How Does the Criminal Process Work in Texas?

Apart from payment, the most frequently asked question is how does the criminal process work? Many people explain that they have never been arrested or charged with a crime before, and thus they have no idea what to expect. If this is you, that is okay. It is more normal than you think. Below I will provide you with a sequential roadmap of the criminal process. But, do not worry I will help guide you successfully through this process. For more immediate help, call Case J. Darwin at 512.738.6146 or fill out our online form!

How a Defendant Must Act in Jail

A defendant must not talk about what happened in his case to anybody inside the jail or on the telephone unless it is a private conversation with his attorney. Only with his attorney does a defendant have attorney-client privilege.

Anything a defendant says to somebody in Jail about his case can be used against him. It is not hearsay. It is an admission by a party opponent. See TEX. R. EVID. 801(e)(2). Thus, it will be admissible against a defendant at trial. Accordingly, a defendant must not talk about the facts of his case with other inmates.

Sometimes, depending on the severity of a charge, a Detective will go to the Jail to interview a defendant. Again, the defendant must not speak to the Detective. Anything he says will be used against him at trial. The defendant should simply tell the Detective that he would love to cooperate, but his attorney advised him not to talk to the Detective whatsoever.

Exposed brick wall within a jail cell.

Also, do not talk about the defendant’s case over the telephone, while he is at Jail. Make sure that you tell the defendant that you cannot talk about his case upfront. Everything you or the defendant says is being recorded. Thus, if a defendant later decides to fight his case and is preparing for a trial, the State will pull all of the defendant’s jail recordings and use any incriminating statements against the defendant.

Also, the defendant must be careful to not make any statements imputing responsibility, such as, “I’m sorry,” “I screwed up,” etc.

The same rule applies to any visits a defendant receives at Jail. Such visits are being recorded. Make sure you tell the defendant this upfront. Again, do not talk about the facts of the defendant’s case, while visiting him at the Jail. It is entirely proper to talk with a defendant about bond or hiring an attorney, just not the facts of his case.

The Posting of Bond

When a defendant is arrested, he is taken to the local county jail. Early in the morning, the defendant will be “magistrate,” meaning he will see a Judge who will give him a bond.

The bond amount will vary greatly depending on the charge and quite frankly the Judge seen. Misdemeanors will carry lower bonds, typically under $10,000, while felonies will carry bonds typically over $10,000. The amount of a felony bond truly depends on the severity of the charge. As one can imagine, some Judges are more lenient, while other Judges are more strict. Thus, the judicial temperament of the Judge seen will also affect the bond amount.

Once a bond is set, a defendant can (1) call a bondsman to help in posting a bond, or (2) post a cash bond. Bondsmen typically require that a defendant pay them 10% of the bond’s amount in order to post the bond. The defendant will lose that 10% paid to the bondsman because, in consideration for the 10% payment of the bond, the bondsman becomes liable for paying off the other 90% of the bond if a defendant fails to show up in court when he is required to do so. The bottom line is that the 10% is lost based upon the risk the bondsman undertakes on a defendant’s behalf.

A defendant should always ask a bondsman about payment plans. Some bondsmen may post bond with only a 2% payment, while others may require a 5% down payment or a 10% down payment of the bond in full.

A cash bond is where the entire amount of the bond is deposited at the local county jail. The benefit of a cash bond is that the depositor will get all of the money back at the conclusion of a defendant’s case (dismissal, plea, jury trial, etc.). However, if the defendant does not show up to court when required, the depositor will lose the entirety of the cash bond.

It is extremely important to bond a defendant out of jail. It is much better to fight the case with a Client that is not in jail. This also allows the defendant to (1) continue working and providing for his family, (2) pay attorney’s fees, and (3) pay bond fees.

What if a Bond is Unaffordable or Needs to Be Lowered?

In Section III, I will explain the importance in full of hiring an attorney. But, in order to get the bond lowered, a defendant will need to hire an attorney immediately.

The attorney can coordinate with the local district attorney’s office to maybe agree to a lower, affordable bond amount. If an attorney gets such an agreement, the Judge will typically sign off to the lower bond amount without a hearing. The benefit of this practice is that it is extremely quick, and the defendant gets a guaranteed, lower bond amount.

The attorney can also have the defendant brought to court to go before a Judge, where an evidentiary hearing is conducted to lower the bond. There is no guarantee that the bond will be lowered. In fact, a Judge could choose to increase the bond amount, although this rarely happens.

