I have won not-guilty verdicts in theft, DWI, assault, sexual assault, and aggravated assault cases. I have earned pretrial dismissals in several other types of cases including computer crimes, drug possession, aggravated robbery, and weapons cases. Whether you are facing a serious felony charge, or you are a professional or student worried about the effect of a criminal charge on your career, our Houston criminal lawyers provide intelligent and proactive advocacy.
Our Houston criminal defense attorneys never plead a client who tells me they are innocent. If a client is innocent, my goal is to get the case dismissed. If the prosecutor does not dismiss the case, then there must be a jury trial. Unfortunately, too many criminal defense lawyers are not willing to take a case to trial. They give their client every excuse why a trial is a bad idea and convince clients that pleading guilty to a crime they did not commit is a good idea. People call me every week trying to appeal or overturn a conviction that they were innocent of but pleaded guilty to. The conviction ends up preventing them from getting a job or a promotion. Trying to undo a conviction is very difficult. The time to fight a case is when you have the right to a jury trial. If you need a criminal defense lawyer who is wiling to take your case to trial, please contact me for a consultation.
I represent many professionals who are worried about the impact of a crime on their criminal history. Sometimes they are innocent, sometimes they made one mistake. Typically, the risk is not incarceration but a probation that might impair a professional license or career. For every professional, the goal is to aim for dismissal. Often, in addition to challenging the evidence, we produce a character packet to show the positive attributes of the person charged. Sometimes a plea bargain is not possible and the case must be taken to trial. Regardless, my goal is to properly advise every professional about what does and does not stay on their record; what can be seen by licensing boards; and the risks of a jury trial. I also help professionals clear their criminal history with expunction, non-disclosure, and writs of habeas corpus. Please contact me for a consultation if you are professional seeking representation.
The goal with every student is to protect their future career and earnings by keeping their criminal history is clear. This effort starts by trying to obtain a dismissal that can be expunged from a criminal history. If dismissal is not possible, our criminal attorneys in Houston try to get a pretrial diversion that can also be expunged. With students, I always properly advise them about what charges can come off a record and what charges cannot. Sometimes a student will need a professional license and it is important understand what punishments can be seen by licensing boards. It is also important to understand that some punishments can never be removed from a criminal history. Some of my most rewarding cases have been representing hard-working students who made a mistake. Please contact me if you are a student charged with a crime or need my help.
I focus my criminal defense practice on Harris County cases. My office is located three blocks from the courthouse.
What follows is a brief guide to Harris County prosecutions.
AFTER THE ARREST
Typically, a person arrested in Harris County will end up at the Harris County jail for processing. The defendant’s name and bond will usually show up within 12-24 hours of the arrest.
Bonds in Harris County are set according to a predetermined schedule. If the bond amount seems reasonable, you can post it for your friend or family member at 49 San Jacinto or contact a bonding company to post the bond in exchange for a fee.
In some cases, the bond might be set high. For example, in a felony theft, the bond will be set at twice the value of the amount supposedly stolen. For a felony drug case, the amount will be set at twice the amount of the value of the drugs. In these cases, you are better off hiring an attorney to try to lower the bond.
To search for a Harris County defendant or to read information about posting a bond, try this link on the Sheriff’s website: http://www.harriscountyso.org/JailInfo/
FIRST COURT SETTINGS
Usually, a person arrested for a felony will have a court date on the first or second week day following the arrest.
Misdemeanors court dates are typically within one week of the arrest.
At the first court setting, you will not plead guilty or not guilty. Rather the judge or court coordinator will find out if you have hired an attorney, appoint an attorney if you cannot afford one, or reset your case for a couple of weeks so that you can hire an attorney.
The court might also impose bond conditions on you. For example, you could be drug-tested while on bond. It is imperative to follow the court’s order or you could forfeit your bond and sit out the resolution of your case in jail.
SUBSEQUENT COURT SETTINGS
In Harris County, depending on the court, you will appear every three weeks to two months for a court setting. Usually, you will not appear in front of the judge during your court settings.
Rather, your lawyer will meet with the prosecutor and check the state’s file. You may have multiple court settings over several months while your lawyer investigates the state’s case and negotiates for a resolution. The state might also be gathering evidence.
DISMISS, PLEA, OR TRIAL
Eventually, the state will either dismiss the case or offer a plea bargain. If the case is not dismissed, a defendant, based on the advice of their lawyer, must make the choice whether to accept a plea bargain or set the case for trial.
In some courts, trial dates are soon as 30 days while others are years out.
Feel free to contact me if you are seeking representation for a Harris County case.
If you have been charged with an adult criminal offense, there are different ways to overturn the case or remove it from your record. Generally speaking, you will be considering: expunction, non-disclosure, habeas corpus, pardon, and direct appeal.
A direct appeal usually follows from a jury trial. A direct appeal is a way to say that the judge made a legal error during a prosecution. A legal error might be incorrectly admitting evidence that the jury could consider; excluding evidence that the jury should have considered; allowing hearsay into testimony or not properly writing the jury charge.
A direct appeal typically requires a court reporter recording the trial proceedings.
Expunction refers to dismissed cases. If your case was dismissed for lack of evidence or after the completion of a pretrial diversion, you may be eligible for expunction. Expunction will allow you to deny the arrest ever occurred and results in destroying of the records of the case.
Expunction also applies to completed deferred adjudications for Class C misdemeanors.
Non-disclosure usually applies to completed deferred adjudication probations on Class A and Class B misdemeanors along with felonies. Non-disclosure is not as strong as expunction but still useful. Criminal records that are non-disclosed are available for viewing for some entities with a public interest.
However, if your record is non-disclosed, you can deny the arrest on a job or housing application in most instances.
In one of the biggest changes to criminal law in the last few years, non-disclosure now applies to some misdemeanor jail sentences and regular probations. Thus, if you were charged with a misdemeanor after September 1, 2015, and received a jail sentence or regular “straight”probation, you might be able to non-disclose your case.
Unfortunately, jail sentences, “credit for time served” sentences, and straight probation sentences for arrests before September 1, 2015, are not eligible for nondisclosure.
If you are not eligible for expunction, appeal or nondisclosure, you can consider habeas corpus or pardon.
A pardon is a rare act by the Governor of Texas that overturns your conviction. Very few pardons are granted every year and most of them are for older misdemeanors by one-time offenders.
Most people choose to apply for a pardon without an attorney. There is information on Texas pardons here: http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/bpp/exec_clem/exec_clem.html
Habeas corpus is a way to overturn a probation or conviction when you are not eligible for expunction or non-disclosure. Habeas corpus concerns the violation of a constitutional right. A typical application of habeas corpus concerns ineffective assistance of counsel. If your trial or plea lawyer did not properly investigate your case or advise you, habeas corpus might be an option.
I typically handle expunctions and non-disclosures in Harris County and sometimes surrounding counties. For direct appeal and habeas corpus, I focus on Harris County but can help on cases throughout the state.
Not sure where to start? Call us at 713.487.7575.