When you are arrested for a misdemeanor or felony offense, you must go through certain stages of the criminal justice system before you have a chance to enter a plea.
After police arrest and Mirandize you, a judge must inform you of the charges you face within 48 hours of your arrest.
The judge will also ensure that you comprehend your rights to the following:
- An attorney or to have an attorney appointed
- To remain silent
- To have a lawyer present during any interview with police officers or counselors representing the state
- A hearing to determine reasons for the arrest
Next is the bail/bond hearing. At this point, the judge will determine the conditions to guarantee you return to court.
Following the bail/bond hearing, the prosecution is required to file the charges against you.
Your next court appearance is what is known as “arraignment.” During this time, you will be provided a copy of the complaint or indictment against you and you will have a chance to hear the charges you face in open court.
Here, you may also enter a plea.
Throughout this entire process, it is vital that you have an experienced Kingwood criminal defense attorney guiding you.
He or she can explain the complaint and help you determine what plea to enter.
Depending on the charges against you, the evidence in your case, and other factors, your lawyer will advise you to enter one of the following pleas:
- Plea of Guilty — When entering a guilty plea, you are admitting that you in fact committed the offense for which you are accused. You are also acknowledging that you understand that your actions were unlawful and prohibited under Texas law and you are offering no defense for your actions. You are also acknowledging that you understand that your guilty plea can be used against you in a civil lawsuit.
- Plea of Nolo Contendere (no Contest) — Latin for “I do not wish to contend,” a plea of nolo contendere is similar to a guilty plea but without the admission of guilt. This provides protection from civil suits.
- Plea of Not Guilty — By pleading not guilty, you are telling the court that you did not commit the crime in question and that you have a defense against the charges. The state is required to prove you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” You have the option of a bench trial with just the judge, or a trial by jury.
Every criminal law case is different. What works in one case may not work in another.
Only after carefully reviewing the facts and circumstances of your arrest can your attorney determine the right plea for the charges against you.
Knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer walks you through the process
At the Law Office of Andrew J. Williams, we recognize that you may be nervous and worried about what lies ahead.
Rest assured, we are here to protect your rights and guide you through every step of the criminal defense process.
Contact our firm online or call 281-358-9111 to schedule your free initial consultation.