Law Offices of Swanton & Frederick
Defending Your Rights, Protecting Your Future

Criminal Law FAQ

Find answers to some of the most common questions about criminal law and what you should do if you or a loved one is charged with a crime.


Frequently Asked Questions

Information You Need To Know


When you or a loved one is charged with a crime, you want answers.  Here are the most frequently asked questions regarding the law and how it affects us all.  If you have further questions, please contact us.  We'd be happy to discuss any issue with you.

•    I have been accused of a crime. What should I do first?

Simply put and with emphasis, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Don’t talk to law enforcement officers or anyone else about the facts of the case before consulting with an attorney. Information which you may reveal without the benefit of legal advice could come back to negatively affect the outcome of your case. Call us if need this kind of advice at 254-757-2082 for a free consultation.

•    What should I do if I’m arrested?

If you are arrested we always advise our clients to be polite and respectful, even if you may not feel that way at the time. Remember you may be on video tape during your arrest and your words and actions at the time may become important in your case later. Ask to speak with a lawyer. You always have the right to remain silent and seek legal counsel. Things you say often can be used against you at a later date.

•    What happens when a minor is accused of a crime?

Generally speaking, in Texas, individuals under the age of 17 are considered to be juveniles unless they are certified by the court system to be handled as adults. The juvenile system is different from the adult system in many ways including the way the case can be charged and possible sentences. It is important to meet with an attorney to discuss your case before doing so with a juvenile probation officer or juvenile court prosecutor. A juvenile is generally taken before a Magistrate to be warned of his/her rights following an accusation or arrest.

•    What should I do if my child/student is accused of a crime?

If your child faces accusations of criminal conduct while they are a student, it is important for him/her to have the advice of competent experienced local legal counsel. Criminal issues can have serious consequences in both the judicial system and a school or university disciplinary process. We have handled many cases involving students and are very familiar with those procedures and can help guide our clients through the process.

•    What is the difference between probation and parole?

Probation is a sentence which can be imposed in most cases which allows the individual to avoid jail or penitentiary time by allowing the individual to remain in the community while complying with various terms and conditions of probation. Parole is similar to probation, but it is imposed when an inmate has completed a prison sentence and is released early from prison from that sentence. Parole also has terms and conditions which the individual must meet much like those of probation.

•    What if I am a first-time offender?

Many jurisdictions, including McLennan County, offer some first-time offenders an opportunity at pretrial diversion or intervention programs. These programs offer a chance to resolve a case without a conviction on one’s record. Every jurisdiction has a different method for determining whether someone is a good candidate for the program. We can help a client put themselves in the best position to hope to be accepted into a diversion program and can offer solid advice regarding the information the client will need to try to get accepted.

•    What is the legal age of consent to sexual contact?

Sexual contact with a child younger than 17 years of age is prohibited in Texas. That age might vary from state to state. There may be a defense to consensual sexual contact with someone younger than 17 years of age if the accused is within 3 years of age of the consenting child partner.

•    If I have a criminal record, is there anything I can do to “clean up” my record?

In our age of digital information, almost everything about us is on the internet in some form or fashion. Many data base firms provide information to prospective employers about criminal histories. Even though your criminal accusation may have been dismissed or you were found not guilty or even completed deferred adjudication probation, your criminal record may still be there for others to see. A background check may reveal that information. In Texas, there are procedures that might be available to “clean up” your record. Expunctions and Non-Disclosure Orders may be available to you to help alleviate some of the concerns of that type of information. Call us to see if you qualify for that type of relief.

•    Why might I be getting solicitation letters from attorneys?

We hear from many clients that they receive numerous solicitation letters from various attorneys in or near the Waco area and they wonder why they are sent those letters. Here is the explanation. Arrest records at the jail are public information. The attorneys that send those letters out receive that information from the jail and send out bulk solicitation letters to individuals that have been arrested seeking their business. There is nothing illegal or wrong about those letters. We simply choose not to do that because we value your privacy and the confidential nature of the relationship between attorneys and their clients. We have heard some clients complain that the letters are opened by a spouse or other individuals who did not know about the arrest and the arrested individual would have rather that the information remain as private as possible. We would much rather you choose to talk to us and potentially hire us because you know about our reputation as qualified experienced local attorneys, you have been referred to us by a friend or loved one that has used our services in the past or you have reviewed our information online and choose to consult with us. We value the importance of keeping as much of the criminal allegations made against you and the proceedings that you may face as confidential as possible. We just feel that sending out bulk solicitation letters doesn't help in that regard. We feel that decision is in keeping with our motto of "Defending your Rights, Protecting your Future."

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