FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If you are charged with Driving While Intoxicated or Boating While Intoxicated, you only have 15 days from the day you receive a Notice of Suspension of your driver’s license to notify the Department of Public Safety of your request for a hearing.
If you have received such a notice and do not timely notify the Department of Public Safety, your license will be suspended. We recommend that our clients request a hearing.
For Body Searches: If you are arrested, an officer can search you, without a warrant, for weapons, evidence or illegal or stolen goods. Strip searches should not be conducted for offenses that do not involve weapons, drugs or violence unless police reasonably suspect you are concealing a weapon or illegal goods, and they have authorization from the supervising officer on duty. If you are booked and jailed, you may undergo a full body search.
For Home Searches: In emergencies, such as when an officer may be trying to prevent someone from destroying evidence, your home can be searched without your consent and without a warrant.
If you are taken into custody in your home, an officer without a warrant can search only the limited area in which you are arrested. Other rooms-and even other parts of the same room-are off limits, unless the officer believes that other suspects are hiding in other rooms. While searching your home, an officer can seize evidence of any crime, such as stolen property or drugs, which is in plain sight.
For Car Searches: Your car and trunk can be searched without your consent or a warrant if an officer has good reason to believe it contains illegal or stolen goods or evidence. If the police stop your car for any legal reason-such as a broken taillight-they can seize any illegal goods in plain sight.
If you, your home or your car are searched illegally, a judge might say that any evidence found during the search cannot be used against you in court. If your lawyer does not object to the evidence before trial, the court might allow the evidence to be used. Even if the judge does decide that the evidence cannot be used against you, it does not always mean that your case will be dismissed.
An officer always can make a search with either your consent or a search warrant.
However, you have a right to see the warrant before the search begins.
You have a right to be arraigned without unnecessary delay. At the arraignment you will appear before a judge who will tell you officially of the charges against you. An attorney may be appointed for you if you cannot afford one, and the bail can be raised or lowered depending on the circumstances of the case. You also can ask to be released on a P.R. bond (personal recognizance), even if bail was previously set.
The amount of bail - money or other security deposited with the Sheriff to insure that you will appear - is set by a magistrate. Normally, after an arrest you are taken before a Magistrate for a Probable Cause Hearing. Your bond amount is set at that hearing. Appear at all hearings. If you have any doubt, go to Court so a new warrant is not issued for your arrest for failing to appear.
If you fail to appear, your bail will be lost and a new warrant will be issued for your arrest. For traffic citations, officers at the jail may be able to accept bail. If you cannot post or put up the bail, you will be kept in custody.
If, during the questioning and before a charge is filed, the police are convinced that you have not committed a crime, they will usually release you. Under this circumstance, such a situation can then be considered a detention and may not be recorded as an arrest.
Usually, a warrant is required before you can be taken into custody from within your home. However, you can be arrested at home without a warrant, if fast action is needed to prevent you from escaping, destroying evidence, endangering someone’s life or seriously damaging property.
An arrest warrant must be signed by a magistrate or judge, who must have good reason to believe that you committed a crime. Once an arrest warrant is issued, any law enforcement officer in the state can arrest you - even if the officer does not have a copy of the warrant. Generally, there is no time limit on using a warrant to make an arrest.
Before entering your home, a law enforcement officer must knock, identify him or herself and tell you that you’re going to be arrested. If you refuse to open the door - or if there is another good reason, the officer can break in through a door or window. If the police have an arrest warrant, you should be allowed to see it. If they do not have the warrant with them, you should be allowed to see it as soon as it is practical.
At an arrest site, the police may search the area within your reach. If you are arrested outdoors without a search warrant, they may search your home or car. Resisting an arrest or detention is a crime. If you resist arrest, you can be charged with a crime in addition to the crime for which you are being arrested. If you resist, an officer can use force to overcome your resistance or prevent your escape.
Local Police Departments, The State of Texas, and the Federal Government all maintain arrest records.
