What Would Someone Have to Do to Be Deported?

Posted by admin on October 2nd, 2015 under deportation  •  No Comments

Deportation is one of the main fears immigrants have – and rightly so. There are many reasons an individual might be forced out of the US. Criminal activity and misrepresented paperwork are just two that could lead to deportation proceedings. Here are some other reasons why you might be deported:

  • You are here illegally. If the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) finds out you are living here illegally, it has the right to deport you. This can be the result of failing to complete the application process or a consequence of certain types of fraud. The organization also has the right to deport anyone who is not a US citizen, provided it has a sufficient reason for doing so.
  • If you are convicted on a charge of drug trafficking, human trafficking, violent crimes, prostitution, or other serious offenses, you could be deported. Depending on the circumstances, one misdemeanor may not warrant deportation. Numerous and more serious crimes, however, could mean you will have to leave this country for a certain period of time or even permanently.
  • Even if you are not a convicted felon or repeat offender, you can be deported for small citations and misdemeanors if you have a history of bad behavior. In some cases, it may be better to go before an immigration court than criminal court, since an immigration court will allow you to provide character witnesses to prove your overall good behavior.
  • Marriage fraud. Many people wrongfully believe they can use marriage as a means of entry into the US. If ICE finds out that you misled them (e.g., you get a divorce soon after coming here or there are documents that prove fraud), it has the right to deport you.
  • Other types of fraud. If your paperwork is faulty in some way, and the error was intentional, you may be accused of fraudulent activity. This may also be grounds for deportation, depending on the circumstances.
  • Green card or visa expiration. As a legal immigrant or visitor, it is your responsibility to renew your status in this country. If you fail to do so, you are no longer here legally – and the government is free to deport you.
  • You ignore the terms of your status. Some legal immigrants are allowed to stay providing they follow a certain set of conditions. If there are conditions to your status, you must follow them. Failing to do so could lead to deportation.
  • You moved and did not tell the government. Although this rarely happens, if you move and do not notify US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the government reserves the right to deport you. You have 10 days to report your change of address, and you can use an online form to do so.
  • You try to receive welfare or other forms of public assistance. When you apply to come to the US legally, it is with the understanding that your sponsor will support you. The US government has no obligation to provide for you. If you use public assistance programs, that is an indication that you should not have been granted a green card, and you could be deported.

There are other reasons you may be deported, but these are some of the major ones. The good news is that being threatened with deportation does not always mean you will actually be forced to leave the country. You have the right to appeal the decision, but you may need the help of a knowledgeable immigration attorney. If you or someone you know is being threatened with deportation, reach out to the Law Office of David A. Breston.

What Is a Green Card? How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?

Posted by admin on September 28th, 2015 under Immigration  •  No Comments

A green card holder is a permanent resident of the United States, but not a citizen. Green card status means someone has been allowed to come into the country, work, and live permanently. Physically, it is a plastic card that tells officials an individual is living and working in the country legally. The card is not actually green, although it once was. The application process is not as rigorous as filing for citizenship, and many immigrants use green cards as an intermediate step as they move from becoming a visitor in the country to becoming a citizen. Here are some of the most common questions you might have about green cards and their answers:

How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card? 

As with most government affairs, the set time to obtain a green card may vary. Processing time and other factors may expedite or slow down the overall process. However, determining your eligibility prior to applying and/or speaking with an attorney may speed up the process. Following the instructions on the forms precisely is very important and may effect whether your application is approved or rejected.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements? 

You cannot get a green card on a whim because you are tired of your home country. Instead, you have to be sponsored by family, sponsored by an employer, be an investor with the required amount of capital, be seeking asylum as a refugee, or win a diversity lottery that is typically held annually in the US.

Where Do I Go to Obtain and File the Forms? 

All of the forms you need to fill out can be downloaded through the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website. You will need to file Form I-485 to apply for permanent residency, but depending on your eligibility requirements, you may also need to file other forms concurrently. The forms are detailed, and you will need to carefully fill out each section. An attorney may also be helpful during this part of the process to ensure you have filled out every part of the forms required by the agency.

