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Wilson County criminal defense attorney diversion programs

In the past, anyone found guilty of a criminal offense was immediately sent to prison to pay for their crimes. Little regard was given to the role that addiction and mental health issues played in the committing of these offenses. As times have changed and more research has been done regarding mental health, it has been found that those who struggle with mental health issues may have external, or internal, influences that keep them from making good decisions. Luckily, the integral role of mental health has been recognized by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and various programs have been created to keep those with mental health struggles from spending time behind bars.

What Is a Diversion Program?

There are three goals that stem from diversion programs: Presenting sentencing alternatives at the time of conviction, presenting sanctioning alternatives to revocation, and reducing the likelihood of recidivism, or returning to prison. Diversion programs vary depending on the offense and the unique circumstances of the offender, but options are available whether the offense is a minor misdemeanor or a serious felony. For example, those with a minor drug charge and no other criminal offenses may be required to complete a drug education program or participate in rehabilitation for a certain period of time. This becomes their “sentence” rather than spending time in prison or paying exorbitant fees. The purpose of diversion programs is to focus on education and rehabilitation rather than locking certain offenders away. This is meant to prepare individuals for life moving forward and keep them from committing crimes in the future.

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Jourdanton criminal defense attorney traffic violation

In late March, Texas Governor Abbott urged Texans to remain at home unless deemed an essential worker or participating in an essential activity. This resulted in the temporary closing of many small businesses, restaurant services switching to takeout-only, and much of the Texas workforce working remotely from home. Because of this, Texas roadways had fewer drivers and a reduced number of vehicles on city streets. A recent report showed shocking statistics for a number of states, including Texas. Despite reduced traffic, Texas saw a 6 percent increase in roadway deaths within the first three months of the year. Texas is not alone and the National Safety Council (NSC) has a few explanations for the surprising numbers. In order to address this increase in reckless driving, law enforcement may be recording speeding and other traffic violations more often than normal.

Open Roads Lead to Recklessness

One would think that empty roads, with fewer vehicles, would lead to a decrease in car accidents and resulting fatalities. Unfortunately, Texas saw the opposite effect, along with 10 other states. The NSC attributes this rise in fatal car accidents to drivers’ disregard for road regulations. They believe that drivers are seeing the open roads as an opportunity for faster speeds and other forms of reckless driving since there are fewer cars that could pose a danger. The NSC has noted an uptick in speeding and also believes that driving regulation adjustments may be partly to blame. In order to avoid social exposure, some states have repealed requirements for teen drivers to pass driving tests before obtaining their license and others have relaxed hours of service rules for commercial drivers. 

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Jourdanton drug crime defense attorney

In the past few years, many states have begun to navigate the divisive waters of marijuana legalization. Some states have accepted the change and have legalized all forms of marijuana use, including recreational, while others have remained strict on the matter. Texas is one of the few states that has stayed headstrong in the fight to keep marijuana out of the hands of citizens. While medical use has been legalized for certain conditions, recreational use is strictly forbidden throughout the state. Drug laws can seem convoluted to the average citizen and even to law enforcement, as some forms of the cannabis plant have been accepted by Texas lawmakers. 

What Is Legal?

Since the signing of the Texas Compassionate Use Law in 2015, medical cannabis is legal for a limited number of medical conditions. These include epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease. If you do not have any of these conditions, medical marijuana treatments remain out of the question for your prescriber.

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Atascosa County drunk driving defense attorney

In addition to a standard driver’s license, Texas truck drivers must go through significant training to obtain the proper license to drive commercial vehicles. Understanding the dangers that they can pose to other drivers is important for commercial truck drivers, especially since their livelihood depends on their ability to drive safely. One of the stricter regulations that commercial drivers face is the legal limit for blood alcohol tolerance. Operating a vehicle with a 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is strictly forbidden for all Texas drivers, but commercial drivers have an even lower legal limit at 0.04 percent. Charges of driving while intoxicated (DWI)can threaten a commercial driver’s ability to keep their license and support their family.

Commercial Driving Regulations

In order to keep everyone safe on the road, there are a number of regulations that commercial drivers must follow, including those that are related to the driver’s work behind the wheel and their health. There a variety of operating rules that outline what a commercial driver can and cannot do on the road. For instance, when trucks drive in-line with each other, they must leave enough space for another car to merge between them if necessary. Commercial drivers must also stop at all railroad crossings, even if there is no stop sign telling them to do so. In regards to their personal health, commercial drivers must have vision better than 20/40, and they cannot suffer from drug or alcohol addictions. This last requirement is a way for the state to try to reduce the number of intoxicated commercial drivers who may be behind the wheel.

