Trials in Houston, Houston Criminal Cases > FAQ | Houston Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Carl D. Haggard’s trial abilities are unmatched by many Houston criminal defense attorneys as proven by his record of “Not Guilty” trial verdicts over the course of his career.
No. Contrary to what most people think, many attorneys go their entire careers without actually going to trial or trial to verdict. Many others haven’t tried a case in years or actually go to trial very infrequently.
Mr. Haggard tried his first civil jury case in 1973 right out of law school, on a referral from another attorney, and since then has had many hundreds of criminal and civil trials and hearings in his career as a District Court Chief Prosecutor and Misdemeanor Court Chief Prosecutor, as well as during his tenure as civil trial attorney in the areas of personal injury, oil and gas litigation, product liability, Deceptive Trade Practices Act cases, and many others.
The most desirable outcome is a Dismissal, and Mr. Haggard will always try to obtain a Dismissal before and even after setting a case for trial: There is no risk in a Dismissal and quite a bit of risk in trial. But if he is unable to obtain the coveted dismissal, and you are unwilling to plead, then you need a trial attorney. If you hired an attorney who is not a trial lawyer to begin with, you will either have to change attorneys in the middle of the case or use an inexperienced attorney who may have poor trial skills.
Those lawyers with reputations as plea-bargain attorneys do not obtain the most dismissals: The most successful trial attorneys usually obtain dismissals by virtue of their reputation for winning trials.
If you are going to contest your case, you need a successful trial lawyer who has won many “Not Guilty” verdicts. Any good trial lawyer you consult with should be able to cite you to many jury trial wins.
- A former Chief Prosecutor was first trained, mentored and vetted for trials by other seasoned Chief Prosecutors – who are the cream of the crop hired by the State to win trials;
- A former Chief Prosecutor has evaluated cases from both sides of the law and thus knows why juries find people “Not Guilty”
- A former Chief Prosecutor was responsible for training other Assistant District Attorneys and thus knows how to expose weaknesses in the State’s case. Houston Criminal Trial Attorney Carl D. Haggard is a former District Court Chief Prosecutor and Misdemeanor Court Chief Prosecutor whose years of prosecution experience, combined with his natural skill in legal argumentation, now make him ideally suited to defending clients in trial.
His record speaks for itself.
A few examples:
Drexel P. Case No. 933323
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, witnesses, and expert witness. 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 & proceeded to a skillful handling of the entire trial, especially his cross-examination of police and prosecution witnesses, capped by a compelling final argument.
“You made me a believer in your slogan ‘I’ll Fight For You’. Most attorneys tell you what they will do for you. Mr. Haggard, you showed my family & me what you could do. There’s only one true word to describe you, Mr.Haggard. That word is “Awesome”!!!
[See Results - Drugs]
Bobbie D. Case No. 923492
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT DEADLY WEAPON
DISMISSED DURING TRIAL ON CROSS-EXAMINATION
Our client suspected her husband of having an affair with another woman, whom our client was accused of assaulting with a gun. Our client was incarcerated without the ability to make a bond, as her family chose to spend their available resources on her defense, hiring a successful trial attorney. Mr. Haggard won a dismissal of the case during his brilliant cross-examination in the middle of trial when the Prosecutor threw in the towel and moved for immediate dismissal.
“I am very satisfied with the quality of workmanship of Carl Haggard. I was being locked away from my family on false charges. But I thank my attorney Carl Haggard so much on his professionalism on cross-examination. I would use him again. I thank God for you, Mr. Haggard!”
Client’s Husband: “As the case began, it was dismissed due to Mr. Haggard’s cross- examination!”
[See Results - Assault]
Pamela B. Case No. 857865
AGGRAVATED ASSAULT ON A PUBLIC SERVANT
JURY TRIAL VERDICT: NOT GUILTY OF FELONY AGGRAVATED ASSAULT; REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR DEADLY CONDUCT AND 1 YEAR PROBATION
Our client was a Licensed Security Officer who, while under the influence of an illegal substance, brandished her service revolver during a police confrontation. Prosecutors pushed the jury for a felony conviction with a severe sentence.
Client’s Testimonial: “My husband is a Law Enforcement Officer and I was a Licensed Security Officer and he’s the best attorney trying cases we’ve ever seen. I am very pleased about the great job Mr. Haggard has done and his devotion and dedication. He’s a great trial lawyer. We call Mr. Haggard “The Hammer”.
