Can I fight my charges on my own? 

While you have a right to represent yourself in a case, it is strongly recommended that you turn this task over to a skilled attorney. Some represent themselves seeking to cut costs or hoping that they will be better able to convey to the court their innocence. Instead, they are often left with higher costs and penalties than they would have faced if an attorney had been involved. It is best that you obtain the defense of a qualified lawyer to investigate the charges against you and help protect you against a guilty conviction.

Once I am taken into custody, should I speak with the police? 

​When you are arrested, the officer will likely read your rights to you. Among these is your right to remain silent. While officers may try to get you to say something that could later be used against you, it is a good rule to wait to speak to them until you have legal representation. Officers will often try to question you before your attorney is with you and they may pressure you in a number of ways. Don’t allow them to succeed. Instead, simply ask to speak to your attorney.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and felony charge

Both of these charges are serious and should be dealt with accordingly. A felony is typically the more serious charge that carries greater penalties, but a misdemeanor should not be overlooked.Both misdemeanors or felonies can result in thousands of dollars in fines and jail time. Felonies allow for longer sentences and even larger fines. There are three types of misdemeanor charges: Class A, Class B and Class C. Felonies can include State Jail, Third Degree, Second Degree, First Degree and Capital. In either case, it is best to fight the charges and avoid the penalties altogether.

What is deferred adjudication

Deferred adjudication is a type of probation through which a person enters a guilty or a no contest plea, but the finding of guilt is deferred. When probation has been successfully completed, the case will be dismissed.  The dismissal, however,  can still be evident on their criminal record. There are pros and cons to this option, such as the tradeoff of having the case dismissed but having to admit guilty. Not everyone will qualify.  It is reserved for those without a DWI charge, with no prior felony convictions and not facing sexual assault charges.

Do I have to let the police search my car or house

The police only have the right to search your car or house if you give them permission to do so or they have a warrant. If they search without permission or a warrant, they are violating your rights, which is sometimes reason enough for any evidence they find to be excluded from the case. Texas Code of Criminal Procedure - Chapter 18 covers the topic of search warrants and the grounds for them being issued.

If I have more than one DWI, will my penalties be the same as the first one

No.  Penalties for DWI charges work on an escalating basis. Penalties increase in severity with each succeeding conviction. A first offense carries a maximum of $2,000 in fines, a suspension of your driver's license for a year and six months in jail. A second offense will carry a maximum sentence of a year in jail, a suspension of your driver's license for two years and $4,000 in fines. A third offense can result in ten years in prison, $10,000 in fines and a driver's license suspension of two years. These are serious punishments that should be diligently fought. 

At what point should I contact an attorney

You should turn to an attorney if you are even suspected of having committed a crime, but especially if you are arrested. When you are arrested, officers questioning you may persuade you to say something that can be used against you. Having an attorney will mean that your rights are being protected by a professional with immense experience in this area of the law.Your attorney can be there during the arraignment to help determine how you will plead. They can start investigating the charges against you to uncover any facts that accrue to your benefit, such as evidence that was wrongfully obtained or is insufficient. An attorney will be able to handle all aspects of a case, from negotiating with the prosecution, to arguing the case in court if it is the way that will get you the best results. Contact us for a free evaluation of your case.

What is bail

Once you are arrested you may be released through posting the bail amount. This is set by the court and it is an amount that must be raised in order for you to be released from jail. It is an agreement between you and the court that if they release you, you will return to the court for your scheduled date. If you fail to show up, the bail amount will not be returned to you. Many people are unable to come up with the bail amount at such short notice and this is where a bond can be used. Read more on the site. 

I was arrested for DWI, and the police officer confiscated my driver’s license! Can I still drive?

Whenever anyone is arrested for DWI, the police officer confiscates that defendant’s driver’s license. In its place, the person is given a Temporary Driving Permit, which lasts for 40 days from the arrest date, unless the defendant requests a hearing with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) within 15 days of the arrest. If my client hires me in time, I always request this license revocation hearing because it allows my client to continue driving until the date of the hearing, which is usually held 3-4 months after the arrest. The periods of suspension vary. If the defendant voluntarily provides a breath or blood sample that shows a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08, the suspension is for 90 days. If the defendant refuses to provide a sample, then the suspension is for 180 days. For repeat offenders, the periods of suspension are significantly longer. Despite the suspension, I can help a client apply for an occupational driver’s license, which allows my client to get back on the road.

