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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.

Being investigated or arrested for a criminal offense is stressful and produces a great deal of anxiety. Every defendant or suspect wants their case finished post haste, but they also have a competing goal, which is to get the best result in their case (who doesn’t want a dismissal right?). It can take weeks or months or even years (looking at you Van Zandt County) for a criminal case to be filed (from the date of offense).

Often there will be some inexplicable delay in the case. For example, a detective could sit on a case and not forward it to the DA’s office, the DA’s office could lose the file in intake, or the forensics may take forever to get back from DPS. Those things are all great for the defense. Why? A few reasons.

Memories fade

I used to take court appointments, and my first job out of law school was as a public defender. I’ve seen court appointed lawyers do amazing work and I’ve seen lawyers who dabble in criminal defense by getting on the wheel completely fuck up their client’s life. Lawyers are expensive, good lawyers more so, great lawyers with local experience most of all. Most people don’t save money for a criminal defense lawyer. That would be weird unless you are a legit drug dealer in which case that’s just a smart business move.

Lawyers are expensive, good lawyers more so, great experienced lawyers most of all. Most people don’t save money for a criminal defense lawyer. That would be weird unless you are a legit drug dealer in which case that’s just a smart business move. So when you get arrested in Texas, you are looking at the real possibility of shelling out thousands for a quality defense. If you don’t have that kind of cash lying around, applying for a court-appointed lawyer is your best move.

Ok, so now you’ve got a court appointed lawyer and you don’t know if you should stay with them or not? What to do?

Happy Thanksgiving! Texans love eating turkeys, but we also love shooting them. If you are going to hunt turkeys in Texas you should take the time to read the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, because you can get in some trouble if you don’t know what you are doing.

Fortunately most wildlife-related crimes are class C misdemeanors, a few more are class A. To get to the state jail felony level you need to have already been convicted of these things once, and then do them and get caught again.

So whatever you do with your turkey today, don’t do these things, they are class A misdemeanors, but if you get caught twice they can be a felony.

Everybody wants out of jail for the holidays, and the days before Thanksgiving and Xmas see a surge in jail chain activity. I was inspired for a few minutes, but couldn’t finish this, the original poem is really long and there is a lot of ground to cover. But I’ll leave it here and get back to vacationing.

Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the jail,

Every inmate was stirring,

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