Understanding Criminal Procedure and Arrests in Texas

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Being arrested in Texas is a terrifying thing, whether it is for a minor shoplifting incident or for murder. Most times, you are arrested on the spot, where the crime allegedly happened. Sometimes, the arrest comes after the crime has occurred. Other times, you know a criminal investigation is active, like in most white-collar criminal situations, and are arrested only after a grand jury indictment. In any of these situations, an arrest must be conducted within the limits of the law. It's also important to keep in mind that just because you are arrested for a crime you may or may not have committed, you still have rights.

Your Rights When Arrested in San Antonio

Whether you are arrested in San Antonio or anywhere else in Texas, you have rights. You have the right to:

  1. Remain silent. You should not answer any questions or give explanations or excuses. Anything you say will be used against you. Remaining silent also means you do not have to sign anything or make any decisions without your lawyer.
  2. Ask for a lawyer immediately. You need an advocate who can stand up for your rights. If you cannot afford a defense lawyer, you may qualify for a public defender.
  3. Make a local phone call. You can use your phone call to call us at y. If you contact us or any other lawyer, the police cannot listen to the conversation due to attorney-client privilege. But you can also use your local call to call someone else.

Keep in mind that if you do not retain a lawyer who can help you fight criminal allegations, and you are subsequently convicted, you may lose some of your rights as provided by the U.S. Constitution. Namely, if you are convicted of a felony, you can lose the right to vote or to own and use a firearm.

Police Procedures for Arrests in San Antonio

During an arrest, police officers detain a person in police custody, often because they are suspected of committing a crime. Arresting someone is a serious matter that involves depriving a person of their freedom of movement. For this reason, police must follow certain procedures when effecting an arrest. 

The specific procedural requirements for arrest vary between states. Individual police departments also often have additional arrest procedures. 

It is often assumed that police must put a person in handcuffs or into a police vehicle to arrest them, however, this is not the case. Police may choose to do so depending on the circumstances, but they are not legally required to handcuff or physically detain someone to effect an arrest. 

Police are also not legally required to read someone their Miranda rights (“you have the right to remain silent, anything you do say…”) at the time of their arrest. These rights must be explained before police can interrogate someone. In practice, however, police often read a person their Miranda rights at the time of their arrest.  

When Can a Law Enforcement Agent Make an Arrest in Texas

A police officer cannot arrest someone just because “they look suspicious” or the police officer “has a hunch” about something. A police officer in San Antonio or anywhere else in Texas can arrest someone in any of the three below situations:

  1. The officer has an arrest warrant issued by a judge.
  2. The officer saw someone commit a crime.
  3. The officer has probable cause to believe someone committed or is about to commit a crime.

Probable cause means that actual information exists leading the police officer to believe the person has committed or is about to commit a crime. In other words, the police officer holds more than mere suspicion, but not enough to establish beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person committed or will soon commit a crime. 

Arrests and the Use of Excessive Force in Texas

The issue of excessive force often arises in the context of an arrest. Under the Fourth and Eighth Amendments of the U.S. Consitution, police must only use the minimum force reasonably necessary to effect an arrest. They cannot use excessive force. 

When reviewing whether the force used was reasonable, a court will consider factors including but not limited to:

  • The seriousness of the crime the person was suspected of committing
  • Whether the suspect was a threat
  • Whether the suspect attempted to escape arrest

If excessive force is used during an arrest, the suspect may have a basis for a civil case against the officer for violating their constitutional rights. A person subject to excessive force can also file a formal complaint with the relevant police department, which may consider disciplinary action, or the Department of Justice, which may consider criminal charges depending on the circumstances and results of any investigation. 

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer if Arrested in Texas

If the police arrest you, you should immediately ask to speak to a criminal defense lawyer. You have the right to do so and they are best placed to advise you of the law and the options available to you in your circumstances. 

  1. You need a good defense to protect your right and freedoms. The U.S. Constitution grants you the right to a criminal defense lawyer or – if you cannot afford one – a public defense attorney.
  2. It evens the playing field. A criminal defense lawyer allows you access to knowledge and a defense strategy you deserve. The state has the experience, time, and money on its side. It uses this to collect evidence and build a case against you. Plus, they are not afraid to use intimidation tactics to get what they want.
  3. An attorney can build a strong defense strategy. An attorney listens to your side of the story, investigates the facts, applies the facts to the law, and strategizes. Sometimes a clear defense is available, other times, it is more about creating reasonable doubt because the prosecutor has the burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  4. Sometimes, law enforcement overreaches. A smart criminal defense attorney knows what to look for when a police officer may not have carried out an arrest properly. Violations of your constitutional rights can result in the exclusion of any evidence obtained from that violation, which is often referred to as the fruit of the poisonous tree.
  5. It's complicated. The laws and procedures related to criminal law and criminal defense are complicated. You cannot do it alone unless you have knowledge of it, and if you try to do it on your own, you may end up in a worse place than you would have been. For example, if you are offered a plea agreement, the State will draft terms and conditions most favorable to them, and you may agree without a fight in fear it is your only option. But a criminal defense attorney is skilled in negotiation and knows how to argue a better plea agreement.

Maldonado Law Group, PLLC Is Here for You

At Maldonado Law Group, PLLC, we focus on Municipal, Family, Business, Criminal, Estate Planning, Real Estate, Probate, Civil, and DWI Defense and we are here to listen to you and help you navigate the legal system.

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Maldonado Law Group, PLLC is committed to answering your questions about law issues in Texas. We offer a free 15-minute consultation and we'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.