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

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.

The Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution protect Americans and Texans from unreasonable searches and seizures performed in the course of a criminal investigation. Generally, evidence that has been seized by law enforcement in violation of the Fourth Amendment cannot be admitted in a criminal prosecution. This exclusionary rule encourages law enforcement officers to follow the constitution or else risk losing the opportunity to obtain a conviction for criminal conduct. There are exceptions to the Fourth Amendment, and it is possible for a defendant to be convicted upon evidence that was found after an illegal and unconstitutional search. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently reversed a lower appellate decision that had thrown out a man’s conviction for possession of methamphetamine based on an illegal search.

The defendant in the recently decided appeal was stopped by law enforcement for failing to have a valid registration for his vehicle. After the stop, the officer attempted to perform an investigative “pat-down” of the defendant, at which point the defendant resisted the officer. Based on the defendant’s resisting the search, he was placed under arrest, and methamphetamine was found at the arrest scene. The defendant was charged with drug possession. Before trial, the defendant attempted to suppress the drug evidence found at the scene of the arrest, arguing that the “pat-down” was not a constitutional search.

The trial court agreed that the search was not legal, however, they rejected the defendant’s motion nonetheless, determining that the defendant’s unlawful conduct of resisting the search was an independent crime that resulted in the drugs being seized.

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The United States Constitution protects Texans accused of crimes from being required to give any statement that could incriminate them. Under the Supreme Court precedent set by the case of Miranda v. Arizona, all criminal suspects or defendants must be advised that they have the right to remain silent and are not required to answer questions by law enforcement. If a suspect is questioned without being given a Miranda warning, incriminating statements made during questioning may not be used against the suspect in their prosecution. Although Miranda rights are enshrined in federal law, defendants still must make an objection to the admission of any evidence that was obtained in violation of Miranda. The Texas Court of Appeals recently addressed a defendant’s claim that he was illegitimately convicted of firearm and drug offenses because he was not given his Miranda rights prior to his making incriminating statements that were used in the trial against him.

The defendant in the recently decided case was stopped while driving a vehicle in Harris County. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the defendant was stopped because a law enforcement officer ran his license plates, and the system showed that he had outstanding traffic warrants. After the stop, the defendant was advised to go to the courthouse with the arresting officer to pay the warrants and be released. As the defendant exited his car, the officer allegedly saw a small baggie that appeared to contain narcotics and questioned the defendant about the contents of the bag. Ultimately, the defendant admitted that the narcotics belonged to him, and also admitted that there was a firearm in the car. All of these statements were made by the defendant without him first being told his Miranda rights.

The defendant ultimately stood trial for possession of cocaine, as well as the illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Before trial, the defendant’s attorney moved the court to suppress the physical evidence obtained in the search based on a claim that the initial traffic stop was not justified. The defense motion was denied, and the defendant was convicted of the charges against him, in part because of the statements that he made claiming ownership of the illegal drugs and guns before his arrest.

In a recent opinion issued by the Seventh District Court in Texas, the court denied the defendant’s appeal of his sexual assault conviction. Originally, the defendant was arrested, charged, and convicted based on an incident in which he sexually assaulted an acquaintance of his at a party while she was intoxicated. Appealing the decision, the defendant emphasized that he should not have been convicted because there was insufficient evidence to show he knew the acquaintance was intoxicated. Reviewing the record in the case, the higher court eventually denied the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was attending a party on New Year’s Eve with a group of friends. At one point during the party, the defendant and his girlfriend went to check on an acquaintance that was intoxicated and laying on an upstairs bed. The defendant’s girlfriend went to the bathroom, at which point the defendant forced himself on the acquaintance in the bed.

When the defendant’s girlfriend came out of the bathroom, the defendant immediately backed away. The pair then left the bedroom. Later, the acquaintance told another person at the party she thought she had been sexually assaulted. She was taken to the police station, and after some discussion with the investigators, the defendant was arrested and charged.

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Last month, the Fourth Court of Appeals issued an opinion related to a defendant’s conviction for assault on a peace officer. Originally, the defendant was charged and found guilty after an incident in which officers showed up to his home to arrest him. The defendant ran away, the officers chased him, and an altercation ensued. On appeal, the defendant argued that the indictment against him actually authorized a conviction for a lesser crime when in reality he was convicted for a more serious crime than his indictment allowed.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case and his wife got into a domestic dispute one evening. His wife called the police, and two officers came to the house to investigate. Upon entering, they noticed that the defendant was rocking back and forth while seated in the corner of the living room, apparently intoxicated.

