What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
So in Texas we have two broad categories of crime. We have felonies and we have misdemeanors. Generally speaking felonies are considered more serious than misdemeanors. Felonies come in a few different levels from state jail felony all the way up to capital, whereas misdemeanors go from a Class A to a Class C.
The Different Classes of Misdemeanors and Felonies
Misdemeanors come in three different varieties: Class A, Class B, and a Class C. It’s worth noting that Class C is usually a traffic violation. So something like speeding or running a stop sign that is punishable by fine only. A Class-A misdemeanor is punishable by a maximum up to a year in the county jail. Compare this with felonies. Felonies go from a state jail felony all the way up to a capital felony. Felonies can obviously land you in prison for the rest of your life if convicted.
What are some examples of misdemeanor and felony crimes?
common examples of misdemeanors in Texas are going to be things like shoplifting, possession of marijuana, DWI 1st offense. Compare that with felony situations, again these are crimes that are more serious in nature. Times where people were hurt physically or financially.
What if I have prior convictions?
Texas law certainly allows for the enhancement of punishment ranges for certain repeat and habitual offenders. What this means is if you have been previously convicted of a crime, this can be used against you in any subsequent criminal proceedings to enhance your punishment range. So by way of example a DWI 1st — traditionally a Class B misdemeanor — is subject up to 180 days in jail. However, a DWI third offense can be treated as a third degree felony punishable up to 10 years in prison.
What Happens If Miss Court?
Missing court is one of the worst things you can do in your case. It’s not like missing a dentist’s appointment that you can simply reschedule. If the judge calls your name in the morning and you’re not there — two things are going to happen. The first thing is that you’re going to get a warrant for failing to appear in the original case. The second thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to become subject to an additional charge under the Texas Penal Code for bail forfeiture and failure to appear. So unfortunately, if you missed court you have now compounded your problems.
What are the punishments for missing my court date?
You’ll pick up a warrant in your original case- if that case was a misdemeanor, you’ll pick up an additional misdemeanor charge and if the case that you missed is a felony, you’ll pick up an additional felony charge.
What should I do if I miss my court hearing?
So if you miss court, that warrant is gonna be what’s called a “Bench Warrant,” and it allows any law-enforcement officer to pick you up during a traffic violation, pick you up at home, pick you up at work. So if you have a bench warrant issued on your behalf what you should do is immediately contact an attorney. We can go to the judge on your behalf, try to explain the circumstances surrounding your failure to appear in court, try to get the bail reinstated, try to get another bond set, try to do anything to keep you out of having to actually go to jail.
What is the best way to not miss my court date?
So the easiest way to not miss court — get an attorney involved early. That way they receive notices as well about your initial court date. We have a system in place where we text all our clients prior to their first court date. That way everybody is on the same page; that way nobody misses court and nobody gets warrants issued against them.
What Should I be Doing Immediately After an Arrest?
The most important decision you could make after being arrested is seeking a professional and highly skilled criminal defense attorney, and quickly. When hiring an attorney you want someone who is responsive and in a timely manner. When it comes to a criminal case time is of the essence and there are things that can be done immediately to help your case be more successful in the future. What you want is an attorney who can meet with you right away. The right criminal defense attorney should be able to meet with you within 24 hours. Keep in mind, when dealing with an attorney who returns phone calls promptly and addresses all matters of the case promptly, are more likely to give that same attention and dedication when handling your case.
Can The Police Lie To Me?
So people are sometimes surprised to learn that the Police can absolutely lie to you. During a detention, during an arrest, or just doing a normal conversation. The courts have said that police are allowed to be deceptive as they put it. Some common examples of times that we see Police officers acting deceptively would be when they tell you things like a witness has already told us everything so go ahead and tell us your side of the story. We hear them lie about evidence all the time, look at your fingerprints or DNA have already been found or look, I already know you’ve been drinking; go ahead and tell us your side of the story. Another common way we see police officers lie is about their future actions. So we hear things like tell me your side of the story and I’ll talk to the DA or to the judge and make sure you don’t get in any trouble. The truth is police officers are allowed to build rapport with you, build trust, lie to you, get a statement out of you and then use that statement against you in court.
