Criminal Law - Practice area
Criminal Law

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

DUI - Practice area
DWI

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

Juvenile Law - Practice area
Juvenile Law

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

Criminal defendants in Texas with prior criminal convictions can be disadvantaged at nearly all stages of the Texas prosecution. Law enforcement officers who notice that an individual has a lengthy criminal record may have a bias against them and seek them out for arrest. Many Texas crimes can be charged at a higher level if an individual has prior convictions. During a trial, the judge or jury may be able to consider prior crimes or convictions in determining a defendant’s guilt, and at sentencing, prior convictions can be used to increase the punishment for a crime. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently rejected a post-conviction petition filed by a woman who had been sentenced to 40 years in a Texas prison for a theft offense, based in part upon a 2001 federal criminal conviction.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published judicial opinion, the defendant was convicted of a theft crime in Texas in 2023. Because she had a final criminal conviction out of a federal court in Alaska from 2001, the punishment for her more recent crime was enhanced to a 40-year prison term. After her conviction was final and the direct appeals were exhausted, the woman sought a petition for Habeas Corpus post-conviction relief from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Habeas relief is available in Texas for several reasons, including if the sentence issued was illegal. The woman argued that her sentence was illegally enhanced by the prior conviction because the prior conviction was not “final” as determined by Texas law.

In support of her petition, the woman argued that her prior conviction was not finalized, as she had sought appeals and other relief through the federal court. The high Texas court rejected her arguments, ruling that under Texas law, a conviction is final after all appellate remedies had been pursued and rejected, and the conviction was affirmed by the appellate court in a final mandate. Because the woman had exhausted her appeals in the federal case, the ruling was final under Texas law, and her application for Habeas relief was denied. As a result of the most recent ruling, the woman will be required to serve out her 40-year sentence for the Texas theft crime.

Texas prosecutors often rely on the testimony of alleged victims or eyewitnesses to obtain convictions for violent crimes. It is important to remember that witnesses are only human, and sometimes they will testify in a manner that the prosecution did not expect. Such surprise testimony may put the defense at a serious disadvantage by not allowing them to properly prepare in anticipation of such testimony. In some circumstances, the introduction of surprise testimony to the jury can be grounds for a mistrial, which could ultimately prevent a defendant from being convicted. The Texas Court of Appeals recently addressed a defendant’s appeal that surprise evidence introduced in his prosecution should have resulted in a mistrial.

In this recent case, a man had been charged with sexual assault after a woman alleged he picked her up from the side of the road and assaulted her at knifepoint. During the trial, there was a surprising revelation during the alleged victim’s testimony about her profession as a prostitute, which caused the defense to request a mistrial. The witness testified that she was working as a prostitute on the night of the assault, which the defense claimed was not disclosed by the prosecution, alleging a violation of the Brady rule, which requires the state to disclose exculpatory evidence. The trial court denied the defense motion, the defendant was convicted, and he appealed the mistrial ruling.

On appeal, the prosecution argued that they did not have prior knowledge of the witness’s profession because she mentioned it for the first time during her trial testimony. The prosecutor explained that the witness had come from out of state and hadn’t discussed the specifics of the case with the prosecution until just before taking the stand.

Continue reading

A recent criminal case before a district court in Texas highlights the importance of specific and credible testimony during trial. At issue in this appeal was the defendant’s conviction for aggravated assault by threat. On appeal, the defendant argued there was insufficient evidence to prove he threatened one of the complainants in the case. Upon reviewing the trial record, the higher court reviewed the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed, affirming the appeal.

Background of the Case

According to the opinion, the incident at issue involved two men fighting for space in a lane while driving on the highway. Both men rolled down their windows, and the defendant shouted profanities and racial slurs at the second man. The men both ended up at a nearby gas station, and they got out of their cars to exchange words.

Meanwhile, the complainant’s girlfriend and their two young children stayed in his car. The girlfriend testified at trial that she heard her boyfriend indicate that the defendant had a gun in his possession. Similarly, the complainant testified that the defendant had an AR rifle in his hand and that the defendant verbally indicated he wanted to shoot the defendant and his family.