[See Results - Assault]
Matthew M. Case No. 9825271
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/expert to impeach the testimony of the arresting officer.
“Mr. Haggard was more nervous than I was during the final deliberation, because he cared.”
Client’s Mother: “Dear Mr. Haggard and Staff: We would like to sincerely thank you for the great outcome of Matt’s case. It was such an unpleasant situation, but the final result made the insult, inconvenience and expense pale in comparison. Mr. Haggard, you are such a good attorney! We have such admiration and respect for your professionalism and skill (what great cross-examination!!) You are so thorough & tenacious, and as we remember watching you FIGHT for Matt, it is apparent why you have the successful record you have.”
[See Results - Sex / Child / Elderly / Disabled]
“Not Guilty” verdicts.
Intelligence and good grades in law school are certainly one indicator of potential success as a trial lawyer: Attorney Carl Haggard was an Honors cum laude graduate from law school.
The ability to think on one’s feet and argue persuasively is important as well: Carl Haggard won many awards in college and law school for his outstanding debate skills.
However, unless a lawyer actually wins trials (on a regular basis), he either doesn’t have what it takes, or he’s learning on you.
Few trial skills are taught in law school. Many aspects of trying a case are only learned through experience, such as how to successfully parry prosecutorial blows which come out of left field in the middle of trial, or which juror is right for a particular case and which juror is wrong and should therefore be excluded.
No. Mr. Haggard will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case, and the effect of a conviction. But the decision of whether or not to go to trial should be the client’s. Mr. Haggard will advise, but will not make this decision. An attorney who tells you, “Your case will not go to trial” has made that decision for you.
If your case does not go to trial, it will be either because:
A. You elected to accept a plea bargain
B. Mr. Haggard was able to get your case dismissed prior to or on the eve of trial.
It will not be because Mr. Haggard is too busy for trial, intimidated by the prosecution, or talked you out of it.
Although it is true that many court procedures and facets of the criminal justice system are geared toward intimidating you into accepting a plea bargain agreement, a good trial attorney will not be intimidated.
If you have hired Mr. Haggard to contest your case, he will establish early on his stance that your case will not be quickly disposed of – which is the aim of the system – and that you will not be accepting any offers.
This is one of the most crucial of many important trial strategies. You have a Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Whether or not you should is a decision your attorney will make. If you testify, the prosecutors will be allowed to tell the jury about your prior record, if any. This is only one of several considerations which will influence Mr. Haggard’s decision. One thing is certain: he will not put you on the stand unless you are thoroughly prepared to testify.
Listen closely to all testimony and take notes of things you want to discuss with Mr. Haggard during breaks. But do not distract Mr. Haggard during witness testimony as this may cause him to miss something important that requires an objection or a question on cross-examination.
A prior conviction does not automatically mean the State will be able to convict you of an enhanced offense. There are a variety of ways, depending on your individual facts, potentially to prevent the State from either using or proving your prior convictions and Mr. Haggard will investigate these possibilities prior to the trial.
Probably not. Most cases set for trial are reset at the first trial setting. But you and your witnesses will need to be present and prepared as well as your attorney who, if competent, will not hope or count on the case’s being reset in order to have time to prepare later.
Mr. Haggard never bluffs and certainly never counts on a trial reset, even though trial resets are quite common. He is prepared with an immaculate trial notebook and entirely ready to try your case at the first trial setting should your case be reached.
If you are the Defendant, yes. A trial could be reset several times before it is actually tried. Be prepared for this and for the many mornings taken off from work.
Mr. Haggard will swear in your witnesses on the first trial setting, if possible, so that they can be “on call” and thus will not have to return to court on subsequent trial settings until the day they are actually needed to testify. This is just one more example of our efforts at treating our clients and their witnesses with courtesy and respect.
Most of our jury trials last from two to five days.
Yes. Besides the more-commonly-known jury trial, composed of a jury of six of your peers in a misdemeanor and twelve in a felony, there is also the bench trial.
In the bench trial, the judge performs the fact-finding function of the jury.
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Carl D. Haggard will advise you when a bench trial, as opposed to a jury trial, is in your best interest. Some instances of this are when there are technical legal issues a jury might not understand or when Mr. Haggard fears that a jury might be not be objective or prejudicial in judging the evidence, especially when the subject matter of the crime is highly inflammatory.
