which occur in the presence of the person making the arrest, or with a warrant. For this reason, shoplifting arrests are technically made by a store security guard. (The police actually effectuate the arrest).

BOOKING PROCESS

While going through the booking process, the following should be expected: mug shots, fingerprints, a search and routine questions on background information. (name, address, etc.)
If your case begins with a court appearance and not an arrest, you may still be required to appear at the police station for a book-and-release procedure.

Most jails will give out booking information (arrest date, bail, visiting information, location, court date, charges and booking number). Generally, you'll be asked for the defendant's full name and birth date. Keep the booking number for future reference.

POLICE REPORTS

The law does not require the police to release their reports. However, we can often convince them to turn the reports over to us. And, in many instances, we are able to speak directly to the investigating officer for information on the evidence supporting the arrest and the nature of the charges.

CHARGING DECISION

It is a common mistake to believe private citizens (victims) have the power to "press" or "drop" charges. Only the prosecuting attorney's office has the authority to bring criminal charges.
The police do not file charges. In fact, the charges on which a person is booked by the police are often changed at a later date by the prosecutor.

Although a "victim" cannot drop charges, he or she can (and often does) influence the prosecutor's decisions. Direct contact with a person thought of as a victim (by the prosecutor) is not recommended, and is often not advised. If you have any questions about this, you should speak with an attorney.

BAIL Or BOND

Bail is initially set by the arresting officer or the watch commander. It is usually set according to a bail schedule published by the court in each county. Many defendants will receive an "own recognizance (O.R.)" release and will not have to post bail.
Bail reduction motions can first be made at the arraignment. There are also other (but limited) opportunities to bring a motion to reduce bail.

Bail is made with cash or a bond. A bond requires a 10 percent fee to a bondsman plus collateral. The 10 percent is the bondman's fee and will not be returned. Cash bail is returned, less a small administrative fee, when the case is over. We often can help you find a bondsman who will work diligently to arrange bail, (often including payments on his or her fee,) with eased collateral requirements.

ARRAIGNMENT

Texas law allows the police to hold a suspect for up to 72 hours after the arrest, (unless it is on a weekend or court holiday) and then it can be extended one day. For example, if you are arrested on a Thursday before a holiday weekend, you can spend up to four or five days in jail before you see a judge.

To find out when the first appearance will take place, call the booking information line at the jail, or the arresting agency.

An attorney may make a special appearance (one appearance only) at the arraignment and may be able to request a bail reduction. Special appearances can only be made at the first appearance/arraignment.

In a misdemeanor case, once the law firm appears on behalf of a client, it is committed to the entire case, including trial (unless it was a special appearance).

In a felony case, the client may retain the law firm through Municipal Court only, which includes the preliminary hearing.

DISCOVERY
Discovery must be reciprocal in order to be constitutional, which means that the prosecution must provide the defense with evidence it intends to use. The prosecution cannot hide evidence and then surprise the defense at trial. This applies to the defense as well. We must provide the prosecution with evidence which we plan to present at trial.
Discovery includes police reports, medical records, probation reports, photographs, diagrams, recordings of witness statements and viewing of physical evidence.

PLEA BARGAINING

Oftentimes, plea bargains are good, but of course, some are not. You NEVER have to accept an offered plea bargain. Even after entering a plea, you can sometimes make a motion to withdraw the plea and go forward with the defense of your case.
Plea bargaining is a process whereby the defense attorney negotiates with the district attorney to obtain the best possible plea for his client. Occasionally, the judge may be involved in the plea negotiation by speaking to the attorneys in an "in chambers" conference. This process may include charging the defendant with a lesser charge, or agreeing to a lesser punishment for the same charge.

Sometimes, the prosecution will drop counts. For example, if a defendant is charged with felony assault and carrying a concealed weapon, a plea bargain may result in the prosecution agreeing to drop the concealed weapon charge and lower the felony assault to a misdemeanor assault in exchange for a guilty plea.

