These are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from potential clients of Texas Criminal Lawyers.
1. When should I talk to a Criminal Lawyer?
You should immediately consult a criminal lawyer if you believe that any of your associations or action, whether direct or indirect could be involved in a government investigation, warrant or indictment. Assume anything you do or say to anyone other than your attorney may increase you exposure and remember no cell phones or internet communications are secure. The earlier you allow an attorney to take action, the better your outcome will be. As a general rule, as the process begins, law enforcement officers weed through all of their leads, selecting for investigation only those that appear the most promising and taking no action on the rest. As they investigate their most promising leads, law enforcement officers focus their energy and resources on the cases supported by the strongest evidence. Once an agent believes that an investigation has resulted in sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of a criminal charge, the officer will take that evidence to a prosecutor. The prosecutor will then make an independent assessment of the strength of the evidence and will determine whether a criminal case should be filed. At each stage of this process, some cases are weeded out and there may be many opportunities to avoid prosecution. An attorney can help you through this process and in some cases, may be able to help you to avoid being prosecuted at all.
2. How do I pick the best Criminal Lawyer?
Any licensed lawyer can legally represent you. Many have criminal defense experience. The seriousness of the charge, ramifications and your personal requirements will set the determining factors to select the best criminal lawyer. Consider comparing it to medical doctors. Do you need a general practitioner, specialist or surgeon? If you’re not sure, because timing is critical choose a Board Certified Criminal Lawyer who has handled numerous cases similar to yours. This is where it becomes difficult to choose. Referral from friends may only give you comfort but not a real expert. Referrals from lawyers or Judges who have direct knowledge is good. The best way to select your lawyer or a surgeon is to have your case reviewed. Go to their office and talk. Trust your intuition. Do not hesitate to ask questions, be sure you get answers.
3. Will there be a fee to discuss this case?
Knowledge is power, especially if acquired early in the proceedings. We want you to understand what is involved and to make the right decisions for the right reasons. Even if we do not represent you, we want you to be successful. We welcome the opportunity to help you. We do not charge you a fee for this service.
4. What are the non-legal ramifications of a charge?
A criminal accusation, investigation, or charges can result in life altering ramifications for now and in the future. Immediately, your reputation, family relations and financial position can be altered. Even if you don’t receive imprisonment or restrictions of freedom or rights, your ability to qualify for office, certain position of employment, loans, government benefits, contractual rights, right to carry firearms and voting rights can be impacted. Defending against the criminal proceedings is only a part of your representation. Foreseeing and protecting against these ramifications can be critical to your future success and enjoyment.
5. What happens if you don’t represent me?
We look at many cases, and represent many good, diverse individuals. We believe diversity enhances our nation and we are dedicated to defending good people who benefit society and deserve assertive powerful legal representation, regardless of their race, gender, age, religion, or national origin. Unfortunately, we are not able to help all of the people who ask for and need our help. We do not select cases based on whether we will win or to impress future clients. We look at each case, make an assessment and compare it to our existing work load.
If we believe in you and believe we are the best ones to represent you, we will take the case. Sometimes, if we are unable to help you, we know of other lawyers who can help, and can refer you to them.
6. How much will my case cost?
We take a great deal of time to come to a proper evaluation of your case. The facts as you know them are a critical starting point. However, to accurately determine what is involved and a probable outcome of a case it is imperative to assess what information and evidence the government has. Making assumptions can be costly and directly impact the results. We are dedicated to obtaining the optimum result for each client timely and efficiently. Your cost will be detailed, accurate, and must be explained on an individual case basis. You will pay no fee for this service.
7. Can you take my case if it is not in Texas?
Yes. Some state or federal crimes require representation in other states. We have developed a network of lawyers, investigators and contacts within the State of Texas and throughout the United States to provide the infrastructure for multi-defendant and cross- jurisdictional representation. This network of local lawyer and supporting services allow us to work and obtain necessary information or witnesses in almost any state. For the benefit of our families, we office and concentrate representation in the Dallas and fort worth, although we have handled cases from New York, Arizona and Washington and throughout the State of Texas.
8. How will you represent me?
I will treat you like I would want to be treated. We know that a confidential and private environment is a requirement. Successfully assessing, analyzing and defending a case requires knowing what the government is relying on. Your accurate recollection of memory is your first requirement in maximizing damage control and allowing you the first opportunity to optimize the results. To accomplish this, you will become knowledgeable about the relevant legal and evidentiary requirements. Communication will be direct and punctual. You will have the opportunity to be as involved as is beneficial or your schedule allows. You will be empowered to make changes in your life. Any decision you have to make will be preceded by a recommendation. We know that your family or business may be affected. We know how to protect this relationship for your benefit. Our level of service will obtain optimum results and bring your case to a successful conclusion. You continue your life wiser and healthier.
9. Do you represent Victims of crimes?
Victims of financial crimes, ‘white collar crimes’, may find it necessary to establish a preliminary case work up for The FBI, District Attorney or other government authority or help the authorities in their investigation. Victims such as owners, employees, stockholders, or beneficiaries may suspect a crime is being, or has been, committed. In order to prevent increased financial loss, prevent additional criminal activity, or establish a basis for restitution, initializing action by criminal authorities quickly may be required. Since we have also worked as a prosecutor, we have an in-depth knowledge of what is required and because we have a great reputation for integrity and work closely with these various authorities we can prepare a prosecution package quickly and quietly.