There were two outstanding warrants for the defendant’s arrest, so the officers advised him that they were going to arrest him. Immediately, the defendant began yelling, then he started to kick and push the officers out of the way. He got up and ran to the back of the house, throwing a ladder at the officers when they began to catch up. As the altercation continued to escalate, the defendant kicked the officers in the stomach, hoping to ward them off.

Eventually, the officers were able to handcuff the defendant, and he was immediately arrested for the assault.

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In a recent case before a Texas court of appeals, the defendant asked the court to reconsider his guilty verdict for aggravated sexual assault of a child. Originally, the defendant was convicted of the first-degree felony and sentenced to forty-five years in prison. On appeal, the defendant argued that the court erroneously instructed the jury, making him more likely to receive a guilty verdict. The court denied the appeal, ultimately affirming the decision coming out of the lower court.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was at first indicted for three different offenses: continuous sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual assault, and indecency with a child.
The defendant’s case went to trial. Before the jury made its decision, the judge gave jury members written instructions, as is common in any criminal case. In the instructions, the judge indicated that the jury should use “common sense” when making a decision about whether the defendant was guilty or not guilty. After deliberating, the jury delivered a verdict of guilty of both aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child. Promptly, the defendant appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the jury instructions unnecessarily prejudiced him before the jury made their decision. According to the defendant, the judge essentially asked the jury to speculate instead of urging them to look objectively at the facts of the case. By inviting this degree of speculation, the court gave an erroneous instruction and made the jury more likely to find the defendant guilty. Thus, said the defendant, the verdict should be reversed.

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In a recent case before a district court in Texas, the defendant appealed his assault conviction by arguing that the evidence was legally insufficient to support his guilty verdict. According to the defendant, his trial unjustly resulted in a conviction when the prosecution had not proven every element of the assault crime he was facing. Looking at the totality of the evidence, the court of appeals ultimately disagreed with the defendant and kept the original verdict in place.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was criminally charged after his significant other accused him of assaulting her and choking her in 2020. On the night in question, the defendant pushed himself on his girlfriend, and she told him to stop. He responded by trying to choke her, squeezing her neck, and holding down her arms and hands with his knees.

The defendant’s girlfriend did not call 911, but she took pictures of several injuries she incurred after the incident. The photos showed marks and redness on her neck, but there were shadows in the pictures that led the defense attorney to question whether or not the pictures accurately showed any injury. The photos, however, were entered at trial, and the defendant was found guilty of the assault. He was sentenced to time in prison as a result, and he promptly appealed.

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The right for Americans to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right that is protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although the right to bear arms is sacrosanct, there are exceptions and restrictions to gun ownership that have been upheld in the courts. Federal laws have been in effect for decades that prevent domestic violence offenders and respondents in valid protective orders from owning or possessing firearms. A Texas man’s recent challenge to a conviction under this law may result in a complete overhaul of these commonly used ownership restrictions for domestic violence prevention.

The defendant from the recently decided case was found to have firearms in his possession after a search warrant was issued for his residence in early 2021. The defendant had agreed in 2020 to a civil protective order preventing him from contacting or harassing an ex-girlfriend. Federal law prohibits persons subject to such protective orders from owning or possessing firearms. After the search, the defendant was arrested on federal charges and was ultimately convicted of the crimes as charged.

The defendant appealed his conviction, arguing that the federal law prohibiting him from firearm ownership was unconstitutional. Although the defendant’s constitutional arguments initially failed, the federal law on this issue changed when the U.S. Supreme Court decided New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen in 2022. In Bruen, the highest federal court created a new framework for evaluating the constitutional validity of firearms restrictions. Under the Bruen standard, the government had an increased burden in demonstrating the constitutionality of gun regulation statutes.

Cases of sexual assault and abuse, especially those involving children, hinge greatly on the perceived credibility of the victim and other witnesses. Because children are often coached into making statements to law enforcement and medical professionals that may incriminate a defendant, the credibility of alleged child victims, as well as their complaining family members, is often an important issue in sex abuse cases. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeal recently addressed a lower court’s ruling that had reversed a sexual assault conviction against a church organist, who allegedly sexually assaulted a small boy who he was entrusted to care for.

