What Do I Say If I Am Asked If I Am Guilty?

 A couple of Harris County, Texas misdemeanor judges have been asking defendants who appear in their courts without a lawyer if they plea guilty or not guilty.  This is improper, but non lawyers are typically intimidated when a judge asks them that question.  The truth is that at the first court setting, called the arraignment a person should have a lawyer with them, but if they do not they should know that they are presumed to be innocent.  Thus, the proper reply to the judge should be NOT GUILTY.  After the first setting hire an attorney to discuss all your options. It is quite possible that there are defenses to your case that you have not considered.  Also, an agreement may be reached with the State of Texas that you may do somethings to get your case dismissed.  Most importantly, a trial may be necessary to prove your innocence.  Just keep in mind that you are well within your rights to tell the judge that you are NOT GUILTY until you discuss your entire case with a lawyer.

 

The are many capable lawyers in Houston that can help you.  Most criminal attorneys have free initial consultations.  Please keep in mind that a consultation is not the same is giving advice to you.  To get advice a person needs to hire the lawyer.

Leaving The Scene Of An Accident Can Be Worse Than DWI In Harris County, Texas

A moment of distraction when driving can lead to unforeseen consequences, whether in the form of a rear-end dent or unintended bodily harm. Most drivers never intend to cause damage or harm and thus panic when faced with such a situation. Their flee-or not to flee response is activated by fear and adrenaline.  People choose the reaction that their instincts say lead to a higher chance of survival: They drive away.

There have been multiple reports of people who drove while intoxicated and accidentally hit another car or even person in this condition. Earlier this year, a teenage hit two cars one night and then drove home, only to put on Facebook a status that described his actions. He was arrested for two counts of failing to stop and give information, although his status was not enough evidence to arrest him for drunk driving. However, because he fled the scene after hitting the cars, he was charged with leaving the scene of an accident that involved property damage. The charge could potentially have result in a punishment even more severe than the one he would've received had he been charged with DWI if someone had been hurt. Similarly, a nurse was sentenced to five year in jail for a hit-and-run case in which she drove drunk and killed a teen cyclist. She was later described as having been "in a state of shock" upon arriving to work after leaving the accident scene. The severity of her sentence is believed to partially be connected to how she had not stayed on scene after colliding with the cyclist.

Failure to stop and give information or Failure to render aid cases are more common than people believe, and punishments for these are particularly severe when connected to alcohol consumption. Most people do not intend to drive when drunk, and none ever intend to hit something or someone while in that state. However, should such an incident occur, it is important to remember to remain at the scene. People fear the consequences of being caught intoxicated, but the consequences of being charged with leaving the scene may be even more severe - as seen with the teen who posted on Facebook, but who was not charged with DWI, and with the nurse.

If you should ever find yourself in a similar situation, do not hesitate to seek legal advice immediately. We deal specifically with cases of drunk driving and are dedicated to helping you, as long as you remember to call as soon as the accident occurs.  Our phone number is 713-242-1779.

Intoxication Manslaughter Charges Filed after DWI Results in Officer's Death

 When a DWI case involves a death, an individual can sometimes face charges of intoxication manslaughter. That’s the case with a man who allegedly caused a recent accident, which resulted in the death of a Harris County sheriff’s deputy.  That suspect now faces second degree felony charges that could result in a prison term of between two and twenty years.

The accident happened on May 19, when a vehicle driven by Andres Munos-Munos collided with the personal vehicle of Sgt. Dwayne Polk, a deputy with more than 16 years of experience. According to police, Munos-Munos ran a red light at the intersection of North Shepherd and Little York, thereby colliding with Polk’s vehicle. Investigators claim there were no skid marks that indicated Munos-Munos even attempted to stop before the collision happened.

Polk was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Meanwhile, Munos-Munos was apprehended and taken to Ben Taub hospital for treatment. While there, a mandatory blood draw was also administered. The results of that test indicated the man was intoxicated, and he was taken into custody upon being released from the medical facility.

An investigation into the incident revealed that Munos-Munos had entered this country illegally. It also showed a prior arrest for DWI in June 2012. In addition to his intoxication manslaughter charges, Munos-Munos was also charged by police for carrying a weapon illegally.

Intoxication manslaughter charges are serious, and should only be handled by an attorney who specializes in DWI defense.  If you or someone you know is facing these charges, you may contact my law office for a consultation on defending these charges.

Randy Travis Sues to Prevent Release of Drunk Driving Video

 While drunk driving arrests are usually recorded on camera, most of the time nobody is particularly interested in seeing the video footage. When you’re a celebrity, things are a little different--especially if you happen to be wearing your birthday suit at the time of your arrest. Just ask country music star Randy Travis, who was found naked on the side of a North Texas road and arrested for driving while intoxicated after he wrecked his Trans Am last August.

I'm not sure that everyone is necessarily clamoring to see footage of a drunk, naked Randy Travis. But people do seem to have a strange fascination with the ordeals of the rich and famous, and the media knows it.

As this article explains, originally the presiding judge in the case granted the defense’s request to block release of the video to the public. The judge even issued a ruling ordering that it be destroyed. However, media groups have requested the patrol car video along with other information about the arrest, and the attorney general’s office has ruled that some of this information should be released under the public information act and that the judge didn't have discretion to withhold the video.

Now Travis has taken matters into his own hands, filing a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas attorney general’s office in an attempt to prevent the video’s release. Travis is asking for $100,000 and a declaratory judgment that no information requested about his arrest will be released.

Travis pleaded guilty in January to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to two years' probation, a $2,000 fine and a 180-day suspended jail sentence. He was also ordered to spend at least 30 days at an alcohol treatment facility, complete 100 hours of community service and use an ignition interlock device (IID) during his probation.

There are many lessons here. The first and most obvious is that you should never drink and drive while intoxicated. You should definitely not drive drunk if you’re famous. If you’re rich, maybe think about paying someone to drive you around. And finally, always wear clothes--you never know when you’ll end up on camera.

Using The State's Witnesses

It is not often as a criminal defense lawyer that I get to use a State's witness against them.  There are many highs and lows during a trial, but it is always uplifting as an attorney when you know that you are in control of a prosecutor's witness.  It is most common in assault, family violence trials where the complaining witness wants the charges dropped against your client, but the State presses on to trial despite their request. Recently, I was in trial for a theft/shoplifing case where I could not believe that the prosecutor was putting on a witness  that I knew would say exactly what I wanted her to say, to the benefit of my client.  I am not sure if the prosecutor failed to speak to her beforehand, she only told him what he wanted to hear, or was not aware how easily influenced she would be by an experienced trial attorney.  Nevertheless, it felt so good to have her admit that my client had not assisted in the theft despite driving her to the store. I was pleased when the jury returned a quick "not guilty' verdict.

If you find yourself needing to talk to a lawyer please do not hesitate to contact me at 713-242-17

Traveling To Canada With A Criminal Conviction

While on vacation in Banff, Canada I spoke to a local lawyer that enlightened me about their travel restrictions with a criminal record.  I have previously stated that a DWI conviction may preclude someone from traveling to Canada.  Nevertheless, all hope is not lost.

 Since the Goverments of the United States and Canada continually share information to improve their borders entry with a criminal conviction may be difficult. They have more information than ever on a person visting Canada. This may cause individuals with a criminal record to be denied entry, this is called criminal inadmissibility.   In most cases, individuals who have been convicted of an offense will require special documentation permitting them to enter Canada.

What is Criminal Inadmissibility?

Individuals, who have been convicted of an offense outside Canada that is equivalent to a Canadian Federal Offence, may be inadmissible to Canada. In order to make this determination, the Canadian equivalent must be examined along with its maximum sentence.

If an equivalent can be established is whether the conviction constitutes a summary or indictable offence. Most Federal offences are hybrid offences, which will render a person inadmissible to Canada. Having been convicted of one summary offence will not make an individual inadmissible. 

Individuals with one indictable offense on record (for example a DWI) are criminally inadmissible to Canada. They can overcome this in 1 to 2 ways:

·         Deemed Rehabilitated by the passage of time: More than 10 years have passed from the completion of all probationary periods and retirement of fines.

·         Criminal Rehabilitation Application: Individuals are eligible to apply for criminal rehabilitation after 5 years have passed from the completion of all probationary periods and retirement of fines.

Either one of these possibilities ensures that prior convictions are no longer grounds for refusal of entry to Canada. The expungement of a conviction also renders prior offenses obsolete

If the proscribed time period before eligibility for Criminal Rehabilitation has not yet elapsed, individuals may wish to apply for a Temporary Resident Permit, depending on the gravity of the offense, the amount of time that has passed, and the reason for their need to enter Canada. These permits may be issued for 1 day- 3 years, or may be refused entirely. It is completely within the discretion of the individual immigration officer assessing the application.

 

Condensing My Criminal Defense Blogs

I have come to the conclusion that trying to continually updating three criminal law related blogs, tweeting regularly all the while maintaining a thriving law practice is unmanageable.  Unlike other lawyers and law firms that I know I write every blog entry myself.  While I have neglected this blog over the past year I have tried to regularly write on my blog that is linked to my Houston Criminal Defense website..  With this blog I cover the same type of issues that I covered here like sexual assault, bond issues, and theft.  Additionally, I discuss DWI issues exclusively on my DWI site,  Thus, I do not see the reason to post duplicitous information on this site.

Nevertheless, since there is so much information that I have created over the years on this site I will stay active for the foreseeable future.

If you would like to contact me please call me at (713) 242-1779. 

How to choose a assault lawyer.

Free Legal Consultation Versus Giving Legal Advice

Most lawyers that I know like to talk to people.  More importantly, they enjoy helping their clients with their legal issues.  One of the many dilemmas that attorneys encounter is when a person contacts them seeking legal advice when they have not been hired.  The general public thinks a lawyer can answer any legal question presented to them.  It happens to all of us whether it be while getting a haircut, having a drink at a bar, or making small talk at a party.  Ever since I started blogging people think that they simply email or telephone me with their legal issue and I will be able to answer them.  More frustrating is when the requests come from people that have already retained an attorney, but are seeking a second opinion.  It seems to me that these intelligent people realize that their lawyer may not be as well versed in criminal law as they had let on initially.  That leads them to seek alternative counsel when the have lost their faith in the lawyer they have chosen.  For example, one gentleman wanted to bring me his DWI video so I could tell him if he should proceed to trial.  Another woman contacted me because she had researched alternative sentencing for her son and ran across an article I had written about pretrial diversions .  She wanted to know if I could advise her on how to put a pretrial diversion packet together.  Others just send an email and state "can you please read this and advise me." Unfortunately, this is not how it works.  If you have someone representing you that lawyer should have a better grasp of the facts surrounding your criminal case.  A quick rundown by you on the phone or via email does not allow me to advise you.   When lawyers state that they provide a free consultation it is not synonymous with providing free legal services.  It gets even trickier when someone already has representation.  I am not a "Jack Shepherd" type that will tell you that I can fix your problems without properly investigating your particular case.  

I understand the need to further educate oneself on a particular issue online.  I routinely turn to the Internet when confronted with a medical issue for example. Nevertheless, that does not mean I email a doctor that I have not established a relationship with to get their medical opinion.  Undoubtedly, if I did the Doctor would certainly not be able to properly advise me until she/he understood my full medical history and ascertained the full facts of my medical condition.

If you want to talk to a DWI Attorney that will listen to your issues with compassion please contact me, Herman Martinez at 713-242-1779. Visit the firm's website at http://www.attorneydwi.net

How Can I Pay For My Lawyer?

The new credit card rules that are being enacted this Monday made me reminisce about when myself and my business partner started our Houston criminal defense law firm in 1999.  Surprisingly, law school did not provide a class offering any help with starting a law practice, especially in relation to money.  Law school overlooks the reality that an attorney needs paying clients to practice law and to sustain their business but also to pay off the debt that they have incurred going to law school. Perhaps, it is because law schools find it unsavory to talk about money when trying to teach its students the noble profession of being a lawyer.

I remember when we opened our law firm we knew enough to open bank accounts, order checks and the like, but we did not give much thought about many of the other business matters.    It took us some time before we got on the credit card bandwagon.  When we started it did not occur to us that clients would be more comfortable using this form of payment.  Of course, staying away from this form of payment made our accounting much easier, kept us from training our staff, and incurring additional costs.  Today our practice is quite different since the majority of our clients use their credit card to pay our fees.  Since most people do not put money aside for the day they are arrested a credit card helps them out in a pinch. The initial credit card payment takes care of the retainer fee and allows them to set up a payment plan.  In today's economy a small law firm must be able to accommodate their clients financial needs.

Please call 713-242-1779 if you would like to speak to a lawyer.

Welfare Fraud Division Is Showing Some Compassion

I have mentioned previously how unjustly people, mostly single mothers that are charged with welfare fraud, food stamp fraud, were treated in Harris County District Attorney's Office when Carl Hobbs was the prosecutor in charge of that division.  Mr. Hobbs was reassigned to the misdemeanor division earlier this year after many years heading the welfare fraud division.  I anticipated that his successor would have a different view towards the people that are charged with the crime.  Not surprisingly, things have changed for the better. For example, they have granted a handful of pretrial diversions which is something that was never granted previously. I was told not to expect that many requests for pretrial diversion were to be granted in the future because of the nature of the crime.  The reasoning by the District Attorney's Office is that welfare fraud is a continuous crime and not a one time mistake.   

A permanent decision that should help a lot of people charged with welfare fraud is that the District Attorney's Office will consider reducing a felony charge to a misdemeanor.  While this was done previously now they will offer the person a deferred adjudication instead of a straight conviction.  The difference is enormous!  A straight conviction is a permanent record that may never be cleared from a person's record.  By contrast, a deferred adjudication for a misdemeanor allows a person to immediately qualify for a non disclosure that would "seal" the criminal record.

If you need the help of a lawyer for a welfare fraud or food stamp case do not hesitate to contact me at (713) 242-1779. 

The Harris County, Texas Pretrial Diversion Timeline

I have run into some confusion regarding the time line for submitting a pretrial diversion packet at the Harris County Courthouse.  Some courts and misdemeanor prosecutors seem to think that there is a forty (40) day time period where Carl Hobbs, the chief of the misdemeanor division, will consider a person for a pretrial diversion.  I do not know where this rumor started, but it has gained some steam lately.  Perhaps, it is because Mr. Hobbs had a well known rule when he ran the Welfare Fraud division that  a person must accept his plea offer of reducing the case to a misdemeanor before 40 days after his initial setting.  I had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Hobbs about this issue and he made it clear that this rule does not apply to pretrial diversions.  It is not to say that he prefers them to be presented within the 40 day window, but presenting it after that time frame will not preclude a person from getting one granted.

Typically, a pretrial diversion is granted to a young person that is a first offender, that has a scholarship or is still in school, thus losing something of value to them.  Also, pretrial diversions may be granted to someone that will lose their job with any type of community supervision.  I have found that since Pat Lykos became the District Attorney of Harris County, Texas they have been granted with more frequency than in years past.

If you need the help of a lawyer for a welfare fraud or food stamp case do not hesitate to contact me at (713) 242-1779

If you are unsure whether you qualify for a pretrial diversion You should discuss this option with your attorney.  While they may not discuss it at your initial meeting it would be negligible of the attorney not to explore it before entering any type of probation since it allows your record to be expunged in the future.

A Ticking Time Bomb...The Harris County, Texas Jail?

One does not have to be involved with the criminal justice system to know that the jail environment can be hostile on the best of days.  The people housed there are frustrated because they miss their family, been excluded from their normal life, and do not want to be living behind iron bars day and night.  The jailers are also usually frustrated because they feel under appreciated and under paid.  Now you can add to that, the deputies are over worked due to budget constraints.  All in all, it is a recipe for disaster.

