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Wilson County criminal defense lawyerThe term “continuous family violence” brings to mind the idea of ongoing abuse within a family—for example, a husband who routinely hits his wife or child. However, in Texas, continuous family violence just means that there were two or more allegations of family violence within a 12-month period. Because continuous family violence is a third-degree felony, as opposed to misdemeanor family violence, this charge needs to be taken much more seriously. Having a felony on your record can have a major negative impact on your life, so it is important to have an attorney who will defend you aggressively.

What Situations Can Lead to a Continuous Family Violence Charge?

The name of this offense can be misleading. The requisite two incidents of alleged family violence can occur on the same day. The state does not need to prove that family violence was an ongoing problem in the home. Here are some common ways the felony of continuous family violence can be charged:

  • Multiple victims - Family violence can be deemed “continuous” even if there was only one single incident of violence when two or more alleged victims are involved.

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Atascosa County DUI defense lawyerIn Texas, a driver under 21 years of age does not need to be legally intoxicated to be charged with—and convicted of—a criminal offense. This may seem counterintuitive, but Texas takes underage drinking seriously out of recognition that a minor’s chances of getting into an accident go up significantly after just one drink. If you are under 21 and you have been charged with an alcohol-related driving offense, the penalties can be severe. A qualified lawyer can help you protect your rights and build a strong defense.

What is the “Legal Limit” for Persons Under 21 in Texas?

Texas applies what is often called the “not a drop” rule, or the “zero tolerance” rule to persons under 21 when it comes to DWI. This means that if you are not yet 21 years of age, you can face criminal charges if you are found to have any amount of alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle. Even if you only drank half a beer or a few sips of a cocktail and do not feel intoxicated, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test results indicating anything above 0.00 may be sufficient to justify an arrest and conviction.

In Texas, this offense pertaining to underage drivers is typically referred to as DUI, or driving under the influence, to distinguish it from the offense of DWI (driving while intoxicated), which typically requires a BAC of at least 0.08 or other clear signs of intoxication. A minor who is arrested for DUI can face Class C misdemeanor charges, with a possible sentence including fines and driver’s license suspension. However, if a driver under the age of 21 is found to have a BAC above 0.08, they can also face DWI charges. DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, which comes with more serious consequences that may include jail time.

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Floresville criminal defense attorneyIf you have been charged with a criminal offense, the outcome of your case is not a foregone conclusion. Even if you know you are going to plead guilty, or that a conviction is likely, there is still much that a skilled defense attorney can do to improve the outcome. Texas uses a determinate sentencing structure, meaning there are sentencing standards based on the crime. However, the actual sentence you receive can still vary quite a bit depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime and your personal history. Whether you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges, our attorneys are committed to seeking the best possible results for our clients.

What Factors Affect Sentencing?

No matter the offense for which you have been charged, there are a variety of factors a judge or jury can consider before your sentence is decided. Your attorney will be able to present any mitigating circumstances and make an argument for giving you a lighter sentence. In some misdemeanor cases, you may even be able to avoid jail time. However, the prosecutor will have the same opportunity to present evidence of circumstances that may work against you. The judge or jury determining your sentence can consider:

  • Your criminal history, or lack thereof. If this is your first offense, and it is a misdemeanor, you could be eligible for what is called deferred adjudication. This means that you will enter a plea of guilty or no contest and be put on probation. If you complete probation without violating the terms, your case will be dismissed and you will have a clean criminal record. On the other hand, if you have prior convictions, there is a higher chance of receiving a greater sentence.

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jourdanton criminal defense lawyerBeginning next month, Texas will be the first state in the country to make soliciting a prostitute a felony. The measure, packaged in House Bill 1540, was introduced by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Democrat from Houston, to combat human trafficking and curb “modern-day slavery.” She’s championed the issue for more than a decade. 

The bill received bipartisan support and received unanimous support in committee votes in both the House and Senate. After the Republican governor signed it into law in June, the Texas attorney general Ken Paxton called it “a substantial step towards curbing the demand for commercial sex” and explained that the measure will protect “vulnerable men, women, and children in our communities.” He added, “I commend our legislature for passing laws that fight this inexcusable offense.”

House Bill 1540

Before the passage of HB 1540, the Texas Penal Code equated the solicitation of a prostitute with prostitution itself, meaning the state saw both the John and the sex worker as equally guilty for the crime. The charge for either was a Class B misdemeanor, but it became a Class A misdemeanor if you were caught a second time, and a state felony if you were caught a third time. 