PRETRIAL MOTIONS

Pretrial motions are important tools for criminal defense attorneys. They can force the dismissal of charges, or put pressure on the prosecutor to change a previously held position.
Common motions include:

1. Suppress Evidence (illegal search)
2. Dismiss the Information (Penal Code section 995)
3. Speedy Trial
4. Sever Counts
5. Compel Discovery
6. Strike Counts

TRIAL

Court Trial
("non-jury trial"): a trial with a judge, but no jury.

Jury Trial
n. a trial of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution in which the case is presented to a jury and the factual questions and the final judgment are determined by a jury. This is distinguished from a "court trial" in which the judge decides factual as well as legal questions, and makes the final judgment.

Mistrial
n. the termination of a trial before its normal conclusion because of a procedural error, statements by a witness, judge or attorney which prejudice a jury, a deadlock by a jury without reaching a verdict after lengthy deliberation (a "hung" jury), or the failure to complete a trial within the time set by the court. When such situations arise, the judge, either on his or her own initiative or upon the motion (request) of one of the parties will "declare a mistrial," dismiss the jury if there is one, and direct that the lawsuit or criminal prosecution be set for trial again, starting from the beginning.

Motion for a New Trial
n. a request made by the loser for the case to be tried again on the basis that there were significant legal errors in the way the trial was conducted and/or the jury or the judge sitting without a jury obviously came to an incorrect result. This motion must be made within a few days after the judgment is formally entered and is usually heard by the same judge who presided at the trial. Such a motion is seldom granted (particularly if the judge heard the case without a jury) unless there is some very clear error which any judge would recognize. Some lawyers feel the motion helps add to the record of argument leading to an appeal of the case to an appeals court.

Retrial
n. a new trial granted upon the motion of the losing party, based on obvious error, bias or newly discovered evidence, or after mistrial or reversed by an appeals court.

Speedy Trial
n. in criminal prosecutions, the right of a defendant to demand a trial within a short time since to be held in jail without trial is a violation of the "due process" provision of the Fifth Amendment (applied to the states by the 14th Amendment). Each state has a statute or constitutional provision limiting the time an accused person may be held before trial (e.g. 45 days). Charges must be dismissed and the defendant released if the period expires without trial. However, defendants often waive the right to a speedy trial in order to prepare a stronger defense, and if the accused is free on bail he/she will not be hurt by the waiver.

Trial
n. the examination of facts and law presided over by a judge (or another magistrate such as a commissioner or judge pro tem) with authority to hear the matter (jurisdiction). A trial begins with the calling of the parties to come and be heard and selection of a jury if one has been requested. Each party is entitled to an opening statement by his/her attorney (or the party if he/she is representing himself/herself), limited to an outline of what each side intends to prove (the defense may withhold the opening statement until the defense is ready to present evidence), followed by the presentation of evidence first by the plaintiff (in a civil case) or prosecution (in a criminal case), followed by the defense evidence, and then by rebuttal evidence by the plaintiff or prosecution to respond to the defense. At the conclusion of all evidence, each attorney (plaintiff or prosecution first) can make a final argument which can include opinion and comment on evidence and legal questions. If it is a jury trial, the judge will give the jury a series of instructions as to the law of the case, based on "jury instructions" submitted by the attorneys and approved, rejected, modified and/or added to by the judge. Then the jury retires to the jury room, chooses a foreperson and decides the factual questions. If there is no jury, the judge will determine legal issues and decide factual questions and render (give) a judgment. A jury will judge the factual issues and decide the verdict based on the law as given in the instructions by the judge. Final verdict or judgment usually concludes the trial, although in some criminal cases, a further trial will be held to determine "special circumstances" (acts which will increase the punishment) or whether the death penalty should be imposed. Throughout a trial, there may be various motions on legal issues, some of which may be argued in the judge's chambers. In most criminal cases, the exact punishment will be determined by the judge at a hearing held at a later time.

Trial Court
n. the court which holds the original trial, as distinguished from a court of appeals.

