I am a new addition of the criminal defense team of the firm. The one question I hear from clients over and over again is “How can the police even charge me with that?” My general response is the simplest explanation; in Texas the police can charge you with almost anything just depending on the circumstances of the case. Being charged with a crime does not make you guilty, it generally means it is time to find, consult and retain an attorney.
The second most common question asked is “How long will it take to get my case resolved?” I veer away from attempting to answer these times of questions. I give the explanation “This is a question for you to ask your attorney, because the answer requires a legal opinion. I am not an attorney therefore, I do not have a legal opinion to express to you.” In a general, roundabout way of speaking I do explain that once after someone is arrested and charged for a crime, the process can be painfully slow.
In Texas, a misdemeanor is a charge that carries a punishable sentence of confinement, of no more than one year in jail. Obviously, felony charges are the more serious and those carry a punishable sentence with the possibility of more than just one year. In the majority of common cases there are only three different plea answer options: guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere (no contest).
A guilty plea does not mean you are admitting that yes, you did it. You absolutely did whatever you were charged with. Just a not guilty plea does not make you absolutely innocent. A not guilty plea means that you as the defendant, are going to make the state prove its case against you. Nolo contendere is Latin for no contest. This plea is different because you are not saying that you did it and you are not saying, you did not do it. All this plea means in court is that you are not going to fight it. However, the judge will treat a nolo contendere plea the same as a guilty plea. If you are wondering why people choose to still plead nolo contendere if it means the same as guilty? This is a perfect example of why you need an attorney. If you are charged with a criminal case that can potentially lead to a civil suit against you, your nolo contendere plea cannot be used against you. Now if you plead guilty or you are found guilty by a jury or a judge, that plea can be used against you in a separate civil suit. I cannot recommend enough make sure you find a criminal lawyer Arlington, Texas trusts that you are comfortable talking to because you will have to work together in order to resolve your case. Lastly please be aware of the effects and ramifications of accepting and rejecting plea offer agreements.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Brandy Austin Law Firm for their insight into criminal law.