Do You Have to Speak to a Detective After the Charges Are Dropped?

Posted by admin on November 17th, 2017 under Criminal defense, Uncategorized  •  No Comments

Anyone arrested for a crime should retain a defense attorney as soon as possible, ideally before they face formal charges. When the police arrest a suspect they must “mirandize” the suspect, and grant a detained or arrested citizen certain other civil rights, which are important to understand, as they may play a part in later proceedings.

An arrest can be a jarring experience, but it’s important for every suspect to keep these rights in mind to avoid self-incrimination. If a suspect knows he or she is guilty of the charges in question, cooperating with the police can sometimes work out in the suspect’s favor when it comes to plea bargains and later sentencing. However, it is always best to consult with a lawyer before speaking with the police, even if the suspect knows he or she is guilty and the prosecution will have a solid case.

My Charges Have Been Dropped. What Do I Do?

The police typically prefer to move quickly from an arrest to formal charges. However, an arrested suspect can avoid unjust charges once more evidence about the situation comes to light, or the police arrest the actual perpetrator. Additionally, the police cannot press formal charges without evidence. If the police arrest someone on suspicion of a crime they may attempt to interrogate the suspect, but the suspect is not legally required to answer any questions. Unfortunately, the police may intimidate some suspects so much that they confess to crimes they did not commit or otherwise give the police cause to suspect them further. This can create problems for the suspect and make it harder for him or her to clear his or her name.

If the police come to the conclusion that they have arrested the wrong suspect, the suspect is typically free to go. However, if the police arrested the suspect at the scene of a crime or in the vicinity of a crime scene, they may come back to the suspect later to ask questions about the crime. Again, the suspect must exercise his or her best judgment in the situation. If the suspect knows there is nothing linking him or her to the criminal activity in question, then it may be possible to speak with the police to help with an investigation. However, if there is any reason for the police to believe the suspect may have been involved with the crime in any way, the suspect should retain a defense attorney before answering any questions.

Some people may think that asking for your lawyer to be present before speaking to the police makes one appear guilty, but this is not so. Ultimately, the best rule of thumb to remember about speaking to the police is to never do so without your attorney present. If you have committed some kind of crime or have knowledge about the allegations in question, your attorney can help you navigate the situation without unduly implicating yourself. If you are completely disconnected from the situation in question, an attorney will help ensure your rights are protected and you offer the police whatever reasonable assistance you can provide.

When to Call the Police for a Domestic Dispute

Posted by admin on November 9th, 2017 under Domestic Violence  •  No Comments

Families and spouses get into arguments and even heated altercations every day. In some situations, a domestic dispute can disturb neighbors to the point where they wonder whether or not to call the police. It’s important to understand the difference between a domestic spat and domestic abuse. The determining factor for anyone wondering whether or not to call the police about a domestic dispute is whether or not there is cause to believe someone is at risk of serious harm.

Knowing When to Call the Cops

Married couples and domestic partners get into disagreements all the time. One spouse may feel that the other is acting irrationally, but that does not always justify calling the police. If you find yourself involved in a domestic dispute with another member of your household, it is always best to try and resolve the situation peaceably between yourselves. However, if you suffer an injury or physical abuse, call the police immediately. If you hear your neighbors screaming at one another you can ask them to keep the noise down and carry on their argument at a more acceptable volume, but you shouldn’t call the police unless there has been actual violence or you genuinely suspect that violence has occurred or may occur.

It’s important for those wishing to intervene in a domestic dispute to know the difference between a situation that warrants intervention and a situation best left to those involved to resolve. Actual abuse is reprehensible and intolerable. If you see clear signs of domestic abuse or have suffered such abuse yourself, contact the police immediately. Unfortunately, some people believe that calling the police without justification is a way to teach someone a lesson.

The police report their findings and arrest suspects based on what they observe in a situation. If you call the police on someone knowing that he or she does not actually warrant an arrest, you can create serious problems for those involved that can last a lifetime. Additionally, false or exaggerated accusations draw the police away from other situations that actually demand police intervention. Your desire to teach your spouse a lesson could waste police time and resources when they could have been helping someone who truly needed help.