Will It Cost Money? 

Unfortunately, filing for a green card is not always cheap. Filing your application will cost $420. In addition to the initial cost of filing, you will also have other fees that may be associated with your immigration and affidavit of support. Other costs you may want to budget include translation services, medical exams, original document replacements, legal fees, and travel expenses. Some supplemental forms may cost as much as $1,000 to file. Consider budgeting the cost of applying for a green card before filing the initial application to expedite the process.

I Already Have a Green Card. Can I Become a Citizen? 

If you have held your green card actively for five years, or you have been married to a citizen for three years, you may apply for citizenship in the US.

If you have been denied a green card, you can appeal the decision under certain circumstances. To ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible, we highly recommend talking to an outside professional who has experience with the immigration process. The forms and the process can be complex and difficult to understand.

You may have many more questions than the few listed in this article. If you are interested in getting your green card, particularly during this time of national debate regarding immigration, reach out to our team at the Law Office of David A. Breston. We can help you answer further questions regarding your status and move forward with your application or appeals process.

What Happens if I Am Charged With Illegal Reentry After Being Deported?

Posted by admin on September 15th, 2015 under deportation, Deportation defense, Immigration  •  No Comments

Getting caught for a crime in America can be frightening, particularly if you are not familiar with the state and federal laws that will decide your fate. If you have been deported, denied admission to the country, or forcibly removed for any reason and you attempt to reenter the US without proper authorization, you could face fines and imprisonment.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your previous deportation and detainment after reentry, you may face a number of consequences. In some cases, you may be removed once again. In other cases, fines and two years in prison are the minimum consequences for illegal reentry. If you have been charged with three or more drug misdemeanors, a felony, or crimes against other people, you could spend up to 10 years in prison. After an aggravated felony, if you reenter the country, you could spend 20 years in prison.

What if My Previous Order for Removal Is Reinstated?

Going through removal proceedings may be one of the best outcomes you could face after an illegal reentry. Through the process of the removal proceedings, you may qualify for relief efforts and discover a way to stay in the country legally. The circumstances of your case will largely affect the opportunities that may be available to you at this time.

Do I Have a Right to an Attorney if I Am Charged With Illegal Re-entry?

Even if you are not an American citizen, you have a right to an attorney under our laws. Hiring a private defense attorney may be the best way for you to fight the charges against you and have them dropped or reduced. Immigration cases are highly complex, particularly with the rate of change in legislation. You may have legal remedies available that you are not aware of.

We never recommend trying to fight an illegal reentry case on your own. As a private immigration and deportation defense firm, our team can help you understand your rights as an illegal immigrant in this country and develop a defense strategy that makes sense for your case.

Can I Dispute a Notice for the Reinstatement of an Order for Removal?

If there are factors that have not been considered in your case, you can dispute the findings of the notice. Doing so may improve your chances of proving your entry into the US was lawful, and help you remain in the US without removal. In some cases, extenuating factors may inform the decision to allow you to remain in the US. An immigration officer may not be able to reinstate an order for removal if you are seeking asylum from a dangerous situation, if you have applied for an adjustment of status as a Haitian refugee or a Central American refugee, or if you are eligible for a green card.

Can My Case Be Reopened After I Have Been Ordered Out of the Country Again?

If you did not appear in court for your hearing, your case may be eligible for reopening. Requesting that the case be reopened will give you an opportunity to present your case to the court and explain your situation. You may also be able to seek additional aid to improve your chances of being allowed to stay by doing so.

Finding an Attorney

Dealing with the legal system in America can be scary for citizens. For immigrants fleeing from a bad situation or those who have been mistakenly targeted by an immigration task force, the process can be arduous and overwhelming. If you have been charged with illegal reentry after being deported from the US, you may want to seek the guidance of an experienced legal defense attorney. Reach out to the Law Offices of David A. Breston for more information.

Is it Illegal to Jailbreak or Unlock Your Cell Phone?

Posted by admin on March 6th, 2015 under Uncategorized  •  No Comments

Rooting and jailbreaking are the practices of removing certain restrictions on operating systems to serve the owner’s purposes. Hacking any Apple products’ DRM is collectively called jailbreaking, and rooting refers to bypassing Android DRM. Nearly all manufacturers of electronic devices from tablets to smart phones have protections called Digital Rights Management (DRM) software.

DRM serves two purposes. The first is for software security. Those who use Amazon’s one-click purchasing option freely enjoy the protections provided by DRM to secure their account data. The second purpose is to provide software limitation to protect the software and hardware manufacturers. By hacking the DRM for personal purposes, you are committing a crime.

How the Hacks Work

Rooting and jailbreaking are usually accomplished by installing malicious software onto the phone that bypasses certain restrictions. For instance, jailbreaking usually entails installing a series of software called kernel patches. Kernels are strings of code that supervise the operating system. By circumventing kernels, you can install your own code that helps run the device.

Unlocking is a term sometimes used interchangeably with jailbreaking, but it means something different. Unlocking refers specifically to the process of allowing your phone to work with any carrier. In other words, unlocked phones can change service from AT&T or Verizon to another carrier without company intervention.

Rooting is the process of allowing yourself root-level access on a device. By rooting a product, you are essentially giving yourself elevated administrative rights that are typically impermissible.

There are other hacks that go hand-in-hand with these processes. Users can change the icon dock to install their own UIs or illegal emulation software for video games and movies. Cydia is a hack for Apple products that is incredibly popular on jailbroken devices. It has its own app store with free and paid apps alike. Cydia is technically legal, but some of the apps that work on the platform are not.

Hacks put users at danger, though users are often unaware of the risk. Many malware and software virus programmers target users who have installed programs like Cydia, since the loss of restrictions also compromises device security. A study by the UCSB looked at over 1,400 free programs for hacked devices. Of them, 21% of these apps made the devices’ IDs available and 4% gave away user locations with GPS. Some of the apps from Cydia even leaked photos, browsing histories, and private information.

Legal Implications of Hacked Software

Jailbreaking is not currently illegal on most devices, but using illegal applications and software through jailbreaking certainly is. This procedure is legal only because the DMCA does not cover the process specifically. However, jailbreaking is currently illegal on the iPad.

The reason the iPad is off-limits is because of the ambiguous terminology of the word “tablet.” A portable video game console (like the GameBoy) could be referred to as a tablet as easily as an e-reader or Kindle. By allowing jailbreaking on those devices, protections for gaming consoles could potentially erode.

Unlawful unlocking can have consequences. Service carriers are allowed to unlock your device, but an unapproved third party or self-service is considered unlawful. Fines for unlocking a device without consent can be steep. Civil suits filed against an unlocked phone can result in a fine of up to $2,500. The practice can be tried as a criminal case if the phone owner stands to make a profit by unlocking the device. This “commercial advantage” can net the offender five years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.

Currently, Apple and other developers are lobbying to make jailbreaking and rooting illegal. As of right now the best they can do is void your warranty in very specific instances.

What Are The Penalties of Digital Piracy and Illegal Downloads in Texas?

Posted by admin on March 6th, 2015 under Digital Piracy, Illegal Downloading, Piracy Law  •  No Comments

The internet has rightly been compared to the settling of the American West. It is the final frontier. P2P and sharing software have made file sharing a simple process that anyone can learn in under a few minutes. New laws have begun cracking down on this behavior. Everyone remembers when Napster was shut down in 2001, but since then copyright laws have become more severe.

Many of the laws regarding illegal downloading and digital piracy exist at the federal level. Additional local and state laws exist as well. For instance, Texas Tech University has specific guidelines (30.22.4 and 30.22.5) for what constitutes fair use with music and video sharing. This is because university students often find academic reasons to share materials within a classroom.

