Articles Posted in Dallas Criminal Justice

What does the “same criminal episode” mean? 

Section 3.10 of Chapter 3 of the Texas penal code defines a “same criminal episode” as “the commission of two or more offenses, regardless of whether the harm is directed toward or inflicted upon more than one person or item of property, under the following circumstances: …. or (2) the offenses are the repeated commission of the same or similar offenses

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.3.htm 

Can a Roofing Contractor be Charged with Theft?

After every hail storm of tornado roofing contractors will defend on neighborhoods looking for repair work. Most contracts are honest and upright and do a great job. However, sometimes a roofing contractor is hired, paid, but then fails to fix your roof as agreed. Law enforcement may get involved, and even arrest a roofing contractor for theft, or they may tell the homeowner this is a “civil matter” and to file a lawsuit in small claims court instead. If you are charged with theft over a roofing case, most often the prosecutor will require restitution as a condition of any plea bargain, or even offer a better plea offer if you pay restitution upfront. This varies by county.

What is theft in Texas? How does that apply to roofing contractors?

A recent case from the Dallas Court of Appeals (Woodland vs State) discusses the use of prior convictions in “he said/she said” sexual assault cases. First, what is a “he said/she said” sexual assault case? It’s when the main evidence in a case is the complaining witness testifies, and so does the defendant. We are going to skip the issue of if a defendant should or should not testify in right now.

Can prior convictions be used against a defendant in sexual assault cases? The answer is, probably if the prior convictions are germane to the new offense. So a DWI might not be admitted, but a case regarding sexual assault or sexual misconduct can be. There is a general rule that prior convictions may not be used to show “character conformity”, that is, that the defendant is guilty because he is a criminal. But, in sexual assault cases there is a special provision, 38.37 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that allows prior convictions to be used against a defendant.

Here is a quote from the court-

In law, must and shall are important words. Must and shall indicate that an action is required, it has to happen, it is a part of the process, proceeding, or hearing that can’t be ignored. Contrast that with “may”, which implies that it doesn’t matter if the thing happens or not.

One thing that is supposed to happen in a criminal case, is that the Judge must inform the defendant about the range of punishment before he pleads guilty. That is, the defendant must know how much time he’s look at before he says “I’m guilty”.  Here is the shall if you want to read it-

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 26.13

What is a stacked sentence?

Good question. A stacked sentence is one in which two sentences are to be served consecutively or one after another. So if Bob has two cases for possession, and gets 5 years TDC in each case, then a stacked sentence would require him to serve these sentences back to back.

Contrast that with a concurrent sentence, which lawyers call “CC”. If Bob has two charges for possession and gets the same 5 years in each case, then both sentences run at the same time. So Bob does one 5 year sentence.

What is assault causing bodily injury in Texas? 

A person commits assault if he intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person. TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 22.01(a)(1).

“Bodily injury” is broadly defined as “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.” Id. § 1.07(a)(8).

We get it

Being a criminal defendant sucks, and one of the reasons why is the huge amount of time the system will steal from you. For example, in most counties (besides Dallas) judges require defendants to appear at every setting, even on who-gives-a-shit misdemeanor cases. Defendants have to miss work and wait around the courthouse just to sign a pass slip and get another court date. It gets frustrating when it feels like the case is moving towards a conclusion, and defendants have to keep investing. The truth of criminal defense lawyering is that the fast result, or plea offer, is usually not the best result, or plea offer.

So what makes a criminal case take so long?

Most people assume that the criminal justice system in Texas is fair, or at least makes sense. It’s only when they get arrested do they discover how FUBAR this “justice” system can be. Here is one example, say you get arrested for a DWI, you end up pleading to a traffic ticket, and the State dismisses the DWI case. You’d think you could have that DWI case expunged right? WRONG.

The Dallas Court of Appeals recently ruled on that very issue in No. 05-18-00348-CV.

The Defendant was arrested for DWI in Gillespie County. As part of a plea bargain, the DWI was dismissed and the Defendant pled guilty only to illegal parking. Later the Defendant wanted this DWI off her record, after all, it was dismissed so that seems reasonable right? Yeah, not so much.

Good news in the world of DWI’s has emerged from the 85th Texas Legislature. If certain criteria are met, now, it may be possible to file a petition for non-disclosure on DWI convictions. Texas House Bill 3016, Government Code 411.0731, defines the procedure and criteria. Section 411.0716(a) explains that this new act will apply to DWI’s committed before, on, or after September 1, 2017.

Does my DWI conviction qualify?

This new section will only apply to a person who has successfully completed a term of community supervision. This means that your community supervision was not revoked, you successfully served any jail time given and you paid all court costs, fines, and any other restitution imposed as part of the conviction.

It’s strange to talk about speedy “trials” in probation revocation cases, because a probation revocation hearing is nothing like a criminal jury trial. For example, in probation cases your only audience is the judge, you have no right to a jury, and the burden of proof is much lower to revoke (preponderance) than convict (beyond a reasonable doubt). Still, a person facing a motion revoke probation has a right to a speedy trial, or hearing. A recent case from the Dallas Court of Appeals addressed this issue. Today’s case of the day is

No. 05-13-00371-CR GEORGE GUO, Appellant v. THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

So what happened to Mr. Guo?

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