How does a bond hearing work? Well, the attorney will put on testimony through the defendant or his friends or family. They will testify as to the defendant’s character, and how he is not a danger to the community. If a defendant has a track record of working, that will help as well. Also, the defendant must show that the bond is not currently affordable and efforts have been made to post such a bond.

If a defendant has not been indicted, the attorney will have to file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Since there is no indictment, i.e., no cause number, a defendant does not have any court dates. The Writ brings the defendant over to Court for a bond reduction hearing. Once in court, the attorney can agree with the State to a lower bond amount or put on evidence for the Judge in order to request a lower bond amount.

If a defendant has been indicted, the attorney will file a Motion for a Bond Reduction. The attorney will then either agree with the State for a lower bond amount or put on a hearing in front of the Judge, similar to the Writ process.

How Does a Defendant Obtain a P.R. Bond or Personal Bond?

Again, in Section III, I will explain the importance in full of hiring an attorney. But, in order to get a personal bond, you will need to hire an attorney immediately. A “P.R. Bond” is legally defined as a “personal bond.” A personal bond allows a defendant to leave on his own recognizance. This means that the defendant does not have to post a bond. The defendant simply gives his word that he will show up for the future court date if and when it occurs.

An attorney can do this by obtaining the State’s agreement to a personal bond. This is the best result obviously. It is quick, and the Judge will normally agree to it without a hearing. An attorney could also again file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (if the case is unindicted) or file a Motion for a Bond Reduction (if the case is indicted) and ask that the Judge grant him a personal bond after a hearing. Again, there is no guarantee that the Judge will grant a personal bond, but it is a possibility depending on a defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the charge.

What is a 90-Day P.R. Bond or Personal Bond or Statutory Bond?

Again, in Section III, I will explain the importance in full of hiring an attorney. But, in order to get a 90-day bond, you will need to hire an attorney immediately.

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 17.151, “Release because of delay,” provides statutorily for a personal bond. The article provides in full, Sec. 1. A defendant who is detained in jail pending trial of an accusation against him must be released either on personal bond or by reducing the amount of bail required if the state is not ready for trial of the criminal action for which he is being detained within:

(1) 90 days from the commencement of his detention if he is accused of a felony

(2) 30 days from the commencement of his detention if he is accused of a misdemeanor punishable by a sentence of imprisonment in jail for more than 180 days

(3) 15 days from the commencement of his detention if he is accused of a misdemeanor punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for 180 days or less

(4) five days from the commencement of his detention if he is accused of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine only

Sec. 2. The provisions of this article do not apply to a defendant who is:

(1) serving a sentence of imprisonment for another offense while the defendant is serving that sentence

(2) being detained pending trial of another accusation against the defendant as to which the applicable period has not yet elapsed

(3) incompetent to stand trial, during the period of the defendant’s incompetence

(4) being detained for a violation of the conditions of a previous release related to the safety of a victim of the alleged offense or to the safety of the community under this article

See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 17.151 (West 2018)

Thus, for a felony, a defendant is generally entitled to a personal bond after 90 days of incarceration have elapsed if the defendant has not been indicted. The general exception to this rule is if a defendant has a “hold” in another jurisdiction. A hold means that a defendant has a capias or warrant in another jurisdiction or a charge in another jurisdiction where bond has not been posted.

Again, only an attorney can get this done for you. The attorney will either get an agreed order from the State or, if the State will not agree, the attorney will have to bring the defendant to court for a hearing in front of the Judge. The Judge would then be required to grant the defendant a personal bond if the defendant so qualifies and has not been indicted yet.

For a Class A Misdemeanor, there is only a 30-day requirement of incarceration without the filing of an information (an information is a charging document in a misdemeanor case, versus an indictment in a felony case). For a Class B Misdemeanor, there is only a 15-day requirement of incarceration without the filing of an information. For a Class C Misdemeanor, this almost never occurs because a Class C Misdemeanor is not punishable by any jail time whatsoever.

III. Hire an Attorney

This is even more important than posting a bond. In fact, as I explained above, an attorney can often help you with the posting of a bond. Only the attorney can negotiate a reduced bond, set a hearing for a bond reduction, or get you a P.R. bond or a personal bond.