Penalties for Domestic Abuse

Actual domestic abusers deserve the full force of the justice system. Once the police investigate, they will arrest an aggressor if they believe there is probable cause or available evidence indicating the individual is a danger to his or her spouse or others in the household. If a person makes a bogus or exaggerated claim of domestic abuse, it can be very difficult to take back the claim and prevent undue punishments. Ultimately, the District Attorney will decide whether or not to press charges in a domestic abuse case. If the accuser knows that the accused does not truly deserve an arrest and charges, those investigating the matter may decide otherwise and create serious problems for the family.

Abusers and aggressors may face restraining orders that prevent them from returning to their homes or seeing their children. For domestic abusers, this is a positive thing that prevents harm to innocents. For the wrongly accused, this can be life-shattering and cause irreparable damage among members of a family. To discuss further details of your case, contact a Houston criminal defense lawyer.

Can You Have a Loaded Gun in Your Car in Texas?

Posted by admin on November 1st, 2017 under gun laws in Texas  •  No Comments

The Second Amendment protects Americans’ rights to keep and bear firearms, and state laws vary widely on the restrictions and liberties facing gun owners in each state. Texas has some of the most lenient gun laws in the United States, and gun owners enjoy a wide range of freedoms concerning their Second Amendment rights. However, it is still vital for gun owners in Texas to know and understand the gun laws in the state to prevent legal complications.

One common question among gun owners and potential gun buyers in Texas is whether or not it is legal to carry a loaded gun in a vehicle. The short answer is yes, it is legal to keep a firearm loaded and within reach of the driver in a vehicle under the Motorist Protection Act. Drivers must conceal handguns, but long guns like rifles and shotguns do not require concealment.

Legal Ownership in Texas

Texans may carry loaded firearms in their vehicles, but they must still obtain the proper license for owning and carrying a gun. Texas does not place a waiting period on buying a gun, nor does the state require firearm registration in a state database. There is also no requirement for transferring licenses of inherited or privately purchased firearms. As of January 1, 2016, open carry is legal for licensed gun owners in Texas. This means you can carry a firearm on your person in plain view, such as in a hip or thigh holster.

If you obtain a Concealed Carry Permit, you may keep a concealed handgun or revolver on your person. Long guns such as shotguns and rifles do not require permits and owners may openly carry them in public so long as the owner does so in a manner that does not raise public alarm. For example, keeping the weapon slung over a shoulder is fine, but carrying it in a ready position may be a public disturbance or threat to the public.

Caveats to Texas’ Vehicle Gun Laws

While Texas’ gun laws are quite lenient compared to most other states, there are a few details gun owners should know about carrying firearms in their vehicles. The Motorist Protection Act exists to allow vehicle owners to protect themselves from thieves, carjackers, and armed robbers while driving. Gun owners only require a valid Texas photo ID to purchase a gun in Texas, and a driver does not require a license to carry a loaded firearm in his or her vehicle. However, the driver must keep handguns either holstered on his or her person or concealed from view. As long as the driver owns the vehicle or the vehicle is under his or her control, it is legal in Texas to have a loaded firearm in the vehicle within reach.

Texas law does prohibit knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally carrying a loaded firearm on a school’s or other educational institution’s vehicle. Exceptions apply to concealed carry permit holders as of August 1, 2016, and concealed carry permit holders may keep their firearms in a locked vehicle out of plain view in K-12 establishment parking lots or parking structures. Gun owners have a great deal of freedom when it comes to exercising their Second Amendment rights in Texas, but anyone who has questions about legal gun ownership and carrying practices should reach out to a licensed firearm dealer, a police station, or a Houston criminal defense attorney to verify the legality of their actions.

Criminal Charges for Looting and Burglary During Hurricane Harvey

Posted by admin on September 12th, 2017 under Burglary  •  No Comments

Hurricane Harvey may have passed, but its repercussions are still affecting thousands throughout Texas. It is a sad reality that some people will use a natural disaster for their own personal gain. Cases of looting and burglary in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey are proof that some people have no boundaries when it comes to committing crimes. The State of Texas takes looting and burglarizing of a disaster area extremely seriously, imposing heavy fines and penalties on anyone police convict of looting after Harvey.

