Criminal Law in Texas
If you are being questioned in connection with a Texas crime, it's imperative that you seek legal representation immediately. A qualified Texas criminal defense attorney is the key to a full, robust, and strategic defense, regardless of whether you're guilty or innocent.
If you are scared and feeling overwhelmed, this article was written for you.
In this article (which is based upon Texas criminal law), we'll discuss:
- Texas specific criminal laws;
- What you need to know about criminal defense in Texas; and
- How to work with your Texas criminal defense attorney.
Texas Criminal Laws
Criminal law seeks to protect individuals and the general public from perceived harm and to keep order in society.
Texas criminal laws are found in the Texas Penal Code. There are hundreds of crimes listed in the Texas Penal Code, including public intoxication, assault, indecent exposure, prostitution, child pornography, forgery, identity theft, stalking, arson, manslaughter, and murder.
Statute of Limitations
Criminal charges must be brought within a certain period of time or be forever barred.
For example, in Texas, the statute of limitations for:
- Any misdemeanor is 2 years
- Murder, manslaughter, and certain sexual offensesis unlimited
- Arson is 7 years
Judges usually have discretion in doling out punishment after conviction. However, sentencing guidelines limit discretion. Sentencing guidelines are laws that provide minimum and/or maximum punishments for crime in an effort to have criminal punishments applied equally.
For example, in Texas, both misdemeanors and felonies are classified by the seriousness of the crime.
Class A misdemeanors are the most serious; class B are less serious; and class C are the least serious.
Punishment ranges from fines as high as $4,000 and one year of jail time down to a minimal fine and no jail time.
Felonies are classified into five categories: Capital crimes, 1st degree, 2nd degree, 3rd degree, and state jail felonies.
As you might guess, capital crimes are the most serious and are punishable by death; state jail felonies are the least serious are punishable by jail time of more than 180 days but less than two years and may be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.
What You Need to Know About Criminal Defense
If you are being questioned about or have been arrested for a crime in Texas, your life, liberty, and money may be at risk.
- Call Texas criminal defense lawyer, immediately. It's okay to call 24/7/365.
- When your lawyer asks you what happened. Answer honestly and completely. If in doubt, disclose the information even if you think the information may implicate you in a crime. This is the only way your attorney and formulate an appropriate defense.
- Your conversations with your defense attorney are confidential.
- Do not make a statement to police, other than to ask for an attorney.
How to Work with a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer
You need to be an active partner in your own defense. Your attorney can't help you if you won't help yourself. This means that you must:
- Always heed your lawyer's advice.
- Tell your defense attorney exactly what happened.
- Respond to phone calls, emails, or letters immediately.
- Provide all requested information.
- Stay in contact with your attorney and update your attorney's office if your phone number, email, or address changes.
- Remember that it is in your best interest for your attorney to question you; perhaps even challenge you, even if it feels as though he or she is giving you a hard time.
- Remember it is in your best interest for your attorney to be polite and cooperate with witnesses, the victim, police officers, investigators, and the prosecutor.
Bottom Line: If you are facing any type of criminal charge in Texas, immediately talk to a criminal defense attorney. The stakes are too high to move forward without professional legal representation. Your life, liberty, and money may be at stake.
Ask the bar association or friends for referrals or simply Google, "How to find a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney."