The McBroom Law Firm

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m not sure about my case information or court date, can you look it up online?

Yes, with your name I can look your case up online and see the charge, bond information, court, court date, case history and other public information related to your case.

The judge found probable cause in my case, what does that mean?

Probable cause is the first legal threshold the prosecution must meet in order to proceed with prosecuting a case against you, but it is a very low threshold.  While the prosecutor must show evidence that proves you’re guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to convict you of a crime, at the probable cause determination they only need to state a set of facts which, if taken as completely true, adequately describes that a crime has been committed.  For example, if the prosecutor says a witness told the police that you stole a ladder from their garage, that is sufficient probable cause for the case to proceed beyond the probable cause stage.  Thereafter it will be up to the prosecutor and your defense attorney to investigate the truth of that witness statement and produce evidence to show whether the crime was actually committed as alleged or not.

I missed my court date, what should I do now?

 If you missed your court date by 1-2 days, call the court, explain how you were held up and ask nicely if you can still appear or whether a warrant has already been issued. If the date missed was more than 2 days ago, the judge has most likely already revoked your bond and issued a warrant to arrest you for failure to appear. In this case, a good attorney can try to persuade the judge to excuse your absence, reinstate the bond, cancel the warrant and give you a new court date. Otherwise, if you had a PR bond and it got revoked because of the missed court date, you may need to ask for a cash bond amount and post a money bond to remain free.

Can I move my court date?

Usually an attorney can move your court date in advance for a good reason.

I don’t like my court appointed attorney, do I have to tell them before hiring you?

You do not have to do anything special, if you hire me the court will remove their name from your case and put my name on it at the same time.

What is a PR bond?

PR stands for personal recognizance; essentially it is a no-cost bond based on your promise to follow your bond conditions and appear on your court date.

How are bond amounts set?

Bond amounts are typically set at the judge’s discretion after considering factors such as the nature of the alleged offense, the number of charges pending and any prior convictions the defendant has.  While prosecutors often ask the judge for a high bond amount, a good defense attorney can examine the factors surrounding your situation and articulate for the judge the most persuasive reasons why they should consider a PR bond or a low bond amount for you.

My son’s bond is set at $20,000, how am I supposed to afford this?

A good attorney can try to get the bond amount lowered. Success at lowering the bond depends heavily on the particulars of the case and which judge is presiding over the case. Once your attorney has lowered the bond amount as much as the judge will allow, many people use the services of a bail bondsman.  Typically bondsmen require you to pay them 10% of the bond value and then they post the rest, but (much like attorneys) each bondsman runs their business differently so you should compare several before choosing one.

Why does my bond amount say ‘$0.00’?

A $0.00 bond means the judge has not set a bond amount on your case yet.

My loved one is asking me to bond them out, should I do it?

There are many reasons why I recommend most of my clients bond out as soon as possible and remain out on bond while the case is pending.  For one thing, it is up to the prosecutor to produce evidence proving the defendant’s guilt and the court typically allows them about 8 months to accumulate that evidence from various Houston area police departments and produce it for the defense attorney to review.  Given the extended amount of time that may pass while the case is pending and waiting for evidence, if the defendant has a job it is always better to be out working and earning money than sitting in jail doing nothing.  Besides, if the prosecutor is never able to produce sufficient evidence to prove the defendant’s guilt and the case ends up getting dismissed, then the defendant will have been sitting in jail all that time for no reason.  Having said all that, there are some specific cases in which I do not recommend bonding out the defendant: If you are the victim of the crime alleged against the defendant and you are afraid of them, then you probably should not bond them out.  Also, if your loved one has accumulated many criminal charges in a short period of time and it seems likely that bonding them out would only help them accumulate more criminal charges, then it may be better to plead them into a program that can help rehabilitate their issues with heavier supervision instead.  If you’d like to discuss the particular circumstances regarding your loved one, please call me at 936-283-0655 and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.  

I’ve been notified that there is a warrant out for my arrest, what should I do?

A warrant means that the police are looking for you and they will arrest you if they find you.  In order to avoid this unpleasant and uncertain experience, a good attorney will try to get you a walk through bond.  First, your attorney will estimate the range of your future bond amount if they think you won’t be eligible for a PR bond (a no cost personal recognizance bond).  Then, you’ll contact a bondsman and contract with them to post bond for you within the estimated range and bring that bondsman to court with you on the morning you and your attorney plan to do this.  Your attorney will consult with the court staff and prosecutor and approach the judge asking for a bond amount and permission to do a walk though bond.  If the judge says yes, you’ll leave the courtroom with your bondsman and wait at the bondsman’s office while he or she posts bond on your case.  This procedure will close your warrant without ever having to be arrested and afterward you’ll be assigned a regular court date. 

