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Michael Lowe is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
Criminal Law is a specialized field of law. Although there are many different subspecialties in criminal law like DWI Defense, Federal Criminal Defense or Sexual Assault Defense, many criminal defense attorneys or their clients make similar mistakes. The following is a list of the top five (5) mistakes that I have seen other attorneys or their clients make in court. Contact a Dallas criminal defense lawyer today.
Top 5 Mistakes in Defending a Texas Criminal Case:
- Criminal Case Not Set for Jury Trial. Most prosecutors don’t even think about how they are going to prove their case until the case is set for trial. Even when the case is set for trial, most prosecutors don’t begin real trial preparation until much later. Of course, the amount of trial preparation varies greatly from one county in Texas to another and from State Court to Federal Court. Many times criminal defendants will take the first plea bargain that is offered by the State of Texas. Would you do this in any other negotiation? If you were buying a car, would you take the first offer made by the salesman? The same rules apply in Criminal Court. Although there are exceptions to this rule, most experienced criminal defense lawyers will advise their clients to set their cases for a jury trial. In some cases like Possession of a Controlled Substance, a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence can be just as effective.
- Self-Representation. Many people think that they can effectively represent themselves in a criminal case. We are led to believe that we can find out anything on the internet. Most people think that the criminal justice system is designed to result in a just outcome. This is true, but only when all of the parts of the system are in place. Criminal Courts are designed for opposing forces (the Prosecutor and the Defense Counsel) to do battle which usually results in a fair outcome. If, however, there is no criminal defense attorney, then the outcome will oftentimes be one-sided. This principle is true regardless of the case. As long as the charge could result in a criminal record, the defendant or investigated individual should have an attorney.
- Not Filing For an Appeal in Time. In Texas, a defendant MUST file their Notice of Appeal within 30 days of being sentenced by the judge or jury. If, however, a motion for new trial was filed, the deadline to file for an appeal is no later than 90 days from the imposition of the sentence. Once this time period has run, there can be no appeal. The only remedy available is a state or federal writ of habeas corpus. However, the issues that can be presented such a writ are much narrower than could have been presented on appeal.Sometimes, failing to file on time is not the defendant’s fault. After an adverse verdict, many times a Defense Lawyer will advise his client to not appeal the case. You should always have your case independently evaluated for an appeal. This is so because one of the best areas for criminal appeals is Ineffective Assistance of Counsel. Why would a lawyer that failed to properly represent their client recommend that they appeal their case?
- Hiring a Dallas Criminal Lawyer Recommended by the Bail Bondsman. If you discover that you have a warrant for your arrest, you should always contact an attorney before you hire a bail bondsman. This is so because most experienced attorneys can get bonds reduced or even obtain Personal Recognizance Bond (“PR Bond”) whereby the client never goes to jail. If you have already hired a bondsman, the bondsman will oftentimes recommend you to certain attorneys. This practice is illegal in Texas.Once the bondsman has bonded their client out of jail, their only interest is to get off of the bond as soon as legally possible. The lawyer that the bondsman refers is going to be more interest in getting more referrals from the bondsman than properly representing their client. The bondsman doesn’t want the client to hire an aggressive Dallas DWI attorney. If an aggressive criminal defense lawyer sets the case for trial, it could be a year or more until the case is resolved.
- No Written Attorney Fee Agreement Up Front. Most criminal attorneys in Texas charge flat fees for legal representation. This practice is different from civil attorneys who mostly charge by the hour. Although some types of criminal matters are more appropriate for hourly fees, experienced criminal defense specialists will know how much they typically charge for a particular type of case. If the lawyer is unable to quote a flat fee after thorough consultation, then you should ask the Dallas DWI attorney whether they have handled this type of case before.