The Criminal Trial Process

Although the trial process is fairly straight forward, no two scenarios take the same course because the legal system is the most sophisticated chess board. Your attorney is responsible for being familiar with a vast amount of rules and regulations. Understanding the fundamentals will help you grasp some of the criminal defense basics but is not a substitute for hiring experienced attorneys. Call us at 817-789-4000 to schedule an appointment. Here’s some helpful information to get you started:

What is the process for felony charges?

When accused of a felony, the defendant can expect to be arrested, arraigned, make several appearances in court, have the case heard by the grand jury, and then, if true billed, prepare for trial.

What is the process for misdemeanor charges?

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What is an arraignment?

An arraignment is your first court date. At an arraignment, the judge informs the defendant of the charges against them and then asks for a plea of guilty or not guilty.

What is an indictment and what occurs after you've been indicted?

An indictment is the State’s formal charge or accusation of a crime. After you have been indicted, there is an arraignment where the court provides the accused with a reading of the charges against him or her. Then, the accused enters a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. This can occur after your arrest.

What is a writ of habeas corpus?

A writ of habeas corpus forces an individual or an entity that has a person in custody to “present the body” of that person to the court. This procedure is used when a defendant has been wrongfully detained.

What is a probable cause writ?

A probable cause writ is a dispositive, pre-trial motion that contests there was probable cause to make an arrest.

What is a consultation setting?

A consultation setting is a court setting where the prosecutor and defense attorney consult with one another to determine what kind of plea bargain the prosecutor is willing to offer. After the consultation, there are more pre-trial settings and eventually a setting when the State must disclose its evidence to the the defense.

What occurs during the exchanging of evidence?

At the exchanging of evidence stage, the prosecutions discloses all of its evidence that it has gathered against the defendant. The words “evidence exchange” is someone misleading because the defense is never required to provide the prosecution with any evidence.

What is a suppression hearing?

A suppression hearing occurs when a client’s 4th, 5th, or 6th Amendment rights are violated. If violated, anything found by violation of the client’s rights are inadmissible as evidence. After a client’s arrest, our attorneys analyze the facts to determine whether grounds exist for a suppression hearing.

What is a 3G offense?

3G offenses are considered to be more serious or violent and could have additional sentencing requirements. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42.12 Section 3g lists: murder, capital murder, indecency with a child, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, drug cases where a child is used in the commission of the offense, or the offense took place within 1,000 feet of a school or on a school bus, sexual assault, injury to a child, elderly individual, or disabled individual (if the offense is punishable as a felony of the first degree), sexual performance by a child, criminal solicitation cases that are punishable as a felony of the first degree, compelling prostitution, trafficking of persons, and burglary.

What is a plea non-3g versus a plea 3g?

A 3g plea deals with an enhanced crime, often related to habitual offenders.

What is a grand jury?

A grand jury is a group of citizens that are given the authority to determine whether there is probably cause to charge a person for committing a felony crime. The grand jury may return one of two verdicts “no bill” or “true bill.”

What does it mean when a case in "no billed"?

When a case is “no billed” that means an individual was arrested, accused of a felony, but no formal charges were made because a grand jury determined that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

What does it mean when a case is "true billed"?

When a case is “true billed” that means an individual was arrested, accused of a felony, and formal charges were made because a grand jury determined that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute.

What is an open plea?

An open plea is when a judge is given complete deference to assess punishment or relief that may be granted to the client.