Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense

A criminal arrest or investigation brings up many questions for anyone facing charges for federal, state or local crimes. Here are just a few, with answers to serve as points of departure in conversations with your defense attorney if you have been charged with a crime.

Where can I find out what I need to know about my particular criminal case?

The most reliable source of information relevant to your case is an attorney who can discuss the facts with you face to face. We, the attorneys at Nawaz & Levine in Dallas, urge you to contact us by phone or email to schedule a consultation about your unique circumstances. In the meantime, you may find some of the following questions and answers useful.

Who decides whether the offense I have been charged with is a state or federal crime?

If you were arrested by a federal law enforcement officer, you have almost certainly been charged with a federal offense. If you were arrested by local police or state troopers, you may have been charged with a municipal, county or state crime.

Federal law enforcement officers belong to agencies such as:

  • The United States Marshals Service (USMS)
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) or
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Even if you face federal charges, that may not be your only defense need. Some crimes such as drug crimes may be prosecuted in both state and federal courts. A skilled defense attorney can sometimes get federal charges eliminated or downgraded to state criminal charges.

What should I expect if I have been charged with a federal crime in Texas?

  • The first phase of your federal crime matter in Texas was most likely an investigation by a federal law enforcement agency. Your arrest may have come in the middle of a conversation with investigators.
  • After your arrest, there will likely be a mandatory meeting with a pretrial services officer, followed by a preliminary hearing and arraignment. The government will try to show probable cause for your arrest; your defense attorney may challenge the evidence. If your case continues, your defense lawyer may learn about weaknesses of the case during this phase.
  • The next step will be a bond hearing. Your lawyer may call witnesses to testify about your character and assert that you are not a flight risk before setting your bail bond.
  • The discovery phase of your case will be followed by an opportunity to negotiate a plea bargain. The alternative is to go to trial.
  • If you are convicted at trial, sentencing is the next step. Mandatory sentencing based on federal guidelines no longer applies in all cases, but these guidelines serve as a starting point in federal district courts.

What should I expect if I have been arrested and charged with a crime at the state level in Texas?

If you were charged with a crime at the state level in Texas, you may have experienced (or may soon experience) some or all of the following:

  • An arrest based on probable cause plus other elements such as that:
    • A police officer believed you committed a felony and were about to escape.
    • You had caused harm to another person.
    • You were found in possession of allegedly stolen property.
  • Appearance before a judicial officer within 48 hours, where you heard what you were charged with and were informed of your rights such as the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel
  • Entry of your plea of guilty or not guilty (in most cases)
  • Negotiation of a plea deal with a prosecutor
  • A criminal trial before a jury of six jurors for a misdemeanor or 12 for a felony. The prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction or the jury should find you not guilty.
  • Sentencing by the jury or judge.

When should I consult with an attorney?

If Nawaz & Levine is your defense firm in a state crime case, we will fight for your rights and freedom at all stages of your case. If we come on board before you have been formally charged, we may help you avoid criminal charges altogether.

Explore your criminal defense options. Call 469-249-9982 or email us through this website to schedule a consultation.