RSS

Tag Archives: legal advice

Criminal Records: Expunged or Sealed?


State Seal of Texas

Image via Wikipedia

Having a criminal record can be a huge obstacle when doing many things that most people take for granted. Most companies run background checks on all prospective employees so having a criminal record can prevent you from being hired for a job you may otherwise be perfect for. Depending on what type of case and disposition you received it is possible that a Texas attorney can help you expunge your criminal record.

Figuring out whether you can have your criminal record sealed or expunged can be a complicated issue and it is essential that you hire an attorney that is knowledgeable about the different methods of criminal record sealing. Depending on the results of your case; whether you were convicted, arrested, detained or if your case was dismissed – there are many factors to consider. Here are the two options available when it comes to having your criminal record sealed.

Expungement vs. Sealing

Most people believe that expunging and sealing criminal records have the same meaning, but there are a few differences. When a criminal record is sealed the court file is hidden from the general public but may still be available to certain government agencies and law enforcement. When a criminal record is expunged the criminal record is completely destroyed as if the crime never occurred. All of the records associated with the offense, such as the court records, arrest record and the criminal history are erased. Not every criminal offense can be expunged. The only circumstances in which you can get an expunction is if you were acquitted of the crime and found not guilty, or if your case was dismissed.

Expunction vs. Non-Disclosure:

The legal term for having your criminal record sealed is called a non-disclosure. A motion for a non-disclosure is normally granted after you have completed a deferred adjudication, which would make you ineligible to have your record expunged. Non-disclosure normally requires a certain waiting period after your conviction. These waiting periods normally range from two to five years depending on the nature of your offense and whether you were charged with a felony or misdemeanor. There are also some minor offenses that are eligible for non-disclosure immediately. If your petition for non-disclosure is granted, government and state agencies are prohibited from disclosing the information to the general public, but can be used if you are prosecuted again for another crime.

State Laws vs. Texas Laws:

Depending on where you live it is possible that your state does not allow any records to be sealed or expunged. Some states only allow criminal records to be sealed but not expunged and others allow expunction and non-disclosure but not for more serious felony offenses such as murder, kidnapping, rape and other sex-related crimes.

Below are the current Texas Laws that deal with destroying and concealing criminal records. Legislature can change at any time, so it is very important that you find a knowledgeable attorney in your state that can guide you through the complex laws and give you peace of mind that your past is completely behind you!  If you have any other questions or would like a free evaluation of your case, find us on Facebook and we would be happy to address your concerns immediately!

TEXAS STATUTES REGARDING EXPUNCTION AND NON-DISCLOSURE

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Legal Rights

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Do I Handle an Outstanding Warrant in Texas?


Wanted: Charlie Brown
Image by kevindooley via Flickr

Having an outstanding warrant for your arrest can be an alarming and daunting thing, understanding the process of resolving a warrant can help alleviate some of that anxiety.  Here are some basic guidelines on how to handle an Outstanding Warrant in Texas:

  • If a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you are typically required to turn yourself in to resolve the warrant.  If you do not turn yourself in, you could be arrested anywhere at any time, no matter the offense, to resolve the warrant.
  • Once you have turned yourself in, or been arrested for the warrant, it will be determined whether you will be given a bond and if you are, what the bond amount will be.  Some warrants are issued with a recommended bond amount. This amount will likely be the bond you pay after you turn yourself in.
  • For warrants issued without a recommended bond amount, you will go before a magistrate who sets a bond amount, this typically occurs the following morning.  Without a recommended bond amount on your warrant, you will have to wait in jail until the morning before you can see a magistrate.  There are no particular types of cases that require you to go before a magistrate; it can be for any warrant that was not issued with a recommended bond amount already set.

After you know what amount has been set on your bond, there are a few options you can take.

  • You can pursue a cash bond which entails going through the jail to pay the full bond amount.  Once your case is closed, the bond amount is refunded in full.
  • Another option is to go through a bond company to bail you out of jail.  A bond company will typically charge 10% to 12% of the bond and is a non-refundable fee.
  • If you cannot afford to pay the bond or go through a bond company, you can wait out your time in jail until your case is resolved and possibly receive time served towards your case.

