Montgomery County Criminal Defense Attorney - What happens on your first court date?
Montgomery County Criminal Defense Attorney - Brian Foley - Board Certified in Criminal Law.
What happens on your first Court date?
Not a whole lot . . . . If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor or a felony in Montgomery County, Texas you will have to see a judge and get bonded out of jail. The judge will set conditions of bond in felony cases and in some misdemeanors like family violence or violation of a protective order, or DWI 2nd offense.
Being placed on Conditions of bond by a judge is like being put on probation before you have been found guilty. You will have to report to the Montgomery County Community Supervision department otherwise known as the adult probation department. This is all BEFORE your first court date.
When you leave the jail they will give you the name of the court that your case is filed in and the time and date where you are to appear at court. This first court date is called an Arraignment. An arraignment used to be the time where you would officially enter a plea in your case like guilty or not guilty. However all arraignments nowadays default to a not guilty plea and often times you are never officially asked this by any officer of the court nor the judge.
At a first court setting the police have often not given all the evidence in the case to the District Attorney's Office. This information includes videos, offense reports, blood test results, and other information and documents.
This means that not a lot can happen at the first court date other than your lawyer getting you a reset so that they can review the various pieces of evidence that the District Attorney will try to use in the case. That is why most of these cases are reset for another day. There are no witnesses that are being called, there are no hearings in front of the judge typically on your first court date. The only exception to this is in a family violence case. This may be the first opportunity to try to amend the conditions of bond that restrict you from your home and amend a protective order that could deny you the right to see your children.
You will have to appear at your first court date and sign a reset form so that you can appear again for a similar court setting called a pretrial or status setting. The court dates can continue for 3-12 months or more. Frankly this can seem like a waste. But because the prosecutors have so many cases assigned to them at a time (sometimes in excess of 1000) it is important for the court to require the two parties to meet at a court setting. Additionally the court wants to require the defendant to appear in court periodically so that the court can be sure that there will not be an attempt to skip out on the charge or bail jump.
Every now and then a circumstance for a case may arise where you want to resolve the case quickly. This could be because of a client priority, or the fact that the District Attorney wants to give a really good deal on the case do to effective argument or representation. These almost never happen on the first court setting, but they do happen from time to time.
In summary, not a whole lot happens on your first court setting other than a likely reset and a request for the evidence made by your attorney to the prosecutors.
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