How Houston, Houston Criminal Cases Are Defended > FAQ | Houston Criminal Defense Lawyers at The Haggard Law Firm
Unfortunately we are not able to accept the cases of all those who ask for and need our help. Some Houston criminal defense attorneys overload themselves with so many cases at reduced rates that they compromise their ability to help individual clients. The Houston criminal lawyers at The Haggard Law Firm have a case cap and can only accept a limited number of cases; this ensures focused, quality representation.
There is no set time length as every case, county and court is different. While some uncontested misdemeanors can be concluded by the first court setting, the typical range for a case that is pleaded is several weeks to fourt to six months, with Felony cases generally taking longer to conclude than Misdemeanor cases. A case that is contested will generally take longer to conclude. Cases that go to trial can take up to a year, often much longer, to the conclusion of the trial.
If Mr. Haggard accepts your case and you retain him, initially he will:
- Enter an appearance in court which will allow him to review the State’s file and evidence
- Note what areas require additional investigation
- Research the law applicable to your case
- Develop strategies to use the law and the facts to defensively shield you
- Determine how best to hold the State to its burden of proof
Your case will advance through several defined settings in court. The major divisions in any case are “Pre-Trial” and “Trial”. The majority of cases are concluded in the Pre-Trial stage which includes but is not limited to:
- Arraignment settings
- “Non-Trial” or “Non-Issue” settings (initial appearances)
- “Disposition” settings (at which a decision must be made to plead guilty or go to trial)
- Motions settings
- Pre-Trial Conference settings
- Hearings and Trials
Every case is different and not all cases include all possible pre-trial settings; the names of these setting types vary by county.
In the Pre-Trial stage of your case, investigation includes but is not limited to:
- Exploring factual and legal defenses
- Reviewing the case for defects
- Pre-Trial litigation such as suppression of evidence and the compelling of discovery, where applicable
- Negotiations for a reduction in charges
- Obtaining a dismissal
- Safeguarding constitutional rights
- Retaining the appropriate expert witness for Trial
- Preparing you and your witnesses for Trial
At each important development of your case, Mr. Haggard and his staff will discuss with you how your case is developing, what needs to be done, your options, and the benefits and risks of each. Ultimately it is your decision as to what direction to take in your case, although Mr. Haggard will advise you according to your priorities and goals.
To do this he would have to lie to the District Attorneys by saying that he is the retained attorney of record on the case. Many DA’s will ask if an attorney is the attorney of record before making their file available to a defense attorney. If an attorney says yes, it should be true. Mr. Haggard has a sterling reputation and will not compromise it. Attorneys who do this are unprofessional and won’t be treated professionally by the prosecutors when found out. When prosecutors learn that a certain attorney looks at State files without having been hired, they will “close files” on that attorney, meaning that police reports will no longer be routinely made available to that attorney.
Be careful. If an attorney lies to the prosecutor, they will lie to you. [Human Nature - Psych 101] You need an attorney with a good reputation. Your reputation in court is only as good as your attorney’s.
The usual and customary time for this is at an attorney’s first court appearance. Arrangements are sometimes made for Mr. Haggard to review the State’s file prior to that first appearance but in no event before he has been retained on the case.
Mr. Haggard personally handles all his cases. As a trial attorney, Mr. Haggard may need to send an associate to assist with routine matters when he is in another trial or hearing. In these instances he will still guide and direct everything that is happening on the case.
No. The police report is a privileged and confidential State document. The prosecutors will allow your attorney to read it and make notes from it, but neither they nor you are allowed to have a copy of it.
There is a public information report, however, on every case, available directly from the arresting police department, that contains minimal information. This anyone may obtain by going to the arresting police department.
There are some exceptions where confidential police reports can be obtained through ancillary hearings; you should speak with a qualified attorney regarding this.
Possibly. Mr. Haggard does work with several highly-respected investigative agencies to devise a plan of investigation consistent both with the needs of each case that requires an investigator and with the financial resources of the client.
Good investigators, when needed, can sometimes make or break a case.
Our investigators have police backgrounds and experience in actual investigations and police communications and motives which specially qualifies them to understand the procedures used in criminal investigations.
They have experience with crime scenes and the collection and preservation of evidence and evidence chain of custody which can help us spot hidden defenses in your case.
This working knowledge can spell the difference between freedom and incarceration.
Matthew M. Case No. 9825271 – INDECENT EXPOSURE
JURY TRIAL VERDICT: NOT GUILTY
Our client was accused of indecently exposing himself to an off-duty HPD robbery detective. Mr. Haggard utilized the services of his experienced investigator to impeach the testimony of the arresting officer.
[See Results - Sex, Child, Elderly, Disabled]
In some of our cases that do require investigative work, we are able to help our clients save money on fees by advising them how to handle some of the more routine matters themselves, when this is appropriate and will not jeopardize their case. For example, clients can often obtain their own medical records, telephone records, etc., in preparation for their defense.
Mr. Haggard also encourages clients to immediately obtain witness statements from their own cooperating witnesses while the facts are fresh in the witnesses’ minds. A delay caused by waiting for a professional investigator could result in their forgetting important details. Some witnesses, however, should only be statementized by a professional investigator. The circumstances in which this would be required are varied; Mr. Haggard will advise.
An expert witness is anyone retained to testify at trial on a topic of importance to the case in which they have special expertise.
Common types of expert witnesses are forensic toxicologists, forensic psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, CPA’s, physicists, engineers, accident reconstructionists, etc. There are as many types of expert witnesses as there are subjects of knowledge and persons expert in them.
For example, at the time of this writing we are working on a case in which our client is accused of causing substantial damage to a vehicle he test-drove. We are planning to use a tire expert to testify at the trial of this felony case that the way our client drove the vehicle in no way could have caused the damage the complainant alleged was done to the tires (and other components) of the vehicle.
A good expert witness can make the difference in winning or losing in some trials. An expert witness can state opinions and draw conclusions on crucial matters about which witnesses are only allowed to make ordinary observations. Obviously, favorable expert testimony will have a greater impact on a jury.
Drexel P. Case No. 033323 – PCS WITH INTENT TO DELIVER – 300 GRAMS COCAINE AND CRACK COCAINE
JURY TRIAL VERDICT: NOT GUILTY
Our client was accused of possession of a mobile crack lab and 300 grams of cocaine and crack cocaine in the trunk of a parked car, not his, but to which he had the keys and in which were found his personal belongings – briefcase, etc. Our client had a prior drug record. After careful preparation by Mr. Haggard, he testified along with his family and witnesses. Mr. Haggard advised the use of a CPA expert witness, whose testimony regarding the source of our client’s substantial assets helped convince the jury of his innocence in drug trafficking. The police made several errors in the handling of the case, which Mr. Haggard exploited at trial. Mr. Haggard used his years of trial experience to pick a good jury for this case and proceeded to a skillful handling of the entire trial, especially his cross-examination of police and prosecution witnesses, capped by a compelling final argument.
[See Results – Drugs]
Possibly. Mr. Haggard works with expert witnesses in various fields both in consultation and in trial and will advise when he feels retaining the services of an expert is appropriate.
Mr. Haggard’s broad background in both criminal and civil litigation for nationwide oil companies, personal injury, family law, etc. helps him to decide whether and what type of expert or investigator you need. Mr. Haggard will advise the client when an expert is appropriate, but it is the client’s decision given that it is the client’s financial responsibility.
Mr. Haggard will not make preliminary contacts with any investigator or expert witness on your behalf without securing your prior approval and will not employ one without obtaining your expense deposit. In this way you control all expenses and are not hit with a large expense bill during the course of developing your case.
