Immigration Holds in Harris County Jail
If you are undocumented in the United States and you get arrested in Harris County, there is a good possibility that an Immigration “ICE” Hold will be placed on you once you get to the county jail. From speaking to many of our clients, what usually happens is the intake officers ask you if you are a citizen or legal permanent resident. If you answer “no”, then they put you in a different holding cell so that you can be interviewed by immigration. If immigration determines that you should be placed into deportation proceedings, then an ICE hold will be placed, and you will not be able to bond out.
Sometimes, even if you have an ICE hold, you can still pay the bond, but it is generally not a good idea. What ends up happening is, you pay the bond, and when you are getting released from jail immigration is waiting for you to send you to the immigration detention center. The problem is you never finish your criminal case. Once immigration finds out that you have a pending criminal case, they will usually send you right back to the county jail pursuant to a bench warrant from the criminal court. What tends to happen is the person in custody misses their criminal court date because they are with immigration. Missing criminal court can cause your bond to be forfeited, and that means you (or your bonding company) lose the money from the bond, causing more problems.
It is typically better to finish the criminal case first, and then work on the immigration case. In our office we always sit down with our client and their family and advise them what is the best option for them. Sometimes the best option is to plea guilty quickly to get the individual over to immigration where we can request a bond. Other times, the best thing to do is stay at the county jail and fight the criminal case, because some criminal convictions can essentially be automatic deportations. Either way, when the case is over the person in custody gets transferred to immigration.
There are some exceptions, we have had clients with ICE holds who were not taken to Immigration, and we have had undocumented clients who were not given ICE holds at all. There is no firm system in place, it seems to be a case by case evaluation that immigration makes. Every situation is different, if you find yourself having questions about this issue please feel free to contact us at our office number 713-222-2828 and we will be more than happy to evaluate your case.
Harris County has a relatively new Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTIP) for individuals charged with a first DWI. A similar program, the DIVERT program, no longer exists, and the PTIP is now taking its place. It is similar to DIVERT, but it is much harder to get into the program. (Not all judges allow entry)
Pre-Trial Intervention Program Eligibility
To be eligible you must:
- Be charged with DWI in Harris County Texas
- This must be your first arrest of your adult life
If you have ever been arrested for any crime at all, even if the case was dismissed, you are more than likely not going to be accepted into the program. That does not seem fair at all, but at this point, that is how things are working. Juvenile convictions/arrests are ok, as long as you disclose those on your application for the program.
Factors to being rejected from PTI Program
Other things that could cause you to be rejected from the program (on a case by case, judge by judge, basis) are:
- A breath or blood test of over .15
- Getting into a traffic accident as part of the DWI
- Not having a valid license at the time of the DWI
- Not having insurance at the time of the DWI
If you are eligible for the DWI PTIP, you will have to pay $202 to be interviewed and do a SALCE (Substance Abuse Life Circumstance Evaluation) test, which is a test that predicts your alcohol and drug risk level as a part of the program.
You will also have to pay a “DA Fee” of $130 and possibly submit to a drug test. Finally, you must include a letter discussing the night of your DWI, and accepting responsibility. After all of that, if you are accepted into the program, a contract is drawn up by the District Attorney’s office for you to fill out with your attorney.
Contract with the District Attorney
Typical contract terms include:
- 1 year program
- Community service
- Monthly fees
- Monthly meetings
- Random drug tests
- Ignition interlock device
- DWI education class
Other items such as AA classes/counseling/drug treatment can be added as recommended based on the SALCE exam, and the circumstances surrounding the case. After the contract is filled out, you go before the judge, and the judge enters you into the program. You meet with the probation officer of the court, attend an orientation that same week, and start your monthly meetings the following month.
The case is reset for 1 year, and if you successfully complete all of the terms and conditions of the program, the case is dismissed on your next court date. However, if you do not comply with the terms and conditions, the program can be terminated at any time, and your case continues as if there was never an agreement.
For more information about the Harris County DWI Pre-Trial Intervention Program, please contact us today for a free consultation.
Finding a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney is not hard. Chances are, if you need one, you are going to be contacted by many. What is tough is finding a Criminal Lawyer in Houston that you can trust. I have been a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney since the first day I was licensed in the State of Texas. In my blog I hope to have an avenue to share my thoughts, and hopefully give advice to those needing the assistance of a good criminal lawyer in Houston.
The first thing I advise anyone who asks me about hiring an attorney is to make sure you personally meet with every attorney that you are interested in hiring. All too often (my law firm being no exception), individuals just hire an attorney over the phone. I just think it makes more sense to go in and have a face to face consultation. Most consultations are free, so there is little excuse for not making time for such an important decision. There are three main reasons I believe consultations are better in person:
- You have the opportunity to see the person who is going to represent you. The last thing you want is to walk into court not knowing who the heck your lawyer is. Meeting an attorney in person prevents the awkward moment in court where your lawyer has to say your name because he has no clue what you look like. You also might not want to hire an attorney if he doesn’t present himself professionally. Meeting him before will give you an idea of how the person carries himself from one day to the next.
- You get to see the environment where your attorney works daily. A lawyer’s office can tell you a lot about how he is going to handle your case. Is his office a mess? Are there piles of trash in the corner? Does he even have a physical office? Does he seem organized? These are all things that are impossible to determine over the phone.
- Your lawyer can get a better feel for you, and for your case, in person. Sometimes it’s about what’s best for the lawyer too. It is hard to read people over the phone. Many times an individual’s physical traits or demeanor can help an attorney decide what the defense of a case is. It’s always best for your lawyer to know as much about you as possible prior to getting to court.
Overall it is a win/win for a client/attorney when the consultation is in person. I know it’s tough to miss days from work, but many attorneys (myself included) are available on weekends and evenings to meet. Picking a Criminal Lawyer in Houston is an extremely important decision, and you owe it to yourself (and your record!) to inform yourself to the best of your abilities prior to signing an attorney/client contract. If you are facing a criminal charge and have any questions or would like to set up a free consultation , please feel free to contact me at 713-222-2828.