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Atascosa County theft crimes defense attorney

Each year, the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) provides an analysis of crime throughout the state. This includes statistics about crime rates, crime trends, crime volume, and more. The statistics can sometimes be difficult to comprehend as a whole, with numbers looming into the thousands. However, having a general knowledge of what crime looks like in the state of Texas can be a good way to protect yourself and stay informed about public safety. Since these statistics take time to compile and calculate, the most recent report is from 2018. According to the TxDPS, there were nearly 800,000 total offenses in 2018. Although this number may seem high, it is actually a 5.4 percent decrease from the previous year. So, what are common crime trends in Texas, and what are their consequences? The answer: More than 678,000 property crimes were committed in Texas in 2018.

Larceny-Theft

The term larceny-theft is a long-form word for theft ⁠— the unlawful taking of another person’s property. 72.4 percent of the property crimes committed in 2018 were theft charges. The legal consequence for theft is often dependent upon the price of the item being stolen. Charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies. The consequences can start at a $500 fine and escalate to $10,000 and a sentence of anywhere from 2 to 20 years in prison.

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Wilson County criminal defense attorney stay at home order

Since March, the United States has seen an unprecedented shutdown of non-essential businesses and public places. Each state has enacted its own version of the “stay-at-home” order, although they are all very similar in intent. Many businesses and public areas have been temporarily closed in order to contain COVID-19 as best as possible. Although health officials have not come up with a permanent solution just yet, Texas, along with other states, has begun to slowly reopen businesses to stimulate the economy. However, this is being done in stages, and there are still existent regulations for citizens and business owners.

A Recent Case

During the past couple of months, Texas has been on a mandatory stay-at-home order, initially mandated by city mayors but later authorized as a state-wide restriction for all citizens to follow—including government personnel themselves. With patience growing thin everywhere, it is not surprising that public figures may grant themselves leniency on the ordinance. Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames went to a nail salon to get her nails done, despite clear orders issued by her and the governor to remain at home for the time being. Mayor Ames was seen at the nail salon, wearing a face mask, and she was reported to authorities for her actions. Since the nail salon disobeyed the order mandating all non-essential businesses to remain closed temporarily, the charges will likely fall on the owners rather than the mayor. This case is currently under review by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. If found guilty, the nail salon could face a fine of up to $1,000, and the mayor may have ruined her chances of getting re-elected. 

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Jourdanton family violence attorney

Domestic abuse is prevalent throughout the United States⁠—and Texas is no exception. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes. With numbers this high, it is no wonder why orders of protection are taken seriously. These legal orders, commonly known as restraining orders, can be requested by a person who believes they or their family members are in danger of harm by a family or household member. Although restraining orders are typically not valid for indefinite amounts of time, they can be extended if the court deems it necessary. Legal protection should be put in place for those who need it, but in some cases, these protective orders may be based on false allegations of abuse. If you find yourself facing an unjust order of protection, you do have legal options, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can help.

Types of Protective Orders

There are three types of orders of protection available in Texas, each with its own length of duration. In many cases, the individual filing for the order will get a temporary order initially and work to extend that order in the meantime. The differences between each of the protective orders are described below:

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Floresville assault defense attorney

The term “assault” can mean different things depending on the situation. You may be picturing two men fighting while they are out with their friends, or maybe you are imagining a couple arguing and things going too far. As is the case with most criminal charges, assault charges can include a number of actions or intended actions. Understanding what is considered assault is important, since inflicting physical harm is not necessarily required. We have all had the experience of emotions running high and anger taking over our better judgment. Although most would not press charges for a heated argument, some may take your words or actions differently than you had intended, leading to serious charges that can label you as a criminal.

The Definition of Assault

There are three definitions that are included in the description of assault in the Texas Penal Code. The criminal offense of assault may involve the following actions:

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Pleasanton DWI defense attorney

Underage drinking is a common occurrence across the United States. With kids starting college before turning 21, it can seem as if the legal drinking age becomes irrelevant as students move away from home to start their college careers. Movies and television shows attempt to normalize underage drinking, and although teens may buy into it, law enforcement does not. Minors can receive various criminal charges if they consume alcohol. These young adults may not recognize the severity of such offenses and how they can alter their future. Teaching your child about the possible charges that they can face for underage drinking and understanding the legal consequences is often the best way to deter them from consuming alcohol at a young age.

Common Offenses

When someone thinks of the various types of charges related to alcohol, drinking while underage and driving while intoxicated are often the two charges that come to mind. What many minors do not realize is that depending on the situation, they could face multiple charges at once for simply drinking a beer. The following are common offenses recognized by the Texas Department of Public Safety:

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Karnes County traffic violation defense attorney

Obtaining a driver’s license for the first time can be one of the most exciting events in a teenager’s life. After spending hours behind the wheel, attending various driving courses, and getting yelled at by nervous parents as they are learning to drive, being able to finally ride on the roads without parental supervision can make a minor finally feel independent. However, driving without parents in the car does not mean that young motorists have surpassed the various restrictions allotted to new drivers. Many teens incorrectly believe that once they have a driver’s license, they have the same rights on the road as any other driver. Understanding the restrictions that exist for new drivers is extremely important before hitting the road, especially since traffic violations can have a significant effect on a person's license and insurance rates, and serious violations may even lead to criminal charges and a lifelong criminal record.

