2017 Texas Marijuana Laws

Posted by admin on March 20th, 2017 under Criminal defense in Texas, Drug charges, Drug policies, drug possession  •  No Comments

The legalization of marijuana in some states has made it a hot topic across the nation. Although the federal government still classifies marijuana as a Schedule One narcotic, many states have acknowledged the scientifically proven medical applications of marijuana and legalized medicinal use of the plant. Additionally, some states and even local areas, such as the City of Philadelphia, have decriminalized marijuana use and possession.

Supporters of marijuana reform argue marijuana is virtually harmless, and the most dangerous aspect of it is being caught by police with it in your possession. Additionally, Schedule One classification is reserved for substances with “no known medical uses.” This has been proven untrue in the case of marijuana, and many wonder why the federal government has not changed marijuana’s classification by now.

Detractors of marijuana reform typically argue it is a “gateway drug” that invariably leads users to do harder, more dangerous drugs. Several studies have shown this is not the case, but many Americans still hold outmoded beliefs about marijuana and its alleged dangers.

Texas Marijuana Reform

The Texas Compassionate Use Act became law on June 1 of 2015, but the state has yet to implement any tangible marijuana reforms. The difficulty lies in red tape between state and federal laws. Texas state law dictates doctors must write prescriptions for marijuana for it be legal, but federal law prevents doctors from writing marijuana prescriptions. Additionally, pharmacies must fill prescriptions, not marijuana dispensaries. The law protects doctors legally recommending marijuana to patients, but it doesn’t allow them to prescribe it.

Another problem facing marijuana reform in Texas is that the Compassionate Use Act only recognizes one medical condition as treatable by marijuana. As of now, intractable epilepsy is the only acceptable condition. Medical marijuana benefits cancer patients, individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, individuals with Parkinson’s disease, and chronic pain sufferers, and studies have documented the positive effects for these conditions. Currently, legislators have introduced a bill that would expand the qualifying conditions to the Texas Assembly, but no one has implemented it yet.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is a staunch opponent of any type of legalized marijuana, but the citizens of Texas have differing views. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, roughly 75% of Texans support marijuana law reforms. Less than 20% believe the marijuana laws in Texas should remain unchanged.

Current Texas Marijuana Laws

One of the biggest arguments for marijuana reform is the astronomical cost of processing marijuana-related crimes like possession and purchase, which are essentially victimless crimes. Marijuana reform supporters in the Texas legislature have introduced two bills that would eliminate the criminal penalties for marijuana possession and impose a fine on citizens caught with marijuana in amounts up to one ounce.

Until the state implements different laws, medical marijuana is essentially in limbo in Texas, and individuals who purchase, sell, consume, or carry marijuana are still subject to arrest and criminal charges. As public opinion shifts more in favor of marijuana law reform, lawmakers will soon have to reconcile their personal beliefs with the will of the people. It’s difficult to ascertain the future of marijuana – medical or recreational – in Texas for now, but the various bills are signs of hope to thousands of Texans who could greatly benefit from legal access to medical marijuana.

For Texans interested in voicing their opinions to state lawmakers, the Marijuana Policy Project website offers several resources, including the best ways to contact state representatives. If you are suffering from a medical condition that marijuana may help, it’s important to protect yourself under the law. It may be a wise idea to speak with a reliable attorney about your concerns and the legality of any potential marijuana use.

How to Stay Safe on Your Vacations Travels

Posted by admin on March 20th, 2017 under identity theft, travel  •  No Comments

A vacation can be an excellent opportunity to see the world and spend some relaxing time with loved ones. However, it’s important to take proper precautions. If you’re planning to head to a major tourist destination, it’s vital to realize that tourists are often seen as easy targets by criminals. Take the time to read through the following tips so you and your family can have a safe and enjoyable vacation.

Prepare Accordingly

If you have a home security system, it’s a good idea to give a house key and your alarm code to a relative or trusted friend so he or she can occasionally stop by and check on your home while you’re away. This is also a good way to prevent your mailbox from filling up, and may also deter criminals from realizing your family is gone and your house is empty.