If I’m stopped and under investigation for a DWI, do I have to take the tests?

You have the right to refuse to take the field sobriety tests, and you can refuse to provide a breath or blood sample. 

I know I’m guilty of committing the crime, and there’s no way I’m going to get off. Why do I need a lawyer?

It is extremely important to have a lawyer advise you through the criminal process. Even if you think that the prosecution has you nailed, there may be some technical weakness in the prosecution’s case that a good lawyer can expose. Also, there’s much more to the process than being found guilty in a court. Your attorney can help you achieve a result that’s best for you. For example, probation conditions can be very burdensome, and an experienced lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution so that you aren't prevented from doing your daily activities. Also, a lawyer can investigate your background and present the prosecution with a “character packet” in order to show how you’re different from the stereotypical “criminal.” Most of my clients are surprised by how much a good lawyer can make a difference in the outcome of their cases.

I’m in jail, but there’s no bond set on my case. What’s going on?

When you’re arrested on a misdemeanor, the police have 24 hours to turn in the PC affidavit, which is a miniature version of the police report. A magistrate judge must have this document in order to set a bond on your case. If no bond has been set, it’s likely that the arresting officer hasn't turned in the PC affidavit yet. For felonies, the police have 48 hours to turn in the PC affidavit. In felony narcotics cases, the detectives often use this time to further investigate the case while some defendants are already in jail. Also, when police feel like a defendant has been rude or uncooperative, they’ll often wait to turn in the PC affidavit.

A detective called to ask me questions about a crime that I committed. Should I call him back?

You have the absolute right to remain silent, and I recommend that all of my clients exercise this right. The detective’s job is to build a case for the prosecution, so his questions are geared toward further incriminating the suspect. Even if you think that you can talk your way out of the situation, you’ll likely regret your decision to talk to the police when the prosecution is playing back the conversation to a jury.

A police officer questioned me, but he didn't read me my rights. Are my statements admissible in court?

The answer depends on whether you were in custody at the time when the officer questioned you. If you were in custody, then the officer is required to read your rights and record the conversation. On the other hand, if you were briefly “detained” or part of a “consensual encounter,” then you weren't technically in custody, and the officer doesn't have to read your rights to you. There’s a fine line between custody and temporary detentions, so you need a knowledgeable attorney to determine whether your statements can be thrown out.

How much do you charge for your legal services?

Every case is different, so my fees are based on an estimate of how much time it will take to effectively represent a client on a particular case. I understand that criminal charges can place a financial burden on families, so I offer payment plans that are tailored to individual clients’ needs. My rates are competitive with other quality attorneys who strive to limit the volume of their practices in order to devote their full attention to each case.

How soon should I hire an Attorney?

You should begin to search for an attorney as soon as possible. This will ensure that the attorney that you have hired has a chance to become familiar with your case and make any necessary motions for your case. For instance, if you are arrested and the bond is set in an amount that you cannot pay, your attorney can request a bond reduction. If you find yourself a defendant in a criminal case, hiring an attorney quickly or even before a warrant is issued will help the attorney protect and preserve your legal rights. Once you have acquired an attorney, describe your case as accurately as you can. This will ensure effective representation and will help your attorney in obtaining the best options for your case. At the Law Office of Brent R. Hardy, we will begin aggressive representation of any client immediately after a retainer is paid. 

Key elements to keep in mind when choosing a Criminal Attorney are: 1) Friends referrals; 2) Referrals from Civil Lawyers and 3) Interview with the Attorney recommended to you. 

What am I getting for my money?

Your attorneys’ fee will ensure that your attorney can focus on your representation. You and your attorney must agree on a fee, payment and payment plans, if any. Once retained, you should be able to consult with your attorney whenever you have a legal question pertaining to your case. At the Law Office of Brent R. Hardy, we strive to be immediately available to answer client questions and constantly update the information available to the client regarding their case. Often, the money you have spent in hiring an attorney is much less than paying court fees and fines.  

How do I select a Criminal Attorney?

Remember to bring any and all paperwork pertaining to your case during your initial consultation. Make a list of questions that you would like to ask the attorney pertaining to your pending case or to the experience your attorney has in criminal defense.