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texas defense lawyerLike in most states, Texas considers aggravated assault to be worse than just assault. However, where it gets confusing is that there are grades of assault, and depending on the details, an assault charge could be either a misdemeanor or a felony. With such a wide range of charges, when does assault become aggravated assault in Texas?

What is Assault?

According to the Texas Penal Code, an assault could be one of three things: when you threaten to cause bodily harm to another person, when you actually harm them, or when you cause offensive or provocative physical contact with them. 

There are other specific circumstances as well like an attack involving an elderly or disabled person, or a referee at a sporting event. Under any of these conditions, the charge would be a Class A misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

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texas gun lawyerIn an unprecedented move, the country of Mexico sued a number of gun companies in the United States, alleging the gunmakers’ negligent and illegal practices enabled drug cartel violence. However,some legal experts say the case is unlikely to succeed, leaving many to believe Mexico instead filed suit to raise awareness of the bloodshed that has resulted in upwards of 150,000 homicides between 2006 and 2018. 

The reason the case is unlikely to succeed, according to some experts, is because gun stores are the ones that actually sell guns, not gun companies. Additionally, gun stores are required by law to comply with certain checks and balances.

Firearm Smuggling

According to the Texas Penal Code, firearm smuggling is when you transport or transfer a firearm that has been acquired through illegal means more than once and for profit. If you are arrested for firearm smuggling, you could face a third-degree felony, which carries a sentence of 2- to 10-years in prison. If you are arrested for smuggling three or more firearms in a single event, you could face a second-degree felony, which carries two to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

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texas defense lawyerTexas lawmakers often profess the importance of Second Amendment rights and try to advance legislation supporting citizens’ right to possess a firearm. Texas politicians recently did this with the passage of “permitless carry,” which will allow you to open or conceal carry without a license or training when the law goes into effect in September. 

Texas is known for having gun laws that are less restrictive than laws in other states. However, there are still important restrictions that gun owners should be aware of. Violating firearm laws can lead to significant criminal penalties.

Texas Gun Laws

Presently, Texas laws governing the carry of firearms are fairly simple and straightforward. You need a permit to concealed carry a weapon (though that will change in September), you cannot shoot your gun unnecessarily, you cannot carry prohibited firearms, and there are certain places off limits if you have a gun on you.

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Posted on in DWI

Jourdanton dwi defense laywerDWI arrests are a high priority for law enforcement in cities, counties, and municipalities across the country. The belief is that heavy enforcement of DWI laws along with public education campaigns will widely discourage people from driving drunk. In turn, these jurisdictions also prioritize DWI training, which coaches officers to evaluate drivers for signs of driving under the influence. So, what are police actually looking for when they evaluate a driver for signs of intoxication?

To answer that question, we look to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal agency that sets the standards and creates instruction materials for DWI training.  

Personal Contact

According to NHTSA training materials, there are three phases to a DWI traffic stop: vehicle in motion, personal contact, and pre-arrest screening. In the first phase, the officer is essentially looking for a traffic violation, and in the third phase, they are administering standard field sobriety tests. In between is phase two: personal contact. 

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atascosa county criminal defense lawyerThe Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office said they recently broke up a theft ring after stopping two men who allegedly stole a mower. Deputies arrested and charged them with theft of property over $30,000. Since the item in question had such a high value, it seems to imply the theft was more egregious than stealing something of lesser value. It begs the question what are the grades of theft?

Theft in Texas

The law defining “theft” in Texas is relatively simple. You commit theft when you unlawfully take property from its owner, or when you accept property knowing that it was stolen. The punishment for theft varies depending on the value of the item stolen, the item itself, your criminal history, and the victim. 

Misdemeanor Theft

  • Theft of property valued at less than $100 is a Class C misdemeanor and could result in a $500 fine. 

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TX defense lawyerAs it is in all 50 U.S. states, drinking and driving is against the law in Texas. When a police officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, he or she may use various techniques to test the extent of the driver’s impairment. Breath alcohol tests or “breathalyzers” determine an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) by analyzing a sample of the driver’s breath. Field sobriety tests are used to assess a person’s attention, balance, and coordination – functions that are heavily influenced by alcohol intoxication. However, failing a breath test or field sobriety test does not necessarily mean that a person is impaired.

