While being charged with a criminal offense is stressful, it is important that you understand your legal rights. The single most important thing you should do is not talk to law enforcement prior to retaining a qualified defense attorney. The only information you are obligated to provide police is your identification. If you are questioned you should remain silent except for requesting an attorney. Law enforcement’s task is to collect evidence that will be used against you. Even if you are innocent anything you say may still harm your case.

The police may tempt you to talk by offering leniency. However, they do not have the legal authority to actually provide leniency to your charges. They are attempting to collect evidence from you. Only a prosecutor has the power to make leniency deals. Even if you are threatened, you should remain silent until your attorney is present.

You have the right to an attorney present for any questioning – if you cannot afford one then a court appointed attorney will be assigned to you. It is important that you know that officers or interrogators may not inform you of your rights. Even if you are not read your rights prior to questioning, remain silent and inform your attorney that you were not read your rights.

After being arrested in Houston you should be taken before a magistrate within 24 hours following arrest for a misdemeanor or 48 hours for a felony. Because Texas laws often change, you should consult an attorney immediately.

Finally, even if you are provided a court appointed attorney, you may still hire your own attorney. Your new attorney will take care of the motion to discharge the court appointed attorney from your case.

Your best chances for the most favorable outcome to your charges is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Carl Haggard is an ex-Chief District Prosecutor with a lengthy record of victories for his clients. If you are facing criminal charges in Houston, Harris County, or surrounding areas, call 832-328-0600 or email Carl at The Haggard Law Firm today for a personal free consultation regarding your case.