Continue reading

Prosecutors in Texas have the incentive to pursue the most serious charges and convictions that they can justify, as their reputations may depend on the number of serious crimes that they have prosecuted. Because of this, prosecutors are often known to overcharge defendants; pursuing charges for crimes that a defendant could not reasonably have committed. Prosecutors sometimes take advantage of ambiguously worded legal statutes to pursue serious felony charges against defendants for which they may not be applicable. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas recently issued an opinion reversing a man’s conviction for evading arrest based upon the ambiguous language of the statute.

The statute in question states: “A person commits an offense if he intentionally flees from a person he knows is a peace officer or federal special investigator attempting lawfully to arrest or detain him.” The pivotal question revolves around whether the defendant’s knowledge extends to the lawfulness of the arrest or detention itself. While one interpretation suggests that the defendant must be aware of the lawfulness of the arrest or detention, another viewpoint posits that such knowledge is not required. This discrepancy has led to differing opinions among courts of appeals, highlighting the need for clarification.

In dissecting the legislative intent behind the statute, the opinion emphasizes a text-first approach to statutory interpretation. It examines the history of amendments to the statute, particularly the 1993 amendment, which replaced an exception to prosecution with the term “lawfully.” This change suggests that the legislature intended for the term to function similarly to the repealed exception, indicating a non-substantive alteration.

White-collar crimes, often involving financial deception or fraud, present a unique set of challenges for lawmakers and criminal attorneys alike. The evolving economy in the digital age necessitates new laws and regulations to address the evolving nature of white-collar crime. A recent judicial opinion from the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas sheds light on the intricate nature of defending against such charges, particularly in light of the evolving legal landscape that is affected by new legislation and regulations in the white-collar field.

The recently published opinion delves into the amendments made to the forgery statute by the Texas Legislature in 2017, which introduced subsection (e-1) and modified the felony provisions in subsections (d) and (e)in cases involving forgery under Section 32.21 of the Texas Penal Code. These amendments signal the Legislature’s intent to prioritize certain elements of forgery offenses over others, creating a hierarchical framework that impacts the classification and prosecution of such crimes. As a result of the legislative changes, prosecutors found themselves at odds with judges who appeared to add additional elements to the offense.

One significant aspect illuminated in the opinion is the application of the in pari materia doctrine, which dictates that when statutes irreconcilably conflict, defendants have a right to be prosecuted under a “special” statute that aligns with the specific elements of their offense. This principle underscores the importance of accurately assessing the statutory elements at play and advocating for the most favorable interpretation for the defendant.

Continue reading

Facing criminal charges can be overwhelming, especially when the aftermath involves not just legal consequences but also financial burdens. Texas criminal courts are allowed to issue restitution orders to victims of criminal cases, and the payments must be made as part of a defendant’s criminal case. Criminal restitution can exist in addition to civil liability for actions related to a criminal offense. In a recent Texas case, a defendant found himself ordered to pay restitution for damages resulting from a car accident, raising questions about the fairness of such rulings. This blog post delves into the intricacies of restitution in Texas criminal cases and highlights the need for a vigilant defense against potentially unjust financial burdens.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published judicial opinion, the case involved a collision where the defendant damaged a utility pole and an antique truck. While convicted of failure to perform a duty to provide information after the accident, the defendant was ordered to pay restitution for damages caused by the accident. The key question at hand is whether restitution can be ordered for an offense that did not directly cause the damage. The lower court entered a restitution ruling against the defendant, leading him to appeal.

The appellate court saw things differently than the trial court, and agreed with the defendant’s arguments that the restitution order was not appropriate. The defendant was convicted of failure to comply with duties after an accident, not for causing the damage to the utility pole and truck. The court noted that Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which governs the imposition of restitution. It emphasizes the statutory references requiring a direct connection between the offense and the damage caused. The analysis underscores that the criminal offense must be the cause of the damage for restitution to be justified.