I recommend my services because I try cases on a regular basis. The State does not typically dismiss cases on a whim. I typically have to set the case for a jury trial. Then, the State knows that we are serious about a defendant’s case and intend to fight it. This can lead to a dismissal because the State knows that the defendant will hold the State to the State’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. A dismissal is obviously the best result, especially if it can be obtained at an earlier opportunity.

The State will only dismiss, however, if the State knows that the attorney will actually try the case. Most defense attorneys never try cases and just plea out their Clients. The State knows exactly who such attorneys are and will never dismiss their Clients’ cases. Whereas, I try cases on a regular basis. Thus, I obtain dismissals.

client and attorney at table

So, it is important to not only hire an attorney, but rather a good one. It is your freedom, liberty, and record that is at stake. This charge will affect you forever unless you can get it dismissed. Hiring an attorney immediately, apart from bonding issues, can also possibly help prevent the State from indicting a defendant or filing an information against a defendant in the first place. The attorney can immediately file a Notice of Appearance on the defendant’s case with the State, and start negotiating with the prosecuting attorney. Sometimes, this can get the case dismissed up front without a formal charge. Technically, when this happens, your case is “declined” because no formal charge ever existed. This is the absolute best result obviously.

How Does a Case Formally Proceed?

After you are charged by a law enforcement agency, the law enforcement agency then transfers the case to the local district attorney’s office. This can often take a couple of weeks. The district attorney’s office then receives the case and assigns the case out to a prosecutor (“intake”) for the prosecutor to make a decision on whether the State should formally charge the defendant. It can take weeks for a case to be assigned to a prosecutor once the case is in the district attorney’s office. It can then take weeks to months for the prosecutor to make a decision on whether to formally charge a defendant.

If a defendant is going to be charged, it typically takes at least two to three months for a felony; whereas, a misdemeanor can be a lot quicker. Also, if a defendant has a felony drug case (not talking about the misdemeanor offense of possession of marijuana), it can take six months to a year for the State to indict a defendant.

This is because often the State will not formally charge a defendant with a felony until the State has received lab results confirming that the drug possessed is, in fact, a drug, along with a confirmed amount of the drug possessed. All drug cases, from all counties, go to a central laboratory in Austin, Texas. The delay in time is simply because the laboratory is backed up due to the sheer amount of drug cases across the State of Texas.

If a defendant’s case is a felony, and the State has decided to proceed with it, the State will seek an indictment. The State has to present the defendant’s case to a grand jury and provide probable cause that the defendant did, in fact, commit the alleged offense. This is a low standard, and grand juries typically rubber-stamp the State’s cases. So, if the State has decided to present a defendant’s case to a grand jury, an indictment will surely issue.

If a defendant’s case is a misdemeanor, and the State has decided to proceed, the State merely has to file an information. An information is a charging document for a misdemeanor case. The prosecutor merely lays out the offense and signs to the belief that the defendant committed such offense. The prosecutor then files the signed paper with the county court, and that starts the process for such case.

[If the defendant does not have a Motion to Adjudicate or a Motion to Revoke Community Supervision or Probation, go to Section V below.]

A Motion to Adjudicate or a Motion to Revoke Community Supervision or Probation

A Motion to Adjudicate or a Motion to Revoke Community Supervision or Probation starts the adjudication or revocation process of community supervision. Probation legal term is “community supervision.” The State files such Motion when it seeks to amend a defendant’s community supervision conditions or send a defendant to prison.

If such Motion has been filed against a defendant, it is extremely important that the defendant hires an attorney. Such Motions may take away a defendant’s liberty and freedom and substantially affect the defendant’s record.

How Does the Motion to Adjudicate or Motion to Revoke Community Supervision Process Work?

When the State files its Motion, the State could be seeking to place a county jail sanction on a defendant, prejudicially amend the terms of a defendant’s community supervision, place the defendant into inpatient treatment (which is prison), or place the defendant into prison itself.

A dismissal of such Motion actually occurs if the State “withdraws” the Motion. This is the best result because then the defendant goes back on community supervision with the exact same prior terms. An exception to that is if the attorney can have the community supervision terminated or terminated unsuccessfully. This is a possibility, but it is normally more remote. This would end community supervision permanently and leave a defendant free in the world without paper.

The next best result is if the defendant can get reinstated on community supervision. This occurs with the same terms as before or sometimes can include simply some additional conditions, such as outpatient treatment, or an extension of the term of community supervision.