License Phases

Each state has its own rules for new drivers, and it is imperative to have a good understanding of this, whether you are a parent or a new teen driver. In Texas, there are two types of driver’s licenses, known as “phases,” and each phase has its own rules and regulations.

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Jourdanton juvenile crime attorney

Starting to build a criminal record at a young age can lead to very serious consequences in the future. Even if it begins with small offenses, petty crimes can often lead to more serious crimes in the future and even harsher legal consequences. The United States has always deliberated on how to handle youths within the criminal justice system. Some believe that these minors should receive harsh punishments at the forefront of their record to scare them from committing more crimes, while others view rehabilitation as the correct answer. The state of Texas has worked to put a law in place that avoids allowing youth crimes to go unpunished while also steering away from unnecessarily long and severe sentences.

Determinate Sentencing

One of the primary concerns for those trying to improve the criminal justice system is keeping juveniles outside of the adult criminal justice system. Some states allow a minor to be tried as an adult depending on how close they are to the age of 18 and how serious the crime is. To avoid this being the case in Texas, the state legislature approved determinate sentencing as an alternative for minors. This was originally approved in 1987 and has since seen several legal adjustments. Minors who have committed an offense that is considered a capital or first-degree felony qualify for determinate sentencing. The following are a few examples of criminal offenses that can possibly lead to this alternate type of sentencing:

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Jourdanton weapons charges attorney

In the midst of mass shootings and young lives being taken by gun violence across America, it is no secret that gun rights are a hot-button topic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3,513 gun-related deaths occurred in Texas in 2017. While some people may feel that gun control is necessary to address gun violence and reduce deaths, many Texans believe in protecting their right to bear arms. However, what many people do not realize is that weapons charges in Texas may involve more than just guns. 

What Is Considered a Weapon?

Texas law identifies more than 15 different objects as weapons, and possession or use of these weapons can result in criminal charges, depending on the circumstances. These weapons are divided into various categories as shown below:

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Karnes County criminal defense attorney protective order violation

Texas law enforcement offers individuals who have been the victims of domestic violence the option of filing for an order of protection. More commonly known as a restraining order, an order of protection is set in place for those who have experienced family violence or violent threats. These legal orders are only validated for certain reasons to avoid having protective measures taken against innocent Texans. The state allows an individual to obtain an order of protection if someone has hurt them or threatened to hurt them; they are afraid that the designated person will hurt them again; and either the individual, his or her partner, or his or her spouse has a close relationship with this person. This “relationship” can include marriage, dating, relatives, cohabitation, or having children together. If an order of protection is filed against someone, he or she will be notified of the terms to avoid violating the legal order and thus committing a crime.

What Constitutes a Violation of an Order of Protection?

There are multiple ways a person can be accused of violating a restraining order. These are known as “elements of the offense.” In order to be found guilty of this type of violation, the prosecution must prove that a defendant was under the restrictions of an order of protection and was aware of the order. A violation of a protective order means that a person knowingly and intentionally performed at least one of the following prohibited acts: 

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Pleasanton traffic violation attorney

Traffic laws vary from state to state, and while the rules may seem relatively similar, you should understand how the consequences change as you cross state lines. Drivers who violate traffic laws can receive traffic tickets, and they may face serious fines and fees. What many people do not realize is that receiving a traffic violation can lead to more than just an expensive ticket.

Common Offenses and Their Penalties

Traffic violations come in many different forms — and so do their legal consequences. Speeding may be the first type of violation to come to mind, but drivers may face hundreds of dollars in fines and other consequences for a variety of other reasons, including driving without a seat belt, texting while driving, driving without a valid license, or failing to maintain liability insurance. Charges can become even more serious for offenses such as reckless driving or DWI, and in these cases, drivers may face license suspension or even jail time.

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Floresville murder defense attorney

It is fairly common knowledge that taking the life of another person is illegal throughout the United States. Although murder charges may seem fairly cut and dry, there are actually different types of charges that one can face for killing another person, and these disparities are often tied to the intent of the guilty party. The legal term for killing someone is criminal homicide. The best way to fight any homicide case is to find an experienced attorney within your state who understands the details that go along with the charge you may be facing. By working with a skilled lawyer, you may be able to reduce your sentence or even obtain a not guilty verdict. However, it is also important to have a personal understanding of what your charge entails to be fully informed about the possible legal consequences.

