Criminal Law Questions? Ask a Criminal Lawyer.
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Your questions are:
was this informal visit by the magistrate in the jail legal?
Yes, there is nothing that prevents the initial hearing from being informal. The Texas Indigent Defense provisions simply require that the judge see the accused and set bail within a specific time period as well as appoint a lawyer if an appointment is necessary.
Shouldn't that have taken place in the courtroom next door and been recorded as a normal court proceeding?
No, it isn't unusual for the initial hearing to take place in the jail. Many of them take place in a small room actually inside the jail. There is no record made of these proceedings as a Justice of the Peace court is not a court of record.
And shouldn't bond reduction or PR bond have been at least discussed?
No, not at the initial hearing. You could certainly have made an oral motion for a PR bond or to reduce bond but it would likely have been denied at this point. Most of the JPs have a preset bond amount depending on the charge and classification of the charge. Your lawyer can file a Motion to Reduce Bond after they meet with you.
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I'm subscribed here for unlimited monthly questions, so why is this one marked $25? If I rate this "Bad," it's because of that, not your answer.
One more thing I could add to this question... The magistrate also failed to ask how I plead. In looking over papers -court documents and police files, whatever I was able to view- I see no mention at all of a guilty or not guilty plea, or even a "nolo contender". I really believe the only reason they kept me jailed for a week, under an unreasonably high bond, till the night before the hearing, was to keep me "out of the way," and unable to put together any sort of reasonable defense. That night, I was released on PR bond, and charged with "Class A misdemeanor animal abuse." What I did gather together in that one night of "freedom" went totally ignored in the courtroom. Three days of unwarranted searching of my property before the warrant was issued went ignored by the court, and so-called "evidence" gathered during those searches was admitted, despite my protests. The judge openly stated in the courtroom that it'd be a shame if all the "hard work" by the vet and humane society were for nothing, and then somehow a civil judgment was passed, awarding all my animals to the humane society, and vet's costs taxed to me. It was a mess from start to finish, and somehow morphed from criminal to civil. Sorry about getting off topic here, but the question here is, shouldn't there have been a plea entered at that initial "hearing" by a dumpy "housekeeper" who turned out to be a magistrate? -And shouldn't the magistrate have identified herself to begin with, rather than to let me assume she was a housekeeper or office help??
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