   No one can guarantee the success of a walk though bond because some judges don’t allow them and others won’t allow them in every case.  However, if an attempted walk through bond fails and you are taken into custody from the court room, you’ll still have a bond amount set and a bondsman walking across the street to post bail to get you released within a few hours of going in.  This is far better than getting arrested by surprise, waiting up to 48 hours for a judge to set your bond amount (with or without your lawyer present to argue for the lowest amount possible), and trying to contract with a bondsman from inside jail or asking relatives to do it for you.  If you’d like to discuss the probability of success at getting a walk though bond in your case, please call me at 936-283-0655 and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

I drive trucks across state for a living but my bond conditions say I can’t leave Harris County, what should I do?

A good attorney can, in most cases, persuade the judge to modify your bond conditions to allow you to work.

I’m out on bond and I failed a drug test or BAC test, what’s going to happen?

The answer really depends on all the specifics of your case, including who your judge is, what your charge is and what your criminal history is like. In general, if your charge is a misdemeanor and you failed a drug or BAC test taken by pretrial services/bond supervision, pretrial services will wait until your next court date to address it with you, your attorney, the prosecutor and the judge. Feel free to call me at 936-283-0655 so we can discuss the particulars in your case.

What’s the difference between bond conditions and probation conditions?

Bond conditions are the rules you promise to follow in order to remain out of jail on bail during the time period between arrest and final disposition of the case (by dismissal, plea or trial). If you break your bond conditions while on bond, your bond can be revoked and you might have to remain in jail until your case is finished.

  Probation conditions are the rules you promise to follow in order to remain on community supervision after your case has finished by pleading onto probation. If you break your probation conditions while on probation, your probation can be revoked and you can be sent to jail or prison instead of remaining on community supervision; alternatively, judges generally have the option to extend your probation even longer, add conditions to your probation and/or send you through a 2-6 month lock-up program designed to educate and incentivize you toward proper completion of your probation.

The judge put a protective order or no contact order on my case, what does that mean?

Defendants commonly receive both a protective order and a no-contact order at the beginning of their case, especially in the context of alleged domestic violence and/or terroristic threats.  The prosecutor and judge agree to these orders and put them into place all by themselves, with no prompting or permission from the victim and sometimes they don’t even notify the victim that orders have been put into place for their protection.  If you have received a protective order and/or no contact order, read it carefully so that you’ll be aware of the particular terms and the length of times the orders will be applicable.  If you break the terms of these orders, that could result in you being charged with a new crime.  The protected victim named in the protective or no-contact order does not have the power to waive the terms of the order that the judge has signed into effect in your case; the only way the terms of this order can be changed or waived is if the judge who signed the order modifies it.

How do I get a protective order or no contact order lifted?

Only the judge of the court that signed the protective order and/or no contact order has the authority to lift that order. Some judges will agree to lift this kind of order before the case concludes if the victim protected by the order comes to the court in person and asks the judge to lift the order. An attorney who is familiar with the Harris County and District criminal court judges can help you figure out what to expect from your judge in this situation.

The police said they pulled me over because I changed lanes without a blinker, but it’s not true, can I get my case dismissed?

Your attorney will be able to view the police dash cams to verify what prompted the traffic stop.  In general, if the police pulled you over without justification your attorney can motion to suppress all of the evidence gathered from the traffic stop so that it cannot be used against you.  Following that, if the prosecutor has no evidence left to use against you, they will probably dismiss the case.

The police that arrested me never read me my rights, does that help my case?

Most police are usually recording themselves (and those they interact with) using body cameras with microphones, which your attorney can view as part of the evidence in the case.  The police are supposed to warn arrestees that “anything you say can be used as evidence against you.” If they failed to warn you and you made a self-incriminating statement during or after arrest, we can probably have that statement excluded from evidence in your case.

My Texas drivers’ license has been suspended for years, how can I stop getting arrested for DWLI (driving while license invalid)?