Texas is Cracking Down on Looters

When residences are the most vulnerable, criminals will pounce. While people are too busy evacuating, taking shelter, and staying out of harm’s way, others take the opportunity to loot and burglarize abandoned properties. Texas lawmakers have vowed to harshly penalize anyone caught looting or robbing businesses or homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. They’ve adopted a zero tolerance policy on these crimes, with Houston’s police chief promising to “do whatever it takes” to protect citizens. Part of the solution has been to impose strict penalties on those caught looting, including:

  • Mandatory jail and prison time
  • Zero eligibility for probation
  • Prosecution to the fullest extent of the law
  • Enhanced punishments and sentences
  • Potential life in prison for burglarizing a home

Texas laws allow harsher punishments for crimes people commit in times of natural disaster. Police chiefs and District Attorneys’ offices have vowed to work hard to make jail or prison time mandatory for every offender guilty of looting disaster areas or similar crimes. They state that these offenders will not have access to probation and other forms of leniency that might normally apply in robbery situations. Police will treat crimes committed while Texas is a disaster area much more seriously than typical offenses.

Other Types of Crimes After Hurricane Harvey

Price gouging is another problem that Hurricane Harvey victims are facing in Texas. Businesses from contractors to hotels have taken to price gouging to take advantage of vulnerable people in need. Texas is serious about people and businesses that try to take advantage of disaster during or after the storm. The law will not allow these practices to take place without consequences.

There are fines of up to $25,000 per occurrence of price gouging – a penalty that increases to $250,000 if the victim is over the age of 65. Companies can potentially go out of business from price gouging victims on gas, water, lodging, food, and other necessities. Armed robbery has also been an issue after Hurricane Harvey. Reports of armed robbers threatening business owners and evacuees have circulated throughout the state, as have stories of alleged gunshot damage to an Apple store. Anyone convicted of armed robbery during this time could face years in prison.

In an effort to stop looting, armed robbery, and burglarizing, Houston imposed a curfew from midnight until 5:00 a.m. The city also brought in additional police officers from other regions. In times of trouble, Texas stands by its citizens. The law will not go easy on criminals who are taking advantage of vulnerable home and business owners who are simply trying to pick up the pieces after a terrible storm. If you’ve been accused of a crime in the midst of Hurricane Harvey, know that you should seek all legal options available to you.

Can a Felon Own a Gun in Texas?

Posted by admin on August 14th, 2017 under Felony offenses  •  No Comments

Gun ownership is one of the many rights an individual gives up when he or she becomes a convicted felon in Texas. Texans must comply with federal and state gun laws when it comes to purchasing a rifle or handgun in the state. These laws restrict ownership rights according to rules by the Texas Department of Public Safety. One of the eligibility requirements for owning a gun in the Lone Star State is that the individual has not had a felony conviction, according to Government Code §411.172-a-3.

State Gun Laws

“Felons can’t own guns in Texas” is an overarching statement that comes with several exceptions and stipulations. State laws only apply to “convicted” felons. This does not include felony convictions the courts have subsequently expunged, pardoned, annulled, invalidated, voided, or sealed. A state or federal judge must have issued these orders for the felon to be able to own a gun. The law doesn’t see an individual as “convicted” if the court ordered a deferred adjudication against the person at least 10 years prior to the date of the individual’s gun license application. There are exceptions to this rule for certain types of felony offenses, including:

  • Capital felony
  • Kidnapping/unlawful restraint
  • Criminal homicide
  • Sexual offenses
  • Robbery
  • Felony theft
  • Family violence
  • Stalking
  • Trafficking

There are certain violent crimes and felonies that bar a convicted individual from ever being able to own a gun in Texas, except in the event of an expunged or pardoned conviction. The law also bars individuals with Class A or Class B misdemeanors or equivalent offenses in the last five years preceding the date of the application from gun ownership. Conviction of an offense according to Section 42.01, Penal Code or a felony under an indictment or information also eliminates the right to gun ownership. Finally, fugitives from justice for these crimes may not legally own guns of any kind.

