If you are facing criminal charges, it is natural to have anxiety and uncertainty. It is a serious matter and should be approached with the help of a serious, skilled criminal defense attorney.
Don’t Face Criminal Charges Alone. Contact a Proven San Marcos Criminal Defense Attorney
At the Law Office of Scot Courtney, our mission is to help alleviate the stress you are dealing with by providing answers to any questions and a clear idea of what to expect. The best way to obtain answers regarding your unique situation is by contacting us. We have also provided some answers to common questions below.
I’ve been arrested! What should I do?
First and foremost, say nothing without qualified legal counsel by your side. The “right to remain silent” is extremely important. Regardless of your innocence, you shouldn’t make any kind of statement until you have spoken with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Any statement you make can be used to undermine your defense. Contact a Texas criminal defense lawyer right away and let us inform you of how best to proceed and begin building your defense.
For more information regarding your rights, visit our Citizen’s Rights section…
What types of charges can you help me with?
At the Law Office of Scot Courtney, our sole focus is criminal defense. The possible damage of a conviction is significant. We believe it requires our complete attention. We are experienced in the defense of all felonies and misdemeanors including drug charges such as possession and distribution, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charges, weapons charges, domestic violence allegations, violent crimes, white collar crimes, homicide, assault, sex crimes, and any others. To learn more about our areas of practice, click here…
Can I be released on bail?
The U.S Constitution, the Texas Constitution and the Code of Criminal procedure recognize the Citizen’s right to release on reasonable bond. Once a person is arrested, the person making the arrest must, without unnecessary delay, take the accused before a magistrate. At that appearance, the magistrate must inform the accused of his constitutional rights and determine whether probable cause exists for the arrest and whether a bond should be set. This procedure usually occurs within twenty-four hours of the arrest.
For more information regarding the arrest and bail procedure, click here…
What is a “No Bond” designation?
A “no bond” designation means that the citizen is not afforded the right to a reasonable bond and will not be released if:
1. The citizen is currently on probation or on bond for a felony.
2. The citizen is charged with a crime of violence
3. The citizen has previously been sentenced to prison two or more times.
4. The citizen has been arrested pursuant to a “blue warrant” (violation of parole).
If a “no bond” has been entered in a particular case, your attorney should investigate the circumstances of your particular case and approach the Judge assigned the case to request a bond. The “no bond” designation does not always mean that a bond will not be set and may merely be a mistake. In any event, it will take some time to correct the mistake or discuss your particular case with both the Judge and the Assistant District Attorney, usually the next business day. Judges normally will not set bonds or intentionally set “no bond” on cases when the citizen is not in custody.
I think there is a warrant issued for my arrest. What should I do?
If you have reason to believe that a warrant for your arrest has been issued, you can call our office or a professional bondsman and ask that your information be run through the local jurisdiction’s computer to verify the existence of a warrant. We provide this service for free, as do most reputable bonding companies. You may do this yourself, by contacting the Sheriff’s Department of that county to verify if a warrant exists. Your inquiry will not trigger any action that would not otherwise occur. The threat of arrest and the steps needed to clear the warrant should be your main concern.
If you believe a federal warrant has been issued, you should seek the advice of a reputable criminal law attorney to discuss your options. An attorney will be better equipped to access that information, as well as assist you in ultimately clearing the warrant with as little inconvenience as possible, without jeopardizing your rights.
If a warrant has been issued and a bond has already been set, you may post the bond in accordance with the instructions in the ARREST & BAIL section.
Do I have a criminal record?
Many people have the misconception that if their case was dismissed, the records no longer exist. Additionally, successfully discharging a term of Deferred Adjudication does not result in a “clean record” either. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, getting the case dismissed does not mean that the records disappear and is simply the first step. Granted, what has been historically referred to as a “criminal record” does not exist, but anyone that made a record of your arrest and/or prosecution retains and routinely disseminates those records, unless a court orders the destruction of those records.
The County or District Clerk’s office or the Municipal Court where you were charged has a file concerning the incident, as does the Texas Department of Public Safety, many of which are public information. That means future employers, credit services, banks or any other person or entity that wants to search your past records can do so.
The accessibility to these records becomes easier as more and more of these records are computerized. For instance, the Texas Department of Public Safety, which keeps a database of all such records, commonly sells this information to internet information companies, credit services and others that want to search, mine and disseminate such information. Anyone can discover prior criminal allegations by simply searching for your name at the county courthouse or municipal court or even on-line if they know where to search. More and more companies use these background searches as screening tools of potential employees.
The record of the arrest, the offense report, fingerprints, case disposition, etc. are still around unless you act to expunge the record.
What is the effect of an expunction?
The legal effect of the expunction is:
1. The release, dissemination, or use of the expunged records and files for any purpose is prohibited;
2. You may deny the occurrence of the arrest and the existence of the expunction order, with the exception of the following;
3. You or any other person, when questioned under oath in a criminal proceeding about an arrest for which the records have been expunged, may state only that the matter in question has been expunged. (See Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 55.03).
Any citizen that would like to explore the possibility of expunging their records, but are unsure about whether or not they may qualify, should consult with an attorney to determine if it is a remedy available to them to clear past records that may appear in the future.
What are “Orders of Non-Disclosure?”
Several years ago the Texas Legislature enacted legislation that allowed persons that have been placed on and successfully completed Deferred Adjudication, to effectively “seal from public view” their records of arrest and prosecution. Not all offenses qualify and there are waiting periods in certain instances so not all Deferred Adjudications qualify.
The effect of the Orders for Non-Disclosure order is: 1) Criminal justice agencies cannot disclose to the public criminal history record information related to the offense giving rise to the deferred adjudication; and 2) you are not required in any application for employment, information, or licensing to state that you have ever been the subject of any criminal proceeding. This is similar to an expunction, but does not order destruction of those records, simply sealed from public view.
There are some statutory limitations and exceptions to the non-disclosure of this information. For instance, a criminal justice agency may disclose criminal history record information that is the subject of these orders only to other criminal justice/governmental agencies for criminal justice or regulatory licensing purposes.