See below for one example of a case in which Mr. Haggard decided to have a bench trial rather than a jury trial:
Zephia R. Case No. [Expunged by Mr. Haggard]
INSTRUCTED VERDICT OF NOT GUILTY
A jury trial was waived and trial was to the Judge because Mr. Haggard noted that the D.A.’s charging instrument was faulty. An Instructed Verdict of “Not Guilty” was entered when Mr. Haggard pointed out the faulty charging instrument to the Judge.
Client’s Testimonial: “I was falsely charged with prostitution by undercover “Vice Officers”… Mr. Haggard calmed our fears by teaching us court etiquette & procedure as well as prosecution and defense manner of questioning. After the Judge had heard the prosecution side only, Mr. Haggard got the charges dismissed due to his attention to detail & knowledge of the law.”
[See Results – Sex / Child / Elderly / Disabled]
Briefly, an attorney can move for an Instructed Verdict of “Not Guilty” by the judge, if the prosecution failed to present evidence or enough evidence, without submitting the case to a jury for deliberation.
The simplest summation is:
- Voir dire, or jury selection
- Opening remarks
- State’s case-in-chief
- Defense’s case-in-chief
- Closing arguments
Between voir dire and closing arguments comes strategy and execution in:
- Presentation of witness testimony
- Documentary evidence
- Demonstrative evidence
- Cross-examination of prosecution witnesses…
The list could go on but suffice it to say that to entrust the trial of your case to a non-trial specialist or an inexperienced attorney is to risk your freedom and your future.
The jury selection process is a major part of any trial. It is actually a “de-selection” or elimination process. Mr. Haggard considers many factors in determining whether to remove a juror, such as pre-existing bias and other human factors. A good trial attorney needs an excellent understanding of human nature and this is where there is no substitute for experience.
Mr. Haggard has had trials in which the jury deliberated only a few minutes and those in which they have taken much longer. Juries can deliberate for weeks. In general the longer deliberations are due to a significant conflict among the jurors in the finding of guilt or innocence.
Yes. A jury can find a defendant guilty of all, some or none of the crimes with which he has been charged or even, in some cases, guilty of a lesser crime than that charged in the indictment.
If you are found “guilty” there will be a separate hearing on what the proper sentence should be. The judge or the jury will assess the punishment if you are found guilty. Whether to have the judge or jury assess punishment is another very important strategy in any trial.
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Carl D. Haggard has been trying cases since 1973, has an excellent rapport and working relationship with all the judges and has the broad trial experience in all kinds of criminal charges to make the right decision as to who should assess punishment – the judge or the jury – in the event of a conviction. A mistake in this strategy can be fatal and is one more reason why an experienced trial attorney is crucial to your freedom.
You may also have the right to an appeal if there was procedural or legal error such as inadmissible evidence or jury misconduct.
If you are found “not guilty” you walk out of the courtroom a free citizen and return to your family knowing that the verdict can never be overturned.
You have the right to an expunction of the charge from your record.
If you got justice, it didn’t just happen. Thank your good trial lawyer.
Yes. As above, you can have a trial on a plea of guilty to a jury or to a judge. That is, the subject of the entire trial in this event is not the guilt or innocence of the defendant but his punishment.
Mr. Haggard has the experience to know when it is in his clients’ best interest to plead guilty to a judge or to a jury, as opposed to plea bargaining with prosecutors.
A persuasive attorney, who understands both jurors and judges, skilled in putting on witnesses and painting a favorable portrait of his client, Mr. Haggard will often obtain better results in this type of trial than he would by directly bargaining with prosecutors. See below for an example of a case in which Mr. Haggard advised a plea of guilty to a jury.
Mikka T. Case No. 819301
JURY TRIAL VERDICT ON PLEA OF GUILTY TO JURY: 10 YEARS PROBATION
Our client admitted to committing the offense. In an unusual legal maneuver, Mr. Haggard recommended a Jury Trial to determine the sentencing due to the D.A.’s severe recommendation on punishment and the probability that the Judge would not grant probation due to the facts of the case. Client’s Testimonial: “The best decision I made was choosing Mr. Haggard. He gave me all the alternatives on how my case could be handled. Based on his advice, I went for the jury trial on a guilty plea. I didn’t believe the Judge would have given me deferred adjudication. Mr. Haggard did a great job in front of the jury and I got my second chance.”
[See Results - Theft / Burglary / Auto / Property]
~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.~
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