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What Happens After an Arrest in Texas?

An arrest in Texas is made on suspicion of criminal wrongdoing.  It does not prove that anybody did anything wrong.  To get from an arrest to a conviction, several steps must first take place.  An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney often helps an arrested person navigate these steps, protecting their legal rights and seeking the best possible outcome on the person’s behalf.

The arrest itself must be based on “probable cause” that the person has committed a crime.  After the arrest, the police take the accused to the County jail to be “booked” into the jail.  This process can take hours depending on the jail.   The police then must write a report of the arrest (probable cause affidavit) and swear to the truth of its contents, and then submit it to a magistrate for approval of the arrest and the judge will then also set the bond.  In Texas the police officer and magistrate have 24 hours to magistrate the accused on a misdemeanor and 48 hours to magistrate on a felony.  The accused cannot be magistrate until the arrest report has been received by the magistrate.

If the magistrate fails to timely give magistration to the accused he must be released.

To speed up the jail release process, some jurisdictions (like Austin, Texas) allow an attorney to waive the magistration of their client. This is due to the reality that an attorney can just as easily inform their client of their rights as a magistrate can. This allows the accused a chance to be released more rapidly.  Only an attorney can waive magistration, a bondsman cannot!

Once the PC Affidavit is approved the police then provide all reports and evidence to the prosecuting attorney.  The prosecuting attorney examines the evidence and then decides whether or not criminal charges will be filed and what charges are appropriate.  If the prosecuting attorney thinks charges are appropriate, he or she then files those charges with the court in a document known as a “Complaint.”

After the complaint is filed, the arrested person – now addressed as the “defendant” – has what is called an “arraignment” or “first appearance” with the court.  At this meeting, the judge informs the defendant of the charges levied against him or her and of certain constitutional rights.  The judge may also set bail, based on his or her evaluation of the defendant’s risk of flight and risk of potential danger to the community.  Bail amounts range from zero, known as being released “on one’s own recognizance,” to millions of dollars.  In very rare and limited instances, a judge will deny bail altogether, requiring the defendant to stay in police custody.

Among an arrested person’s rights is the right to consult with an attorney, including the right to have an attorney present while being questioned and during all court hearings.  The defense attorneys at Peek & Toland, LLP ensure that the police and prosecutors honor the defendant’s constitutional rights at all stages of the process. To learn more about how we can help you, call (512) 474-4445 for a no-cost consultation.

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