TheWillard Hall Firm
Criminal Defense - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I have not been arrested, but I received word that the police want to talk to me about something that happened. I want to know what to tell them.
      Unfortunately, no two situations are identical. Thus, you should contact a lawyer immediately to discuss in confidence the facts of your particular difficulty. Studies show that people who get to a lawyer very early in the process generally come out best in the legal system.


  2. My child is being accused of a crime, and now the police want to talk to me. Do I have a right to silence for my child's sake?
      No. Our law does not recognize a parent / child communication privilege. In fact, failing to cooperate could lead to serious legal problems for a parent. Therefore, a parent faced with such a situation is well advised to get their child to a lawyer at the earliest opportunity as the child may only consult with a lawyer in confidence.


  3. What is the proper role of a parent, a spouse, a family member or close friend when their loved one is being accused of a crime.
      The proper role is one of unconditional love and support. The accusation, what happens in the legal process, and even what is said between the attorney and client, should be strictly 'off limits' in any discussions or communications.


  4. If I'm accused of a crime in Texas, will I be jailed before I've gone to court?
      Yes. Officers have the ability to arrest and jail suspects when there is probable cause to believe the suspect may have engaged in crime.


  5. What is bail?
      'Bail' is a means of release from jail pending the outcome of a case. Under the bail system, 'bail' refers to the security given by the accused assuring the accused will appear and answer before the proper court.


  6. What is a 'bail bond'
      A 'bail bond' is a written undertaking by an accused and his sureties for the release of the accused from jail. This release is only pending the appearance of the accused before some court to appear and answer because it may take months or even years for a case to come to trial or for an appeal to be decided A bail bond may be posted with the authorities in cash, by a bondsman, or in some cases, by a lawyer.


  7. What is a 'Pre-Trial Bond', a 'Personal Bond'.
      These are public bail bonds available to certain low risk offenders and generally come at a real savings to what bail bondsman or bonding company might charge.


  8. I've heard of 'tough love', and I'm thinking about leaving my loved one in jail to teach them a lesson because I do love and care about them. Is this advisable?
      No. A very bad message is sent to a judge, prosecutor, or jury when anyone stands before a court without meaningful family support. The natural inference is that the accused has 'burned' the family or loved ones many times in the past, and that the family or loved ones actually would like to see the system 'burn' the accused The damage can be irreparable.


  9. What is the difference between a 'misdemeanor' and a 'felony'?
      The distinction between these types of cases is fading, because all misdemeanors now may have serious consequences on your employment, your professional licenses, your insurance rates, and even your ability to secure credit and pass checks. Historically, 'misdemeanors' were considered less serious cases. Generally, the maximum term of confinement ,for a misdemeanor is one year, and every kind of crime that could result in longer than one year confinement is considered as a felony.


  10. Would it be best for our family to use its limited financial resources to help with ball release or help secure a lawyer services?
      There are many reason why it is more cost effective to hire a lawyer before posting bail on a felony case. For example, the lawyer may believe the bail is too high, and may have some simple ideas on how bail might be reduced This can help marshal financial resources properly toward defending the accused in court as opposed to wasting them on a bail bondsman. In misdemeanor cases in Southeast Texas, its probably best to go ahead and post bail because bail on misdemeanors in our region is generally a low, fixed amount.


  11. What is the difference between a 'retained' lawyer and a 'Court Appointed Lawyer' or 'Public Defender'?
      A 'retained' lawyer is the lawyer the accused hires for money to represent him. A 'court appointed' lawyer or 'public defender' is a lawyer assigned by the court or public body to represent the accused. Willard Hall has a 100 per cent retained' client base, but early in his practice he did handle 'Court Appointed' clients.


  12. Is it best to use a 'retained' lawyer or a 'Court Appointed Lawyer' or 'Public Defender'?
      It has been established that those who use 'retained' lawyers do best in the legal system. A now-famous study published in the October 17, 1999, edition of the Houston Chronicle showed that 'those using (court) appointed lawyers (sometimes called 'Public Defenders ') are twice as likely to serve time' in prison or jail than those using 'retained lawyers'. Although the reasons are subject to debate, this is something members of the bar and public have recognized for years.


  13. Is it expensive to have a 'retained' lawyer?
      Not when one considers the alternatives. A state bar study shows that fees for lawyers vary according to region, years of experience of the lawyer, and area of practice. In the Southeast Texas Region, the fee range is between $125 dollars to $250 dollars per hour, according to the State Bar of Texas.


  14. Are all legal outcomes determined in advance? In other words, does it really make a difference whether I have a good lawyer or simply a lawyer who is very inexpensive?
      No, in fact the possible range of outcomes in criminal cases varies widely even among cases involving different people facing identical charges. A lawyer who is very inexpensive is probably inexperienced or does not intend to put much time or attention into the case.


  15. What protections do I have from 'fee gouging' by lawyers?
      While numerous factors go into what might be considered a 'reasonable legal fee', and a lawyer who is highly experienced with a good track record is entitled to charge more than other lawyers, Texas does have stringent ethical rules prohibiting lawyers from charging legal fees that are clearly excessive.


  16. I will hire a good lawyer later if I run into trouble with a 'Court Appointed' lawyer or a 'Cheap Lawyer'.
      Not a good idea, but one held by many. Often people try the same thing with mechanic work on their car, or repair work on their home. Sadly, the lesson learned is that it's far less expensive in the long-run, and well worth the peace of mind, to hire an experienced professional to do the job right the first time. We know this, we answer the phone all day and hear all the horror stories.


  17. I don't mind paying good money for a lawyer, but I want some up front promises or guarantees before I do.
      No ethical lawyer can make promises or guarantees about a case outcome. If you should hear a lawyer making such misrepresentations to secure employment, you should contact the State Bar of Texas.


  18. Can attorney fees in a criminal case be contingent on the outcome? I've heard of personal injury lawyers, for example, taking fees on such a contingent fee basis.
      No. Texas prohibits fees in criminal cases from being contingent on the outcome. Alas! Having won many cases, I wish it were not so. Contingent fees in personal injury cases are permissible.




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