Teen Drinking Consequences in Texas

 While going through a new TABC site, it became clear that the long term repercussions of underage drinking are great for Texas' young people. While we can chalk some of it up to simply being young and running with life on their own terms, there are some important realities that can sometimes get lost in that time in our lives. Those realities can change everything at a time when consistency is crucial.

For both parents and teens, the laws are very specific and when there’s an automobile, driver’s license and a car full of teens involved, the entire game plan changes.

Texas Teens and Drunk Driving

If you have a teen or young adult under the age of 21, Texas law is clear. They can be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor if they’re caught with alcoholic beverages in their possession or if it’s determined they’re consuming those beverages. Even attempting to purchase alcohol under the age of 21 is a crime. And if your teen lies while trying to buy beer or liquor, that’s yet another charge.

In terms of drunk driving laws – they’re not applicable in ways you might think.  It is illegal for a teen to drive a car or operate a boat or other watercraft with any amount of alcohol in their system. That means a teen doesn’t have to be drunk or “buzzed”; if he has anything at all in his system, he’s committed a crime.

And make no mistake: the consequences in place are serious.

Your teen can be hit with a $500 fine, he can be ordered to take both an alcohol awareness course as well as be ordered to community service.

His driver’s license is at risk of suspension.

If he’s 17 or older and he’s been charged twice in the past, his third offense means potential jail time. That’s on top of his driver’s license being suspended.

911 Lifeline Laws

Many teens find themselves feeling hopeless if they see their friends participating in risky behaviors due to alcohol. As parents, we have an obligation to ensure they understand they won’t be in legal trouble, even if they have been drinking or have alcohol in their possession, if they’re requesting medical assistance for their friends. Plus, staying on scene with their friend until that help arrives and then providing medical personnel and law enforcement in a truthful manner also protects them from legal troubles.  Too many times, kids leave the scene out of fear of being caught drinking. These laws ensure they’re able to do the right thing with no worries about finding themselves in legal trouble.

Finally, it’s absolutely crucial to reach out for legal help if your teen has been charged with any kind of crime that includes alcohol. It’s not until the realities set in that their future could be tarnished with a mistake made as a teen. It can jeopardize their college educations and can mean higher insurance premiums, even after they’re on their own. 

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.

A Humble, Texas DWI Arrest

As a Houston DWI lawyer I have come across a few memorable DWI videos during my time, but I have never come across one where the police officer leaves the decision to arrest someone to chance.  That is exactly what a Humble, Texas police officer decided to do in a drunk driving case that I was representing recently.  The short version of this incident is that the officer, after stopping my client for a traffic violation states on video that if my client's girlfriend answers his phone call and comes to the scene to pick him up he will not arrest him for DWI.  The catch of course, is that if she does not answer the phone he will be booked for DWI.  Unfortunately luck was not on his side that night.  His girlfriend failed to answer his call.   Meanwhile, the officer neglects to have my client perform any field sobriety tests to actually determine if he is intoxicated before arresting him.  This is comparable to flipping a coin before deciding to arrest someone.

Once I brought these facts to the prosecutor's attention she could not believe this was the case.  After viewing the video for herself she was equally astonished and eventually dismissed the case.  My concern is that this officer is not going to be reprimanded or told that his actions were improper.  Is this really how the Humble,Texas police are going to decide how to arrest someone for DWI?  Has anyone come across an officer claiming to release someone to a friend or family member based on a chance phone call, or was this an isolated incident?

For more information regarding hiring an attorney please visit our website at: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

Houston Rodeo DWI Round Up

I am not sure if Pat Lykos, Harris County District Attorney, will be attending the Houston Rodeo this year, but if she is she most likely is hoping to rope some drunk drivers in during the month of March.  The Harris County District Attorney's Office,(HCDAO) has expanded its "no refusal weekend" once again during the rodeo.  Initially, this program was implemented during major holiday weekends.  Subsequently, it has expanded at will.  Today, the HCDAO is announcing a "spring no refusal."  Their aim is to protect the added travelers during the various events that are occurring at this time of year like the Houston Rodeo, St. Patrick's Day, and "March Madness."  The "no refusal weekend" was implemented to make Harris County, Texas residents think twice before driving while intoxicated.  That message is being diluted by having a "no refusal weekend" becoming the norm.  I would be curious to see the statistics of DWI arrests from a regular weekend compared to one of the "no refusal weekends."  I have not seen any data that suggests that these no refusal weekends decrease drunk driving.  I am willing to wager that what it does increase is the number of Houston DWI Task Force man hours, and therefore cost the city more money then it should be paying out.  All things considered, the "no refusal" sounds great as a press release and sound bite, but is doing little to achieve the intended goal or reducing drunk driving in Houston.

