If you have been arrested in the Houston, Texas area, then you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to explain what your options are in court.
You have a constitutional right to a jury trial. The right to subpoena witnesses to testify on your behalf. The right to confront and cross-exam witnesses against you. The right to remain silent, and not testify. Finally, the right to be represented by a lawyer.
If you decide to ask a jury to decide your guilt or innocence, then you could be found not guilty. After which a motion to expunge your record could be filed to wipe out all reference to your arrest and prosecution. However, you could be found guilty. Which means that you will have a final conviction on your record which can never be expunged or sealed.
If you are convicted after a jury trial, then either the jury or the judge must sentence you. You could serve time in the county jail for a misdemeanor, or the department of corrections for a felony.
If you are convicted by a jury and you have never been convicted of a felony, then you can ask the jury recommend probation to the judge. This is called a probated sentence. A probated sentence is a final conviction, and it will be on your criminal record forever. The record of your conviction cannot be sealed or expunged.
Any plea bargain that is offered by the District Attorney will take into consideration the facts of the crime that you are charged with, and any prior convictions or arrests that might be in your criminal record. You will also be required to waive your right to a jury trial, your right to subpoena witnesses to testify on your behalf, your right to confront and cross-exam witness against you, and your right to remain silent.
This option takes little explanation. Except, you should know that it is a final conviction that will follow you for the rest of your life. Your criminal record cannot be sealed or expunged.
Paying a fine and/or taking credit for time already served in jail sounds like a great idea. You will get jail credit from the time you were arrested up to the time that bond was posted. However, paying a fine or taking credit for time served is a final conviction that will stay on your criminal record forever, and it can never be sealed or expunged.
This is a type of probation where no finding of guilt is entered by the court. If you successfully complete probation then your criminal record can be sealed. This means that private citizens and employers cannot find out about your guilty plea. However, the government will always know about the guilty plea. So if you need to get a state issued license or pass a government background check, then you will have to report the guilty plea.
PTI is available in some cases where the defendant has no criminal record, and the amount of drugs found was very small. Also, in a DWI case where the breath test or blood test was less than 0.15, and there was no accident.
If PTI is granted, then you are on probation to the District Attorney’s Office. The period of probation is usually one year. if you successfully complete probation, then the charge against you is actually dismissed. Because there is no guilty plea or court ordered probation, you are entitled to expunge your criminal record. The expunction wipes out all reference to you arrest and prosecution.
In order to convince the District Attorney to dismiss your case, we must make a compelling argument that there is no way the State can win if we set your case for trial. Also, we could try to convince the District Attorney that there is legal argument that precludes your conviction. For example: the evidence against you was obtained during an illegal search.