Criminal Law

DWI, Drugs, Assault, Probation Revocation, Sexual Offenses, Theft, Juvenile Defense. Felony and Misdemeanor Offenses in State and Federal Court

DWI

Driving While Intoxicated, DWI and Your Drivers License Forney, Texas DWI Defense Lawyer.

Juvenile Law

Sexual Offenses, Drug Offenses, Assault and Violent Crimes, Theft, Truancy/School Related Criminal Charges.

If two random strangers are to get into a fight, it is only assault, not assault family violence. But, when you allegedly assault a family member, as defined in the Texas Family Code Section 71, family violence attaches. Texas Family Code Section 71 defines a family member to include anyone in a dating relationship, individuals related by consanguinity or affinity, former spouses, parents of the same child without the regard as to whether you live together or not, a member of your household, this includes anyone living in your home, whether you are related or not. 

Guns. 

First, we are in Texas, so let’s start with guns. If your lawyer works out a deal with the prosecutor and you are to get what is called “deferred probation” you will not be able to possess a firearm during the time of that probation, this is for a misdemeanor or felony. If your deferred probation is for 18 months, then 18 months of no guns. If you are put on straight probation for assault family violence, misdemeanor or felony, then by law, you can never possess a firearm for the remainder of your life. 

One of the first questions we ask our criminal consults is: Have you ever been arrested before? We do this not to embarrass you or make you feel bad, but to make sure we know what could possibly happen with your case. There is a chance that, based on your prior record, your state jail felony could be bumped up from anywhere to a 3rd-degree felony to a 1st-degree felony. We call this a punishment enhancement.

When we ask about your record, it includes needing to know ANY PLACE you’ve been arrested. Including other state and other counties. It also includes ANY TIME you’ve been arrested, no matter how long ago it was. When a prosecutor receives your case, the first thing they do is have an investigator run your background. These are FBI like background checks that can find EVERYTHING. Therefore, the best advice is to be upfront immediately so we can know how to prepare for your case. 

How can they do this? 

In Texas a Defendant has the right to make a statement before a sentence is imposed. This common law right of allocution is now found in the Code of Criminal Procedure Section 42.07, which instructs the Judge to ask the Defendant “whether he has anything to say why the sentence should not be imposed against him.” When this happens, most Defendants don’t say anything. Their arguments have been made already by defense counsel, evidence has been submitted through a PSI or other witnesses, or there is a plea bargain and the Defendant knows what sentence to expect.

However, sometimes a Defendant is being sentenced without an agreement and might want one last chance to speak before the Judge pronounces sentence. If the Judge forgets to ask a Defendant if he has anything to say, and pronounces a sentence anyway, the law in Texas requires that a Defendant object or forever waive his right to allocution. Now this is not an uncommon approach. Texas appellate courts have been tilting the scales in favor of the State for a while now. We convict scores of innocent people in Texas for a reason, it’s easy to do so here. One way in which appellate courts bend over backwards to uphold convictions is by saying the Defendant “waived error”, and actually wanted the thing they are now objecting to, to happen.

For example, if you are in front the Judge and she is about to sentence you, and she forgets to ask you if you have anything to say, your lawyer has to object, and point out that this Judge, who has your life in her hands, has made a mistake, and to please let the Defendant speak before you decide if he goest to prison or not. That’s a risky move to make. Judges are people, and they don’t like being corrected or objected to.

 

Here’s an article by our immigration lawyer Elizabeth Alvarez.

Many times if a person is being detained by ICE, their first instinct is to simply pay the bond, but that may not always the best course action. There are many financial and legal factors that go into making this choice that you need to consider carefully before making a decision.  

For instance, in addition to paying your criminal attorney to secure the bail or bond you have to consider to what degree there is a likelihood that ICE will detain you, and whether you would have to pay another bond to be released from ICE custody.  If so, you need to consider where you might be likely to end up were you be detained by ICE, and if you cannot post both bonds (and pay for your attorney), which detention location is better for you and your family 

So you’ve got a ticket in Forney and you want to keep it off your record? Do you need a lawyer? The answer is….. maybe, but maybe not. Let’s go over your options. Forney has two courts that handle traffic tickets, Forney Municipal Court (where the Forney Police Station is) and JP2 (downtown Forney close to our office). If you have received a traffic ticket in or near Forney, it is one of those two courts. If you receive a ticket in these courts you can hire a lawyer, and many people do. But you don’t have to.