Important Digital Piracy Laws

The most common digital piracy laws provide the majority of the protections needed by owners of creative content. While this is a brief overview of the laws, if you are unsure whether or not your actions constitute proper content use, contact an attorney who has experience in digital piracy.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is one of the most well-known laws. This law makes it illegal to work around copyright protections, even if the copy is made for personal use. Preserving work that is already owned by changing the format of the property may offer the user some protections. For instance, making a DVD of some VHS tapes may be allowed. However, hacking a video game to use offline to avoid ownership confirmation is definitely not.

Some of the most important aspects of the DCMA are:

  • • Cracking copyright protections, circumventing encryptions, breaking into protected product code, and “stress testing” security systems, are all illegal.
  • • Manufacturing or distributing code-cracking software is unlawful.
  • • In Texas, some nonprofits, state archives, and education groups have some specific exemptions. However, commercial sales of content are still strictly prohibited.
  • • Making copies of data, product updates, software, and information are all against federal and state laws.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is an international treaty between the United States and a host of other countries including Japan, the UK, the United Arab Emirates, and others. The point of this law is to protect digital piracy when a creative work may cross borders to another country. This treaty does not just target digital content, but also pharmaceuticals, currency, and other trade goods.

The No Electronic Theft law is a federal mandate that elevates civil copyright violations to a federal crime. Making a copy of a CD for a friend can result in charges of up to a maximum $250,000 in fines.

While search and seizure laws protect American citizens in a broad sense, lesser restrictions are placed on border officers conducting border searches. Laptop and electronic devices can be searched by border officers if they have reasonable suspicion, even without probable cause. By re-entering the US, you may find your personal digital privacy violated at what may seem like a whim.

Signed in 2008, the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act imposes even stricter penalties for copyright infringement. This law essentially gives law enforcement the right to take personal property of those suspected of copyright infringement. Seized property is sometimes not returned after a search, so those who keep extensive personal and work information on their personal computers should be careful.

Finally, those who put their names on copied or plagiarized work are committing fraud. In some cases, putting your name on a software crack or even an artist’s album is considered fraud, even if the artist’s name is clearly attached to the shared product. Know your protections and limitations before making copies.

When Can I Break the Speed Limit In Texas?

Posted by admin on March 6th, 2015 under Speed Limit, Texas  •  No Comments

Technically, going a single mile over the speed limit is breaking the law. Most cops and state troopers understand that speedometers are accurate within two mph or less, depending on the age and model of the vehicle. The leeway traffic cops give drivers is situational. You should absolutely go the speed limit in school zones, especially during bus hours. Driving seven above in a 35 mph zone is likely to be met with harsher treatment than going seven over in a 65 mph zone. That said, driving five to seven mph over the speed limit is fairly easy to fight in court.

How Texas Driving Laws Differ From Other States

There are three kinds of speed limit laws around the country: basic, absolute, and presumed.

Basic speed laws are fairly uncommon. These laws are hairy because the officer that issues the ticket can determine that you were driving too fast given the conditions at the time of the traffic stop. In other words, driving five miles under the speed limit in heavy precipitation or terrible visibility conditions can net you a ticket, especially if everyone else around you is driving more slowly. Similarly, driving too slow on a busy highway can also be dangerous and result in a ticket.

Most states have absolute laws. This means that the speed limit is absolute, no contest. Getting pulled over for one mph over the limit is a law violation.

Texas is in the category of speeding laws called presumed laws. A presumed violation gives drivers flexibility. Ticketing is also up to the discretion of the trooper, but as long as you are driving safely, going a few mph over the limit is considered legal. If you are pulled over for exceeding the limit by five mph on an empty highway under a clear blue sky, chances are good the ticket can be fought in court.

There are two main defenses to presumed speed limit defense laws:

  • You may claim that you did not actually speed. This is a more difficult defense to mount. While police officers occasionally incorrectly measure drivers’ speeds, this is difficult to prove in court.
  • You can also claim that even though you exceeded the speed limit, given the conditions, the speed was safe.

Your defense should address the officer’s concerns and story. For instance, if the officer says that he eyeballed your car or followed you for a short period of time, you may be able to mount the first defense and question the accuracy of his measurement.