SENTENCING

Prior to the sentencing hearing, a probation report is usually prepared which contains a recommendation to the judge on the appropriate sentence. Although the recommendation is not binding on the court, it is an important element. If probation is not granted, there is usually a range of three prison terms in each felony crime (low-term, mid-term and high-term). Lawyers argue about the proper term based on the facts of the particular case. The final decision is within the judge's broad discretion.

Jails are run by the counties within which they are located. Prisons are run by the state within which they are located.

A defendant may be sentenced to probation instead of prison. However, he or she may be ordered to do some local custody time as a term of probation. Formal probation is when an individual is supervised by a probation officer, while informal probation is unsupervised. As a condition to his or her probation, a person may be subject to drug testing. If a person violates probation, he or she may be sent to jail or prison.

Sentence modifications occur when a portion of a sentence becomes inapplicable to an individual's case. Suppose a man is convicted of the crime of spousal abuse, and part of his sentence includes that he must stay away from his wife. However, if the man and the wife decide to reconcile, then it would be appropriate to ask the court to "modify" the sentence.

We have been quite successful at arranging jail alternatives. Some of these include: detox programs, electronic home monitoring, residential treatment centers, counseling, weekend work programs and community service.

CONSEQUENCES

Any sentence imposed by the court may have a number of independent consequences, which may include, but are not limited to any of the following:

1. Loss of the right to vote
2. Loss of the right to possess a firearm of any kind
3. Loss of the right to associate with known criminals
4. Registration as a sex offender
5. Increased penalties for future criminal convictions
6. Registration as a narcotics offender

Some of these collateral consequences may be removed in certain cases by expungement, or on a motion to the court.

APPEALS

If convicted, a defendant may appeal. There are strict time limits for the filing of a notice of appeal, which is the beginning of the appellate process. Although a late filing of the notice of appeal may be excused by the court, it is the defendant's responsibility that it is filed in a timely manner.

EXPUNCTIONS

This is a process where a person's conviction may be removed from his or her record.
Some of the collateral consequences of convictions (such as sex offender registration and the prohibition against carrying a firearm) are sometimes not removed by an expungement. Each case and each Penal Code section is different.

OBTAINING BOND

When Is There A "No Bond"?

"No bond" in a particular case means that the accused cannot be bonded out of jail until the assigned judge sets bail. This can happen when the accused is on probation, or on bond for another criminal offense, or is charged with a particularly violent crime, or has previously been sentenced to prison two or more times. Unfortunately, sometimes "no bond" is a mistake, which has to be corrected by requesting a bail amount from the judge.

What Can A Professional Bondsman Do For Me?

He can bond you out and free you from jail when you become charged with a state crime. Of course, it depends on the nature of the crime.

How Much Does A Bondsman Charge For His Or Her Service?

You can expect 10-20 percent of the bail amount.

Can I Pay The Bail In Cash?

Yes. You can post a cash bond in Harris County at the bonding window at 49 San Jacinto Street, Houston, Texas. When the case is over, it may take the County Sheriff several weeks to return to you the money you have paid.

What Do I Do When A Warrant Is Out For My Arrest?

If and after bail has been set in your case, you may post bond in cash or through a professional bondsman without being placed under arrest.

Can My Attorney Request That My Bond Be Lowered?

Yes. Oftentimes, bonds are set much higher than they should be and an attorney can agree with the District Attorney to lower the bond, or the judge may be convinced to lower the bond.

When Do Judges Normally Set A Bond For An Accused?

A bond is normally set when the accused is in custody.

When Should I Be Released Out Of Jail?

You will be released from jail after someone has posted a bond on your behalf.

Do I Need A Lawyer For My Criminal Case?

When you become accused of a crime, the prosecutor may take advantage of you. You need a lawyer to represent your interests and to care about your work schedule, child responsibilities, driver's license and so forth. An experienced criminal lawyer can do that for you.

How To Find The Right Attorney? What Fees Will He Or She Charge?

