Defendants often mistakenly believe their case is bound to go the trial in Texas. In practice, this is often not the case.
About half of our cases are set for trial but of these only about a fifth of them end up before a jury.
When a defense lawyer shows prosecutors he is willing to fight a case and is not just going to take the first plea bargain offered or plead guilty, the prosecution gives more serious thought to the case.
On the day of a trial, when the prosecutor needs to bring in witnesses to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury, we often get the case dismissed or the charge reduced to a more minor offense.
A client must be prepared to accept that lesser charge from the outset. For minor offenses like Class C traffic tickets, probations given may be eligible to be expunged from records.
Although a minority of cases go to trial in Texas, criminal defendants have a right to a jury trial.
If you exercise your right, the jury will include 12 members for felony cases in District Court and six members for misdemeanor cases. The jurors must all agree to reach a verdict.
A defendant can waive the right to a jury in which case a judge will enter a verdict. Whether you should exercise or waive this right is an important legal decision. It is best to consult with your attorney, but it is ultimately each defendant’s decision to make.
We are sometimes asked if defense attorneys avoid taking a criminal case to trial. You should be aware that many of them may feel they lack the experience to take a case to trial. Or they may feel they won’t make money if they prepare a case for trial because it’s taking too much time away from other cases.
Many attorneys also feel they are unlikely to win their case at trial. However, we feel if a case goes all the way to the day of trial, it’s sending out a powerful signal to the prosecutor.
If there is a good reason to fight a case, it often makes sense to go to trial. We often find even if a trial results in a loss the result is no less favorable than a plea bargain.
Ultimately, defendants are entitled to decide whether their case should go to trial or if they should accept a plea bargain.
In the case of a plea bargain, a defense attorney is ethically required to:
This is the case even if the defense attorney believes that the defendant’s offer will not be accepted or the prosecutor’s offer is unacceptable. Read more about cases going to trial here on our website.
If you have been charged with a crime, it’s important to hire a seasoned Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer.