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Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need an attorney when I can represent myself? You might think your case is straight-forward and you just want to wrap it up. Maybe you can represent yourself adequately… I know a little about plumbing, and some simple plumbing problems I can fix. However, some of those simple problems became very serious problems because I didn’t know of other issues related to the leak. An experienced attorney knows the technicalities and nuances of the law, and the direct and collateral consequences of a given resolution that the average person will not know.
Why should I hire an attorney instead of using a court-appointed attorney? You want an attorney to advise you on decisions that will impact the rest of your life. You need an attorney you trust to help with those decisions, and the only way to guarantee that is to hire one. There are many excellent attorneys, including myself, who represent both retained and court-appointed clients. There are also less qualified, less knowledgeable, attorneys accepting court appointments. You don’t get to choose who your court-appointed attorney is – you’re stuck with the next attorney on the wheel.
A detective called me, just wants to talk. What should I do? They don’t want to talk about the week-end’s ballgame - you are either a witness or a suspect. If you’re a suspect, they are trying to build the case against you. They don’t necessarily expect you to confess, although it sure makes their job easier. At a minimum, they are trying to corroborate facts they need to convict you. Contact Ed Jendrzey, Ellis County Criminal Defense attorney, for advice.
The detective told me it would help me if I talk. What should I do? Usually, talking to the detective only helps get you convicted. There might be a rare situation in which it would help, but you should contact Ed Jendrzey, Ellis County Criminal Defense attorney, for advice.
What’s the difference between a cash bond and a surety bond? If you get arrested, a bond is set at some amount, for example, $2,000. If you have $2,000 cash, you can pay that at the jail and you will be released. At the end of your case, as long as you haven’t done anything to forfeit your bond, you will probably get most of that money back. If you don’t have $2,000 cash, you call a bail bond company (surety bond). You pay the bond company a fee, usually around 10%-20% of the total bond amount, and the bail bond company posts bond for your release. You do not get that fee back.
The officer didn’t read me my rights when he arrested me. Can I get the case dropped? Officers don’t have to inform you of your rights just because they arrest you. You must be informed of your rights prior to any custodial interrogation. If you were to make any statements in a situation that could be considered custodial interrogation, and you were not informed of your rights, it may be possible to keep those statements out of evidence. However, the State may still have other evidence to proceed with the charges.
I got arrested for DWI and blew over the limit. Am I up a creek? Not necessarily. There may be issues regarding the admissibility of the breath test result, or the reliability of the result. Sometimes a person looks great performing the roadside sobriety tests, which can cast doubt on the result of the breath test.
I got arrested for DWI and blew under the limit. Am I off the hook? Again, not necessarily. "Intoxicated" is defined as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Even if you’re under the limit, the State may still try to prove you didn’t have the normal use or mental or physical faculties.
I got arrested for DWI. Will my license be suspended, and for how long? If you refused to give a breath or blood sample, or if you consented to giving a breath or blood sample and the test indicates you were over the legal limit, it will be suspended unless you timely request an ALR hearing. Also, if you were under 21 years of age and had any detectable amount of alcohol in your system at the time you were driving, it will be suspended unless you timely request an ALR hearing. For any of these situations, timely requesting an ALR hearing might help you to avoid a suspension. The length of the suspension depends on a number of factors, including whether or not you consented to give a sample of breath or blood.
My license is suspended. Can I get a permit to drive? If your license is suspended, you may be able to file a petition for an occupational drivers license (ODL). An ODL allows you to drive for a limited period of time each day for limited purposes, such as going to and from work or school, or to perform essential household duties.
What is a probated sentence? It means you have been sentenced to serve a period of time in jail or prison, but instead of serving the sentence, you are placed on probation (community supervision) for a period of time. As long as you do everything required of you while on probation, you will never have to serve your sentence. If you mess up with any requirement of probation, you could be required to serve all or part of the jail or prison sentence.
What’s the difference between probation and community supervision? Nothing. Several years ago the name changed from probation to community supervision. Some people still call it probation, some call it community supervision, I call it prison without walls.
What is a Grand Jury? When a person is accused of a felony, the prosecutor will present the case to a grand jury, which consists of 12 members randomly selected. At least 9 members must believe probable cause exists to accuse the person of the crime, and if they do find probable cause, the foreperson signs the indictment. Probable cause is a very low standard of proof. Grand Jury procedures vary from County to County, but there are usually a significant number of cases presented to a grand jury in a very short period of time – more like a rubber-stamp than an investigative body. Grand Jury deliberations are secret.
What is an indictment? An indictment is the formal pleading handed down by a Grand Jury accusing the person of a felony offense. It is not evidence of guilt. If your felony case is tried to a jury, the jury will be instructed that a grand jury indictment is the means whereby a defendant is brought to trial in a felony prosecution. The judge will also instruct the jury that an indictment is not evidence of guilt, and cannot be considered by them in passing upon the question of guilt.
What is an arraignment setting? The purpose of the arraignment setting is to establish that you are the person named in the charging instrument, and entering a Not Guilty plea. Formal arraignment is often waived.
If I waive arraignment, am I still required to appear for that setting? Procedures vary by County. In Ellis County, you are still required to appear.