Frequently Asked Questions

Criminal Law

Can I pay in cash?

You can avoid the bondsman charge in Harris County by paying cash, verified cashier’s check or money order at the bonding window on first floor of the 49 North San Jacinto Building. There are a number of downsides to paying a cash bond: There are often significant delays waiting to pay a cash bond. It sometimes results in delays of jail release, and the Sheriff’s Department may hold your money for weeks after the final disposition of the case. Money that you spend on a cash bond may be better used for hiring an experienced attorney. Sometimes paying a significant cash bond from lawful and legitimate funds gets unwelcome scrutiny from law enforcement entities.

Can I represent myself if I’m charged with a misdemeanor?

You can, but it is not advisable. Even attorneys should obtain representation from another attorney when charged with a crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to get you a better result than you trying to defend yourself. They will be able to look at the law, the facts, and what court you are in and determine the best course of action.

How are crimes classified in Texas?

Texas law classifies criminal offenses into two broad categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Felony offenses are the more serious and involve possible commitment to the Institutional or State Jail Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Misdemeanor cases involve possible fine and/or imprisonment in the county jail.

How are crimes classified in Texas?

Texas law classifies criminal offenses into two broad categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Felony offenses are the more serious and involve possible commitment to the Institutional or State Jail Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Misdemeanor cases involve possible fine and/or imprisonment in the county jail.

How can I hire Attorney Art Warren?

Give us a call any time. If we happen to miss your call, do not worry. We promptly return calls and will be happy to start working with you on your case right away.

How do I find out if there is a warrant out for my arrest?

Even though there are sites online that say they can find out about arrest warrants (for a fee), the most accurate ones are the ones maintained by governmental entities. Often bonding companies will look up whether there is an active warrant on you at no expense. Even so, if you or a loved one believes there may be a warrant out for your arrest on a serious matter or you are under investigation, please get criminal defense attorney help immediately to determine the status of the warrant and investigation. Often early intervention can lead to a better result.

How do I get a bail bond?

Bail bond companies answer the phones 24/7 and usually charge approximately 10-20% of the bail as payment for their services. If you have a warrant out for your arrest, you may need to get a bond. A bail bond company and criminal defense attorney may be helpful for this but you can’t really tell without knowing the facts.

How do you educate clients?

Each client is walked through the details of how their case will be approached and we discuss a detail analysis of how the case will be handled.

How long will everything take?

Legal time typically is slower than normal time. The legal process usually progresses at a glacial pace. For most criminal cases, nothing is going on for a while when the prosecutors are processing thousands of cases, and then suddenly there’s a lot of activity. Usually, you will have multiple court appearances every three weeks to a month or so before a case is actually set for trial. That’s just how the system works, and there’s little you can do about that. The reason most cases have multiple court settings is that judges want to sort of monitor defendants to make sure that they are not getting in trouble prior to the trial date. This slow pace can be frustrating when you feel the pressure of criminal charges, but knowing most cases go slow will give you the right expectations.

Should I speak to the Police if I have been arrested?

It is paramount that your rights are protected after you have been arrested. You do not need to say anything to the police except that you want an attorney. You must always remember that anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law. The police will not hesitate to use your own words or actions against you, and potentially twist them in a way that favors their position. You have legal rights and you need to do everything in your power to ensure that they are upheld throughout the entire criminal process. An arrest can be very shocking and traumatic event in your life, but do not give up your rights. If you have been arrested, please call Art Warren to get experienced advice and representation.

What do I do if there is a warrant out for my arrest?

If you have an active warrant for your arrest, do not ignore it. There is no one answer to this for every situation. Sometimes contacting a professional bonding company is best. Sometimes it is best to work with a criminal defense attorney to determine the best course of action.

What happens if I arrive at my Criminal court late?

Some judges have zero tolerance for defendants who show up late, and they will order the bailiff to take the late defendant into custody. This is obviously not good. Depending on the reason that you are late however, and whether or not this is the first time you are late, your attorney may be able to beg the judge to forgive you and release you from custody. Most of the bonding paperwork directs that court appearances begin at 8:00 am. However, virtually all the judges in Harris County, start calling the names of the defendants at either 8:30 or 9:00 am. Your lawyer will be able to tell you what the requirements of your court will be. The best practice is DON’T BE LATE. Be sure to err on the side of arriving early. This is especially important at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center as traffic, parking, security lines, and elevator lines can be very slow. Everyone is showing up at around the same time, and it creates delay.

What happens on my first court appearance in a Texas criminal court?