 As a Harris County Lawyer I visit these places frequently, but instead of seeing things improve things are getting worse.  Something needs to be sooner rather than later.

Clean Up Your Own Mess!

I have heard through the criminal courthouse grapevine lately how some attorneys are having a difficult time securing clients to represent.  Often, when times are lean lawyers go to great lengths to secure clients.  Perhaps that is why of I have been contacted by many prospective clients lately who are dis-satisfied with their current attorney because the attorney made an outrageous promise to them without even making a court appearance.  It is frustrating for me when a client or the client's family come to our office after hiring this type of lawyer.   The client loses all faith in their attorney when they can not deliver as promised.  Furthermore, the client loses all faith in the criminal justice system.  These types of attorneys go on to blame everyone; including the judge, the prosecutor, or even the complaining witness when in actuality they knew that their "guarantee" was merely a ploy to get hired by the client.  A criminal attorney that promises an outcome before looking at the facts is not a legitimate defense attorney in my book.  They are imposter's that are pooping in the criminal justice center without cleaning up after themselves.  These so-called criminal defense attorney's need to think twice about withdrawing from a case when their client gets upset with them after they do not deliver on the original promise because I am getting tired of cleaning up after them.

Ozzie Should Try Being a Defendant in Harris County, Texas

I remember Ozzie Guillen as a slick fielding shortstop for the Chicago White Sox  who was constantly trying to get into the opposing teams head by running his mouth throughout the game.  As a manager he has continued with the chat, but at times it has landed him in hot water.  Most of his comments are directed at his team intending to "fire them up."  Nevertheless, his recent rant that Asian players get treated better then Hispanic players has drawn the ire of major league baseball. His main issue is that Asian players get more assistance when starting their professional baseball career than Hispanic player in the form of translators and assistants.   Mr. Guillen should try being a non English speaker that gets arrested in Harris County, Texas.  He would be appalled to know that most Hispanics that are arrested are presumed to be here illegally.  It  is common that a Hispanic defendant must show proof of his legal status in the United States.  Moreover, if a Hispanic is undocumented they will not be offered probation by the Harris County District Attorney's office or allowed to participate in their DWI DIVERT program.  Not surprisingly, I have represented similar situated non Hispanics that have not had the same issues.

Si udsted nececita un abogado en Houston, Texas llama 713-242-1779.

Houston...Yo Quiero Probation!

While I understand that the Harris County District Attorney's Office (HCDAO) has a policy of not offering undocumented defendants probation for any case the law disagrees with their position.  Despite the fact that I understand the policy does not mean that I have to agree with it. 

 Recently, I was representing a young woman that was charged with a misdemeanor.  Her parents brought her to the United States when she was just an infant.  She did not play a role in coming to this country herself.  She went to school in Houston and is currently attending college.  She is on target to graduate in one year from  the University of Houston.  She has never visited the country where she was born.  The life she knows is in Houston.  However, according to the HCDAO because she is undocumented she is not being offered the chance to complete probation as punishment.  This is merely a political position by the HCDAO.  The HCDAO is without merit and mistaken.  In fact, some younger prosecutors that I have come across are under the belief that she is not eligible to receive probation at all.  Luckily, this is not the case.  The HCDAO may not offer her probation, but this does not mean that she is precluded from receiving this from a judge or a jury.  When the HCDAO sets a policy it needs to inform the junior prosecutors that despite making this their policy it does not make it the law.

Para personas hispanas:  Escoje un abogado en Houston que hablar Espanol!  Uds. puede recibir probation sin embargo que este en este paiz sin documentos. 

Por favor llamar mi oficina (713) 242-1779 si necesita ayuda de un abogado en Houston.

Houston...That is My Only Option!

Frequently, clients think they only have one option in their criminal case.  This could not be further from the truth.  First, everyone is presumed to be NOT Guilty when accused of a crime.  Accordingly, a client has the option of stating that they are" not guilty" or "guilty" of the alleged conduct.  There is a third option of stating "no contest", but this is equivalent to a guilty plea.  Second, just because a person would like to plead guilty means that they must accept the offer made by the prosecution.  In fact, an accused has the option of letting the judge or a jury decided their punishment despite the desire to plead guilty.  Recently, I had a client that did not want to accept the prosecutor's offer as well as not want to go trial on the case.  Luckily for him I was able to convince the judge to give him what he was seeking.  Third, if the client does not want to accept the prosecution's offer, and does not like the judge's idea of the proper punishment they may decide to let a jury decide what the appropriate punishment in their case should be.  This allows the accused to plead guilty to the jury, but in the meantime ask them for the punishment they were seeking from the prosecutor and judge.

No Golf For Me

For some reason, a lot of people think that a criminal attorney's work is done after they finish with court in the morning.  I frequently hear "Oh he must have an afternoon tee time" when a a lawyer is trying to move along a conversation with his client especially when they are trying to move along the conversation quickly.  I for one, rarely have time for an afternoon round of golf.  In fact, I am just as busy upon returning to the office as I am in court in the morning.  Take for example this afternoon. Before entering my office I had someone waiting for me and before I finished with that person I had two more appointments waiting.  I try to space my appointments a hour apart to give enough time to see all of them.  When I do not have people waiting for me I return all my messages before starting my afternoon work.  The afternoons are the time a trial lawyer prepares for his upcoming trials by getting his motions ready for filing reviewing the law, and tying up any loose ends.  Most of the time, the work day is over for me before I get a chance to think about the 18 holes that I missed playing.

How Do I Bond Someone Out of Jail in Houston?

This is a common question for a criminal defense attorney.  In Houston, Harris County, Texas most lawyers do not get involved in the initial bonding process.  A lawyer may go to the initial court appearance to attempt to get a client's bond reduced so it is easier for them to bond out of jail, but this is only done when court is in session typically, Monday through Friday during normal working hours.  Most of the time when someone is frantically trying to make a bond it is not during the court's working hours.

The type of person that calls me with the this question is usually someone that has never bonded anyone out of jail previously, or thought they would ever be doing something like that in their lifetime.  The bond is based on the person's criminal history, the nature of the offense, and their ties to the community.  If you would like to view the bonding schedule for Harris County, Texas please click here for a felony and here for a misdemeanor. 

When bonding someone out of jail a person has two options.  They may pay the bond themselves, entirely with their own cash.  While I understand that is easier said then done in the present economic times I would highly recommend this option. One of the benefits of this is that if a cash bond is paid it is eventually refunded in full two months after the case is finished.  Also the person would not be subject to any other contractual obligations other than reporting to their court dates.  Unfortunately, most people do not have the entire bond amount readily available so the second option is using a bonding company to help them bond the person out of jail.  A bonding company charges a fee in the range of 10-15% of the bond amount.  Once the fee is paid it is not returned.  Nevertheless, I would think paying the fee beats sitting in jail while the case is resolved.  Most bonding offices are open 24 hours a day to assist potential clients.  One of the drawbacks of using a bonding company are the contractual obligations.

 

Athletes Comitting Assaults

As a criminal lawyer in Houston I always get questions from my friends about why more athletes do not get charged with crimes.  They point to isolated cases like Kobe Bryant where there was talk of him being charged with sexual assault better known as rape.  They understand that some sports are violent, but a lot of athletes go beyond the game.  For the most part, the Government has refrained from charging athletes for behavior that would be considered criminal.  I think the action of this Cuban baseball player would be considered to be criminal behavior. In fact, it is likely he would be charged with aggravated assault in Houston.

If you have been charged with a sexual assault in attorney please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 to speak with an attorney that is experienced with defending sex crimes in Houston or click here to visit our website.

Will I Go To Jail In Houston, Harris County If I Attend My First Court Date Without A Lawyer?

This is a question I get often by people that call me because they are scared to go to their initial court date without a Houston criminal attorney.  I am embarrassed that I live in a county where this is the case.  The reality is that a criminal court judge should not revoke a bond and put someone back in jail so long as the accused attends their court setting on time, has not been charged with a new crime since their arrest,  and because they cannot afford to hire a criminal lawyer.  Nevertheless, most judges will scold the accused for not hiring a lawyer in a timely fashion.  Thus, do not let anyone scare you into thinking that if you do not hire a lawyer for your first court date in a criminal case that you will be re-arrested in Harris County, Texas.  This is not true for theft, DWI, Assault or any other type of case in Houston.

If you are in the need of a lawyer please click here to visit my website or call me at (713) 242-1779.

Are You Really Qualified To Be A Houston Criminal Court Judge?

Early voting for the 2010 Texas primaries has started this week.  I am not going to suggest what candidate to vote for, but I have noticed some things that annoy me.  First and foremost, a candidate for any criminal bench should be a practicing Houston criminal attorney.  It is arrogant that someone that has not worked as a defense attorney or a prosecutor believes that they can magically put on a black robe and be able to preside over criminal cases.  If you have never even seen a DWI trial how is someone qualified to judge one.  Also, any lawyer that is running for a felony court bench should routinely be handling felony cases as part of their practice.  Unlike a misdemeanor court the consequences in a felony are much more severe.  We are talking about the potential of someone spending the rest of their life in prison in a felony court.  If a person has not dealt with these types of cases as a lawyer on either side of the bar what makes them think a week at a judicial school will give them the knowledge.  A person may take a scuba class during their Mexico vacation, but that does make them capable of diving for the remains of the Titanic. Lastly, if a person is not qualified enough to pass the felony appointment test they have no business being a felony judge.

Thinking about hiring a criminal lawyer?  Call me at 713-242-1779 or visit our firms website: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Houston, Harris County, Texas Marijuana Possession Arrests Causing Unnecessary Jail Overcrowding?

While there is been a lot of talk about building a new jail in Harris County, Texas there has not been much discussion about reducing the amount of people that are in jail today for a low level misdemeanor offense such as marijuana possession.  I have stated before that the law in Texas allows for a police officer to cite a person to appear in one of our fifteen County Criminal Court at Law for marijuana possession.  The Harris County District Attorney's Office (HCDAO) has openly refused to allow officers to do this for the past two years despite the aim of the law being reduction of jail overcrowding.  The HCDAO prides itself on following the law, but for some reason is not doing it in this instance.  Meanwhile, people are getting arrested and await a court date while being housed in the overcrowded Harris County jail.  Why is the public allowing this to happen if current public opinion is against the policy of jail time for small amounts of marijuana possession?  Probably, because the media is not reporting this discrepancy as they should.

It is time that Sheriff Adrian Garcia, all 15 misdemeanor judges, and the Harris County District Attorney, Pat Lykos start allowing officers to write citations for low level marijuana possession like other counties have been doing for a while now.  Alternatively, if the HCDAO opposes them on this issue pretrial bonds should be granted for every person that is charged with this crime.  A pretrial bond will insure that someone is not jailed for something that the law clearly states may be handled by a citation.  In turn, this may reduce the amount of people that sit in the county jail.  I can not believe that this is that difficult to implement.

If you need the assistance of a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney with your marijuana case in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at www.mmalaw.com.

 

What Someone In Houston, Texas Could Learn From The Ten Co-Defendants In Haiti?

I would think that most people would realize that having one criminal attorney for multiple people accused of a crime would be a bad idea.  In fact, when co-defendants attempt to hire me I go to great lengths to dissuade them for doing this because of the potential conflicts that may arise.  Perhaps criminal lawyers in other countries do things differently, but a criminal attorney in Houston, Texas would advise against two defendants having the same lawyer much less ten defendants.  I am confused why then ten American missionaries that were arrested in Haiti hired only one attorney to represent them.  It is to be expected that they have different stories about how they got into their predicament as well as how much they knew about the plans to take the children from Haiti.  In fact, there are some in the group that feel that their side of the story is not being told accurately.  They finally came to their senses this week and fired their Haitian lawyer.  Hopefully, each will find their own legal representation.

The moral of the story is if you find yourself arrested in Houston with someone else get your own Houston criminal attorney.  A lot of times a person will offer to split the costs for the attorney, but I would advise to go against this route because the lawyer should be someone you choose voluntarily and only has your interests in mind.

 

 

This Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Hates It When An Offer Is Withdrawn For No Reason

Part of my job as a Houston Criminal Defense lawyer is to negotiate on behalf of my clients.  In all cases the assistant district attorney (ADA) handling my client's case will make us an offer to settle the case in lieu of a trial.  In some instances, the ADA will not be able to make a reasonable offer.  If we decide that we do not find the offer to be appealing we reset the case to come back another day.  Most of the time, the ADA will keep the offer available and will let me know if they plan on withdrawing the offer at some point. It is not standard practice for an ADA to retract an offer before we formally reject it.  This rarity occurs when a new ADA is assigned to a case and they disagree with the offer that was made by their predecessor.  Recently, I had a client decide that they wanted to accept the last offer made by the ADA the day before his next court setting.  Since it was not a jury trial and I did not know that a new ADA was assigned to their case you can imagine what happened next.  The offer was doubled by the new prosecutor.  Despite detailing to the new ADA how we arrived at the proposal the offer was withdrawn.  I was surprised with their final decision and I was left trying to explain this to my client.  This left us with the easy decision of rejecting the new offer and proceeding to trial.  Fortunately, a person accused of a crime is presumed innocent and the fact that they were willing to plea guilty at one point is excluded from their trial.

This situation can happen in any type of case from a simple marijuana possession to a Murder.  It is most likely to happen in a felony case.

For more information regarding your criminal case please visit our firm website: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Houston We Have A Problem! I Thought We Had A Deal...What Happened?

As a criminal defense lawyer you need to display composure when things do not go your way.  You need to be able to communicate logically with your client when they insist that they were not at the scene of the crime, even though the prosecutor has produced a picture of your client taken with a gun in their hand at the scene.  Our clients need to know that we are on their side and ready to represent them to the fullest extent despite the allegations and evidence against them.

Recently, I had a difficult time explaining to one of my clients that after reaching an agreement with the prosecution, the judge rejected the agreement.  In every case the there is a possibility that the judge may reject an agreed plea bargain.  Within every plea bargain agreement there is language that allows the judge to reserve the right to reject the agreement.  Luckily, the defendant is allowed to withdraw their plea if the judge decides to go this route.

Unfortunately, this was not any consolation to my client who, during a recent plea bargain, could not understand why the judge would not go along with the agreement.  A plea bargain is not something that is reached easily or quickly.  It is a long process and typically, it takes compromise between the prosecutor and the defense lawyer.  The process goes something like this; the client comes to court several times and when they think the agreement is satisfactory to them they relinquish their right to trial in order to enter into the plea bargain.

It is extremely frustrating to all parties when a judge hears a short synopsis from the prosecutor about the facts surrounding the case and then decides that they will not accept the agreement that was reached.  Now the client is frustrated and its back to square one.  At this point, the client typically asks one of the following questions; why did you as my attorney spend all that time trying to reach an agreement with the prosecutor if the judge was going to reject it anyway?  Why did I agree to pay back all the restitution that is owed?   Why didn't you reach an agreement with the judge first?  The answer is because the judge can and gives the final blessing to the plea bargain. 

I understand that the judge's role is to determine what is in the best interest of society, but how can they determine that with only a couple of minutes of facts relayed by the prosecutor.  At the very least, the judge should speak to both attorneys especially if they are leaning towards rejecting the plea bargain.  It becomes an emotionally charged event because the client senses things are going badly.  At this stage, their body language changes, they can not speak as clearly, and most of all they become nervous and confused about the proceedings.  This in turn makes the judge less likely to accept the plea bargain because they tend to interpret this behavior negatively.

A Happy Ending To A Houston Felony Case...