Murder

There are three scenarios that could result in murder charges in Texas. A person may be charged with murder if he or she has purposely and knowingly caused the death of another person; intended to cause serious physical injury and killed a person in the process; or attempted to commit a felony (other than manslaughter) and killed a person while doing so. The offense of homicide is a first-degree felony, and a conviction can result in at least five years (and possibly life) in prison and a $10,000 fine.

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Karnes City drug crimes defense attorney

With the legal changes regarding marijuana shifting from state to state, it can be confusing when trying to understand what the consequences are for various drug charges. As one would expect, drug charges can vary based on the substance involved and the circumstance of a case. In order to avoid having different charges for every illegal substance, Texas law enforcement has created categories known as “drug penalty groups.” Understanding which group your charge falls under is crucial for determining what your consequences may be. Although the best way to verify the details of your charge is to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer, having a general knowledge of the different penalty groups is a good place to start.

Penalty Groups in Detail

There are four different drug groups, each of which increases in risk and severity of consequence:

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Jourdanton white collar crime attorney

When the word “criminal” is used, many people may picture individuals dressed in orange jumpsuits standing behind bars rather than a clean businessman in a nice suit walking down Wall Street. The fact of the matter is that many criminals fall between the cracks, especially those who have committed “white collar crimes.” White collar crimes are nonviolent crimes committed by employees while performing their job. This can include deceit, concealment, fraud, and bribery regarding finances. Many people see white collar crimes as “victimless” and thus deem their actions to be harmless. While they may seem less harmful than violent crimes, white collar crimes are not tolerated in Texas and throughout the United States, and they can result in serious consequences.

Examples of White Collar Crimes

Although many have heard the term white collar crime, few know the various crimes that fall under this category. Understanding the different actions that are considered white collar crimes is one of the best ways to avoid facing harsh penalties for your actions on the job. Some common white collar crimes include:

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Wilson County expunction attorney

Few people have a spotless record in the eyes of the law. Maybe you received a traffic ticket when you were first learning to drive, or you were caught with alcohol before turning 21. Teenagers often make decisions before considering the legal consequences that may follow. Not only can these “bad choices” lead to large fines or jail time, but they can also remain on your record as you try to move on from your past mistakes. In Texas, those with a criminal record can sometimes have the charges removed or expunged. Although many people may not seek out this option until they are an adult looking for a job, minors should consider expunction to give themselves a better chance of clearing their record at an earlier age. 

What Is Expunction?

Being able to hide your previous encounters with the law can help you move on personally and professionally. Most convictions cannot be removed from an individual’s record, especially those considered more serious. However, expunction may allow Texans to remove information about arrests that were never formally charged, criminal charges that were dismissed, or cases in which a pre-trial diversion program was completed. Expunction may also be available for certain types of convictions, such as some first-time DWI charges. Once expunction is approved, all information will be erased from criminal records, allowing the person to deny the incident and any consequences that came from it. 

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Floresville sexual assault defense attorney

College is an exciting and new time for young adults who are just getting started with their higher education. Since many students attend college right after they graduate high school, some students are still minors. For many, this is the first time that they have lived without a parent, making it easy for them to get into trouble with their newfound freedom. Whether a minor or not, making a legal mistake in college can affect a person's future at the school itself as well as the professional opportunities available to them in the future. Many students do not recognize the severity of their actions until after they have been caught, making an experienced criminal defense attorney crucial for avoiding a conviction and allowing them to continue on with their academic career.

Types of Offenses That Occur on Campuses

In 2017, The National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC) released a report that highlights the crimes occurring on American college campuses. On a positive note, violent victimization on school grounds has decreased by 75 percent since 1995. However, 5 percent of students reported carrying a weapon on school grounds in the last 30 days alone. Criminal tendencies shift as times change, yet the existence of crime remains consistent. The following are the most common crimes that have occurred on higher-ed campuses:

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Wilson County drunk driving defense attorney

It is not uncommon for drivers to get behind the wheel after having a few drinks, especially around the holidays. Rather than paying for a rideshare and leaving their car behind to be safe, individuals will often assume that their senses are not altered to the extent that restricts their ability to drive. The truth is that even when you think you are capable of driving, you may be over the legal limit. With the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit being 0.08 percent for Texans, even a couple of drinks can cause you to be legally intoxicated. If you see red and blue flashing lights in the rearview mirror after drinking any amount of alcohol, you could face DWI charges.

Do I have to Take a Breathalyzer Test?

Being pulled over by a police officer can be an anxiety-provoking experience. After stopping on the side of the road and waiting for the officer to come to your window, you will likely wonder how you should handle the situation. One thing to note is that in Texas, all drivers are required to submit to a BAC test if they are arrested on suspicion of DWI. This is known as the implied consent law. Every driver who has a valid Texas driver’s license agrees to give a blood or breath sample upon arrest.

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