McLemore, Reddell & Story, P.L.L.C. offers the following answers to questions our criminal defense attorneys frequently encounter in the provision of strong, effective representation of individuals charged with DWI, drug crimes, white collar crimes, and other serious misdemeanor and felony offenses in the greater Houston area and in state and federal courts throughout Texas. If you have other questions, or if you have been arrested and charged with a crime, contact our office right away for a free consultation and immediate assistance.
What is an arraignment?
Texas law requires an arraignment in all felony cases as well as misdemeanor cases where you face imprisonment as a possible punishment. At an arraignment, you will be brought before the judge, who will inform you of the charge or charges against you and ask you to enter a plea. Most often a Not Guilty plea is entered at this initial stage, even if you later decide to plead guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea bargain. Bail or other conditions for your pre-trial release are also set at the arraignment.
How quickly can I get bailed out after bail has been set?
You can get out very quickly by posting bail or by posting a bond from a bail bondsman. Jail is an unpleasant place, and you may have very good reasons to get out as soon as you can, such as to be with your family, to keep from missing work, and to be back in the comfort of your own home. But it is important that your first call be to an attorney and not to someone who can bail you out of jail. We may be able to have you released without bail, or to have the bail amount lowered. If you do end up using a bail bond, many companies will charge you a lesser amount when they know you are represented by a lawyer and are therefore more likely to show up for your court dates.
What is a docket call?
A docket call brings the prosecution and defense together to keep the judge informed and updated about the status of the case, such as whether it is time to set a trial date or hear a plea that has been negotiated. As with all court appearances, you will want to appear presentable and respectful before the court.
Can I get probation?
Our goal in every case we handle is to get it dismissed. If the case is not dismissed, we work to get the best plea bargain possible for our clients. A sentence of probation or community supervision is available in some cases, although not in all situations. If you complete the period of probation, the charges against you can be dismissed in certain situations. This means that following probation you can in some cases complete employment applications and other documents and indicate you have not been convicted of a crime. If you fail to comply with the terms of the probation, however, you can be sentenced to a prison term, since you have already pled guilty, and did not complete the community supervision.
You may be eligible to have your probation period shortened or ended after you have successfully completed a substantial portion of your community supervision . Probation is often an excellent result for persons facing conviction of a serious offense. Deferred adjudication and pretrial diversion are other types of probation. Your attorney can explain the different options to you.
What happens if I refuse to take a breath test?
Your driver’s license will be suspended for six months (180 days) if it is your first offense, or for two years if you refused a test in a previous arrest within the last ten years. These suspension periods are typically greater than you would receive if you took a test and failed it. Also, your refusal to take a test can be used as evidence against you at trial. Of course, if you take a test and fail it, evidence of the test results may also be used against you.
Is there any way to keep my driver’s license?
If you fail a test or refuse to take a test or are arrested for DWI, your driver’s license will most likely be seized by the arresting officer. However, the officer will issue you a temporary driving certificate that is good for 40 days. You should also receive a notice that your license will be suspended 40 days after receiving the notice. This notice may be given to you at the time of your arrest or mailed to you a short time later.
You have 15 days from receipt of this notice to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing. At this hearing, the state may be required to prove that the officer had probable cause to stop you and that you either failed or refused a breath test. If you prevail at this hearing, not only may you keep your license, but you may be in a good position to have the criminal charges against you dismissed. You are entitled to be represented by an attorney at this hearing, and legal representation is recommended for the best chance at success.