“Innocent until proven guilty” is the enduring and absolute principle that guides our criminal justice system. It’s something our Houston criminal defense lawyers never lose sight of.
If you or a loved one faces charges or an investigation for a crime, you probably feel stressed, frightened, and anxious. Who wouldn’t?
Oftentimes, people feel overwhelmed in these situations. When you face accusations of a criminal offense, the uncertainty paralyzes you. That’s when you need to take immediate action.
When the police arrest you for a criminal offense, it often feels final. However, your case is far from over after an arrest. The prosecution has to develop a convincing case against you. Moreover, they have to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
That’s when you need to meet with a Houston criminal defense lawyer. The sooner you act, the sooner we begin to build your legal defense. This gives you the best possible opportunity to overcome this hurdle in your life and move on.
The stakes are high when you face criminal charges. That’s why you need an attorney with experience, expertise, and a history of success. From DWI accidents to possession or graffiti, you have rights.
At Universal Law Group, we take your rights seriously, and we are aggressive in our defense of them. We are more than the best personal injury law firm in Houston. Our team solves problems of all natures. When you need an advocate, count on our problem solvers.
Our Houston criminal defense lawyers defend individuals and corporations against all state and federal crimes, including:
You have questions, and we have answers. When you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime for the first time in your life, a tidal wave of questions comes crashing through your mind. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find accurate information that takes your specific charge into account as well as local and state laws.
When you partner with our knowledgeable Houston criminal defense lawyers, we help to put your mind at ease. Below are a few of the common questions clients have. To learn more about your specific situation, schedule a free consultation* with our criminal defense legal team.
Confronting the criminal justice system on your own is a daunting task. It’s easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed, especially when you don’t have prior experience with the criminal defense process.
Luckily, you don’t have to tackle this process alone. With our experienced Houston criminal defense attorneys, you have guidance throughout the process. Moreover, we fight for the best possible outcome.
Before an arrest and charges, officers must have probable cause. Investigators from the Houston police department, Harris County Sheriff’s Office, or any other law enforcement agency employ a variety of procedures.
This is the first step of the criminal justice system. Oftentimes, people make the mistake of hesitating to contact an attorney after an arrest. However, when you involve our Houston criminal defense attorneys early on in the process, it significantly improves your chance of beating your case.
When police have probable cause, they arrest you. Upon your arrest, you are booked at a local jail or police station. During this process, they take your photograph and fingerprints. They also record the charges filed against you.
While they might question you, it’s essential to remember that you have no legal obligation to speak to them. We strongly encourage you to wait until your attorney is with you before speaking with them.
Remember, they are not on your side. They want to build a case against you and might try to manipulate you. Exercise your right to remain silent.
Your first appearance in court is the arraignment. This is when they file formal charges against you. During this hearing, you appear before a judge with your Houston criminal defense lawyer. The judge confirms you are the person being charged, that you understand the charge, and confirms your plea: guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
At this point, they also set bail and your next court appearance. Bail provides you with the freedom to go home during your trial. The judge decides the bail amount.
During pre-trial conferences and hearings, the prosecution and defense discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case. Additionally, we discuss pretrial motions and indirect factors that pertain to your case.
These factors have a significant impact on your leverage during plea bargaining.
Plea bargaining is when your criminal defense attorney negotiates with the prosecutor and police to prevent a trial. At times, we convince them to drop the case. In other cases, you might plead guilty to a less serious charge.
When you plead “not guilty” and we cannot reach a plea agreement, the case moves to trial. During your trial, the judge and jury hear out your case to determine guilt or innocence. This process lasts anywhere from 2 months to 2 years, depending on the complexity of the case.
Following the trial, the judge or jury comes to their decision as to whether you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This might last for minutes or weeks. Once reached, the final verdict is read to the defendant in court.
The criminal justice system requires a unanimous decision from the jury. When they cannot reach this, the judge declares a mistrial. The prosecution may attempt to retry the case in this instance.
If the verdict is “not guilty,” prosecutors and courts cannot overturn the decision. This clears you of all charges.
If the verdict is guilty, the defendant moves to sentencing.
Whether you plead guilty or a jury decides you are guilty, you receive sentencing for the crime. This is a complex process for the judge as they determine the length of your punishment as well as the severity.
This process involves looking at your record, level of remorse, responsibilities, and numerous other factors. However, judges typically adhere to the sentencing guidelines established by the state or federal government.
When found guilty of some or all the charges, you have the right to appeal the verdict. With a Houston criminal defense lawyer, you can take your case to the Texas Court of Appeals. There, we examine instances of improper procedural issues that took place in your initial trial. This court has the power to overturn a lower court’s decision.
In Texas, the highest court for criminal cases is the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. This court takes appeal cases from the mid-level system or direct appeals that involve the death penalty.
If you face charges for a crime you did not commit, you might think you don’t need a criminal defense attorney. When innocence is on your side, why would you need a lawyer?
It’s important to remember that the police and prosecutors want to solve a crime. This means they build a case against you regardless of your innocence.
With a lawyer, you have someone to protect your rights. Our lawyers ensure that police and prosecutors don’t take advantage of you. Moreover, we make sure that we convey the evidence of your innocence in the most impactful way possible.
As Houston criminal defense lawyers, we explain your innocence to those who want you to be guilty. In other words, we build a case for your innocence by amassing facts and details that support your claim.
Criminal charges carry profound implications and consequences. If you face criminal charges, you need an advocate who knows how to solve problems. Our Houston criminal defense lawyers know the law and have the experience and ability to make it work to your advantage.
Moreover, we understand how to competently and effectively build your defense with aggressive representation throughout the criminal justice process. Experience is invaluable when it comes to criminal defense, and our team has the experience of a former state prosecutor on our side.
Therefore, we have the ability to analyze criminal cases from the perspective of defense and prosecution. With our team of experienced criminal trial lawyers, you have advocates to fight for your future.
Schedule your free consultation* today.
*Consultation fees may be waived on a case by case basis and at the discretion of the reviewing attorney.