FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a search warrant?
What is an arrest warrant?
What should I do if there is a warrant out for my arrest?
What is probable cause?
What should I do if I get arrested?
What if the police used force to arrest me?
What is bail?
How do I give the government bail in order to get out of jail?
What should I do if a police officer asks to search my home?
What should I do if a police officer asks to search my car?
What is a DWI?
If I am arrested for a DWI, will my license be taken?
Can I get my case dismissed?
Will I serve jail or prison time?
This is when a judge orders a search to be done of a particular location. Usually, a reason will be presented to the judge for the search, and a showing of probable cause will have to be made that what the police are looking for is likely at the location to be searched. The police can execute a search warrant on the location thereafter. If the police present a search warrant to you, they are authorized to search the location stated in the warrant. You should not get in their way.
This is much like a search warrant, but it is for the purpose of arresting someone, not for finding something. Once an arrest warrant is issued, the law enforcement can arrest you on-site and take you to jail.
If there is an arrest warrant out for you, that means that a judge has decided that there is probable cause that you committed a crime. Therefore, he/she is authorizing law enforcement to arrest you. Sometimes, the police actually come to search for you. Other times, they arrest you if they come in contact with you for another reason, like if they pull you over for speeding. If you know, or think, there is a warrant out for you, it is best you pro-actively address the situation. You should see an attorney to first confirm that there is a warrant. Then, your attorney will advise you as to what can be done next.
Probable cause is the minimum information that is required of law enforcement to make arrests and seize property and, thereafter, prosecute individuals for crimes. Generally, it means that the police must have good information from some reliable source that a particular person committed a crime. A higher level of proof must be shown later on, in order to convict someone. However, to charge someone with a crime, probable cause is the requirement.
Do not argue with the police officers. Go with them peacefully. Also, although it is sometimes okay to speak to police officers and investigators, it is always the best idea not to speak at all, until your attorney is present with you. After you are arrested, you will be taken before a magistrate. The magistrate will do several things, which, among others, should include determining whether there was probable cause to arrest you, notifying you of the many rights you have, setting the bond amount that is required for you to be able to get out of jail while your case if pending, and asking you whether you believe you should have an attorney appointed to you or whether you believe you will hire your own attorney independently. Soon thereafter, whether you bond out or not, the government will usually file charges against you and proceed to prosecute you.
The police are allowed to use force against you in certain causes. For example, if you resist arrest, the police are allowed to use force to arrest you. However, the amount of force they are allowed to use will vary. No matter what, it can be no more than the amount that was necessary and reasonable in order to arrest you.
The court system wants to make sure that you come back to court if they let you out during the time that your case is pending. In order to try to do that, the government will require security, called a "bond" from you. If you give that security to the government, they will feel a bit safer about you returning for your court appearances, and so they will agree to release you, while your case is pending. The government dictates what that security will be. Whatever it is, it must be appropriate. It cannot be too excessive. Sometimes, your attorney can argue on your behalf to have the bond in your case reduced.
You put up what is called a "bond." There are four different types of bonds:
- 1. Personal Recognizance Bond - For some cases, a magistrate will require no more than a promise by you that you will return to court on the appropriate days to answer to the charges against you. That promise is a personal recognizance bond. Usually, this type of bond is required for offenses that are comparatively lower in severity.
- 2. Personal Bond - This is when the court asks you to promise to pay a certain amount of money, if you do not show up for court.
- 3. Cash Bond - This is when the court actually requires money, usually not a very large amount, to be deposited with a court. If you do not appear at court when you are supposed to, you will lose that money.
- 4. Surety Bond - This is when someone else, usually a bondsman, contracts with you and agrees to put up the bond on your behalf. You will have to pay him/her a set fee that is non-refundable in order for him/her to do that.
There are only a few ways that a police officer has the right to search your home. Some of the more common ones are: 1. If the police have a warrant; 2. If the police see something in your house that gives them the right to enter and search your home; 3. If the police are pursuing someone and that individual enters your home. There are other ways, but those are some of the more common ones. If a police officer, who does not have a warrant, asks you for permission to search your home, you have the right to say no. If the police force a search of your home anyway, stay out of their way. If you are charged with a crime resulting from what the police find during an illegal search, there are things that can be done later, by your attorney, in order to try to protect you and your rights.
This scenario is different from the search of a home. A police officer can see inside of a car more easily. Also, if you commit a crime, like driving while intoxicated, the police can search your car and also impound it after they arrest you. In those cases, a police officer will not ask for permission to search your car. However, if an officer pulls you over and asks your permission to look in your trunk or your car, you have the right to say no. Again, if the police decide to search your car, despite your rejection of their request for permission, stay out of their way. Consult your attorney at a later time about your rights.
The letters DWI stand for Driving While Intoxicated. It is a crime in Texas to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For your safety, and the safety of others, you should never drive a car, or any other type of vehicle, after you have taken drugs or consumed alcohol.
Yes, your license will be taken. The amount of time for which your license is suspended will vary. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to apply for an occupational driver's license, so you can drive to and from work. If you refuse to take the Breathalyzer or blood test to determine your blood alcohol content (the amount of alcohol in your system), you can have your license taken for a longer period of time. You have the right to refuse the Breathalyzer test or the blood test, but there will likely be a consequence for that refusal. The best way to avoid receiving a DWI is to always arrange a method of transportation before you consume alcohol or drugs. Call a taxi, a friend or a family member. However, if you are arrested for a DWI, contact your attorney as soon as possible and have him consult you on your situation.
It may be possible to have your case dismissed. Sometimes, the prosecutor on your case will dismiss it because he/she doe not believe the case should have been filed in the first place (not enough evidence, etc.) other times, you may agree to plea out your case so that, if you complete certain requirements during a period of time, your case will then be dismissed. The question must be answering on a case-by-case basis. Contact your attorney to get more information about the possible outcomes of your case.
It is possible that you will have to serve jail or prison time. The answer to this question can often be extremely detailed and it is something that must be determined on a case-by-case basis. It is difficult for those who are charged with a crime to contemplate the possibility of being incarcerated. Naturally, there are feelings of fear and despair. Your attorney should be someone who shares your feelings and who wants to help you throughout the strenuous process of going through the legal system. Make sure you hire someone that is willing to give you personal attention and does not think of you as just another client.