Problems with Breathalyzers That Can Lead to Inaccurate Readings

The portable, roadside breath tests police officers may administer at a traffic stop differ significantly from the breath alcohol tests used at the police station. Handheld breath tests are not as accurate or reliable as the machines used at the police station. The results of a roadside BAC test may be used to justify an arrest for suspected drunk driving, but these results alone do not justify a driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction.

Both roadside and police station breath tests can be inaccurate. These machines must be regularly calibrated, cleaned, and maintained to function properly and yield accurate results. Mouthwash, medicines, or even belching during the test can also lead to inaccurate results. Studies have also shown that the popular ketogenic diet, a diet in which a person consumes little to no carbohydrates, can also yield false-positive breathalyzer tests. Because a number of issues can lead to inaccurate BAC results, failing a breathalyzer does not automatically mean that a person will be convicted of DWI.

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TX defense lawyerIn the United States, the Second Amendment to the Constitution states that each citizen has the right to bear arms or to own guns. However, individual states are permitted to interpret that in nearly whatever way they see fit by creating and enforcing laws that govern the sale, distribution, use, and possession of firearms in the state. In Texas, you must have a permit to carry a handgun, either concealed or unconcealed. If you violate Texas firearm laws, you can expect to be charged with a crime depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.

Unlawful Carrying Weapons Charges

Under Texas law, a person who wishes to carry a firearm is required to have a valid permit to be in legal possession of the gun. In some cases, it is not legal for a person to be carrying a handgun. You can be charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carry a handgun and you are not on your own property, inside of your vehicle, or directly en route to your vehicle.

If you are charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon, you face a Class A misdemeanor. This means that an unlawful carrying of a weapon charge can come with up to one year in jail and up to $4,000 in fines.

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TX defense lawyerIn everyday conversation, the words “robbery,” “theft,” and “burglary” are often used to mean the same thing. However, in a legal setting, these words are not necessarily able to be used interchangeably. In most states, there are distinct differences between all three charges, as well as different punishments for committing each. If you have been charged with any of these crimes in Texas, you should understand exactly what that crime is.

Theft

There are various situations that can constitute a theft crime. In general, however, theft occurs when a person “unlawfully appropriates property” with the intent of depriving the owner of the property of the item’s use. Texas law states that property is unlawfully appropriated when:

  • It occurs without the owner’s consent.
  • The property is stolen and the perpetrator knows that such property is stolen, but still appropriates it.
  • The property is in the custody of law enforcement under suspicion it has been stolen and the perpetrator appropriates the property.

The value of the stolen property is usually one of the biggest factors in determining a sentence for a theft conviction, but it is not the only factor. For example, a person can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if the value of the stolen items was less than $100, which carries a fine of up to $500. However, a person can also be charged up to a first-degree felony if the value of the stolen items was $300,000 or more. This means a person could face between five and 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

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TX defense lawyerArguably, the worst sentence that a person can receive for being convicted of a crime is execution. Execution, also called capital punishment, is a hotly debated topic. Many people believe that we should not have the authority to decide whether a person lives or dies. Others believe that execution is the only appropriate punishment for crimes such as murdering another human. Texas is notorious for its attitudes and actions surrounding the execution of prisoners. Recently, the state made headlines when it executed its first prisoner in nearly a year, only the third execution since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Man Is Executed by Lethal Injection

The state of Texas added another inmate Wednesday to its extensive list of executions performed since 1976. The 41-year-old man was executed by lethal injection at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville after spending more than two decades in prison. He was convicted of murdering his 83-year-old aunt in her home in 1999 after he demanded that she lend him money and she refused. The man was also convicted of stealing property from his aunt’s home at the same time as the murder. He was 20 years old at the time of the offense.

Texas Sentences Resulting in the Death Penalty

In Texas, the death penalty can only be imposed if the person is convicted of a capital felony, the most serious classification of felonies in Texas. Capital felonies do not automatically come with a death sentence. A capital felony can also result in a life sentence without parole, but the prosecution can seek the death penalty if they feel it is necessary. Only the most heinous crimes are charged as capital felonies. Murder of a police officer, murdering for money or paying someone to murder another person, murdering a child, and murdering a person during the commission of another felony - like burglary - are all charged as capital felonies in Texas.

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IL defense lawyerIn most cases, the lives of those who are convicted of murder are essentially over. A lifetime in prison with or without the possibility of parole is a common sentence for those who have been convicted of murder. In Texas, the death penalty is still a possiblity for those convicted of the most serious crimes, such as murder. In fact, the state of Texas holds the record for the most people executed since 1976. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Texas has executed a total of 570 prisoners since 1976, as of March 2021. Even though a death sentence is a possible penalty for murder, there are several types of murder that you could be charged with in Texas; the specific crime you are charged with will determine what type of sentence you face.

Murder

According to Texas law, a person commits murder if they:

  • Intentionally and knowingly cause the death of a person
  • Intend to cause serious bodily harm to a person by committing an act that dangerous to human life and results in that person’s death
  • Commit or attempt to commit a felony during the course of which they commit an act that is dangerous to human life and results in a person’s death

Murder is charged as a first-degree felony, which carries a possibility of a minimum of five years in prison or up to life in prison. If the person committed the murder under “sudden passion,” meaning they committed the act in response to an action from the victim, they can be charged with a second-degree felony, which carries a possible sentence of a minimum of two years to a maximum of 20 years in prison. Both charges carry the possibility of up to $10,000 in fines.

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TX defense lawyerIf you drive a vehicle, chances are you have driven over the speed limit at some point in time. Speed limits have long been the nemesis of speed demons throughout the country. Unlike Germany, which has the Autobahn, the world’s most famous speed-limitless highway, nearly every single road in the United States has a set speed limit designed to protect drivers from the dangers that speeding can bring. According to information from the Texas Crash Records Information System, there were more than 40,600 traffic accidents involving a speeding driver since January 2020. Of those accidents, more than a third (33 percent) involved at least one injury. Because speed has such an effect on the severity of a crash, speed limits are taken seriously in Texas.

Texas Speeding Laws

Many states have what is known as an “absolute speeding” law. This means that a person can be ticketed for speeding if they are driving at all above the posted speed limit. In Texas, there is no absolute speeding law, but rather a “presumed” or prima facie speeding law. This means that even though there are posted speed limits, there may be situations in which speeding over that limit could be considered legal. For example, driving 75 mph on a highway that has a posted speed limit of 70 mph on a day with clear weather conditions may be considered legal. The presumed speed limit law gives drivers more leeway than an absolute speeding law, however, it leaves much of the discretion up to the officer who pulls you over. In short, no - you cannot be arrested for speeding.

Potential for More Serious Charges

However, if the officer believes you were driving unsafely or endangering others, they can choose to charge you with a more serious crime, such as reckless driving. Reckless driving is also a law that can be open to interpretation by the officer. Under Texas law, reckless driving occurs when a person operates a vehicle in a manner that willfully disregards the safety of other people on the road. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Texas, with potential penalties of up to $200 in fines and up to 30 days in jail.

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TX defense lawyerAbuse is unfortunately common in many families across the U.S. Whether it be physical, emotional, or financial, victims of abuse can often continue to suffer under the hands of their abuser for years, some without even recognizing that what they are enduring is considered abuse. Making the decision to leave an abusive relationship is a courageous one to make, and sadly many victims of abuse believe that they have no way of escaping their relationship due to the possibility of their abuser lashing out. The state offers orders of protection for those who have endured abuse. But what about when false accusations of abuse are made? How can someone being accused of domestic violence defend themselves?

What Does a Protective Order Do?

A protective order, commonly known as a restraining order, is a court order that requires the listed party to stay away from the petitioning party and any family members included in the order. Victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual abuse are able to request a temporary or permanent protective order to make themselves feel safe. A court can include the following requirements in a protective order:

  • Not to hurt, threaten, or harass the petitioner or your children
  • To keep your distance from the petitioner or your children’s home, workplace, and school
  • Not to carry a weapon, even if you have the proper licensing
  • Require the payment of child or medical support
  • Require supervised visitation with your children

In addition to these restrictive terms, those who have a protective order against them must be listed on the Texas Protective Order Registry.

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TX defense attorneyWhen one commits a crime that is premeditated, they often have an escape route planned to avoid being caught for their actions. This is especially true when the crime is at the felony level. The moments after the crime has been committed are critical to the criminal charges that are bound to follow. Did they freely give themselves up to law enforcement? Did they attempt to run from the officers? Or did they disappear completely? For those who try to blend into the woodwork to avoid facing penalties for their actions, a single mistake, such as driving over the speed limit, can be enough for a Texas law enforcement officer to pull the person over and notice that something is off.

