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Atascosa County criminal defense attorney fraud

When you think of scammers, you likely picture pickpockets on city streets or anonymous faces hacking your computer from the other side of the world. Scammers can come in all shapes and sizes, including outsiders targeting companies. While the payoff may be big upfront, the legal ramifications most certainly outweigh the large check. One Ohio woman recently pleaded guilty to participating in a defraud scheme three years ago. Though she was not in charge of the scheme, her actions with Texas companies still left her facing serious criminal charges.

Texas Companies Defrauded of $600k

Bintu Toure, a 26-year-old woman from Canton, Ohio, faces a possible three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to defrauding two Texas companies of over $600,000. The scheme? Tricking the company by using false invoices. Toure was one of three individuals who sent false invoices to companies pretending to be their suppliers, then moving the money overseas once the cash was in their possession. The group of scammers claimed to be collecting payment for “frozen chicken parts” for two Brazilian poultry suppliers. This white-collar scheme ran from November 2018 through May 2019 and Toure accumulated $629,000 throughout the seven months. Based on the details of her case, Toure faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for both wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, though her plea deal asks for a sentence on the low end of the spectrum, meaning three to four years in prison.

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Atascosa County criminal defense attorney DWI

Attending holiday parties is often the highlight of the year. Whether you are celebrating with coworkers, seeing distant family members, or enjoying yourself at home, alcoholic beverages are bound to be present and potentially consumed in excess. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the holiday season, some drivers may place others at risk by drinking before getting behind the wheel. Holiday gatherings look a bit different this year; some have opted to cancel their gatherings, others have reduced the number of people invited to the party, while many have decided against joining the annual party altogether. Because large gatherings have been strongly cautioned or completely off-limits for almost a year now, the opportunity to have some fun may lead to overindulgence and poor decisions. The Texas Department of Safety (DPS) recognizes the annual holiday threat of speeding and intoxicated drivers, especially during these unprecedented times, and is honing its focus on keeping roads safe. 

Unfortunate Holiday Statistics

Holidays have consistently been a high time for severe accidents. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were a total of 24 fatalities within a 30-hour period surrounding New Year’s in 2019—not counting the additional accidents that lead to injuries rather than death. Surprisingly, Memorial Day and Fourth of July racked up the most fatalities when compared to other holidays throughout 2019. This year, law enforcement is on high alert as the pandemic reduced the number of parties throughout the year, leading to even more anticipation—and likely celebrating—in the upcoming winter holidays. According to news reports from December 22, Austin surpassed the total number of people killed on area roadways in 2019, with 89 fatalities before the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations this year. 

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Wilson County criminal defense attorney

Being convicted of a crime at any age can be a terrifying experience. Not knowing how the court system works or not having a good understanding of the possible consequences of your conviction can make the months of your criminal trial feel like years. For minors, the process can be even more daunting. Your crimes may take you away from your home and family, and in some cases, warrant that you are tried as an adult. The state of Texas allows some juvenile cases to be tried in adult court depending on the details of the charge. No matter the severity of your crime, it is always advisable to work with a reputable criminal defense attorney to be fully informed on the legal process and have a trained defender on your side.

Trying a Juvenile as an Adult

The state of Texas has two separate courts -- juvenile and adult courts. Those who are between the ages of 10 and 17 fall within the juvenile court system. Once minors reach the age of 18, they are no longer eligible to be tried in juvenile court. The age restrictions of these courts, however, are not fully set in stone and those who are 14 years or older may be tried in an adult court if their criminal charge is serious enough to warrant this harsher jurisdiction. Known as a certification or transfer hearing, the Texas juvenile court may waive its right to the minor’s case, transferring the child to stand trial in an adult criminal district court.

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Atascosa County criminal defense attorney weapons charges

Waking up in the middle of the night to rustling outside your house or the sound of a window breaking downstairs would set anyone on high alert. Maybe you grab the nearest object to use in self-defense, if necessary, or perhaps you keep a gun in the house to protect you and your family. Many Texans are gun owners, saying that a gun in the house makes them feel safer. Even if the gun is properly registered and you have the appropriate licensing for the weapon, situations like these can leave the property owner facing criminal charges. Understanding self-defense laws is critical for Texas home and gun owners. It is imperative for those who are facing such charges to seek the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect their rights. 

A Look at Criminal Consequences

Texas law states that property owners are able to use force to terminate trespassing or theft if they deem it is necessary; however, force and deadly force are two different actions. Shooting the trespasser is considered deadly force since the bullet can easily end the person’s life. If the person is not an immediate threat to you or your family, deadly force is not permissible. This is easier to understand with concrete examples.

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Karnes County criminal defense attorney sextingWith the resurgence of dating apps and communication through texting and social media platforms, the sending of explicit photos has skyrocketed. Online dating websites that originally relied on computer access and instant messaging have now become even more accessible with smartphones, apps, and a constant Internet connection. A phenomenon known as “sexting” involves the sending of sexually explicit photographs through electronic means. This is a common occurrence with teens and young adults, but it can become a criminal act if the parties are under the age of 18. Sexting can involve both parties’ consent, but can often be unsolicited through dating apps’ messaging platforms. Texas legislators have addressed this issue, taking legal action against the senders of this lewd content.

