Relax! We’ve got the answers to your 2020 questions.
Disclaimer: Each and every jurisdiction is different. Every case is different and there is almost never a one size fits all answer.

Court Settings & Dates

P.N.C. stands plea negotiation conference.

The PNC is an opportunity for both the prosecutor and defense attorney to meet about your case. Your attorney will negotiate any offers with the prosecutor at this time, discuss any concerns regarding police reports or videos, in addition to providing the prosecutor with any mitigation on your behalf. Oftentimes, a case will be worked out at a PNC and will then move to a guilty plea. If the case is not worked out at a PNC, then it will move to a pre-trial conference hearing.

If you and your attorney have not been able to come to a plea agreement with the State during the plea negotiation conference stage, the next step is to set your case for a pre-trial conference hearing. This is a short hearing where each side exchanges nonevidentiary motions in preparation for trial. All motions are standard, and there are typically no surprises.

After the District or County attorney has formally filed charges, the court will set an arraignment to read the charging document in your presence, informing you of the charges against you. If you have hired an attorney, your attorney may submit a waiver of arraignment so you do not need to appear at this court setting.

An announcement docket is a setting used by the court to follow up with your case. Most courts set cases on an announcement docket as deadlines for defendants to hire attorneys or take care of outstanding warrants.

This is the court date where you will formally accept an offer. Typically, this means your presence is required and you will appear before a 9. 1. 2. 3. 4. Judge in open court. You will want to wear appropriate clothing. This could mean you are being placed on probation, deferred adjudication, accepting jail time, or prison time. Again, each and every jurisdiction is different. If you have any questions contact your attorney.

It is very important not to miss court when you are supposed to be there. Your bail bond company can surrender your bond and a warrant can go out for your arrest. However, if you let your attorney know ahead of time that you are unable to make your court date, he might be able to get a continuance and your bond will stay intact.

Motions & Hearings

Motions are documents that both prosecutors and defense attorneys file with the court, requesting either side do something or be prohibited from doing something. For example, a motion from the prosecutor may request that your attorney disclose expert witnesses. The judge will decide whether to grant or deny such motion. Some examples of motions are (1) Motion to suppress (2) Discovery Motion (3) Motion to Reduce Bond. Essentially a motion is a legal document asking the Court rule in one’s favor. Some motions will not be ruled on until a hearing is held.

A hearing is when the Court will rule on a specific motion. Typically, most hearings are conducted, in person, inside the courtroom. Usually the accused is required to be present. Most hearings involve questioning witnesses and making some sort of legal argument to the Judge. Some examples of hearings in criminal court are: (1) 702/705 Expert hearing (2) Suppression hearing (3) Bond Reduction hearing. In order to have a hearing a motion requesting a hearing must first be submitted to the Court and State.

If the defense or state designate an expert witness then the other side is entitled to an expert hearing. The purpose of an expert hearing is to determine if this expert witness is qualified to testify at trial.

Your attorney may determine that there are issues in your case that warrant exclusion of the evidence. In order to exclude such evidence, he must file what is called a motion to suppress. The court will then hold a suppression hearing to determine the merits of your attorney’s motion. If granted, this means the 4th (fourth) Amendment to the United States Constitution was violated and evidence obtained in violation of the 4th Amendment will be excluded at your trial.

If you or a loved one is in jail with a bond that you cannot afford, your attorney can file a motion to reduce bond. The court will set your case for a bond reduction hearing. Your attorney will show that you do not have the ability to make bond and ask the judge to lower your bond. It will be up to the judge to grant that request.

Bail Bonds

Bond, or bail, is the amount of money you or a bail bonding company must pay the court to be released from jail. That money is held until your case is finished. The amount of bond is to secure your presence in court.

One way to get out of jail is to use the services of a bail bonding company. Bail bonding companies will be responsible for the full amount of your bond in exchange for a fee. That means you do not pay the entire bond amount when you use the services of a bail bond company. Rather, you pay the bail bond company a fee smaller than your bond amount. As part of their service, you are subject to their rules, which might include weekly check-ins, payments for late fees, and more.

If the defense or state designate an expert witness then the other side is entitled to an expert hearing. The purpose of an expert hearing is to determine if this expert witness is qualified to testify at trial.

If you are in jail and cannot afford to pay the entire amount of your bail (cash bond), using a bail bonding company is an option that may secure your release.

If you or a loved one is in jail with a bond that you cannot afford, your attorney can file a motion to reduce bond. The court will set your case for a bond reduction hearing. Your attorney will show that you do not have the ability to make bond and ask the judge to lower your bond. It will be up to the judge to grant that request.

