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Criminal Defense Questions

Criminal Defense

What is Deferred Adjudication? What is Straight Probation?

In some cases, the State may offer probation instead of jail time.

Texas has two types of probation: (1) deferred adjudication; and (2) straight probation. Both probations include similar terms and conditions, including probation meetings, random drug and alcohol tests, prevention classes associated with the criminal offense, restitution, fines and community service.

The difference between deferred adjudication and straight probation is what happens when you are discharged from the different types of probation. If you successfully complete deferred adjudication, the court will dismiss your criminal charges and you will not have a final conviction on your criminal record. You may be able to seal the criminal record if you successfully complete the deferred adjudication probation, subject to certain exceptions and requirements.

Successful completion of straight probation will ultimately lead to a conviction. Straight probation may also include “shock probation,” which includes jail time as a condition of probation.

To discuss your case and all potential options, including probation, please contact the Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC, at (281) 888-5581.

What are the different punishment ranges in Texas?

Texas prosecutes criminal offenses at the lowest level of a Class C Misdemeanor and all the way up to a Capital Felony. The punishment ranges for each category are as follows:

  • Class C Misdemeanor – Fine only offenses up to $500.
  • Class B Misdemeanor – Up to 180 days in the county jail and up to a $2,000 fine.
  • Class A Misdemeanor – Up to 1 year in the county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
  • State Jail Felony – 180 days to 2 years in the State Jail Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
  • 3rd Degree Felony – 2 to 10 years incarceration in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • 2nd Degree Felony – 2 to 20 years incarceration in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • 1st Degree Felony – 5 to 99 years or life in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
  • Capital Felony – Death by Lethal Injection or a Life Sentence in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

How long will it take to resolve my case?

The amount of time required to resolve a criminal case varies from case to case due to several factors, including the offense, the Judge, the prosecutor, whether you are free on bond, the number of people involved, whether the media is covering the case, and the complexity of the case. Each of these factors may affect the amount of time that it will take to resolve your criminal charges.

Most criminal cases begin long before your first appearance in court. The police may begin working on a case for weeks or months before the district attorney accepts the charge against you. If you are aware of any investigation against you or a family member, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to protect your rights and preserve your defense.

With over 11 years of experience in Texas, our Firm understands that a successful defense should never be rushed. Our clients gain nothing by rushing through the case and trying to resolve it as soon as possible. In most cases, you are not rewarded for resolving the charges quickly, as the goal is to receive the best result, not a fast result. Considering the outcome of your case may affect the rest of your life, and you only have one chance to get it right, it is extremely important to be patient. Some cases, especially serious felony matters, take an extraordinary amount of time to investigate and resolve.

The Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC, always devotes the necessary time and attention to every case. To discuss your case in full detail, please call our office at (281) 888-5581.

Can I fire my present criminal defense attorney?

Yes. You always have the right to terminate the attorney-client relationship, especially if you cannot resolve your differences or feel that your present attorney is not representing you properly. Keep in mind that switching attorneys during your case may create problems, depending on how far your case has progressed. It is critical that you address any differences with your current lawyer as soon as they come up, so that these problems will not interfere with a successful defense of your case. If your case has been set for trial, it could be extremely difficult to obtain new counsel.

If you currently have a criminal defense attorney that is not aggressively defending you, please contact the Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC, at (281) 888-5581. We can file the necessary Motion for Substitution and begin developing an excellent defense strategy for your case.

What is the typical amount of a bond?

The court determines your bond amount based on several factors, including the severity of the charge, your criminal record, and risk of flight. Bond amounts range anywhere from $500 for misdemeanor offenses to over $100,000 for serious felony offenses. You will usually pay between 10% and 15% of the bond amount to a bondsman.

If your bond is too high, you can present a motion to the court requesting a reduction of the bond. The court will then set the motion for a hearing, and your attorney can argue why a lesser bond would still guarantee your presence in court.

If you need help with your bond or would like to discuss your case in more detail, please contact the Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC, at (281) 888-5581.

What is bail? How do I get out of jail?

Bail is an insurance policy, which guarantees your presence in court when requested. Bail is usually available in the form of a bond. A bond is the commitment a bonding company makes with the county, which obligates the company for the amount of the bail bond. In other words, to get out of jail, you must contact a bail bondsman and “bond out”.

If you know that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you may qualify for a “no arrest bond”, which helps decrease the amount of time you spend in jail. Most bond companies charge between 10% and 15% of the bond.

Once you have a bond, you must adhere to the terms and conditions of the bond, including your attendance in court and staying inside the county. If you fail to show up at court on a scheduled setting, the bondsman will be on the hook for the full amount of the bond, and the court will often forfeit your bond. Under these circumstances, you will usually be arrested and your bond will be increased. The court may also deny a new bond depending on the facts of your case.

If you have questions about your case or getting a bond, please contact our office at (281) 888-5581.

What happens if I am arrested?

An arrest is a horrible and stressful experience. It can be shocking, embarrassing, and very costly. As soon as the police engage you about anything, you should immediately request an attorney and remain silent. You should always be courteous and polite when speaking to the police, however, you should stress to them up front that you are not talking, have no intention of talking, and no matter what they say or do you will not change your mind. Cops will try to intimidate you and get you to talk. No matter what they say or how nice they act, the only reason they want you to talk is to strengthen their case against you.

If you are arrested, you will be booked at the county jail. After several hours, you will face a Judge or Magistrate who will read your criminal charge and the amount of your bail. If you make bail, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to start discussing your case and your defense.

If you have questions or need to speak with an attorney now, please call our Firm at (281) 888-5581.

Can the police question me after they read me my rights?

Yes. If the police plan to arrest you, they will read you a series of rights, commonly known as your Miranda rights, including your right to remain silent and your right to speak to an attorney. Once the police read your Miranda rights, they can question you as much as they like. However, you must agree to be questioned, and even if you do agree to speak, you can always change your mind at any point during the conversation and demand an attorney. If the police continue to question you after you ask them to stop, or request to speak with an attorney, they have violated your constitutional rights.

To review your case and determine whether your rights were violated, please contact our Firm at (281) 888-5581.

Why is it so risky to speak to the police?

Speaking to the police without a lawyer is generally a bad idea. If you are a suspect under investigation for any type of crime, you should never trust the police. They are not on your side. Police officers are specially trained at interrogations and getting confessions. Regardless of what the officers say or what you may think at the time, these officers are not your friends. In fact, the police may lie to you, pretend to be your friend, and make you believe that everything will be fine if you confess. In reality, these police officers could care less about you or your freedom. They want you to admit the crime, even if you are totally innocent. Many suspects trust the police and believe that admitting to a crime is the easiest way to avoid further interrogation and prosecution. This is how the cops make a case, leading to an arrest and possible conviction.

At any point during an interrogation or after an arrest, you should demand an attorney. You have the right to speak to an attorney under these circumstances and should exercise that right to protect yourself, your family and your freedom. If you are facing a criminal charge and need an experienced Houston defense attorney, please call the Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC, at (281) 888-5581.

If I am arrested, should I speak to the police?

No. If you’re arrested, the constitution gives you the right to remain silent. You also have the right to discuss your case with an attorney.  Police officers are not on your side. They may lie to you, play tricks, and try to get you to talk, which could significantly impact your defense. We hear about this from clients everyday.

If you are arrested or even detained, demand an attorney and stop talking. Anything you say after demanding an attorney may be suppressed or thrown out before trial. This advice applies to all criminal offenses, including minor misdemeanors and serious felony charges.

To speak with an experienced and dedicated Houston criminal defense lawyer, call our office today at (281) 888-5581.