The best way to find a good lawyer is by reputation. The best approach is often to ask other lawyers in the region: Who is the best in the area? Other lawyers usually have a good answer to that question and may even be able to provide you with several names. Police officers, judges, other defense lawyers and court staff are also familiar, usually from firsthand observation, with who the best lawyers are. Ask them who would THEY want to retain if arrested or charged with a crime.

Above all else, you should attempt to retain an attorney who devotes the vast majority of his or her practice to the defense of criminal cases. No attorney can give you a guarantee on the outcome of your case; however, retaining a firm that specializes in criminal defense can maximize the chances of a successful conclusion. If you do not have a sense of comfort and confidence after meeting with an attorney about your case, you should look further.

Attorney's fees vary, of course, usually depending on the reputation and experience of the lawyer or the law firm and the geographic location in which the lawyer practices. As with most professions, the more well-known and skilled the attorney, the higher the fee. Lawyers or law firms that limit their practice to defending criminal cases will normally charge higher fees than lawyers with a more general practice. Each lawyer has something to offer. For some, it's a low fee or an easy payment plan. For others, it's an exceptional reputation and skills to match. It is rare that you will find both in the same lawyer.

Experienced criminal defense lawyers typically charge an upfront flat fee retainer that will cover all fees up to a certain point, at which time additional fees may be required. Some lawyers require additional fees to litigate pretrial motions. Others require additional fees only in the event of a trial. Beware of lawyers who charge a comparatively low flat fee. A guilty plea is often the result.

Costs for such things as an investigator, service of subpoenas, expert witness fees, preparation of photographs, transcripts and other exhibits, etc., are usually extra.

In any event, you should be clear about what the attorney is going to charge and what work he or she is going to perform for your particular case, and the attorney should have his or her agreement with you put in writing.

Probation

Who Is Eligible For Probation?

In general, anyone who has not been convicted of a felony in this or any other state or federal jurisdiction, and has not been placed on probation for a felony in this or any other state or federal jurisdiction is eligible for probation.

Can I Get Probation If I Had A Prior Felony Conviction?

You still may be given probation if the judge decides that justice will be better served to grant you probation or if the District Attorney offers probation as a plea bargain.

Can I Get Probation If I Have No Prior Criminal Record?

The Dallas County District Attorney may not offer you probation if you have been charged with a first-degree felony such as aggravated robbery, forcible rape and murder. Certain drug and alcohol offenses on the felony level also do not receive plea bargain offers of probation, even on first-offense cases.

Can I Be Off Probation Before My Scheduled Time?

After you have served at least one third of your original sentence, the judge may consider a request for early termination if you have been an exemplary probationer, completed all of your community service hours, and fully paid up your fines and restitutions. However, sex crimes, DWI and some other offenses do not allow for early termination.

What Can I Do If I Am Having Trouble With My Probation Officer?

It is best not to antagonize the PO. Swallow your pride and try to get along. Typically, your judge will rely heavily on your PO Report and you will not have the opportunity to rebut the report for you will not know when it is being presented.

What If The PO Becomes Abusive?

Contact a good criminal lawyer who may be able to ask the Court Liaison Officer to explain to the judge your particular problem, before the PO Report is delivered and a warrant for your arrest is issued.

What Is The Difference Between Probation And Deferred Adjudication?

Probation results from a guilty finding and from a suspended sentence. Upon fulfilling the probation requirements, you will not be sent to prison or jail.

In deferred adjudication, the judge finds that there is sufficient evidence to find you guilty, but defers a guilty finding while he or she places you on community supervision, i.e. probation.

In a regular probation, the maximum the judge can sentence you to in prison is the number of years that you were given on probation. For example, if you are on a straight probation for a felony DWI and you received five years probation, the maximum amount of time you can receive in prison if you are revoked is five years.

Will I Be Found Guilty From The Deferred Adjudication?