After you have been arrested for the accused offense, the court will set a hearing date for you to contest the charges against you.  At this point you should hire a criminal defense attorney to guide and assist you in resolving your warrant and in your court proceedings.   If you have questions about a warrant that has been issued for your arrest in Colin, Travis, Hays, Dallas, Tarrant, or Williamson County, you can visit us on Facebook for a free case evaluation with absolutely no obligation.

Helpful Links for Outstanding Warrants:

Travis County Warrant Search: https://public.co.travis.tx.us/wow/default.aspx

Austin Police Department Warrant List: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/police/warrants/warrantsearch.cfm

City of Fort Worth Warrants Online: http://www.fortworthgov.org/applications/warrantsonline/

Outstanding  Warrants: Texas Government Code § 404.058

Texas Law Enforcement Agencies and Courts – Call for a Texas Warrant Search

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Public Intoxication


Man passed out from drinking.Public Intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor, the same as a general traffic ticket, and punishable by a fine up to $500 with the possibility of jail time up to 12 hours. Some may consider a Public Intoxication charge a minor offense since it is only a Class C misdemeanor but having this on your record could very likely affect your future by hindering job or education opportunities.

According to Texas Penal Code § 49.02, if a person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that he may endanger himself or another person he is guilty of Public Intoxication. Intoxication means that a person lacks the normal use of mental or physical abilities because of the presence of alcohol, a drug (prescription, controlled, or even over-the-counter), a combination of substances, or any other substance in the body.

A public place means any place to which the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartments, office buildings, transport facilities, and shops. A person could be charged with Public Intoxication in a bar or even riding as a passenger in a car. At the time of the offense, the officer could merely issue a citation and release the individual to the care of an adult but an officer may arrest the person and have them remain in jail for up to 12 hours.

If a minor (under the age of 21) is arrested for Public Intoxication, the consequences do not stop with a mere fine. A minor’s license may be suspended for 30 days. A minor’s second offense can result in a suspension of 60 days and a third can result of 180 days.

Being arrested for Public Intoxication can be both a humiliating and traumatic experience but if you find yourself in that position, make sure you find an attorney that you can trust to do everything possible to help fight for you and win your case. There are good criminal defense attorneys serving Williamson, Travis, Hays, Collin,
Dallas, and Tarrant Counties that can assist you with your legal needs.

If you have any questions about what constitutes public intoxication or have been charged with any other alcohol related offense, feel free to leave a comment or visit us on Facebook and fill out a free case evaluation form with no obligation.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UCW or Possession of Prohibited Weapon


brass knuckles
Image via Wikipedia

Although Texas is considered a gun friendly state, it is unlawful to possess or carry many types of weapons in the Lone Star State. The laws concerning carrying a weapon can often be confusing and puzzling. This article is to help clarify those laws by explaining what it means to be charged with possession of a prohibited weapon or unlawfully carrying a weapon as we frequently handle these types of cases in Williamson, Travis, Hays, Collin, Tarrant, and Dallas Counties. Under Texas Penal Code § 46.02, it is a Class A misdemeanor for someone to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carry on or about his person a handgun, illegal knife or a club.

Examples of illegal knives and clubs include:

  • a single-edged knife with a blade length in excess of 5 ½ inches
  • a double-edged knife, a sword, or a spear
  • a club or anything made or adapted to strike someone and cause serious injury.

A weapon must be found on or about your person in order for you to be charged with Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon. The weapon must be within your reach without physically having to change your position. What this means is that you cannot be charged if a weapon was simply found somewhere in your vehicle, such as your trunk, if you are sitting in or driving your car. This only applies to weapons that are legal to carry in Texas. On the other hand, some weapons are illegal to own or have in your possession at all.

Some weapons that are illegal to own in Texas are:

  • switchblade knives (including butterfly knives),
  • brass knuckles
  • sawed-off firearms
  • short-barreled firearms,
  • explosive devices and
  • machine guns

If you are arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon or possession of a prohibited weapon, your weapon will most likely be taken from you and placed into evidence. If your case is dismissed or you are acquitted of the charge, it is possible to get your weapon back. As long as the weapon is not illegal, the judge may order the return of the weapon to you once it is released from evidence. However, depending on the outcome of the case it is also possible that the judge may order that the weapon be destroyed.

Possible punishments for unlawfully carrying of a weapon or being found in possession of a prohibited weapon include:

  • up to one year in county jail
  • a fine of up to $4,000
  • and possibly two years of post-conviction community supervision or
  • deferred adjudication with the requirement to complete up to 200 community service hours

If the charge is unlawfully carrying a weapon in a weapon-free zone, the offense is treated as a state-jail felony. If the offense is committed on any premise that is licensed or issued a permit for the sale of alcoholic beverages, the offense is then considered a third degree felony.

It is always under unfortunate circumstances that people must contact a criminal defense attorney but if you find yourself in that position, make sure you find an attorney that you can trust to do everything possible to help fight for you and win your case. If you have any questions about what constitutes Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon or have been charged with Possession of a Prohibited Weapon, feel free to leave a comment or visit us on Facebook and fill out a free case evaluation form with no obligation.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by Minor


DSCF7933

Image by beardenb via Flickr

My son was charged with Driving under the Influence?  What does this mean?  What do I need to know? 

Texas law states that a minor (under the age of 21) commits an offense of a DUI (a Class C misdemeanor) if he operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.  This is a much lower standard than is required to arrest a person for a DWI.  A detectable amount means that a minor does not have to have a Blood Alcohol Content level of .08 or higher like with a DWI, but can be arrested for simply the smell of alcohol on his breath.

More than likely your son was either issued a citation — along with a notice of license suspension for this charge or he may have been arrested; both are permissible by law.  During the initial traffic stop, after the officer determines that the person they are investigating is in fact a minor, he may issue a citation for a less serious offense or decide to conduct field sobriety tests if he has reasonable suspicion to believe the minor was severely impaired.  If the officer arrests him for not satisfactorily completing the field sobriety tests, he may also request a breath or blood specimen to test his blood alcohol content.  When your son was charged with DUI, his license will be suspended.  The suspension is the same administrative license revocation (ALR) process that is used in DWI cases.  There is a 15 day period to request a hearing after being issued a citation or being arrested for a DUI to contest the license suspension.

If this was the first time the minor was stopped for drinking and driving, the judge may order:

If he doesn’t complete the conditions set out by the judge within the allotted time, then his license may be suspended for up to six months.

If this isn’t the minor’s first time being convicted of a DUI then the judge may order:

  •  A fine between $500 and $2,000;
  • 40 to 60 hours of community service,
  • and a sentence of  up to 180 days in jail.

If your son is under the age of 18, the court may require you or another parent/guardian be present with your son at every court appearance. The court may also require you attend the alcohol-awareness class with your son.   However, the court may allow an attorney to appear on your son’s behalf at the court appearances.

Just because he is under the age of 21 does not mean he will automatically be charged with a DUI rather than a DWI. An officer may arrest a minor for the more serious offense of DWI if the circumstances warrant such a charge.

If the minor had a BAC of .08 or greater he could be punished with the same penalties that apply to a DWI:

  • a $2,000 fine,
  • 72 hours to 180 days in jail,
  • and a driver’s license suspension of 90 days to one year.

Having your son or daughter arrested or issued a citation for a DWI or DUI can be very stressful and nerve racking for you as a parent.  You need to find a reputable attorney that will fight hard to have your child’s case dismissed and will fight as if it were for their own child.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What Happens After a Dwi Arrest In Texas?


ArrestedAdministrative License Revocation: To preserve your right to drive in Texas, you must request a hearing within 15 days of when you were served with a Notice of Suspension(usually the date of arrest). If you timely requested a hearing to contest your license suspension, you will be able to continue driving until the hearing. If you lose at the hearing, you can not drive after the hearing. It is our opinion you should requests the officer’s presence at the hearing. Crucial defenses can be developed at the hearing. If your license is suspended at the hearing, you may be able to secure an occupational license to drive.

lst Appearance: If you have been arrested and released for a misdemeanor DWI, you will be given a date to return to court (usually 30 days after your arrest). If you hire an attorney, the attorney can usually make this appearance for you, so that you do not have to attend. During this 30 day period, the case is sent to the County Attorney‘s office for further investigation. The County Attorney then prepares an information and files this with the County Clerk, and your case is set on the court’s docket.

Pre­trial Conference: Your attorney will discuss your case with the County Attorney to discuss the best possible resolution of your case. This conference will happen about 8­10 weeks after your 1st Appearance date.

Suppression Hearing: The Court may suppress some or all of the evidence against you if your constitutional rights have been violated. Your attorney will file motions to suppress. It occurs anywhere 6 weeks to 3 months after the pre­trial conference.

Trial: You may either request a bench trial wherein the court hears the case or a jury trial wherein a jury of your peers hears the case. If the case is a misdemeanor, the trial will be to a jury of six. If the case is a felony, the jury will be to a jury of twelve.

Sentencing: The Court imposes a sentence after a conviction at trial or after a plea bargain is accepted and a plea entered. Sentences may include jail time, numerous fees, fines, community service, alcohol classes and fines.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You Have the Right to Remain Silent


Right to SilenceIt cannot be emphasized enough that in the United States, a person gives up Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights the moment they begin cooperating with police in any way prior to arrest. These rights technically cannot be reclaimed after an arrest has been made and Miranda rights have been read. this is true because police do not have to advise a person of his/her rights until after he/she incriminates themselves and/or are arrested. In other words, if the person cooperates prior to being arrested, then they have surrendered most of the rights of which the police are advising that arrestee when they are reading them their Miranda rights.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about protecting your right’s that helps to illustrate this point:

 “In the U.S., the only way for one to protect one’s rights fully is to refuse answering any questions beyond giving one’s name and identifying papers if requested and to refuse giving consent to anything (such as a search) prior to one’s arrest. Law enforcement officials in the United States rely heavily upon the subtle intimidation of their position and power and the ignorance of citizens to their rights in order to make people incriminate themselves. Police do not have to tell civilians the truth on any subject. They can make any promises and claims they like in order to induce a person to incriminate herself or himself or to allow the police to perform a search, and police are not bound by anything they promise to suspects or witnesses (i.e. promises of aid or protection).United States citizens must know their rights in order to avoid losing them by inadvertently giving them away.” – Taken from: Wikipedia “Right to Silence”

In other words the rights guaranteed by the Fourth and Fifth Amendment are not automatically invoked by the accused. In fact the opposite is true. If a person does not actively invoke their rights then their rights are automatically surrendered. This is why it is imperative that anyone who is arrested or accused of a crime should exercise their right to remain silent! Thankfully, not answering any questions asked by the police is not considered incriminating in and of itself in the U.S. legal system. Therefore, a person who finds themselves arrested and/or accused of a crime in the U.S. should answer any police questions with a polite request for an attorney. When interrogated simply and politely say “I would like to speak with a lawyer” and contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as it is possible.

This advice may sound counter-intuitive. Especially since we are taught all of our lives that the police exist to protect and serve us. Against these long established beliefs of police benevolence it is important to remember what are trained to do with people they arrest or accuse of a crime. Police officers are trained to investigate and gather evidence to build a case against the people they arrest or accuse of a crime. If you are arrested the police are not trained to be your priest, pastor, personal coach, or counselor. In short, if you are under arrest the police are not your friend.

Further compounding this issue is the fact that police officers are not infallible. They are flesh and blood human beings who make mistakes just like the rest of us. As such it is all too common for the police to bend the rules and take certain statements out of context in order to gain the upper hand and get a conviction. The police know that most people willingly provide them with the evidence needed for a conviction through confessions and statements taken during the interrogation process. It is for this reasons that while it is always a good idea to have a respectful attitude when dealing with the police, it is equally important to answer any questions they have in a controlled setting with access to competent legal advice.

After all, the State of Texas and United States Attorney’s Office take advantage of their huge budget by being able to have access to a large staff of lawyers, police officers, and crime lab experts to help prosecute their cases. This means that it is highly unlikely that a person who is accused of a crime will be able to challenge the government’s case without competent legal representation. Without an attorney the jury will more often than not accept whatever evidence the prosecutor produces.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Legal Rights

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: