If you have been charged with a crime, you have the right to a “speedy public trial by an impartial jury.” You also have the right to know “the nature and cause of the accusations” and to have a written copy of the charges. At no time can you be compelled by the prosecution to present self-incriminating evidence, nor can they confront you with the witnesses they have against you. You also have the right to gather witnesses who will testify in your favor and to legal counsel who can represent you in an “adversarial judicial proceeding.” This includes the right to engage in private consultations with your lawyer in advance of the proceeding, so you can make the necessary preparations.
Your Right to Appointed Legal Counsel
If you’re not able to afford an attorney, you can have one appointed for you. And this person will be able to represent you in any judicial proceeding. If you have been appointed legal counsel and if the judicial process has already been started, the court or authorized designee will appoint counsel for you in the county where you have been arrested as soon as possible. But it can’t be later than:
- The end of the third working day after the court receives your request for the appointment of legal counsel if you were arrested in a county with a population of less than 250,000.
- The end of the first working day after the court receives your request for the appointment of legal counsel if you were arrested in a county with a population of 250,000 or more.
If you were arrested under a warrant that was issued in a county other than where the arrest was made and you’re entitled to appointed legal counsel, it will be processed in the county that issued the warrant.
Your Rights with Regard to Signed Pleadings
Any plea, motion, or paperwork that has been filed on your behalf by your attorney must have the person’s name and state, as well as his or her address. If you’re not being represented by an attorney, you will need to sign any plea, motion, or document that must be filed for or on your behalf. The signature from you or your attorney certifies that you have read the document and that, after “reasonable inquiry,” you believe that any of the following applies:
- The information is groundless and has been brought against you in bad faith.
- The information is groundless and has been brought against you due to harassment, unnecessary delay, or some other improper purpose.
If you or your attorney hasn’t signed any of the necessary documents, the court will strike it unless they’re signed immediately after the omission has been called to you or your attorney’s attention. If you or your attorney has filed a fictitious pleading for some improper purpose or makes a statement in a plea that you or your attorney knows is groundless and false (whether it’s for delaying the trial or for the purpose of harassment), you could be found guilty of contempt.
Your Right to a Trial by Jury
According to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, you have the right to a trial by jury. But if you have been charged with any offense “other than a capital felony case in which the state notifies the court” and the prosecution is seeking the death penalty, you have the right to waive a trial by jury. You’re required to submit the request in writing in an open court after they and the prosecuting attorney have given approval, which must be done in writing. The document must also be signed by their attorney and filed in the court papers before you can enter your plea.
In a capital felony case where the prosecuting attorney is not seeking the death penalty, you can waive your right to a trial by jury but only if they consent to it in writing and in open court. You can also agree to waive a jury trial regardless of whether you’re being represented by an attorney when you have requested it. But before you can agree to waive the jury, the court is required to appoint an attorney to represent you.
Other Rights Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure
Here are some other rights listed under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure:
- Searches and Seizures — No search warrant can be issued without describing them as near as they can and without “probable cause” supported by an “oath of affirmation.”
- Right to Bail — Every prisoner is bailable unless it’s for a capital offense in which the proof is evident.
- Habeus Corpus — Your right to go before the court can never suspended.
- Cruelty Forbidden — No excessive bail or fines can be imposed, nor can any cruel or unusual punishment be inflicted.
- Double Jeopardy — At no time can you be charged twice for the same offense, nor can you be put on trial again once a verdict has been reached.
- Acquittal A Bar — You’re exempted from a second trial or prosecution for the same offense if you have been acquitted.
If you have any questions about your rights in Texas criminal procedures, be sure to get in touch with Gale Law Group.