The Signing of House Bill 2789

Numerous Texans have filed complaints after receiving unwanted sexually explicit photos through texts or other forms of instant messaging. Many of the recipients are females who feel that they are being targeted by males posing as potential romantic prospects. According to statistics compiled by YouGov Plc., approximately 40 percent of women report receiving such content without providing consent. After reports from many concerned parents about the possibility of their child receiving such lewd content, Texas legislators decided to take action against these senders. House Bill 2789 was signed by Governor Greg Abbott in May 2019 and went into effect this past September. Anyone found to have sent sexually explicit material without the consent of the receiving party now faces Class C misdemeanor charges with a maximum $500 fine. This law is not reserved solely for text messages; it can also include other digital messaging platforms such as email, social media, and dating apps.

Is This Enforceable?

There are a number of strategies that a defense attorney can use and some are questioning the constitutionality of the law altogether. First Amendment rights may be in question and it can be difficult to prove that the person accused was the actual sender. The individual facing charges can easily claim that a third-party picked up his or her phone or hacked into his or her account to send the explicit content. This also places other photos into question, such as sending images to your medical provider for diagnosing purposes or posting/sending photos of you breastfeeding your child. There is a fairly fine line between what is considered sexually explicit, artistic, or constitutes freedom of speech, especially in modern times.

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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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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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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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Karnes County shoplifting defense attorney

Shoplifting is a common crime that occurs in many retail businesses. For both large corporations like Walmart and mom-and-pop shops, stores want to make sure the patrons coming through their doors are abiding by the law. In an attempt to reduce the number of items taken from shelves without paying, some stores have their employees check receipts before customers exit the premises. This may be helpful to catch the few individuals attempting to shoplift, but what about the majority of other loyal customers who waited in line at the register? Should they be subject to this routine interruption?

Shopkeeper’s Privilege in Texas

Many large corporations have receipt-checkers placed at all of their exits to act as an additional level of protection against shoplifters. Walmart, Costco, and Sam’s Club have some of the largest stores in the country and also make the most use of these “security checks.” However, their presence can sometimes be frustrating and insulting to customers. After standing in a long line for the past 30 minutes, it can feel unfair to have to take the time for another employee to scan your cart. It may seem as if these employees have no power, but according to Texas’ Shopkeeper’s Privilege law, refusing to show your receipt could be your first step toward detention.

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Karnes County firearms charges defense lawyer

In the midst of tragedies involving gun violence, many states have taken measures to restrict gun rights in an attempt to reduce this ongoing issue. One primary concern that has been addressed by legislators is the right to carry arms in a concealed manner. Some states may have restricted their residents’ weapons rights; however, Texas remains pro-concealed carry. Many gun owners see taking away this legal right as a direct violation of the Second Amendment and a means of disabling people from being able to defend themselves. Regardless of your stance on the matter, it is important to note that Texas residents who wish to carry a concealed weapon have strict laws by which they must abide -- and those who fail to do so can face serious legal consequences, including criminal charges.

The Application Process

Many individuals have the incorrect assumption that anyone can get a license to carry a weapon without realizing the various qualifications that must be met. Concealed carry is legal with a Texas License to Carry (LTC) or a concealed carry license/permit from a state that Texas honors. Texas is considered a “shall-issue” state with concealed weapons permits, which means that the Department of Public Safety cannot deny a permit to an applicant if they meet all of the legal requirements.

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Jourdanton drug crimes defense attorney

Throughout the United States, the laws regarding marijuana have changed significantly in recent years. After President Trump’s December 2018 Farm Bill left hemp sale and production regulation up to state lawmakers, several states have taken steps to address the legality of marijuana and related products, and Texas is no exception. With all of these recent changes, it can be difficult to keep track of what is and is not legal. That is why it is crucial to stay up to date on all legal changes and contact a drug charge defense attorney if you are facing possible criminal charges.

Texas House Bill 1325

This past June, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 1325 into law, legalizing the commercial production of hemp in the state of Texas. However, before this law can go into effect, the Texas Department of Agriculture needs to submit a “state hemp plan” to the USDA. Farmers hoping to get approval to grow hemp will need to submit growing permits with the Texas Department of Agriculture, which expects to begin accepting applications at the start of 2020. While it seems like the government has a solid plan for implementing this new legislation, lines may become blurred regarding what is considered legal in Texas.

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Floresville assault and battery defense attorney

In many states, assault and battery are treated as separate crimes. Assault and battery have different criminal definitions and thus result in distinctive penalties in the states that prosecute them separately. But what about the states that do not separate the two offenses? If they have different legal definitions, what are the consequences for committing them in the states that do not separate the two? For example, Texas does not distinguish between assault and battery. Therefore, it is important to know the distinction between the crimes in the event you or someone you know faces these allegations.   

What Is the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

An action is considered an “assault” if someone threatens another person with “imminent” bodily injury. In other words, no physical harm has to be done in order for someone to be charged with assault in the states that separate the two. For instance, if an individual threw a punch and missed the intended party, the offender could be charged with assault since imminent danger was assumed by the potentially injured party. Battery charges require physical contact, which can be deemed “offensive” or “injurious.” These two offenses are so closely intertwined that Texas penal code 2201 does not distinguish between the two. Assault and battery are classified as one offense, labeled under the term “assault.” 

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