Articles Posted in Texas Laws

I often have a hard time quickly explaining to my non-lawyer friends exactly how the appeals system is stacked against criminal defendants. Fortunately today’s case, Barnes vs. State, crystallizes how the constitutional rights of defendants are effectively waived through nonsense technicalities. It’s a Kaufman County Drug case, appealed to the 5th District in Dallas.

What happened?

Barnes filed a motion to suppress claiming the police investigation was unconstitutional. Specifically, Barnes sought to exclude statements made during the investigation. This motion was denied (as are most motions to suppress).

I was attacked by a dog two days ago. Here’s the short version. I was doing my usual walk to the park and back when a giant lab mix (let’s call him Kujo) took two bites out me. I fell and twisted my knee, and went to the ER for treatment.

I got a tetanus shot and some hardcore antibiotics (dog’s mouths are not clean places). I’m awaiting word on whether Kujo had rabies or not (probably not since it was someone’s pet, not a stray). My friendly ER nurse informed me that the rabies vaccination isn’t done through the stomach anymore, but it still hurts like hell and requires multiple doses and follow up treatment.

Of course whenever a dog bites an attorney the first question is “Are you going to sue?” I’ll let my partner, Scott Gray, make that decision. I’m a criminal lawyer, so let’s explore Texas Dog Bite Law from that angle.

Everyone is presumed innocent even cops accused of smuggling weed. But ask yourself this, where do drug dealers get the money to bribe law enforcement? Why would a cop risk his career and freedom to help them? The answer- pot prohibition profit$.

I’m amazed at how many Texans believe the negative externalities of prohibition (corruption, inter alia) are somehow caused by the drugs, or the people selling them.

When we choose to make pot illegal, we choose the corruption of our police officers. Think about it. Drug cartels have a billion dollar monopoly on the Texas cannabis market. What’s easier than thinking up schemes to avoid getting caught and sending mules out who could get caught and lose their precious cargo?

Every defendant who is stuck in county jail wants the same thing- out. Inevitably the defendant, or a friend or family member asks- “Isn’t there some 90 day release law when a defendant is not indicted?”

Actually there is, and it’s 17.151 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. I also call it the “speedy indictment law” because filing a 17.151 motion will often get your client indicted at the next grand jury.

In Kaufman county it’s typical to see a defendant indicted right around the 90 day mark. ADAs are keenly aware of this deadline and loathe to have defendants use their get out of jail free card on serious charges.

Drug possession cases tend to be factually simple scenarios. The State must prove that you had care, custody and control of X, and that X is illegal. We’ll save possession for another day. Today let talk about proving X is marijuana.

In most cases drug DPS labs provide analyze the putative contraband and attempt to positively identify whatever it is the police sent them (you’d be shocked how often drugs aren’t actually drugs). Not so much with marijuana.

By far, the most untested alleged controlled substance in Texas is weed. In an effort to convict the maximum number of otherwise law abiding citizens for the least cost many marijuana cases are brought without the benefit of drug testing.

DMN has the story of a Wylie video store owner who has his customers arrested for late videos. This piece is sure to generate some outrage in the comments section. “You shouldn’t arrest someone for late DVDs!!!” etc. I’m not sure how arresting for late videos is any less repugnant that arresting college kids with joints, but I digress.

From DMN-

Bell went to a Collin County justice of the peace to file paperwork on dozens of his customers who were charged with theft of services.

I received a speeding citation last week on the notorious I-45 speed trap. Allegedly, I was going 73 in a 60. In my pre blogging days I would call the court and ask for deferred adjudication, pay the tax (fine) and move on.

However, the Google SEO gods demand constant sacrifices of content so I’m considering setting this case for trial and blogging the experience. I haven’t completely committed to that endeavor just yet. The time obligation could be too great, and I may just give up and pay the fine. I also need to check and see if this is a court of record. That way if I have a trial and lose, I can appeal de novo and still get deffered or have another trial.

First, let’s look at the laws regarding speeding in Texas. Most people think it is illegal to simply drive faster than the posted speed limit. While you can always be ticketed for driving over the speed limit, you may not be guilty of speeding. How’s that? To chapter 545 of the Texas Transportation Code-

Probation can be tough for a lot of reasons. From failing drug tests, to failing to report, to missing a meeting there are dozens of ways to get your probation revoked. It has come to my attention that the revocation process is not well understood by probationers. Let me hit a few high points.

No Juries

A probation revocation hearing is always in front of a judge. You have no right to a jury trial.

Thanks to the War on Drugs, a “tough on crime” lege, and pro conviction appellate courts Texas now has over 400,000 probationers, 25% more per capita than the average state. These probationers all have one thing in common- they don’t want to be on probation. Luckily, probationers in Texas can petition the court for early termination of community supervision.

What cases are eligible for early termination?

All offenses are eligible except Penal Code Sections 49.04-49.08, Sex Offender offenses, and 3g offeneses.

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