Criminal Defense Lawyers in Wise County, Texas
If you have been charged with a criminal offense or if you are a juvenile facing a charge in the juvenile courts, you are probably scared. You may fear for your future and for your freedom. Whether you have already been arrested, or are currently in the midst of an investigation, you need the strongest protection against the state offered by an attorney who handles every case personally and who doesn’t treat you as some hypothetical criminal or just another case number. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven Williams have represented clients and protected the rights of the accused in Wise County, Texas as well as all counties and communities throughout the State of Texas.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven Williams have the extensive experience you need for a wide range of Texas criminal charges, from traffic infractions, DWI’s, drug charges, to murder. If you have been charged with a crime in the Wise County area, or the surrounding counties and communities, we can help! We represent individuals charged with any adult or juvenile offense occurring in Wise County Texas, or the surrounding counties and communities, including, but not limited to, the following:
- State Crimes: These are actions or failures to act that are made criminal by a state law rather than a federal law. They comprise the majority of criminal charges.
- Federal Crimes: These are crimes or offenses that are made illegal by federal law, rather than state law.
- State Misdemeanors: These are “lesser” state crimes that are generally punishable by a fine, probation, or less than one (1) year of jail time. The Law Offices of Steven Williams will represent those facing all types and ranges of misdemeanor crimes.
- State Felonies: We represent those faced with drug charges, DWI 3rd or more, as well as more serious crimes, such as breaking and entering, burglary, felony theft, and felony assault, that are punishable by a more stringent sentence than that given for a misdemeanor.
- Drunk/Intoxicated Driving: We represent those who are facing a DWI Charge, misdemeanor or felony, as well as loss of license and fines as a result of a DWI or DUI charge.
- Occupational Driver’s Licenses: We will help you to obtain an Occupational or Essential Needs Driver’s License if your license has been suspended as the result of a DWI, Driving While License Invalid or Suspended, Surcharges, and/or charges for Failure to Appear. If you are currently driving with a suspended or invalid driver’s license, you are risking going to jail, having your vehicle towed, and further license suspension for an additional and longer period of time, and if you have prior offenses, you could be facing an enhanced charge that could carry not only a fine and further license suspension, but possibly jail-time or probation…please don’t continue to drive illegally with all of these risks!
- Corporate and White Collar Crimes: We represent those faced with crimes committed by a company (corporate crime) or individuals (white collar crime), such as embezzlement, check fraud, mail fraud, and computer fraud. The penalties for these crimes can vary depending on the amount of money/value involved in the crime and the number of the times the crime was committed. Often these crimes are federal, but several are under state law. We represent those faced with all types of federal or state white collar crimes.
- Violent Crimes: We represent those faced with weapons charges, domestic violence, rape, kidnaping, battery, assault with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, manslaughter, murder, and capital murder, as well as other less common violent crimes.
- Juvenile Law: We defend juveniles against a full range of charges, including shoplifting, drug offenses, street fighting, bar fighting, assault and date rape.
Don’t let the prosecutor step on your rights!
Although it is not a requirement that you obtain legal representation when you are faced with criminal charge, you have a Constitutional Right to legal counsel granted by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Considering that it is your most valuable right of freedom that is at stake in any criminal matter, it is always in your best interest to exercise your right to counsel. Knowledgeable and experienced attorneys, like those at the Law Offices of Steven Williams, can help in a wide variety of ways. A qualified criminal defense attorney protects your rights throughout all criminal stages of the criminal proceeding, such as questioning, depositions, arraignments, preliminary hearings, the trial, sentencing, and, when applicable, appeals.
If you are unable to afford a lawyer on your own, the court can provide you with a public defender at no cost; however, when seeking an attorney to hire as your defense counsel for a criminal proceeding, it is best to do some research to find an attorney with relevant local experience and a good track record. You can ask a trusted friend or colleague, people of the community that are familiar with the local attorneys, or contact the state and/or local bar association for referrals before consulting with a few potential attorneys and making your final decision.
