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Austin Criminal Lawyer

The Law Office of Scott C. Smith is committed to providing high-quality legal representation to clients accused of federal and state crimes. As an Austin criminal attorney with over twenty years of experience, Mr. Smith is certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and takes pride in strategic, assertive and effective representation of each client he serves. Mr. Smith has been recognized by his peers through Texas Monthly’s Super Lawyer list as one of the top Texas criminal attorneys in Austin.

Our Attorneys

Scott C. Smith
Scott C. SmithAttorney at Law
Certified Criminal Law Specialist through the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Over twenty years of experience as a criminal defense attorney.
John Wise
John WiseAssociate Attorney
Licensed by the State Bar of Texas in the same year, member of the Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association, the Texas Bar Association, and Austin Young Lawyers.

Testimonials

Thanks again for working overtime with such determination. The outcome is greatly appreciated. I’d hire you again in a minute, but let’s hope not!

- A.C.

You have been on my mind because I owe you a huge thanks. Thank you for taking such great care of me and my case. I hope they don’t – but if I ever have a friend or family member who needs a defense attorney I will recommend you to them!

- A.H.

For the compassion you showed in responding to our early morning phone call … For the professionalism you demonstrated in handling our son’s case… For the dedication you gave to finding and getting the best possible resolution of his case… Our family will always be grateful.  Thank you.

- A.M.

I want to thank you for all you’ve done for me and my family. You are a very honest and trustworthy lawyer and you do your job well. Your representation of me was wonderful and powerful, more important, your faith and trust in me. Thank you, you’ll always have a special place in our hearts.

- B.

Again, thanks for all your work on my case. You are an A-1 attorney in my book. I cannot express my gratitude enough for all your hard work & efforts on my case and its successful resolution.

- D.G.

Thank you for all that you did for my brother, & by extension, for our family. Your support, skill & expertise, I am sure was the reason that we had the outcome that we did. During the time that we worked with you, I always felt confident that you were on my brother’s side. I cannot tell you how much comfort that provided me. While it wasn’t always easy, I knew that I could count on you to tell me what to do & I could trust that you were doing what was best for my brother.

- I.D.

Thank you so much for all of your hard work and long hours to help me.  You and your staff were always polite, kind and honest.  I always felt like I was your only client during every phone conversation or meeting.  Thank you for not only clearing my name legally, but for believing in me and helping to change my life personally.

- J.B.

I’m grateful every single day.  A good part of all this, can be attributed to you and the way you treated me as more than a client.  You acted … as someone who actually cared about what happened to me… You helped make a real difference in my life.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Scott.

- S.M.

I certainly appreciate all your help in this matter. I know it was a tricky situation… If I need any help in the [future] I know I can count on you!

- V.G.

Since 1990, the Law Office of Scott C. Smith has represented clients in a vast array of criminal law matters ranging from the simple to the highly complex. We seek to provide the highest quality representation possible in an individualized and personal way to a smaller set of clients than firms whose practice consist of representing a large volume of clients by delegating cases to attorneys who are not certified as criminal law specialists. Cases that we commonly handle include:

Though these kind of cases occur with frequency, the situations that lead to them are as diverse and unique as people are. The key to successful representation of each client, is to handle each case individually, uniquely and personally. For that reason Mr. Smith, who is himself a highly experienced Austin criminal lawyer certified as a specialist in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, represents each client personally and does not delegate responsibility or control of the case to other attorneys who are less experienced in the practice of criminal law. This approach has enabled us to successfully represent Clients in unique situations involving criminal investigations prior to the filing of charges, Grand Jury representation, financial crimes and a multitude of other unusual circumstances. Regardless of the type of case, we are committed to maintaining a high standard of professionalism and effectiveness. As Texas criminal attorneys specializing in criminal law, we are able to stay abreast of current developments in a constantly changing area of law and take advantage of these changes to provide the maximum benefit possible to each client. We have successfully litigated such matters as illegal search and seizure, improper investigation, and police misconduct. In complex cases our Austin criminal attorney office is experienced in utilizing expert witnesses in such fields as cyber technology, neurology, breath testing, optometry, medicine, pharmacology, psychology and other areas of forensic sciences. Though we have successfully resolved many cases through negotiations, there are many reasons why we believe it is always important to stand prepared to take cases to trial. Mr. Smith is experienced in conducting jury trials in cases that range from simple misdemeanors in Texas state courts to complex cases in U. S. federal courts. Regardless of the severity of the charge, each case must be handled carefully because of potential ramifications of any criminal charge. Mr. Smith has focused his practice as a criminal lawyer in Austin, Texas, and the surrounding counties of Williamson, Hays, and Lockhart, but has also represented clients in federal courts between California and Mississippi. We believe that justice and fairness can only be achieved when each and every client is vigorously and effectively defended by competent counsel and seek to represent clients from all walks of life. If you are interested in our assistance, feel free to contact our Austin criminal lawyeroffice at 512-474-6484 to discuss the specifics of your case.

FAQ

To begin the process for expunction of records, one must first file a petition in district court. A hearing will be set no sooner than 30 days after the petition is filed. Usually the expunction will be granted at that time, assuming the petitioner is eligible. From that point forward, the petitioner can legally deny the arrest which has been expunged. The arrest records, however, will not be destroyed immediately. Instead an order is transmitted to the agencies that maintain the records instructing them to destroy the records. Typically it takes up to 90 days for the agencies to destroy the records. It is important to check for compliance with this order since agencies often fail to fully comply with the order.

Some law enforcement agencies have websites which list active arrest warrants. If you wish to check for warrants with the Travis County Sheriff’s office, click here.  If you wish to check for warrants with the Austin Police Department, click here.  It is important to note that for a variety of reasons, not all warrants are listed on these web sites. If a warrant for your arrest has been issued, it is often possible to arrange a “self surrender” or a “walk through”, which is a process in which bonding arrangements are made in advance and allow clients to be processed in and out of jail.  This is usually much quicker and more efficient than the process involved in posting bond and arranging a jail release after someone has been taken into custody. If you think that an arrest warrant may have been issued for your arrest, it is advisable to consult with an attorney.

The basic requirements for deregistration of persons sentenced in Texas state courts are:

  • The person must not have committed more than a single offense;
  • The offense must require a longer period of sex offender registration under Texas law than under federal law; (see the DPS Tiered Offense Chart) and
  • The person must have completed sex offender treatment.

Two additional methods of deregistration include deregistration under the “Romeo and Juliet” statute in cases in which the victim was at least 15 years old and under a special procedure available to persons who are required to register as a result of adjudication of delinquent conduct as a juvenile. Persons convicted of offenses outside of Texas are not eligible for deregistration under Texas statute, but sometimes can be removed from the Texas sex offender registry in other ways, such as by contesting the determination of the requirement to register because the out of state offense is not substantially similar to a Texas offense requiring registration or other elements of Texas registration law do not apply. These cases tend to be more complex and require case-by-case analysis. Though a person’s eligibility to deregister in Texas is sometimes simple and clear, it is often complicated and requires detailed and individualized analysis. There are several ways someone may deregister in Texas. Certainly, not everyone convicted of a sex offense may deregister. However, in some cases where it initially seems that a person cannot deregister, there are ways to accomplish removal from the Texas sex offender registry. If you would like to consult with Mr. Smith about your eligibility, call 512-474-6484 to schedule a consultation.

Use caution. Unless you are certain that the accusation is only a minor one and will not result in criminal charges, it is best to consult with an attorney. This is especially true if a law enforcement official is asking you to give a statement or cooperate in an investigation. You should consult with an attorney before making any statements. What you say, no matter how well-intentioned, can be misconstrued and may be used against you in a subsequent prosecution. Even if you are promised leniency in exchange for your cooperation, you can never retract what you have already said. Therefore, it is best to consult with an attorney prior to making any statements in order to ensure that your rights are protected.

Most cases in which criminal charges are filed can be resolved through skillful negotiation and without the necessity of trial. Negotiations can result in a wide variety of outcomes, ranging from a dismissal of charges to a plea bargain agreement involving incarceration. Of course, the choice of whether to accept a “plea bargain” must be made by the accused and should be made only after investigating the facts of the case and studying the available alternatives as well as the terms of the plea bargain offer. Though most cases are resolved without trial, sometimes trial presents a more attractive option. Therefore, it is important to keep the trial option open and to be represented by an attorney who is both willing and able to represent you at trial.

There are normally two things to consider in the crucial moments which follow an arrest. The first is securing the person’s release from jail as soon as possible. There are a variety of ways this may be accomplished. Which particular procedure is best depends on the facts of each case. The second concern is to preserve and develop the arrested person’s ability to defend against the accusations. It is best for the accused to refrain from making statements to anyone concerning the case until he or she has been fully able to consult with an criminal attorney. If you would like our assistance, feel free to contact us.