If you need help for a drunk driving, DWI charge in Harris County, Texas please contact me at (713) 242-1779 or visit my website at http://www.attorneydwi.net.

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.

 

Houston DWI Attorney Sharing Interesting Facts and Truths about Young Adult Drinking and Driving

Drinking and then driving is a very costly, unhealthful and dangerous combination for anyone but this post mostly provides facts about drinking and driving for young adults who have either newly started to drive or have newly started to drink.  That is why, as DWI Attorneys we advise you to let your young adult to know about the affects of driving and driving. They should know about the laws about drinking and driving in Texas and they should know how alcohol can affect their body system and impair their driving abilities. Being more aware than before, the young adult can make better decisions about drinking alcohol and then driving.

Some facts about alcohol that everyone should know of are that alcohol can affect your brain; it reduces coordination, reflexes, vision and causes memory lapses and poor judgment. This is another reason why a intoxicated person may make a bad decision and consider themselves fit enough to drive. If you consume alcohol regularly, then know that alcohol can negatively affect every organ of your body and get absorbed in your bloodstream increasing the risk of many diseases. It reduces your self-control, depresses your nervous system and can produce a risky behavior in you. A large amount of alcohol consumption can even cause alcohol poisoning which can be fatal.

In Texas, having a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or more while driving is one of the three ways the government may prove that a person was intoxicated when driving. Even though different people's bodies respond differently to varying levels of alcohol, the 0.08 limit has been set. by the Texas legislature.  According to certain studies, two in five Americans will be involved in alcohol-related, (but not intoxicated) car accidents at one point in their lives and it is also estimated to be the leading cause of death for many American young adults. Factors like fatigue, lack of food, health, emotions and drugs (prescribed or non-prescribed) can actually increase the effects of alcohol on your body. Although, such facts about alcohol may not seem that significant but when you make the decision of drinking and then driving, these facts can become crucial to determine your Blood Alcohol Content.  If pulled over by the police they may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests and later a breathalyzer test that you are not forced to do. Furthermore, they will threaten you that your driver's license will be suspended if you do not take the tests.  That is not true!  You have the absolute right to refuse all tests and keep your license from being suspended.

Nevertheless, in such a situation you will always be better off hiring a DWI attorney, especially if you have a previous DWI conviction. A DWI lawyer who is reputable and experienced can make a lot of difference in your case. He or she can prepare you mentally for this experience, guide you about your DWI case and may even be successful enough to disprove the authenticity of the evidence of the prosecution.

Although, a DWI offense can be frustrating and can hamper your future life, especially if you are just starting out in your career; it still helps tremendously to have a DWI lawyer who can mentally support you and keep you better informed about your trial. At any cost, educate yourself about driving while intoxicated, know about the laws and try to avoid drinking before you are of the legal age.  You can either drink and not drive while intoxicated or avoid drinking all together if you want to avoid a false DWI arrest!

If you need the assistance of a DWI Lawyer in Houston please call our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website: http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.

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.

Would You Purchase A Vehicle In Houston With A DWI Gadget?

As a DWI Lawyer in Houston, Texas I see many of the issues surrounding a DWI charge.  The public wants to cut down on DWI related accidents, defendants get falsely accused of DWI by a machine, and cops vigilantly arrest anyone that admits to drinking. 

DWI concerns in Japan and the United States has the Nissan and Toyota automobile companies developing a device that will shut down the vehicle if sensors pick up excessive alcohol consumption.  I wonder if this be a standard item on all automobiles or an optional feature.  If it is an option, I wonder how many people will be willing to add it to the purchase price of their new car?

If you need the help of a DWI Attorney call our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or click here to visit our website.

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. 

Should I Request A Hearing After My DWI Arrest in Houston?

Anyone charged with a DWI in Texas or more specifically, Harris County, Texas should know that they have 15 days after their arrest to request an administrative license revocation hearing in order to save their driver's license.  If this is not done they automatically lose the driver's license after 40 days of their arrest.  Most clients believe that the hearing must take place within that time period.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Once the hearing is requested it typically takes 3-5 months before there is a hearing to determine if the driver's license will be suspended.

The period of time that is it is taking for the hearings is unacceptable and contrary to the mission of the ALR program that was designed to suspend the driver licenses of dangerous drivers in a swift and sure manner.  DPS' words not mine.  Curiously, nothing is mentioned about it being done in a fair and just way.  Many times the hearing provides favorable evidence to the accused that is not mentioned in the original offense report submitted by the police officer.  Most importantly, it provides the DWI lawyer with the opportunity to pin an officer down on the record to the true facts surrounding the DWI arrest.  These is helpful when evaluating a case. 

