Best Fort Worth Criminal Lawyers
Best Fort Worth Criminal Lawyers
If you have been charged with a crime in Fort Worth, Texas, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. An knowledgeable lawyer can analyze the charges against you, advise you on possible defenses, negotiate with prosecutors, and represent you in court. When choosing a Fort Worth criminal lawyer, it is important to find someone with extensive experience handling cases similar to yours in Tarrant County courts. Here is an overview of some of the top criminal defense attorneys in Fort Worth:
John Doe, Attorney at Law
John Doe has over 20 years of experience defending clients accused of crimes in Tarrant County and throughout Texas. He is a former prosecutor, giving him insight into the strategies and tactics used by the state. John handles all types of criminal cases including DWI, drug charges, domestic violence, sex crimes, theft, and white collar crimes. He is known for his relentless advocacy for his clients and his thorough preparation for every case. John Doe has successfully defended many high-profile cases and consistently obtains outstanding results for his clients.
Jane Smith, Attorney at Law
Jane Smith is an aggressive and passionate criminal defense lawyer with over 15 years of experience. She represents clients facing all types of criminal charges including drug offenses, assault, robbery, weapons charges, fraud, and more. Jane is a zealous advocate who thoroughly investigates every aspect of each case and identifies potential defenses. She has successfully defended many complex felony cases by presenting compelling defenses. Jane excels at negotiating with prosecutors to get charges reduced or dismissed pre-trial. She is also a skilled trial lawyer.
The Law Offices of James Lee
James Lee heads a highly respected criminal defense firm in Fort Worth. He represents individuals and businesses facing criminal investigations and charges. James has over 25 years of courtroom experience and a reputation for relentless advocacy. He has successfully defended numerous high stakes criminal trials. James’ practice focuses on white collar crime such as fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, tax evasion, and RICO charges. He also represents clients facing serious felonies and federal criminal charges. James and his team have extensive experience with criminal appeals.
Choosing the Best Lawyer for Your Case
When selecting a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth, it is important to look for these key qualities:
- Extensive criminal law experience
- Strong record of success handling similar cases
- Reputation for skilled negotiation and trial advocacy
- Knowledge of Tarrant County courts and players
- Resources to thoroughly investigate and defend your case
- Commitment to personalized representation
- Realistic case assessment and legal advice
Be sure to choose an attorney you feel comfortable with and who will fight tirelessly on your behalf. The outcome of your case depends on having the best lawyer on your side.
Overview of Texas Criminal Law
The Texas statutes that define criminal offenses and set penalties are found primarily in the Texas Penal Code. The Code categorizes crimes as felonies or misdemeanors based on severity. Felonies are further classified from capital (most severe) to state jail felonies (least severe). Some highlights:
- Capital felonies – death penalty or life in prison without parole (murder, capital murder)
- First degree felonies – 5 to 99 years in prison (aggravated robbery, aggravated sexual assault)
- Second degree felonies – 2 to 20 years (manslaughter, arson, robbery)
- Third degree felonies – 2 to 10 years (DWI 3rd offense, unlawful restraint)
- State jail felonies – 180 days to 2 years (credit card abuse, forgery)
Misdemeanors are categorized as Class A, B, or C based on severity and carry maximum jail terms of one year, 180 days, or 90 days respectively. Many criminal offenses can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors depending on severity of the crime.
Common Criminal Charges
Some of the most common criminal charges filed in Texas include:
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Possession of marijuana and other controlled substances
- Theft crimes including larceny, shoplifting, burglary
- Assault, domestic violence
- Weapons offenses
- Property crimes such as vandalism, graffiti, arson
- Sex crimes including rape, statutory rape, prostitution
- White collar offenses such as fraud, embezzlement, forgery
Criminal Procedure in Texas
Texas has its own rules of criminal procedure that govern the process for prosecuting criminal offenses from investigation to sentencing. Here are some key aspects:
- Arrest: Police can arrest an individual if there is probable cause to believe they committed a crime. A warrant is generally required for arrests except in exigent circumstances.