The first court appearance is not a trial. For the most part, the judges are seeking to determine whether or not a defendant has secured legal counsel. Sometimes, that’s all that happens and the case is reset for a later date for the discovery process to take place. There are occasions, depending on the charge, when the judges want to hear a synopsis of the allegations against the defendant. Some judges do this, some don’t. In addition, there may be some discussion between the lawyers and the judge as to whether any additional bond conditions will need to be put into place. Examples of this could be the requirement of an electronic monitor or the requirement for a “blow and go” device put on a person’s car. There is no need for a defendant to be concerned that they will need to defend themselves on the charge or to provide testimony for the first appearance. In Harris County in particular, a defendant is not required to say whether they are guilty or not guilty on the first court appearance. Finally remember, one of the reasons to have a lawyer, is that the attorney does the talking for you. If you attend your first court appearance without an experienced criminal defense attorney, it is advisable not to discuss the facts of the case, even if you think it’s a good idea.

What information do I need to bail someone out of jail?

When you attempting to bail someone out of jail, you need to gather some basic information:

Defendant’s Full Name

Defendant’s Date of Birth

Prior Arrest Record if Any

Bond Amount

Charge

Booking Number

Full name and date of birth is the most critical information because Bonding Companies can look up detailed information. Often, bonding companies will require an adult sign off as co-signer on the bond, before they will be willing to make bond for a person. This makes the co-signer responsible to pay the full value of the bond to the county in the event that the defendant runs off. There are a number of qualified Texas bail bond companies, and you should choose the best one for you. We have had positive experiences with Aaron Bonding (713) 223-2667 and Burns Bail Bonds (713) 224-0305.

What is a Complaint?

A complaint is a legal document charging a person with violating a criminal law. It must be sworn to by someone who knows the facts of the crime charged, either by direct knowledge or through investigation. A complaint is generally necessary before an officer can obtain an arrest warrant authorizing him to apprehend a person accused of a crime.

What is the maximum penalty I can receive for a crime in Texas?

Only reserved for the most serious crimes, such as premeditated murder, you can be charged with a capital felony. If you are convicted of a capital felony, you can potentially face the death penalty or you be imprisoned for life without the possibility of parole. If you have been charged with murder, it is absolutely vital that you do everything you can to protect your rights and your future. Your life hangs in the balance, and you must take action to protect yourself by speaking with Art Warren.

What kind of punishment can I expect?

In the State of Texas, offenses are prosecuted at the lowest level of a Class B Misdemeanor all the way up to a Capital Felony. The punishment ranges for each offense are as follows:

Class B Misdemeanor – Up to 180 days in the county jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

Class A Misdemeanor – Up to 1 year in the county jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

State Jail Felony – 180 days to 2 years in the State Jail Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

3rd Degree Felony – 2 to 10 years incarceration in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and up to a $10,000 fine.

2nd Degree Felony – 2 to 20 years incarceration in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and up to a $10,000 fine.

1st Degree Felony – 5 to 99 years or life in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Capital Felony – Death by Lethal Injection or a Life Sentence in the Institutional Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

What makes The Art Warren Law Firm any different from the others?

We understand that being arrested for a crime is a stressful situation. By hiring us and putting your trust in us, we recognize that your freedom and your rights are dependant upon how well we protect your rights from prosecution. With that in mind, we place a special emphasis in educating our clients on what their rights are and how we can help them.

What should I do to protect my rights after I have been arrested?

It is so important to remember that you do not have to answer questions by the police or other law enforcement agents. In fact, you should remain silent and demand an attorney no matter what they say or do. Do not agree to questioning without your attorney present and do not fall for tactics designed merely to get you to talk. At The Art Warren Law Firm, we understand how difficult it can be for someone who was just arrested. That is why you can count on them to provide you with the aggressive and zealous defense that you need during this difficult time.

What should I wear to court?

Though you will see people at the court house dressed very casually, judges make snap decisions about you based on what you are wearing. Be sure to wear modest, respectful clothes to your court appearances. If you are going to trial, consider this when choosing wear.

 

Will I have to take a drug test?

Sometimes in Texas, judges will require that a defendant submit to a drug test by the way of a urine sample. In Harris County, this is done at the probation office near the court house. If you have a positive sample/a “dirty urine sample,” on the first court appearance, a defendant will usually be admonished to stop using drugs. If a defendant provides a dirty urine sample on a subsequent court appearance, it suggests to the judge that a defendant has been using drugs while on bond. This is one of the ways people find themselves in jail, waiting for their case to come to a conclusion. If you are arrested and you are a user of drugs, you should at a minimum stop while your case is pending.