If you successfully serve out your deferred adjudication, you will never be found guilty of the crime with which you were charged. But if you fail, the judge can sentence you to any term within the range of punishment for your crime. The law does not allow deferred adjudication for some crimes, such as driving while intoxicated.

If you are on a deferred adjudication for two years for a third-degree felony which carries a punishment range of between two to 10 years, then if revoked from probation, the maximum time you can receive is 10 years.

Can I Get My Records Cleared If I Successfully Complete A Deferred Adjudication Probation?

No. The law in the state of Texas does not allow for records to be "expunged" if you have received any type of court-ordered supervision, including deferred adjudication. However, if you received deferred adjudication for a class C misdemeanor, then you are eligible to have those records removed from your record.

What Should I Do If A Motion To Revoke My Probation Has Been Filed?

You should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Sometimes, he or she may be able to convince the judge or the district attorney to reinstate your probation or to give you an alternate punishment and then reinstate your probation.

Can I Get Drug Treatment?

Sometimes, the court will agree to allow you to enroll in a drug treatment facility. Other times, the judge may sentence you to "Days as a Condition" of probation. This requires you to spend a certain number of days in the county jail before being released back on to probation. Other times, you may be able to prove that you actually did comply with the terms of your probation.

Even if it is not possible to get your probation reinstated, a private attorney is usually best able to obtain the least amount of jail time in your case. My law firm has been successful at saving many clients from going to prison when Motions to Revoke were filed against them.

Is It Possible To Change The Probation Conditions?

Yes. If there is a probation condition that is particularly difficult for you to meet, there may be a very compelling reason for the court to modify your probation. My law firm has been successful at helping its clients change probation conditions that might have ruined their careers.

Common Probation Terms Defined:

Monthly Community Supervision & Corrections Report (MCSCR) is for community supervision data submitted to TDCJ's Community Justice Assistance Division by the state's community supervision departments.

Deferred Adjudication is a type of community supervision. If the conditions of supervision are met for the time period set by the court, not to exceed two years, no record of the crime will be made.

Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility (SAFPF) is a secure residential program, which provides substance abuse treatment and counseling to non-violent felony offenders whose substance abuse problem contributed significantly to their committing a crime. Upon completion of the program, the offenders are returned to community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision.

Restitution is repayment for having committed a crime. Restitution can be made to a specific victim in a dollar amount to repay for damages or can be made to society by working without pay for a non-profit or governmental agency.

Revocation is the act of removing an offender from community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision due to the offender violating the conditions of his or her supervision and/or committing a new crime.

Presentence Investigation (PSI) is an investigation of an offender's criminal history, family history, work history, and risks and needs, conducted by a community supervision officer. The court prior to sentencing considers the resulting Presentence Investigation Report (PSIR).

Texas And Federal Criminal Justice Systems

State System

District Courts try felony cases like possession of cocaine, and misdemeanor cases involving official misconduct. In a District Court, an accused has a right to a 12-person jury trial.

County Courts try misdemeanors in which jail is a possibility, like a first or second DWI. In a County Court, an accused has a right to a six-person jury trial.

Justice Courts (JPs) and Municipal Courts try misdemeanor cases like traffic tickets punishable by a fine only.

The state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt — compare this with probation revocation in which the hearing is before a judge and the state need only prove a violation by a preponderance (more likely than not) of the evidence.

In a plea bargain, the District Attorney and the accused agree on a sentence to recommend to the judge. The bargaining is over sentencing: how much time an accused spends in prison, jail, or on probation.

If the defendant chooses, a jury can sentence him or her. It is even possible to plead guilty to a jury. In some cases, the jury can sentence the defendant to probation while the judge cannot do so. But there are many more cases in which the jury cannot give probation.

In non-death penalty cases, direct appeals go to one of the 14 Intermediate Appellate Courts. The losing party on appeal may file a Petition for Discretionary Review (PDR) with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Federal System

U.S. District Courts try mostly federal felonies, although there are some federal misdemeanors as well. An accused has a right to a jury trial.

