Recent Blog Posts

Can a Felon Possess a Firearm in Texas?

 Posted on November 08,2021 in Criminal Law

texas criminal defense lawyerIn addition to serving jail time and paying fines, convicted felons are forced to forfeit certain rights. At the State and Federal levels, felons face unique restrictions not imposed on the rest of society. Texas is no different in this regard.

Felons face many unique limitations in the Lone Star State, but one in particular stands out – gun possession.

The State places certain restrictions on when a Texan with a felony conviction may own a gun.

This law is intriguing, considering Texas is known for lenient gun laws and one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the country. Many Texans consider the right to bear arms a fundamental part of their identity.

Can Felons Own Guns in Texas?

Although felons can own guns in the State of Texas, they may only do so in certain circumstances. If a felon possesses a firearm in violation of state law, they may be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, a serious criminal offense

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Is Human Smuggling A State or Federal Crime in Texas?

 Posted on October 26,2021 in Criminal Law

texas criminal defense lawyerAt more than 1,200 miles, Texas has the longest border with Mexico than any other state in the country. Although concerns about illegal immigration are largely a federal matter, state lawmakers and residents in many ways see it as a state issue as well. So, it begs the question: when is human smuggling a state or federal crime in Texas? 

The short answer is the fate of a person who smuggles illegal immigrants, or people who have entered the country without prior authorization from the U.S. government, largely depends on the law enforcement agencies involved in the arrest and the severity of the crime

State Human Smuggling Laws

The Texas Penal Code considers the smuggling of persons as a felony and defines it in three different ways

  • First, it is when you use a vehicle to transport a person into the country illegally and also use that vehicle to hide the person from government authorities.

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New Anti-Smuggling Law Enhances Penalties For Human Trafficking

 Posted on October 08,2021 in Criminal Law

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:

  • Using a vehicle such as a car or boat to transport a person into the country illegally AND
  • Using that vehicle to hide the smuggled person from state or federal authorities

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New Law Prohibits Bond For Those Charged With Violent Crime

 Posted on September 22,2021 in Criminal Law

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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Sex With A Person In Custody Now A Felony

 Posted on September 09,2021 in Criminal Law

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. 

Supporters of the bill say such a serious crime required a more serious punishment than what was set by state law. They argued that the law considered improper relationships between a teacher and a student separate from sexual assault, so it should therefore consider improper sexual activity with a person in custody separate as well. 

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Texas House Bill 2622 Expands Gun Rights 

 Posted on August 27,2021 in Criminal Law

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.” 

New Gun Laws in Texas

The Second Amendment Sanctuary State Act will prevent the enforcement of any federal gun law passed after Sept. 1, 2021, that restricts the possession or ownership of firearms, gun accessories, or ammunition. In turn, it also prohibits state agencies from enforcing or assisting in the enforcement of new federal gun laws. 

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Can Police Wait Outside A Bar For DWI Suspects?

 Posted on August 10,2021 in DWI / DUI

 

san antonio dwi defense lawyerWhen a police officer makes personal contact during a drunk driving investigation, they will ask you questions like: Where are you coming from? What were you doing there? Where are you headed? This line of questioning is often used by police if they suspect that you were driving while intoxicated

Over time, many police notice patterns with bars where patrons like to get drunk, their hours of operation, and an area nearby where you might violate a traffic law. Many wonder whether this type of strategic planning is considered “entrapment.” 

Armchair experts who have watched a few police procedurals and legal dramas might say that this type of behavior is entrapment, but realistically, this is just targeted enforcement. Police identify an area rife with illegal activity and respond to it accordingly. So, what is entrapment then?

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How Do Police Build a DWI Case?

 Posted on July 27,2021 in DWI / DUI

texas dwi defense lawyerWhen a police officer conducts a driving while intoxicated (DWI) investigation, they rarely rely on a single clue to determine whether or not you have been drinking, but rather they consider the totality of the circumstances. Officers are looking for signs of drunk driving from the moment they initiate the traffic stop until the moment you are released from their custody. Understanding the evidence police may use to justify a DWI arrest can help you build a strong defense against DWI charges.

Clues Officers Look for During a DWI Investigation

This particular stage of a DWI investigation is called “personal contact,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. At this point, an officer opens up all his or her senses and takes mental notes on what he or she sees, hears, and smells. 

The officer will likely first scrutinize your appearance by looking at your eyes to if they are bloodshot, listen to your voice for slurred speech, and leaning in to smell your breath. The officer will also note your physical and verbal actions. He or she will watch for a loss or lack of coordination like shaky hands or furtive movements, and listen for abusive language or unusual statements. 

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How Do Police Officers Administer Field Sobriety Tests?

 Posted on July 15,2021 in Criminal Law

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

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Does My Texas Criminal Record Qualify For Expunction?

 Posted on June 22,2021 in Expunctions

texas expunction lawyerBeing arrested and charged with a crime that you did not commit can be damaging in many ways. You may have trouble obtaining employment and finding a place to live as many employers and landlords perform background checks. Fortunately, Texas law allows for some arrests and charges to be removed from a person’s criminal record through the process of expunction. If you are unsure whether you qualify for an expunction, you should speak with a skilled Texas expunction lawyer to discuss your situation.

Qualifying for an Expunction

In many ways, Texas’ expunction statute is not very expansive. In fact, it is actually rather limited. You cannot file a petition for expunction if your arrest and/or charge ended in a conviction or if you received community supervision for any offense other than a Class C misdemeanor. A criminal record is also ineligible for expunction if the record is related to a probation violation warrant or if you attempted to leave the jurisdiction after you were released on bond. 

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