Articles Tagged with Criminal Law

What is self-defense?

Texas Penal Code section 9.31 says that a person is justified in using deadly force when and to the degree the person reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary – to protect themselves from another’s use or attempted use of deadly force or to prevent another who is in immediately attempting aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

When is self-defense viable?

What is an expunction?

An expunction is available to a someone arrested for a crime, but never convicted, or to a person given deferred on a Class C misdemeanor. Expunctions are for arrests only, they serve as a way to have the arrest taken off of your record.

The process.

What is reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop in Texas?

Reasonable suspicion in general.  

The Texas case, Hamal v. State, explains that an officer has sufficient reasonable suspicion when he or she is aware of specific articulable facts, that when combined with rational inferences from those facts, would lead the officer to suspect that a person has committed, is committing, or will soon commit a crime.

The 6th and 14th Amendments of the United State Constitution guarantee an accused party the right to “be confronted with the witnesses against him.” Meaning that if you are charged with a crime and proceed with trial, you have a right to cross-examine testimonial statements by the witness.

Crawford v. Washington 541 U.S. 36, 68 (2004) says that these statements are not admissible against the accused unless the person who made the statement is unavailable and the accused had a chance to cross-examine them.

What are testimonial statements?

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.

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.

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