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Charge: Assault - State claimed client hit victim with a telephone and broke victim’s nose. However, the client was acting in self-defense.

Verdict: NOT GUILTY

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10 Facts about Criminal Charges

As citizens, we each have a responsibility to be informed about criminal law and the ways it affects us. In addition, if you are charged with a crime, being informed about the legal system can help you protect your rights. In order to help people stay informed, we have collected 10 helpful facts about criminal law below:

  1. The Miranda Rights (also known as the Miranda Warning) is a collection of rights that police must inform suspects about before questioning them. Contrary to what you may have seen in the media, the police do not need to read these rights to anyone they arrest. You are only entitled to hear your Miranda Warning if you are in police custody and they wish to question you.
  2. Under the 6th Amendment of the US Constitution, you have the right to a speedy trial. This means that the courts cannot jail you indefinitely between your arrest and your trial. If the courts wish to delay the onset of your trial, they must prove that they have legitimate grounds for doing so.
  3. The 6th Amendment also guarantees your right to legal representation if you have been arrested. This means that you cannot be charged, questioned, convicted, or sentenced without a defense attorney to help you. If you are unable to pay for an attorney, the court must assign a public defender to your case.
  4. After you have been arrested, the next legal step is an arraignment hearing. At this hearing, the judge will read the charges against you so you can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The judge will then release you or set bail.
  5. Bail is an amount of money you must pay the court in order to be released from jail until your trial is concluded. The judge will set the amount depending on the charges against you and certain other factors. The bail you pay can be refunded after your trial is concluded.
  6. When you enter your plea, you have three options: guilty, not guilty, or no contest (also known as “nolo contendere.”) “No contest” means that you do not deny the charges against you, but you do not want to plead guilty. Your attorney may encourage you to plead no contest if you are interested in a plea bargain.
  7. Between your arraignment and your trial, there is a period called “discovery.” During discovery, you have the right to see all of the evidence against you so that you and your attorney can begin to build your case. Your attorney will likely want to interview any witnesses that will testify against you and research how the evidence against you was obtained.
  8. If a mistake is made during your arraignment, discovery, or trial, you may have grounds for having your case declared a mistrial. A mistrial means that your trial will be dismissed; this may be the end of your case, or you may undergo a new trial. Grounds for a mistrial include attorney misconduct, jury misconduct, illegal methods of obtaining evidence, or anything that may unfairly bias the judge or jury against you.
  9. In some cases, evidence can be excluded from a criminal trial. This includes evidence that was obtained illegally, such as a coerced confession or objects found during an illegal search. It may also include evidence that the judge or jury deems irrelevant to the case. When evidence is dismissed, jurists are not permitted to consider it when reaching a verdict.
  10. If you are convicted of a crime, you have the right to appeal the court’s decision. An appeal is not a retrial; rather, it means that a judge will review the facts of your case. He or she may then decide to change your sentence or your verdict. Grounds for appeal include nearly any violation of your legal rights that occurred during the legal process.

Being informed about your rights and options will help you make good decisions while dealing with your legal case. If you have any questions about criminal proceedings, or need the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney, our Houston criminal defense lawyers can help.

Contact Us

At the offices of Johnson, Johnson & Baer, P.C., we work diligently for each of our clients. To discuss how our Houston criminal attorneys can help with your case, contact us by calling 713-222-0400.