I am going to preface this blog entry by saying that I am not one to typically brag about myself on this blog, but this case warrants a mention.  As a criminal defense lawyer in Houston, I hate to admit that most of my clients do not stay in touch with me until they need my help again or someone they know needs my help.  Today, I was fortunate enough to receive some uplifting news from a former client's mother.  Her son made both of us proud after he was able to secure a three year worldwide modeling contract.  Previously, I was able to get a very favorable outcome on his felony case.  This is one of the many reasons that I chose my profession to help others. 

Visit the firm's website for more information: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com

Could the New Texting While Driving Law Lead to More DWI Arrests in Houston?

I have mentioned that texting while driving is more dangerous then driving while intoxicated before on this blog.  Studies after studies have shown this to be true.  While Mothers Against Drunk Drivers would argue against that position it is clearly a problem throughout the United States.  Not surprisingly, the federal government is formally banning truck and bus drivers from sending text messages while driving.  It is only a matter of time before similar legislation reaches the state of Texas.  Already small municipalities like West University ban texting while driving.  So you better send those messages while you can or better yet wait until you arrive at your destination.

By having this law in effect it will arm police agencies with a another flimsy reason to stop someone while driving.  Despite the unlikelihood that an officer will be able to prove that a person was texting when they were driving it will not matter because when a DWI arrest is made the driver rarely gets ticketed for the traffic violation.  The alleged traffic violation is the probable cause for the stop.

The Best Houston DWI Lawyer or an Overhyped Prospect?

Major League Baseball Spring training is around the corner this year.  Like most every year there will be a handful of prospects that will be deemed the next superstars of baseball.  Last year Matt Wieters, catcher for Baltimore Orioles, was the can't miss prospect of 2009.  While he did well for a rookie he has a long way to go before he becomes an elite catcher.  This year Stephen Strasburg, a Washington Nationals pitcher, is ticketed for stardom.  Over the years there have been many players that were in the same position.  For example, Brien Taylor was the Yankees first pick in the 1991 major league baseball draft, but was never able to reach the major leagues for any team.

Similarly, I know there are Houston DWI Attorneys that hype themselves up tremendously.  They only talk about how great they are without listening to what the client needs.  They guarantee the outcome of a case before even going to court and "bad mouth" other DWI lawyers. Here are some suggestions if you confront one of these attorneys.  First, go to the Texas State Bar to see if they have been sanctioned.  Second, go to avvo.com where lawyers are independently ranked by that website.  Third, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they are listed with them and how they are rated. Fourth, search online for specific information on the attorney.  Lastly, get all the guarantees in writing before becoming their client. 

If you need to talk to a DWI Lawyer that works in the Houston, Harris County, Texas area please call The Martinez Law Firm at (713)-242-1779.

Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

As a Houston Criminal Defense lawyer I look forward to my next trial.  However, after a year of going to court and trying cases I now look forward toward to my docket slowing down.  Typically this happens on the last two weeks of December since this is the only time that since jury summons are not mailed out during this time of the year.  For this reason, I try to catch up on the things I neglect throughout the year.  For example, I try to schedule as many doctor appointments as I can during this time and take my longest vacation of the year.

Once the new year starts it is a different story.  The month of January is already full for me with trials.  I have at least one case set for trial each week of the month, if not more.  Luckily, I try to avoid both myself and my business partner being in trial at the same time so we do not neglect our otter clients.  At The Martinez Law Firm we appreciate that our clients do not want to be waiting around all morning when they could be back at work.  It never fails that the first two weeks of January are go, go, go since the courts have delayed trials from end of the previous year.

Why Do Innocent People Confess?

As a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer I am always amazed when innocent people confess to crimes that they did not commit.  Many of friends find it unbelievable that this happens and think that is just me being a defense attorney.  The innocence project provides some insight into this dilemma.  I hope that after reading this article more people will have an open mind that an innocent person may provide a false confession to a crime that they did not commit.

If you need the assistance of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Houston please contact The Martinez Law Firm at (713) 242-1779.

Should I Talk To The Houston Police?

When someone calls our law firm asking whether they should talk to the police in a criminal investigation I always tell them it is never in their best interest to talk to the police.  Typically, the person is concerned about what may happen if they talk to the police especially if they do not speak English.  This is one of the easiest answers I can give as a criminal defense lawyer in Houston.  NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE!  I realize that the answer is counter intuitive to most people, but it is blunt and easier to understand. If you do not believe me watch this video where a law school professor and former criminal defense attorney explains our 5th amendment privilege in great detail.  Even the police officer that follows him in the lecture completely agrees with everything he said.

If you need the help of one of the best attorneys please contact The Martinez Law Firm at (713) 242-1779.

The Days Of Drinking And Driving In Ireland Are Over

If you are thinking of driving a car in Ireland you better not have a drink before getting behind the wheel.  While the Irish are stereotypically depicted as heavy drinkers with a devotion to their Guinness they better not drink even one imperial pint of their celebrated beer before driving.  Until recently. Ireland's legal limit for DWI was .08.  Now, Ireland will become another country in Europe with a legal limit of .05 for the prosecution of driving while intoxicated cases.  They will be joining Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain.  What I found curious is that Lithuania's legal limit is .04 and Norway, Poland, Sweden's legal limit is .02.  A true zero tolerance for drinking and driving is found in Estonia, Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary.

Advocates for lowering our legal limit will certainly cite the international trend of lowering the legal limit for driving while intoxicated.  I foresee the legal limit being lowered once again in Texas to 0.05 or lower within ten years.  That would be the second time the legal limit will be changed since I became a lawyer.

 

Mark McGwire Benefits From Taking the Fifth

Mark McGwire has been named the St. Louis Cardinals' new hitting coach.  McGwire would not have even been considered for this position with his former team if he would not have followed his lawyers advice of "taking the fifth."  In 2005 Mr. McGwire refrained from speaking about steroid use after being summoned to appear before Congress.  At that time, he was heavily criticized by the media, became the poster boy for the steroid era of baseball, and vanished from the baseball scene.  Who in their "Flash Forward" would have seen him putting on a baseball uniform again in 2009?

Lucky for him, the American sports public has a short memory.  The baseball world is now welcoming him back with open arms.  Baseball's version of the prodigal son is returning.  Even Bud Selig, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, is delighted to see Mr. McGwire back.  Unlike the players that testified fully during the congressional hearings in 2005 he is being given the "red carpet treatment" while the others are getting "blackballed by the sport" or even worse, getting Federal charges brought against them for perjury.

If I hope that McGwire does not get a free pass from the media and baseball fans. The steroid era  was a black eye for baseball.  How Mark McGwire is perceived will be an indicator if baseball fans really care what the players are doing legally or not so long as they produce on the field.

If you are being asked to give the police a statement please contact me before you make a big mistake. 713-242-1779.

Will the Public Defender's Office be a cure all for Harris County Defendants?

Ever since the Unites States Supreme Court decided the Gideon case the legal system has dealt with the issues regarding the appointment criminal lawyers for indigent defendants. After much debate, the Harris County Commissioner's Court is going to install a Public Defender's Office in our county.  Additionally, it hopes to revamp the current court appointed system that is in place.  The Harris Criminal Lawyers Association is at best split on this issue.  The Harris County District Attorney's Office does not have an opinion.  The general public is typically misinformed, or suffers from apathy unless a friend of family member is involved in the system.  The last time I checked there were less than twenty comments for the article that was in the Houston Chronicle about this issue.

The current system in place allows each court to select a lawyer to represent a person that has been found to be indigent.  The selection is done randomly by the court on a case by case basis.  Each attorney that is on the list must have the required qualifications, pass a test promulgated by the State, and show an ability to handle the seriousness of the case.  Additionally, there are several courts that staff their courts with their own attorneys that they have selecting thereby bypassing the random selection of lawyers to handle the cases that qualify for indigent representation.  The vast majority of the defendants that are found to be indigent are in jail.

I am unclear how the "Hybrid" system is going to accomplish its goals.  On one hand, the proposal hopes to reduce the amount that is paid to attorneys, and better manage their case load under the current system.   The reality is that this is not feasible.  Public defender offices are notoriously overworked by the court system.  In fact, the Florida Public Defender's Office resorted to filing a lawsuit in order to keep their case load at the recommended amount by the Bar.  Moreover, several PD Offices have budgetary problems throughout the country.  The current system of appointing system private attorneys does not pay for that lawyer's support staff, office, health insurance, or retirement.  These are costs that do not go into the studies conducted for the current proposal.

The other issue that the new system hopes to address is the overcrowding in the Harris County Jail.  This is not going to happen unless the county changes a few things.  As a mentioned above the vast majority of people that receive a court appointed attorney is in jail.  Typically, a person is in jail because they can not afford to pay a bond.  The bond amounts in a felony case ranges from $2,000 to $1,000,000 depending on the case.  A few defendants do not get a bond.  Unless, the county is willing to take another a look at the bonding schedule or start approving pre trial releases for felony cases where a defendant is not  required to pay a bond before his case is settled the jail overcrowded number are not going to decrease.

I hope the general public is not thinking that the Public Defender's Office will be able to sprinkle some magic dust to cure all the problems with the Houston criminal justice system by itself.

New Texas Assault Law Snags A Houston Baseball Star

Chuck Knoblauch, Bellaire High baseball standout, and former American League Rookie of the Year, has been charged under the new law that makes choking a family member a third degree felony.  Luckily, Mr. Knoblauch is presumed to be innocent.  His predicament illustrates how easily a person can be charged with a Felony in Texas now that the law has changed.  The Texas Legislation that just ended making choking a Family Member a third degree felony even if the person does not have a criminal history.  If these allegations would have been brought forward in August of this year he would be facing misdemeanor charges.  A felony charge is much more serious with the range of punishment being two to ten years in prison as opposed to the one year maximum punishment for a misdemeanor.

The ability to file these charges as a felony gives the prosecutor another tool to extort a guilty plea from a person.  On a highly contested case the assistant district attorney will likely offer to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor.  This may seem like a fair resolution unless the person is compromising.  If this is the case they should keep in mind that a second charge of Family Violence Assault is a third degree felony just like the choking charge.  Lastly, a person should keep in mind that a subsequent choking charge may be enhanced to a second degree felony if a person has a previous assault of a family member conviction.  This would increase the possible punishment from two to twenty years in the Texas Department of Corrections.

If you have any question regarding your assault case in Houston, Harris County please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or click here to visit our website.

Matt Damon's New Movie Highlights The Problem With Cooperating With The Government Without An Attorney

I just got back from seeing Matt Damon's new movie The Informant!    I was looking forward to seeing the movie after the reviews I read, but I must admit that I often find Steven Soderbergh's films lacking much depth and too stylized for my taste.  The last film that he directed that I enjoyed from start to finish was Traffic.  I never got into Damon's character, Mark Whitacre, partly because I  never truly understood his motivation for doing what he did.  I did not understand if the film wanted to be a comedy as the trailer suggests or a drama.  The cinematography seemed to suggest that it was a drama, but the script indicated otherwise.  It was great to see Melanie Lynskey, who plays Rose in one of my favorite television shows Two and a Half Men, playing Matt Damon's wife, Ginger Whitacre.  Overall, it is a DVD rental at best.

Since I was disinterested in the film I started to think about my clients that consider talking to the Government.  I could not believe that a man that is so intelligent would engage in such behavior without first speaking to a lawyer about the consequences of their actions.  While Mr. Whitacre may have been suffering from some sort of mental disease, his wife also passively allowed him to contemplate his actions.  It is clear that when he went to a lawyer it was too late.  He continually refrained from telling his attorneys the full truth and openly lied to them while disregarding their advice.  There is nothing worse then a client that does not candidly speak with their lawyer.  Mr. Whitacre would have been better served speaking with an attorney before contracting with the Federal Government.  The attorney would have advised him accordingly, and if was still interested in going forward he may have been granted immunity for his actions.  Thus, Mr. Whitacre may have avoided the nine years he served in Federal Prison.

If you would like a free consultation regarding your criminal case in Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779.  You should talk to us before talking to the police.

Changes to Texas Assault Family Violence

The latest Texas legislature really went out of their way to address family violence.  The penal code has virtually been revamped in this area of the law in the last ten years.  When I became a lawyer there wasn't a distinction between an assault against a family member and one against a non family member.   The legislature enhanced family violence assault cases.  For example, it made it a third degree felony if someone had previously been convicted of an assault against a family member.  Starting on September 1st of this year, a first time family violence assault case may be filed as a third degree felony if a person impedes the normal breathing of the victim by applying pressure to the person's throat, or neck.  In other words, a choke may now be classified as a felony.  If the accused happens to have been previously convicted of an assault against a family member they may be charged with a second degree felony.  Also, the new crime of Continuous Violence Against the Family was created in this session.  It will now be a third degree felony if during a 12 month period or less a person two or more times engages in conduct that constitutes an assault against a family member.  A prior conviction of family violence assault is no longer required.  I am concerned that we see an increase in the cases that are refiled as a felony after a misdemeanor prosecutor conducts the required "RIP" call with the complaining witness in a case.

The legislature also addressed anyone that may be on bond for family violence assault. A court may require a person charged with a family violence offense to wear a global positioning monitoring system device (GPS).  Additionally, the person will bear the expense of the GPS when the court warns the person on bond about going to or near a residence, school, place of employment, or other specified location frequented by the victim.  I guess a protective order is not enough anymore. 

If you would like to speak with an attorney regarding a family violence case call The Martinez Law Firm at (713) 242-1779.

New Misdemeanor Admonishments In Houston

A lot of new laws go into effect today.  I will discuss the more pertinent criminal law related ones in the near future, but I wanted to mention the new family violence admonishment that the court is required to give anyone before taking their plea.  They must use the following statement:

 "If you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense involving family violence where you are or were a spouse, intimate partner, parent, or guardian of the victim or are or were involved in another, similar relationship with the victim, it may be unlawful for you to possess or purchase a firearm, including a handgun or long gun, or ammunition, pursuant to federal law under 18 U.S.C. Section 922(g)(9) or Section 46.04(b), Texas Penal code. If you have any questions whether these laws make it illegal for you to possess or purchase a firearm you should consult an attorney."

The current plea admonishments used in Harris County, Texas Misdemeanor courts do mention that it is unlawful to possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition, but it was not as detailed as the new required admonishment.  Either Harris County, Texas misdemeanor judges will begin orally informing an accused or we will be seeing new written admonishments in the near future.

 

Chris Brown and His Entourage Unable to Pack Heat

Mr. Brown better keep in mind that Federal law prohibits him from possessing a firearm since he has been placed on probation for a domestic violence case.  Also, as Ron Chapman, a Florida Criminal Attorney, points out the Federal Gun Law does not allow an employee of someone convicted of domestic violence to possess a firearm during the course of their employment. Therefore his "entourage" should be on notice as well.

Routinely, attorneys fail to mention these consequences to their clients when it involves family or domestic violence.  I imagine it mainly happens when a lawyer that does not practice criminal law decides to "dabble" with these type of cases without knowing the far reaching consequences. 

Is My Criminal History Wiped Clean After Seven Years?

I have had three calls this week from people with the impression that somehow their criminal record gets erased after seven years.  What is worse than the fact that this is inaccurate is that they say they were told this by the attorneys they hired , who stated this is the law . Let me be clear when I say that a conviction will not be erased from your criminal history regardless of the length of time elapsed since it happened.  A case is permanently part of your ciminal history unless one of the following occurs: dismissal, pretrial diversion, deferred adjudication (in limited circumstances), or a special expense fee is paid.  Therefore, simply paying a fine, receiving probation, or any jail sentence will result in a final conviction that will not be erased off your record after a length of time.