Do I have to talk to the Police?
So you’re certainly under no legal obligation to speak with the Police. The biggest mistake we’ve seen over time is people of the mindset of I can talk my way out of this when usually the opposite is true. Generally people give little pieces of information or facts that end up getting themselves arrested and eventually prosecuted. As a US citizen, we all have fundamental rights. We have the right to remain free from unreasonable searches and seizures; we have the right to freedom of speech; and we certainly have the right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to remain silent when being questioned by Police or other government officials.
I don’t have an attorney, should I talk to the Police?
So we know the Police can lie to you, combined with the idea that generally you’re under no legal obligation whatsoever to be speaking with the Police in the first place, is how we get to that classic criminal defense attorney advice which is don’t speak to the Police without your attorney present. Your best bet is to politely, but firmly, let the officers know you’re not interested in answering questions right now. Now, when you do this, you’re gonna want to do so unequivocally, you’re going to want to be very clear. None of this wishy-washy, I don’t know if I should say something; should I or should I not officer, just nodding or shaking your head. Tell them very upfront and very clearly, look I’m not comfortable, I’m not answering any questions until I consult with my attorney. Now people always worry — isn’t that going to make me look guilty, when in fact that could not be further from the truth. It’s going to make you look smart and it’s going to make you look like you’re taking the situation seriously.
What do I do if I am being questioned?
So if you’re about to be questioned by the Police, or you’re getting phone calls from a detective asking you to come in and make a statement, don’t do so until you have called us. We can help you through that kind of situation. We helped a lot of other people. That way, you don’t get yourself in unnecessary trouble.
What Should I Expect on My First Day In Court?
What should I expect on my first day in court?
So people that don’t have a lot of experience in the criminal justice system often wonder what’s going to happen on my first court date. Now your first court date is generally called your arraignment and it’s the first time the court has asked you to come to court and to address the criminal allegations against you. While most cases aren’t and certainly shouldn’t be resolved in one court setting, it’s still an incredibly important part of your case.
What is the court process like?
Traffic, parking, and security all make getting to court take longer than expected. If you’ve ever been to the County Courthouse, you’ll see these long lines in the morning, of people trying to get through security to get to their courtroom. Now what happens is eventually the judge will come out and he’ll call all the names on the docket for that morning. We’re gonna stand up with you, we’re gonna let the judge know that we’re there; we’re your attorneys and that we’re working on your case. Now judges don’t like if you’re late and will not hesitate to issue a warrant if you fail to appear.
Now security won’t even let you in the courtroom if you’re not appropriately dressed. So this means no flip-flops, no shorts, no tank tops and no hats. Our advice to the client is dress for court like you were dressing to go to church.
What will an attorney do on my first court hearing?
So hopefully by this point you have consulted working with a criminal defense attorney who’s been working to prepare your defense. Look, the DA’s office has been working on your case and working on getting conviction from the time you were arrested. At your arraignment, your attorney should be on time, prepared, answer all your questions and get you through that first court setting as quickly and painlessly as possible.
What should I do if I don’t trust my attorney?
So we’re certainly aware of the stress and the uneasiness that’s associated with having to make an appearance in court. If you find yourself in this situation, if you find yourself needing an experienced criminal defense team, feel free to reach out to us. We are here to help.
Parking at the Bexar County Courthouse can be difficult, the Main Garage fills up fast and many people have to park on the streets and lots around the courthouse, arrive early and expect to have to pay with cash or a credit card. Also note that entry into the courthouse can take awhile as their are long lines of people waiting to go through security.
Bexar County Courthouse
Address: 100 Dolorosa, San Antonio, TX 78205
Main Phone: (210) 335-2011
Criminal Courts Homepage
Felony District Courts
This is where you can find the name of your Judge, the Court Location and Phone Number if you have a felony case.
Misdemeanor County Courts at Law
This is where you can find the name of your Judge, the Court Location and Phone Number if you have a misdemeanor charge.
Case Search and Defendant Information
This is a great resource to find information about your case, search by Name, Case Number or SID
Online Court Dockets
Updated Often with the daily court docket.
Find persons arrested in the past 24 hours
Helpful Criminal Law Videos on our YouTube page