What types of cases does Law Offices of Tim Powers handle?
We handle all federal and state criminal cases in Texas. In the past few years the lawyers at the firm have defended people charged with:
- Driving while Intoxicated
- Driving under the Influence
- Drug possession
- Drug delivery
- Possession of Marijuana
- Computer Hacking
- Illegal Access
- Intoxication Manslaughter
- Failure to Stop and Give Information
- Failure to Render Aid
- Sexual Assault Child
- Indecency with a Child
- Indecent Exposure
- Public Lewdness
- Bank Fraud
- Wire Fraud
- Criminal Mischief
- Pollution Violation (Water Act)
- Illegal Dumping
- Motion to Revoke Probation
- Fuel Tax Violation
- Soliciting a Minor
- Obtaining Drugs by Fraud
- Tampering with Evidence
- Tampering with a Government Document
- Resisting Arrest
- Evading Arrest
- Theft by Check
- Terroristic Threat
- Burglary of Motor Vehicle
- Deadly Conduct
- Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle
- Weapon Violations (Handgun, Knife, Clubs, Daggers)
- Credit Card Abuse
- Possession of Child Pornography
- Injury to a Child
- Injury to the Elderly
- Violation of a Protective Order
- Welfare Fraud
- Interference with a Public Servant
- Interference with Public Utility
- Intercepting a wire communication
- Disarming a peace (police) officer
- Liquor Violation
- False Report
- Child Endangerment or Abandonment
- Aggravated Assault of a Police Officer
- Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor
- Hindering Apprehension
- Driving With License Suspended
- Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity
- Drug Forfeiture
- Failure to Register as a Sex Offender
- Fictitious ID
- Failure to Identify
- Gambling (Place, Instrument)
- Telephone Harassment
- Theft of Mail
- Capital Murder
- Social Security Fraud
How do I get someone out of jail?
It depends on why the person is in jail in the first place. In most situations, the quickest way to free someone from jail is by bonding him or her out. If a person is charged with a state crime, he can be bonded out by a professional bondsman. A professional bondsman has entered into an agreement with the County of incarceration to guarantee the appearance of the accused at future court dates. The County will release the accused on a bondsman's guaranty. A professional bondsman normally charges 10-20% of the bail amount for his service. You can avoid the bondman's charge by paying the bail in cash. A cash bond may be posted in Denton County at the Denton County Sheriff’s Office bonding window at 127 North Woodrow Lane, Denton, Texas. Be aware, however, that if you post a cash bond, it may take the County Sheriff and subsequently the County or District Clerk several weeks after the case is over to return the money you have paid.
How do I find out if there is a warrant for my arrest?
If you are concerned about a Denton County criminal charge, you can call a professional bondsman and ask him to find out about a possible warrant. Most reputable bondsmen are connected to the Justice Information Management computer at Denton County and will provide this service for free. If you are worried about a warrant outside of Denton County, you must call the Sheriff's Department in that county.
If it is a federal warrant you are monitoring, you would be better off meeting with a good criminal defense lawyer and discussing it with him. For various important reasons, that lawyer will be much more capable than you in finding out that information.
What do I do if there is a warrant out for my arrest?
If bail has already been set in your case, you may post bond without being placed under arrest. Posting a cash bond or posting a bond through a professional bondsman can do this. Plan on spending about four hours to complete this process.
Why do I have a “no bond” in my case?
A "no bond" means that the accused cannot be bonded out of jail until bail is set by the assigned judge in his case. Reasons for receiving a "no bond" include:
- the accused is on probation or on bond for another criminal offense
- the accused is charged with a particularly violent crime
- the accused has previously been sentenced to prison two or more times
Sometimes, the "no bond" designation was made mistakenly. On more than one occasion, the firm has had to rectify these mistakes. If your case is a "no bond", your lawyer needs to request a bail amount from the judge. Unfortunately, this usually means that bail will not be set until the next day or the following Monday (if the arrest occurs on the Weekend). Judges do not normally set a bond until the accused is formally in custody.
How long does it take to get someone out of jail?
Expect a wait of about eighteen hours after arrest. If it takes longer than twenty-four hours you might have cause to become concerned.
Currently, the law states that if a person has been arrested for a misdemeanor and has not been taken before a magistrate for probable cause determination within 24 hours, he is required to be released on a bond not exceeding $5000. For a felony arrest, he must be released on a bond not exceeding $10,000, no later than 48 hours after arrest.
When do I have the right to an attorney?
U.S. Constitutional law provides that a person has the right to counsel at the initiation of criminal proceedings. The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure mandates that a defendant in a criminal matter is entitled to be represented by counsel in an adversarial judicial proceeding. But what is initiation of criminal proceedings? What is an adversarial proceeding? Generally speaking, the right to counsel does not attach before formal charges are filed, irrespective of whether the person is in police custody. Many of our clients have asked us why they were not given a lawyer to talk to the minute they were arrested. The short answer is, because criminal proceedings had not yet taken place.