Yes, there is still a way to legally drive.  First you should find out what’s wrong with your license by checking its eligibility online at Log in using your driver’s license number, date of birth and last 4 digits of your social security number.  Second, read the instructions and look at the list of obstacles it shows as keeping your license from being valid.  The right hand column lists the conditions, steps or options you have for making each obstacle go away so that you can legally drive.  If the obstacles are a concrete timeline or financially insurmountable, typically you will still be eligible to get an occupational drivers license issued by a court which will enable you to legally drive even though DPS is still withholding your eligibility for a regular TX DPS license.

What’s an ALR hearing?

Basically, since Texas DPS is the authority that issues Texas drivers license, they’ve passed a rule that says any license they’ve issued shall be automatically suspended if a specific set of circumstances should occur:

  1. The driver was pulled over driving and asked to take a breathalyzer test, and
  2. They failed, or they refused.

This DPS suspension will summarily occur 15 days after you were pulled over and failed or refused the test, unless you request an ALR (Administrative License Review) telephonic hearing first.  This administrative DPS license suspension happens independently of any DWI court cases that may be pending against you for the same incident, and whether or not you are ever found convicted of a DWI related to the same incident.  Most people navigate these obstacles by requesting an ALR hearing immediately (which will be scheduled 1-3 months later) and/or getting an occupational drivers’ license that enables them to drive during the period of DPS license suspension.

I have other questions about a letter I received from the Texas DPS?

I can answer many questions about the DPS as part of a free consultation, you can text me a picture of the letter with your question 936-283-0655 or just call and ask me.

What’s a pretrial diversion?

A pretrial diversion is a favorable way to dispose of your case, if you are eligible to get one, because it is eligible for expunction and can be erased from your criminal record.  To enter a pretrial diversion, you sign a contract with the prosecution wherein you agree to follow their rules, conditions and submit to their supervision for a fixed period of time, after which they agree to dismiss the charge against you. 

What is probation like?

If you are currently being supervised by the court’s pretrial services department for bond conditions (rules imposed by the court that you must follow in order to remain on bond and out of jail pending disposition of an active case), you will probably find that probation feels very similar to pretrial supervision; i.e. you must check in regularly, pass drug tests, pay supervision fees and follow rules and conditions.  Different types of cases generally come with specific restrictions, for example assault cases often require that you have no contact with the victim while you’re on bond awaiting disposition of the case and during any probationary period after disposition of the case.  Drug possession cases usually require drug testing for both pretrial bond conditions and probation, and the court may impose educational drug classes and counseling as an additional requirement of granting probation.  If you’d like to know what probation would typically entail for the offense you are charged with, feel free to give me a call at 936-283-0655, I will be happy to discuss it with you. 

What kinds of probation are available?
  1. Pretrial diversion: this is actually not probation but a more favorable alternative that is sometimes available. You would not plead guilty to the court in order to enter a pretrial diversion. Instead, you sign a contract with the prosecution wherein you agree to follow their rules, conditions and submit to their supervision for a fixed period of time, after which they agree to dismiss the charge against you.  Dismissals obtained through pretrial diversion are eligible for expunction so that your record will not show the charge was ever brought against you.
  2. Deferred adjudication probation: Like regular probation, you would be required to plead guilty to the charge but the judge will say something like this, “I accept your plea of guilty but I have not found you guilty; you have not been convicted of this offense. I am placing you on deferred adjudication probation and if you successfully complete the term of deferred adjudication probation, I will dismiss the case and you can truthfully say that you were never convicted of this offense.”  After completion a deferred adjudication will not be a conviction on your criminal record but it is not eligible for expunction.  It may be eligible for an order of non-disclosure, which keeps records of the offense from public view for most purposes.  It is also possible to get off of deferred adjudication probation early if you are doing well and have completed all the terms and conditions.
  3. Straight (regular) probation: the only advantage to taking this kind of probation is that it keeps you out of jail, you would be required to plead guilty to the charge, it will show as a conviction on your criminal record and it will not be eligible for an expunction or non-disclosure order; however it is possible that you can get off of this probation early if you are doing well and complete the terms and conditions.
Does Harris County allow defendants to do work release jail time or house arrest?

No.  While some other counties’ courts allow a defendant to serve jail time on a work-release schedule and even by gps-monitored house arrest, Harris County courts typically do not.  Instead, Harris County’s SWEWP Program allows defendants to show up on weekends and work (each weekend worked = 6 days’ jail credit) as an alternative to serving out jail time the regular way.

Update: due to Covid-19, SOME Harris County courts have begun allowing defendants to serve jail time at home (house arrest), monitored by a gps tracking ankle monitor. Call me for specific details and to see if your court is currently allowing this 936-283-0655.