Defending Your Rights Against Texas And Federal Criminal Charges
If you or your loved one has been charged with a crime, you need to find an experienced San Antonio criminal defense attorney who will fight relentlessly for your rights. Every decision made during this process is critical to the outcome of the case. Finding immediate legal representation can make all the difference.
Our team at Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, Attorney at Law, will fight to keep your family together at home. Whether your case is a DWI or a weapons charge, our attorneys can help. We will become your trusted partners, advocating for you and working to resolve any charges. When you discuss your case with us, we will explain all available legal options so you can make informed decisions and feel empowered.
Former Criminal Prosecutors Who Know Both Sides
Our founder, attorney Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, is a dedicated, responsive and skilled criminal defense lawyer with experience on both sides of the courtroom. Both of our attorneys started their careers working for the district attorney’s offices in Texas, so they are aware of the internal workings and weaknesses of the prosecution. We will use these insights to build a solid defense strategy based on the specific details of your case.
The criminal law cases we handle include:
- DWI charges: Whether it’s your first, second or subsequent offense, our attorneys will thoroughly examine your charges with the aim of dismissing or lowering your charges accordingly.
- Aggravated assault: We offer in-depth analysis of the facts of your case to make a solid strategy dedicated to protecting your future.
- Domestic violence assault: When you need a zealous defense of your rights against domestic violence charges, our team can help.
- Protective orders violation: Violating a protective order is an offense that requires knowledgeable and responsive legal representation.
- Possession of drugs: Penalties may vary according to the amount and type of drug, possession of additional drug paraphernalia and how the drug was hidden or stored.
- Expungements: Our lawyers can provide sound and honest legal advice to evaluate your possibilities to apply for the expungement (sealing) of your criminal record and next steps.
- Gang crimes: Crimes within this area include severe charges such as murder, aggravated robbery and arson. It is vital to discuss your case to learn about your options.
Having a skilled criminal defense lawyer committed to your rights can be the difference between prison time and the possibility to lessen your charges or dismiss them. Every case is highly unique, and results may vary. Rest assured that when you work with us, you have a client-focused and compassionate attorney in your corner – a former prosecutor who will fight fiercely to protect your right before a jury.
Understanding The Process Of A Criminal Trial
The process of a criminal trial from arrest to sentencing generally involves the following steps:
- Arrest: Law enforcement officers may arrest a person if they have probable cause to believe that person has committed a crime.
- Booking: The arrested person is taken to a police station or jail, where they are processed and booked. This includes taking their fingerprints, photographing them, and recording personal information.
- Arraignment: The accused person appears before a judge and is formally charged with a crime. They enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
- Pre-trial proceedings: The prosecution and defense attorneys exchange information, file motions, and conduct investigations to prepare for trial.
- Jury selection: The jury is selected through a process called voir dire, where potential jurors are questioned by the judge and attorneys to determine if they can be impartial and fair.
- Opening statements: The prosecution and defense attorneys give their opening statements, outlining their arguments and evidence.
- Presentation of evidence: The prosecution presents its evidence, such as witness testimony, physical evidence, and documents. The defense may cross-examine witnesses and present its own evidence.
- Closing arguments: The prosecution and defense attorneys give their closing arguments, summarizing the evidence and arguing why the jury should find the defendant guilty or not guilty.
- Jury deliberation: The jury deliberates and reaches a verdict.
- Sentencing: If the defendant is found guilty, they are sentenced by the judge. The sentence may include fines, community service, probation, or imprisonment.
What To Know About Your Criminal Defense Case
If you are facing criminal charges, you probably have many questions about the process and what steps you should take. Our attorneys answer these questions for our clients every day. Here are some common questions and their answers:
My family member or friend has been arrested; what should I do?
Contact Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. Do not discuss the pending charges over the phone; prosecutors routinely listen to and record conversations.
Should I agree to be interviewed by police?
As a general rule, it is often not advisable to agree to an interview with the police without the presence or advice of an attorney, especially if you are a suspect or person of interest in a criminal investigation.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Potential self-incrimination: Even if you are innocent of the crime you are being questioned about, it is possible to inadvertently say something that could be used against you in court. In the absence of legal counsel, you may not fully understand your rights or the potential implications of your answers.
- Police tactics: Police officers may use various tactics to elicit information from you that may not be in your best interest. They may be trained in techniques to pressure you into making statements or admissions that could be used against you later on.
- Lack of control: In an interview with the police, you may not have control over the flow of the conversation or the questions that are asked. This can make it difficult to defend yourself or provide a clear and accurate account of events.
If the police ask to interview you, it is important to politely decline and state that you would like to speak to an attorney before answering any questions. If you are detained or arrested, you have the right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney. It is always a good idea to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights and ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
When do I have to appear in court?
Your pretrial officer or bondsman will inform you about your next court setting. If you have any questions, reach out to our firm for a free consultation.
