Lisa Shapiro Strauss has been successfully representing defendants charged with a wide range of felony and misdemeanor charges in Houston for over 25 years. Our clients know they can depend on Lisa’s extensive experience to deliver the best possible resolution for their cases.
For many of our clients, this is their first (and hopefully, last) brush with the law. They and their families are unfamiliar with the criminal justice system and have many questions about the process and what they can expect.
Here is Part 2 of our frequently asked questions (click here to read Criminal Defense FAQ Part 1):
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How Long Does a Criminal Trial in Houston Usually Take?
Only a small percentage of cases actually go to trial in Houston. In some instances, a case may be resolved at the first court appearance. Other cases can be resolved by entering a plea of guilty or negotiating a plea bargain with the District Attorney’s Office.
Defendants who wish to plead not guilty are given a trial date. From the first court appearance, most cases take about a year to go to trial. However, in some instances trials can be held as early as six months after the court receives the case. Such things as waiting for lab analyses, difficulties with witnesses or scheduling conflicts may delay the start of the trial for 18 months or longer.
What’s the Difference Between an Infraction, a Misdemeanor and a Felony?
An infraction is the least serious form of crime; traffic and parking tickets are examples of an infraction. In most cases, the most severe penalty will be a fine. Misdemeanors include drug possession, shop-lifting, assault and DUI. Penalties for misdemeanors in Texas can include jail time of up to a year and fines of up to $4,000. Felonies are serious crimes such as rape or murder and can result in fines, serious jail time or even the death penalty.
What are the Penalties for a Misdemeanor Conviction in Houston?
- Class A misdemeanor: A fine not to exceed $4,000 and/or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year.
- Class B misdemeanor: A fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days.
- Class C misdemeanor: A fine not to exceed $500.
What are the Penalties for a Felony Conviction in Houston?
Capital felony: If the defendant was under 18 when they committed the offense they will be imprisoned for life; if the defendant was 18 or older when they committed the offense they will be imprisoned for life without parole or executed.
- First Degree felony: Imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years. May also include a fine not to exceed $10,000.
- Second Degree felony: Imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years. May also include a fine not to exceed $10,000.
- Third Degree felony: Imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for any term of not more than 10 years or less than 2 years. May also include a fine not to exceed $10,000.
What is the Difference between Probation and Parole?
Probation is an alternative to prison; parole is the release of a prisoner before the end of their sentence has been completed. The conditions of parole can be similar to those of probation and can include reporting to a probation officer, submitting to random drug testing, steady employment, not associating with certain people and not committing any more crimes.
What’s the Difference between a Public Defender and a Private Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Probably the main difference between a private criminal defense attorney and a public defender is that the public defender provides free legal representation to people who cannot afford to hire a private lawyer. The court appoints the public defender and their fees are paid by the state. While it may be tempting to rely on a public defender, you should keep in mind that they usually have high caseloads. A public defender may not be able to devote the necessary time or resources required in your case.
Because of their caseloads, it may be difficult to meet with a public defender to discuss your case.
Private criminal defense attorneys in Houston charge their clients a fee for handling their cases. Usually a private lawyer doesn’t handle as many cases as a public defender. This gives them more time concentrate on each client’s case, discovering information to aid in their defense strategy as well as looking for weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against their client. Private lawyers also have access to special resources that can help in their clients’ defense, such as private laboratories to test evidence, private investigators to search for helpful evidence and expert witnesses.
You can choose the private criminal defense lawyer you wish to represent you. When making your selection you should look at a lawyer’s experience and record of success in defending other clients against the same charges you face.
What Kinds of Cases Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Houston Handle?
Most criminal defense attorneys handle a wide range of cases. For example, Harris County Criminal Defense Attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss has extensive experience defending clients accused of:
- Felony assault
- Drug possession and other drug crimes
- Domestic violence
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Lisa Shapiro Strauss Can Answer Your Questions
If you have any further questions regarding the charges you face, please do not hesitate to contact Harris County Criminal Defense Lawyer Lisa Shapiro Strauss at (713) 449-9922. Lisa’s experience as a former prosecutor gives her a unique advantage over other criminal defense lawyers in Houston. Understanding how the other side thinks allows Lisa to employ effective defense strategies for her clients. No matter how hopeless your case may seem, choosing to work with Houston criminal lawyer Lisa Shapiro Strauss could make all the difference in the outcome of your case.