The arrest record includes when and why you were arrested, whether the charges against you were dropped or whether you were convicted of the charges, and the subsequent sentence imposed. Both pleading guilty and nolo contendere, and being found guilty after a trial count as convictions.
All law enforcement officers (such as police officers, county sheriff officers, investigators in a district attorney’s office and highway patrol officers) can arrest you whether they are on or off duty. A probation or parole officer can also arrest you.
They can arrest you even if they do not have an arrest warrant if they have probable cause or good reason to believe you committed a crime.
If you commit an infraction, they may ask you to sign a citation or notice instead of taking you into custody. This is a minor offense, such as a moving violation, where the punishment usually is a fine. If you sign the citation you are not admitting guilt, you are only promising to appear in court. If you have no identification or refuse to sign, an officer may take you into custody.
You can be questioned, without a lawyer present, only if you voluntarily give up your rights and if you understand what you are giving up. If you agree to the questioning, then change your mind, the questioning must stop as soon as you say so or as soon as you say that you want a lawyer.
You may be required to give certain physical evidence. For example, If you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, you may be requested to take a test to measure the amount of alcohol in your system. If you refuse to take the test, your driver’s license may be suspended and the refusal may be used against you in court. However, if you take the test and it shows an alcohol concentration of a level specified in Section 49.01, Texas Penal code, your driver’s license may be suspended, and the results of the test may be used against you in court.
You have certain rights if you are arrested. Before the law enforcement officer questions you, he or she should tell you that:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may (and probably will) be used against you. You have a right to have a lawyer present while you are questioned.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.
These are your “Miranda” rights, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. If you are not given these warnings, your statement may be inadmissible. However, this does not apply if you volunteer information without being questioned by the police.
When you are arrested, you are taken into custody. This means that you are not free to leave the scene. However, without being arrested, you still could be detained or held for questioning for a short time if a police officer or other person believes you may be involved in a crime.
For example, an officer may detain you if you are carrying a large box near a recent burglary site. Storekeepers also can detain you if they reasonably suspect you have stolen something.
Whether you are arrested or detained, you do not have to answer any questions except to give your name and address and show some identification if requested.
If you are arrested for a crime, you should contact a Cleburne lawyer as soon as possible. He or she has a better sense of what you should and should not say to law enforcement officers to avoid being misinterpreted or misunderstood. Cleburne lawyers also can advise you or your family or friends on the bail process.
The answer to this is simple and straightforward:
Be sure that you and your lawyer have the same goals.
Be sure you understand and are comfortable with the Cleburne lawyer’s working style.
Be especially certain that you have a clear picture of the expected timetable of your case - when you can expect significant developments.
Be sure you provide the Cleburne lawyer with the information and documents necessary to understand your case.
Be sure you understand and agree with the Cleburne lawyer’s billing practices.
Be sure if you have questions or concerns about your Johnson County legal matter, you express them to the lawyer and listen to the responses.
Your written fee agreement should set out the services the Cleburne lawyer will perform for you, and the type and amount of fees you will be expected to pay. The agreement should also say how costs - the other expenses of your case - will be handled and explain the lawyer’s billing practices. The agreement should also say if the lawyer is going to add interest or other charges to unpaid amounts.
A fee agreement may also include your obligations as a client. For instance, you may need to agree to be truthful, to cooperate, to abide by the agreement and to pay your bills on time. You make a fee agreement in the same way that you would make an agreement with a contractor or other businessperson. Tell the lawyer what services you will want, and ask questions to find out what the charges will be. You may want to ask a friend or relative to come with you if you are not sure what to ask.
Some suggested questions:
- How will the lawyer bill for his or her time?
- Who else will be working on the case - associate lawyer, legal assistant, paralegal?
- How will that time be billed?
- What can be done to reduce fees and costs?
- What is the Cleburne lawyer’s estimate of the total charges?
We strongly suggest not hiring a lawyer without a written Fee Agreement.
