texas defense lawyerTexas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new anti-smuggling law last month that increases the penalty for human smuggling. It also removes the need for prosecutors prove that a smuggler received payment for the smuggling. He explains that Senate Bill 576 will expand the tools that will “help us crackdown on human smuggling and keep our communities safe.”

Governor Abbott signed the bill on September 22 at a ceremony in McAllen, a border town that serves as a major port of entry. State Representative JM Lozano, a Republican from Portland who sponsored the bill, joined the governor during the signing ceremony. 

Senate Bill 576

According to the new law, human smuggling is defined as:

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texas defense lawyerThis month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a measure that rewrites the state’s bail system. The governor and his supporters say Senate Bill 6, dubbed the Damon Allen Act, will increase public safety. Critics argue it will just make things harder for people who cannot afford a cash bond.

The Damon Allen Act

The Damon Allen Act amends the current bail system by prohibiting personal bond to those charged with a violent crime or who have been arrested while released on bail. Additionally, the measure requires that the court consider the defendant’s criminal history before granting or denying bond and do so within 48 hours of their arrest. 

State Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican representing District 17, explained the Damon Allen Act requires the court to establish a Public Safety Report System, a database accessible by court officials so they can review the defendant’s criminal history and overall risk. The measure will also require the bond setter to complete a form stating that they conducted the risk assessment before granting bond. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_467889392.jpgTexas enacted more than 650 new laws on September 1, including a law elevating the consequences for guards who have sex with an inmate. Improper sexual activity with a person in custody is now a second-degree felony, on par with sexual assault

Senate Bill 312 was filed in January by state Sen. Joan Huffman, a Republican representing District 17, which covers Harris County. It passed unanimously in both the state House and Senate before it was signed into law, without comment, by Gov. Greg Abbott. 

Debate About SB 312

Critics of the measure say it was unnecessary because improper sexual activity with a person in custody was already punished as a state jail felony. Under the law, a guard having sex with an inmate is looked at as rape because of the power dynamic. Therefore, the bill would be moot. 

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san antonio criminal defense lawyerStarting next month, Texas will enact a number of new gun laws as they join a growing list of states and localities that are calling themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” While the legislation is largely symbolic, it does limit the reach of federal gun laws in the state of Texas. 

State Rep. Justin Holland filed House Bill 2622, the Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act, in March with the intention of protecting Texans’ gun rights from the federal government, which he called “out-of-touch” on the issue. The measure passed committee votes in both chambers with a majority. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott applauded the legislation as he signed it in June alongside seven other gun bills. He explained the goal was to build a “barrier around gun rights.” 

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texas defense lawyerDWI arrests are considered high priority by state and local jurisdictions in not just Texas, but all across the country. And because of that, the federal government tasked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with creating standards and instructions for training officers on how to investigate DWI cases

According to NHTSA guidelines, a DWI investigation involves three steps: vehicle in motion, personal contact, and pre-arrest screening, i.e., field sobriety tests.  The vehicle in motion stage is like making a reservation at a restaurant, the personal contact stage is like ordering from the menu, and the pre-arrest screening is like dinner rolls at the table. The most substantive part of the interaction is usually the pre-arrest screening. It begs, why are field sobriety tests so important in a DWI case?

Field Sobriety Tests

Contrary to what many believe, you cannot fail a field sobriety test. Instead, police rely on them to uncover indicators of impairment. The three primary tests include the Nystagmus Test, the Walk and Turn, and the One Leg Stand. In the first one, you either show nystagmus or you do not, and then the other two require you to follow specific instructions and demonstrate balance and coordination. 

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