10. Who has to know about this matter?
We recognize your confidentiality is extremely important to you and our reputation depends on it. We respect your privacy and will not disclose your name except where required to. We will not use the success of your case to attract other clients. Publicity may be beneficial to the career of some attorneys, but not for our clients and us. With regard to media and press, a client should go unnoticed unless it is advantageous to obtaining optimum results of the case. Know that the worst harm you can do to jeopardize your case is to talk to anyone explaining information, at any time, by cell phone, or internet communication, other than your attorney. Your spouse may be ‘privileged information’ but your family and friends are not. Assume anything you do or say may increase your exposure.
11. How long will it take before this is over?
This depends on many factors. Assuming the lengthiest procedure required is trial, each jurisdiction differs in the amount of time it takes to bring a case to trial. Once an indictment is returned, we are in much better position to estimate the time to trial. Please ask under your specific facts.
12. When is it better to negotiate a result than go to trial?
Negotiating a result is not about winning or losing! Each case is different, each client is different, and each jurisdiction is different; each judge is different. The goal is to get the optimal result. To obtain this result requires a balancing act of interest, on a tight rope of timing in the tent of expectations. There is always a defining moment –when you know the next step will get you to the other side of destiny or straight to the ground. Knowing when to take that step is as much mental as physical. But after you’ve walked a thousand tightropes, we can almost predict that step. Know that no case is ever negotiated without the clients’ express consent. Whenever negotiations are initiated by the other side you will be informed, and it is only with your full participation, and consent that your case will be settled.
13. I have heard about two recent U.S. Supreme Court cases, Blakely and Booker. What do these cases say and why are they so important?
On June 24, 2004, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Blakely v. Washington. In Blakely, the Supreme Court invalidated the state of Washington's sentencing guidelines. The Court held that it violated the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution for Washington judges to use facts to increase a defendant's sentence (other than the fact of a prior conviction) that had not been admitted by the defendant or proven to a jury. Because the federal sentencing guidelines are similar in structure to the state guidelines invalidated in Blakely, many lawyers, judges and commentators expected the Supreme Court to find the federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional on the same ground. In the cases of United States v. Booker and the United States v. Fanfan (referred to collectively as United States v. Booker), the Supreme Court did so. In Booker, the Supreme Court then "fixed" the constitutional problem by holding that the federal sentencing guidelines would not violate the Constitution if applied on an advisory, rather than mandatory, basis. After Booker, federal judges must consider the purposes of sentencing and the federal sentencing guidelines in determining a "reasonable" sentence in any given case.
Booker permits a federal judge to impose a sentence outside of the applicable guideline range so long as the sentence is within the range permitted by statute. Whereas federal sentencing guideline ranges are fairly narrow (e.g., 70-87 months), statutory ranges are often quite broad (five to forty years,). Remember that although Booker authorizes sentences below the federal guideline sentencing range, down to the applicable statutory minimum, judges may also impose sentences above the guideline range, up to the maximum allowed by statute. For example, consider a defendant who is charged with a crime that carries a statutory penalty of five to forty years. The applicable federal guideline sentencing range may be 70-87 months. In this example, Booker permits the judge to sentence the defendant to a term of incarceration as low as five years and as high as forty years. As a practical matter though, since Booker, federal judges continue to impose sentences within the applicable guideline range in the majority of cases
14. What is the most disappointing case you have handled?
In only one case out of the cases I have handled was I extremely disappointed for a client. Prior to my representation, a businessman and father was charged in a federal court with several counts, including money laundering and structuring. His daughter and son-in-law were involved in structuring deposits of cash from drug proceeds and using their funeral home business to accomplish their results. The son-in-law was an FBI agent. Because of his involvement, the FBI fired him. The son-in-law appealed the FBI ruling to dismiss him. The business man was sentenced to 13 years in prison. After seventeen months in prison. I was retained to try to obtain some relief. I did not represent this man prior to then. A negotiated result was achieved whereby the client would get credit for the timed served and be released from prison. Bottom line, if the son in law would drop his appeal against the FBI for dismissing him and resign, my client would be released from prison for the time served and not have to serve the remaining years. My client would have to had to cooperate with the government and debrief with the FBI. I highly recommended to my client and his family agree to accept this settlement. He consulted with his family and chose not to cooperate. As I had anticipated, the son-in-law lost his appeal and was discharged from the FBI. The father, my former client remains in prison today.
It is my personal belief and opinion that choices are always difficult, the ramification of those choices can affect good people and will remain with you forever. When you make the wrong choice, an initial reaction is to assess blame at someone other than the ones that made the decisions. Sometimes people will spend thousand of dollars to justify their incorrect decisions. Sometimes money could have been used to reverse their bad decision, but money can never replace pain and fear. Sometimes a good person loses for the wrong reason. I thank God it only happened once. I hope time will ease their pain.