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Houston Criminal Lawyer

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Houston Criminal Lawyer

Houston Criminal Lawyer

Houston Criminal Attorney

When you are arrested for any criminal offense in Houston, Texas, it’s natural to worry about the potential penalties you could face if convicted, and you may wonder how to prove your innocence if you’ve been wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit. Whatever your case entails, an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney is an invaluable asset in this situation. Every American has the right to legal representation when they are accused of a crime regardless of the severity of their offense as well as their ability or willingness to pay for private defense counsel.

Experienced Criminal Defense Representation in Houston, TX

The court can appoint a defense attorney to your case at no charge, but it’s vital to know the differences between what you can expect from a public defender and what an experienced private Houston criminal defense attorney can offer. The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, offers experienced and aggressive defense of your rights when you have been charged with any type of criminal offense in the Houston area. Our team has helped many past clients avoid convictions and others reduce their penalties as much as state law permits. We’re ready to apply this experience on your behalf in your impending criminal court proceedings.

Know Your Rights After Arrest in the Houston Area

An arrest can be a jarring and traumatic experience, especially if police accuse you of a crime you did not commit. Remember that when the police inform you that they are placing you under arrest, attempting to convince them otherwise or trying to explain your side of the situation in question is not a good strategy. Though it may seem unfair if wrongfully accused, it is always in your best interest to comply with arresting officers’ directions as you observe your right to remain silent.

The police may attempt to ask you questions, convince you to sign various forms, or make statements on the record. The Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution preserves your right to remain silent in this situation. You are under no obligation to answer any questions or sign any statements prepared by the police. The Sixth Amendment preserves your right to legal counsel, and once you complete the arrest and booking process, you should consult a defense attorney you can trust as quickly as possible to start work on your defense.

What to Expect From Your Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

An experienced Houston criminal defense attorney is an invaluable asset no matter what type of charges have been filed against you. The US criminal justice system enforces very strict requirements regarding the rights of defendants; the procedures police must follow when handling arrests and bookings, and how prosecutors may handle and present their evidence. Your defense attorney’s job is to ensure the justice system works as intended and that your rights are acknowledged through all phases of your proceedings.

The prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; your Houston criminal defense attorney can prevent them from meeting this requirement in various ways. Every criminal case is unique, and each defendant will have different opportunities and challenges as their cases proceed. Our team’s goal is to help you make more informed decisions about your defense, understand the legal mechanisms in play in your case, and help you reach a much better outcome than you may initially expect. It’s natural to imagine the worst-case scenario, but defense counsel you can trust can help put your mind at ease during this very difficult time.

When you pick the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, to represent you as your criminal defense counsel, we will set to work immediately, carefully reviewing the police report from your arrest, examining the arresting officers’ handling of the situation, and securing any and all exculpatory evidence we can find to support your defense. Our experience has shown us there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to criminal defense, and it is vital for a defendant to secure legal representation they can trust when faced with prosecution for any offense.

Our goal is to make sure our clients understand the finer details of their case and identify all potential avenues of defense. Even if you committed the offense in question and your situation seems hopeless, the right Houston criminal defense attorney can still provide invaluable support and guidance, potentially helping you minimize the penalties assigned by the court.

The Types of Criminal Cases Our Firm Handles

Experience is a crucial consideration whenever you must hire an attorney. However, it is essential to evaluate not only an attorney’s overall experience in practicing law in general but also their level of experience in handling cases like yours. At the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, our team can handle a wide range of criminal cases, adapting our strategies and developing individually tailored defenses for every client we represent. You can rely on our team to provide robust criminal defense representation in many types of cases, including:

Theft and Destruction of Property Crimes

Theft and any destruction of property can lead to severe criminal penalties; the penalties depend on the value stolen or destroyed, the manner in which the defendant committed the offense in question, and other case details. Theft is a “wobbler” offense in most jurisdictions, meaning it potentially qualifies as a misdemeanor or a felony; the case specifics will determine the charge. In Texas, the defendant will owe the victim restitution if found guilty and may face civil actions in addition to the penalties assigned by the judge.