Should I let the police search my car?
Whether or not you should let police search your car is a decision that depends on the specific circumstances of the situation. In general, you have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle, but there are some exceptions that may apply.
Here are some things to consider:
- You have the right to refuse: The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was established to protect individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. You have the right to refuse a search of your vehicle without a warrant, unless the police have probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime in your car.
- Probable cause: Probable cause can allow police to search your car without a warrant. This means that they have reasonable grounds to suspect that there is evidence of a crime in your vehicle. This could include the smell of drugs or alcohol, the sight of illegal items in plain view, or behavior that suggests criminal activity.
- Consent: If the police do not have probable cause to search your car, they may ask for your consent to search. You have the right to refuse this request, but if you agree, anything found in the search may be used as evidence against you in court.
- Consequences of refusal: If you refuse a search and the police do not have probable cause, they may not be able to search your vehicle without a warrant. However, refusing a search may result in additional suspicion from law enforcement and could potentially escalate the situation.
It is important to remember that every situation is unique, and the decision to allow a search of your car should be made carefully and with the advice of an attorney. If you are unsure of your rights or have been accused of a crime, it is always a good idea to consult with a criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the best course of action for your specific case.
Do I have to plead guilty?
Absolutely not. In fact, you should not make any pleas without first consulting with a lawyer. Call Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation.
Why do I need to hire an attorney?
If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint you an attorney. However, court-appointed attorneys often have hundreds of cases. If you are interested in having an individualized legal experience with your lawyer, you should contact Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation.
Should I get a public defender or hire a criminal defense lawyer in private practice?
There are some differences between hired attorneys and court-appointed lawyers, such as:
- Cost: Private attorneys charge fees for their services, while court-appointed lawyers are free if you cannot afford to hire a private attorney. However, many private attorneys offer free consultations.
- Experience: Private attorneys may have more experience and resources to handle your case, while court-appointed lawyers may have heavier caseloads and less time to dedicate to your case.
- Control: With a private attorney, you have more control over the outcome of your case and the strategies used to achieve that outcome. With a court-appointed lawyer, the attorney may have less flexibility in their representation of you.
- Availability: Court-appointed lawyers may have more limited availability due to their heavy caseloads and the number of clients they represent.
It’s important to note that both private attorneys and court-appointed lawyers have a duty to provide effective representation to their clients, regardless of whether they are paid or court-appointed. The choice between hiring a private attorney or accepting a court-appointed lawyer will depend on your financial situation and the specific circumstances of your case.
How much do you charge?
Once you have spoken to us about the specific facts of your case, we will quote you a price based on the free consultation. We also offer payment plans for your convenience.
How does bond work in Texas?
Here’s how the bond process typically works in Texas:
- Bail is set: A judge sets the amount of bail, which is the amount of money the defendant must pay to be released from jail.
- Payment options: The defendant can pay the full bail amount in cash or with a bail bond. Alternatively, the defendant can ask the court to reduce the bail amount or to be released on their own recognizance (meaning they don’t have to pay bail but promise to appear in court).
- Bail bond: A bail bond is a written promise to pay the full bail amount if the defendant fails to appear in court. Bail bond companies typically charge a non-refundable fee, usually 10% of the bail amount, to post the bond.
- Release: Once the bail is paid or a bail bond is posted, the defendant is released from jail.
- Court appearance: The defendant is required to appear in court as scheduled. If they fail to appear, the court may issue a warrant for their arrest and the bond may be forfeited.
- Conclusion of case: If the defendant appears in court as required and the case is resolved, the bond is refunded (minus any fees or expenses).
Can I leave the county after I get out of jail?
That depends, as bond conditions are individualized for each person accused of a crime. Call Clarissa Fernandez Pratt, Attorney at Law, for a free consultation to review the conditions of your bond.
How to get your case dismissed?
- Challenge the validity of the arrest: If the police did not have a valid reason for arresting you or if they violated your rights during the arrest, any evidence obtained during the arrest may be inadmissible in court.
- Challenge the evidence against you: Your attorney may be able to challenge the validity or reliability of the evidence presented by the prosecution, such as eyewitness testimony, physical evidence, or forensic evidence.
- File a motion to suppress evidence: If the police obtained evidence through an illegal search or seizure, your attorney may be able to file a motion to suppress that evidence, which could significantly weaken the prosecution’s case.
- Negotiate a plea deal: In some cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution that could result in a dismissal of the charges against you.
- Argue that the prosecution did not meet its burden of proof: In a criminal case, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. If the prosecution cannot meet this burden of proof, you may be acquitted.
You Need A Knowledgeable San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney. Call Today.
Share your legal concerns with one of our attorneys during a free, no-obligation consultation. Call us at 210-920-2535 or fill out this online contact form to schedule an appointment. We serve clients in San Antonio and throughout Texas. Hablamos español.