However, in some circumstances the right to an attorney attaches even before formal charges have been presented. For instance, if during custodial interrogation, the accused asks to speak to an attorney, the interrogation must stop and cannot resume again until the accused has had his consultation. Further, a person who is subjected to a live line up is allowed to have counsel present to assure the relative fairness of the procedure.
Free counsel must be provided to people who can prove they are without funds to pay, i.e. indigent. The decision to appoint counsel is left to the discretion of the presiding judge where the case is assigned. Normally, defendants who are unable to bail out of jail will be appointed an attorney if one is requested. Defendants free on bail will find it much more difficult to convince the Judge that they are indigent, since they obviously had the funds to make bail.
The police want me to talk about a crime they think I committed. Should I comply?
It is rare when a lawyer from the Law Offices of Tim Powers or from any firm would recommend conversing with a police officer about a crime that you are accused of committing. Even if you are innocent, a police investigator may already have a preconceived notion of your guilt prior to any questioning.
Seemingly innocent statements may actually harm you.
Police Officers may tell you the following things:
- that they are trying to help you
- that the District Attorney will appreciate your honesty
- that they think you were justified in your actions, and they just want to verify their suspicions
- that they have sufficient amounts of evidence against you, and that you might as well confess
Unfortunately, some police officers will lie to you to make their case against you. Consult with an attorney prior to making any statement to an accusing police investigator. Let your lawyer discover the officer's motivation. Let your lawyer decide whether a statement will help or hurt your case.
What do I do if I can’t afford to make the bail set in my case?
Bail is not supposed to be used to punish a presumed criminal. Its primary function is to assure that the accused person returns for his court settings. However, the judge may take into consideration the nature of the offense and the future safety of the victim and community when setting bail. This subjective determination sometimes results in absurd bail amounts
If bail is too high for the accused to make, then his lawyer must seek a reduction from the Judge at the first possible opportunity. If the Judge will not agree to a reduction, then the lawyer should be prepared to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, alleging the reasons why his client is being held in violation of the U.S. and Texas constitutions.
Do I need a lawyer for my criminal case?
Even if you are a lawyer, you need a lawyer for your case. If you are accused of a crime, you have a very special problem. The criminal justice system is not a living room filled with friends and relatives where you can admit your faults, hash out a penance, and expect forgiveness. The prosecutor may very well take advantage of your naivete and saddle you with a punishment that you don't deserve. He does not represent you and is not likely to care about your work schedule, child rearing responsibilities, drivers license needs or desire for a clean criminal record. Certainly your claims of innocence will fall on deaf ears if it contradicts what is written in his police report. Only an experienced criminal lawyer can navigate you through the mine fields of the criminal justice system.
How much does it cost to hire a lawyer in a criminal case?
It will depend on the lawyer you hire. One lawyer may charge you $200 and another may charge you $5000 for the very same criminal case. Many times the representation you receive will vary accordingly, but not always. You should be very careful of lawyers who seem to be charging you too little. There may be additional fees for court appearances and other services. Likewise, you should be concerned about any lawyer who charges you a high retainer fee without consideration of what really needs to be accomplished in your case. Criminal cases, like people, are never the same.
The best course of action is to visit several attorneys and spend some time discussing your case. In a face to face meeting you will be able to get a sense of their dedication and concern for your situation. Just a phone call will never reveal this. Plan on spending more for a lawyer who has experience and training and who has an excellent reputation as a trial lawyer. With that type of lawyer, you are likely to get what you pay for. However, you are never going to know whether a lawyer is right for you unless you meet him and see how he responds to your concerns.
How can I clear my record?
Even if your case is dismissed, the only way to completely clear your record from data banks is to sue for an expunction. The law allows you to expunge your criminal record in certain instances. Generally, if your case was dismissed as a result of mistake or lack of probable cause, you have the right to an expunction. Also, if you are found "not guilty" after a trial, you have the right to an expunction. Contrary to what some lawyers are telling their clients, there is no right to expunction after a successfully completed deferred adjudication.
What is the difference between deferred adjudication and probation?
When a judge sentences you to probation, he finds you guilty of the crime charged and suspends your sentence. If you fulfill the requirements of your probation, you will not be sent to prison or jail. When a judge places you on deferred adjudication, he does not find you guilty. He finds that there is sufficient evidence to find you guilty but defers a finding of guilt and places you on community supervision, i.e. probation. If you successfully serve your community supervision, you will never be found guilty of the crime with which you were charged. If you fail at deferred adjudication, the judge can sentence you to any term within the range of punishment for your crime.