Federal Gun Laws

Convicted felons must obey federal gun laws on top of Texas state restrictions. There are significant penalties included in the federal law for felons who possess weapons, unless they’ve received restoration of rights by the convicting state. Federal law 18 U.S.C. 922(g) states that anyone “convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for longer than one year” may not possess any firearms or ammunition. Federal law makes it illegal for anyone with a felony conviction to own a firearm or possess one inside or outside the home.

Breaking the federal gun law can result in up to 10 years in prison. Conviction of certain misdemeanor charges also bars a person from gun ownership under federal law. For example, a misdemeanor for domestic violence or for Firearms and Explosives automatically restricts gun ownership for those convicted. There are exceptions to these federal rules, just as the Texas state gun laws have exceptions. If the state that convicted the person restores the individual’s rights, federal law will permit gun ownership.

Gun laws can be highly complex. In basic terms, a felon cannot own a gun in Texas. However, there are several exceptions to the state and federal laws. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand whether your felony conviction qualifies as an exception to all applicable gun laws in Texas.

Your Guide to Facing Murder Charges in Texas

Posted by admin on June 5th, 2017 under Criminal defense, Murder  •  No Comments

Investigations into murders and murder charges can feel overwhelming for the suspect and close family and friends. If you know what to expect, you can face the charges as an informed citizen. This is what you should know about murder charges in Texas.

How Texas Defines Murder

Texas recognizes four types of criminal homicide: capital murder, murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.

  • Capital murder. The state may escalate murder charges to capital murder charges if it believes a person accepted payment to kill, killed during the commission of certain felonies, killed inside of jail/prison or while trying to escape, killed multiple people, killed a child, or killed certain public servants/officials. If convicted, a person may face the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.
  • If a person kills intentionally with malice aforethought, causes a blatantly life-threatening bodily injury, or kills someone during the commission of a felony, the state can charge the individual with murder. For murder, an individual may face several years in prison, life in prison, or the death penalty.
  • Reckless behavior that proximally causes a person’s death can result in manslaughter charges. A person need not intend to kill someone to face these charges. If convicted, someone could spend up to 20 years in prison.
  • Criminally negligent homicide. If someone fails to use a prescribed duty of care and that inattention leads to another person’s death, the state may pursue criminally negligent homicide charges. Maximum sentencing in these cases is two years in jail.

How Murder Charges Work

Murder charges can begin with an arrest or with an investigation into a crime. Either way, the prosecutor will evaluate the facts of the case and determine whether to move forward with murder or murder-related charges. The state can move forward with criminal charges if it presents enough evidence in a preliminary hearing or in a grand jury proceeding. Prosecutors will move quickly to file the charges, and the entire process from arrest to arraignment may only take a few days.

What Suspects and Loved Ones Should Know About Murder Charges

From the moment an investigator makes an introduction until the last day in court, the state will scrutinize the suspect and possibly his or her loved ones. What you say and how you behave can help or hurt the outcome of the case. A defense attorney will help you prepare for questioning and help you understand your rights. In general, those facing such serious charges should:

  • Invoke their Fifth Amendment rights. Watch what you say in person and through electronic mediums. Never talk or write about the facts of a case in jail communications (officials can read your mail and listen in on your conversations). Avoid making comments on social media, in emails, and in text messages. If you’re innocent or guilty, the best way you can protect yourself and your loved ones is to stay silent. Some language can be misconstrued.
  • Comply with the process. From the moment the state takes a person into custody, it can make life easy or hard for everyone involved. Remain polite and compliant, even when you feel overwhelmed, angry, and frustrated.
  • Do not waive your right to an attorney. A defense attorney is your most powerful ally in a murder case. Talk candidly with your attorney, focus on the end goal, and keep realistic expectations.

