Under Texas law, an officer can arrest a person without a warrant if the officer views part of the offense, or, in limited cases, if he has credible information that the suspect committed the offense. If an officer sees you commit a crime, he will detain you, usually in the back of his police car, and often in handcuffs. BEWARE: these days most of what you say, whether on the phone, to another person in the car, or even to yourself, is being recorded. This can be used against you in court.
The Charging Decision
Once the officer has detained you, he or she will call an Assistant District Attorney at the Harris County District Attorney's Office. The DA's Office staffs its Intake Division 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even on holidays. The officer will give the ADA his or her version of what occurred and ask the ADA whether or not charges will be accepted. The ADA can accept the charges, reject the charges, or refer them for further investigation, usually with a specialized division such as Robbery or Homicide.
If the ADA accepts charges, the officer will take you to one of several jails around Harris County. The main jail is run by the Harris County Sheriff's Office and located downtown. The Sheriff's Office has a few satellite jails around the county. The Houston Police Department has a couple of jails in town. Regardless of which jail the officer transports you to, you should have access to a list of licensed bondsmen in the county. Look at this list and start calling bonding companies if you plan to bond out of jail.
The Probable Cause Hearing
If you are booked into an outlying jail you will be transported to the main Harris County jail within a day or so. Once there, you will then go into a room with other inmates and stand in front of a camera. Displayed on a large, flat screen TV, you will see an image of yourself, a judge or hearing court officer, and an Assistant District Attorney. The ADA will read the officer's version of the probable cause for the arrest and the judge will read you your rights. BEWARE: everything that occurs at this hearing is being recorded and can be used against you at trial.
If you have not bonded out, the Sheriff will take you to court where you will likely receive a court appointed lawyer. If you bond out, you will be given notice to appear in court and may have to hire your own attorney at that point.
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