What happens at the first court date in Travis County?
In many Travis County assault cases, the first court date written on your bond paperwork is a procedural and scheduling formality which can be handled entirely by your attorney. For example, the lawyer may officially “announce” as your attorney of record and schedule a date for the next court appearance. Ask your criminal defense attorney if you actually need to personally attend court on the initial appearance date.
NOTE: If you do not have an attorney on or before your first court date then you MUST attend court in person.
Defendants often mistakenly believe that they will be facing a full-blown jury trial at the first court appearance, which may be only two weeks or less after the incident. Nothing happens that fast in the Travis County criminal court system. The truth is that the trial court prosecutors will probably not be prepared (or even available) to have any meaningful discussion regarding the facts of your case during the first appearance. In fact, the state’s formal charging documents (indictment or information) are unlikely to be filed by the time of the first court appearance on a new case and it often takes a year or longer to get to trial, especially on assault cases involving family or dating violence.
You should always be able to answer these questions: “When is my next court date and do I need to attend?” So, if your criminal defense attorney tells you that you do not need to attend any particular court date, be sure to follow-up with the attorney’s office after that setting to get your next court date and attendance information.
Should I hire an attorney before my first court date?
It is definitely more convenient to have a lawyer before your first court appearance, but if you have been diligent in your search, attending your first appearance without a lawyer and asking the judge for more time to hire the right one will not hurt your case.