Facing criminal charges can be an overwhelming experience, and many who find themselves in this difficult position find themselves not only worried about the charge and possible penalties, but also what they should do. At , we know that most people facing criminal offenses have a wide range of questions about their situation and what their legal options may be. We also understand how frustrating it can be to try to get the answers to these questions, and that’s why we have put together the following list of frequently asked questions and answers, allowing you to get the answers you need.

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Are all theft charges the same?

As is the case with most things, not all theft charges are created equal. This means that depending on which type of theft you’re facing, whether petty theft, shoplifting, grand theft auto, or robbery, your penalties might be vastly different from another defendant who is convicted of a different theft crime. Penalties are often based primarily on the value of the property that’s involved in a particular case and whether force was used. To learn more about your specific charge and what you can do to defend yourself against that charge, talk with a lawyer from the Del Prado Law today.

How bad are DWI charges really?

Being charged with a DWI can have severe consequences for a defendant in the state of Texas, because Texas has harsh penalties for drunk driving-related crimes. How bad your own charges are depends on several factors. If convicted, you may be facing worse penalties if you have had prior offenses of this nature, if you had a child passenger in the vehicle, if you caused damage, or if you caused injury in an accident. Regardless of the circumstances of your situation, it is always best to consult with a defense lawyer when facing a DWI charge in San Antonio.

What questions should I ask someone I’m thinking of hiring as an attorney?

When you’re facing the reality of a criminal charge, you’ll want to find a legal representative that you can trust and who will defend you honestly and with integrity. To find this person, you can ask some important initial questions when consulting with them, including:

  • How many cases similar to mine have you won?
  • Will you file an appeal if it doesn’t go as we want?
  • How will you keep in touch with me throughout the case?

Getting answers to the above questions can help you decide whether or not you see eye to eye with a potential attorney. They will also likely lead to other, more specific questions, if you receive answers that you like.

Is assault different from battery?

Yes. People mistakenly use these terms interchangeably, but there is a critical difference that’s important to understand. Assault can occur without there ever being physical harm done to a person, while physical harm is necessary for it to constitute battery. This means that even just the threat of harm could result in an assault charge. Whether facing assault or battery charges, it’s important to have a strong legal representative at your side in a San Antonio court in order to stand the best chance at avoiding conviction and the harsh consequences that can accompany conviction.

Do I have to have an alibi?

Many defendants wonder if they can avoid conviction if they do not have a strong alibi, any alibi at all, or a solid witness to testify that the defendant did not commit the crime he or she is accused of. Though an alibi can help the defense, the burden of proof is on the prosecution. The prosecution has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the named crime, and so an alibi is not always necessary for you to avoid conviction. However, it is best to speak with an attorney from to find out what your defense options are.

What happens if I wasn’t read my Miranda rights?

This depends. While many people commonly believe that if they are not read their Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney, they cannot be legally convicted, this is not actually the case. Miranda rights must only be read to a person who is a criminal suspect when they are about to be questioned by police. They do not necessarily have to be read to a person who is simply being arrested for suspected criminal activity. If they are not read to someone before questioning however, anything that person says during that questioning cannot be used in their case. Because of this confusion, it is best to talk with a knowledgeable defense lawyer about how your case may be affected if you were not read Miranda rights.

Do the police have to read me my rights after an arrest?

It is a common misconception that law enforcement officials must inform an individual of their rights under the law following any arrest. In reality, this requirement, also commonly known as the Miranda Warning, only applies to cases in which the police intend to interrogate the suspect following an arrest. Therefore, it is not necessary for some individuals who are arrested by the police to be read their rights, although it is not uncommon for police to do so in order to be certain that any subsequent interrogations that may occur are legally valid.

Is any criminal record eligible for expunction?

Expunction, the legal process that fully erases an individual’s criminal record, is an attractive option for many people for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, not all criminal records can be expunged through this process in the state of Texas, and even those records that may be eligible for expunction may require a substantial waiting period before the individual will be able to have their criminal record fully erased. Consulting with an experienced attorney can help to clarify whether or not your record may be eligible for expunction.

If I didn’t actually hurt someone, can I still be charged with assault?

When most people think of assault, they consider serious violent acts that are likely to leave an individual badly injured. However, the reality is that assault laws do not even require physical contact to have occurred in order for an individual to be chargeable with assault. Under the relevant Texas statute, it is enough for one person to have intentionally threatened another person with harm, even if they may not necessarily have intended to carry it out, for that individual to be chargeable with the crime of assault.

Do I have to submit to a breathalyzer test if I am stopped by police?

When a person is stopped by a police officer and asked to submit to a breathalyzer test, they have the right to refuse to do so if the officer does not have a warrant, in most situations. However, the state of Texas has in place legal statutes known as implied consent laws which state that, by driving on a public roadway, an individual provides their implied consent to submit to breathalyzer tests to determine their level of intoxication. Refusal to do so can result in the suspension or revocation of their drivers’ license, as well as short jail terms.

Why do I need a lawyer?

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, even a relatively minor one, you need the assistance of an experienced lawyer on your side to defend yourself against these charges. While individuals are technically allowed to represent themselves, the reality is that the complexity of the law and the vast resources employed by prosecutor’s offices put any individual at an enormous disadvantage in attempting to demonstrate their innocence. Dedicated defense counsel can help to level the playing field and provide criminal suspects with a fair trial.

What are some common defense strategies?

The most important part of any legal defense is its strategy for giving a jury or a judge reasonable doubt concerning a person’s guilt. This strategy can involve numerous points, including proving an alibi, proving a client acted in self-defense, proving a flaw in the court proceedings, and proving a flaw in the prosecution’s case, in addition to other strategies. The prosecution must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, and if they cannot do this, the defendant should not be convicted. A defense attorney can help you understand defense strategies in more detail.

How much worse are the sentences for multiple offenses?

In every case, the sentence for a second, third, or subsequent conviction for a crime will be determined individually, but it’s generally safe to assume that penalties get harsher the more times a person is convicted of a crime. This might mean more time served in jail or a first time jail sentence, depending on the crime. Additionally, the length of probation and suspension may be increased, while fines will also likely be greater. However, with a skilled defense attorney, a person facing a charge of a crime for which they have previously been convicted may be able to avoid these harsher penalties.

Are juvenile cases handled differently?

Except in rare circumstances where violence or damage is extreme, juvenile cases of criminal activity are typically handled with less severity than crimes committed as a adult. In principle, adults are fully capable of making an informed decision and are held entirely responsible for their actions. In contrast, sometimes young people commit crimes to act out or get attention, or as a result of temporary poor judgment. So, they might face detention centers, lesser fines, and community service as opposed to prison/jail time, larger fines, etc.

Can I ever get parole?

Parole is possible with some cases, but it is entirely dependent on an individual’s sentence upon conviction. If your sentence includes jail time with the possibility of parole, then the sentence will also stipulate how much time must be served before you can be considered for parole. If you do not have the possibility of parole in your sentence, then you will not be eligible. Sometimes you and your attorney can appeal a sentence, and this might change upon the decision of an appeals court.

When does a DWI turn into a felony DWI?

Typically, a DWI becomes a felony when a person has been charged with this crime for the third time. It is a third-degree felony, which means it is punishable by 2-10 years in prison, fines up to $10,000, 160-600 hours of community service, and a mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device. DWIs can become felonies in other cases, such as when violence or homicide occurs, although this would become a different charge.