That depends on how you feel after your meeting with the Cleburne lawyer and his staff. When meeting with the lawyer bring the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of everyone connected with your case. You also should bring all papers involved in your case, such as any documents you received from governmental source.
Ask to hear about cases like yours that the lawyer may have handled.
You should know that most Johnson County lawsuits and other legal work are not “sure things.” You should be very cautious of an attorney who guarantees results. However, a Cleburne lawyer should be able to tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Will you be comfortable working closely with the Cleburne lawyer?
- Do you believe the Cleburne lawyer has the experience and skill level to handle your case?
- Do you understand the Cleburne lawyer’s explanation of what your case involves?
- Does the fee seem reasonable?
You may want to meet briefly with the Cleburne lawyer or a professional staff member instead of discussing your problem on the telephone.
At such a meeting you may want to ask how much experience the Cleburne lawyer has had with problems like yours, and how recently the Cleburne attorney handled a similar case.
We suggest hiring a Cleburne lawyer who primarily practices law in the jurisdiction where your case is located and has an office in the area.
A Board Certified Cleburne attorney is a Cleburne attorney who has demonstrated special competence in a particular field in which the Texas Board of Legal Specialization has certified their competence.
The Texas Board of Legal Specialization was created by the Supreme Court of Texas, and the Board members are appointed by the President of the State Bar of Texas. The Board, in turn, administers the program through which an attorney may demonstrate their special competence in a particular area of law practice.
A Cleburne lawyer who is Board Certified in Criminal Law must have experience in the trial of serious criminal matters and the preparation of such cases for trial. They must have extensive knowledge of state and federal constitutional law, evidence, procedure, and penal laws involved in the trial of criminal cases.
The requirements for a Cleburne attorney to receive Board Certification in Criminal Law include:
- Handling a wide variety of criminal matters to demonstrate experience and involvement.
- Attending criminal law continuing legal education seminars regularly to keep their legal training up to date.
- Being evaluated by fellow Cleburne lawyers and judge.
- Passing a day-long written examination.
Certification is for a period of 5 years. To remain certified after that time, every 5 years the Cleburne attorney must apply for re-certification and meet the requirements for continued experience, peer review, and continuing legal education.
Recommendations. Maybe you know a Cleburne lawyer. Cleburne Lawyers can refer you to other lawyers who have experience with your kind of problem.
Ask your friends, co-workers and employers if they know any lawyers. Business people or professionals such as bankers, ministers, doctors, social workers and teachers may be able to give you a Cleburne lawyer’s name.
If you are accused of committing a crime and cannot afford a lawyer, you may qualify for free legal help. A judge may appoint a private attorney to represent you without charge if you qualify for such assistance.
Legal advice is like medicine: You can take some to cure problems and some to prevent them. If you are accused of committing a crime, a Felony, or Class A or B misdemeanors, you need legal advice. The punishment range for some of such crimes is as follows:
PUNISHMENT RANGES and GENERAL PENALTIES
A. OFFENSE - FELONIES
- CAPITAL FELONY
- Life or Death
- FIRST-DEGREE FELONY
- Life or 5-99 years in prison and optional fine not to exceed $10,000
- SECOND-DEGREE FELONY
- 2-20 years in prison and optional fine not to exceed $10,000
- THIRD-DEGREE FELONY
- 2-10 years in prison and optional fine not to exceed $10,000
- STATE JAIL FELONY
- 180 days - 2 years in State Jail and optional fine not to exceed $10,000
B. OFFENSE -MISDEMEANOR
- Class A Misdemeanor
- Fine not to exceed $4,000 and/or 1 year or less in jail
- Class B Misdemeanor
- Fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or 180 days or less in jail
- Class C Misdemeanor
- Fine not to exceed $500
Sometimes you can add to your problems by failing to call a Cleburne lawyer immediately. If you are arrested witnesses should be interviewed and evidence gathered as soon as possible. You should contact our Cleburne lawyers immediately. Preventive legal advice often can save you time, trouble and money by preventing problems from getting started.