By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
I Just Got a “Notice to Appear” Letter. What Does it Mean?
You have been charged with a criminal offense in Collin County, Texas. In all likelihood it stems from an arrest in the previous months perhaps for DWI, marijuana possession, assault or theft.
This letter means the case has been formally charged by the District Attorney’s Office (for misdemeanors) or a Grand Jury (for felonies).
Why Do I Need to Be In Court?
Court appearances serve two functions. It’s the Court’s way of making sure (1) you are attempting to resolve the case; and (2) you’re honoring your conditions of bond.
Collin County Courts handle thousands of criminal cases per year. Having Appearances is how they keep cases moving through the system.
What Will Happen at this Appearance?
An appearance is like a work session between your lawyer and the prosecutor. This is your lawyer’s opportunity to get a police report, video evidence, and plea recommendations from the prosecutor.
Most of the time a first appearance in Collin County results in the case being “passed” for another announcement – meaning you’ll come back in another month for another court date.
By the second month, though, hopefully your lawyer will have been able to do even more legal research and factual research based on what they learned on the first setting so they can have a better picture in your case.
Your case may have several announcement settings before it is resolved either by a trial, plea or dismissal.
What Do I Need to Do to Prepare?
Nothing. An appearance in Collin County isn’t a trial or a contested matter.
If you do see the judge it’s almost always going to be your choice. If you chose to plead guilty on the very first setting, you’ll see the judge or if you come to court without a lawyer, many judges will lecture you on the dangers and disadvantages of not having a lawyer in front of the court reporter.
What Happens if I Don’t Come to Court for My Appearance?
If you don’t come to court, a warrant can be issued for your arrest. Some Courts will excuse your appearance on a first or second announcement IF YOU HAVE A LAWYER. You should never assume your attendance is excused, however, and should always clear it in advance.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a First Appearance?
Many people feel like they just want to talk with the prosecutor first. That might be okay if you were charged with a parking ticket or moving violation. If you have a court case in County Court at Law or District Court in Collin County, though, your charges are a bit more severe.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice you should consult an attorney.