Anyone charged with a crime should hire a lawyer that deals exclusively with criminal law so that they do not receive such misinformed advice. 

Should There Be A Mothers Againt Deadly Doctors?

As a Houston DWI lawyer at The Martinez Law Firm I track the pertinent issues regarding driving and alcohol.  There is always a lot of talk about how alcohol related accidents by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers,(MADD), but a closer look that a more significant danger is mistakes made by doctors.   When will the public wake up and start to realize that their doctor poses a greater threat to them than someone that is behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking.

 

Dismissed! Now Who Is Going Reimburse My Expenses?

"Who will reimburse my lawyer's fees when my case is dismissed?

Regularly, I have clients ask me some form of that question.  The sad truth is despite being falsely accused and eventually getting their case dismissed for the accused there really is nothing set up in our current criminal judicial system that will give someone the opportunity to seek reimbursement of the expenses associated with defending a criminal case.  Perhaps the government should be held monetarily accountable for cases that are later to be found lacking credible evidence.  If the Government is more accountable less cases will be accepted where a person finds it necessary to spend thousands of dollars to properly defend themselves.

Why is the Fort Bend County District Attorney's Office Not Hiring?

Late last year and this year there has been a steady stream of Harris County District Attorneys  leaving the office.  This should not come as a surprise after Pat Lykos, was elected as the District Attorney.  Some have taken the traditional route of becoming a Houston Criminal Attorney.  Others have decided to continue as a prosecutor in Galveston, Montgomery, or some other county in Texas.  Curiously, not one has been hired by the Fort Bend District Attorney's Office.   I wonder why  Fort Bend County, Texas is the only neighboring county not to hire the former prosecutors?

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Who Is Easier To Reach A Lawyer Or A Doctor?

My friends in the medical profession find it hard to believe that I take phone calls after business hours.  I never thought it was a big deal until they brought it up night.  I imagine that expectations from the public is different now from when I was growing up.  Gone are the days that a doctor makes a house call or even takes a phone call from a patient. 

On the other hand, when someone gets into trouble they need to speak to a lawyer asap.  Typically, when a person is arrested for DWI their family has never encountered such an event and need to speak to an attorney to explain the process.  Thus, our law firm always has a lawyer on call to answer any questions that arise from a criminal arrest.  Clients are always surprised when they reach an attorney on a weekend ready to discuss their case.

Crocs Should Never Been Worn To Court

As a Houston Criminal Attorney I am always surprised what people decide to wear to court.  I always tell our clients to dress like they would for Church.  For the past couple of years, people have been wearing Crocs to court.  Recently, I could not believe that  I saw a fellow Criminal Attorney that will remain nameless wearing Crocs to court with a suit.  Since I am not a fan of the shoe I was not surprised to find out that company is going bankrupt.

Harris County, Texas Getting A Jail Czar

The New Jail Czar is a friend of Houston Criminal AttorneysIn case you missed it the Harris County Commissioners Court decided to appoint a Jail Czar to act as a liaison between the Harris County Judges and the Harris County Jail.  Caprice Cosper, former judge of the 339th district court, will serve as the Jail Czar.  I have personally seen Judge Cosper tirelessly work for the fair treatment of anyone charged with a criminal offense in Harris County.  Thus, I have no doubt that she will do the same job when it comes to seeing that a person is treated appropriately while incarcerated in the Harris County Jail. 

If you need help avoiding a jail sentence please contact our Houston Criminal Attorney law firm at (713) 242-1779 or just click here to visit our website.

'Till Death Do Us Part

First Steve McNair at age 36 and then Arturo Gatti at age 37. Both allegedly killed by women in their early 20s. Two retired sports figures who both had the reputation of being absolute warriors. McNair an MVP who played hurt and almost carried the Tennessee Titans to a Super Bowl victory. Gatti a former junior welterweight champion who fought in some of the best fights of his generation.

Tragic. Both still very young.  Both left behind children. In my practice as a Houston Criminal Lawyer I often defend those accused of Family Violence, sometimes called Domestic Violence. The overwhelming majority of these cases involve accusations of a man committing violence against a women. Although women are charged with Assault Family Violence, it is rare.

When police are called out to the scene of a "domestic disturbance" and a women is accusing a man of assault, that man better be ready to go to jail. I am confident that the intentions of  police in these situations and the prosecutors they speak with are to protect and ensure that justice is served. However, mistakes are made. Fortunately in the United States, everyone is presumed to be innocent. It my job as a Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer to convince a prosecutor or jury of this innocence.

Gatti and McNair are examples that women can and do commit family violence.

A Houston Pretrial Diversion Is Not Exclusive To DWI Cases

A lot of discussion has occurred amond Houston DWI lawyers the last of couple of weeks concerning the DWI Pretrial Diversion Program around the Harris County Courthouse.  Luckily, this has also opened the door for other types of cases to be more easily considered for pretrial diversion.  I have personally encountered prosecutors being receptive to a pretrial diversion for theft, possession of marijuana, and possession of cocaine cases.  In the past, a request for a pretrial diversion was akin to asking for a prosecutor's first born in Harris County, Texas.   For the sake of anyone accused of a crime I hope this trend continues.  Most criminal lawyers know that a theft or shoplifting case is one of the very few misdemeanor crimes that are considered to be "crimes of moral turpitude."  Thus, it is imperative that you hire a Houston theft Lawyer.

 

If you have any questions regarding your shoplifting case do not hesitate to contact me at (713) 242-1779 or visit the firm's website at: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

 

 

 

DWI Pretrial Diversion Plan Not Ready Yet

This past Monday was one of the most chaotic days for Harris County Misdemeanor Prosecutors because every criminal attorney in Houston, like myself, wanted to know the facts surrounding Pretrial Diversions for first time DWI offenders in Harris County, Texas.  Unbelievably, the prosecutors had as much information as I did.  They did not know the guidelines, when it was going to be implemented, or who would qualify.  One thing is for sure, Kate Dolan, the chief of the misdemeanor section, is going to be a busy lady.

If you have any questions regarding a DWI in Texas please contact a Houston DWI Lawyer at (713) 242-1779 visit our firm's website at: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

A Toll Free Phone Number for Houston Criminal Attorney

Despite being a Houston Criminal Attorney a lot of our clients are from outside the Houston calling area.  We have clients that live throughout Texas and throughout the United States.  In order to better served our clients we provide a toll free phone number for them.  The phone number is (800) 724-1876 in the event you need to contact our firm, The Martinez Law Firm, for any questions regarding a DWI, Assault, Theft/Shoplifting, or Possession of Marijuana/Cocaine. 

Your Assault Of A Family Member Is Not Eligible For A Motion For Non Disclosure

As a Houston Assault Lawyer at The Martinez Law Firm I have have received a few calls this week from people seeking a motion for non disclosure after completing a deferred adjudication for an assault of a family member.  Since they received incorrect information from the initial assault attorney I feel the need to post a blog to provide clarity on this issue.  Despite what your criminal defense lawyer may have told you a deferred adjudication for assaulting a family member is INELIGIBLE for a motion for non disclosure.  That is even true if probation officer told you the same thing.  Your only hope is that law changes on this changes on this issue in the future.  I am not optimistic since the current law states that a second charge for assaulting a family member is a felony even if you successfully completed your deferred adjudication.

 

 

DWI Law News

As a Houston DWI Lawyer/ Houston DWI Attorney it is my job to stay on top of developments in the DWI field.  The Texas legislature is implementing a new law that could alter how DWI arrests are treated.  The new law would allow the police to draw from a person involved in an accident, or driving a vehicle with a child, without a magistrate's approval. The police may start using a flashlight/gadget that indicates the presence of alcohol.  Both of these items are ripe for constitutional challenges once they are used by the police.

Visit our firm website if you would like to speak with an attorney about your case. 

Houston Criminal Attorney...Less Running Means Less Blogging

I have mentioned about all the Houston Criminal Attorneys that run.  Personally, I have slowed down on my blogging since we have been in trial and not running as much.  Since the weather is heating up and I thoroughly enjoy running during the warmer months I am confident that my blogging will increase.  During the past year I have noticed that I get a lot of blogging ideas while running so I anticipate that my blogging will increase as I run more.

Houston Criminal Attorneys Ready To Wear Their Seersucker Suits

As Memorial Day approaches I know a lot of Houston Criminal Lawyers; be it prosecutors or defense attorneys that are looking forward to wearing their seersucker suits this summer. Typically, the seersucker suit is worn from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but may be worn throughout the year in our hot climate.  This type of suit is perfect for our oppressive heat since it is made in cotton instead of wool, like traditional suits.  A seersucker epitomizes the Southern Attorney. Remember Gregory Peck in the film "To Kill a Mockingbird?"   

Seersucker-the Southern SuitIf you have not worn a seersucker suit before you should give it a try.  Wear it on a Friday when most of the men wear them so you feel most comfortable and will not stand out as much.  You will even find a sprinkle of woman wearing theirs as well on a Friday.  To accessorize remember to wear buck shoes, preferably white.  The bowtie or hat is optional.  I bet you will forget you are wearing a suit because it is so light, comfortable and easy to wear.

The Martinez Law Firm 

Judges Even Checking Your Driving Habits

As a DWI Lawyer it is my job to monitor what the courts are doing with defendants in their courts.  For example, what ever happened to being presumed innocent?  Just this week I overheard a judge reprimanding a person on bond for DWI that his driving habits were not "normal" according to his interlock log.  I almost fell out of my chair that the court  would be monitoring a person's driving habits so closely when they are only accused of a crime.  The judge went as far as threatening to add the scram device as an added condition to the poor guy's bond. 

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

A Criminal Case May Keep You From Entering A Foreign Country

Since we have been criminal defense attorneys in Houston for over twelve years we have represented clients in just about every profession.  Routinely, we inform people that are in the airline industry that a pending criminal charge may prevent them from entering certain countries.  If you have a trip planned to a foreign country please check if you will be allowed entry with a pending criminal charge.

Also, a lot of courts in Houston will restrict your travel outside of  Harris County while on bond even for a simple DWI charge.  If you need any help with your criminal case please contact The Martinez Law Firm at (713) 242-1779.

Pre-trial Diversions In Houston Seen In A Different Light

During Pat Lykos' campaign and when she took office she mentioned that the Harris County District Attorney's Office will be more receptive to granting pre-trial diversions.  I was extremely encouraged by this commitment by the new District Attorney.   A pre-trial diversion is a dismissal in waiting.  In other words, the State agrees to enter into a contract with a defendant agreeing to dismiss their case if specific contractual obligations are fulfilled by the defendant.  Typically, it is similar to community supervision, but there is no plea before a judge.  Once the defendant finishes the agreed upon terms the case is dismissed.  Thus, the defendant becomes eligible for an expungement after the statute of limitations has run its course.

As a criminal defense attorney in Houston most of my clients would jump at the chance to obtain a pre-trial diversion.  Nevertheless, in the past the District's Attorney's Office has been extremely rigid when entering into these contracts.  In fact, I would say that less than one percent of cases filed are given a pre-trial diversion.  Recently, I have witnessed that prosecutors are becoming more receptive to my requests for pre-trial diversion.  In fact, I just had one granted this week.  Hopefully, the trend continues. 

Google Local Results

As a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney I always enjoy seeing our website and blog appearing on the first page of the Google organic results page.  Lately, I have been exploring how Google determines what businesses appear in their local results.  Google clearly states that they do not have a formula to be included in these results.  While this may be true now I am confident in the near future someone will devise a plan how to be included in these results.  Otherwise, I see Google starting to charge a business to be included in this section similar to their pay per click marketing.

Since we are in the heart of the Galleria in Houston, Texas we are able to serve clients in Houston, Missouri City, and Sugarland, Texas.  If you are seeking the advice of a criminal attorney please click here to visit our website or call our law firm for a free consultation regarding your criminal case (713) 242-1779.

No Parole For State Jail Felony Crimes In Texas

As a Houston Criminal Lawyer I have family members regularly contacting me wanting to know when their loved one will be released from the Texas State Jail.  Please remember that when someone is sentenced under the State Jail Felony provision of the Texas criminal code they are not eligible to be released early as a parole.  The range of punishment for a State Jail Felony is from 180 days to two years in the state jail and an optional fine up to $10,000.

If you need help with your criminal case please call our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website.

Selective Probation in Harris County, Texas

As a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney I must admit that I was shocked when I heard a rumor regarding the Harris County District Attorney's Office implementing a new policy whereby prosecutors would not offer probation to an accused unless the accused swore to be residing legally in the United States.  One of my close friends, that is a prosecutor himself, confirmed not only that this is fact, but there will be a document that a defendant will need to swear to before a plea agreement is finalized. 

This new policy wrong on several levels.  It seems to be politically motivated.  Pat Lykos, the District Attorney of Harris County, was elected to uphold the law of the state of Texas.  The policy may seduce the most steadfast of conservative Republicans in Houston and beyond, but it is misplaced and a subtle form of racism.  It is very easy for people to say "He is an illegal get him out of our country."   However, the law states that anyone that is in this country is presumed to be here legally.  Also, every person in this country  has a 5th amendment privilege regardless of their status.   On one hand, by requiring anyone that is undocumented to swear that they are here legally before receiving probation the District Attorney's Office is encouraging them to commit perjury.  On the other hand, if the defendant tells the truth the consequences are twofold.   They will not get the probation and they have given the Government evidence to prove that they are committing a Federal Offense.  What competent criminal defense attorney would advise their client to do anything other than to remain silent?  Thus, the District Attorney's office is punishing a defendant for exercising their right to remain silent and that is a clear constitutional violation. 

Below is a copy of the 5th Amendment.  Perhaps, the Lykos administration should give it a read if they have done so in a while. 

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

With this new policy the Harris County District Attorney's Office is disregarding Texas law.  For example, the law in Texas clearly states that low level felony drug possession for first time offenders is a mandatory probation.  The law does not differentiate between those that are here legally and those that are undocumented.  The Lykos administration is essentially stating that they will not follow Texas law.  Correct me if I am wrong, but the last time I checked our District Attorney was elected to follow the laws of Texas.

More practically speaking, what defense attorney that has a client on bond that is undocumented will enter into any type of plea bargaining when they know that a prosecutor's hands are tied when it comes to getting probation for their client.  A competent criminal defense attorney knows that a jury is not precluded from granting an undocumented person probation.  Additionally, any potential juror that can not consider granting probation for someone that is undocumented should be exposed during voir dire and kept from serving on the jury.

My hope is that Harris District Attorney's Office reconsiders this policy and decides that despite being a hit politically legally it is without merit.

 

Sexual Registration Can Not be Negotiated

I have heard two different Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys this week trying to negotiate with the prosecutor that deals with crimes against children in Harris County, Texas, Texas for a waiver of the sexual registration requirement in an aggravated sexual assault case in Houston.  This would be something that every attorney that practices sexual assault in Houston would request except that the prosecutor is not allowed to do such a thing unless they reduce the charges to something that does not require registration.  I noticed the prosecutor completely disrespect the attorney after such a uninformed comment.  Frankly, any attorney that makes such a dim witted comment subjects themselves to criticism.  I feel for the client that is likely being given bad advice concerning sexual assault registration.

If you would like a free consultation regarding your sexual assault case contact us at (713) 242-1779 or click here to visit our website.

You Mean I Can Not Even Look Drunk?

As a DWI Attorney in Houston I always thought Utah was a conservative state and these latest proposals do not change my opinion.  A bill in Utah is going to great lengths to eliminate alcohol consumption outside of the home.   The bill requires all restaurant bartenders to make the drinks behind a ten foot wall.  Also, Utah intends to criminalize anyone that looks drunk.  Talk about a slippery slope, today, it is hiding the bartenders next it is banning all alcoholic beverages in a restaurant. 

Here is hoping that Texas does not follow this line of thinking.  I would really miss a drink with my meal.  If you find yourself needing a lawyer for an alcohol related crime please contact The Martinez Law Firm at (713) 242-1779.

Represent Yourself in Traffic Court Not With Your DWI Defense

For some reason, a lot of people think they could represent themselves in a DWI case.  They quickly change their mind once they have been arrested or go to court for the first time.  A person arrested in Harris County for DWI/DUI will not be offered probation if they are representing themselves.  Also, they do not know how to save their driver's license.  In other instances, they come up with a dimwitted defense that create more problems that they solve. 

Our firm has represented fellow lawyers that have been arrested for DWI, but not practice criminal defense because they understand the seriousness of the offense and all the pitfalls that are associated with this crime.  Thus, if you need help regarding your DWI visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com or call us at (800) 724-1876.

 

Houston DWI Causes Wedding Night Blues.

Many of our clients are first time offenders and have typically never been in trouble with law enforcement prior to contacting us for help.  When they arrive at our office the first thing they they normally tell us is how badly they were treated by the police.  They also can not understand why the officer did not take into account their otherwise pristine criminal record.  I often tell them about the different cases that we have defended where we have been amazed at the fact that an arrest had in fact taken place.

A perfect example of the police not making an exception for anyone is the recent  DWI arrest of a groom on his wedding day.  His case landed in Harris County Criminal Court Law #7 where Pam Derbyshire presides. 

Luckily, every person that is charged with a DWI is presumed to be innocent and there are an infinite amount of ways a case may be defended.  Thus, do not be disheartened about your arrest.  All is not lost.  We can help you. Please call our law firm (713) 242-1779 for a free consulatation or visit our website at http://www.attorneydwi.net.

 

Sugarland and Missouri City Criminal Defense Attorney Experiencing a Spike in Business.

I have been going to Sugarland, Fort Bend County, regularly so I took the time to speak with a colleague who also practices there and he told me that he has experienced a significant rise in his business.  It seems like violent crimes such as aggravated assault, and aggravated robbery have increased throughout Fort Bend County. Typically, when serious crimes like these increase other less serious crimes like Assault, DWI, and Theft also increase.

You will need an experienced defense attorney to fight your criminal case.   Please call our office  at  (800) 724-1876 for a free consultation or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Houston's Crime Lab is not Alone

Despite being a criminal defense attorney in Houston this news does not make me feel any better, but the Detroit Crime lab is experiencing similar issues that Houston's crime lab faced.  Hopefully, Detroit will look to Houston for guidance in trying to clean up a crime lab.

 I wonder what it will take before the general public will view this type of evidence more closely before potentially convicting an innocent person.

The Martinez Law Firm 

 

From Loan to Lease to Theft In Houston.

It is always best to read over any document that you sign more then once to completely understand it or at the least least take someone with you that can help you catch something that you may have missed otherwise.  There will always be deceitful companies that try to take advantage of people when they are down and vulnerable.  I experienced this type of underhanded behavior when I was prosecutor.  I had to routinely refuse charges when rental agencies brought charges against the people that had leased furniture from them despite the payments made exceeding full market value, but for one reason or the other could not make their monthly payments any longer.  Similarly, an unscrupulous loan company has a clause in their no interest contracts stating that if all payments are not made the loan turns into a lease at any time.  These people lose all the money that they have paid and could potentially be charged with theft if they keep the property without making the revised payments since the loan/lease company has a greater right of ownership.  While this behavior is deplorable I can see it happening.  Luckily, anyone charged with a crime is PRESUMED to be INNOCENT. 

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Life in Prison for a DWI in Texas?

Recently, one of my Fort Bend County clients that is a first time DWI offender could not believe that this is possible or that anyone could put themselves in the position to go to prison for life.  Since DWI is an escalating crime it can happen.  The most common way occurs is when a person has had two prior DWI convictions and has gone to prison on two separate occasions for any crime.   Another way is if the person has two prior DWI convictions and on their third arrest a death occurred.  In this instance, the person is charged with Felony Murder.  The allegation is that while committing the felony of a Third DWI the person caused the death of a person. 

As you can see, DWI convictions have significant long term consequences whether it occurs in Fort Bend, Galveston, or Harris County, Texas.  Thus, I inform all my clients that it is imperative to be ready to properly defend their DWI case from the outset.  If you have any question regarding your DWI arrest please call our office at (800) 724-1876 or visit website http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Is DWI a crime of Moral Turpitude In Pasadena, Texas?

Since I have posted that theft/shoplifting is a crime of moral turpitude I have had people ask me if a DWI/DUI is a one as well.  The short answer is that a DWI is not a crime of moral turpitude in the state of Texas.  However, a felony DWI is a crime turpitude.  Typically, a third DWI is filed as a felony.  Recently, the legislature made it a felony to drive while intoxicated with a child passenger even if it is the person's first arrest.  There are other DWI related charges that are felonies such as intoxication assault, and manslaughter when it does not matter how many times a person has been previously arrested for DWI.

In the future I will post a list of most crimes that are considered crimes of moral turpitude.

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com

St. Patrick's Day

An Irishman who recently moved to the United States quickly found the local pub and ordered three Irish Whiskeys in three shot glasses and drank them. He came back everyday after work for a week after which time the bartender suggested he use one shot glass and poor the second and third shots as he finished. The Irishman explained that he needed three glass because he drank in solidarity with his two brothers back home in Ireland. The two glasses were for his brothers and one for him.

The Irishman continued coming in after work . One day a week later he asked for two shots, rather than the normal three shots of whiskey. "I'm sorry did something happen to one of your brothers?" the bartender asked. The Irishman replied, "Oh no, I'm drinking the two shots for my brothers, I gave up alcohol for Lent."

Fr. Jay Walsh at St. Anne gets credit for that joke. He said it during Mass yesterday while giving his homily at St. Anne Catholic Church. In his sermon he spoke of Bill Wilson who founded Alcoholics Anonymous.

I found the topic of special interest, because as Houston DWI Attorney, I am faced with this issue on an almost daily basis. We have represented people with as many as 9 DWIs on their record, who obviously have an addiction. But, more often than not, we represent the individual who had a couple of drinks socially with friends or colleagues after work and is stopped for a traffic violation on their  way home. They are then arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. A night of fun turns sour with an arrest and an unpleasant night in jail. Next comes a court date and they face a number of possible consequences. Here's hoping that as many people as possible enjoy St. Patrick's in a responsible fashion and avoid this problem.

Family Violence Rises During A Recession.

As a Houston criminal lawyer that handles assault cases I aware how it impacts the entire a family  that is involved.   I am troubled by stress that the economic slowdown has caused on so many families.  Since the economic downturn began more than four fifths of the workers laid off have been men.  Historically, men have resorted back to their alpha male ways when they feel depressed.   Men have created their own domains throughout the years by resorting to bars, gyms, and even today the media room is typically the male territory.  Most disturbing is that the unemployed man follows alcoholics and drug addicts as the demographic group most likely to commit family violence. 

If you find yourself accused of an assault case please contact our law firm (713) 242-1779 for a free consultation.  We assist defend people in Harris County, and it the surrounding counties like Montgomery and Fort Bend County.

http://www.martinezlawhouston.com

Brazil's Former President Calls the US War on Drugs a Failure.

A short, but insightful interview with Fernando Henrique Cardoso, President of Brazil from 1995-2003, details what most criminal defense attorneys already know and advocate for everyday.  The drug problem is a health problem.  Thus, we need to seek treatments for these individuals in order to reduce the demand of the drug trade.  Cardoso is also forwarding a report to the United Nations to serve as a catalyst for countries to decriminalize marijuana since it accounts for 90 percent of the drugs that are consumed.

If you need assistance with your drug case in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

How Serious Is My Theft Case In Harris County, Texas?

If you need the assistance of a lawyer please contact me at (713) 242-1779.

A theft/shoplifting case like a criminal mischief case is determined by the amount that is alleged to have been stolen.  If the dollar amount is less than $50 then it is a class "c" misdemeanor.  A person can not go to jail for these type of cases.  In fact, the punishment is only a fine.  Once it is over $50  it becomes a class 'B" misdemeanor.  A person can go to jail for up to 180 days and/or receive a fine up to $2,000 for this level of offense.  If the amount alleged is over $500 but less than $1,500 it becomes a class "A" misdemeanor and the punishment increases up to one year in the county jail or a fine up to $4,000.  A theft/shoplifting becomes a felony one of two ways.  It could become a felony if the person has been convicted twice before of theft.  Please keep in mind that a deferred adjudication is not a conviction.  Next, it could become a felony if the amount is over $1,500.  If the amount is over $1,500 but under $20,000 it is a state jail felony.  The range of punishment for this offense is not less then 180 days and no more then 2 years and a fine up to $10,000.  If the amount is over $20,000 but under $100,000 it becomes a third degree felony where the range of punishment if from 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections and a fine up to $10,000.  If the amount is over $100,000, but under $200,000 you are facing a second degree felony where the range of punishment if from 2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Corrections and a fine up to $10,000.  Finally, when the amount is over $200,000 a person is facing a first degree felony where the punishment is from 5 years to 99 years or life in the Texas Department of Corrections and a fine up to $10,000.

As you can see a theft case is very serious.  As I have mentioned before even a minor theft case is a crime of moral turpitude. 

Visit our website for more information: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Why is M.A.D.D. targeting the first time DWI offender?

I have discussed before how Harris County Judges treat those accused with their first DWI. There are a lot of judges that will go beyond what the law requires when someone finds themselves in court for their first DWI like requiring a person to install the ignition interlock device when they are involved in an accident .  Now MADD is pushing legislators to require anyone convicted of a DWI in Texas to get the ignition interlock device. This proposal is going too far.  Our DWI laws already provide a substantial hardship for someone convicted of a DWI. MADD likes to point out recent deaths that involved repeat offenders driving a vehicle.  In my opinion, relying on these instances is misplaced.  Why punish the first time offender when there are programs in place to make sure this does not happen again such as the Victim Impact Panel that is usually led by a MADD representative, the DWI School, and the drug/alcohol evaluation that a person undergoes when they are placed on probation.  Also, MADD overlooks that anyone that has an alcohol rate above rate over .15 when driving is required to place the device in their vehicle.  Texas law adequately deals with repeat offenders by requiring a hard suspension (no occupational license) for those convicted of a subsequent DWI within five years. Additionally, DPS license suspensions increase for repeat offenders,  MADD should focus their attention on someone other then the first time offender who usually has not been arrested before and is unlikely to re offend because of the traumatic experience of being arrested.  I am sure the "Benjamins" have something to do with this new crusade.

If you need assistance with your first DWI case in  the Houston, Texas area please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or click here to visit our website.

A theft case is considered a crime of moral turpitude

As a Houston Theft Lawyer one of he first things that I tell someone that has been arrested for theft or shoplifting is that  these charges are considered to be crimes of moral turpitude.  Moral turpitude is a legal term of art with no generally accepted definition. In general, "crimes of moral turpitude" cover conduct involving dishonesty, These type of crimes can cause serious immigration consequences, impact professional licenses, or prevent employment.  Thus, it is of utmost importance not to be convicted of a theft or shoplifting case.  Almost daily I get a phone call from someone that decided to take the easier route of just paying fine instead of attempting to successfully complete a deferred adjudication.  While this may have seemed to have been a good idea when someone was a teenager they ultimately regret the decision a few years down the road when they attempt to start a career only to find out that everyone is now labeling them a thief.

If you need assistance with your theft case contact The Martinez Law Firm at (713) 242-1779 or (800) 724-1876 for a free consultation.

Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys Discussing Cases Outside.

Since I have not worked much in Judge Herb Ritchie (337Th District Court) or David Mendoza (178Th District Court) I have not written much about their courts.  The one thing that both of them have done is taken the lawyers out of their courtrooms except for pleas.  I have not asked them why they have done this, but I suspect it is due to the graphic facts that we sometimes have to discuss in court.  For those of us that have been doing criminal defense in Houston work for a long time we find it easy discussing these facts, and the discussions while professional can be graphic and offensive to the casual observer seated in the audience.  For now, cases will be discussed in the jury room in Judge Richie's court and in the vestibule in Judge Mendoza's court.

If you need assistance with a criminal case in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.  You will find our fees to be affordable.

 

Motion for Non Disclosure in Texas

Since this is a daily question in my practice as criminal defense attorney in Houston I wanted to give more details about  Motion for Non Disclosures.

In Texas, employers, and most landlords investigate your criminal record. Despite a deferred adjudication not being a conviction landlords and employers generally treat it the same  as a conviction. That means that people are often unable to rent apartments or get jobs because of the deferred adjudication on their criminal records.

When I started practicing law a deferred adjudication remained on a person's criminal record forever.  Luckily, in 2003 the Texas state legislature changed the law concerning deferred adjudication records.

Today, a person who has successfully completed a deferred adjudication probation for a class B misdemeanor, a class A misdemeanor, or a felony, may (depending on the offense committed) be able to ask the judge of the court of original jurisdiction that put him on deferred to sign an "order of nondisclosure" barring governmental agencies from disclosing the existence of the charge or the deferred adjudication sentence.

For most misdemeanors, the defendant can petition for the order of nondisclosure immediately after the deferred adjudication is successfully completed and the case is dismissed. For others, a defendant must wait five years after the deferred adjudication is completed and the case is dismissed to file for an order of nondisclosure.  For felonies, the wait is five years after the deferred adjudication is completed and the case is dismissed. Some offenses cannot be sealed with an order of nondisclosure.

Most importantly, a person may deny the occurrence of the arrest and prosecution unless the information is being used against him in a subsequent criminal proceeding.

If you received deferred adjudication, but did not successfully complete it, you will not be eligible for a motion for non disclosure. If you receive "straight probation", you are convicted of the crime with which you are charged, and become ineligible for a motion for non disclosure.

If you need assistance with clearing your record in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

 

A website that may help you with your criminal charges.

I enjoy gathering as much information as I can before making a decision.  For example, if I am going to buy a new television for my home I check cnet, Amazon, and read every review about the TV to narrow my choice.  Since I use these type of websites frequently before making a decision I feel obligated to contribute to Avvo, a free legal website, that provides legal assistance on various legal topics to the public.    Avvo allows a person to post a question while lawyers take the time to respond.  Additionally, it has created a system that rates every attorney across the country for people to review.

A word of caution...I find it troublesome that Avvo does not restrict lawyers to the jurisdictions that they are either licensed in or their respective area of practice before giving an opinion.  I would be very wary of a Washington lawyer commenting about legal issues in Texas.

MLB illustrates the pitfalls of talking to the Government.

I have discussed steroid use in baseball a lot with my friends.  It has been an issue with us for most of this decade if not earlier.  Today, the current saga involving Alex Rodriguez,, Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire should be a lesson to those that are considering  talking to the Government without consulting with an attorney beforehand.  If you notice the ones that did not to speak to Congress or asserted their 5th Amendment privilege like Mark McGwire are not facing criminal charges.  Similarly, Alex Rodriguez told Katie Couric he never used steroid.  Of course, today we know the truth about Rodriguez, but he is not facing criminal charges.  On the other hand, Miguel Tejada has been convicted of misleading Congress.  Ironically, Tejada was not convicted for lying about his own steroid use, but for not disclosing a teammate's use. The same prosecutors that got Tejada are pursuing perjury charges against Roger Clemens.   In the case of Barry Bonds one of the numerous charges against him is that he told a grand jury that he had not been injected by anyone other then his doctors not that he has never used steroids.

