Austin Criminal Defense 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 defense attorney with thirty 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 is an award-winning attorney who is respected by his peers and has been requested to speak at seminars on a variety of topics ranging from computer crimes to parallel civil/criminal litigation to sex offender de-registration.
What Can Our Office Do For You?
Experienced Defense With Personal Care
Since 1990, the Law Office of Scott C. Smith has successfully defended clients in cases ranging from the simple to the highly complex. Our office seeks to provide you with personal and individualized representation. Cases that we commonly handle include:
- Alcohol Related Offenses including DWI, Intoxication Assault, & DUI
- Computer-Related Internet Crimes
- Sex Crimes including Child Molestation
- Drug Offenses
- Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Charges
We know that your situation is unique and deserves the close attention that leads to successful representation. For that reason, Mr. Smith, a specialist in criminal law certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, will attend to your case personally. He has experience representing clients in complex and unusual circumstances throughout the entire legal process. Whether you are being investigated, facing federal or state charges, or want past charges expunged from your record, Mr. Smith can assist you.
Defense From Every Angle
Regardless of your specific legal situation, you need an attorney who knows the law inside and out, keeps up to date, catches unjust and illegal practices, and communicates with other specialists if their expertise can help your case. As a Texas criminal defense attorney specializing in criminal law, Mr. Smith maintains a deep familiarity with current criminal law and uses recent changes to your benefit. He has successfully defended clients against illegal search and seizure, improper investigation, and police misconduct. In complex cases, he is experienced in working with experts such as toxicologists, technology and medical experts, forensic psychiatrists, and other forensic professionals.
Any Location, Any Situation
Mr. Smith often successfully resolves cases through negotiation, but firmly believes it is crucial to always be prepared to take cases to trial. If a trial will provide the best outcome for you, he has the experience and energy to represent you before a jury of your peers. He represents clients facing a range of criminal charges, from a simple misdemeanor in a Texas state court to a complex felony in a federal court.
The Law Office of Scott C. Smith is based in Austin, Texas, but regularly represents clients throughout Texas in state courts and handles cases throughout the country in federal courts.
Regardless of your charge or location, you need a good attorney. Mr. Smith will use his experience to fight for you effectively. Call the Law Office of Scott C. Smith at (512) 474-6484 for the representation you deserve.
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:
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.