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Houston Criminal Defense Blog

From charging decisions to bail determinations

Every moment from an arrest matters. As the gears of the criminal justice system slowly begin to crank, past convictions could re-emerge that increase a charge or penalty.

An initial hearing will discuss release conditions and almost always set monetary bail. Without experienced counsel, it’s possible to sit in Harris County jail longer than you ever expected.

Contesting testimony/evidence in a criminal case

Clients often come into our office confused about criminal charges saying authorities do not have any evidence. No fingerprints, DNA, video, photos or witnesses are involved. It's just the accusation of another person.

First, sworn testimony is often enough to sustain a conviction. But even when there is evidence, it may be contaminated or suspect for a variety of reasons.

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It takes an experienced criminal law attorney to put together a strong defense that protects your rights.

DA shifts focus from marijuana possession: What is next?

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has indicated the office will not make misdemeanor marijuana a priority. For those caught with less than four ounces of marijuana, the offense will not appear on their record if they attend a drug education class. It's basically a across-the-board pre-charge diversion program.

What will the prosecutor's office target with the $26 million budget that had been directed at marijuana cases?

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Prescription drug abuse and possession of prescription medications is one area likely to receive more scrutiny. A routine traffic stop could thus become much more problematic if a law enforcement officer observes a plastic bag containing pills.

Texas DWI charges: Different drivers, different penalties?

A Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) conviction in Texas can lead to serious criminal penalties. What factors explain the differences in sentences?

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If you are facing these charges, it is important to realize that the penalties of a conviction can vary. To get out of the handcuffs as fast as possible and limit the damage, you need a basic understanding of the factors taken into consideration when determining a potential sentence.

How to keep a DWI off your criminal record

As the holidays get into full swing, there are work parties and gatherings with family and friends. From eggnog to cocktails and wine, alcoholic beverages are a part of many of these events.

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How do you know if one more drink will put you over the legal limit? You might not feel intoxicated and you could still be over .08. To avoid a Texas DWI you should get an Uber or postpone your departure, even if you feel buzzed.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has already warned of stepped up enforcement over the holidays. If you are stopped and an officer asks you to complete field sobriety testing, politely refuse. Following any DWI arrest, immediately ask to contact a criminal defense lawyer.

Options to wipe a criminal record clean

An arrest can happen after a momentary lapse of judgment or a youthful mistake. It is not generally representative of your character. Still, many will form lasting negative opinions based on a past arrest or plea of no contest. These opinions can prevent you from landing the job of your dreams, obtaining a professional license or moving to a new apartment.

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Two remedies exist that can reduce or mitigate the effects of an arrest or past conviction. They are expunction and orders of nondisclosure. In this post, we explain the differences.

Miranda turns 50: Here is why you shouldn't answer questions

The Miranda warnings have become well known over the past five decades. You might even be able to recite them after watching Law & Order, Blue Bloods, the Good Wife or another law-related sitcom. These warnings were designed to limit the number of false or coerced confessions.

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But unfortunately they still happen. A coerced confession in the Brendan Dassey case provided the basis for the "Making a Murderer" series. Dassey was 16 with intellectual limitations when he confessed during police questioning. He was questioned without a parent or guardian four times before confessing. His conviction was recently overturned, but he still remains in custody while the case is appealed.

In a Northwestern University Law Review podcast, Professor Laura Nirider discusses common interrogations tactics and how they can lead to false confessions. About a quarter of DNA exonerations in some of the most serious rape and murder cases involve these types of coerced statements. The podcast focuses on police questioning of children. But the information is broadly informative.

It underscores the risks of answering questions about a crime without an attorney. Do not talk to police until you have had time to consult a criminal defense attorney.

Is legal purchase a valid defense to Texas marijuana charges?

The short answer is no. And you should know that Texas has some of the harshest penalties in the country for marijuana possession.

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If you purchased marijuana in a state where it is now legal, take care when you return to Texas. Thousands of arrests for the possession of drugs occur every year in the state. Many of the arrests are related to the possession of marijuana. And often it's a small amount (less than two ounces).

You may have a hard time believing this, but the misdemeanor possession of two ounces or less could cost you as much as $2,000 in fines and land you in jail for up to 180 days.

What to keep in mind when searching for a criminal defense attorney

Abraham Lincoln famously said that "he who represents himself has a fool for a client." This is never more true than in a criminal law case. No matter how seemingly minor the charges may be on paper, any criminal conviction can come with serious consequences. These can include:

  • Jail/prison time
  • Hefty fines
  • Difficulty getting a job in the future
  • Loss of educational, housing and career advancement opportunities
  • Social stigma
  • Loss of relationships (whether because of time spent away incarcerated or due to the conviction itself and the mental associations with it)
  • Possible sex offender registration for some crimes
  • Loss of driving privileges for some crimes

A vigorous defense is the best way to fight back against these serious consequences, both before a trial starts and throughout the entire process. No matter how intelligent, well-read and articulate you may be, chances are very, very good that you simply don't have the wherewithal, knowledge and experience necessary to mount the best defense on your own behalf. That is why you need to hire a criminal defense attorney with the skill and ability to fight for you.

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