Why hire a lawyer for a Forney traffic ticket?

The advantages of hiring a lawyer is that we have a relationship with prosecutors and know what the range of acceptable outcomes are in ticket cases. That makes it easier for us to work out your case. We can also appear in court for you. Which saves you time. Finally, we can raise legal and factual issues with your case that may get it dismissed.

I meet a lot of people during consults. A lot of people who are going through the trauma of being arrested for a felony DWI case. They are ashamed, scared, sad, angry at themselves, and now facing the possibility of prison time. Whether it’s their 3rd, 4th, or 5th DWI, or a DWI with child, or an intoxication assault, they are all scared and wondering what to do next. I tell these potential clients to seek help immediately for possible substance abuse. I recommend they complete the most intense rehabilitation program that they can, and seek the advice of their PCP as well. Why?

You’ve got time before we go to court, you need to use it

We usually have a lot of time between a felony DWI arrest and going to court. Felony DWI cases almost always go before the grand jury before they are filed. You can waive a grand jury, but it’s rare. In Kaufman County it’s not uncommon for 4-6 months to pass between an arrest for felony DWI and an indictment. The State has to wait on blood results from the lab, and that can take a few months. If there is an accident, then they may need to gather medical records and the accident reconstruction can take time. Which means my client, who is looking at prison time since it’s a felony, can use their time to start treatment and rehab now.

I’ve done a few hundred consultations in my career. I almost always ask about a potential client’s criminal history (sometimes for ticket case I don’t, or sometimes in other consults I forget, it happens). We also have intake forms that ask about your criminal history. Potential clients who have the most criminal history, are often reluctant to explain their entire criminal resume.

They are afraid that I won’t believe them if I know about their past. They want to avoid starting the conversation by telling me they’ve been arrested before, or been to prison before. There is also a weird belief that being arrested for a different category of offense somehow doesn’t count.

For example, I’ve had people arrested for a violent offense who had prior convictions for drugs not tell me because “those were drug cases, this is my first assault.” There is this weird reflex to rationalize not disclosing cases that are in the wrong category of offense. This is your first assault, great, but if you have prior cases for ANYTHING, let your lawyer know.

So your license to drive is suspended but you are still driving? That happens a lot in Texas. We’ve designed our State in a way that driving is required to function. You can’t walk to work in most areas, and public transportation is not something Texas has invested in. So people have to drive and sometimes will continue to do so after their license is suspended.

What’s the offense for driving with license invalid in Texas? That’s Texas Transportation Code Section 521.457(a)(2). It is illegal in Texas to operate a motor vehicle; on a highway; during a period that the person’s driver’s license or privilege was suspended or revoked under any Texas law.

How bad is it to commit DWLI? What’s the range of punishment?

I’ve been getting a lot of calls on this issue lately. People who were in a car accident and left the scene and now don’t know what to do. Let me stop the post right here and offer some free legal advice. HIRE A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY! YOU WILL MAKE A BAD SITUATION WORSE IF YOU DON’T. SERIOUSLY.

Am I going to be arrested?

Depends. If you hurt someone or injured others it is almost certain the police will issue an arrest warrant as soon as they have evidence you were driving and fled the scene. For cases that are only property damage, it’s different and we have resolved those type of cases without an arrest before, but it’s not always possible. The police can easily issue a warrant and it’s not something we can litigate to stop if they do. So be prepared to get arrested and have some money ready for bail just in case. We can help you find a local bail bondsman to assist.

Prison sucks, and any prison sentence can feel like cruel and unusual punishment in Texas. Can a sentence be too long to be constitutional? Theoretically yes, the Constitution places limits on how long someone can be sentenced, but in practice, it’s an argument that our appellate courts routinely reject.

How can a prison sentence be unconstitutional?

The 8th amendment forbids cruel and unusual punishment. Over the years the Supreme Court has indicated that a sentence could be so long that it is disproportionate to the crime committed, and therefore unconstitutional. However, our Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (kind of a Supreme Court for criminal cases in Texas) is run by former prosecutors who don’t mind how long people rot in prison.

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