Are Plea Bargains Good Or Bad?

First of all, no one’s going to make you plead guilty. That’s going to be a decision that you make after you’ve been fully advised by your attorney about the facts and evidence of the case and your legal rights. Sometimes plea agreements can be very good because the client will know what the punishment’s going to be because the judge either has a decision to make of either following the plea agreement or rejecting it.

Plea agreements can be very good. The majority of cases end in plea agreements because if I can’t get the case dismissed, then I try to get the next best thing for my client and often that’s a reduced charge or a very good lenient plea agreement that might be probation with limited conditions.

What is the Difference Between Bench Trials and Jury Trials?

A bench trial is a trial just in front of the judge, so that’s meaning that the judge is hearing all the facts of the case and all the evidence of the case, and then the judge is deciding whether or not the defendant is guilty or not guilty.

A jury trial is a trial where citizens are selected from a panel and they sit on the jury and they hear the facts and the evidence and then they decide if the defendant that’s charged with the crime is guilty or not guilty. In a misdemeanor trial, there would be six people on the jury and in a felony trial, there would be 12.

What is Probation and How Does It Work?

There are basically two types of probation. One is called straight probation, and one is deferred probation. Straight probation is a conviction on someone’s record. Often, straight probation is given by a jury or can be given by a jury after they find someone guilty, say like in a DWI trial. They might find someone guilty and then they give them probation.

Deferred probation is a type of probation that is not a conviction on the person’s record. Let’s say someone pleads guilty today and based on a plea agreement, they’re getting deferred probation, the judge is not going to find them guilty, he’s going to defer that finding of guilt for however long the period of probation is.

If the person completes their probation over that length of period of time and it’s deferred probation, then at the end of that deferred period, the case is terminated and there is no conviction. But deferred probation will remain on someone’s record unless the motion for non-disclosure is filed and granted.

Are There Any Programs Available for First Time Offenders?

Yes, there are. Often, it’s someone who is a first time offender and they have a good background, meaning maybe they’re going to school or college or have a good job and family support, then there can be something that’s called Pre-trial diversion or pre-trial intervention. Basically it’s like probation. The person is not pleading guilty. They’re basically filling out a contract with the district attorney’s office that says they would do certain conditions during the period of time which is usually 6 months or a year.

Let’s say for example someone is granted pre-trial diversion; they will have to meet with a probation officer once a month for say 6 months or a year, they’ll have to take a urine test, maybe do some community service and maybe take some type of class. At the end of that period of time, whether it’s either 6 months or a year, if they’ve done all of those conditions and done them satisfactorily and not had any new law violations, then the case will be dismissed. Once it’s dismissed, a person can often apply for an expunction to get those records erased as if it never happened.

Can You Predict the Potential Outcome of a Case After an Initial Consultation?

Yes. Based on my years of experience, I can give them an example of how the case may play out. But I often tell them I need to look at that police report, I need to look at the evidence, I need to read the witness statements to give them a better evaluation of what I think could happen on their case and how we can best fight it and defend the allegations.

What is The Best Way to Contact You to Set Up An Initial Consultation?

The best way is to contact my office at 713-228-1400 and talk to my assistant, and/or ask for me and I will talk to you and speak with you and we’ll make an appointment so you can come in and I can evaluate your case.

For more information on Plea Bargains in Texas, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (713) 228-1400 today.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free telephone consultation at (713) 228-1400

Houston Criminal Lawyer James Alston represents clients in the Houston area, including Pasadena, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Channelview, Conroe, Galveston, Angleton, Richmond, Rosenberg, Beaumont, Galveston County, Ft. Bend County, Montgomery County, Brazoria County, Harris County and Jefferson County in Texas.