The defendant in the recently decided case was a member and organist at a church that was attended by the alleged victim and his family. After the child’s mother witnessed the boy performing a sexual act on a sibling and asked where he learned such a thing, she claimed her son told her that he was forced to perform sexual acts on the defendant several times in the past. After a police investigation and extensive interviews were completed, the defendant was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a child.

As the case progressed toward a trial, the alleged victim’s family was divided into two camps. The victim’s mother and maternal grandmother believed the victim. Other family members, including the victim’s great-grandmother, who was highly regarded in the church, as well as cousins and other relatives, claimed that the victim’s mother manufactured the story and was a compulsive liar. Because of this division, the trial focused primarily on the credibility of the victim and his mother around the time the abuse was reported. During the trial, the prosecutor asked a police officer if he believed that the victim was lying when he was interviewed, and the officer responded no.

In a recent Texas criminal case, the State petitioned the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas after a ruling from the Eleventh Court of Appeals found that the Appellant in a criminal case was entitled to a concurrent causation jury instruction, reversing in part a judgment by the trial court. The Appellant was convicted by a jury and sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment under Texas Penal Code § 22.04 for recklessly, by omission, causing serious bodily injury to her child and failing to protect her child from being struck against a hard surface by her husband and subsequently failing to provide medical care.

Facts of the Case

On June 29, 2013, the Appellant was in the kitchen of her family home in Denver City, Texas, when her husband began to choke and shout expletives at their youngest child. The couple’s older daughter testified that the Appellant subsequently entered the room and instructed her husband to “stop hurting the baby.” Later that night, the Appellant noticed that the youngest child was experiencing seizure-like symptoms and called her mother-in-law, who was a retired nurse, to ask for advice. The mother-in-law instructed the Appellant to give the youngest child a Tylenol and continue monitoring her. The next day, the child began to exhibit seizure-like symptoms again, so the couple decided to bring her to Covenant Hospital in Lubbock instead of the local hospital in Denver City. While the Appellant originally told investigators that they drove nearly an hour to Lubbock because they did not trust the doctors in Denver City, later testimony revealed the decision was made to avoid Child Protective Services (CPS).

At the hospital, it became apparent that the child’s injuries had resulted from non-accidental abuse, and the staff contacted CPS and the Lubbock Police Department to coordinate an investigation. Based on the police investigation and medical findings regarding the injury, both the parents were arrested and charged under Texas Penal Code § 22.04. At trial, the Appellant was convicted and sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. On direct appeal, she raised two grounds for review: (1) the trial court erred when it refused to instruct the jury on concurrent causation, and (2) the evidence at trial was legally insufficient to support a conviction under § 22.04 of the Texas Penal Code. The appellate court sustained the Appellant’s first issue, reversing the judgment of the trial court. On the second issue, the appellate court ruled that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient, to find both Appellant’s omissions caused serious bodily injury to the child beyond a reasonable doubt.

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In a recent Texas drug case, the defendant appealed the trial court decision, arguing that his conviction was the result of law enforcement violating his Fourth Amendment rights, evidence that should have been suppressed, and ineffective defense counsel. The defendant was convicted of a gram or less of methamphetamine, a state jail felony. The trial court then sentenced him to state jail for 12 months.

Facts of the Case

Law enforcement officers were directed by a dispatcher to a location with reported shots fired. There, witnesses described the shooter as wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. They stated that the man was walking northbound, pointing in the direction they saw him walking. A police officer began driving in the direction they pointed, and after a block or two, spotted the defendant. He detained the defendant, patted him down, and after finding nothing, handcuffed him and put him in the back of the patrol car. Without probable cause to arrest the defendant, the officer was about to release him when he asked for consent to search the defendant’s person. The officer had not told the defendant he was free to go. After receiving verbal consent, the officer conducted the search, finding a small packet of white substance in the defendant’s pocket. After field testing it, it came back positive for methamphetamine, and the defendant was arrested. After the arrest, the substance was sent for laboratory testing and determined to be methamphetamine.

The Appeal

Following the trial, the defendant presented three issues for appeal. (1) law enforcement violated his Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, (2) the evidence discovered from the unlawful search should have been suppressed or excluded from the trial, and (3) at trial, the defense counsel was ineffective by failing to file a motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence and by failing to object to the introduction of the illegally obtained evidence. The appellate court found that the first two issues were not preserved for appeal as he never presented his complaint to the trial court and never asked the trial court to suppress or exclude the allegedly inadmissible evidence.

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