YOU HAVE JUST BEEN ARRESTED
What are you going to do next?
The Top Ten Have-To's After Being Charged With a Crime
You've just been charged with a crime and facing the scariest possibilities ever confronted in your life. You don't know where to go, who to call or what to do. Follow these simple rules and you stand a better chance of getting out of trouble.
(1) Stay in compliance with your bond and pretrial conditions: Right now the best way to make sure you stay out of jail after getting out is to comply with the bond conditions provided to you after your release. Additionally, sometimes there are added provisions that you must report to pretrial and comply with their directives. Make sure to do this.
Also, your bond company could have some simple rules that you must report to them on a weekly or monthly basis. Make sure you do this, as failure to do so could result in the revocation of your bond and the loss of all the money originally paid to get you out.
(2) Know your court date: If you've been charged with a misdemeanor, it's likely that you will have a court setting the moment you get out of jail. Make sure this date is calendared and never forgotten. A Judge is unlikely to forgive an unexcused absence. If you have been charged with a felony, it's possible you may not have a court setting on your release. Make sure you know whether that's the case or not. A Judge always looks at it as the Accused's responsibility to stay on top of their court dates and not their attorneys. Additionally, you can check the district clerk's page for possible court settings by entering your name or SID number:
(3) Research your charge: You'll do this anyway. You're going to Google what you've been charged with to find out what you're looking at. Just like a Doctor will ask a client to take the consequences with a grain of assault what they read on WebMD.com, I'm going to tell you to do the same with your research. It's important to know what kind of offense you're looking at, but it's also important not to buy every doom and gloom anecdote you read on line. However, it's always good to know that an Assault is a Class A Misdemeanor. A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by probation or up to a year in jail. It's not good to read the terrible stories about the people who went to jail when the fact is that if you've never been in trouble before, it's highly unlikely you'll ever see another day in jail.
(4) Look for a lawyer (Most Important): So there's a little bit of interest here, I admit it. However, it also happens to be true. Right now, you face two possibilities: (1) You can hire a lawyer; or (2) you can ask that one be appointed to you. First, there's nothing wrong with the court appointment system for Bexar County. In order to practice felony cases, you must be qualified and have proper experience before getting appointed. However, you have no control over who it is that's appointed to you. You can't work with a defense attorney if you DON'T trust your counsel. Hiring a lawyer allows you the option to choose, interview, question and research your choices before hiring the criminal defense lawyer that is right for you.
(5) Research your lawyer: It's easy to do. (1) Check with the State Bar of Texas to see if there's any prior suspensions or sanctions. Simply Google "State Bar of Texas Attorney Search" and it will take you to the appropriate page to search. (2) Remember, you're looking for "San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorneys" or "San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers". Check for Google reviews, AVVO reviews, or any other sites that monitor and check attorneys. If you were to Google my name, you would find a perfect rating among all sites that monitor attorneys in San Antonio. (3) Look for articles or websites that mention prior cases with the attorney that you're interested in. (4) Ask others who have used attorneys for criminal cases before. It's important to distinguish between referrals made because people have used those attorneys for criminal offenses and referrals made on friendly basis. I had a client once who went through two attorneys before coming to me because he was a golfing buddy with the first attorney and a friend of a golfing buddy who was an attorney with the second. You're looking for someone who has prior successes in the field. The difference between a criminal defense attorney and a personal injury lawyer is the difference between a brain surgeon and a heart surgeon. Choose wisely.
(6) Make sure you know where you're going for your first setting: Map it out and be early. The line in to the courthouse at 8:30 rivals the most jam packed concert you've ever been to. Get there early. (Bexar Courthouse Hack - if you've got ten minutes to be in court at 9:00 and the line is to the street, look to the old Courthouse next door. Go through security there (there's never a line) and go to the basement. There's a hallway that leads to the criminal courthouse under the street. Take the elevators to your floor.).
(7) Be on time: If you're late, you stand a good chance of being in handcuffs and put in the jury box. The docket is called at 9. Make sure you're inside your courtroom at 9.
(8) Dress accordingly: No shorts. No sandals. No mugshot shirts. No tank tops. This is Sunday church dress code. For your court settings, it's always a good idea to wear business casual. It shows the court and the prosecutors that you take your situation seriously and you didn't come to play.
(9) Don't stress out about your first day in court: You're not going to trial on your first court date. You're only responsibilities that day are (1) be there on time, (2) stand up when your name is called and then sit back down, and . . .
(10) Trust the Attorney You've Chosen to See You Through This: If you've followed the steps above. If you've done your research. If you've chosen an attorney based on research, diligence, and heart, then trust that decision to see you through this.