Some questions to consider are:How much experience does the attorney have in the type of law I am looking for? Does the attorney charge for a consultation? If so, how much? Will you be able to get a written contract of what type of legal services you will get for your fee? If you have a common legal issue (i.e. DWI, Expunction) is there a standardized fee for this service? If so, how much? If you have an uncommon legal issue, is there an hourly rate? If so, how much? What are the services that are included with this rate?Does the attorney make guarantees about the outcome of your case without knowing the evidence in the prosecutor’s file? If the attorney does make such promises, ask yourself how such promises are possible. Can you communicate well with the attorney about issues in your case? Was the attorney clear in describing the services that he will perform on your behalf? Do you have a clear understanding as to how the attorney will represent you in your case?

Remember that the attorney you hire will be representing your interests to a prosecutor, judge or jury. Your decision should be based, in part, on how well the Criminal Defense Attorney communicates with you. It is also imperative that you understand the terms of the contract or agreement with the attorney before you sign it. If it is unclear, please ask questions and ask the attorney to explain anything that you are unsure of. 

 What should you expect from your services?

You and your attorney should be able to work together effectively to make sure that the best outcome from your case is possible. These are the expectations you should have for your services:

Your attorney should give you honest and detailed answers regarding possible defenses in your case, including best and worst case scenarios. Your attorney should keep you updated with the status of your case including any necessary appointments. Your attorney should never represent someone else who has an interest adverse to yours. Your attorney should follow your instructions as to how you would like to proceed with your case, unless those instructions are illegal or unethical. Your attorney should always keep your best interest in mind when determining the best outcome for your case and never make any deal or agreement without your consent. 

In addition, your attorney should expect certain obligations, which may include:

You must be on time to all of your appointments and court appearances. You must keep your attorney updated with current contact information. You must be open and honest with the details of your case. 

When Can Someone be Charged with Domestic Assault?

According to Texas Penal Code § 22.01, an individual can be charged with domestic assault if they intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury, threaten or physically contact a family member, household member or person they are in a dating relationship with.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney? The Victim Wants to Drop the Charges.

There is a misperception by many defendants that an assault case can be dismissed by the alleged victim, or that the Complainant can simply drop the charges. Although it certainly helps with the defense of the case when the alleged victim does not want the case prosecuted, it is only one aspect of the case.Domestic violence cases are prosecuted every day in Texas courts despite the fact that the “victim wants the charges dropped.” The best way to defend your case and increase your chances of having the charges dismissed is to hire a good criminal defense lawyer who regularly handles family violence cases in South Texas.

What Is the Definition of a Family Member in Texas?

Domestic assault allegations often arise when an individual commits an assault against a family member. A family member is defined under Texas law as anyone who related by blood or by marriage, former spouses, parents of the same child, foster parents and step-parents.An individual can also be charged with domestic assault if they commit an assault against a household member. Texas law defines a household member as anyone who resides or previously resided in the same home, such as roommates.

What If the Victim Wasn't Really a Family Member?

If the alleged victim in the case does not fall under the legal definition of a family member or member of the same household under Texas law, then the case should not be charged as a family violence case. A skilled defense attorney can present this argument and any evidence to the prosecution or the Court.

What Does Bodily Injury Mean?

Under Texas Penal Code Section 1.07 (8), bodily injury means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition. As you can see, the definition of bodily injury under Texas law is very broad.

What If the Alleged Victim Wasn't Really Hurt or Injured?

Then it is imperative that you have a skilled defense lawyer to examine all of the evidence and make this argument to a prosecutor or before a judge or jury.

Can I Drop Domestic Violence Charges?

No. In the State of Texas only the prosecutor has the power to drop a criminal charge, including a domestic violence charge. However, it can certainly help in defense of the case if the alleged victim or complaining witness does not want to press charges. If an alleged victim does not want to press charges, a defense attorney will usually draft an affidavit of non-prosecution for the alleged victim to review.

What is an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution?

An affidavit of non-prosecution is a legal document from an alleged victim that states a desire for the case to be dismissed or not prosecuted. A good affidavit of non-prosecution will be custom drafted by the defense lawyer so that it is specific to each individual case and addresses any concerns that the court or a prosecutor may have.

Is Domestic Violence a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Under the Texas Penal Code, domestic violence charges can be classified as either a felony or misdemeanor. The classification may vary depending on the age of the victim, whether the offense resulted in bodily injury, whether the alleged offender has a previous criminal history and/or whether a weapon was used during the commission of the offense.

What is the Penalty Range for Family Violence or Domestic Assault?

