Articles Posted in Kaufman County Criminal Defense Lawyer

So you’ve got a ticket in Forney and you want to keep it off your record? Do you need a lawyer? The answer is….. maybe, but maybe not. Let’s go over your options. Forney has two courts that handle traffic tickets, Forney Municipal Court (where the Forney Police Station is) and JP2 (downtown Forney close to our office). If you have received a traffic ticket in or near Forney, it is one of those two courts. If you receive a ticket in these courts you can hire a lawyer, and many people do. But you don’t have to.

Why hire a lawyer for a Forney traffic ticket?

The advantages of hiring a lawyer is that we have a relationship with prosecutors and know what the range of acceptable outcomes are in ticket cases. That makes it easier for us to work out your case. We can also appear in court for you. Which saves you time. Finally, we can raise legal and factual issues with your case that may get it dismissed.

I meet a lot of people during consults. A lot of people who are going through the trauma of being arrested for a felony DWI case. They are ashamed, scared, sad, angry at themselves, and now facing the possibility of prison time. Whether it’s their 3rd, 4th, or 5th DWI, or a DWI with child, or an intoxication assault, they are all scared and wondering what to do next. I tell these potential clients to seek help immediately for possible substance abuse. I recommend they complete the most intense rehabilitation program that they can, and seek the advice of their PCP as well. Why?

You’ve got time before we go to court, you need to use it

We usually have a lot of time between a felony DWI arrest and going to court. Felony DWI cases almost always go before the grand jury before they are filed. You can waive a grand jury, but it’s rare. In Kaufman County it’s not uncommon for 4-6 months to pass between an arrest for felony DWI and an indictment. The State has to wait on blood results from the lab, and that can take a few months. If there is an accident, then they may need to gather medical records and the accident reconstruction can take time. Which means my client, who is looking at prison time since it’s a felony, can use their time to start treatment and rehab now.

You or a loved one have been arrested in Forney and you are searching for “best criminal defense lawyer in Forney” or “lawyers near me” (we see that a lot in our analytics). It’s great that you found Guest and Gray Law Firm! We are Forney’s largest and highest rated criminal defense team. We also offer free consultations to go over your options.

What sets us apart? That’s a great question, and you should ask any defense lawyer you meet with what makes them the best for your case.

First off we have a team of defense lawyers to help you. I am Robert Guest, Chief of the Criminal Division. I’m a former Kaufman County prosecutor. We also have defense lawyers who have worked at the Rockwall, Dallas, and Collin County District Attorneys office.

If charged with an offense and want to hire an attorney but can’t afford one you may qualify for a court appointed attorney.

In some situations, you may not be happy with the court appointed attorney. But, it is unlikely that the court will appoint someone else. Unless you want to hire your own attorney, you are pretty much stuck with whoever the court appoints.

What if the attorney isn’t telling me what I want to hear?

Good news in the world of DWI’s has emerged from the 85th Texas Legislature. If certain criteria are met, now, it may be possible to file a petition for non-disclosure on DWI convictions. Texas House Bill 3016, Government Code 411.0731, defines the procedure and criteria. Section 411.0716(a) explains that this new act will apply to DWI’s committed before, on, or after September 1, 2017.

Does my DWI conviction qualify?

This new section will only apply to a person who has successfully completed a term of community supervision. This means that your community supervision was not revoked, you successfully served any jail time given and you paid all court costs, fines, and any other restitution imposed as part of the conviction.

If you are on this list that means a grand jury has indicted you and you need a lawyer NOW. Being indicted doesn’t mean you are guilty. It’s easy to indict people it Texas, but it does mean the State is serious about making you a felon and sending you to prison. So hire a lawyer ASAP.

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One way the criminal justice system breaks defendants into pleading is by wasting their time. Nowhere is this more evident than in making a defendant appear for a misdemeanor announcement PNC (plea negotiation conference), or first setting.

In Kaufman and Rockwall County (think the counties east of Dallas), the judges require defendants to attend all misdemeanor settings. What’s wrong with that? Let’s talk about the first setting in a misdemeanor case.

90% of the time at the first setting I have not received discovery yet. We usually pick this up in court and sign for it at the first setting. Not having discovery means I haven’t reviewed discovery. If I haven’t reviewed the discovery, then I can’t do anything on your case. If I can’t do anything on your case then we have to reset it (also called a pass). Which means you, the defendant is going to sit there for an hour while all this happens. We used to be able to appear for our clients on first settings in Kaufman County, but that’s gone away as a thing.

Many clients get nervous about going to court. They imagine they will have to speak to the judge, or that they will need to testify, or the police will be there to confront them about their case. The truth is most settings in Kaufman County can be pretty dull for the defendant. We have three routine (and sometimes boring) settings for Kaufman County criminal cases- first settings, announcements, and PNCs.

First Setting- 

A first setting, is well, your first setting. It’s the first time you appear in court for your case. On misdemeanor cases, this is usually 2-3 months after your arrest. Some cases take longer, for example, if you have a DWI with a blood test that could take a few months to get the result. Felony cases have to be indicted by a grand jury, and that can take 4-6 months or longer.

One of the stranger local practices in Kaufman County is the requirement of paying court costs up front in misdemeanor cases. That is, you are supposed to pay court costs on the day you plead guilty. This local preference is often a requirement to enter a plea, with some exceptions and variation among our County Courts. It’s the only county I practice in that has this policy and it’s one I’ve never understood.

I have not taken court appointments for a while, so it’s less of an issue for my clients who can usually get a few hundred bucks together on the date of the ple for costs. However, for indigent defendants paying $261-$460 at the time of plea can be impossible. Worse, indigent defendants have even gone to jail to “sit out” court costs if they did not bring them to court.

Recently Etta Mullins, widely regarded as the worst criminal judge in Dallas County when she was on the bench, was reprimanded by a special court of review for the same practice, inter alia. The opinion talks about (see Charge VI)  the role of the judge in accepting plea bargains and/or requiring costs or fines up front. Basically, it’s bad and you shouldn’t do it.

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