Facing murder charges is often one of the scariest events a person can face. Regardless of guilt, the charges will turn your life upside down. A murder case can drag on for months or years. Go into the process with open eyes and lean on a skilled defense attorney to get through this difficult time.

Texas Hit-and-Run Criminal Charges

Posted by admin on June 5th, 2017 under Criminal defense, Hit and run accidents  •  No Comments

Texas classifies crimes associated with leaving the scene of an accident as either misdemeanors or felonies. In either case, driving away after hitting someone is a bad idea. While most people rationally know not to leave the scene, they may not act rationally in the moment. Fear, adrenaline, ignorance, carelessness, or other factors may lead a driver to pull away and keep moving. Unfortunately, the state considers leaving the scene of an accident under any circumstance a serious crime.

Misdemeanor and Felony Hit-and-Run Accidents

If you are involved in an accident in Texas that involves property damage, injury, or death, you are legally obligated to:

  • Return to and stop your vehicle in a safe location as close to the scene of the incident as possible.
  • Determine if anyone involved in the accident needs help, offer reasonable assistance, and either transport the person to a medical facility or contact emergency responders on that person’s behalf.
  • Remain at the scene until you share vehicle registration information, insurance information, and your driver’s license information (if asked) to any other drivers or passengers involved in the incident.

If you do not stop at the scene of the accident or comply with the law, you may face the following consequences:

  • Second-degree felony charges. If someone dies at the scene or later as a result of the accident, the state may pursue second-degree felony charges. Those convicted of a second-degree felony may face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Third-degree felony charges. If someone suffers a serious bodily injury in the accident, the hit-and-run driver may face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Class B misdemeanor. If the accident results in damage exceeding $200 in value, the hit-and-run driver could spend six months in jail.
  • Class C misdemeanor. If the accident results in damage under $200 in value, the court may order the hit-and-run driver to pay a fine of up to $500.

The law is clear, but accidents are messy. Depending on the facts of the case, the charges a prosecutor initially files may not hold up in court. Anyone charged with a hit-and-run accident should consult a defense attorney to better understand how the law applies in various situations.

Steps to Take If You Wrongfully Leave the Scene of an Accident

Whether you didn’t realize you needed to stop or you thought the other driver involved waived you on, facing a hit-and-run investigation can be frightening. Before the state can charge you with a crime, they must identify and prove you were the other driver. If you face investigatory questions or charges for a hit-and-run accident, take the following steps:

  1. Talk to a defense attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you understand what you’re up against and how to answer investigators’ questions.
  2. Do not self-incriminate. Investigators are not looking for justifications or excuses when they confront individuals about crimes. They are searching for anything they can use to make an arrest. Remain silent until you consult your attorney. Use caution when sending electronic communications and posting online, too. Anything publicly posted can be used against you.
  3. Delay calling your insurer. Wait to talk to your insurer until after you speak with an attorney. The insurance company may give the police any information you provide.

Take a proactive approach to hit-and-run charges instead of hiding and hoping the situation will go away. Talk to an attorney about what happened and work through criminal charges, insurance claims, and other factors that may arise. Hit-and-run charges can be serious, but the right defense strategy may result in reduced charges or a case dismissal.

Parents: What to Do if Your Child Was Caught Shoplifting

Posted by admin on June 5th, 2017 under Criminal defense, Juvenile offenses  •  No Comments

According to data compiled by Statistic Brain in 2016, 25% of shoplifters are kids, 55% of shoplifters say they began stealing in their teens, and 89% of kids say they know others who shoplift. The problem is pervasive, but it may not hit home until you receive the call saying your child is in custody.

Long-Term Consequences of Shoplifting

In the eyes of a minor, shoplifting may seem like a minor infraction. The illegal act may have started as a dare, a whim, or an underlying compulsion. When caught, however, one seemingly minor act of shoplifting can begin a ripple of consequences. Charges and a subsequent conviction may prevent a child from finding gainful employment, getting accepted into college, and building a line of credit. In addition to criminal charges, your child could also face a lawsuit.

What Will Happen to My Child Now?

