So you caught a charge in Kaufman County?
Kaufman County borders Dallas County but the two criminal justice systems could not be more different. If you have been arrested in Kaufman County it is important that you understand just how different the system is and what that means for your case.
The first issue is bail, if you’ve been arrested in Kaufman County you know what I’m about to tell you. Bail in Kaufman County is outrageous. Bond amounts are above and beyond what most counties charge, and a simple possession case can get you a $5,000 bond or worse. The result is many people can’t afford to post bond and are struck in jail while their families scramble to find the resources to free their loved one. Kaufman County bonds also come with many conditions attached, like drug testing, psych evals, reporting every month, or even wearing a GPS monitor. In Kaufman County, the system treats people on bond (who haven’t been convicted of anything) like they are already on probation. I will say the pre-service director is really nice, he wants to help people comply with the conditions of bond.
Court settings – When will you go to court?
I’m writing this during the pandemic, so things might have changed. Right now it takes a few months to get your first court setting. Most courts are still having dockets, and some will allow your lawyer to appear for you.
Have you been to prison before? If so, get ready, the initial plea offers are going to be for prison time. That’s the first thing to know. The second is our misdemeanor plea offers are really punitive. Much more so than most local counties. Two years of probation for a misdemeanor is a normal plea offer here. We don’t really have set plea offers for certain types of cases, so a lot depends on which prosecutor you have assigned to the case. It’s crucially important to hire a lawyer who knows the system in Kaufman County. A lot of lawyers will take a case here, but you need one who actually knows the players involved and how to get things done here.
Should I hire a Dallas lawyer? There are many amazing criminal defense lawyers who work in Dallas. However, at the Kaufman Courthouse, it is known that some Dallas lawyers don’t like actually coming to Kaufman. In Dallas (at Crowley), you can kind of just reset your case for years at a time. Not so much here. If you live in Dallas you should still hire a local Kaufman County attorney or at least one who comes to Kaufman often.
It is not uncommon for our firm to take over a case from some lawyer who we have never heard of and who hasn’t done a thing to work the case or help their client. They just needed the money and said “sure I’ll go to Kaufman”. As I’m writing this we have just taken over a case in which a lawyer had the case for over a year, the client was stuck in jail, and we got his case finalized in a few weeks with a 90% sentence reduction.
Courts in Kaufman- Kaufman County has four courts for criminal cases. Most felonies are in the district courts, the 86th and 422nd. Misdemeanors are in the County Court at Law, and County Court at Law 2, although they also handle the felony DWI cases. Each court has different rules for appearances, but before the pandemic, it was common for defendants to have to appear every month in court. It’s a huge time waste and forces defendants to miss work, but it was the local custom until COVID.