There are various special provisions that may come into play for certain types of stolen property. For example, stealing a vehicle or a firearm can incur much greater penalties than stealing other property that may have greater retail value. Penalties can also vary depending on the nature and value of the property stolen. If the police charge you with shoplifting, petty theft, or grand theft, you will need an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney to help you minimize the penalties assigned to you if convicted.

Potential defenses against theft charges are mistaken ownership or proving that you thought you had legitimate ownership rights over the property in question. It is also possible that you may need to prove you were illegally profiled if the police arrested you for matching the actual perpetrator’s physical description but failed to establish probable cause for your arrest.

Drug Crimes Are the Most Commonly Prosecuted Crimes

Drug-related criminal offenses are some of the most commonly prosecuted crimes in the United States. Texas follows the Scheduling system of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to determine penalties for drug-related offenses. Schedule I substances are the most serious, while Schedule V substances incur the lightest penalties. Drug possession, possession with intent to sell, and drug trafficking are just a few types of drug-related offenses prosecutable in Texas. Penalties may include fines and jail time in addition to mandatory substance abuse treatment and drug and alcohol safety courses.

Some defendants charged with nonviolent drug offenses may qualify for conditional probation or other alternative sentencing in lieu of jail time if they can prove they have a severe addiction or mental health disorder. If you were arrested for any drug-related offense because of a substance abuse disorder or other health condition, you need an experienced defense attorney who can help you prove the truth of the matter in court.

Sex Offenses, Prostitution, and Pimping

Sex crimes carry severe penalties, sometimes including lifelong sex offender registration that will make it incredibly difficult to find appropriate living space and employment. Penalties for sex crimes in Texas can be severe, especially if an offense involves assault and physical harm to a victim. Penalties increase dramatically and likely qualify for felony conviction when the victim is a minor. Prostitution also carries severe penalties, and anyone attempting to purchase sexual services, sell sexual services, or engage in any form of pimping activity faces severe consequences if convicted.

Sex offender registration can be incredibly disruptive to your life in various ways. Your registration status is publicly viewable by anyone and will dramatically diminish your standing within your local community. Additionally, you could be compelled to move if your sentence restricts you from living near certain places like schools or daycare centers. You could also be compelled to attend rehabilitation and counseling, and while removal of your registration status is possible in the future, this is very difficult to complete, and the option is only available to some applicants. In most cases, the penalty for a felony-level sex offense will include lifetime sex offender registration.

Domestic Violence Encompasses Many Crimes

Any type of violence, sexual abuse, neglect, stalking, or other harm committed between family or household members qualifies as domestic violence. If convicted of domestic violence, the penalties you face are going to be more severe than the penalties that are typically assigned for similar offenses that do not qualify as domestic violence. It’s possible for domestic violence to occur between family members, current and former housemates, and extended family. The parties involved do not necessarily need to be living together, nor do they necessarily need to be related for domestic violence to occur.

Beyond the penalties assigned by the judge, domestic violence conviction can easily lead to involuntary termination of parental rights, loss of professional licenses, and loss of membership in professional organizations to which the defendant belongs. The victim can also file for a restraining order against the defendant, preventing them from contacting them or coming near their home, place of business, or their child’s school or daycare. If charged with domestic violence as a result of a misunderstanding or false accusation, you need a defense attorney you can trust to provide an aggressive and meticulous defense of your rights.

Violent Crimes

Some of the harshest penalties are assigned to defendants convicted of various forms of assault and other violent criminal offenses. Most people misunderstand the term “assault” to mean a physical attack against another person, but an assault is simply a threat of violence. Battery is following through with the threat and making physical contact. Texas upholds a mutual combat law, so if two adults consent to a fistfight to settle their differences, they may do so under the supervision of a police officer. However, when a person violates this or Texas’ self-defense law and attacks another person with the intent to harm, this can easily qualify as a felony and carry severe penalties.