Many things can happen after you receive the call. If the store does not contact the police, the owner may work through the issue with a parent. After the store contacts the police, the legal process takes over. Pleading with a store manager or owner may not help you or your child.

If your child is younger than 18, the state juvenile justice system or a municipal court will likely handle the matter. Criminal consequences for theft in Texas reflect the value of the goods stolen. For example, if your child stole something under $50 in value, the state could file Class C misdemeanor charges. If convicted under normal circumstances, the immediate penalty is a fine of no more than $500

As the value of the goods stolen increases, so do the consequences. If a child steals a sound system worth $1,700, for example, prosecutors could file state jail felony charges. In more serious cases, your child could face time in juvenile detention, fines, probation, and other immediate consequences.

While minor infractions may seem as simple as paying off a traffic citation, the situation could be more serious. A misdemeanor conviction could go on the child’s permanent record – all for a $10 bracelet. Depending on the situation, the court may offer a minor a deferred adjudication term. In deferred adjudication deals, a defendant agrees to meet the court’s terms of probation in exchange for case dismissal and a sealed record.

A Quick Note on Civil Matters and Shoplifting Crimes

Sometimes stores send out payment demand letters. They may demand you or your child immediately pay $100 or more. Until a civil court forces you to pay damages for the incident, you gain nothing by meeting the store’s demands. Most of the time, the store will simply stop sending the letters rather than pursue litigation.

Discuss your legal liability with an attorney about payment demand notices and civil actions arising from the case. Under civil parental liability laws, you may face financial liability for the actions of your child.

What Should I Do as a Parent?

As a parent or guardian, you will need to appear in court with your child. Some parents are tempted to show their children tough love and force them to accept whatever consequences the court doles out. While some tough love may be in order, the full consequences of the law may do more to harm a child than to teach a lesson.

We recommend speaking to a defense attorney who demonstrates experience working on juvenile matters. Whether your child stole a low-value item on a dare or faces much more serious consequences, an attorney can advocate for alternative sentencing programs, reduced charges, or another alternative. These gentler consequences and parental guidance often do more to deter children from future crimes than allowing the system to pursue the full extent of the law.

In addition to working through legal consequences, consider why your child felt compelled to steal. Some minors will learn the lesson as soon as someone catches them. For others, the act is a symptom of a deeper problem. Working through difficulties now may stop your child from repeating the offense later.

How Do I Know If I Have a Warrant out for My Arrest in Harris County?

Posted by admin on May 30th, 2017 under Criminal defense  •  No Comments

Being faced with a criminal charge is a serious matter. It’s also frightening to most people, especially if there are aggravating circumstances surrounding the arrest. It’s not uncommon for our office to receive calls inquiring about potential warrants. People want to know if a warrant has been issued for their arrest, but don’t want to inquire with local law enforcement (for obvious reasons). There are a couple ways you can discover if you have a warrant out for your arrest:

Warrants for Misdemeanors

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has made it convenient for people to find out if there are outstanding misdemeanor warrants for an arrest. Anyone with access to the internet can find out if they (or someone they know) have an outstanding warrant for class A or class B misdemeanors (lesser misdemeanors are only punishable by fines or community service, so they don’t usually merit arrest warrants).

Examples of class A or B misdemeanors include, driving while intoxicated (DWI) (for a first or second offense), possession of marijuana, carrying a weapon unlawfully, public intoxication (third offense or more), trespassing, prostitution, or public lewdness.

Searching for Misdemeanors in Harris County

To search for an outstanding misdemeanor warrant, simply visit the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Website.

Once there, you can search for active warrants by using your first and last name, date of birth, or a system person number (SPN) number. The SPN is a number assigned a person on their first contact with the Harris County criminal justice system.

What About Felony Warrants?

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office website does not have an option available to search for felony warrants. If you think you may have an arrest warrant for a felony, you may be able to use the online portal through the Harris County District Clerk’s office.

To begin a search, start by visiting the District Clerk’s website. Once on the main navigation page, click “Online Services” and navigate to the “Search Our Records and Documents” section.