Occasionally, The Haggard Law Firm can secure invaluable expert witness testimony pro bono. For instance, in a recent case involving the accidental death of an infant by drowning in a bathtub, Mr. Haggard pointed out to Baylor’s David Eagleman, PhD., arguably the world’s foremost research scientist and expert in the perception of time, that this case would spotlight his recent research. He agreed to provide expert testimony free of charge in exchange for the publicity, a savings of thousands of dollars to the client. [The defense centered on the thesis that under certain circumstances the perception of time is drastically altered.] While a pro bono expert witness task force cannot always be secured, The Haggard Law Firm uses its contacts in the media and academia to our clients’ advantage whenever possible.
No. We do not use them in many of our cases. This will be discussed with you on an individual basis.
The Grand Jury is only convened for indictments in felony charges.
The original conception of the Grand Jury is that of an impartial review of the evidence against a citizen accused of a crime by fellow citizens to assist the cause of justice by impeding unfair prosecutions.
Currently, the review of the evidence is not always impartial, as the Grand Jury will often see only the evidence presented by the prosecutor and in a manner best-calculated to obtain the desired indictment. Time constraints also further impede Grand Jury panels from thorough investigation and impartial analysis. As a practical matter, most cases are routine and a Grand Jury does not need to spend any significant time to conclude that there was probable cause.
In general the Grand Jury functions as a “rubber-stamp” for the District Attorney’s office although occasionally exceptions are made in which some cases do receive a closer review.
Mr. Haggard has a good working relationship with the prosecutors such that appropriate cases of his may be flagged for a more formal review by a Grand Jury.
Probably not. You as the accused have no legal right to present evidence, to testify, or even attend a Grand Jury Hearing. If you do attend you have no legal right to legal counsel at the hearing in the Grand Jury room yet you will be placed under oath and questioned by the prosecutor on any subject deemed pertinent to the case. Mr. Haggard does not always agree to submit our clients to such risks. You also cannot be compelled to testify before the Grand Jury.
Given the foregoing, Mr. Haggard has used the Grand Jury process judiciously in some cases to obtain what is called a “No Bill of Indictment” or No-Bill. In these few well-chosen cases, Mr. Haggard will also prepare information for the prosecution in the form of a brief or other documentation from our file where it will be helpful. Mr. Haggard then meticulously prepares our clients to testify before the Grand Jury.
Ejaeta T. Case No. 1067182
INJURY TO CHILD – GRAND JURY NO-BILL
Our client was babysitting a boy having trouble walking; at the ER he was found to have a spiral fracture of the thigh and our client was accused. Although doctors and the prosecutors did not believe our client, the evidence did not add up, which Mr. Haggard skillfully proved. Further, Mr. Haggard obtained medical testimony supporting the probability that the injury was older than claimed. Mr. Haggard also made the right call in allowing our client to testify before the Grand Jury. Finally, Mr. Haggard used his experience to carefully prepare our client for Grand Jury testimony.
[See Results - Sex, Child, Elderly, Disabled]
Cesar G. Case No. 1057589
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT DEADLY WEAPON – GRAND JURY NO-BILL
This was a messy case involving self-defense. Our client inflicted several wounds with a knife on Complainant, the husband of a co-worker. The Complainant and his brother had actually assaulted our client first, after falsely accusing him of having had an affair with Complainant’s wife. Using eyewitnesses and co-workers who knew of the background incidents leading up to the fight, which included the Complainant’s stalking of our client, and eyewitnesses to the actual fight, Mr. Haggard was able to prove our client used the knife in self-defense and obtained a Grand Jury No-Bill of Indictment.
“Mr. Haggard gave me the best advice on witnesses and prepared me for the Grand Jury. You saved my life, Mr. Haggard and I’ll be forever grateful.”
~The Haggard Law Firm accepts selected criminal defense cases in Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, Brazoria, Montgomery, Matagorda and surrounding Texas counties. Affordable representation; payment plans arranged in some cases. We represent clients in all Misdemeanor Courts, Felony Courts, Juvenile Court and Federal Court.~
Copyright © 2012 The Haggard Law Firm