Have You or a Loved One Been Arrested and Charged with a Crime In Lancaster?
If you have a legal matter in Lancaster, we can help! Attorney Todd E. Tkach and the attorneys with Todd E. Tkach P.C. practice criminal defense law in Lancaster as well as most of Texas.
If you are like most people facing a criminal charge in Lancaster, you are scared, nervous, and unsure about how where to start. Criminal procedures can be complex, cumbersome, and exhausting. Figuring out the first step is often the most difficult challenge. This is where an experienced attorney can be immensely helpful. Navigating the court system effectively and efficiently requires an understanding of how the process works, the applicable laws, who you need to talk to, and how to achieve the desired result.
With decades of experience in criminal law, we have always demonstrated our extraordinary skill and knowledge with the thousands of clients we have represented in multiple jurisdictions throughout Texas. We know the laws, the procedures, and the courts, and we can compassionately and effectively guide you through the complex process of our criminal justice system.
The possible consequences of a criminal charge can be devastating. The outcome of a criminal case can affect your ability to get a job, obtain a loan, or rent or buy a home. It can also result in the loss of your right to vote or own a firearm. Worst of all, criminal charges can subject you to lengthy and burdensome probation or time in jail. With so much at stake, it is extremely important that you choose an attorney who can assist you through the treacherous process.
At Todd E. Tkach, P.C., we handle all felony and misdemeanor cases in Lancaster, including charges for DWI, theft, guns, drugs, sex crimes, assaults, domestic violence and probation revocations. We approach all cases with the same veracity, using the latest technology and resources, accompanied by our ability, experience, and qualifications to achieve the best result possible. We never forget our goal of client satisfaction. We know that we can help you through this stressful time. Give us a call for a free consultation. Our fees are reasonable and we offer easy payment plans. If you’re facing a criminal charge, put your trust in attorney Todd E. Tkach. You can rest assured that you have made the right choice.
Criminal Charges Start with a Law Enforcement Investigation and Arrest
The process of our criminal justice system begins when law enforcement officers become aware that an alleged crime has been committed. This could be from a complaint by the victim of a crime. In this scenario, the victim may or may not know the person they think committed the crime. The police investigate to determine if a crime was committed. If they have “probable cause” to believe a crime was committed, based on their investigation, they obtain a warrant for the arrest of the person they believe committed the crime. The police could also arrest someone after hot pursuit or if they witness a crime, such as with most DWIs (Driving While Intoxicated). In these scenarios, the warrant for arrest is obtained after the arrest is actually made. In either case, the person arrested is taken to jail.
Most of us are familiar with the concept that anyone being arrested “must be read their rights!” Unfortunately, for some people, their understanding of this concept was gained from watching one of the various police shows on television. Miranda rights, which they are commonly called, refer to the requirement that police officers arresting a person must inform them that they have: i) the right to remain silent; ii) the right to an attorney; iii) the right to the appointment of an attorney if they cannot afford one; and iv.) the right to have an attorney present during police interrogation. The most common misunderstanding is that if an arresting officer fails to read an arrestee the Miranda rights, all charges are dismissed. That’s simply not true. But, a failure to read Miranda rights still has teeth. Although an immediate dismissal of the charges is not mandated, it could be the ultimate result. Failure to inform a Defendant of Miranda Rights can result in the exclusion of any evidence obtained from questioning the Defendant. A lack of that evidence could result in a prosecutor’s decision to not pursue charges.
Detention and Bond after Arrest for a Criminal Charge
After someone is arrested, they are booked into a jail and remain there until they are arraigned before a judge. By law, this must occur within 48 hours, unless the detention occurs on a weekend or holiday. During the arraignment hearing, the person arrested, now a “Defendant,” enters a plea, usually of “not guilty” and the judge sets a bond amount for the Defendant’s conditional release from jail. A Defendant could also enter a plea of “guilty” or “no contest” at the arraignment hearing and accept an immediate punishment from the judge. This is NOT recommended. You should always plead “not guilty” and then contact us for representation. We can always change your plea at a later date if an acceptable plea agreement is reached.
At the arraignment hearing, the judge will set a “bond,” which is an amount of money that is posted (provided) to the county and allows the Defendant to leave the jail, subject to “conditions;” the most important of which is that they appear before the court at a later date. In most cases, there are multiple other “conditions,” including periodic check-ins, no alcohol consumption, no criminal activity, etc. The monetary amount of the bond depends primarily, on the level of crime that is being charged, and, to a lesser degree, the facts of the case. The amount of a Bond can range from $0.00 up to millions of dollars. The worse the crime, the higher the bond. In some cases, the Bond can be denied altogether. If a bond is set by the judge, it can usually be posted by either “Surety” or “Cash,” and in some cases, the judge may allow a Personal Recognizance Bond.
Posting a Bond by surety means that a third party, usually a bail bondsman, files a document with the court that is, essentially, a guarantee that the bail bondsman pay the bond amount if the Defendant fails to adhere to any of the “conditions” of the bond. Of course, a bail bondsman will charge for their services; usually a percentage of the bond amount. The percentage can vary depending on the bail bondsman, but is usually between 10% to 15%.