Unfortunately, there are times when inpatient treatment becomes unavoidable. This can be a solution for a defendant if he is seeking to stay on community supervision and retain the fact that he is on deferred adjudication. The benefit of deferred adjudication is that the defendant does not have a conviction on his record.

There are various inpatient-treatment programs. After being ordered into inpatient treatment, often a defendant will have to wait up to approximately one month in the County Jail for the opening of a bed in the ordered inpatient-treatment program. Such inpatient-treatment programs can vary in time from three months, for certain ISF programs, to SAFP, which is nine months in total.

At times, the State may seek to send a defendant to prison. A defendant does have options. These are all of the options available to a defendant with such a Motion: (1) an agreed recommendation with the State, (2) an open plea to the Judge, or (3) 1 a contested hearing.

With an agreed recommendation, the State and the defendant come to an agreement. The Judge will normally follow the agreed recommendation and sentence the defendant accordingly.

An open plea to the Judge is when a defendant pleas true to all or some of the allegations, but asks the Judge to sentence him instead of taking a deal from the State. This throws the defendant at the mercy of the Judge. The Judge can do anything he wants, from reinstating community supervision to sentencing the defendant anywhere within the statutory range.

A contested hearing occurs when a defendant pleas “not true” to the allegations. This forces the State to satisfy its burden of proof. This is very different from a plea to the original case. A defendant is not entitled to a jury. A defendant is only entitled to a hearing in front of the Judge. The burden of proof is merely a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. This is similar to the burden in a civil case.

At such hearing, a defendant is entitled to the Rules of Evidence, including the exclusion of hearsay and invoking the Confrontation Clause. A defendant does have his Fifth-Amendment right to remain silent and such silence cannot be used against him. If the Judge finds it is true that a defendant did, in fact, violate a condition of his community supervision, the Judge can then sentence the defendant to anywhere

An “agreed recommendation” with the State is not a true plea bargain such as at guilt-innocence. At 1 guilt-innocence, if a Judge does not go along with the plea bargain, a defendant may withdraw his plea, start over, and the plea paperwork cannot be used against him. However, once a defendant pleas “true” to a motion to revoke community supervision, a Judge may disregard the agreed recommendation and sentence the defendant anywhere within the statutory range. However, 98% of the time, Judges follow agreed recommendations.

within the statutory range, including reinstatement, if he so desires. If the Judge finds the community-supervision violations to be not true, the defendant is reinstated back on community supervision.

What is an Arraignment Setting?

Once the State has formally charged a defendant (i.e., indicted a defendant or presented an information), the defendant will start to receive regular court dates. Such court dates are often on a monthly basis. The first setting is an arraignment setting. In Texas, a defendant has the constitutional right to be arraigned. See TEX. CONST. art. 1, § 10. This means that a defendant can appear at his first court setting, have the prosecutor read to him in open court the charge, and plea not guilty.

However, almost every defendant signs a Waiver of Arraignment. The Waiver of Arraignment simply explains that the defendant knows what offense he is being charged with, he waives his right to be arraigned, and he asks that the Judge enter a not-guilty plea on his behalf. The benefit of signing a Waiver of Arraignment is that a defendant typically does not have to appear in court only for that court setting (but confirm that with your attorney). This allows a defendant to work rather than go to court.

I typically file Waivers of Arraignment on my clients’ behalf. I would rather them be at work than at a court date where their presence is unnecessary. After the arraignment setting, an attorney will typically get discovery.

How Does the Discovery Process Work?

Discovery is the State’s evidence against a defendant. The State automatically turns this over to a defendant. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 39.14 (West 2018). Article 39.14 is a very liberal discovery provision. It basically states that the State has to turn over a copy of everything it has to a defendant’s defense attorney. There are exceptions to the Rule such as a children’s advocacy center interview or CPS records.

Normally the attorney gets discovery after arraignment, but it can be before arraignment. Normally, discovery is not provided until the State has indicted a defendant or filed an information. Unfortunately, article 39.14 provides that a defendant is not permitted to have a copy of his discovery. This does not mean that a defendant cannot look at his discovery with the attorney.

I always schedule an appointment with my Clients to go over discovery when I receive it. This helps me to compare my Client’s version of events with the State’s version. Sometimes, further discovery in a case is necessary. I handle this for my Clients by filing all necessary Motions for any needed missing discovery.

VII. Pretrial Court Settings

After the arraignment setting, a defendant will have monthly pretrial settings. Unlike the arraignment setting, a defendant must show up to these court settings.