There are at least three substantial differences between Texas and federal criminal practice: in federal court, there is no jury sentencing. The plea bargaining is over charges instead of over sentencing, largely because the sentencing guidelines drastically restrict a federal judge's flexibility.

Most of the conflict in federal sentencing takes place over the judge's power to make a "downward departure" from the sentence indicated by the defendant's sentencing guideline score.

Appeals from federal courts in Texas go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans. The U.S. Supreme Court will occasionally hear cases from a Texas Court of Appeal as well as from the Federal Court of Appeal.

The most important thing for a defendant in any criminal case is to make sure not to unwittingly give up his or her appeal rights, which can easily happen when not appealing in the allotted time for appeal.

Most Dallas County, Texas, plea papers state, one way or another, that in exchange for the DA's deal, the defendant gives up his or her appeal rights. Most cases are not appealed. Your lawyer will discuss with you what appellate courts do and do not do, and will outline for you a strategy based on possible issues, and the extent of your chances on appeal.

Parole Definitions

Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) manages the overall operation of the state's prison system, parole and state jail systems. It also provides funding, training and certain oversight of parole. TDCJ is the largest state agency in Texas.

Institutional Division (ID) of the TDCJ is responsible for managing and operating the state's prison system for the confinement of adult felony offenders.

Parole Division (PD) of the TDCJ is responsible for operating the state's adult parole system and supervising offenders on parole or mandatory supervision. The parole division does not, however, make decisions to grant, deny, or revoke parole or mandatory supervision.

The Texas Board of Criminal Justice (TBCJ) governs the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Its nine non-salaried members serve staggered six-year terms and are appointed by the governor.

The Board is required by statute to meet once per calendar quarter. The nine members are appointed by the governor to oversee the TDCJ, which provides confinement, supervision, rehabilitation and reintegration of the state's convicted felons. TBCJ members have neither jurisdiction over nor input into parole decisions.

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) is an 18-member board with constitutional and statutory authority to approve or deny a parole release, to determine the rules and conditions of release, to revoke a releasee's parole or mandatory supervision, and to make executive clemency recommendations.

The primary role of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP) is the discretionary release of eligible inmates sentenced to the Institutional Division to a plan of parole supervision.

In addition, the Board is responsible for determining the conditions of release, imposing any special conditions for parole and mandatory supervision of releasees on a case-by-case basis. It reviews requests for the governor to issue a 30-day stay of execution or a pardon, and also makes recommendations to the governor.

Parole is the discretionary and conditional release of an offender from prison, by a Board of Pardons and Paroles decision, to serve the remainder of his/her sentence under supervision in the community.

Parolee is a convicted felon released from incarceration to serve a portion of his or her sentence under supervision in the community (parole). A parolee reports on a regular schedule to a Parole Officer, and must obey specific conditions of release until the original sentence is completed.

Parole-in-Absentia (PIA) is a release for parole-eligible offenders who are serving sentences in out-of-state prisons, federal facilities, or state and county jails.

Parole Officer (PO) is an employee of the TDCJ-Parole Division who is responsible for supervising releasees under parole or mandatory supervision.

Pre-Parole Investigation (PPI) is an investigation of an offender's parole release plan, taking into consideration the living arrangements, employment plans, and treatment and counseling programs, which the offender will be following while under parole.

Pre-Parole Transfer (PPT) are transitional facilities that provide pre-parolees counseling, on-site academic and vocational education and services, and other associated programming during the last 12 months of their incarceration.

Probation or Community Supervision is the placement of an offender under supervision for a specified length of time, as ordered by a court, with court-imposed rules and conditions.

Community supervision (formerly called adult probation) may be ordered for misdemeanor or felony offenses and is generally imposed instead of a jail or prison sentence.

State Jail Felonies are offenses (primarily property crimes and low-level controlled substance offenses) committed after September 1, 1994.

Confinement for the full term of a sentence may be ordered if the conditions of community supervision are violated. State jail sentences cannot exceed two years for one offense, but a repeat offender may receive overlapping state jail sentences not to exceed three years.