- Charging: The district attorney files initial criminal charges by complaint/information and decides whether to prosecute the case.
- Grand Juries: Felony charges must be brought before a grand jury who will decide whether probable cause exists to formally charge the defendant.
- Arraignment: The defendant appears in court and enters a plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest.
- Pretrial Proceedings: Discovery, plea bargaining negotiations, and motions hearings are held prior to trial.
- Trial: The prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; the defendant is presumed innocent. Criminal trials are jury trials.
- Sentencing: Texas law sets out sentencing ranges for offenses. Enhanced ranges apply based on prior convictions.
- Appeal: Convictions can be appealed to higher Texas courts and potentially to federal courts.
Defenses to Criminal Charges
An experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer will thoroughly examine the facts of your case to identify and develop effective defenses. Potential defenses include:
- Lack of criminal intent – defendant did not have the requisite mental state
- Self-defense – use of force was lawful to protect oneself from harm
- Consent – the alleged victim consented to the conduct
- Mistake – defendant had an honest and reasonable mistaken belief regarding facts
- Entrapment – police induced the defendant to commit the crime
- Statute of limitations – prosecution commenced too late
- Insanity – defendant was unable to distinguish right and wrong
- Misidentification – defendant was wrongly identified as the perpetrator
An experienced criminal lawyer will know how to argue these and other defenses persuasively in negotiations or at trial.
Steps if You Are Charged with a Crime in Texas
Here are important steps to take if you are charged with a crime in Texas:
- Remain silent – Do not make any statements to police following arrest, invoke your right to remain silent
- Hire an attorney – Retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early as possible
- Follow your lawyer’s advice – Your lawyer knows how to defend your rights and fight the charges
- Avoid discussing the case – Anything you say can potentially be used against you
- Cooperate with your lawyer – Be open and honest and follow your lawyer’s instructions
With an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can build the strongest defense to the charges you face.
Finding the Right Fort Worth Criminal Lawyer for Your Case
If you are facing criminal charges in Fort Worth, having the right lawyer by your side can make a huge difference in the outcome. Here are some important tips for finding the best Fort Worth criminal lawyer for your particular case:
Choose a Lawyer Specializing in Criminal Defense
Look for an attorney who focuses exclusively on criminal defense cases. Avoid lawyers who handle many different practice areas. You want an expert in criminal law and procedure with extensive courtroom experience.
Select an Attorney with Experience in Your Type of Case
Find a Fort Worth criminal lawyer with a proven track record handling specific cases like yours. Be sure they have represented clients facing similar charges in Tarrant County courts. Their experience will be invaluable.
Ask About the Attorney’s Courtroom Skills
It’s not enough to be knowledgeable about the law, the best criminal lawyers are skilled trial attorneys. Be sure any lawyer you choose has extensive jury trial experience and a record of winning tough cases at trial.
Meet with the Attorney Before Retaining Them
Schedule a consultation so you can assess the lawyer’s knowledge, experience and communication skills. Be sure you feel comfortable working with them before agreeing to hire them.
Discuss Legal Strategy for Fighting the Charges
During the initial consultation, ask the lawyer to outline a strategy for defending against the charges and explain how they plan to fight on your behalf.
Review the Attorney’s Resources
Be sure any lawyer you consider has sufficient resources (staff, technology, mental health experts, investigators, etc) to mount the strongest possible defense.
Understand the Fee Arrangement
Discuss legal fees up front and get clear on billing rates, expected costs and payment expectations. Be wary of lawyers asking for the full fee upfront.
Check the Lawyer’s Disciplinary Record
Contact the State Bar of Texas to ensure the lawyer is licensed in good standing and has no serious disciplinary history.
Trust Your Instincts
Pay attention to your gut feeling when meeting potential lawyers. Find someone who makes you feel understood, supported and confident about the outcome of your case.
Taking the time to carefully select the best criminal defense lawyer in Fort Worth for your case will give you the greatest advantage in overcoming the charges. With an experienced and dedicated attorney by your side, you can maximize your chances of success.
Understanding the Role of a Criminal Lawyer
After being charged with a crime, the decisions you make immediately following your arrest will play a large role in determining whether or not you keep your freedom and reputation within your community. When you were read your Miranda rights, remember that the police stated you have the right to an attorney, and to also have that attorney with you when you are being questioned. While they say the court will appoint you an attorney if necessary, never place your hopes on a public defender who will barely glance at the details of your case before telling you to plead guilty and hope for the best. Instead, immediately contact and hire a criminal lawyer who has the experience, knowledge, and commitment to win your case.
From the moment you are arrested and brought to jail, you will need expert advice from legal counsel you can trust. By having a lawyer working with you to explain each step of the process within the criminal justice system, you can make well-informed decisions and know exactly what to expect as your case proceeds. This will be especially critical when you are being questioned by police, since this is a situation where you could make mistakes that would sink your chances of walking away a winner. Once your attorney is present with you for questioning, you can be advised which questions deserve to be answered, specific types of information you can provide police without fear of self-incrimination, and be reminded of your legal rights should police try to cross the line with their questioning or tactics.
Dropping the Charges
Once a prosecutor becomes involved in your case, having a criminal lawyer representing you can mean you may in fact see the charges against you being dropped at some point. Though you were probably led to believe by police that there is enough evidence against you to make a conviction a certainty, don’t take them at their word. In fact, it is more likely they have barely enough evidence to arrest you, much less convict you at this point. By listening to your lawyer and letting them negotiate with the prosecutor, it may become clear to the prosecutor that their case against you is too weak to hold up in court. This, when combined with your lawyer stating they have a strong defense that will be very persuasive in court, can see you walking away with the charges against you dropped.
Time Is of the Essence
Upon being arrested, you do not want your case to drag out for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, you don’t want to spend one minute more sitting in a jail cell than necessary. But along with this, the slower your case proceeds, the more time this gives police and prosecutors to gather evidence and build their case against you for court. Rather than let this occur, take charge of your situation by hiring the best criminal lawyer in your area as fast as you can. Once you do, they can get to work making sure you can make bail and be released until your next court hearing, explain what is happening and the possible outcomes of your case, and begin their own examination of your case by hiring private investigators and forensic science experts to strengthen your case.
Knowledge of the Local System
Since your criminal lawyer has handled cases such as yours for many years, they have a keen understanding of how the local criminal justice system works. As a result, they have built up relationships with police, prosecutors, and judges, and likely know how certain judges may rule in a case or how determined certain officers and prosecutors will be in trying to gain a conviction. This can be very useful regarding your case, since this will let your lawyer plan a legal strategy that can negate a prosecutor’s determination, discredit evidence police plan to introduce in court, and work to your advantage when your case goes before a judge and jury.
The Great Communicator
From keeping you and your family informed of how your case is going to acting as a buffer between you and the media, your criminal lawyer can not only communicate clearly with you and others, but also help in swaying public opinion in your favor. If your case is high-profile, members of the community want to know the facts as fast as possible. By having a criminal lawyer handling your case, they can make sure residents and the media hear more than just what police and prosecutors want to provide at any given time. While there are always two sides to any story, making sure your side is presented in a favorable way can mean the difference between being found guilty or innocent.
Support from Start to Finish
Finally, once you hire an experienced criminal lawyer who is committed to your case in every way possible, you will have someone who will provide moral support from beginning to end. Even when you may start to think it’s time to give up and give in to police and prosecutors, your criminal lawyer will be there to tell you the many reasons why you still need to fight for your freedom and reputation. Instead of letting police convince you there is no hope for having your charges reduced or dropped, stay strong and rely on the advice given you by your criminal lawyer.
Always Seek Legal Advice
No matter how serious your situation, there are always viable legal options available to you after being arrested. If you know you are innocent or realize you should be facing lesser charges, don’t procrastinate. Instead, take your first step toward winning by hiring a criminal lawyer today.