What has happened to these famous, wealthy, and iconic players should serve as an example to anyone that is considering talking to the Government.  Despite all their fame and millions of dollars they did not escape the tentacles of the Government .  Thus, consult a criminal defense attorney before you make the same mistake.

The Martinez Law Firm

Houston, Harris County Courty Early Terminates Your Probation .

I have had several appearances this year in the 177Th District Court where Judge Kevin Fine is now the presiding judge.  I have noticed a refreshing change from the bench.  Judge Fine is really encouraging everyone who is fighting a drug problem to seek treatment for their addiction.  Most importantly, he has told me that he is an avid fan of early termination for people that elect community supervision.  Of course, the person must be doing well and have reached the required time to be eligible for early termination.  This benefits someone tremendously because the clock starts ticking to qualify for a motion for non disclosure if they received deferred adjudication.  Hopefully, this will be an ongoing trend in Harris County, Texas since I have found it onerous to get someone early terminated in the past.

I hope that Judge Fine continues his innovative thinking and maverick personality during his judicial tenture.

The Maritnez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

It is just a DWI....Why did the criminal judge do that?

Charged with DWI consequenceWhen a client comes into my office I stress to them that they are presumed to be innocent.  I emphasize this because we are lucky enough to live in a country where that is the law.  Thus, I find it difficult to explain to my clients why a judge would order them to get an ignition interlock device for the vehicle if this is the case.   Frankly, I agree with them.  I understand if they have a previous conviction for DWI because the judge is required to order them to get the device.  Thus, we prepare them for this when they have multiple offense for DWI, have a high breath test, under the age of 21, or they were involved in an accident, but outside of these reasons they should not be required to bear the expense of this device.  Hopefully, the judges will start reevaluating this procedure during these stressful times.

If you need assistance with your DWI case please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website athttp://www.attorneydwi.net.

Google assists in marijuana bust.

There are many ways that the Internet helps our lives.  Despite all the benefits that the Internet provides there is constant worry that the Internet is going to intrude into our private lives.  Perhaps, the day of working cameras at every corner like in the film Enemy of the State will be here before we know it.  Evidence of the "Internet Police" was shown recently when google earth assisted a Swiss police agency to find a field of marijuana.  Be careful Robert ... Brill is still watching you!

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

I Hate a Prosecutor's View of Cocaine.

I was having a conversation with a prosecutor that I have known for over ten years recently about why the Harris County District Attorney's Office refuses to use 12.44(b) punishment for state jail felony drug cases.    This type of punishment gives a prosecutor the discretion to reduce the charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.  His reply was "how does that help me?"  I tried to impress upon him that his job was to make sure that justice is done.  I tried to let him know that the general consensus among the citizens of Texas is that low level drug users should not be sent to prison.  He refused to be swayed.  He just kept stating how does this help me  Ironically, he said he would start treating those cases like misdemeanors when the Texas legislature changes the law.  He fails to take into account two things.  First, the Texas legislature has stated that the prosecutor may reduce a state jail felony to a misdemeanor.  The Harris County District Attorney's Office does not acknowledge this law.  Second and most importantly, the comments section of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct states: "A prosecutor has the responsibility to see that justice is done, and not simply to be an advocate." (Rule 3.09 Special Responsibilities of a Prosecutor).

If you need help with your drug case in Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Cypresswood substation not making DWI videos.

I found it unbelievable last week during trial the that the Cypresswood substation located in Harris County, Texas does not have a working  videotaping device for DWI cases.  According to Constable Norris, a Corporal with the Harris County Constable Precinct 4's Office, it is common knowledge that this is occurring, but it is not up to the constable's office to get the device in working order.  He is of the opinion that it is up to the Harris County District Attorney's Office to maintain the videotape machine in working order.  That statement completely floored both prosecutors trying the case and is completely wrong.  Most appalling, is that after speaking to other attorneys in the courthouse this is not the first time that this Constable has testified that a videotape was not made in a DWI case.  Constable Norris understands the importance of a recording of someone ac cussed of DWI, but cavalierly dismissed the idea during trial.  A DWI video not only allows a jury to see the accused for themselves, but allows a lawyer to review a police officer's actions during the tests.  It is quite common that an officer does not explain the test correctly, or follow the specific guidelines developed.  If an officer does this incorrectly the tests results are deemed invalid.

Since Kate Dolan, the Misdemeanor Division Chief, was in court during his testimony I am confident that she will look into this issue.  The citizens of Harris County deserve much better!

If you need assistance with your DWI case please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.attorneydwi.net.

Do Not Stop Reporting To Your Probation Officer.

The number one reason for a probation violation to be filled is that the probationer does not attend their scheduled visit.  There are several reasons why this may occur,  Commonly, they do not have the money to pay for their probation and secondly they think they might test positive for drugs if they are drug tested.  Most judges have a working knowledge of all their probationers via their probation officers and want them to succeed.  Thus, they find it insulting when a person  knowingly fails to meet with their probation officer.  A judge usually understands the financial hardship one may be going through.  In fact, a judge can not violate a person's probation solely for not paying the money that is owed.   Additionally, most judges understand that someone may have a drug problem if they test positive more then once but they will be less likely to offer anyone assistance if they fail to show up for a scheduled visit.  In summary, failing to attend a scheduled visit may be more harmful than you may realize.

If you would like to speak to one of our attorneys regarding your particular situation please call our law firm at (713) 242-1779.  Also, you can visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

The time has come for the Harris County District Attorney's Office to start using 12.44(b) punishment.

This session the Texas legislature is considering reducing the punishment of possession of less then a gram of a penalty group 3 drug like cocaine from a state jail felony to a misdemeanor.  In fact, Judge McSpadden, presiding judge of the 209th District Court of Harris County, has been promoting this change in the past and now has the support of his colleagues.  Unfortunately, the Harris County District Attorney's Office does not agree.  Our elected District Attorney has a bigger picture in mind.  That sounds very comforting, but most people want instant results.   If she is concerned about jail overcrowding how about using the tool that the Texas legislature has already given them in the form of "12.44" punishment more readily. 

Sec. 12.44.  REDUCTION OF STATE JAIL FELONY PUNISHMENT TO MISDEMEANOR PUNISHMENT.  (a)  A court may punish a defendant who is convicted of a state jail felony by imposing the confinement permissible as punishment for a Class A misdemeanor if, after considering the gravity and circumstances of the felony committed and the history, character, and rehabilitative needs of the defendant, the court finds that such punishment would best serve the ends of justice.

(b)  At the request of the prosecuting attorney, the court may authorize the prosecuting attorney to prosecute a state jail felony as a Class A misdemeanor.

It is a shame that prosecutors in Harris County, Texas dismiss more cases than offering a "12.44(b)."  Surprisingly, new felony prosecutors feel like there is an office policy against this type of punishment.  I have never know this to be the case, but most prosecutors are extremely reluctant to extend the offer and are surprised when I request one.  I have never known a real reason for this other then "we do not do that in Harris County."  The jail overcrowding issue could be addressed by implementing a new attitude towards 12.44(b) punishment and accepting charges for low level marijuana charges when a police officer decides to give someone a citation to appear for court instead of arresting them.

If your need assistance with your drug charges in Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

 

 

A surreal moment in the 338th District Court.

I walked into the 338th District Court today for the first time since Judge Hazel Jones took the bench.  It felt like I was at my sister's wedding since I have known her for so long.  Judge Jones and I started at the Harris County District Attorney's Office as prosecutors over twelve years ago.  I am very proud of Hazel's accomplishments and glad the we have maintained a friendship throughout the years.    I am confident she will be a terrific judge.  She has the experience of being a former County and Federal prosecutor as well as a defense attorney.  In fact, I was able to see and hear her listen to both the defense attorney and the prosecutor that were arguing before her this morning.

Also while in the same court, I ran into a criminal defense attorney that  I tried a case against, when I was a prosecutor in the 338th.  I remember making this attorney so mad and frustrated during our trial that he was held in contempt by Judge Mary Bacon on his birthday.  Luckily, he is a good sport and we have a laugh about it now. 

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Your driver's license is suspended for any drug conviction.

There are several different ways a misdemeanor and felony judge takes a plea.  As you might expect, a felony judge discusses a lot more information then a misdemeanor judge does during a plea.  Nevertheless, one admonishment that is frequently disregarded orally by a felony judge in Harris County, Texas is that a drug possession will cause a person's driver's license to be suspended for six months if there are over 21 years of age and one year if they are under 21 years of age.  I realize that most felony admonishment forms cover this possibility as do misdemeanor admonishments, but for some reason it really makes an impression when a judge tells someone that from the bench.

The reason someone should keep this in mind is that if they are caught driving while their license is suspended they may be arrested.

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Yo Hablo Espanol...

Si...yo soy un abagado que hablar Espanol en Houston. (713) 242-1779.

During law school I was hired by several law firms to serve as an interpreter.  Those experiences ranged from going over legal documents to complex multiple plaintiff litigation.  It emphasized the obvious  need that if the attorney could not communicate with their client they quickly found someone that could.  That seems like common sense, but I am always amazed when I hear non Spanish speaking attorneys trying to communicate with their clients without an interpreter at the Harris County Justice Center.  I even know of one attorney that carries with him one of those travel translation devices to communicate with his clients.

I realize that it is up to the client who they hire, but an attorney has a duty to make sure that their client understands everything that is being discussed.  At the very least, the criminal defense attorney should have someone with them to interpret all the legal documents to their clients.  That non Spanish speaking attorney should not ask me in court to interpret their plea papers because I flatly refuse such requests.  There are several reasons I will not interpret for a colleague.  The most important is how do I know that the lawyer has fully discussed all the legal options available to their client and the client understood  them.  My suggestion will always be to reset the case and bring an interpreter.

Luckily, all felony courts in Houston, Harris County, Texas require an interpreter before a plea agreement is accepted by the court.  Perhaps, this is something that the misdemeanor courts in Houston, Harris County, Texas should start doing as well.

The Martinez Law Firm

 

Hopefully the morale at the Harris County District Attorney's Office improves.

It seems like 2009 is not starting much better then 2008 did for the Harris County District Attorney's Office.  Last year at this time a lot of assistant DA's were unsure what the future held for them during the Rosenthal scandal.  Instead of making a fresh start and rallying the troops newly elected Pat Lykos seems to be creating more instability at the DA's office.  Unbelievably, DA Lykos made it mandatory for her assistants to attend her inauguration on a county holiday, mindful  that this is mainly a ceremonial function and photo op.  Perhaps, she wanted to display the unity by having all her assistants there for the swearing in ceremony.  Regardless, a lot of her assistants were not happy about attending.

While I was not in attendance I was disturbed to hear the she did not acknowledge all the work her assistants do on a daily basis.  More specifically, she did not thank her first assistant, Jim Leitner, for what he has done before she took office.  I want to see a stable and confident DA's office in Harris County, but it does not seem like DA Lykos is achieving it at this time.  While I have a lot of friends at the District Attorney's Office I want it to be stable because it would be for the entire community's benefit. Of course, I do not want to deal with the arrogance that was pervasive in previous years, but a confident ADA allows them to more objectively look at a case.  I want to be able to talk to any assistant and know that they are not going to be apprehensive about making a difficult decision because they are scared of what could happen.  Here is hoping that 2009 improves quickly for the entire Harris County District Attorney's Office!

The Harris County Distict Attorney's Office Welfare Fraud division needs to change its policy.

I have mentioned before that the Harris County District Attorney's Office is changing drastically next year.  Administratively, many changes have already been made.  Murray Newman has commented about the changes in his blog.  Moreover, fellow Houston Criminal Attorney, Mark Bennett, posted the new flow chart in the comments section.  Many more changes are rumored to be coming early next year.  I hope that one of the newest changes that need to be made are how the Welfare Fraud division handles their cases.  Carl Hobbs, one of the most tenured prosecutors at the DA's office, has been the head of  this division since I have been a lawyer.  While I enjoy Carl as a person I dislike how his policies have not shifted in years.  During these hard financial times the DA's office needs to re-evaluate if further crippling defendants is just.  Typically, the person charged with welfare fraud is as follows:  single mom, three to four children, limited education, and struggling financially for years.  The struggling mother is receiving welfare and finds a part time job for a while that assists her with paying the bills, but does not get her head above water.  Later, when she reports to the welfare office she fails to report that she has found a new job.  Finally, a random investigation by the welfare office discovers her omission and charges are filed.

While I do not condone what the single mother does, other options should be available to her.  For example, the welfare fraud division has a steadfast rule that they will only offer felony deferred adjudication or a misdemeanor time served offer if the poor mother pays back the funds she was over paid, within forty days.  The welfare fraud division never considers a dismissal of the charges or a misdemeanor deferred adjudication if the money is paid back sooner.  They need to see that justice would be better served if they offered some other options.  They should have a standard policy of contacting the potential defendant to inform them that they have thirty days to pay back the money before criminal charges are filed.  If charges are filed they should give them the opportunity to get a misdemeanor deferred adjudication.  The welfare fraud division needs to see that the children are the ones being hurt by having their mother receive a conviction for theft or being on deferred adjudication for a felony.  The theft conviction would eliminate a lot of job opportunities for her.  Moreover, a felony deferred adjudication is not a conviction, but that means that for a minimum of two years she would be on probation, and must wait longer before she is eligible for a motion for non disclosure.

Sheriff Dart is at it again.

You may remember Cook County, Illinois Sheriff Dart from early this year.  He was the one that was trying to protect innocent renters in the Chicago, Illinois area.  Sheriff Dart is grabbing headlines again by using a scheme to lure people that have outstanding criminal warrants.  Law enforcement notoriously have a difficult time capturing individuals that have outstanding warrants for low level crimes. Typically, an individual is not arrested for these type of warrants unless they are stopped by law enforcement for some reason.  What Sheriff Dart did and other government agencies do is lure gullible people by promising them a reward for their attendance.  In past years, individuals have been promised holiday gifts, television sets and cash rewards.  

Please take care of any warrant you may have because it will cost you much more in in the long run.  You would not believe how many felony cases are filed because the person being arrested for the traffic warrant has some type of illegal substance.  Think about the cost of that traffic warrant versus paying for an additional warrant for the new charge, hiring an attorney, and your time going to court for both charges.

Your DWI probation can not be cleared from your record

I am frequently contacted by someone wanting to clear their old DWI conviction from their record.  I dislike telling people that despite what their lawyer told them ten years ago their probation for DWI is not eligible to be cleared from their record.  I think that some people look at their criminal record like their credit report.  They are under the assumption that after a certain number of years the charges come off some way and if they contact the right attorney they can make this happen.

The only way to have your DWI cleared from your record is by previously having your case dismissed before going on probation, or going to trial and being found not guilty by a judge or a jury.  Lastly, if your DWI was so long ago that you received a deferred adjudication you may qualify for a motion for non disclosure.

Judges...what do we call them now?

Recently, I was at party with many current and former judges.  I was unsure what to call each of them.  Do I still call them judge if they are retired or left the bench?  Do I call them by their name now that they are not on the bench?  What about all the judges that recently lost their respective elections or the ones that are about to be start in January? Interestingly, I found out  that incoming Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, a former judge, requires that her staff call her judge despite her new title.  I find that curious.  For example, does congressman Ted Poe, a former Harris County judge, require his staff to call him judge?  Maybe I am missing something.

After speaking to a few people at the party I decided that if I knew the person before they became judge I will revert to calling them by their names unless I am asked to do otherwise.  Likewise, if I only know them as a sitting judge I will continue to call them judge .  I hope that works for everyone.

Your facebook account could be detrimental to your defense.

