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Choosing a defense lawyer to defend you against criminal charges can be nerve-wracking. After all, your freedom can be adversely affected and you could face a litany of other serious consequences for years to come — or even over the span of a lifetime.
Moreover, a criminal conviction can leave you unable to obtain a job, take out a student loan, possess a firearm, obtain a professional license, work with children or hold public office. Unfortunately, if you are found guilty of certain criminal charges in Texas this could only the beginning of many long-term consequences.
Fort Worth lawyer, Brandon Fulgham is a former Tarrant County and Collin County Prosecutor and highly respected Tarrant County criminal attorney. He has earned the respect of his peers in the legal community through his success in the following positions: felony prosecutor, grand jury prosecutor, misdemeanor prosecutor and misdemeanor court chief prosecutor (Collin County). While employed at the Tarrant County and Collin County District Attorney’s office Fulgham tried over 75 jury trials in both district and county courts. Mr. Fulgham has also tried numerous cases to a judge, and presented hundreds of cases to the grand jury. Brandon Fulgham is a tough, aggressive, and experienced Texas criminal lawyer who knows how to get the job done right in court. He has experience on both sides of the bench, so he can anticipate and divert a prosecutor’s attack.
If you’ve been arrested for a criminal offense—or suspect that you will be arrested—perhaps one of the most important things you can remember is that talking to the police is rarely in your best interests. Of course you will provide the basic information such as your name and address (failure to identify is a serious charge), but before you answer any further questions, it is highly advised that you ask to speak with a criminal attorney first. Meaning, you invoke your right to remain silent and to obtain legal counsel.
Specifically, the Miranda Warnings exist for a very good reason, so remain calm and politely decline to answer any further questions until you have had a chance to consult with your attorney. Police officers and prosecutors are trained to gather evidence which as you are already aware, will later be used against you. In many cases rules may be bent or broken in this quest to gain a statement or “break the case.” You may make an entirely innocent comment which is then taken out of context and used to convict you. Remain calm, and do not speak to anyone but your attorney.
What Is a Bond and How Does the Process Work?
When an individual is arrested, he or she is booked into jail. Eventually, the individual goes before a judge who will determine the particulars of the bail order.
Bail is the process that allows people to leave their jail cell and get on with the regular aspects of life while awaiting their trial. Judges typically set a bond amount based on factors such as whether an individual is deemed to be a significant threat to the state of Texas and society at large or a flight risk.
The two most common types of bonds are surety bonds and cash bonds. A surety bond means that a defendant can pay a bondsman a certain percentage of the bond amount to secure release from jail. The bondsman is at risk for the remaining amount of the bond. Typically, a bondsman will require you to check in weekly with their office. A cash bond involves paying the full amount of the bond. If you pay a cash bond you will be refunded the full amount of the bond after the case is over as long as you comply with the conditions set by the court.
An investigation is generally mounted when the police have sufficient reason to believe you have committed a criminal offense. Facts are assessed, witness interviews are conducted and evidence is collected against you. A warrant will be issued for your arrest and you will be taken before a judge to enter a plea. The judge will set a bond and the amount will depend on the severity of the charges and the facts of the case.
When it is time for your preliminary hearing, the prosecutor will claim that there is sufficient evidence against you to proceed to trial. Your case may have a few pre-trial settings to make sure all of the evidence is obtained. At this point, should probable cause be established, we will confer with you to determine whether a plea bargain is in your best interests or if you should fight the charges before a jury. It is your decision whether you enter into a plea bargain, but we will make sure you fully understand the alternatives as well as the consequences of the plea.
Trial Date or Grand Jury Indictment
However, if a plea bargain is not reached then a trial date will be set. Additionally, it is also worth noting that all serious felonies in the state of Texas involve a grand jury indictment as well, which is where an impartial jury determines whether there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial.
Trial Takes Places
For criminal cases in the state of Texas, defendants are entitled to a trial by an impartial jury. For felony trials, there will be 12 jurors, whereas misdemeanor trials involve 6 jurors. Every jury must find the defendant guilty by unanimous verdict under the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for a conviction.
In the state of Texas, the punishments for various felonies and misdemeanors vary. Currently, there are three classes of misdemeanor offenses (A, B and C) and five felony offense categories.
Regarding misdemeanors, specifically, a Class A offense results in no more than a year in prison and a fine of no more than $4,000. This is the most serious misdemeanor punishment, with Class B offenses resulting in no more than six months of prison and no more than a $2,000 fine. Class C misdemeanors only result in a fine that cannot exceed $500.
Felony charges, on the other hand, are divided into the following five categories: Capital, First-Degree, Second-Degree, Third-Degree and State Jail.
Capital offenses are the most severe, resulting in death or life in prison without the possibility of parole. Each of the final four offenses can result in fines not exceeding $10,000 but the prison sentences vary widely, as shown:
• First-Degree Offenses: 5 to 99 Years
• Second-Degree Offenses: 2 to 20 Years
• Third-Degree Offenses: 2 to 10 Years
• State Jail: 180 Days to 2 Years
If you’re facing any of these charges, our misdemeanor and felony lawyers can help defend you in court aggressively and strategically.
When defendants are indigent or otherwise cannot pay for a private attorney in Texas, they will be assigned a court appointed attorney. If you are granted a court appointed attorney, Judges often still make a client pay a monthly fee to the County.
Clients who have the funds to put toward a private attorney will typically do so, and for good reason. Studies have shown that the average sentence of clients who were represented by a court appointed attorney received sentences that were three years longer compared to defendants represented by private lawyers. The reason for this is simple. Court appointed attorneys are often overworked while operating with fewer resources at their disposal.Comparatively, private criminal defense attorneys have more time to analyze the facts of the case to prepare a zealous and compelling legal defense.
If you’re facing serious felony charges such as family violence, fraud, DWI, or drug charges; call our felony defense attorneys now.
The serious stakes involved in a criminal case make it essential to seek representation from an experienced defense attorney who will fight on your behalf strategically and successfully. When you need the best criminal defense attorney or DWI lawyer in Fort Worth on your side, you call Fulgham Law Firm. Call today to schedule a free consultation for felony charges, misdemeanors, DWI, and more at (817) 877-3030.