Designation of Attorney Setting and Announcement Setting
This post is about two types of Court “Settings” before you have a trial. These are the beginning stages. These two types of settings are the Designation of Attorney Setting and Announcement Setting. When a criminal charge is filed against you, like I talked about in a prior blog post, you have the right to have an attorney. The normal sequence of events follows once you’ve been arrested in Texas. Once you’ve been released from jail, you’ll be given a few pages of paperwork. One of those pages will say something along the lines of: You MUST Appear in Court on _________ Date. Just so there’s no confusion about what I mean, here is an example of what your paperwork might look like:
Notice of Appearance Date
This document or a document that looks very similar to this is very important. Read it over carefully. The document will tell you all the important information about your first Court date. Using this example, you would have to have gone to the Williamson County Courthouse on October 16, 2014 at 1 p.m. It also says that you would’ve been in County Court 1. This is not something to ignore. If you do ignore it, there will be a warrant issued for your arrest. Also, there may be a bond forfeiture on your part. All the necessary information is on that page. Show up, and show up on time. Dress for Court like you dress for Church. I’ve seen MANY people walk into Court with offensive clothing on – T shirts with inappropriate words or images. That won’t get you far with the Judge. I’ve also seen many Judges yell at Defendants for dressing inappropriately. Tuck your shirts in and don’t wear a hat in Court.
What is a Designation of Attorney Setting?
The Designation of Attorney setting is meant to move your case along. The basic question are these: Can you afford to hire a lawyer? If not, the Court will appoint a lawyer for you. Just say so. If you can afford a lawyer, are you going to hire a lawyer? When will you hire a lawyer? Have you hired one already? Here’s a sample of a Notice of Designation of Attorney Setting that you might receive:
The Bottom Line: Don’t waste the Court’s time or your time. I’ve seen many people drag their feet in either hiring a lawyer on their own or asking the Court to appoint a lawyer for them. Generally if you go through more than two Designation of Attorney Settings the Judge is likely to lose patience. Why? Your case isn’t being moved along and at that point you’ve probably been given a couple months to decide. Two months is more than enough time to make that decision. If you hire a lawyer, he or she will take care of contacting the Court for you and get your first Announcement Setting scheduled.
What is an Announcement Setting?
An Announcement Setting in Texas is what may also be called a Pre-Trial Conference in other states. An Announcement Setting is basically a time for your defense lawyer and the prosecutor to discuss your case. What happens at an Announcement Setting?
Your defense lawyer will talk to the prosecutor about strengths and weaknesses of your case. Also, your defense lawyer may make their criminal discovery request. That way, if any police reports, videos, or evidence is missing, then your defense lawyer can bring it up. It can also be a time to discuss plea bargaining for your case. If the case against you is weak or has serious holes, you may be offered a better plea deal. You can talk about this with you lawyer after he/she talks with the prosecutor. Announcement settings help to move your case along and get to the end or what is called a “Final Disposition.” Don’t miss your Announcement Settings because they keep you up to date on your case. In addition, if you miss Court, as I said above, an arrest warrant may be issued or your bond forfeited. (There goes the money that you paid to get out of jail.)
There are a few different types of “Settings” for criminal cases in Texas. Knowing which type of setting you’re going to will let you know what to expect. Notice of Appearance Settings are going to be your first trip to Court. If you haven’t hired a lawyer by that time or are thinking about hiring one, you will be put on a Designation of Attorney Setting. At that point you have to hire a lawyer or decide to ask the Court to appoint one. After that, Announcement Settings are held every month or so afterwards to move your case along to a final disposition. No matter what type of Setting you’re going to, always show up a little bit early and dress appropriately. Court can be embarrassing enough. Don’t have the Judge call you out for inappropriate clothes or behavior.