Proving that your speed was safe is more challenging the more you exceeded the speed limit. Also, as with basic speeding law violations, if the conditions were poor and you were driving in an unsafe manner given the drivers around you, you can receive a ticket for a very minor infraction.

Speed Ticket Prices

Your speed ticket fine is based on the locality in which you received your ticket. The citation issued by the trooper may or may not give you the actual fine price. Usually, the fine increases if the ticket is not paid on time. Fines for three of Texas’ largest cities are below.

San Antonio. Fines are $166 for 10 mph over the speed limit, plus an additional $5 for every 1 mph above 10. So, getting pulled over driving 85 in a 65 mph zone will result in a $216 ticket.

• Austin. Austin’s tickets range from $143 for tickets 5 mph or fewer, up to $273 for 26 mph and more over the limit.

• Houston. Fees in Houston are slightly higher. The fine is $165 for tickets 5 mph over or fewer, up to $300 fines for tickets in excess of 30 mph.

What Firearms Can You Legally Carry in Texas?

Posted by admin on March 6th, 2015 under Firearms  •  No Comments

Texas gun laws are known for being less strict than other states. According to Article 1, Section 23 of the Texas constitution, our state protects your right to bear arms. No permit is required to purchase a gun, and some firearms can be freely carried in the open. There are a few restrictions, however. Some people are not allowed to carry firearms at all. Texas outlines very strict laws on what firearms you are allowed to carry, and where.

What Can Be Carried?

Open carry laws allow for most types of guns. Rifles, shotguns, and other similar firearms can be carried in public as long as the weapon does not cause alarm. If the firearm carrier appears threatening or otherwise raises suspicion, the owner can be charged with disorderly conduct.

The only firearms that are specifically restricted are handguns. A handgun may not be carried on your own property, taken to gun shows, or used while hunting. Eligible people can apply for a concealed handgun license (CHL). Texas has reciprocity agreements with thirty of the forty-nine other states and state law recognizes CHLs from 11 other states.

CHL applications must be 21 years or older, unless they are an active military member. There are a few other factors that can render an application ineligible:

  • If the applicant has pending criminal charges, the license will be postponed until the matter is resolved.
  • If the applicant has two or more substance charges in a period of ten years, he or she must wait until the ten year period has ended to apply.
  • Any ongoing mental health issues.
  • Any ongoing restraining orders.
  • Defaulting on student loans or other government fees (child support or back taxes) until the debt is resolved.
  • Felony convictions. Misdemeanors result in a five year ban on CHLs, though a Class A domestic violence misdemeanor will make the ban permanent.

Where Are Firearms Allowed?

Regardless of license, it is unlawful to carry firearms into certain places. Here are some examples:

  • Carrying a firearm on school property is a felony unless the school gives written authorization. This restriction is effective inside public and private schools, though firearms are allowed in public outdoor areas. The definition of public outdoor areas does not necessarily include sidewalks, parking lots, or other places that are within close proximity to children.
  • Carrying a firearm at sporting events, whether for school, amateur, or professional events, is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • It is illegal to carry firearms in any building that displays a 51% sign. 51% refers to any business that makes more than half of its revenue from the sale of alcoholic beverages that are consumed on the property. In other words, it is legal to carry a firearm in a liquor store, but is disallowed in bars and clubs.
  • Firearms are prohibited in any building associated with a jail or prison.
  • It is illegal to carry firearms in state and federal buildings. CHL holders can carry a concealed firearm in state and federal parks, but post offices, police stations, fire stations, and government buildings are off-limits. These limitations also extend to courthouses and all buildings designated for temporary government use, like polling and election stations. Concealed carry in any of these areas is considered a felony.
  • If the carrier is intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08 or more, then concealed carry is restricted.
  • Firearms are restricted at horse and dog racetracks.

Texas has both “castle doctrine” and “stand-your-ground” laws, which allow anyone to use deadly force to protect his or her home when someone is unlawfully trespassing on the property and attempting to forcibly enter the home. In other words, in cases of self-defense, the firearm holder is not expected to back down.