Defending Against Texas DWI Charges: Strategies to Protect Your Rights
Facing driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges in Texas can be a distressing and overwhelming experience. A DWI conviction cRead More
In Texas, we have a bifurcated trial system. This means that in Texas, there are potentially two parts to a trial. The first part of a trial in Texas is called “The Guilt/ Innocence Phase” of the trial. If a person is found guilty, then the case moves to the second part of the trial. The second part of the trial is called the “Punishment Phase” of the trial. The Punishment phase of the trial only occurs if the defendant is found guilty in the first phase of the trial.
In Texas, during “The Guilt/Innocence Phase,” the defendant may elect to have either the Judge or the Jury determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. A Judge trial is called a “Bench Trial”. Historically, defendants were allowed to choose a Bench or Judge trial without any input from the prosecution. The law eventually changed. Now in Texas, a defendant may only have a Bench or Judge trial during the guilt/innocence phase if the State agrees. In other words, the accused does not have an absolute right to a Bench trial on the issue of guilt/ innocence.
A defendant may want to have a bench trial on guilt/innocence for any number of reasons. Likewise, the prosecution may not agree to a bench trial for any number of reasons. This blog discusses why a defendant may want to have a bench trial during the guilt/ innocence phase of a trial.
Ultimately, the decision to pursue a bench trial versus a jury trial is strategic and should be made in consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Factors such as the strength of the evidence, the complexity of the case, and the defendant’s prior criminal history may all play a role in this decision.
A bench trial may be better if the evidence against the defendant is strong since a judge is less likely to be swayed by emotional arguments or sympathy. However, if the evidence is weak or circumstantial, a jury trial may be better since a jury is more likely to be swayed by these arguments.
A bench trial can have its advantages and disadvantages in Texas criminal cases. While it may be faster and more simplified, it also lacks the benefits of a jury trial, such as a panel of peers and the opportunity for jury nullification. Ultimately, the decision to pursue a bench trial versus a jury trial should be made with the advice and guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help weigh the pros and cons and develop a strategy best suited for the defendant’s circumstances.
The client believed to be facing potential Wire Fraud Charges related to SBA PPP loan applications. Investigation of applications for PPP loans and PPP forgiveness demonstrated that the Client had at all times acted in a lawful manner. Investigation demonstrated no fraud was committed by the client. Case closed.
Client was charged by Federal Indictment with making a social media post that threatened Malicious Damage and Destruction of a Building by Means of Fire and Explosives in violation of Federal law. The Defense showed that Client was a law-abiding citizen. The Defense further showed that the alleged threat was not made with any criminal intent.
The client, a public official with a long history of public service, was accused by a former girlfriend of engaging in non-consensual sexual relations. The Defense investigation and analysis showed through a detailed timeline that the allegation made absolutely no sense. Phone records, including calls and texts, were relied on to help establish an accurate timeline. The Defense met with law enforcement and reviewed a detailed package that exonerated the accused.
Client, a Houston area professional who frequently travels for work, was accused by his wife of assaulting her in his family home. Defense showed that wife’s story lacked credibility and there was no physical evidence in support of the wife’s allegation.
The client, a young Black male, was driving his car when police pulled him over for no apparent reason. It looked to be a profile stop. The client was accused of possessing a controlled substance in his vehicle. The Defense showed that there was no lawful basis for the police to stop the Client’s car. The Defense also showed that there was no lawful basis for the search of the Client’s car. It was a bad search, so the seized evidence was not admissible.
Client charged in Federal Indictment In “Operation Wrecking Ball” with 55 named co-defendants. Client faced seven charges. Client was charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. Client was also charged with four counts of Distribution of Cocaine and one count of Money laundering.
Allegations involved client’s alleged use of his home to distribute cocaine. Government’s lengthy investigation involved numerous wiretaps, surveillance, video, pole cams, search warrants, vehicle stops and use of cooperating co-defendants.
Client went to trial with four remaining defendants. After a two-week trial, Judge granted Motion for Acquittal on four of the seven charges. Jury found Client Not Guilty of remaining three charges.
Client charged in Federal Court with two counts of Wire Fraud related to Five SBA EIDL loan applications. The Government alleged the client, a Houston professional, defrauded the Small Business Administration out of over $150,000. The Government also found the intended loss was over half a million dollars. The Client faced up to 20 years in prison on each count. The Defense investigated the case and negotiated a deal that included the Government not opposing a probation. The Federal Guideline calculation was for a prison sentence and the Probation Department recommended a prison sentence. Attorney Fickman submitted a 90 page Defense Sentencing Memorandum asking for Probation.
Client was retired professional. Client was accused of being involved in a road rage incident in 1960 Area. Defense put together a 100 page memorandum that demonstrated complainant was actual aggressor.
Client was accused of touching child. Case involved thousands of pages of psychiatric and Child Protective Services records as well as investigations by multiple police departments. After three- year fight, case dismissed.
Client accused of shoving and knocking down family member causing injury. After investigation, charges were dismissed.
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