On the records and documents page, you’ll see a “criminal” tab. This will allow you to search by last name and get a list of people in the system with a pending trial. The status column will show you if the defendant is in jail, out on bail, or has an active arrest warrant. You may have to register with a free login to access this information.

What About Municipal Warrants?

Some people may have city warrants for fine-only misdemeanors (class C and below). To see if you have one, call the city of Houston help line by dialing 311. This can help you figure out if someone has an active warrant, is in jail, or if they’ve posted bond. To see if someone you know is in jail, you can also visit the Houston jail website.

There Is a Warrant out for My Arrest. What Are My Options?

If you discover an active warrant for your arrest, you have only two options to make it go away:

  • Turn yourself in.
  • Post bail.

It’s important to note that warrants don’t just go away. The longer you ignore them, the more trouble you will face. Fleeing across state lines could result in more fines and more jail time. It’s in your best interest to act immediately on any active warrant.

Before turning yourself into the authorities, contact a criminal defense attorney. They will keep your best interests at heart throughout the process, and help you understand your rights. Acting on an arrest warrant is the first step in putting the crime behind you and getting on with your life. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us.

How Serious is a Public Intoxication Charge in Texas?

Posted by admin on May 30th, 2017 under Criminal defense  •  No Comments

If you’ve been recently charged with public intoxication, you’re may be wondering if this is considered a serious offense. Public intoxication punishment in Texas depends on a variety of factors, including the number of previous convictions, the age of the offender, and the setting of the arrest. But it’s also important to remember that many people who are arrested for public intoxication have their charges lessened or even dismissed.

The law provides guidance for public intoxication using the Texas Penal Code, Section 49.02 (c). According to this statute, public intoxication is designated as a class C misdemeanor, except when it’s classified as falling under Section 49.02 (e). Let’s remove the legalese and take a look at these in detail.

Public Intoxication for Those 21 and Older

Section 49.02 (c) applies to those who are age 21 or older at the time of the arrest. If you’re arrested for public intoxication, you may be charged with a class C misdemeanor. Under Texas law, this means you can’t be fined more than $500. On the other hand, if you have two or more prior convictions for public intoxication, a prosecutor may see fit to elevate the charge to a class B misdemeanor. These are more serious, and carry the risk of potential jail time. Maximum punishments for class B misdemeanors include as many as 180 days jail time and fines up to $2000.

Should I Plead Guilty to Public Intoxication?

Many people who face public intoxication charges, particularly if it’s only their first offense, think they should just plead guilty, pay the fine, and get on with their lives. But we caution against doing this. Remember, a conviction will remain on your record and may affect future employment, graduate school admission, or even your ability to obtain a loan. Though it’s only punishable by fines, it’s not wise to think of this like another parking ticket. A conviction can tarnish your character in the eyes of others.

A public intoxication charge might cause concerns about your ability to make responsible decisions. Even if you were just out having fun and got carried away on a lark, a public intoxication arrest happens because an officer believed that you were a potential danger to yourself or others. For this reason, we suggest thinking carefully before pleading guilty.

Public Intoxication for Those 21 or Younger

The law is different when the public intoxication charges are for those younger than 21. The Texas Penal Code states that punishment for minors (in this case, under 21), should be the same as if they committed an offense under the Texas Alcoholic Code. Essentially, this means the following:

  • If a minor has two previous convictions for public intoxication, prosecutors may be able to elevate the charge to a class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by 180 days in jail and/or fines totaling up to $2000.
  • Even if this is a minor’s first offense, prosecutors might be able to move for suspension of a driver’s license or denial of a learner’s permit.

A first-time conviction for public intoxication can result in the suspension of a minor’s driver’s license, driver’s learning permit, or even deny the issuance of a driver’s learning permit. If convicted for a first-time offense, minors can expect at least between $250 and $500 in fines. But it doesn’t stop there – minors must also complete mandatory community service and possibly an alcohol education course.

While public intoxication charges aren’t generally viewed as “serious” crimes, they may still carry penalties that affect your record, as well as your professional, financial, and academic life. We recommend consulting with a criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty to any charge.