The penalty range for family violence charges depends on whether the case is classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. The penalties for domestic violence in Texas are as follows:

What are the Collateral Consequences of a Family Violence Conviction?

In addition to the criminal penalties associated with a family violence conviction, there are additional and often equally severe collateral consequences of a finding of domestic violence.

An individual convicted of family violence is prohibited under both Texas and Federal law from possessing a firearm. This obviously limits your ability to serve as an armed guard in law enforcement officer or in the military. This would also prohibit you from possessing a firearm for personal protection or for purposes of hunting.

A domestic violence conviction will stay on your criminal record and can limit employment, housing and educational opportunities. Many employers, landlords and institutions of higher education will automatically disqualify someone from opportunities due to a family violence case on their criminal record. 

A family violence finding or admission of guilt to family violence can have devastating consequences to an individual’s immigration status and can lead to deportation and inadmissibility for non-citizens. Even deferred adjudication in a family violence case is considered an admission of guilt and can carry the same collateral consequences as a conviction for family violence. 

A previous family violence conviction or finding can be used to enhance any future criminal charges if you are arrested for family violence in the future. 

Depending on your circumstances, there may be additional collateral consequences as well. It is very important that consult with a criminal defense attorney so that you adequately understand all of the possible consequences for a family violence conviction.

When and where will I go to Court?

If you have been arrested for a domestic violence offense in Bexar County, your case will likely be assigned to Bexar County Court at Law No. 7 or No. 13. These Courts are both located on the third floor of the Criminal Justice Center. Most domestic assault or family violence cases will require multiple court appearances over a period of time. For specific court or court date information, you should contact the court directly.

What is Shoplifting?

Shoplifting is generally defined as the theft of goods or property from a store, retailer or merchant. Theft is generally defined as the intentional and unlawful taking of another person's property without that person's consent. Retail theft or shoplifting generally occur at large department stores or grocery stores.

Shoplifting is a theft charge that is considered a crime of "moral turpitude," meaning that it is a crime that reflects on one's character. A shoplifting arrest or theft conviction can seriously limit employment opportunities, as employers do not want to employ someone that they cannot trust or that may steal from their business. It is important to understand that even a ticket or citation for theft or shoplifting can carry the stigma of being labeled as criminally dishonest.

What are the Penalties for Shoplifting in Texas?

In Texas, the penalties or punishment for shoplifting usually depend on the value of the items that were allegedly taken and whether the defendant has any prior theft convictions. Under The Texas Penal Code, shoplifting offenses can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony crime.

Below is a basic guide of how the State of Texas categorizes the level of the shoplifting offense and the punishment you face if charged with retail theft.

 Shoplifting is considered a Class C Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is worth $50 or less. Class C Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by a fine up to $500. 

Shoplifting is considered a Class B Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is more than $50 but less than $500. Class B Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by a fine up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000. 

Shoplifting is considered a Class A Misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is $500 or more but less than $1,500. Class A Misdemeanor crimes are punishable by a up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000. 

Shoplifting is considered a State Jail Felony if the value of the property stolen is $1,500 or more but less than $20,000. A State Jail Felony is punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and/or a fine up to $10,000. 

Shoplifting is considered a Third Degree Felony if the value of the property stolen is $20,000 or more but less than $100,000. A Third Degree Felony is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and/or up to a fine up to $10,000. 

Shoplifting is considered a Second Degree Felony if the value of the property stolen is $100,000 or more but less than $200,000. A Second Degree Felony is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000. 

Shoplifting is considered a First Degree Felony if the value of the property stolen is more than $200,000. A First Degree Felony is punishable by five to 99 years in prison or life imprisonment and/or up to a fine up to $10,000.

If you are charged with shoplifting and accused of taking more than one item, the value all the items can be added together or aggregated to determine the level of charge and penalties you face.

 What is Theft by Check in Texas?

Under Texas Penal Code §31.06 it is theft for a person to take property from its owner by issuing or passing a check when that person knew or should have known that there were not sufficient funds on deposit with the bank for the payment of all checks that the person had outstanding at the time.

What is the Punishment in Texas for Theft by Check?

A theft by check case can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony, usually dependent upon the amount of the check or the total amount of checks written. For example, if the total amount of the check or the total amount of checks written is more than $20 but less than $500, you could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine.

However, if it is alleged that the amount of the check written is $1,500 or more, you could be charged with a felony.