The attorney that you choose to hire to defend you in a criminal proceeding plays a critical role in your defense. You want an attorney who vigorously and aggressively advocates for your best interests, protects your legal rights, and that ensures that you are treated fairly, properly, and in accordance with the law. You will find that the right criminal defense attorney relieves much of the burden associated with a criminal proceeding by handling all paperwork, keeping track of and meeting all deadlines, handling all communications with the court, and tending to the many other administrative elements of your criminal case. Some of the specific duties that your criminal defense lawyers performs when handling a criminal case on your behalf, include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Assist in arranging for bail or in having bail set if you are being held on a no bond case;
- Explain your legal rights to you, such as due process;
- Prepare you for what to expect throughout all phases of your criminal case;
- Explain the details, reasons, and implications regarding your particular charges;
- Prepare you for the penalties that you could face if convicted;
- Explain and protect your constitutional rights in all law enforcement actions and court proceedings;
- Launch a thorough investigation into your charges and obtain any and all necessary evidence to use in your defense;
- Conduct all available and applicable discovery to uncover any and all pertinent facts, documents, witnesses, and other evidence;
- If applicable and appropriate, attempt to negotiate an acceptable plea bargain on your behalf;
- Formulate and present a solid legal theory and defense for trial by using all information and evidence obtained through the investigation and discovery process to: conduct jury voir dire and select a jury (if a jury trial); develop legal theories, defenses, and rebuttals to prosecutorial evidence; prepare an opening statement; object to all improper questioning, comments to the jury, and side-bar comments made by the prosecutor; object to all inadmissible or improper evidence sought to be admitted by the prosecution; cross-examine all prosecution witnesses; prepare and present all relevant, favorable, exculpatory, and mitigating evidence for admission in court; prepare and present demonstrative evidence that may be helpful in court; call upon relevant defense witnesses and, if necessary, rebuttal witnesses to certain prosecution witnesses; and prepare a closing statement.
- In the event that you are convicted at trial, your defense attorney will continue to represent you and assist you through the sentencing phase of your trial to ensure that your rights are protected throughout that process and attempt to obtain the minimum sentence available. Your defense attorney will also ensure that all legal technicalities and requirements have been met in order to legally preserve your case for appeal.
In trouble? Worried about an investigation? Get help today!
If you have been charged with a crime, are concerned that you might be facing criminal accusations, or would like more information regarding an appeal, please contact our offices today, don’t delay.
You can reach us by telephone at (940) 627-6060. Our legal team at the Law Offices of Steven Williams will evaluate your case and will always keep your legal rights and best interests as our top priority.
Frequently Asked Questions and Brief Answers: Criminal Cases
1. I am told that I am under arrest. What does that mean?
When you are arrested, you are taken into custody. This means that you are not free to leave the scene. Without being arrested, you can be detained, or held for questioning for a short time if a police officer or other person believes you may be involved in a crime. For example, an officer may detain you if you are carrying a large box near a burglary site. You can also be detained by storekeepers if they suspect you have stolen something. Whether you are arrested or detained, you do not have to answer any questions except to give your name and address and show identification if requested.
2. Who can arrest me?
All law enforcement officers, such as city police officers, county sheriff officers, highway patrol officers, Texas Parks and Wildlife Officers, constables, investigators in a district attorney’s office or an attorney general’s office, FBI Officers, and/or other federal law enforcement officers, can arrest you, and, in most cases, whether they are on or off duty. A probation or parole officer can also arrest you under certain circumstances.
The circumstances of a legal arrest vary depending on whether or not the crime you are being arrested for is a felony or misdemeanor. With regard to a felony, which is a crime that is more serious in nature than a misdemeanor, and is usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year, you can be arrested without a warrant if an officer has probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that you have committed, or are in the process of committing, a felony, such as armed robbery. The officer does not have to physically see you commit a felony in order to arrest you without a warrant. If the crime is a misdemeanor, however, the arresting officer must physically see you commit the crime in order to lawfully arrest you without a warrant.
If you commit a minor offense, such as a traffic violation, for which the punishment is generally a fine. The officer may ask you to sign a citation or a notice rather than taking you into custody. If you sign the citation, you are not admitting guilt, you are only promising to appear in court. Although it is unusual for an officer to take you into custody for a minor offense, they can do so at their discretion, for any offense committed within their view, except for speeding or open container. Also, if you have no identification, refuse to provide your identification, or refuse to sign the citation or notice, the officer may take you into custody.
3. Can someone other than a Police Officer arrest me?
Any person, such as a private security guard, can make a legal citizen’s arrest if they see a misdemeanor being attempted or committed. (A misdemeanor is a criminal offense, usually punishable with a fine or short jail term), or for a felony, as long as it was actually committed and they have good reason to believe that you were the person who committed it. Such person, however, must take you to a police officer or judge who is authorized by law to take you into custody.