Texas criminal law has developed in a way that seek clarity and justice in protecting the rights of victims of sexual assault. Those accused of sexual assault may also face a stigma because of the type of allegations, and sexual assault cases often come down to he-said-she-said credibility issues that make it essential for jurors to both understand the law of consent and accurately evaluate the credibility of witnesses. A recent judicial opinion from Texas demonstrates the challenges faced by both the prosecution and defense in navigating the legal intricacies surrounding witness testimony and the interpretation of consent.

According to the facts discussed in the recently published appellate opinion, the recent case in question involved an individual who was convicted of attempted sexual assault, a third-degree felony. However, the trial court’s jury instructions became a focal point of contention on appeal, as it allowed the jury to consider a broader range of actions than originally alleged in the indictment. The charge included a lesser-included offense for attempted sexual assault with an application paragraph that expanded the means of penetration to “by any means,” contrary to the indictment’s specific mention of using the sexual organ.

Upon appeal, the court of appeals found that an error was made in the charge and that the charge error was not harmless and led to egregious harm, resulting in a reversal of the conviction. The dissenting opinion argued that the error was harmless, emphasizing the unlikely scenario in which the jury would engage in convoluted mental gymnastics to reach a verdict.

In a November 2023 case before an appeals court in Texas, the defendant asked for a review of the trial court’s decision to deny his motion to suppress evidence. Reviewing the defendant’s appeal, the higher court ultimately disagreed with his argument and affirmed the original verdict. The court’s opinion highlights the difficulty of suppressing incriminating evidence when a defendant commits multiple offenses in a row, serving as a reminder for Texans of just how difficult it can be to successfully suppress evidence in criminal cases.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, officers on patrol one evening used an automated license plate reader to discover that a nearby vehicle’s owner was wanted on multiple outstanding arrest warrants. Additionally, the officers noticed that the vehicle did not match the one for which the vehicle’s tags had been issued.

The officers put on their lights and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The defendant stopped at first, but then he proceeded to flee the scene. What ensued was a high-speed chase that lasted approximately one hour. Eventually, officers used spike strips to stop the defendant in his car. The officers then arrested the defendant for avoiding arrest.

Continue reading

In a November 2023 case before an appeals court in Texas, the defendant asked for a review of the trial court’s decision to deny his motion to suppress evidence. Reviewing the defendant’s appeal, the higher court ultimately disagreed with his argument and affirmed the original verdict. The court’s opinion highlights the difficulty of suppressing incriminating evidence when a defendant commits multiple offenses in a row, serving as a reminder for Texans of just how difficult it can be to successfully suppress evidence in criminal cases.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, officers on patrol one evening used an automated license plate reader to discover that a nearby vehicle’s owner was wanted on multiple outstanding arrest warrants. Additionally, the officers noticed that the vehicle did not match the one for which the vehicle’s tags had been issued.

The officers put on their lights and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The defendant stopped at first, but then he proceeded to flee the scene. What ensued was a high-speed chase that lasted approximately one hour. Eventually, officers used spike strips to stop the defendant in his car. The officers then arrested the defendant for avoiding arrest.

Continue reading

For some criminal prosecutions, the government will go to great lengths to influence a jury to convict a defendant. Prosecutors will often retain and call expert witnesses to testify in support of a guilty verdict. Expert testimony is not always permitted, though when experts are allowed to testify on the state’s behalf, their testimony can significantly harm a defendant’s defense. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently released a decision that sheds light on their qualifications and the admissibility of their testimony.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant was charged with a Texas domestic violence offense. At trial, the prosecution sought to prove the elements of an aggravated offense, and the defendant was sentenced to five years in prison. The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the state inappropriately used an expert witness who unfairly influenced the jury to convict him of the aggravated offense.

On appeal, the Court found that Rule of Evidence 702, which governs the admissibility of expert testimony, plays a pivotal role in determining whether an expert witness’s testimony will be considered in court. Under this rule, three conditions must be met before expert testimony becomes admissible: qualification, reliability, and relevance.

Contact Information