Supervision Plan is for supervising offenders on community supervision. It is developed by a community supervision officer, based on an assessment of the offender's needs and his or her level of risk to society.

Indirect Supervision File is a file and/or record of an offender under supervision who meets one of the following criteria:

  • an offender who neither resides nor works within the jurisdiction of the CSCD and who receives the supervision in other jurisdictions;
  • an offender who neither resides nor works within the jurisdiction, but continues to submit written reports on a monthly basis because he or she is ineligible or unacceptable for supervision in another jurisdiction;
  • an offender who has absconded or who has not contacted his or her community supervision officer (CSO) in person within three months;
  • an offender who resides or works in the jurisdiction, but who, while in compliance with the orders of the court, nevertheless, does not meet the criteria for direct supervision; or
  • offenders who reside and work outside the jurisdiction but report in person and who do not fall under the direct supervision definition

Discretionary Mandatory Supervision (DMS)

In 1995, the 74th Legislature gave the Board of Pardons and Paroles the authority to review eligible offenders whose offenses were committed on or after September 1, 1996, for possible release to Discretionary Mandatory Supervision. The Board must review eligible offenders on or before their discretionary mandatory eligibility date. However, as with parole release, the Board has the discretion to grant or deny release.

Mandatory Supervision (MS) is a type of release from prison provided by law for restricted categories of offenders. Eligible offenders are released on MS when their calendar time served added to their good time credit equals the length of their prison sentence. Under the law in effect until August 31, 1996, release to mandatory supervision was automatic, with no requirement for release approval from the Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP).

Intensive Supervision Parole (ISP) is a program that supervises prison releasees who are most likely to return to prison. The program requires a minimum of one contact per week and a more intense level of parole supervision than other lower-risk parolees receive.

Intensive Supervision Probation (ISP) is an intensive level of supervision for offenders on community supervision who are at higher risk of violating the conditions of their supervision.

Interstate Compact Supervision (ICS) is for offenders on community supervision (probation) or parole, who meet specific eligibility criteria, and who may be transferred to another state under the Interstate Compact system.

Intermediate Sanction Facility (ISF) is a fully secured facility used for short-term incarceration of offenders who violate the conditions of their community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision. ISFs are operated by CSCDs for community supervision offenders and by the Parole Division for parolees and mandatory supervision offenders.

Conditions for Parole. A parole panel may require as a condition of parole or mandatory supervision that releasees submit to a program of testing for controlled substances.

An offender on parole or community supervision who fails to report to his/her Parole Officer or Community Supervision Officer and cannot be located for the purpose of establishing or continuing supervision is subject for a warrant.

Serve-All is a Board of Pardons and Paroles decision for offenders who are considered not ready for parole and who have less than three years until release to mandatory supervision or until discharge. The offender is required to remain in prison until reaching his or her mandatory supervision release date or his or her discharge date.

Set Off is an informal term for Next Review Date.

Texas Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments (TCOMI) is a 29-member collaborative council that addresses the needs of juvenile and adult offenders with mental illness, mental retardation or developmental disabilities.

Mentally Retarded Offender Program (MROP) is a program that places mentally retarded releasees on a specialized caseload with a parole officer trained specifically for providing supervision and services that meet these offenders' special needs.

Special Needs Parole is an early parole, with Board of Pardons and Paroles approval, permitted for offenders who are elderly, terminally ill, physically handicapped, mentally ill or mentally retarded.

Sex Offenders (SO) are offenders who have been sentenced for committing a sexual offense, have a past conviction for an offense involving sexually deviant behavior, have displayed sexually deviant behavior in the commission of any offense, or have admitted committing sexually deviant behavior. Sex offenders require a higher degree of supervision than other offenders do.

Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP) has for its primary goal to reduce the rate of reoffense and move the participant toward a more pro-social lifestyle.

Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities (SATFs) primarily provide treatment and rehabilitation to offenders with substance abuse problems. They also offer education and life skills training. They may offer vocational training and 24-hour supervision.

