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What to Know About Texas Criminal Courts

  • Whether you’re here to learn or you’re due an appearance in front of the Texas criminal courts, there’s plenty of information worth knowing. In Texas, the offense committed determines which court system a hearing will take place in. It’s reasonably complex, with each judicial region having its own presiding judge and court structure.

    How Many Different Courts Does Texas Have? 

    Texas has three separate courts, alongside its Federal branch, and serves a distinct purpose within the system. The crime in question will dictate which court it’s assigned to, whether it be Trial Court, the State Court of Appeals or the State Supreme Court. 

    Trial Courts is an umbrella term for District Courts, County Courts, Probate Courts, Municipal Courts, and Justice of the Peace Courts. The majority of cases are likely to appear in Trial Court and hold jurisdiction over felony criminal cases, divorce cases, civil cases, and other more typical proceedings.

    The Court of Criminal Appeals is a discretionary body that may preside over criminal cases appealed from Trial Courts. The court itself may choose whether to review the case in question or not, though it must hear those with capital punishment as a sentencing option. The court is based in the State Capital of Austin and is presided over by 9 Judges. 

    The Texas State Supreme Court was founded in 1836 and is the State’s last resort to settle civil matters. Once again, nine Judgeships preside over the court, holding mandatory jurisdiction over writs of mandamus and habeas corpus. The majority of the Supreme court’s time is spent determining which of the many petitions it receives should be heard.

    Federal Courts preside over disputes concerning Federal Laws, matters concerning the US Constitution, and conflicts between parties related to sums exceeding $75,000. Cases typically pass through the Federal Courts before reaching the Supreme Court, though not always. Federal judgments often set legal precedents that apply to vast bodies of people.

    Should I Rely On a Public Defender or Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer? 

    If you’ve been called to appear in front of a criminal court, you’ll be assigned a public defender with an option to hire your own defense lawyer. While the idea of a free public defender may seem appealing, you’re given no choice as to who you’re assigned. This decision may have a massive impact on the rest of your life, so it’s worth considering a criminal defense lawyer if you feel you’re going to need a stellar defense.

    Public defenders are undoubtedly knowledgeable and diligent legal representatives, though they are often burdened by high volumes of clients. You’re unlikely to spend significant amounts of time communicating with a public defender due to how busy their schedules are. There’s also the possibility that your public defender may be reassigned midway through your case, leaving you waiting for new representation and with little choice but to start building rapport and trust again from scratch.

    With a criminal defense lawyer, you get what you pay for. When hired, they will support you for the duration of your case and use their resources to investigate as best they can to produce evidence in your favor. Should you be arraigned in jail, you’ll have the ability to contact your lawyer over the telephone when required, and they’ll be able to visit you to give legal advice and explain court proceedings as they unfold.

    Finding the Right Criminal Defence Lawyer in Tarrant County

    Public defenders do excellent work, but if your case is complex or particularly challenging, you’d be better served by a criminal defense lawyer. The time and resources they’re able to offer to defend your case justify any costs, particularly if it’s your freedom in question. If you’re looking for a Tarrant County criminal lawyer, schedule a free consultation with The Law Offices of Jeff C. Kennedy by calling 817-605-1010 to discuss your case with a member of the team. Alternatively, you can leave them a message via their contact form on their website. Contact them today to discuss your case and any potential representation you may require – they’re always happy to help.