Facing a DWI criminal charge? Consult with a member of our legal team, contact The Martinez Law Firm by visiting their website: http://www.attorneydwi.net

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.

How Many DWI Arrests Are Made in Houston?

Logically, as a Houston DWI Attorney this is a number that I follow.  According to Don Egdorf, with the Houston Police Department's DWI Task Force, HPD recorded over 6,000 DWI arrests in 2008. That does not take into account all the other agencies in the Greater Houston, Texas area.

As of the end of May, we are looking at a pretty big increase.  The Houston DWI Task Force has already made over 3,300 DWI arrest.  There is a strong possibility that this may be a record year for DWI arrests in Houston. 

Please be careful after having a drink and driving.  You are not guilty of driving while intoxicated just because you have been arrested.  Fortunately, you are presumed to be innocent of any criminal offense in our Country.

If you would like to discuss your DWI case with an attorney then please call The Martinez Law Firm today.

The New DWI Program Likely To Increase DWI Arrests In Houston

As a Houston DWI Attorney I have mentioned previously how the upcoming DWI Pretrial Diversion program proposed by the Harris County District Attorney's Office is going to benefit a great number of people.  Despite all the benefits there are sure to be some negatives associated with the program.    For instance, once the word gets out about the program DWI arrests will increase in the greater Houston area.  Police agencies will arrest more people because they will know that the prosecutor will readily offer a Pretrial Diversion.  Also, it has been a long held belief within the DWI task forces that the accused may "beat the rap, but will not "beat the ride."  In other words, a person accused of a DWI will have to bear the expense of hiring a DWI attorney in order to properly defend a DWI case.  Moreover, prosecutors will become less inclined to dismiss a DWI charge because they are going to push the pretrial diversion alternative. 

If you have any questions regarding a DWI in Texas please contact a Houston DWI Lawyer at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website: 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.

Coming Soon...A New Jail In Harris County, Texas

 

Houston Harris County, Texas JailAdrian Garcia, Harris County Sheriff, admits that a new jail in Harris County, Texas is necessary to avoid any lingering problems with his jail.  I hope that the Sheriff informed the Commissioner's Court of his position.  Essentially, his stating that even if the problems are fixed only more problems will arise in the future unless a new jail is constructed. What is being done with the $5 million dollars he was recently given to address the jail conditions?  As a Houston Criminal Attorney this is discouraging news.

Visit our website if you have been charged with a crime and would like more information on how we can assist with your case. 

 

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.

Harris County,Texas Jail Conditions Not Improving

As a Houston criminal defense Lawyer I am always concerned with our local jail conditions. While Adrian Garcia has not been Sheriff of Harris County, Texas long,  the conditions of his jail are not improving according to Inspectors. It has been a continuous battle to improve the jail conditions in Harris County, Texas.  Hopefully, Sheriff Garcia will make some improvements soon.

The inspectors also found that courtroom holdover cells are packed beyond capacity.  This is evident to any practicing Houston criminal defense attorney.  Routinely, courts are unable to have all the defendants that are in jail make their morning docket.  Nothing is more frustrating to a person expecting to go to court only to find out that they will not be going because there are too many people in custody.  This is also frustrating to the person's family and their attorney.

If you or someone you care about needs help with their criminal case please call our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com .

Houston DWI - A Defendant's Perspective (Part I)

One of my clients recently published her DWI arrest experience.  She wanted to inform the public to know what it is like to get charged with a DWI in Houston.  As her Houston DWI Lawyer she was nice enough to allow me to post it here.  Despite getting her case dismissed she still felt the need to inform the public about what it is like to be arrested for DWI.

One Sunday evening, I joined 98,000 other Texans who share a similar plight.  I was arrested for DWI.

I was at a party hanging around, eating and drinking..  It was that last Shiner Bock that wrecked my life.  The drive home wasn't far, but somewhere along the way a police officer got behind me and thought I wasn't driving "quite right"- not staying completely in my lane.  He pulled me over and asked the usual questions about insurance, and he asked if I had been drinking that night.  I was surprised by that question.  Why would he ask that?  I was driving fine.  I knew that I wasn't drunk.  For some reason, the cop thought I might be.  The next thing I know he has me out of my car and I am doing some tests.  Incredibly to me, I am being arrested.  My car is being towed, I am not given a receipt, or where it would be towed.  I had to beg to be allowed to get my purse before it was towed.  Suddenly, this was all starting to feel quite surreal.  I cannot describe the feelings of humiliation and confused and despair as I sank into the bank seat of that dark police car, my hands locked in metal cuffs behind my back, totally alone, not having a clue what was to happen.  How could this be happening to me?

