Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer...Or Write a Book Report

I always tell my clients that in every situation where you believe you may be arrested or charged with a crime, you're better off hiring a criminal defense lawyer earlier rather than later. This is a major reason why.

In Bexar County, there is a magistrate judge on duty 24 hours a day. A magistrate judge is an elected judge's assistant judge who performs mundane tasks, like handling competency (insanity) hearings and setting bonds. These people are usually reasonable enough, but it is always a better idea to have a criminal defense lawyer present with you when you are arraigned, or formally notified of the charges, which is usually when the judge promulgates the bond conditions. There is always a lawyer from the District Attorney's office present at your arraignment which will be arguing on behalf of the state or the victim, which usually means against your best interests. You are entitled to have your criminal defense lawyer present with you at every stage of a criminal investigation and case.

Thus, when the judge is setting your bond conditions, you will have a lawyer there who knows the law and can argue intelligently in your favor, especially if you feel that some of the conditions of bond are unreasonable. In Bexar County, for example, I know that in many family violence cases involving an alleged assault on a spouse, the court will impose a "No Contact" order between the husband-wife, at the urging of the ADA, even though at the arrest stage nothing has been proven. Sometimes judges will impose abundant drug testing requirements on drug possession cases. You are completely innocent of a crime until you are proven guilty before a jury of your peers, and you should be treated as such. Additionally, if you have a lawyer present when the bond is set, the lawyer can argue for a lower bond, depending on some factors including your criminal history and ties to the community.

Now in some cases, like in a DWI arrest late at night, it's almost impossible to hire a lawyer quickly enough for him to be present with you at the arraignment. If you do not hire a lawyer immediately upon knowing about your criminal charges, you probably will not have time to hire one at the time you are arrested. Even though on Law and Order, the lawyers just magically show up during the interrogation and arrest process, this does not often happen in real life.

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