The practical benefits of deferred adjudication have been greatly aided in the last few years with the recent amendment of Section 411 of the Government Code, which allows for a Petition for Nondisclosure to be filed in certain instances. (For more information, see the next Question.) Although deferred adjudication, unlike probation, allows you to honestly say that you have never been convicted of a crime, many employers do not care about the distinction. We have had many people call us and complain that deferred adjudication is on their records when their lawyers told them that a deferred plea would keep their record clear. Deferred adjudication is not the same as a dismissal. You may have a criminal record even if you are placed on deferred adjudication. Also, the law does not allow deferred adjudication for some crimes, such as Driving While Intoxicated.
What is a petition for non-disclosure?
Beginning in 2003, certain deferred adjudication records can now be ordered to be made non-public. This is big news! Although not as powerful as an expunction, a Petition for Nondisclosure can serve many of the same functions as an expunction. For instance, potential and current employers, apartment property managers and other nosy info-seekers will not be able to find out about your prior deferred adjudication if the court has ordered that it be nondisclosed. Unlike expunction, however, law enforcement will still have access to your priors. Your fingerprints and police records on your case will remain on file.
There are limitations to this privilege, however. The court doesn't have togrant a Petition for Nondisclosure if it is not properly presented. Also, there is a laundry list of crimes that are not eligible for nondisclosure. (We have included the Nondisclosure law in the website legal links section.) There is also a required waiting period for some crimes before the court can consider the petition; ten years for felonies and five years for misdemeanors. Finally, only completed deferred adjudications are eligible.
What is the purpose of a Grand Jury?
Unless waived by the accused, every felony case must be indicted by a grand jury. A prosecutor presents the evidence in the cases. If the grand jury finds probable cause, an indictment is returned. If probable cause is found lacking, the case is no-billed and dismissed.
Historically, the grand jury’s role was to be a buffer between the accused and improper criminal prosecutions. It was envisioned that a grand jury would consist of ordinary citizens who would make an independent analysis of the evidence. Sadly, this has turned out to rarely be the case.
A grand jury’s decision is limited to the information that is provided by the presenter, in this case the prosecutor. If the prosecutor believes the case should be indicted he can certainly present the case in a way which is likely to get that result. Further, each empaneled grand jury hears hundreds of cases during their term and time does not permit thorough investigation and analysis.
The accused does not have a right to testify before the grand jury, but many prosecutors welcome the testimony. There is no right to counsel in the grand jury room. The accused must be placed under oath and the prosecutor can examine him about any topic he deems relevant. You can see why we at the firm are loath to allow such an examination. Our clients hire us for protection and there is very little we can do to protect them in the grand jury room.
There are rare instances where the prosecution agrees that a particular case requires more that the usual grand jury attention. Often that is because of a sense by the prosecutor that the case is not a strong one, and continued prosecution is not in the best interest of justice. In such a case, we may consider allowing our client to testify. We might even provide the prosecutor information from our file. But let us reiterate that this is rare. Grand jury proceedings have become a rubber stamp procedure as of late and we don't see a change in policy coming in the near future.
What happens in a federal detention hearing?
Essentially, this is a bail hearing. If the US Attorney has moved for detention, then a hearing will be held before a Federal Magistrate to determine whether certain circumstances exist to detain the accused without bond. The Bail Reform Act of 1984 lists several factors that the magistrate must take into account in making that determination.
Except in certain cases, the government has the burden of persuasion and must present evidence in a detention hearing. Usually, this is accomplished by presenting testimony from the FBI case agent or another law enforcement officer with knowledge of the facts of the case. The testimony may be based on hearsay. The attorney for the accused has the right to fully cross examine the government's witness and may present his own witness to rebut the government's claims.
After the hearing, the Magistrate will decide to detain, temporarily detain, or release the accused with certain conditions.
Can shoplifting charges be sealed?
My son as a juvenile was arrested for shoplifting. Will a conviction automatically be sealed at age 18?
No. It will be necessary to apply to the court to have it sealed. If he gets another violation in the meantime, it will likely not be sealed. It is best you contest the shoplifting charge by contacting an attorney. If he is clearly guilty, it helps if the adjudication is withheld so that at later date it may be dismissed upon completion of community service or other conditions ordered by the court.
If the police forget to read my rights when I am arrested, will the case be thrown out?
Maybe and maybe not. The United States and Texas Constitutions as well as Article 38.22 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure limit interrogation by a police officer. Any statement taken in violation of these provisions may result in suppression of the statement as evidence in trial. However, unless your unlawfully obtained statement is the only evidence that law enforcement has against you, your prosecution may go forward.