The punishment for a violent crime increases significantly if the defendant uses a weapon of any kind. Penalties also increase depending on the severity of the injuries inflicted on the victim. A judge sentencing a defendant for a violent attack may include restitution as part of their sentence. Additionally, the victim would likely file a personal injury claim seeking compensation for the damages they suffered.

DWI

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is incredibly dangerous for the impaired driver, anyone else in their vehicle, and all other drivers around them. Alcohol and many drugs can impair judgment, slow reaction time, and encourage risky behavior behind the wheel. Anyone caught driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or any illicit substance in their system faces a DWI charge.

Most first-time DWI offenses in Texas are prosecuted at the misdemeanor level. The defendant will face a fine, a driver’s license suspension, and potentially time in county jail in response to their first DWI conviction. If they are subsequently convicted again, the penalties for the second DWI conviction will be dramatically harsher. Aggravating factors like excessively high BAC and causing injury or death can also lead to enhanced charges.

Building a Defense Against Criminal Charges

The US criminal justice system hinges on the concept of “innocent until proven guilty,” and while the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, this does not mean you should be passive in your defense and hope the prosecution’s case falls apart on its own. Even if you’re certain that you are innocent of the charges against you, it is vital to secure defense representation right away and to formulate the strongest possible defense. If you have been wrongfully accused, you could still face circumstantial evidence that paints you in an unfavorable light, or you may need to overcome a case of mistaken identity.

Ultimately, every criminal case poses different challenges, so it’s vital to find an experienced and flexible attorney capable of addressing the unique variables in your case as effectively as possible. When you pick the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, to manage your criminal defense, we begin by ensuring your arrest was lawful and the police followed due process. If you have any reason to believe the police violated your rights, used excessive force in your arrest, or failed to establish probable cause before conducting your arrest, it is crucial to raise these concerns with your attorney immediately.

Success with your defense may require establishing a credible alibi backing by supporting witness testimony, proving mistaken identity, or proving that you were wrongfully accused of a crime you did not commit. However, if you did commit a criminal offense, you need to evaluate your chances of reducing the severity of your penalties. Plea bargains are sometimes offered by prosecutors when they have more than enough evidence to convict defendants. In exchange for a swift guilty plea and conserving courtroom resources, the defendant may receive an offer of a reduced sentence and/or lowered charges.

Plea bargains are not offered to every defendant, and it is unlikely for any defendant with an extensive criminal record and/or facing a particularly serious criminal charge to qualify for plea bargaining. If you did break the law, your attorney can help you determine whether a plea bargain could come into play for you and if so, they can assist you in reaching favorable terms with the prosecution.

When a criminal case proceeds to trial, the defendant can only be convicted by a unanimous verdict from a jury of their peers. The prosecution and the defense will both be permitted to present evidence, examine witnesses, and cross-examine each other’s witnesses. The judge and jury will consider all evidence and testimony, and once arguments conclude, the jury will deliberate a verdict. If the jury convicts the defendant, the judge proceeds with sentencing. When a defendant faces multiple charges, it is possible for the jury to find them guilty on some charges and not guilty on others.

Fighting a False Accusation

The police in Texas conduct many arrests because of their own observations, but they are also required to respond to public safety incidents and calls to 911 from citizens in distress. Unfortunately, some people will make false accusations against others for various reasons, and some alleged criminal offenses may reduce down to one party’s word against another’s. For example, if you’re divorcing and your spouse falsely accuses you of domestic violence in their effort to win custody of your kids, it can seem impossible to prove the truth of the issue.

If you have been falsely accused of a crime you did not commit, arrested wrongfully by police officers who failed to establish probable cause, or experienced any other violation of your civil and/or constitutional rights, call our firm. It is essential that you have legal representation you can trust from an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney.