4. When is an arrest warrant used?
Usually a warrant is required before you can be taken into custody from your home; however, you can be arrested from your home without a warrant if fast action is needed to prevent you from escaping, destroying evidence, endangering the life of another person or yourself, or seriously damaging property. Before entering your home, however, with or without a warrant, a law enforcement officer must knock and identify himself or herself and tell you that you are going to be arrested. If you refuse to open the door, or if there is another good reason, the officer can break in through a door or window if they have reason to believe that you are physically in the home, or if they also have a valid search warrant.
If the police have an arrest warrant, you should be allowed to see it. If they don’t have the warrant with them, you should be allowed to see it as soon as possible.
An arrest warrant must be valid, which requires that it be signed by a magistrate or judge, who must have good reason to believe that you, whom the warrant names, committed a crime. If your name is unknown, “John Doe” can be used on the warrant, along with your physical description. Once an arrest warrant is issued, any law enforcement officer in the state can arrest you, even if the officer does not have a copy of the warrant. Generally, there is no time limit on using a warrant to make an arrest. Upon your arrest, the police may search the area within your reach or “grab area.” If you are arrested outdoors, they may not search your home or car, unless you have just exited your vehicle or unless they also have a valid search warrant.
You should never resist an arrest. Resisting an arrest or a detention is a separate crime in itself. If you resist an arrest or detention, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony, in addition to the crime for which you are being arrested or detained. If you resist, an officer can use force to overcome your resistance or to prevent your escape. The officer can use “force for force,” meaning that an officer may even eventually use deadly force if it appears that you will use deadly force or force to cause death or great bodily injury.
5. What rights do I have when being arrested?
Whether you are an adult citizen or non-citizen, you have certain rights if you are arrested. Before the law enforcement officer questions you, he or she should tell you that:
“You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say may be used against you.
You have a right to have a lawyer present while you are questioned.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.”
These are your “Miranda” rights, that are guaranteed by the United States Constitution. If you are not read your rights, your lawyer can ask that any statements you made to the police not be used against you in court in a felony case, but this does not necessarily mean that your case will be dismissed. This does not apply if you volunteer information without being questioned by the police or if the charge is only a misdemeanor.
6. Once I’m told my rights, can I be questioned?
You can be questioned, without a lawyer present, only if you voluntarily give up your rights and if you understand what you are giving up. At any time that you say that you want an attorney, all questioning must stop. For instance, if you agree to the questioning, but then change your mind and say that you want an attorney, then the questioning must stop immediately. If the questioning continues after you request a lawyer and you continue to talk, your answers may be used against, but only to impeach you if you testify on the stand to something different than what you said at that time.
You may be required to give certain physical evidence. For example, if you are suspected of driving under the influence you may be requested to take a test to measure the amount of alcohol in your system. If you refuse to take the test, your driver’s license will be suspended and the refusal will be used against you in court; however, if you do agree to take the test and the amount of alcohol in your system is over the legal limit, your driver’s license will be suspended anyway, and the evidence of your intoxication over the legal limit while driving will also be used against you in court. The arresting officer can also, at his discretion, seek a search warrant to draw a blood sample, and if the warrant is granted you will be required to submit to the testing and any results indicating intoxication will be used against you in court.
Once you are booked, meaning your arrest is written into official police records and you are fingerprinted and photographed, you have a right to make and complete one free telephone call that is within the local dialing area.
7. When should I see a lawyer?
If you are arrested for a crime, particularly a serious one, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will have more knowledge of avoiding being misinterpreted or misunderstood by law officials. The lawyer can also advise you, your family, or your friends regarding the bail process. There is no substitute for a good Texas criminal defense lawyer.
8. When can I be released?
If, during the questioning and before a charge is filed, the police are convinced that you have not committed a crime, they will give you a written release. Your arrest then will be considered a detention and not recorded as an arrest. If, however, the police do believe or suspect you have committed a crime, and you are arrested, you cannot be released until after you are arraigned by a magistrate judge, bail is set, and a bond is posted for your bail.
9. What is bail and how is it set?
Bail is money or other security deposited with the court to insure that you will appear for your appointed court date. The amount of bail is set by a schedule in each county and varies by the whether the charge is a felony or misdemeanor, and depending on the gravity and seriousness of the crime charged.
