If you have
been arrested in the Greater Houston / Harris County area for a Class A or
B misdemeanor or felony offense, it is important to consult with a reputable criminal
trial attorney who understands the Texas criminal process in Houston. You want
to hire someone who will show you their actual case results and how likely they
are to be successful in your case.
If you have
an open warrant for your arrest in Harris County, it is important to hire a criminal
defense attorney in Houston, TX to represent you throughout all crucial
elements of your case. The attorney may be able to represent you in court to
get a bond set so you can do a walk through in the processing center, so that
you do not have to turn yourself in first at the processing center and wait for
a judge to set the bond and then be processed out as that can take many hours.
In most cases,
criminal defendants want an aggressive lawyer who will go to trial and fight on
their behalf if their case requires it, who will try to negotiate an agreement
to get the case dismissed so it can later be expunged, or who will suggest
their client enter a plea deal if that is the best option for their case.
Criminal Process Defense Lawyer in Cypress, Jersey Village, Tomball, Katy,
Northwest Houston, TX
If you have
been arrested for any criminal offense in Houston, James
Sullivan is an experienced trial attorney who will make every effort to
help you obtain the most desirable outcome in your specific situation by
representing you throughout every important phase of the criminal process.
G. Sullivan & Associates today at 281-546-6428 for a consultation about your
alleged criminal offense in Houston, Cypress, Katy, Tomball, and surrounding
areas of Harris County, Texas. Our
firm will work to potentially get your criminal charges dismissed or
Booking and Case Filing
alleged criminal offender has been arrested for a criminal offense in Houston,
they will be held in jail until they appear before a judge. Immediately
after the arrest, criminal defendants are taken to booking where their
photographs and fingerprints are taken. Additionally, a fingerprint report, or
rap sheet, is prepared that shows the defendant’s criminal history.
cases, while the defendant is held in jail, the arresting officer files the
criminal charges with the district attorney’s (DA) office. If the district attorney
wants to pursue the case, the DA will prepare a charging instrument called an “information.”
This is a written statement that is filed and presented on behalf of the state
of Texas that charges the defendant with a crime. The information also puts the
defendant on notice that they have been charged with a criminal offense.
After the information is processed, the case is assigned to one of the 16 misdemeanor
courts in Houston through a random process.
cases, the arresting law enforcement agency will also file charges with the
defendant is formally charged with a felony offense, their case will be
assigned to one of the 26 felony (district) courts in Harris County.
Appearance, Bail, and Arraignment in Houston
criminal defendant is held in jail, the jail will determine whether to set
bail, to release the defendant from jail without bail (personal recognizance),
or to hold the defendant in jail without bail. If bail is set, it can be posted
at any time while the defendant is held in jail.
If bail is
set, the amount can be posted by a bail bondsman, or another person. After the
amount of bail has been posted, the defendant is guaranteed they will appear at
any subsequent hearings or at trial. If they do appear as ordered, the amount
of the bond, less any fees paid to secure the bond, will be returned to the
individual who posted it. If the defendant does not appear, the amount of the
bond will be forfeited.
information has been filed and the judge has decided whether to set bail or
not, the defendant is entitled to an initial appearance, which is also known as
the arraignment, where they will be advised of the charges that have been
brought against them. The judge will also conduct a probable cause hearing to
determine whether there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against
the defendant. If the judge finds probable cause, the case continues. If the
judge finds no probable cause, the prosecutor may decide to present the case to
the grand jury or dismiss the charge.
will also identify the defendant’s lawyer if one was hired or may appoint a
lawyer to represent the defendant and set bail conditions at the arraignment.
your attorney will have an opportunity to argue the amount of bail that should
be set, and if the prosecutor has requested the defendant be held in jail, your
attorney will also argue for your release. At the end of the arraignment, the
defendant will enter a plea of not guilty, nolo contendere, or guilty,
and will be informed of the date of their next court appearance.
Between the first
and second court settings, these charges usually will then be presented to the grand
jury to decide if there is enough evidence to charge the defendant with the
crime. If the grand jury does decide there is enough evidence, they will file
an indictment. This charging instrument is a written statement that formally
accuses the person named of the criminal offense. The grand jury is a private
proceeding that is comprised of a panel of citizens who are randomly selected
to review criminal complaints provided by the police.