It is important that defendants understand that the criminal justice system is a process. Things often do not get worked out immediately. Sometimes they can, but more often than not it takes time. Attorneys use pretrial settings to confer further with the prosecutor on the case or advance evidentiary or non-evidentiary motions.

Attorneys receive a plea offer from the State. A plea offer is what sort of sentence the State seeks to give a defendant. It can range from a reduction of the charge, community supervision, time served, or prison time. Attorneys often use pretrial settings to negotiate over the plea offer. An attorney is ethically bound to always communicate the plea offer to his Client. Even if the Client seeks dismissal or a jury trial, an attorney must still communicate the offer to his Client.

Evidentiary motions include a motion to suppress evidence. A motion to suppress evidence is when a defendant believes that a police officer’s actions in a stop, detention, search, arrest, or interrogation were illegal. If the court finds that such actions were indeed illegal, it can possibly result in the dismissal of a defendant’s case or the suppression of such illegally obtained evidence.

For example, in a drug case, if the stop, detention, search, or arrest were illegal acts, a defendant’s case is often dismissed because the drugs are held to have been discovered illegally, which would result in the exclusion of the drugs from a defendant’s case. Thus, the State is forced to dismiss the case because the Judge has excluded the drugs from evidence.

Non-evidentiary motions are commonly used for discovery disputes when an attorney is seeking for the State to turn over evidence it may be withheld for whatever reason. A pretrial setting can lead to a defendant taking a plea at such a setting or moving on to the jury docket to fight his case.

VIII. The Plea and Subsequent Sentencing Process

It is not ideal, but sometimes a plea is in the best interest of a Client. Sometimes a great offer is made, such as a reduction of the offense, or probation (community supervision) is obtained.

If the State does not dismiss a defendant’s case, a defendant is left with only the following options: (1) accept the State’s plea offer, (2) plea open to the Judge, or (3) have a jury or bench trial.

Obviously, a defendant can agree to the State’s offer. Sometimes, it is a wise choice to do so. A defendant will either get time served, community supervision, or jail time.

A defendant often does this when a charge is reduced, he is granted deferred- adjudication community supervision, or a time-served sentence is offered. Deferred adjudication allows a defendant to be placed on community supervision without a conviction. If the defendant completes deferred-adjudication community supervision, the case is dismissed upon its completion.

If the case is a misdemeanor, the defendant typically accepts the offer, goes in front of the Judge, and gets his negotiated sentence at the same court date. Things are very different if it is a felony.

If it is a felony, and time served is negotiated, the defendant will often get his sentence that day as well. Likewise, if the defendant negotiates with the State for a specific prison sentence, the defendant will typically get his sentence on such date as well.

Things are different if a defendant negotiates community supervision or pleas open to the Judge (or with a cap). If a defendant does this, a defendant will enter a plea. 2 He will then come back in anywhere from 1 month to 2 months for a sentencing date. Meanwhile, the Judge orders a Presentence Investigation Report commonly referred to as a “PSI.”

A PSI is a report that Probation prepares. After the plea, and before the sentencing date, the defendant will meet with Probation for an interview. It is extremely important that a defendant go to such interview and arrive timely. The defendant should even prepare for a train en route.

If a defendant misses his PSI interview or is late, it is typically viewed the same as not going to court. Therefore, the Judge will issue a warrant and place the defendant in Jail. A defendant’s placement in Jail ensures that the defendant will complete the PSI as he will be forced to meet with Probation because he is in Jail.

Also, it is extremely important that a defendant shows up to the PSI clean, i.e., without drugs in his system. Probation will typically have the defendant undergo a urine-analysis sample to see if the defendant has been using drugs.

Probation takes what it learns from the defendant and prepares the PSI. The report includes the defendant’s record, his personal family characteristics, his medical history, whether he has children, his work history, etc. The PSI is merely a vehicle to help the Judge in assessing an appropriate sentence, such as granting community supervision or the length of a prison sentence.

At sentencing, it is important to be prepared. The defendant and his attorney must know what is in the PSI. The defendant must have all witnesses necessary to ensure that he achieves his desired result at sentencing. Such witnesses include family, friends, and an employer if possible.

A cap deal is an open plea to a Judge, which typically involves taking an amount of time off of the table 2 for prison. For example, a defendant may be charged with a first-degree felony, facing 5 to 99 years of prison. The defendant and the State may not come to an agreement on a sentence. So, the defendant can ask the Judge for community supervision or less prison time. The defendant may accept a cap deal. The State could say that we will agree to a cap of 10 years. This would take 11 to 99 years off of the table for the Judge. The Judge could only sentence the defendant to community supervision or up to 10 years of prison if he follows the plea agreement.

Then, a hearing is conducted and the Judge will ultimately determine the sentence —whether it be community supervision or a term of confinement in prison. The attorney will put on testimony, exhibits, and argue on a defendant’s behalf for the desired sentencing result.

If the Judge grants community supervision, it will either be a term of deferred adjudication or straight community supervision. Deferred adjudication places a defendant on community supervision without a finding of guilt. If the defendant completes community supervision, the case is dismissed. Straight community supervision places a defendant on community supervision with a conviction on his record. A defendant may not agree to plea at all. This will lead to either a jury or a bench trial.

The Jury-Trial Docket

The jury docket is where a defendant wants to go if he is truly fighting his case. Again, this could result in the dismissal of a defendant’s case. This is because the State is put on notice that the defendant is truly fighting his case. The State may also look further into its case and realize that it has proof or witness problems.

A jury trial is whereby 6 people if it is a misdemeanor or 12 people if it is a felony, judge a defendant’s guilt or lack thereof. This is the typical trial. The jury has to be unanimous that the defendant is either guilty or not guilty. At such trial, a defendant retains all of his constitutional rights, such as the presumption of innocence, the right to remain silent, subpoena power, Confrontation and cross-examination powers, by and through the attorney, and the right to proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the jury cannot come to a unanimous decision, a mistrial is declared. The defendant’s case would thus go back to pending on the jury docket. Often times, after a mistrial, the case may be dismissed or a better plea deal is negotiated. Sometimes, a defendant may have to try the case again to a jury.

A defendant may also seek a bench trial. This is where the Judge determines a defendant’s guilt or innocence. This is more uncommon. Also, the State must agree to a bench trial. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. ANN. art. 1.13 (West 2018) (providing that the State must consent, in writing, to the waiver of a jury trial). If a defendant is found not guilty, he is acquitted and is entitled to have his record expunged. If a defendant is found guilty, the defendant still has the right to appeal.

The Appellate Process

It is extremely important that a defendant hires an attorney to conduct his appeal. It should be a different attorney from his trial attorney. This is because the trial attorney may have a conflict of interest. What if the attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel? A defendant will need a different appellate attorney to raise such a claim.

Also, it is important to have an attorney because a defendant only has 30 days after sentencing, or 90 days if a defendant timely files a motion for new trial, to file a Notice of Appeal. See TEX. R. APP. P. 26.2; TEX. CODE CRIM. PROC. (West 2018).

Appeals are generally only allowed in appealing the denial of a motion to suppress evidence or a finding of guilt from a Judge or jury.

A defendant has very little to do with an appeal. An appeal is done all in writing. It is often a lengthy process. It typically takes the court of appeals at least 1 year to rule on a defendant’s appeal.

The defendant’s attorney drafts an Appellant Brief, which provides the issues explaining how a Judge erred and why his rulings or the jury’s verdict should be reversed. The State is then provided time to respond to the defendant’s Brief, in its Appellee Brief. The defendant is then given one opportunity to respond in writing, along with the State in writing.

Then, the Briefs are sent for submission to the court of appeals. The court of appeals may grant oral argument. Often it does not. Oral argument gives each side 30 minutes to argue to the Court why each side believes its issues on appeal are meritorious.

The Court will finally issue an opinion addressing the issues raised by the defendant. It must provide the law and facts for why the defendant’s appeal is either meritorious or not.

If the defendant wins, the case is remanded (sent back) to the Judge at the trial- court level. Typically, that means the case will either be dismissed if the Judge ruled wrongfully on a motion to suppress evidence or the defendant will be entitled to a new trial following a guilty verdict. Typically, the court of appeals merely reviews a jury trial for reversible errors. It is extremely rare that the court of appeals will exonerate a defendant.

If the defendant loses his appeal, he may appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the criminal court of last resort in Texas. It is a discretionary court. This means that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals does not have to accept the appeal. The Court will review Briefs to decide whether to accept the appeal or not.


Accordingly, a defendant must have an attorney. Contact us for additional information or help!

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