DWI and Driver License

When you are arrested for a DWI you will have two cases, a criminal and a civil case. The civil case will concern your driver’s license, as D.P.S. will be seeking to suspend it for a period of time. This civil case is known as the Administrative License Revocation (ALR). You are entitled to a hearing before a judge regarding your license suspension. It is important you immediately discuss your case with an attorney. There are strict deadlines when requesting an A.L.R. hearing. If an A.L.R. hearing is not requested then your license will get suspended without a hearing.

Yes, you can still drive. However, your driver’s license will more than likely be suspended at some point. For more information on driver’s license suspensions, click here.

Although you will not be able to drive with your current driver’s license, you might be eligible to obtain an occupational driver’s license. This is a license that gives you the ability to drive to work, school, appointments, and grocery stores during your suspension period. Talk to your attorney about how to obtain an occupational license.

If you are asked to give a specimen of blood you can say no; however, it is likely that the officer will obtain a blood search warrant to get a specimen of your blood.

It is your decision as to whether you want to provide a specimen of your breath or blood. Be aware, if you decide to refuse you may face a harsher A.L.R. suspension.

If you refuse to give a blood or breath specimen, the officer will take your driver’s license and supply you with a DIC-25. This document will serve as your temporary license until you can request a hearing or obtain an occupational license.

An officer will not take your license unless you refuse to submit to a test or your breath specimen was .08 or higher. Upon taking your license, he will provide you with a DIC-25, a document that serves as your temporary license.

No, you are never required to perform the SFSTs. It is well within your rights to refuse these tests.

If you did not consent to a blood draw, officers may get a search warrant signed by a judge to draw your blood. In order to do this, they must fill out an affidavit stating all of the reasons they believe you were driving while intoxicated. That affidavit is reviewed by a Judge. If he believes the officer has sufficient cause to believe you were driving while intoxicated, he will sign the search warrant for blood.

A blood search warrant is a legal document that gives a police officer authority to take a specimen of your blood without your consent.

Your Constitutional Rights

Under the Fifth Amendment, you have the right not to testify and remain silent. The State cannot call you to testify and jurors cannot hold it against you. However, you also have the right to testify if that is what you choose.

Yes. You always have the right to refuse a search. An officer must then obtain a warrant if he believes there is enough probable cause to search.

You should never take an offer that you do not feel comfortable with. Always talk with your attorney about your options and what is best for you going forward.

Probably not. If the Miranda rights were violated then only those statements provided in violation of the Miranda rights will be excluded from evidence. Rarely, will this amount to a dismissal.

Expunction & Non-Disclosure

An expunction is a civil lawsuit against entities that may have information regarding your offense. The suit orders that the entities destroy that information so that you are legally entitled to deny the occurrence of the offense and arrest.

Each case must be evaluated individually. Contact an attorney to see if you might qualify for an expunction. If your case was not dismissed or did not receive a not guilty verdict there is a very large likelihood that your case does not qualify for an expunction.

This is a court order that prohibits public entities from disclosing information about an offense on your record. If you have a nondisclosure order for an offense, you do not have to enter that offense on most job applications. However, unlike expunctions, the records are not destroyed and certain state agencies may still obtain information concerning the offense subject to an order of nondisclosure.

Not all offenses qualify for orders of nondisclosure. Speak with your attorney to see if you qualify.

Other Information

After pleading guilty to an offense in court, rather than going to jail or prison, you can be placed on probation. This is a period of supervision where you must comply with certain court ordered rules and conditions under the supervision of a probation officer.

An indictment is a formal charging instrument used in felony cases. It is handed down by grand juries when they determine there is enough probable cause to move forward on a case.

An information is the formal charging instrument for misdemeanor cases usually filed by a prosecutor who determines there is requisite probable cause.

COVID-19 has delayed many cases. For more information about this topic, click here.

Discovery is a formal word for the evidence in your case. This includes police reports, body camera footage, labs, and whatever other evidence police may have gathered.

Each case is different. Contact an attorney for a consultation where you will be provided with a price for legal services.

If you are indigent and not financially able to employ an attorney, you might be entitled to court-appointed counsel.

Anyone has the ability to hire an attorney. You do not have to use a court appointed attorney simply because you may qualify.

In the State of Texas, including Lubbock, marijuana is illegal. As such, possessing any amount of marijuana is an arrestable offense. Lubbock Police Department continues to arrest citizens for possession of marijuana, less than two ounces.

It depends. Some jury trials can last a single day, while others can last several months. Your attorney can give you an idea as to how long your trial will last.