Your Rights

If you have been arrested or accused of a crime (or if you believe you are suspected of one), you should speak to a Board Certified Criminal Defense lawyer as soon as possible. The prosecution of a person is a complex lengthy process that can turn your life upside down, threatening your family, your finances and your very freedom.

A good criminal defense attorney will discuss what options are available to you to resolve the matter. More importantly, you will know your legal rights with regard to a criminal accusation.

“You have the right to remain silent.”

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." This is the first part of the famous "Miranda Warnings" routinely read by police to a suspect. Why is it so important? You cannot talk your way out of this situation. Law enforcement will record what you say, presume that it is untrue, and set about proving it false. If any part of what you say is shown to be false (or innocently mistaken), it will cast doubt on your truthfulness and the remainder of your statement. Or you may inadvertently admit something that, when taken out of context, incriminates you further. But if you don't speak, how do you defend yourself?

“You have the right to an attorney.”

"You have the right to an attorney." The second and most important part of the Miranda warnings is the key to success in the complex criminal justice system. An experienced criminal lawyer can review the evidence against you and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your position. With an experienced lawyer on your side, you may never need to break your silence. Your lawyer can speak for you in a careful and informed way.

You are presumed innocent.

The Constitution of the United States and the State of Texas provide the safeguards that protect you from the government, the police and prosecutors in a criminal prosecution. When you are accused of a crime, you begin with the presumption of innocence.

This means that you do not have to prove innocence. The government must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. To do so, they must follow a well-established set of rules: they cannot use evidence obtained illegally and they must prove the evidence they use is reliable and trustworthy.

You have the right to confront the witnesses against you.

This is the ultimate procedural safeguard against false accusations: the right to cross examination, that is, to openly question the accuser or witness in court. It is relatively easy for someone to simply claim that you did something wrong - it is quite another thing to say it under oath in open court and to answer pointed questions from a lawyer structured to reveal fabrications and falsehoods.

You have the right to a trial by jury.

This is your last and greatest hope. In Texas, every criminal accusation, no matter how serious, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury – a group of twelve (for a felony) or six (for a misdemeanor) citizens drawn from the community and sworn to be fair and impartial in deciding your case. Under Texas law, a jury can decide guilt or innocence and, if necessary, what the appropriate punishment should be.

Plea Bargains.

Many people have heard of plea bargaining but do not understand it. What is the plea? What is the bargain?

In most cases, you can waive (give up) some of your rights – such as the right to a jury trial and the right to confront the witnesses against you– in exchange for leniency: a reduced punishment or a lesser charge, if that is something that you want to do and the offer is one you are willing to accept.

If a review of all of the admissible evidence against you shows that the prosecution can easily prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, an experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain, an agreement by which you plead guilty or no contest in exchange for a punishment which you are willing to accept, such as probation (community supervision) often times without a conviction (deferred adjudication). Many times, a deferred adjudication can be later "sealed," reducing the lasting consequences of a single mistake.

Free Consultation with a Board Certified Criminal Defense Specialist.

Attorney Paul Goeke has been helping people to understand their rights and get through the criminal process for more than 30 years. He is a dedicated representative of the accused in the courtrooms of Texas and behind the scenes when negotiation or plea bargaining is appropriate.

Mr. Goeke aggressively pursues each case based upon the client’s version of the events, and believes in approaching the case as though it were going to trial by jury so as to advise of the likelihood of success and best options available, and then to increase the likelihood of the most favorable plea bargain if necessary. You can read more about Mr. Goeke’s record of success: winning difficult cases time after time has given him a clear view of what is necessary and what is at stake in defending you against a criminal charge.

Contact Paul Goeke to discuss your situation free of charge. Based on the information you provide, he will explain what you are facing and the best way to defend you.

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