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Many cases involving child abuse have expert witnesses involved. Child abuse and sexual assault cases have medical experts, therapists, or counselors who are called to testify. However, Texas law limits the ability of experts to tell a judge or jury that a child is honest.

Texas law prohibits an expert to testify or make a direct comment as to whether the child’s statements are truthful. In other words, the expert cannot specifically say “yes, the child is telling the truth” or “the child is lying”. Direct comments about the truthfulness of the statement are not allowed.

However, the expert may testify to certain behaviors of the child that may lead the court to believe that the child has been coached or manipulated to tell a certain story about the abuse.

You can be convicted of improper photography in Texas, without any photographs.

 Everyone has a camera these days. Even crappy cell phones usually have an 8-megapixel HDR camera on board. Your Instagram feed is full of strange photographs, and some stuff you’d rather not see. But in Texas, some photographs are illegal.

What is improper photography in Texas?

For some of us, when we hear of a person making terroristic threats we think of a person causing trouble for political or religious reasons. But, according to the Texas Penal Code, just the mere threat of violence to a person or a person’s property is enough and the purpose behind the threat is not considered.

You can be charged with a terroristic threat charge if you threaten violence to a person or their property and (1) cause any type of reaction from an officer, volunteer, or any other agency that deals with emergencies; (2) put ANY person in fear of immediate injury to their self (3) prevent the use or interrupt the use of a building, public place, employment, aircraft, automobile, or other public place (4) cause interruption with any public communication, transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or any other public service (5) put the public or a number of people in fear of bodily harm or (6) influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.

Nowhere in the code is it defined that these threats must be made with any sort of political or religious views as the basis of the threat. So basically under section (2) of 22.07 the State could snag anyone with this charge if that person threatens serious, immediate violence to a person who believes that an injury is immediate. Which is similar to Penal Code 22.01 Assault, where a person threatens another with immediate injury to their body.

Many defendants face multiple cases out of a single arrest. For example, we see a lot of DWI cases where the defendant will also have marijuana possession or UCW (carrying a gun while DWI). Or a felony drug cases that also has a misdemeanor drug case out of the same arrest (e.g. meth and Xanax). It’s not unusual for the prosecutor to offer a plea bargain in which one case is dismissed and the defendant pleads guilty to another case. In the examples above we could expect an offer where the defendant pleads to the felony meth case, and a misdemeanor Xanax case is dismissed. That stuff happens all the time.

Most people expect that a dismissed case can be expunged. It makes sense right? You weren’t convicted, so it should be eligible to come off your record. But this is Texas so we are always looking for unique ways to screw defendants.

A recent Dallas Court of Appeals case, Texas Department of Public Safety v. J.A.M, held that a defendant can not expunge a case if they plead to ANY offense out of particular arrest. So if you have multiple cases arising from a single arrest, you can be put on probation for any of the offenses if you want to expunge the dismissed cases.

I hate when things change. Just when you think you understand the law in Texas, you find out that everything has changed. Well, in this case, they’ve changed, but they are still the same. Ever since I’ve been a lawyer aggravated or “3g” offenses were those that had limited probation availability. However, as of 1/1/17, the entire probation section of the code of criminal procedure has been replaced with……. section 42A!

That’s right, we have a brand new section that is basically a reboot of the old section. This was a cleanup job designed to make the cluster fuck of laws that was chapter 42 well, a little less clusterfucked. If I was starting out as a lawyer, or if I was a layperson who wanted to understand probation in Texas, I’d greatly appreciate the new streamlined 42A.

So what happened to 3g offenses? They still exist. But now they are section 42A.054 offenses. They even come with a title that explains what they are. Here’s the new section-

The criminal justice system really sucks in Texas. It’s gotten incrementally less horrible in some aspects, but the Lone Star State still views prison as the best option to solve problems. From addiction to mental health, we haven’t found an issue that we won’t try to incarcerate our way out of.

The end result of our obsession with arresting people is that many Texans have some criminal history. And having a criminal record means you are going to be treated worse in every step of the process. It starts when you get pulled over, and the police run your name through the TCIC. If your background shows a drug arrest, regardless of the outcome, they are more likely to want to search you for drugs. When your bail is set, a magistrate might consider prior criminal cases in setting your bail, and if they don’t, then the DA’s office might go back and ask for a higher bail when you get out.

Intake

I know today is a slow news day, with not much going besides the inauguration. But the criminal justice system is always creating work for itself, that’s why we have a War on Drugs after all. To that end here is the most recent Indictment List for Kaufman County.

January 19, 2017 GJ List

We have 19 dope cases out of 41 total indictments. So if you wonder why some real crime isn’t being solved in your area, it’s so we can keep busting people for less than one gram of drugs.

There are many different offenses with the word “assault” in them in Texas. Assault by Contact, Assault on a Public Servant, Sexual Assault, Assault Family Violence, Assault by Contact (Class C) etc. Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code covers a broad range of conduct, everything from Class C misdemeanor assaults to Second Degree Felony Assault. Let’s dive into the statute and see what’s going on here.

First up, what is an assault in Texas?

Basically, it’s causing bodily injury, threatening bodily injury, or offensive physical contact. Specifically

It’s a slow time of the year at the courthouse, and productivity may only decrease this week as Christmas approaches. That might explain why this week’s indictment list is so short. Or maybe we caught all the criminals and there is no one left to prosecute? Either way, here is this week’s indictment list from the 86th District Court. It’s only 12 cases, with an equal number of Aggravated Assaults as dope cases (4 of each).

If you are on the list you should hire a lawyer immediately. 12/19/16 Grand Jury Indictment List

Source: Expedited family violence court promises swifter justice for victims, defendants | Courts | Dallas News

A Dallas judge is looking to move assault-family violence (AFV) cases to trial faster. Moving cases faster is always a popular idea, the public loves it, it sounds good and is a common refrain from judicial candidates (“this court is backlogged, I’ll fix it!).

I used to prosecute family violence cases, and I’ve defended them for over a decade now. The truth is that many family violence arrests are for situations that aren’t going to result in a guilty verdict. The police arrive and both parties say the other started the fight, both have similar injuries. The police have to make an arrest, so they usually arrest the guy on weak evidence, and the lawyers get to sort it out on the back end.

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