As a criminal defense attorney in Houston, I am amazed how much information I can gather on a potential witness via the Internet.  Their facebook account reveals a lot about them.  They make comments regarding all sorts of subjects.  Sometimes they even post stupid comments regarding the case that they are the alleged victim and/or witness.  Nevertheless, facebook is a double-edged sword.  My clients have been burned with what they have written in their facebook and the pictures that they have posted.  That is why I tell all my clients now to "clean up" or delete their facebook accounts before a prosecutor uses it against them at a punishment hearing or at trial.  For example, a probation officer may see that you posted that picture of you and your buddies drinking at a party that you tagged and pass it along to the judge.  This could be grounds for your probation to be revoked.

The Martinez Law Firm

What happened to being presumed innocent in a DWI case?

Many thanks to DUI attorney Lawrence Taylor for sharing that the state of Ohio still bans a defendant from challenging the accuracy of the breathalyzer machine in a criminal case.  I can not imagine something like this happening in Texas.  I think our judges are more aware of the individual's right of confrontation despite not allowing the defense bar access to the inner workings of the machine. This Ohio law has been in place for twenty five years.  Luckily, no other state has followed their lead.  I say it is time that Ohio revisits this issue.

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

The Unknown DWI Cost in Houston,Texas

As a DWI attorney in Houston I dislike having to tell my clients abut all the hidden costs of a DWI. Everyone knows about the fines and court cost that are associated with a DWI conviction.  What most people do not know about are the surcharges imposed by DPS if someone is convicted of DWI.  Also, a person's automobile insurance rates are likely to go up and their credit rating will be negatively impacted.  Even life insurance rates are harder to obtain after a DWI conviction.

 Thus, it is important to hire a lawyer that is experienced with DWI defense.  It does not matter if you are charged in Houston, Conroe, Friendswood, Sugarland, Missouri City or Richmond the consequences and cost are all the same.  If you like to talk to me about your DWI case call The Martinez Law Firm at(800) 724-1876 for a free consultation.

Meeting Judge Ruben Guerrero

I had the pleasure of meeting Ruben Guerrero who was recently elected judge of the 174th District Court of Harris County.  Judge Guerrero previously presided over the 263rd District Court of Harris County.  I was not a lawyer when he was a judge, but every attorney that I have spoken to about him holds him in high regards and are eager to see him back on the bench.

I found out that reason Judge Guerrero has not been much at the Harris County Criminal Center is because he sits as a visitng judge often.  I have been impressed how accessible he has been since he won the election.  I have seen in various courts observing the attorneys and speaking with them to get their input.  I envision a smooth transition from Judge George Godwin, who is retiring from the bench, to Judge Guerrero.

Plaxico Burress' would be facing less severe punishment in Texas.

Plaxico Burress, New York Giant wide receiver, is unlucky that his crime did not occur in Texas. While possessing a handgun at a place that sells alcohol is a felony in Texas his range of punishment would be from two to ten years in prison as opposed to the three and one half to fifteen years he is facing in the state of New York.   Moreover, the bond is outrageously high at $100,000. In Harris County, Texas his bond would have been set at $10,000.  Granted money is not an issue right now for him, but that is a difference of paying a bonding company $1,000 in Texas and paying one in New York $10,000.

The emotions of removing of a protective order

There are many ways a client gets emotional about their criminal case.  Of course, getting a dismissal of their case brings them the most joy, but lately getting a protective order has proven to be similar joyous experience. 

Removing a protective order is an emotional time.

Recently, Judge Karahan, presiding judge of the Harris County Criminal Court at Law #8, removed the no contact portion of my client's protective order.  By a stroke of his pen Judge Karahan brought some normalcy to the life of my client and his family.  I would find it particularly difficult to be apart from my wife during  this time of year and the reaction from my client and his family showed that he felt the same way.  The emotions that flowed from them displayed how a criminal charge changes the family dynamics. 

If you need any help with your criminal case in Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Judge Cosper will be missed...

The recent Democratic landslide in Harris County, Texas claimed many fine judges and I am sure it will be ushering many fine ones as well, but in my opinion Judge Caprice Cosper will be missed the most.   She is widely regarded as the fairest judge at the felony level by both sides of the bar.  Every attorney knows that she would listen to their argument before reaching her decision.   No matter what type of legal question arises she is the first looking up the answer even if she knows the answer before she starts looking.  She even goes the next step and shares with you the pertinent law or case that applies. 

She will be missed most by the defendants in her court that are truly trying to overcome their drug addictions.   Judge Cosper's wants every one of her probationers to succeed.  She understands the fighting addiction is difficult and encourages them to continue battling their demons despite the odds against them.  My hope is that newly elected Judge of the 339th District Court, Judge Maria Jackson, seeks her guidance when dealing with this issue so that she can be as influential in a defendant's life.

IS The Medical Marijuana Defense Coming To Texas?

As a criminal defense attorney I wonder if Texas is ready to become the next state to allow marijuana possession legal for medical purposes? It might be if HB 164 becomes law.  The bill would make Texas the fourteenth state to make possession of marijuana for medical purposes legal.

Frankly, I am not sure if the legislature is ready to go that far at this time.  Recently, they made it optional for a police officer to arrest someone for a misdemeanor amount of marijuana.  I have mentioned before that despite this law the Harris County District Attorney's office refuses to accept charges if the arresting officer chooses to give a person a citation to appear in court.  In fact, the previous administration lobbied against the bill.  I am curious to see if the new administration starts accepting citations for low level amounts of marijuana possession and forms an opinion regarding the medical marijuana defense.

If you find need to talk to a lawyer about your current marijuana case please call The Martinez Law Firm at (713) 242-1779 to speak us for free.

A recently elected Houston, Texas judge hopes to bring an unique perspective to the bench.

Kevin Fine recently elected Judge of the 177th District Court of Harris County, Texas hopes to provide a fresh perspective to the bench.   I doubt many sitting judges in the country have such a remarkable story as being crippled by drug addiction and coming back from that to win a county wide election.

As a judge he will be able stare into the eyes of a defendant in his court and candidly tell them that drug abuse can be beaten.  This is vital in a felony court because so many of the defendants are drug addicts and need the hope that the "system" wants them to succeed.  On the other hand, he will be able to recognize the ones that are not ready to overcome their addiction.  He hopes to put this insightfulness to work immediately, and later assist with the "drug court" of Harris County.

While I do not know Kevin Fine personally, all of my dealings with him have been professional and courteous.  He also seems to be knowledgeable about criminal law. I look forward to seeing him grow as a judge. He is going to be a judge that is going to think "outside of the judicial box."

The pitfalls of a DWI when having a commercial driver's license in Texas.

Most people know their Texas driver's license will be suspended if they blow over the legal limit of .08.  For a first time DWI offender the suspension period would be for 90 days in that instance.

However, the Texas legislature has made it stricter for someone with a commercial driver's license.  A person who holds a commercial driver's license will lose their driving privilege for a period of one year if: (a) they have been convicted, for the first time, of driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics; (b) they refuse to submit to a test to determine the level of alcohol in their body; (c) if their blood, breath or urine test determines there was an alcohol level of .04 or more while operating the commercial vehicle in a public place; or (d) if there was an alcohol level of .08 or more while operating a motor vehicle (not a commercial vehicle) in a public place.

Since there are several ways someone may lose their commercial driver's license it is in the person's best interest not to drink at all while driving their commercial vehicle.  Even if they are not driving their commercial and later found not guilty of DWI their license may still be suspended if they blew over .08.  There is just too much at stake for someone that needs their commercial license to make a living to drink and drive in any circumstance.

The Martinez Law Firm

How the financial crisis may affect your criminal bond.

It seems prices for just about everything are falling...could illegal drugs be next?  This is probably the least of your worries unless you or someone you care for is arrested with a large amount of drugs.  Typically, in Houston, Harris County, Texas the value of the drugs determines the bond amount.  In fact, the bond is set at double the street value.  Just last month gas was selling for half as much as it is today.  If cocaine prices have similarly dropped so would the bonds in a criminal drug case.  For example, if someone was arrested for a drug charge and the street value was $100.000 last month the bond amount would initially be set at $200,000, but if that street value has decreased and now is $75,000 the bond should be set at $150,000.  That is a difference of $5,000 when bonding someone out of jail. 

Recently, I was use this theory as part of my argument to get someone a bond.  The bond in that particular case was initially set at $80,000, but a magistrate judge decided to strip the person of their bond.  I was able to go to the presiding judge and have the bond reinstated and lowered to $50,000.  That saved my client's family over $3,000 when bonding him out. 

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Harris County District Attorney's Office changes have commenced.

Recently elected District Attorney, Pat Lykos, will be sworn in at the beginning of the year, but she is already putting her staff together.  Jim Leitner, currently a defense attorney and a former Harris County prosecutor will become her first assistant.  Also, Roger Bridgwater, current judge for the 178th District of Harris County, who lost his position to Democrat David Mendoza will be joining her staff as soon as he leaves the bench.  They are both scheduled to be sworn in before the end of the year.

Both Mr. Leitner and Judge Bridgwater have worked as criminal defense attorneys in Harris County, Texas and are respected by the defense bar.  Therefore, they should bring a fresh perspective to the District Attorney's office.

The Martinez Law Firm: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

What a judge tries to do to beat his DWI...

A New Jersey Judge used several tactics to avoid a DWI conviction.  The judge tried using chapstick to avoid blowing into the breathalyzer machine.  Next, he stuck a penny in his mouth.  I am pretty sure that he did these things because nothing can be in or around someones mouth for a given period of time before the test is administered.

Nevertheless, the judge eventually blew into the machine and was convicted of DWI.  On top of that, the judge has been reprimanded with this conduct.  He may even lose his judicial position.

If you ever get pulled over for DWI you have the option not to take the breath test in the state of Texas.  Therefore, refuse the test instead of trying to deceive the machine or the officer because you will be hurting your case more by using these tactics. 

What is this SCRAM device the judge has ordered me to get for my DWI case?

 

The courts of  Harris County, Texas are always attempting to monitor a person's alcohol consumption when charged with a DWI. There are several reasons the court attempts this, mostly it is because as a condition of probation a person is not allowed to consume alcohol. Another is because a person has been previously convicted of an alcohol related driving offense and now there on bond in their court. The ways the court has tried to do this include:
 

  • by ordering for urine analysis,
  • random alcohol screenings,
  • installing breath reading equipment in your home or vehicle (interlock), and
  • ordering the SCRAM Device

The SCRAM (a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) allows the court to monitor your alcohol intake continuously.

Lindsey Lohan wearing her SCRAM device.

When the SCRAM device is ordered by the court, a person will be fitted with a tamper-resistant ankle bracelet made up of two boxes. One box will conduct the tests that will compute your BAC (blood alcohol content). The second box stores the calculations and transmits the data. The SCRAM device is designed to test your BAC level every hour. If the device detects any alcohol in your system, the test repeats every thirty minutes.
 

There are many different reasons the court orders a SCRAM to be installed. The reasons include being convicted of alcohol related offenses in the past; a person states that do not have a vehicle to install the guardian interlock, or a judge that finds it to be the best way to monitor an individual.
 

The SCRAM device is expensive.  You will have to pay a refundable $100 deposit, a $75 fitting fee, and a weekly fee while you are wearing the device . Most importantly, the fees must be paid in full before the device is installed and fitted.

 

 

 

I was not read my rights...will my case be dismissed?

The simple answer is probably not. Most people believe that a case may be thrown out of court if the police officer does not provide them with their "Miranda warnings" when they are arrested. I am confident that this belief comes from the abundance of television programs that show the Miranda warnings given whenever someone is being arrested.

Miranda Warnings

A Miranda warning is necessary if the police officer interrogates someone and wants to use  their responses as evidence. If the police officer fails to give you a Miranda warning, nothing you say in response to the questioning can be used as evidence to convict you.  Additionally, under the "fruit of the poisonous tree" rule, if the police officer finds evidence as a result of an interrogation that violates the Miranda rule, that evidence is also inadmissible at trial.  For example, if you tell the police officer where a weapon is hidden and it turns out that you gave this information in response to improper questioning, the police officer will not be able to use the weapon as evidence unless the officer can prove that they would have found the weapon without your statements.

May I get an Expungement or a Motion for Non Disclosure

As a Houston Criminal Lawyer I get asked this question routinely..."what is the difference between an expungement and a motion for non disclosure?"  This is like comparing gold and silver  Both are precious metals, but one is more sought after and harder to obtain.  Similarly, an expungement is more sought after and much harder to get then a motion for non disclosure.

First, you are only able to get an expungement if your criminal case was dismissed.  There are essentially two ways that your cases are dismissed.  A prosecutor may choose to dismiss your case or a grand jury may refuse to indict your case.  Most people believe that once their case is dismissed the case  is expunged.  This is incorrect.  In fact, once your case is dismissed you must wait until the statute of limitations has expired.    Once the statute of limitations has expired you are able to file the expungement petition with the local district court of the county where the case was heard.

If you are found not guilty at trial your case is typically expunged automatically by the court.  Your trial attorney should explain this process to you.  Our firm provides this service at no additional cost to you.

The least common way that people get their cases expunged is after successfully completing  a class "c" deferred adjudication.  Again, you must wait until the statute of limitations has expired to file for an expungement of your criminal arrest.

The best thing of getting the expungement is that you can legally state that you have never been arrested.  Your record is wiped clean!!!

Do not let your past haunt your interviews.

Conversely, you may get a motion for non disclosure even if your case was not dismissed.  The only way to qualify for a motion for non disclosure is if you have successfully completed a deferred adjudication.  Most misdemeanors qualify for a motion for non disclosure immediately.  There are some misdemeanors that are ineligible for a motion for non disclosure.  The most common misdemeanor that is ineligible for a motion for non disclosure is the crime of family violence assault. 

Similarly, most felony cases may be eligible for a motion non disclosure, but you must wait at least two years after completion of the deferred adjudication.  There are lot more felony crimes that ineligible for a motion for non disclosure.  For instance, any crime that involves sexual registration would be ineligible for a motion for non disclosure.

Once the motion for non disclosure is granted by the court it keeps the general public from discovering your criminal history.   This allows a lot of people better job opportunities, better credit, and rent an apartment . 

Despite having a motion for non disclosure granted law enforcement and other government agencies will have access to your criminal history.  Regrettably, this prevents a lot of people from obtaining or keeping  those type of jobs. 

If you need assistance with clearing your record in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website.

Will my DWI case in Houston be dismissed?

If your DWI breath test case was reviewed by Deetrice Henderson Wallace, a scientist hired by Houston area police agencies, to inspect Intoxilyzer machines you may be in luck. The Texas Department of Public Safety has invalidated all breath tests she reviewed.  Thus, your case may be found to be lacking sufficient evidence for a criminal conviction. 

I am confident that the Harris County District Attorney's Office will review each case individually in order to determine if they warrant a dismissal.  The problem that I foresee is that the DA's office destroys all DWI video tapes after the case is over.  Regardless, without a DWI tape or a breath test their DWI case becomes much harder to prove.  I think they are going to find it problematic to review a DWI case when their key pieces of evidence are missing.  Therefore, you may see more DWI dismissals by the Harris County Districts Attorney's Office after this announcement.

Ms. Wallace has been charged with the state jail felony of Tampering of a Government Record.  The range of punishment for a state jail felony is from 180 days to two years.  Her case will be heard in the 182nd District Court of Harris County, Texas.  The presiding judge of that court is Jeannine Barr.  I am curious to see what the outcome of this case will be considering the damage it has done to credibility of future breath tests.

