How Does Your Background Affect Criminal Charges In Texas?

Let’s Say You’re A Good Person And You Have A Family And A Good Job And, Other Than This One Infraction, You’re An Upstanding Citizen. How Much Do All Of Those Factors Play Into How The Judge Is Going To View You?

Well, it’s not necessarily the judge, first of all. It’s how law enforcement officers deal with you, how the prosecutors deal with you, and then, ultimately, if we get to that point, it’s how the judge deals with you. But it matters a great deal.

Now, there is a big difference between a good person and a person who comes from a good family. You being a good person in and of yourself is more important than whether you come from a good family. What does it mean to be a good person? It means something different to everyone. How do we determine that? Where do you go to church? Where did you go to school? Are you involved in activities that benefit others? Are you simply a person who you says you’re a good person because you go to work 40 hours a week, you go home, you go to your kid’s soccer game, and things of that nature? Or do you do Habitat for Humanity? Do you coach your kid’s soccer team? There is a lot that plays into what a good person is based on everybody’s different beliefs about what that means, and it’s measured against others they’ve known and measured against themselves.

So that’s the first part we look at. We ask, “Why do you think you’re a good person? You obviously do, so let’s hash it out a little bit.” That’s part of the interview process.

Now, if the client has never been in trouble before, that’s in large part because part of the decision for law enforcement about whether or not to file charges is what level of charges to file. It’s easier to go down on a case once we start it than to go up. Sometimes law enforcement starts with a higher charge that they believe is possible. Well, if you’ve never been in trouble before, when you talk to them, you say you were never in trouble before and you didn’t know it was drugs. It’s not like the average person is going to know what every drug looks like, but if you’ve been in trouble before, and particularly if you were arrested for drug possession or drug dealing, you’re absolutely going to know what the drugs look like, so they’re not going to believe you.

When they’re looking at your file, the prosecutor will look for felony charges and not at the misdemeanors. They’re looking at your criminal history. Now, they don’t know you’re a good person at that time unless they know you personally, and so we really have to deal with prior history at that point. Part of the defense lawyer’s job is to get in there quickly and paint a better picture of the defendant by pointing out why he is a good person and having that conversation.

If you ever get to the judge, if you’ve never been in trouble before, then you have a lot more options legally. Is probation or deferred adjudication an option? These things give the court more leeway. For instance, in Texas, we have state jail felonies for possession of certain controlled substances under a gram, and the sentence is probation. That’s the first punishment if you’ve never been in trouble before, because we don’t want to lock you up necessarily; we just want to make sure it never happens again, if possible. Regarding possible punishment, if the judge looks at you and you’ve had one minor scrape with the law or you’ve never been in trouble before, the court is more likely to believe your story about why this is something you can put behind you. If you’re a good person with no criminal history, then that does affect the outcome.

For more information on how personal background can affect criminal defense, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (254) 699-3755 today.

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