Releasee is a convicted felon released from incarceration to serve a portion of his or her sentence under supervision in the community on parole or mandatory supervision. A releasee reports on a regular schedule to a Parole Officer, and must obey specific conditions of release until the original sentence is completed.

Releasees shall be tested for the major drugs of abuse in any combination deemed appropriate by the parole officer. The major drugs of abuse include, but are not limited to, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, marijuana and opiates. A periodic evaluation shall determine the necessity to change testing patterns and illicit substances to be tested for.

Restitution Center is a community-based correction facility that provides 24-hour close supervision and a highly structured environment for non-violent felons. Offenders are confined to the center except to go to their place of employment, to perform community service work, or to attend education or rehabilitation programs.

Diversion Programs (DP) provide effective alternatives to sending non-violent offenders to prison. These programs offer literacy training, substance abuse treatment and other rehabilitative services to offenders on community supervision.

Therapeutic Community (TC) is a substance abuse treatment program involving non-punitive treatment modes that result in overcoming addictive behavioral patterns leading to substance abuse.

Pre-Release Substance Abuse Program (PRSAP) is a program that serves Institutional Division offenders with serious substance abuse dependence. Programing consists of two months of orientation, three months of intensive structured treatment and one month of aftercare treatment, all of which is provided at the facility.

Transitional Treatment Center (TTC) is the aftercare component of the treatment program for releasees from the IPTC and SAFPF facilities, and lasts for three months. It is a 90-day residential aftercare program for offenders on community supervision. An offender is referred to a TTC after completing his or her court-ordered sentence in a Substance Abuse Felony Punishment Facility or SAFPF.

Treatment Alternative to Incarceration Program (TAIP) provides screening, assessment and referral services to offenders arrested/sentenced for a substance abuse-related offense, or who have a history of substance abuse.

Discharge Date is the date an offender completes his or her sentence and is released from incarceration, parole, mandatory supervision or community supervision.

Electronic Monitoring (EM) uses an electronic device placed on an offender on community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision to monitor his/her location and activities.

Next Review Date (NR) is a Board of Pardons and Paroles decision stipulating an offender is not ready for parole, but the case will be reviewed again within one to three years.

Pardon is an executive clemency, which absolves an individual from the legal consequences of his or her crime and conviction. There are several categories of pardons, including full pardons, conditional pardons, and pardons based on innocence.

Good Conduct Time is credit for good conduct and participation in certain programs.

Intrastate Transfer is an indirect supervision in which offenders on community supervision transfer to another county or community supervision department.

Project COPE (Community Opportunity Program in Education) is a consortium of the TDCJ-Parole Division, Texas Youth Commission, TDCJ Windham Schools, Community Supervision and Corrections Departments, and community adult education providers. COPE's goal is to deliver education services to releasees who have education skills below the sixth grade level and to assist releasees in obtaining general equivalency diplomas.

Protective Custody is maximum custody assignment for offenders who require protection at all times due to threat of harm by others.

Solitary Confinement is the separation of an offender from the general population as punishment assessed during the disciplinary process.

Technical Violation is a violation of one or more of the rules of community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision, not including commission of a new offense.

Violations are failure by offenders to abide by a rule or condition of his or her supervision. Such violations may be either technical or criminal in nature.

Offender is a generic term that applies to a person under the supervision of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or a Community Supervision and Corrections Department.

I'm Interviewing Attorneys And One Stated He Or She Could "Guarantee" A Result If I Hired Him Or Her. Should I Hire Such A Lawyer?

You need to be extremely careful dealing with such lawyers. Rarely can someone guarantee a future event. The outcome of a criminal case is a future event like any other. A competent attorney can usually give opinions as to the outcome, but these are no more than professional opinions. Be careful not to mistake an attorney's opinion for a guarantee. If the attorney is truly giving you a guarantee contingent upon hiring the lawyer, ask the attorney to give you the guarantee in writing.

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