Articles Posted in Dallas Criminal Justice

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?

CLEAT, the largest police union in Texas, has developed a new app to help law enforcement officers across Texas. Now what should be a standard feature in a police app? The traffic code? Yelp listings for breakfast nearby? A list of the most wanted criminals? The local unofficial ticket quota? The best way to “lose” video evidence?

How about the ability to quickly lawyer up after you shoot someone one? Because that’s what CLEAT put in their app.

From CLEAT-

One reason we needed the Michael Morton Act (which improved on our State’s horrible discovery rules in criminal cases) is that the State was hiding evidence which convicted innocent people. One problem with the Michael Morton Act, and the prior discovery rules is that there is no penalty if the State fails to turn over evidence, and then chooses to surprise the defense at trial with secret evidence. Let’s contrast this situation to the standard that we hold defendants, in which they are penalized at every stage of a proceeding for the slightest error. Defendant has work and misses a court date? Warrant! Defendant objects to the wrong subarticle of the Code of Criminal Procedure, that issue is waived on appeal! They created a new board certification for criminal appeals in Texas. But you don’t have to be an appellate genius to guess the outcome of any criminal appeal. 95% of the time whatever violations of the evidence rules, code of criminal procedure, or Constitution will be overlooked if the court of appeals can uphold a conviction. That’s the purpose of appellate courts in Texas, to uphold criminal convictions, and to reverse judgments for damages against Defendants in civil cases.

This leads me to our case of the day- Laura Sanders vs State of Texas

What happened?

Have you been arrested for a State Jail felony drug possession in case in Dallas, Rockwall, or Kaufman County? Are you currently a recreational meth, coke or heroin user?  Here is what you need to know.Possession of small amounts (less than one gram) of street drugs (coke, meth, heroin but not weed or some pills) is a State Jail felony in Texas.

What is a State Jail felony? Good question. Let’s start with that.

State Jail felonies are the lowest degree of felony in Texas, but it can still leave you as a convicted felon which has life altering consequences. The range of punishment for a SJF is between 6 months and 2 years in a State Jail unit. But here’s the good news, the State Jail system was originally designed to make drug addicts sit in jail until they were cured, so there is no parole from State Jail. But the State Jails filled up too fast and cost the State too much money, so if you have no prior State Jail drug cases then you are going to be looking at probation.

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