You could have more evidence available to prove your side of the story than you initially realize, and a good attorney will be able to identify these defensive options quickly and effectively as you work through your case proceedings. For example, your defense attorney may call on expert witnesses who can clarify ambiguous details of the events in question to help you disprove a false or mistaken allegation levied against you.

Finding the Right Defense Attorney for Your Case

It’s imperative to exercise your right to legal counsel as quickly as possible after an arrest for any criminal offense. A Houston criminal defense attorney can meet with you while you are in police custody after an arrest. They can ensure the police followed due process and respected your rights in handling your arrest and booking. Your attorney can then assist you in determining whether you can be released from custody until your preliminary hearing or if you must remain in custody. An experienced defense attorney is also a valuable resource when it comes to managing bail bonds after an arrest.

Your preliminary hearing or arraignment is a formal reading of the charges against you, and you are asked to submit your initial plea. If you plead guilty or no contest to the charges against you, the case proceeds to sentencing. If you enter a “not guilty” plea, a trial then ensues, a jury is selected, and the parties involved in the case will begin the discovery process. Criminal court litigation can be incredibly time consuming, expensive, and stressful. However, if you choose the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, to handle your defense, we will do everything in our power to streamline your court proceedings as much as possible.

We have the experience and skill necessary to help you build the strongest defense possible, even if your situation seems hopeless or if you know you broke the law. Even if a conviction is all but certain, your attorney can still provide various valuable legal services, potentially sparing you from the worst of the possible penalties you face if convicted. At the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, our goal is to secure a case dismissal if possible or minimize your sentence as much as possible if necessary. The sooner you secure our team’s representation, the sooner you can get the answers you need to your most pressing legal questions.

FAQs About Houston, TX Criminal Law

What Is the Difference Between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

A: The terms “attorney” and “lawyer” are often used interchangeably, but there is an important distinction between these two terms. A lawyer is simply someone who has completed their law degree. They may or may not have passed their bar exam and/or obtained a license to practice law. An attorney is a lawyer who has met these requirements. All attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys.

What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do?

Your Houston criminal defense attorney can provide several invaluable services throughout your criminal case proceedings. Ideally, your attorney can help you have your charges dropped and your case dismissed. When the prosecution has a strong case against you, and you know you broke the law, your defense attorney can still help by looking for every opportunity to minimize your penalty. Every case is different, and a good defense attorney adapts their tactics to meet their client’s unique needs and challenges in their case.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney?

Most criminal defense attorneys in Texas charge their clients by the hour, so the more time they spend working on a case, the more it costs the client in the end. Always make sure you fully understand your attorney’s billing policy, so there are no unwelcome surprises in the final outcome of your case.

Is There Any Way to Avoid Jail If I’m Convicted?

Texas enforces some harsh penalties for certain criminal offenses, and it’s possible for incarceration to be an element of the standard penalty you face for your offense if convicted. However, there is always the chance for leniency; the specifics of your case and a good attorney may be able to help you craft a compelling argument against incarceration. If granted any diversionary or alternative sentencing, you must fully meet all associated obligations; otherwise, you will likely be forced to go to jail and complete your original sentence.

How Do I Find the Right Criminal Defense Attorney in Houston?

Time is a critical concern for anyone facing criminal charges in Houston, but this should not encourage you to make hasty decisions when it comes to choosing your defense representation. Take time to research defense attorneys in your area and find one with a solid professional record and lots of positive reviews from former clients. At the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, we are confident in our team’s ability to handle a wide range of complex criminal cases and help our clients reach the best attainable outcomes.

The Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, offers experienced and responsive criminal defense representation to clients in Houston and surrounding communities of Texas. We understand how isolating it can feel to experience an arrest, especially when you did not commit the crime in question or have been the victim of a misunderstanding. If you face criminal charges of any kind, take full advantage of your constitutional rights and find a Houston criminal defense attorney to represent you. Contact the Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC, today and schedule your free consultation with our team to learn more about the legal services we offer and how we can assist you with your case.

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