An attorney who is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Criminal Law must have experience in the preparation and trial of serious criminal matters. The attorney must have also have extensive knowledge of state and federal constitutional law, evidence, procedure and penal laws involved in the trial of these matters.

To become Board Certified in Criminal Law, an attorney must have: 

  • Been licensed to practice law for at least five years;
  • Devoted a required percentage of practice to criminal law for at least three years;
  • Handled a wide variety of criminal law matters to demonstrate experience and involvement;
  • Attended criminal law continuing education seminars regularly to keep legal training up to date;
  • Been evaluated by fellow lawyers and judges;
  • Passed a day-long written examination

Initial certification is valid for a period of five years. To remain certified, an attorney must apply for recertification every five years and meet practice, peer review and continuing legal education requirements for the specialty field.

The consumer can identify a Criminal Law Board Certified attorney in one of many ways. A Criminal Law Board Certified attorney is entitled to indicate certification on business cards and letterhead by stating “Board Certified – Criminal Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization.” The attorney may also display the Certificate of Special Competence awarded by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and list the certification in legal directories and telephone listings under “Attorneys – Board Certified.”

There is no uniform answer as to what is best, because every situation is different. Obviously, it is helpful to remain polite and courteous with the arresting officer, but this does not necessarily mean you should submit to all of his or her requests. You will be better able to deal with such an encounter if you know what to expect, what rights and choices you will have, and understand the potential consequences of your decisions. The following outline tells you what to expect in a typical case:

INTERROGATION

If an officer suspects you of driving while intoxicated, he will question you on the roadside about your recent alcohol consumption, what food you ate, where you were, and where you were going. Expect the officer to audio/videotape the entire encounter. Most police cars are equipped with video cameras that are mounted in the front interior of the vehicle. The cameras can swivel to film what occurs in front of and to the side of the car. If you are arrested, the officer will likely position the camera to record you as you are transported to jail. Most officers are equipped with remote microphones that can record your entire conversation from the initial roadside encounter to their parting words with you inside of the jail. Be mindful of this and guarded in your statements.

Though you must answer questions pertaining to your name, age and identification, you may refuse to answer any other questions. If you believe that you can present evidence favorable to your case by complying with the officer’s requests, you should do so. If you have any doubts though, you should request to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. This request should be made clearly and unequivocally, but politely. If proper procedure is followed, the arresting officer will terminate the interview whenever you request to speak with an attorney. If the officer fails to do so, continue to request permission to speak with an attorney first and refuse to answer questions except for those pertaining to your identity.

FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS

In most DWI investigations, the officer will ask you to perform a series of sobriety tests. You may refuse to perform field sobriety tests. The officer may request that you perform sobriety tests and submit to a breath test. You have the right to refuse these tests, though that refusal may later be used as evidence of your guilt.

You do not have the right to refuse to be videotaped, but you may refuse to perform the sobriety tests. If you believe that you can preserve evidence favorable to your case by complying with the officer’s requests, you should do so. You should be cautious though and if you have any doubts, you should request to speak with an attorney before submitting to the tests. If proper procedure is followed, the arresting officer will terminate the interview whenever you request to speak with an attorney. If the officer fails to do so, continue to request permission to speak with an attorney first.

ARREST & TRANSPORT

If the law enforcement officer has reason to believe that you are guilty of an offense, he or she can arrest you. Typically, you will be handcuffed and transported to a jail. Remember that you are probably being recorded as you ride to jail. At this point it is unlikely that anything you say will change that; however, how you handle yourself may make the difference between being convicted or acquitted. It is always best to remain polite and respectful. Though you should cooperate with the arrest process, limit what you say and do not allow an officer to pressure you into admitting guilt.

BREATH & BLOOD TESTING

At the jail, you will probably be asked to submit to a breath or blood test. Unless a life-threatening injury has resulted from a collision, you may refuse to submit to breath or blood testing. The reliability of the instruments used to measure breath specimens to determine body alcohol concentration is doubtful. While state-paid experts routinely testify that the Intoxlizer 5000 is accurate and reliable, several independent experts have expressed contrary opinions. Consequently, the results may be inaccurately high or inaccurately low. If you have any doubts about your ability to pass the test, do not submit to it before you consult with an attorney.

If you submit to a breath test and pass it, you stand a much better chance of winning your case. Sometimes, in fact, charges are not filed at all. If you submit to a breath test and fail it, you can later challenge the accuracy of the device at trial. However, you should realize that a trial in which a breath test is challenged tends to be much more expensive than one which does not involve a breath test because it is often necessary to hire private scientific experts to assist at trial.