Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.
I assume you are talking about Hays County, Texas. If you are talking about a different state let me know.
A lawyer referral service that covers Hays County, Texas can be found here.
Their contact information is
Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas
Call the LRS at:
Austin area:(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>
or Toll-free:(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>
Yes, this is for Hays County. This is my first offense and the amount is $100, which I stole from my employer. If I just go to court on my own will I be assigned community service with the chance to get my record expunged or do I need to hire an attorney to help get this done? I have received a letter asking me to come in to Hays County Govt center on Sep 14th for a first appearance; what can I expect?
In other words, is this a small enough offense that I can go through it on my own, or do I need to invest in a lawyer?
That is your decision. Hays county does have a diversion program for first time offenders.
Will the diversion program ensure that my record is expunged or do I need a lawyer to help me do this?
An attorney will best suited to advise you as to how to take advantage of such a program and avoid a conviction.
How much should I be expected to pay for such services?
Usually at the end of a diversion program the charge is dismissed and sometimes sealed.
Will I be expected to admit guilty or not-guilty before the diversion program is offered?
I believe that you will need to request that it be sealed or expunged upon successful completion of diversion program.
Will I be expected to admit guilt or not-guilty before the diversion program is offered to me?
Usually the diversion program will require you to write a statement about the offense. This is not done in open court. Usually people write short statements. i.e. "I took $50 from the petty cash drawer. I intended to return it when I got paid next week. I know what I did was wrong. I'm sorry."
But do I need to admit guilt before being offered this option of diversion?
The first step is they will determine if you are eligible.
The eligibility should be determined first.
A local lawyer who is familiar with the court should be able to advise you if you meet the qualifications.
So you're finally saying that I need to hire a lawyer?
if you cannot afford one, you should consider having the court appoint one to represent you. The public defenders office would be very familiar with the process.
No, I'm no saying that you are required to have one, but seeking the advice of one is the safest and best way to insure your rights are protected.
Why did you rate my service bad?
I still feel like you're not answering my questions. I need to know whether or not I qualify for this diversion program and whether or not I need to say guilty or not guilty
You do not need to plead either
if you qualify for the program, you case is taken out of the court
I am a first time offender and stole $100 from my employer. Will I be offered the diversion program and will my record be expunged under these circumstances?
your case is dismissed if you qualify
So when I go into the court they will see if I qualify for diversion program and then offer it to me and dismiss my case if I qualify? without me admitting guilt?
And according to you, do I qualify?
actually they have two methods, one is deferred adjudication, the other is diversion.
or deferred disposition
What does that mean?
Deferred Disposition, also known as Deferred Prosecution, is essentially the same setup as an adjudication, except that the defendant does not announce a plea of guilty or no contest in open court. Instead, the defendant is given a set of goals to meet during a short period of time. If no new arrest follow, and the defendant meets the pre-set goals, the case is dismissed by the prosecutors.
Deferred adjudication is a sentencing alternative to an outright pleading of 'guilty' that can allow a defendant to avoid a conviction. Typically the defendant enters a plea of guilty or nolo contendre (no contest) in open court, where the plea is heard by the court, but not entered into the official court record. Instead, Deferred Adjudication allows the judge to postpone or defer any finding of guilt for a set period of time. During that period the defendant will be placed under community supervision, which is essentially texas probation. At the end of the set period, often six months or one to two years, and if the defendant has successfully completed the community supervision, the judge will enter no finding of guilt, and the defendant will have avoided any conviction in the case by having the case dismissed.
So all of this will be offered to me without the need of a lawyer to fight for it for me?
they are very similar but one requires the admission of guilt
That is within the discretion of the prosecutor and the court.
Will I be asked to admit guilt or not?
If there is nothing exceptional about your case and you are a first time offender it should be
if you do the deferred adjudication you will be
should be what? you will be....what?
should be offered one of these options
If I do the deferred adjudication I will be what?
Sometimes the prosecutor or court are provided information that defendants are unaware of. Such as the victim may call the prosecutor and tell him all sorts of bad things about you,
So my employer might call the prosecutor and do this?
If you do deferred adjudication you will be required to plea guilty or no contest.
So that's where a lawyer would hellp me?
is there any difference between a court appointed lawyer and a private one that I pay?
I have no way of knowing what your employer will or will not do. But I have seen in cases involving employee theft employers get very angry and contact the prosecutor and attempt to thwart a persons attempt to do diversion.
ok, so I can't really afford a lawyer. Can a court appointed lawyer do as good a job as a hired one?
I would love to be able to tell you what you want hear. But the prosecutor and the court will ultimately determine if you are eligible.
And in some case they may do a better job.
the public defender will be familiar with your courts practices and procedures.
So I when will a court appointed lawyer option be given to me? Before the preceding begins or during?
Some courts actually prescreen cases for diversion programs. I do not know what your court does. You could arrive on your court date, and prior to appearing before the judge, someone may advise you that you are eligible.
This may happen even before you have the opportunity to ask the judge to appoint you a lawyer.
ok but if it's not then I should ask the judge to appoint me a lawyer?
yes, you should.
ok then I think I've finally got all my questions answered. Thank you for your help.