Arrested?  Going to Jail?  Me?  How could this be happening to me?  I am an upstanding citizen.  I am a good person.  I own a home, a car, I have a college degree and a good job, I go to Church, I walk my dog, once I hammer nails for Habitat for Humanity.  Doesn't the cop see the 100 Club sticker on my rear window?  How could this be happening to me?

If you would like to speak with a Houston DWI Lawyer contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.attorneydwi.net.

One and Done for the DWI Groom in Houston

Billy Puckett, the groom that was arrested on his wedding day for DWI in Houston, pled guilty on Friday, on his first court date.  Mr. Puckett received the standard probation for a first time offender, a one year probation, a small fine, and community service.  Curiously, he was also ordered to have an ignition interlock installed in his vehicle.  The interlock device is typically ordered in Houston when someone is convicted of a second DWI, or they provided a breath/alcohol sample above .15.I I wish Mr. Puckett all the best.

The Martinez Law Firm

 

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.

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.

 

The United Kingdom Eliminating DWI Blood Tests

The United Kingdom has realized what DWI Defense Attorneys like myself have always known.  DWI blood tests are not infallible.  In order to combat the trend of losing cases they are considering eliminating blood tests altogether.  Interestingly, in the States police agencies are moving toward making these tests more readily available then in years past.  Regardless, I look forward to winning more battles when it comes to DWI blood test cases. 

If you have any questions regarding your DWI case please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 .

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.

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.

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.

What is the difference between a DWI and DUI in Texas?

The short answer is there is virtually  no difference between DWI and DUI in Texas. Both  DUi and DWI are terms that refer to operating a motor vehicle while losing the normal use of your mental or physical faculties.  The biggest difference between the two is only in what the letters stand for. DWI is an acronym for driving while intoxicated and DUI stands for driving under the influence of a known or unknown drug.

In some states, the drunk driving laws differentiate between a DUI and a DWI, where a DUI is a lesser charge. In these states, a DUI usually signifies a lesser degree of intoxication, which is determined by a person’s blood alcohol level at the time of arrest.  For example, the state of New York differentiates between DWI and DUI by establishing a blood alcohol level of .08 as the legal limit for DWI. If a person has a blood alcohol level of .07, the charges may be reduced to a DUI, which carries a lesser punishment.

In Texas like most states throughout the country that have developed a zero policy, consequently, they do not recognize any difference between a DUI and a DWI.  As far as the law is concerned, any blood alcohol level over the specified minimum (.08) is a crime that will be punished in the same manner. In some states, the terms DUI and DWI are used to indicate whether a person was driving impaired under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In those states DUI is reserved for illegal or legal drugs.

Also, there is no such crime as drunk driving in Texas.  For most people this is intoxicated, but the State goes to great lengths to try to deceive a prospective juror that this  is not the case despite common sense telling us otherwise.

If you need any assistance with your drunk driving case in Harris, County, Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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. 

Tougher DWI laws do not reflect less arrests.

A Florida study illustrates what we always think as DWI lawyers in Houston...tougher DWI laws do not deter drunk driving.

If you need help with your DWI case in Texas please contact our law firm at (713) 242-1779 or visit our website at http://www.martinezlawhouston.com.  We represent people accused of DWI in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery, and Galveston County.

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.

Houston DWI task force getting mobile.

Houston nights have a new toy on the street.

A bit like Bruce Wayne in Gotham the Houston Police Department is rolling out a DWI mobile van this Halloween weekend.  The van is being hailed as the first of its kind.  The Houston Police Department even expects to have several more of these vans on the streets soon.

I imagine the same breathalyzer machine will be used in these vans.  If so, will the machine's owner release the software pertaining to how the machine works.  If a machine is going to brand someone a criminal and effect their life so much the accused deserves to know how it works.  Typically, prosecutors say that it is a trade secret of the company that makes the machine.  That poses the question what is more important, the trade secrets of a company or the constitutional right to due process, which surely includes the right to examine a machine used to determine if someone is guilty?

If you take the route of refusing to take the breath test you are not out of the woods.  The DWI van is equipped for a quick warrant to be faxed in where an on-call judge can force the involuntarily draw of blood from the accused.  Does that mean that the van will have nurses ready to draw blood?  How well will the Houston Police Department be able to preserve the evidence?  We all know how well the Houston Police Department has handled important evidence in the past.

Contact an attorney from our firm for more information, click here to view our website. 

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.

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?

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.

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

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.