A Guide For The Criminal Justice System
The legal process for anyone facing criminal charges can be long and complicated. That’s why it’s crucial to hire an experienced attorney who will work closely with you to help you navigate the process and reach the best outcome available.
At Lewis & Ashworth, PLLC, you get a team of attorneys who will together to work for your interests. Combined, our two criminal defense attorneys have more than 30 years of experience. As former prosecutors, our attorneys have a deep understanding of both sides of the criminal justice process, and we use this knowledge to anticipate prosecutors’ strategies.
Why You Need An Attorney On Your Side
It’s important to keep in mind that the criminal justice system functions to move individuals from an arrest to conviction. After an arrest, you are alone; there is no one on your side. Additionally, everyone else is a professional, police and prosecutors work every day to arrest and convict people. If this is your first time, you have no experience with the process. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. That’s where we can help. We have substantial experience with the process and the system, we understand the long-term ramifications of your choices and we know what it takes to build a successful defense.
What To Expect, From Start To Finish
The criminal justice system follows the same general process regardless of specific charges. Our attorneys will help you make informed decisions and confidently navigate this process from start to finish.
- Arrest: The criminal justice process begins with an arrest. (You may have already experienced this step.) Depending on the nature of the alleged offense, charges may be filed against you before or after the arrest itself. Some defendants are arrested in the middle of their alleged infraction, such as alleged drunk driving ending in a traffic stop, while other arrests take place after the fact, with a visit to the defendant’s home, office or another location. Law enforcement officers are legally required to read the defendant his or her Miranda rights – the fact that you have a right to remain silent, prior to asking you any questions.
- Indictment: This part of the process occurs only if you are charged with a felony. As part of an indictment, a grand jury is convened and charged with determining whether there is enough evidence against you to continue with prosecution.
- Plea bargaining: After charges have been filed and you’ve sought legal counsel, you will be given the opportunity to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution in an effort to resolve legal matters in a more timely manner. It’s very important to discuss this with your attorney so you fully understand your rights, options and whether accepting a plea deal is in your best interests. A guilty plea might avoid trial and provide escape from prosecutors’ pressure, but a conviction can have permanent negative impacts on your life.
- Trial: If you do not accept a plea bargain and instead decide to take your case to trial, you have two options in Texas: you can have a trial by jury, or you can waive your right to a trial by jury and instead have a trial presided over by a judge. Again, this decision should be made after careful discussions with your attorney.
- Post-trial: This is the final step of the criminal justice process. This is where you receive your sentencing if you are found guilty or, if you are found not guilty or your case is dismissed due to circumstances, the judge gives his or her final verdict.
Get Legal Support Today
No matter where you are in the legal process right now, we will help you understand your rights and craft a legal strategy tailored to your needs. The sooner you speak with us, the sooner we can help.