Articles Posted in Texas Laws

In the world of criminal defense, every case presents its unique challenges and complexities. One such case that recently caught our attention is State v. Ransier, which involved an allegation of tampering with evidence. This blog post aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the case, highlighting the significance of evidence concealment and the implications it had on the final verdict.

The Facts of the Case

The incident took place in March 2015, when DPS Trooper David Kral noticed a parked truck by the roadside during an investigation. As he approached, he observed the defendant, who seemed to be concealing something in his hand. Upon closer examination, Trooper Kral discovered it was a syringe that the defendant was attempting to break and hide. The trooper ordered the defendant to drop the syringe, but he continued his efforts to conceal it. Subsequently, Trooper Kral intervened, leading to a physical altercation that resulted in the defendant falling to the ground, with the syringe dropping nearby.

Trial and Appeal

the defendant was charged with tampering with evidence for concealing the syringe. During the trial, the defense argued for the submission of the lesser-included offense of attempted tampering. However, the request was denied, and the defendant was ultimately convicted of tampering with evidence. On appeal, the court of appeals concluded that the lesser-included offense of attempted tampering was raised, emphasizing that the syringe was only partially concealed during the altercation. Continue reading

In the state of Texas, understanding the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is crucial when it comes to the legal system. Criminal offenses are categorized into these two broad classifications, each carrying its own set of implications and consequences. By delving into the basics of criminal offenses and exploring the classification of felonies and misdemeanors, we can gain a deeper understanding of the legal landscape. However, when it comes to defending against felony or misdemeanor charges, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side.

Felonies vs. Misdemeanors

Felonies are serious crimes that typically involve physical harm to individuals or property and significantly a higher risk to public safety. Examples of felonies include murder, rape, robbery, and drug trafficking.

A misdemeanor covers less serious offenses that are not as severe as felonies. Misdemeanors generally involve actions that are considered detrimental to society but do not pose as grave a threat as felony offenses. Examples of misdemeanors include petty theft, simple assault, and the possession of certain types of drugs in low quantities.

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In the legal landscape of Texas, the question of whether children can testify in a criminal case is an important one. Children’s brains are still developing and they don’t always have a firm a grasp on the difference between the truth and a lie. Not only that, but some children may not understand the importance of being truthful, even if they know the difference. And, of course, there is always the very real possibility that an interested adult influences a child’s testimony. Needless to say, the ability of a child to provide testimony can significantly impact the outcome of a case, so it is crucial to understand the laws and processes involved.

Understanding the Legal Age of Testimony in Texas

When it comes to testifying in a criminal case, the age of the child plays a significant role. In Texas, there is no specific age requirement for a child to testify. Rather, the criterion for determining a child’s competency to testify is their ability to understand and answer questions truthfully.

Testifying in court can be a daunting experience for anyone, let alone a child. Therefore, the Texas legal system takes into account various factors when deciding whether a child is capable of providing reliable testimony. One such factor is the child’s intellectual capacity. The court assesses whether the child possesses the cognitive abilities necessary to comprehend and respond to questions accurately.

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Speaking to detectives without legal representation exposes you to unnecessary risks. The consequences can be severe and often outweigh any perceived benefits of cooperating with the investigation. However, as experienced Forney criminal defense attorneys, we routinely see detectives engaging in questionable interrogation tactics that mislead unsuspecting people into making statements that are later used against them. Sometimes, prosecutors will even take your statements out of context to make it seem as though you were admitting to something you had no intention of admitting.

At Guest & Gray, anytime we receive a case involving a statement our client made to detectives, one of the first things we do is determine if the statement was taken in violation of their constitutional rights. If so, it isn’t admissible at trial.

Below are some of the most important reasons not to talk to a detective until you’ve spoken with a criminal defense attorney.

Potential Misinterpretation of Statements

During police interviews, statements made by individuals may be misinterpreted or taken out of context, leading to potential legal ramifications. Even innocent statements can be misconstrued and used against a person during a trial.

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In the world of criminal law, two legal terms frequently make headlines but are often misunderstood: insanity and incompetence. While these terms may seem interchangeable, they carry distinct meanings and implications within the legal system.

For individuals facing criminal charges in Rockwall, Texas, it is crucial to comprehend the difference between these concepts. In this blog post, we will delve into the contrasting notions of insanity and incompetence, shedding light on their definitions, legal implications, and how they affect criminal defense strategies.

The Insanity Defense: A State of Mind

Insanity, as a legal concept, revolves around an individual’s mental state at the time of committing a crime. To be considered legally insane, the defendant must have been unable to comprehend the nature of their actions or distinguish right from wrong due to a severe mental illness or defect. This defense suggests that the defendant lacked the mental capacity to form the requisite intent or engage in criminal behavior knowingly. However, it’s important to note that the insanity defense is rarely invoked and, when used, faces significant scrutiny and strict requirements in the courtroom.

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In a recent case coming out of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the defendant claimed that he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial. He was originally convicted of murder and tampering with evidence, and he argued that too much time passed between the charge and the conviction. While the court originally found it was unable to review the defendant’s claim, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an opinion telling the lower court it had to make a decision one way or the other, sending the case back down for review.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged and convicted, but he appealed quickly on the grounds that he was denied the right to a speedy trial. Under both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, an individual is guaranteed the right to have a “speedy” public trial. While the word “speedy” is up for interpretation, courts look to see whether an unreasonable amount of time passed between the charge and conviction when analyzing a speedy trial claim.
Here, the defendant said he waited too long for his trial to take place, and thus that the guilty conviction should be vacated. Originally, the appellate court disagreed and kept the verdict in place. The defendant, however, filed a petition asking for a review of the appeals court’s decision.

The Decision

The reviewing court looked at the appellate court’s decision to determine whether or not it was correct in denying the defendant’s claim. Apparently, said the reviewing court, the court of appeals had denied the claim because the lower court had failed to conduct a “speedy trial hearing.” The appellate thought it did not have enough evidence to decide the case since there was no hearing specifically on this issue in the lower court. Therefore, the court had denied the defendant’s request.

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Abortion has always been a hot-button political issue in Texas, where state legislators have taken great efforts to restrict or outlaw most abortions whenever possible. The United States Supreme Court issued a legal decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson in June of 2022. This ruling reversed the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed women the right to terminate a pregnancy during the first four months of the pregnancy. With this new decision on the books, the ability for women to have a safe, legal abortion in Texas is at risk

The Texas legislature has already passed what is known as a “trigger law,” which is designed to go into effect to outlaw abortion if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Under the law, which is set to go into effect before August 1, 2022, anyone performing or assisting with abortion would be guilty of a felony punishable by prison time. Texas news organizations have reported that abortions have come to a halt in Texas already, with doctors fearing criminal liability for performing abortions even before the trigger law goes into effect.

Although the advocates for the trigger law argued that it was not designed to punish women seeking an abortion, and only doctors performing one, the language of the law could be amended to allow women to be prosecuted for assisting in their own abortion. Although nobody has been charged under this law yet, once it goes into full effect, many Texas healthcare providers may be at risk of criminal liability.

Recently, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas issued an important decision holding the state’s stalking statute unconstitutional. While lawmakers are responsible for writing and passing laws, courts must interpret the laws as they are written. However, courts are also the final arbiter in determining whether a law is constitutional. While most laws pass constitutional muster, some do not, as evidenced by the court’s recent decision.

The Facts of the Case

The defendant in the case was arrested and charged with felony stalking for conduct taking place between January 1, 2007, and April 24, 2018. More specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendant engaged in conduct that caused the complaining witness “to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended” and “would cause a reasonable person to feel harassed, annoyed, alarmed, abused, tormented, embarrassed, or offended.” Evidently, the defendant posted comments on social media and made other public statements that the complaining witness considered threatening.

At the time, the Texas stalking statute made it a crime to commit more than one act of “electronic-communications harassment” under § 42.07. That statute provides that a person repeatedly sends “electronic communications in a manner reasonably likely to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another.” Thus, the stalking statute directly references the harassment statute, making it a stalking offense to engage in a continued course of harassment.

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Self-defense is one of the oldest and most sacred defenses in all of criminal law. While self-defense applies in a variety of situations, it is also one of the most misunderstood defenses. One particular area of self-defense that is especially important to understand is the “Castle Doctrine.”

The Castle Doctrine is a very old legal concept that is based on the idea that a person’s home is their castle, and they should be able to defend against intruders without fear of violating the law themselves. It is also referred to as the Stand Your Ground law. Texas has a very broad Castle Doctrine that provides ample protection to those defending their homes.

Essentially, the Castle Doctrine makes legal conduct that would otherwise be considered illegal, provided the elements of the doctrine are met. Specifically, the Castle Doctrine allows you to use force you reasonably believe to be necessary to stop another person from trespassing on your property or, in some cases, taking your property. The most protection is afforded to those who are in their home at the time; however, the Castle Doctrine also applies to vehicles.

What is burglary of a habitation in Texas?

Burglary of a habitation is a 2nd-degree (2-20 TDC) felony in Texas. The law forbids entering a  “habitation” without permission from the owner and then attempting or committing theft. See TEX. PENAL CODE § 30.02(a).

What is a habitation?

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