Criminal Law Overview

A crime, as may be explained by Todd White, your Houston criminal defense attorney, is any act or omission of an act in violation of a public law forbidding or commanding it. Although “common law” crimes do exist, most crimes have been established by local, state and federal governments and interpreted by various appellate courts, further defining criminal behavior and proper criminal procedure in the courtroom.

How a criminal case gets filed

Typically, there is an arrest and a police report that follows. The prosecutor decides based on the report whether to:

  • File a complaint with the trial court setting forth the charges
  • Go to Grand Jury, present the evidence there and request to them what criminal charges, if any, should be brought
  • Opt to decline to pursue the matter

A Harris County criminal defense lawyer understands prosecutors have wide discretion regarding whether or not to file, and also which of many possible crimes a person may be charged with.

The decision to prosecute or not

Cases with similar fact patterns are prosecuted in widely different manners in different jurisdictions, which is a difficult concept for the average citizen to understand. The bottom line is that prosecutors are people that are influenced by such things as:

  • Political aspirations
  • Office policies
  • Their own sense of justice

While it may seem justice would be better served with a more uniform approach, the reality is far different. What may result in a prosecution in one county may not be pursued in another.

The role of a criminal defense lawyer

Whether a crime is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony, it must be understood that there are serious consequences upon a plea or conviction of guilt. Fines, incarceration, public service, probation and other penalties are possible.

The first duty of a criminal defense lawyer is to make sure your Constitutional rights are protected. At every stage of the proceeding, different rights attach. Although the reality is that more than 90% of criminal cases do not go to trial, and it is therefore essential for your attorney to be a skilled negotiator as well, it is necessary for your attorney to be prepared to do battle in the courtroom if ultimately required to achieve the best result for you.

Time is of the essence. If you have been charged, or suspect you may soon be charged, you need to act quickly to protect your rights. Todd White, criminal defense lawyer in Houston, Texas, understands the criminal system. Attorney White offers a no-obligation initial consultation. Call (713) 780-1633 for an appointment today.