If the grand
jury decides to true bill the alleged offender, or formally charge them, the
grand jury has determined there is sufficient evidence (probable cause) to
charge the defendant with the alleged criminal offense and will issue an
indictment. If the grand jury decides to no bill the alleged offender, the
defendant will not be charged with a criminal offense because the grand jury
did not find probable cause to proceed with the case.
Process and Pre-Trial Negotiations in Houston
Prior to any
appearances, hearing, or trial for the defendant’s criminal charges, the
defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor will have an opportunity to
discuss any pretrial negotiations or enter a plea deal. They will also be able
to enter a plea deal at the arraignment if this is in the defendant’s best
defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor will determine if there are any
immediate reasons to dismiss the case. More commonly discussed prior to trial,
a plea deal is a resolution of the case where both the prosecutor and the
defendant agree to a certain punishment without ultimately having a trial to
determine the defendant’s guilt. Additionally, at any of these pretrial negotiations,
the case may be reset, postponed, rescheduled, or a continuance may be
requested by either party.
Hearings, Appearances, and Pre-Trial Motions
defendant is released from jail on bail or bond, they will be informed of their
next hearing date at their arraignment. The defendant is required to appear on
the date and time where they were instructed to appear, or else they will risk
losing the amount of bond and a warrant will be issued for their
pretrial negotiations, but before trial, the court will set a date to hear all
pretrial motions filed by both sides. The defendant’s attorney can file any
motions arguing why the case should be dismissed or to suppress certain
evidence. The most common pre-trial motions filed on behalf of a
defendant can include any of the following:
- Motion to Dismiss for Lack of
- Motion to Exclude a Non-credible
- Motion to Exclude the
- Motion to Strike Prior Convictions
- Motion to Suppress Illegally
defendant has rejected all pre-trial negotiations, the case has not been
dismissed, and the defendant has pleaded not guilty to an alleged criminal
offense, the case will be set for trial. The defendant can choose to have a
bench trial or a jury trial.
trial is a trial without a jury where only the judge determines if the
defendant is guilty or innocent. Additionally, in bench trials, the defendant
waives any error in the case upon any subsequent appeals. A jury trial is
comprised of a panel of 12 jury members for felony cases and six jury members
for misdemeanor cases. The jury members are citizens in the county where the
trial is held and are chosen through a process called voir dire (jury
jurors are seated, the guilt/innocence phase of the trial will begin. This
phase involves the presentation of all evidence, and all witnesses are called
to testify. The prosecutor has the burden of proving the defendant committed
every element to the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a very high
burden of proof and often difficult to meet. The defense does not have to prove
In order to
convict a defendant, all jurors must unanimously agree the defendant is guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt. If they do not all agree, the jury is called a hung
jury and the judge must declare a mistrial. The case will then later be retried
if the prosecutor believes another jury will be able to reach a unanimous
decision. The prosecutor also could dismiss the charge or offer the defendant a
deal on a reduced charge instead of having another trial.
defendant is found guilty, the punishment phase of the trial will occur next.
This phase is used to determine the defendant’s punishment for their alleged
offense. Prior to the beginning of trial, the defendant must choose whether to
go to the judge or the jury to determine their punishment.
defendant believes a legal error occurred in the trial based on the judge’s
instructions to the jury or for permitting inadmissible evidence, they can file
an appeal to the next highest court. The criminal appeal is not a pre-trial rehearing
of the evidence.
Find a Houston
Criminal Trial Attorney | James G. Sullivan & Associates
today for a consultation about your arrest and criminal charges in Harris
County in Texas. James Sullivan is a knowledgeable criminal defense
attorney in Houston who will make every effort to fight for you at every
stage of the criminal process.
G. Sullivan & Associates today at 281-546-6428 for a consultation about your
alleged offense in Houston, Cypress, Katy, Tomball, and surrounding areas of
Harris County, Texas. Our
firm will work with the goal to get your criminal charges dismissed, won
at trial, or reduced.