The Martinez Law Firm

Breathalyzer Supervisor for DWI cases in Houston faked records

Texas Department of Public Safety audit has revealed that the breath tests from eight Houston area police departments have been comprised because the test machines were not properly tested by the certified supervisor.  The machines in question are the breathalyzers that are used to determine if someone is legally intoxicated.

How is the Harris County District Attorney's Office going to handle this tricky situation.  Will current cases be dismissed?  Will there be any retrials of old cases?  I imagine that the prosecutors will have to evaluate each case like there is no breath test.  The likelihood is that you will see more breath test cases going to trial.  Thus, a misdemeanor prosecutor's job just  got harder.

Would you trust this machine for determining if you are intoxicated?

DPS officials said they suspended the supervisor’s certification, and the Texas Rangers launched a criminal investigation.

“These are serious allegations and we will not tolerate any activities that call into question the integrity of the breath test system,” said Col. Stan Clark, interim DPS director.

 

If DPS was truly concerned with the integrity of the breath test system they would release the machine's software to the defense bar so it could be independently tested.  Until this happens the machine will never have any credibility.

Lastly, will we be seeing criminal charges against the supervisor?  It seems clear that he may be charged with falsifying government records, a felony.  Stay tuned.

 

 

Officer Do You Really want to Arrest Me for that Marijuana Joint?

Do you remember Jerry's girlfriend that was able to persuade anyone to get what she wanted?  In fact, she was able to get out of traffic ticket by flirting with the police officer in the Seinfeld episode titled "The Calzone" despite Jerry admitting everything.  Well not even a extraordinary persuasive person like that will able able to convince Houston, Texas area police officers to write them a citation for being in possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana despite the law allowing them the opportunity to do just that in the appropriate situation.

Last year the law changed where an officer has the option to arrest someone or simply write the person a citation for being in possession of less than four ounces of marijuana.  In fact, Austin police officers hope to start the policy by the end of the year.

Since Houston, Harris County, Texas  has a notorious overcrowding issue in their jails you would think they would embrace this law. " Not on my watch your not" said Former Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal bluntly...he notified all the police chiefs in Harris County that if their officers want to follow the new law and issue citations, the DA's office would not accept the charges.  He flatly refused to recognize this law.  Even several months after Chuck Rosenthal's resignation from the District Attorney's office the policy has not changed in Harris County.

Here is hoping that whoever becomes the new Harris County District Attorney recognizes this law and values the good it could do for the overcrowding issues that are occuring in the Harris, County Jail.

If your need assistance with your marijuana case in Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our firm's website: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

So you are criminal attorney in Houston, Texas...hmmm

When I tell people that I am a criminal defense lawyer, I am often asked "How can you defend someone you know is guilty." The question actually has different meanings to different people. To some, it often assumes that the "guilty" person should simply "take what's coming". To others it is morally wrong on my part to assist someone that is charged with a crime.   Routinely, their feelings dramatically change when one of their friends or family member is charged with a crime especially  if that person is facing incriminating evidence, the need to post bail, and find a lawyer.  Their question changes to How can you help us?"

I will not bore you with what I tell people the first two type of questions.  A person accused of a crime is faced with many dilemmas. They discuss their problem with non lawyers, and often receive bad advice from those they trust the most.

Most everyone wants to cleanse themselves of the incident by telling someone about the facts. They immediately want to know if there are going to be found guilty.   Sometimes the answer is obvious. Often it is not.    Whatever the facts of any particular case, my job is to provide the best defense I can. I am responsible for the identification of possible defenses, and defense strategies. I must discover, organize and prepare the evidence, and research the applicable law. This not only includes the law describing the crime alleged, but also, and often more important, the law as it relates to the evidence the prosecution will be able to use against us, and the law that may prevent us from using important evidence.

The complex and confusing series of sentencing rules and laws are also important to understand in order to fairly evaluate the prosecutor's plea offer. What is the "exposure"? If we go to trial how likely is it that we will win and if we lose, what's the worst case scenario? What are the mitigating and aggravating factors that might be considered if we lose.  Do we request a Pre Sentence Investigation, entering a plea of guilty and leaving the punishment up to the judge.

If someone seeking a lawyer speaks to two or three lawyers, he will probably hear fees quoted that differ dramatically. Often the "best price" buys little more than "holding the defendant's hand" while they plead guilty. I have also seen very high paid  lawyers do what appeared to be second rate work or failing to inform the client of all their options.

In some instance, I know early on that a trial is not the best course. Just because I know the prosecutor will be able to prove that a crime has been committed, and that my client did it, does not mean that something can not be done. Even when you know a trial is not likely, it is still important to prepare as though there will be a trial. Preparation is necessary in every case.".

The Martinez Law Firm

A DWI in Houston can not happen to me...

As an Houston Criminal Defense attorney that helps those charged with DWI I have helped all types of people.  Despite the different backgrounds of my clients they have several things in common.  Mainly, they say the can not believe a DWI happened to them.  For many, a DWI charge is the first time they have been arrested for a crime.  Also, they never intended to drive while intoxicated.  Not surprisingly, the law the does not require that a person intend on driving while intoxicated like most other crimes.

If you have been arrested with for DWI/DUI keep several things in mind.  After getting some needed rest read the forms the police officer gave you.  At the bottom of the main form you will find the contact information to save your drivers license.  You have 15 days to schedule a hearing to save your license.  You should do this before even talking to an attorney.  Next, speak to several attorneys on the phone and schedule as many office interviews as you can.  Most DWI attorneys like myself will offer a free consultation.  Choose your DWI attorney based on your instincts.  Decide if you and the attorney are a good fit.  Do they answer all your questions?  How easier will it be to get a hold of them?  What type of experience do they have with DWI/DUI cases?

Many people are embarrassed about being arrested for DWI/DUI, but  keep in mind that it truly can happen to anyone even a judge that routinely handles criminal cases.

The Martinez Law Firm

Four DWI arrests in two weeks.

Robert Hood, a Texas resident, was able to get arrested four times in two weeks for driving while intoxicated. Remarkably, this occurred in the states of Wyoming, South Dakota, and Nebraska.  Would this be possible in Houston, Harris County Texas?

A person with no prior DWI convictions would still be considered a first offender in Texas.  Luckily, Mr. Hood has not been convicted of DWI so he is still a first offender.  Nevertheless, most judges in Houston would have made it difficult for Mr. Hood to drive a vehicle and treat him like a repeat offender while on bond.  For instance, anyone who is arrested for DWI/DUI charge while on bond for DWI would be ordered to have a guardian interlock device installed in their vehicle.  A guardian interlock device is an in car alcohol breath screening device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a pre-set limit of .02 (i.e., 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood). The device is located inside the vehicle, near the driver’s seat, and is connected to the engine’s ignition system.  Moreover, their bond would be set higher and higher after each arrest.  Perhaps, a judge would go as far as not granting a bond after his third or fourth arrest.  Therefore, the likelihood a Houston Harris County, Texas judge allowing this to happen is unlikely.

If you are facing a DWI conviction then you owe it to yourself to consult with a member of our team today. Visit our website for more information.

Would Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas evict innocent renters?

The financial crisis has many victims.   An underrepresented group of victims are people that unknowingly pay rent to an owner of a property that is going through foreclosure.  These people through no fault of their own are being evicted out of their homes because the landlord did not disclose to them that the home was going through foreclosure.  The renters have very little options when this occurs.  In fact, if the refuse to leave the premises charges may be brought against them for criminal trespass.  Nevertheless, Cook County, Illinois' Sheriff Dart is currently refusing to serve evictions on these type of foreclosed homes.  His position is that innocent renters are being thrown out of the homes despite paying the owner of the property timely. 

I wonder if other sheriffs around the country feel the same way?  Closer to home would Harris County, Texas'  Sheriff Tommy Thomas, the sheriff of the third largest sheriff's office in the United States, follow suit in an election year?  The financial crisis has not hit the greater Houston, Texas area as badly as the rest of the nation, but what if things do get worse? Does Harris County, Texas want its sheriff disregarding the law?

Admittedly, this a grey area.  Proponents of Sheriff Dart consider him a voice of the poor or providing leadership when it is desperately needed.  Others call him a vigilante...  cynics say that he is preparing himself for a run at higher office What is your position?

Thankful to Have a Jury Trial for DWI in Texas.

After wining a DWI trial  today I am really thankful that I have the opportunity to prove my clients innocence.  I am continually surprised to learn that many states do not provide this opportunity for those accused of DWI.

If you would like to speak to an experienced DWI lawyer call us at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Avoid an arrest for road rage....

Many of us spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel of a car.    It is common that in our daily commutes we encounter a driver that is overly aggressive that triggers frustration especially after a difficult day.  If you have having one of these bad days be mindful of the consequences of your actions.   In my practice, I have seen witnesses mistake someone from their car displaying a shiny silver cell phone for a gun during an incident. This lead to the person being charged with the felony of aggravated assault. 

Avoid road rage and criminal charges.

Try to keep some of these things in mind before doing anything because a road rage case can lead to very serious criminal consequences.  It is also very common to be charged with evading arrest in these type of cases.

If you need assistance with a criminal case in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website.

The judge is making me feel like I should take the plea bargain...

Do not allow the judge to scare you into doing something you will regret.

A common practice in Harris County, Texas criminal courts is for the judge to admonish someone that is accused of a crime before setting a case for trial.  I am not a fan of this tactic.  Typically, the scenario is like this:  The judge asks the prosecutor "What is Mr. X charged with....  Then the judge turns to Mr. X and says "well Mr. X I can not believe that the State is even offering you that.  Let me tell you that I will not accept any type of plea agreement once we set this case for trial in my court.  In fact, the maximum sentence for this charge is ____."  In this common scenario the judge is assuming that the person is guilty.  They are forgetting that the person before them is PRESUMED TO BE INNOCENT.  Also,  the judge's role is to be neutral.  I always give the example that the judge should act like a referee making sure that everyone is playing by the rules of the court.

In my practice, all of my clients are well informed and know the range of punishment.  I advise them of all their options.  While no lawyer can guarantee the outcome of the case I am there to protect my client and give them my opinion regarding all the possible scenarios.  A person is scared enough during the criminal process that they do not need a judge scolding them for asserting their constitutional right to a trial.

If you find yourself in the position that a judge is making you feel like you should take the deal being offered trust your attorney's advice.  If you do not trust your attorney's advice find another one quickly because you should value your attorney's advice above anyone else in that courtroom.

Beware the conversation you are having with your loved one in jail may be recorded.

Did you know that the conversation you are having with your loved in jail may be recorded ?  More importantly, courts find it perfectly legal to record these conversations.  Their reasoning is that that people in jail do not have an expectation of privacy.

he is litening...

I have been told by prosecutors in the past that they obtained recordings of an inmate's conversation with their loved ones and plan to use it against them at trial.  These recordings could potentially sabotage an entire defense, make the other person a witness in the case or be used as punishment evidence.

Therefore, I advise everyone not to talk about issues relating to their case over the phone.  Big brother will be listening.  Tell each other how much you miss them and love them, but never discuss how you plan to beat the case or that the prosecutor does not about this person that knows the whole story.

Before you speak to the police or anyone else about your criminal case call me at (713) 242-1779.

Should the Houston Police Department DNA lab ever be trusted again?

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Houston Police Department is asking for over a million dollars from City Council so that another group of scientists, from Dallas, may review the work from the Houston DNA lab.   

Are we ever going to trust our DNA lab again?

In my opinion, the HPD lab should outsource all of their work if they do not believe that their current staff can handle the work that is required of them.  I doubt the citizens of Harris County are ready to pay for someone from Dallas to not only review the work of the Houston lab, but also bear the expense of traveling from Dallas to Houston if the case goes to trial.  Also, what type of working relationship will the Harris County District Attorney's office have with this Dallas lab?  How available will this Dallas lab be to the Harris County Criminal defense bar for review?  It seems to me that more questions need answering before the HPD lab is back on its feet and the citizens of Harris County are able to trust their work.

The Martinez Law Firm

Clearing my criminal record...

Since I am criminal defense attorney in Houston, Texas almost daily I get some form of the following question… I got probation a while ago and I want to know how I can get it off my record. First, it must be determined what type of probation you received. There are two types of probation in Texas. “Regular Probation” is a conviction and can not be “cleared” from your record. Second, some deferred adjudications may be “cleared” from your record. The instrument used to “clear” a deferred adjudication from your record is called a Motion for Non Disclosure. Some deferred adjudications may be “cleared” immediately after sucessfull completion. Others may take as long as five years and some are never eligible for a Motion for Non Disclosure. Please keep in mind that most government agencies will still be able to see that deferred.

There a lot of attorneys that tell their clients that a deferred adjudication is not a conviction. This is correct, but anyone with access to public records will find your deferred adjudication until you have your Motion for Non Disclosure granted by a court. Therefore, if possible get your Motion for Non Disclosure filed as soon as possible, if you are eligible.

If you need assistance with clearing your record in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

The police are knocking at my door...I think I am a suspect.

Mr. Y came into our office because the police has been trying to get in touch with him. He had an idea what it is concerning, but was not sure if he should explain to the police what happened. The short answer is Do NOT SPEAK TO THE POLICE WITHOUT TALKING TO AN ATTORNEY FIRST.

As a Criminal Defense Attorney in Houston I come across people that do not follow this advice and pay dearly for it later.  For some reason, people think that they can explain their way out of situation by talking to police.  Typically, people end up getting charged for a crime that the police did not have enough evidence for a conviction before they started talking. Keep in mind that in the United States you have the right not to incriminate yourself. Use that right before talking to the police and you will make your life much easier.

 After speaking to us Mr. Y took our advice and was never charged with a crime.

If you need assistance with your criminal case in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Abogado en Houston

Yo hablo espanol....(713) 242-1779.  Si necisita un abogado llamanos.  Habla con abogado gratis.

Visita: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com

 

Getting your bond reduced in Harris County Texas

In a lot of instances a court will initially set a very high amount in a case. For example, in a theft case where the value of the alleged property that was stolen is one hundred thousand ($100,000) the court will routinely double that amount and set the bond at two hundred thousand ($200,000). However, if you hire a lawyer before raising the money to bond the person out of jail the lawyer should be able to go to the court and have the bond reduced to a more reasonable amount. In the above scenerio a lawyer would be able to save you thousands of dollars when making a bond. Typically, a bonding company will charge you a 10% fee for bonding someone out of jail. The two hundred thousand dollar bond will cost you twenty thousand dollars and the one hundred thousand dollar bond will cost you ten thousand dollars. Thus,hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston will pay for itself by getting the bond reduced in addition to all the other things they can do for you.  This is an example of where this was done.

If you need the assistance of a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney with your criminal case in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Getting a bond when there is warrant out for your arrest without going to jail.

Here is a question that Houston Criminal lawyers get asked routinely: "There is a warrant out for my arrest...I do not want to go to jail."  "What should I do?"  This is a situation everyone would like to avoid. There are several proactive steps one can take when this occurs. The first thing I would do is contact a bonding company so that I could do what is called a "non arrest bond." If you contact a bonding company and they do not know what that is move on because they probably can not help you. I would hate to pay anyone to be their first case.

The proper way to avoid this situationA "non arrest bond" is straight forward. This type of bond allows you to avoid any jail time while waiting for someone to bond you out if you get arrested. If you talk to anyone that has spent as little as a few hours in jail they will tell you do not want to be waiting in jail for someone to bond you out. Thus, the non arrest bond allows you to skip the booking process. The bonding company will take your information and  give you a court date to appear with your attorney. If you do this you will be one of the lucky people that will not be hassled by the police and potentially giving them information that you would later regret.

If you need assistance with your criminal case in Houston, Harris County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

The Harris County Courts have their own schedule that they follow.  This is their posted schedule.