Your life can change in the blink of an eye when you are arrested. You will likely be scared and embarrassed when you are handcuffed and taken away from your loved ones. Whether you’ve been accused of felony or a misdemeanor in Austin, Texas, a criminal charge can seriously affect all aspects of your life. That’s why anyone who is accused of a crime needs to contact one of the Houston criminal defense attorneys at Eddington & Worley.
Not only could your career and professional reputation take a hit, but your family will feel the strain. Your already limited finances could also dry up. Then there’s the possibility of losing your freedom and several rights if you are sent to jail or prison. Even after you’ve been released, your conviction will haunt you. Some people won’t want to associate with you and employers will be wary about putting you in a position of trust.
It doesn’t matter whether you did the crime or you’ve been wrongfully accused. Trying to deal with the police and the court system on your own is rarely a good idea. Even if you have some legal knowledge, you will likely be too scared and confused to represent yourself. After all, attorneys seek the counsel of other attorneys when they’ve been accused of a crime.
Given what is at stake when you are convicted, you should exercise your right to a lawyer. You need someone who is skilled and experience. Even if you had a role to play in the crime, they may be able to get you a lesser penalty or get you off on a technicality. If you are completely innocent, they will work to prove it.
As soon as you can, you need to call Eddington & Worley and speak with our attorneys. We will mount a strong defense against the prosecution and fight to get you the best possible outcome.
Why Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Regardless of the charge, you should always view hiring a criminal defense lawyer as a requirement instead of an option. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney should be at your side from beginning to end to ensure you get the best results from this experience. Keep in mind that the appointment of legal representation is your fundamental right as outlined within the Miranda Rights. Therefore, it is highly recommended for you to take advantage of that right and retain an attorney who can guide you through the turbulent legal journey ahead of you.
Along the way, a criminal defense attorney will be able to answer an abundance of questions for you and your family – such as:
- What exactly do the charges filed against me mean?
- How much jail time (if any) am I possibly facing with this charge?
- Is there a possibility that this case can be dismissed?
- What are the odds of striking a deal with the prosecutor?
- What should I expect during each step of this process?
These are questions that you simply cannot (and should not) answer on your own. With a criminal defense lawyer at your side, you will be able to get answers for most of your questions right from the start.
Can I Just Save Money and Get a Public Defender?
It is true that a public defender is selected to work your case if you are unable to afford a criminal defense lawyer. However, there are two points about public defenders that many people overlook:
- Caseload: The average public defender is overwhelmed with a heavy caseload, which means that he or she would have a drastically limited amount of time available to work on your case.
- Affordability: As stated in the Miranda Rights read during an arrest, public defense is available “if you cannot afford an attorney.” If the court discovers that your finances were strong enough to afford legal representation, then you will be required to backpay your public defender for any legal expenses associated with your case.
If you want to have the best results from your criminal case, then your best bet is to hire a private criminal defense attorney.
What Should I Consider When Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney?
The selection of a criminal defense attorney should not be taken lightly. Depending on the severity of the case, you are essentially placing your future in the hands of this legal expert. Therefore, it is imperative for you to focus on finding the most qualified criminal defense attorney available. Your lawyer should have the skill, expertise, knowledge and acquired the experience necessary to fight on your behalf inside and outside of the courtroom. Below is a list of points that you should consider before making any contractual or financial commitments:
It is highly recommended to retain a criminal defense lawyer that specializes in the specific field related to your case. The last thing you want to do is to select a lawyer who may have studied the practice area you need but hardly ever practiced it in the real world.
State vs Federal
When deciding between a state or federal attorney, pay attention to the type of criminal charge you received. Make sure that your attorney matches that charge.
Use the Internet Wisely
It is very easy to dive into the internet and assume you can get all the legal information and advice you need from search engines. Avoid the trap of believing that online resources can turn you into a lawyer overnight. On the contrary, use the internet wisely to research potential candidates in your local area who are much more qualified, knowledgeable and experienced than you.
When Will the Criminal Case End?
A commonly asked question is, “When will this all be over?” It is understandable why you may want to fast-forward this part of your life. Unfortunately, there is not a specific timeline for any criminal case since every case is unique. Even if you faced a similar charge in the past, the circumstances for this case are different – including what happens behind the scenes and inside the courtroom.
There are several key factors that you and your criminal defense attorney must also consider:
- Evidence: What evidence does the prosecution have ready and waiting to present?
- Witnesses: Which witnesses have been subpoenaed to testify against you?
- Severity: How severe is the charge? Was it a first-time or a repeat offense?
Whether it takes two months or two years, it is important for you to not try to rush the process. Trust in the expertise of your criminal defense lawyer to set the pace and make sure that everything remains on track from start to finish.
Is It Okay to Talk to Police?
“We just want to talk.” This pleasant remark from a police officer or other law enforcement official may put you at ease at first, but it can easily mislead you into a dangerous situation. You should never speak to any police officer or law enforcement official without having your criminal defense attorney right by your side.
Avoid the assumption that you will “look guilty” if you ask for an attorney or demand that your attorney is present. This misconception is fueled by legal courtroom dramas and other popular TV shows that can distort the reality of attorney-client privilege. If the police decide to question you, this usually means they do not have enough evidence to justify an arrest and basically hope that you will make an incriminating statement.
Why Should I Only Let My Attorney Speak to the Police?
During a casual conversation or intense interrogation, it is easy to fall into a trap of making a potentially incriminating statement. Your attorney essentially serves as a “communication filter” to protect you from that trap. Your attorney will communicate with investigators without relaying information that could later be used against you in court. At the same time, your lawyer will use those conversations to get information that can be used in your favor – perhaps to reduce or even drop the charges filed against you.
What Happens During an Arraignment?
Your first court appearance is referred to as an “arraignment.” This is the moment when the charge(s) against you is/are formally presented and you enter your plea (i.e. guilty, not guilty, mute or “no contest.”) The arraignment proceeding will also outline if the arrested defendant can be released on bail or detained until the trial.
How Much is Bail and How Do I Pay It?
When available, the bail amount is calculated by the court. The purpose of this fee is to provide a person facing a criminal charge with temporary freedom through a conditional release. In most cases, a defendant will hire a bail bondsman to post bail on their behalf. If the defendant “skips” bail and does not show up for trial, the bondsman will revoke the bond and hire a bounty hunter to track them down.
There is not a specific bail amount that applies to all criminal cases. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the judge may decide to remove the bail option entirely – which is why it is recommended to retain an attorney to speak up on your behalf. Your criminal defense lawyer can work with the court to get your bail amount reduced (or even waived) and potentially save you thousands of dollars.
What Happens at a Preliminary Hearing?
Preliminary hearings are primarily scheduled for violent crimes (such as homicide) and felonies. The judge will evaluate the evidence involved to determine if there is enough probable cause to justify the pursuit of a criminal case against you.
If the preliminary hearing does not go in your favor, this does not mean the case is over. Keep in mind that the standard of proof required for a trial is much higher than a preliminary hearing. However, this initial hearing still plays a vital role in your overall defense as it gives your lawyer an opportunity to examine every aspect of the prosecution’s case against you. During this stage, your attorney could also throw out witness statements, dispute submitted evidence and target specific weaknesses in the case against you.
When is the Preliminary Hearing Scheduled?
Typically, the preliminary hearing is held within 30 days of the initial arrest thanks to the Federal Speedy Trial Act. If a defendant needs more time to prepare, he or she can opt to “waive time” and delay the preliminary hearing. This waiver gives a legal team more time to prepare the case, which is another benefit.
What Takes Place During a Pretrial Conference?
This legal proceeding occurs before the start of an actual trial to make sure a defendant is given a “fair & expeditious trial.” Both parties meet with the judge to determine which testimonies and evidence is admissible in court. Your criminal defense attorney will also have the chance to discuss plea deals with the District Attorney, which could lead to a downgrade of the charge (i.e. felony to misdemeanor) or an agreement to plead guilty to a lesser crime. Thanks to the pretrial conference also referred to as a “pretrial motion”), there is a vast number of criminal cases that never make it to trial.
What Happens if My Case Goes to Trial?
If the pretrial conference does not lead to a plea bargain, a trial date is scheduled. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, going to trial might be the best option that you have available. Retaining an experienced criminal defense lawyer is vital because you will have an expert by your side to help you make these types of decisions.
Jury selection is the starting point for most trials unless the judge will hear the case without a jury present. Both sides will then present their opening statements followed by the presentation of the evidence by the prosecutor. Your criminal defense lawyer will then cross-examine the witnesses. When both sides rest, then they will present their closing statements.
Once the closing statements have been made, the judge (or jury) will deliberate and return with a verdict of “guilty” or “not guilty.” If a guilty verdict is announced, then the judge will focus on sentencing.
Types of Criminal Cases We Handle
If you’ve never been charged with a crime, getting arrested can come as quite a shock. You may picture yourself being thrown into jail or being hit with high fines you’ll never be able to pay. While some criminal convictions do result in imprisonment and hefty fines, some first offenses come with penalties which are much less severe. In addition, if you have a good attorney, you may not even get convicted. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston will know how to find holes in the prosecution’s case. They will know how to mount a strong defense and show why there is reasonable doubt that you are guilty.
At Eddington & Worley, we handle a wide range of criminal cases. Whether you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, a state crime or a federal crime, we will do our best to ensure you get the representation you deserve. We handle violent crimes like assault as well as theft, driving while intoxicated, and drug crimes. We also represent people charged with serious federal offenses and those who find their professional licenses in jeopardy.
Regardless of what you have been charged with, it is best that you get in touch with Houston criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible. We will advise you about what to say and what not to say so you don’t incriminate yourself and jeopardize your chances of getting a favorable outcome. We will also do our own investigations, so we know exactly why you’re being charged and if everything was done by the book. We know this will be a difficult time for you, but we are committed to offering you the support you need to navigate the legal system.
Let’s go into more detail about some of the criminal cases we handle.
Assault & Battery
Under the Texas Penal Code, assault and battery are covered under the single term of assault. This covers a range of offenses which cause bodily injury or simply threaten to cause bodily injury. Assault also applies to actions which cause physical contact with a person when the accused knew or should have known this contact would be offensive or unwanted.
This means multiple offenses can be considered assault and you don’t have to cause pain or injure a person to be charged with this crime. The specific charge you face will, therefore, be determined by several factors including the actions involved, the type of harm you caused, whether you used a weapon, and who the victim was.
For example, it is a Class C misdemeanor if you threaten a person with injury. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t actually touch them. However, this charge can progress to a Class A misdemeanor if the target was disabled or elderly. Assault can also take the form of domestic violence if the victim is a family member, person living in your household or a current or past intimate partner.
If the prosecutors can show you intentionally, recklessly or knowingly caused someone physical injury, this is a Class A misdemeanor. However, it can become a third-degree felony if the victim was a security officer or
In a situation where you are accused of an assault which caused serious bodily injury, you will face a charge of aggravated assault. Serious bodily injury is an injury which causes permanent disfigurement or impairment or involves a substantial degree of risk. Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony. Assault with a deadly weapon is categorized as aggravated assault. If the assault caused serious bodily injury, the charge will be upgraded to a first-degree felony.
As you can see, an assault is serious. You will need a criminal defense attorney in Houston to help you make sense of the law and craft a strong defense.
Texas takes offenses involving controlled substances very seriously. Penalties include fines and prison sentences, but the exact punishment depends on the type of drug involved and the amount. If you’ve been arrested for a drug offense, it is very important that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.
Some of the most common offenses in Houston and elsewhere in Texas are:
- Possession of marijuana
- Possession of cocaine
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Possession with intent to distribute
- Drug trafficking
- Drug manufacturing
- Fraudulently obtaining prescription drugs
A number of factors influence the penalties you can face if convicted of a drug crime. These include your criminal history, whether anyone was hurt or killed, and whether a deadly weapon was used during the commission of the crime. Based on the circumstances surrounding the offense, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony.
At the upper end, you can face life in prison and/or a $250,000 fine if convicted of a life felony. State felonies result in 180 days to two years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Meanwhile, class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
As soon as you know or suspect you may be charged with a drug-related crime, you need to contact one of our Houston criminal defense attorneys with experience in this area. Even if you think there is no way you could fight the charge, you should seek representation. The United States Constitution protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. Your attorney may be able to challenge the evidence and have it thrown out. If not, your charges could be reduced if you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer fighting for your rights.
Driving while intoxicated can have very serious consequences if you are pulled over. Not only will your license be suspended but you may face jail time, heavy fines, fees, and community service. The good news is that a charge doesn’t always lead to a conviction. If you are arrested, a qualified criminal defense attorney may be able to fight the charge. They may be able to find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case based on problems with the police stop, blood draw, breath test or another procedure.
Under Texas laws, an individual who operates a motor vehicle in a public location while intoxicated is guilty of DWI. You will be considered intoxicated if you no longer have control over your faculties because of the use of drugs or alcohol. You can also be deemed intoxicated if your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or higher. If a chemical test shows your BAC is above the legal limit, you will be arrested even if you have normal control over your faculties.
If you are convicted of drunk driving, the penalties are based on the circumstances of the case as well as whether you have any prior DWI convictions. First-time offenders will usually face Class B misdemeanor charges and they may have to spend between 72 hours and 180 days in jail. They lose their driving privileges for up to a year and can be fined up to $2,000. A first-time conviction also results in annual Department of Public Safety surcharges of $1,000 to $2,000 per year for three years.
If your BAC was .15 or greater, your first offense can be turned into a Class A misdemeanor. This carries pretty much the same penalties as a second DWI which are:
- 30 days to a year in jail
- The revocation of driving privileges for up to two years and/or a fine of up to $4,000
- Annual surcharges from $1,000 to $2,000 a year for three years
A third drunk driving conviction or any offense related to a DUI after your second is treated as a third-degree felony. You will face:
- Between two and ten years in prison
- The loss of your driving privileges for up to two years and/or a fine of up to $10,000
- Annual surcharges of up to $2,000 per year for three years
Other penalties include drug and alcohol education courses, ignition interlock devices, and added court fees and fines. If you are facing a DWI charge, let the expert Houston DWI attorneys at Eddington & Worley guide you to a successful resolution.