Lubbock Bar Fight Gone Wrong

It is no secret that alcohol tends to heighten people’s emotions and reactions to what is going on around them. Recently, an argument at a sports bar in Lubbock, Texas escalated from the heated exchange of words to a shooting outside of the bar’s doors. Several men were sitting inside the bar were asked to leave after an argument between the men was beginning to get out of hand. Things only escalated as the men left the bar, so much so that one 28-year-old man in the group was shot and killed in the bar parking lot. The incident is under investigation to find the man responsible for the man's death, though some believe that the shooter has already been caught.

During the time spent investigating outside of the local bar, another man was arrested and charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon by a licensed holder. He was pulled over for the failure to use a turn signal, and during their conversation, the officer noticed that He seemed nervous, rolling up his windows to keep the law enforcement officer from seeing inside his vehicle. The officer then requested the man step outside of his vehicle and noticed that he was using his feet to attempt to conceal a weapon on the floorboard of his car. The man was arrested and charged with a class A misdemeanor for his actions. Many social media users are wondering if he is connected to the bar killing based on his proximity to the location and his attempt to conceal a weapon. At this time, police have not identified anyone for the murder charge, though many suspect that he may be a person of interest.

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TX defense lawyerWhen one is convicted of a crime, the illegal activity that they have been deemed guilty of committing falls within a set of categories based on severity, also known as a classification. Not all crimes are one and the same, for instance, stealing a few items off a store shelf and killing another individual are held on completely different playing fields. For obvious reasons, petty theft and murder are granted much different penalties which are determined by the classification of the crime. So how do you know which classification your crime falls under and what are the penalties?

Classification of Misdemeanors

There are three classifications of misdemeanors, which include common offenses such as a traffic violation and span all the way to assault. The following are the three misdemeanor classifications, with Class A as the most serious and Class C as the least.

  • Class A Misdemeanor: Those found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor will receive a fine of up to $4,000 and/or confinement in jail for up to one year.
  • Class B Misdemeanor: Those found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor will receive a fine of up to $2,000 and/or confinement in jail for up to 180 days.
  • Class C Misdemeanor: This classification is reserved for the least serious crimes, such as speeding tickets, and is typically the default classification. In other words, if you commit a minor crime that is deemed a misdemeanor without being given a specific punishment or category, the crime is considered a Class C misdemeanor, which results in a fine of up to $500.

Classification of Felonies

Once a crime exceeds a certain level of severity, such as physically injuring someone, taking the life of a person, or committing property damage of a high value, the classification escalates to a felony. There are five felony classifications, all of which result in time in prison. The following are the five felony classifications, with a capital felony being the most severe:

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Karnes County juvenile criminal defense attorney

A parent’s worst nightmare is seeing their child hurt in any way, even if they have done wrong. For minors who are convicted of a crime, the consequences that follow the trial can be devastating for both the child and their parent. The child will be held accountable for their actions through the juvenile justice system, either through fines, probation, or even time behind bars, and the parent is left uncertain of how to proceed. Unless you or your child have been previously convicted by the juvenile court, you likely have little knowledge of what the proceedings entail and what rights you have as a parent. If it is your first experience with the Texas juvenile justice system, there are some things that you should know, including how your actions can lead to your own set of criminal charges.

Entry of Orders Against Parents

In Texas, those tried through the juvenile justice system are 17 years or younger. At this age, children have limited capabilities to earn enough money to pay off fines, court costs, and any other fees associated with facing a criminal conviction. Because minors lack the ability to fully support themselves, the court can order the minor’s parents to do, or not to do, certain actions throughout the trial, including:

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Pleasanton criminal defense attorney

When it comes to the criminal justice system, once you are in it, you quickly begin to feel trapped. Once a criminal charge is added to your record, a certain stigma begins to follow you around. Criminal charges are public records, meaning anyone and everyone can look up your background. For many academic institutions and professional businesses, conducting a background check is simply part of the protocol and any evidence of criminal activity can immediately eliminate you from the pool of applicants. While this may seem fair for those with a past riddled with violent crimes, what about first-time offenders or those with substance abuse issues?

What Is Pretrial Diversion?

Pretrial diversion programs are voluntary alternatives to traditional criminal justice processing, such as large fines and spending time behind bars. As the criminal justice system has evolved, professionals have noticed that offenders have a tendency to re-offend once they are looped into the criminal justice system. This is known as recidivism. The stigma that comes along with a criminal background can keep offenders from securing a stable job and income, often leading them back to what they know best: a life of crime.

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