If you receive a traffic citation and post bail for that citation, you may be notified that you can forfeit or give up bail instead of appearing in court. If, however, you have any doubt, go to court anyway so that a warrant will not be issued for your arrest for failure to appear. Bail forfeiture does not mean that the charges are dropped, rather it is generally applied as the fine for conviction of the traffic offense for which you posted bail. Also, bail forfeiture does not apply to felonies or misdemeanors other than traffic citations.
For crimes other than traffic citations, a Magistrate Judge at the jail will usually arraign you and set bail or you may be held until a certain time for the Judge to come in to arraign you and set bail. If you cannot post or put up the bail, you will be kept in custody. Depending on where you are arrested, you may have the opportunity to request a bail reduction from a Judge.
When you are taken to court for arraignment, bail setting, or release, the Judge will consider the seriousness of the offense you are charged with, any previous record, your connections to the community, any prior failures to appear (even for traffic tickets), as well as any other indications of the probability that you will appear in court as required. The amount of bail is set according to a written schedule in that county based on your charges. The law presumes you are guilty of the charges for purposes of setting bail or release.
In certain limited circumstances, instead of paying bail, you might be released on a personal recognizance bond (or supervised P.R. Bond). This is within the Judge’s discretion and is generally based on having no prior record, strong ties to the community, or some compelling reason that convinces the Judge that it is not necessary for you to pay bail because you will show up for your required court appearances without bail.
10. Who maintains arrest records and what do they include?
The local police departments and the judiciary keep arrest records. Your past criminal record may be in a national data bank. The arrest record includes when and why you were arrested, whether the charges against you were dropped or dismissed or whether you were convicted of the charges, and the subsequent sentence imposed. Both pleading guilty and being found guilty after a trial are convictions and will become part of your criminal history record.
11. What happens at a formal arraignment/preliminary hearing?
You have a right to be formally arraigned and to a preliminary inquiry or hearing, without unnecessary delay within a short period after arrest, the States Attorney’s Office must present evidence showing a reasonable suspicion that a felony was committed and that you did it to convince the judge that you should be brought to trial. You will appear before in court before the Judge who will officially tell you of the charges against you. If you are still in custody at the time of your formal arraignment, the initial bail set at your arrest arraignment can be raised or lowered, and you can also request to be released on personal recognizance (“P.R.”) bond, even if bail has already been set. Furthermore, it is at this formal arraignment that you can request that an attorney be appointed for you if you cannot afford one.
In misdemeanor offenses, the other purpose of the preliminary hearing/inquiry is merely to find out if you have an attorney and understand the charge. In some counties, if have already been released on bail and have an attorney who has entered an appearance in your case, the court may allow you to sign a document prepared and filed by your attorney waiving your presence at the proceeding and entering your plea of not guilty. You can also appear and plead guilty or not guilty at this proceeding, or, if the court approves, you can plead nolo contendere, meaning that you will not contest the charges. A pleading of nolo contendere is legally the same a guilty plea, but it cannot be used against you in a non-criminal sense, unless the charge can be punished as a felony.
Before pleading guilty to some first-time offenses, such as drug use or possession in small amounts for personal use, you may want to find out if your county has any drug diversion programs. Under these programs, instead of fining you or sending you to jail, the court may order you to get drug-counseling, participate in some type of out-patient rehabilitation program, or participate in a “drug court” program, which can result in dismissal of the charges if you complete the counseling and/or all requirements of that counties particular program.
If you have been charged with a felony offense, then the States Attorney’s Office must present evidence at the preliminary hearing/inquiry showing a reasonable suspicion that a felony was committed by you and to convince the judge that you should be brought to trial on that felony charge.
If you are charged with any crime, misdemeanor or felony, and you are unable to understand English, you have a right to an interpreter throughout the proceedings.
REMEMBER THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL LAWYERS!
You could be sentenced to time in jail for common crimes, such as driving while intoxicated, possession of drugs, or reckless driving. It is important to contact a lawyer immediately when charged with any crime. The Attorneys of the Law Offices of Steven Williams take pride in representing clients throughout Wise County, Texas, and the surrounding counties and communities. Please call us today at (940) 627-6060 for your free consultation…your freedom is at stake, do not delay!