A federal crime is an offense that is prosecuted under federal criminal law instead of state law. Most crimes which take place in Texas are at the state level but there are some offenses that are so serious, they are prosecuted federally.
Below are some of the crimes which can be prosecuted under federal law.
This can be a federal crime in certain situations including when:
- A child under 16 is taken out of the country by a non-custodial parent.
- The victim is a foreign official or another person with international protection.
- Victim is transported over state lines.
- The victim is a federal employee.
- The offense takes place in a maritime or aircraft jurisdiction.
For counterfeiting to be a federal crime it must involve the production, possession, and use of fake documents which are used to defraud the government. These items include currency, postage stamps, military documents, legal documents, letters patent, and government documents.
This offense involves making false deductions, failing to report income or understating it, and concealing assets in offshore bank accounts. It also includes money laundering, tax evasion, and identity theft. These are serious charges which require the attention of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
This includes interstate drug trafficking, possession of illegal drugs at the border, and smuggling drugs into the state. If you have been accused of any of these actions, you will need a competent lawyer on your side.
Other crimes which can fall under federal law are arson, espionage, child pornography, and terrorism. If you are convicted of a federal crime, not only is your freedom at stake but your social connections, professional standing, and family relationships will be in jeopardy. You will also find it difficult to seek employment or housing.
Professional License Defense
Professional licenses are critical to many individuals’ livelihood including medical professionals, accountants, attorneys, and teachers. You’ve no doubt invested lots of time and money in your career so when problems arise, your entire life can flash before your eyes. Sometimes your problems begin when you make a mistake while carrying out your duties. Other times, you’ve done nothing wrong but a client or colleague makes a complaint against you. Your license may also be under threat because of a criminal conviction.
When these issues arise, you need to contact a professional license defense attorney as soon as possible. Early intervention can help you avoid some of the more serious repercussions and hold on to your ability to practice. Your attorney may be able to negotiate a reduction in penalties, get you into appropriate treatment programs, and even get you off completely during an administrative hearing.
In most cases, you will be notified that you are being investigated by way of a formal letter from the licensing board which governs your profession. You may be asked to attend a meeting or appear before the board. Before you agree to do, you should discuss the situation with an attorney so you are fully aware of your rights. You will need to act quickly since there are certain deadlines by which you must respond to administrative agencies.
There are certain things your attorney will advise you against including:
- Ignoring the notice
- Attempting to deal with the board on your own
- Assuming you will be treated fairly
- Speaking with the investigators freely and believing they will help you protect your license
Theft is defined as unlawfully taking the belongings of another person. A conviction for theft carries the possibility of fines and jail time. It also leaves you with a criminal record which could affect you for the rest of your life. Potential lenders, landlords, and employers will find it difficult to trust you and this can make it very difficult to move on with your life.
Under the Texas Penal Code, theft includes stealing, shoplifting and handling stolen goods if you knew or had reason to believe they were stolen. Intentionally purchasing goods with a bad check and intentionally taking advantage of someone’s services without intending to pay are also considered theft along with credit card and debit card fraud. Theft crimes are classified depending on the value of the items stolen, any prior offenses, and the item which was stolen.
For property less than $100, you will face a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class B misdemeanor for a subsequent conviction. For property worth between $100 and $750, it’s a Class B misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor applies when the property is valued between $750 and $2,500. Anything above this is considered a felony. The theft of livestock, ATM machines, and aluminum, copper, brass and bronze are given special attention.
Theft charges can be upgraded if the victim was a public servant, elderly person, a nonprofit organization, Medicare provider or government contractor. It can also be upgraded if you caused a fire alarm to go off, deactivated a fire alarm or deactivated a theft prevention device.
If you’ve been accused of theft, many variables can come into play. If you want to maintain your clean record, you need to reach out to a criminal defense attorney for support and representation.
Contact a Houston Criminal Lawyer at Eddington & Worley Criminal Lawyers
One of the most challenging things you will have to deal with in life is a criminal charge in Houston, Texas. Federal crimes, drug
Even if the allegations are false, you shouldn’t try to defend yourself. A competent attorney in Houston will work with you to prove your innocence. Whether you’re accused of theft, DWI, drug trafficking, or family violence, we can help. If your professional license and livelihood look like they’re about to go down the drain, we can also help you to get your life back on track.
It may seem like you can save lots of money by mounting your own defense, but the results could be disastrous. Navigating the legal system is complex and keeping a level head when your freedom is at stake is extremely difficult. The best thing to do is contact the Houston criminal defense attorneys at Eddington & Worley for the assistance and representation you need. Don’t delay any longer. Make that call today.