Posting a bond with cash means exactly what it appears to mean. A Defendant, or a friend or family member, must tender cash in the amount of the Bond in order to secure the Defendant’s release from jail. For example, if a Defendant’s Bond is set at $5,000.00, the Defendant, or someone on his behalf, must tender $5,000.00 in cash to the county in order to get the Defendant released from jail.
Personal Recognizance Bonds
In some cases, a judge will allow and order a Personal Recognizance Bond; sometimes called a PR Bond. If allowed, a Defendant is released from custody with a signed agreement to adhere to all of the bond conditions. Although neither a surety nor a cash bond are required to be posted, there remains a monetary component to a PR Bond. Part of the PR Bond agreement is that violations of any of the bond conditions mandate that the Defendant post a predetermined cash bond amount or the Defendant will be arrested.
Filing a Criminal Charge
After law enforcement has investigated and/or arrested a person they believe committed a criminal act, they turn over all of their evidence, including physical evidence, photographs, videos, witness statements, test results, etc., along with the arrest report to the prosecutors. The prosecutors are either County or District Attorneys and their Assistant County or District Attorneys. After receiving all of the evidence, the prosecutors must review everything and then make a determination on how they want to proceed. A prosecutor could refuse to pursue charges, if for example, they feel that there is insufficient evidence, or if the evidence was obtained improperly. If a prosecutor believes the evidence is sufficient and proper, they can either file a Complaint, if it’s a misdemeanor charge, or pursue an Indictment from a Grand Jury, if the charge is a felony.
Prosecutors have time limits within which to file a criminal charge, depending on whether the accused is in jail or has bonded out. If a Defendant is in jail, prosecutors only have 15 days to file a Complaint when charged with a Class B misdemeanor, 30 days for a Class A misdemeanor and 90 days for felonies. However, if the Defendant has bonded out of jail, prosecutors have up to 2 years to file criminal charges for misdemeanors and much longer periods for felonies. Some of the more severe felonies have no time restriction on filing.
Each County/District Attorney has their own processes, procedures and guidelines for pursuing criminal charges. The important thing for any Defendant facing criminal charges is to retain qualified legal counsel who is familiar with that particular county.
The Discovery Phase
If criminal charges are filed with either a Complaint or an Indictment, the case will be set for a first announcement or pretrial. The Defendant may or may not need to be present at this setting, depending on the County. In either event, the first setting begins the Discovery Phase of a criminal case. This is when the prosecutors are required to disclose all evidence they have against a Defendant to the Defendant’s attorney. This gives a Defendant and their attorney a chance to see the evidence, weigh the strength or weakness of the evidence and begin to prepare a strategy for defense. Depending on the evidence, the strategy could be aimed toward seeking a dismissal, securing a favorable plea agreement or going to trial. A dismissal is always the best result. If that’s not possible, a good defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor for a favorable plea agreement, which could be a reduction of the charge, the punishment or both. If a plea agreement is not offered, or if the proposed plea agreement is not acceptable to a Defendant, they may take the case to trial.
In most counties, the court provides for multiple announcements or pretrial settings to give both sides time within which to gather evidence, try to reach a resolution or prepare for trial. All cases will end with either a dismissal, a plea agreement or a trial.
Trial of a Criminal Charge
Anyone accused of a crime has the right to a trial by jury, and may, at any time, request one. They could also ask for a “Bench Trial.” The difference is that, with a jury trial, a panel of jurors is chosen, who will, after hearing the evidence, determine the facts and the verdict of the case. With a Bench trial, the judge makes those determinations.
There are 2 main parts of a trial. The first is commonly referred to as the “guilt/innocence” phase. In this phase, after evidence is presented, the judge, in the case of a bench trial, or the jury, in the event of a jury trial, will determine if the Defendant is guilty or not guilty of the charge. If the determination is “not guilty,” the Defendant is acquitted, there is no punishment, and the Defendant is free. If the determination is “guilty” the trial enters the second phase; Punishment. During this phase, a Defendant’s punishment is determined. The judge or jury may hear testimony from the Defendant, Defendant’s friends or family members, or the victim and their friends and family members. At the close of testimony, the Defendant’s punishment is determined.
Hire Attorney Todd E. Tkach
When you choose Todd E. Tkach, P.C. to represent you, he will take immediate action to either get you out of jail, lift any warrants or start the Discovery and Strategic planning phase of your case. We will quickly investigate the facts of your case and obtain all evidence from the State and any other potential sources. In reviewing the evidence, we pay special attention to whether there was an illegal stop, illegal search, whether the evidence was collected properly, and whether the evidence was tested properly. After reviewing the evidence, we will then draft and file any necessary motions to suppress evidence or dismiss the charges.
Once the investigation is complete, we develop a strategy for our meeting with the prosecutor to obtain a dismissal or a favorable plea offer on your case. Throughout the process, the attorneys with Todd E. Tkach, P.C. will discuss the potential ramifications for each option you might want to pursue, whether it be accepting an offer for a reduction, probation, or requesting a jury trial. Our number one goal with any criminal case is to get your case dismissed and to make this process as stress-free as possible. We are here to serve you and will use every resource at our disposal to achieve that result.
Don’t wait. Call us now for a free consultation and case evaluation!