Some people think keeping the curtains shut tight will keep would-be thieves from peering inside and casing the house, but doing so could also prevent a patrolling officer from seeing an attempted break-in. Keeping lights on to appear as though you are home is not a good strategy either. Anyone watching your home will think it’s odd that your lights are on all night. Keeping them on for too long is not only dangerous for your electric bill but also a possible fire hazard.

Keeping Your Home Safe

Water damage is a major concern for many homeowners, and cold weather can also cause pipes to freeze. If you arrange to have someone visit while you’re gone, ask them to check your faucets to make sure your water is running. Frozen pipes can burst, resulting in very costly damage. Additionally, since you won’t be home for a while, the damage can be even more expensive thanks to water sitting while you’re gone.

Finally, one last precaution to safeguard your home should be to unplug your appliances. If a lightning strike causes a power surge, keeping your devices unplugged will protect them. This will also help keep your electric bill down while you’re away, as many modern appliances like televisions and computers continue to draw power even when they are powered off.

Only Take Essentials

Going on vacation usually means souvenirs and shopping for many people, so you should only pack essential toiletries, changes of clothes, and any devices you may need. It’s also a good idea to refrain from taking large amounts of cash. Large quantities of cash could be an easy grab for a skilled pickpocket, and relying on credit or debit cards is a much safer way to pay. Most modern money cards allow owners to turn their cards on and off through a smartphone app in case they are lost, so be sure to investigate whether your financial institutions provide any such services.

Packing lightly will also help you during travelling. It’s much easier to keep track of your belongings if you pack lightly, and expensive-looking luggage could be a temptation to any nearby thieves in or around airports and other travel hubs.

Safeguard Valuables

Some vacationers will open a safe deposit box for their trip. This can be a great way to store valuables safely during travel. For example, if you’re travelling halfway around the world, losing your wedding ring in a foreign country can be devastating, and chances are good that you won’t find it before it’s time to leave. Consider leaving expensive jewelry and other valuables in a bank vault until you return.

During your travels, take care not to “flash your cash” or display expensive jewelry or other items. If you take your car on vacation, make sure you do not leave any valuables like laptops or cameras in plain view.

Travelling to unknown territory can be exciting, but it’s important to always try to err on the side of caution. Tourist hotspots may be prime targets for criminals, but they may also be on the lookout for unwary tourists who wander off the beaten path. Follow these tips and tread carefully for a safe, pleasant vacation.

Can Someone Who Was Falsely Accused, Sue for Character Defamation?

Posted by admin on March 20th, 2017 under defamation  •  No Comments

Unfortunately, some people are falsely accused of crimes they did not commit. In some cases, this can progress into false imprisonment or other unjust penalties. More often than not, the accused will be more concerned with the damage done to his or her reputation. In the legal world, “defamation” refers to any type of attack on a person’s character. Defamation can be written, spoken, depicted in a video, or any other form of communication that could potentially reach many people.

Defamation can only happen under certain conditions. Anyone struggling with a false accusation should speak with an attorney. Thanks to technologies like mobile devices and social media, an attempted character assassination can spread like wildfire and seriously damage the target’s reputation.

How to Prove Defamation

The plaintiff (the party filing the lawsuit) must establish several facts to the court about the defaming statements in question. Generally, for statements to constitute defamation, they must be:

  • You cannot argue defamation against true statements, no matter how injurious to your reputation they may be.
  • An audience must have been able to see or hear the defaming comments. You cannot argue defamation against statements made in private or made without a wide audience.
  • The law considers statements made in court proceedings or legislative chambers privileged, meaning the statements are only intended to reach the people to whom they are made. For example, a witness in a lawsuit who testifies something false may not be sued for defamation. However, knowingly lying under oath may lead to a perjury charge.
  • You must be able to prove in court that the defaming statements caused you some kind of damage.

People of a certain stature will have other requirements to prove defamation, namely, public officials. The governed have the right to criticize those who govern them, but some critics take things too far. If a member of the public accuses a public official of misdeeds in their official capacity, the official must prove the above four requirements and also prove in court that the defendant “acted with actual malice,” or acted with the intent to damage the official’s reputation. In some cases, this requirement extends to well-known public figures like celebrities.

Defamation and the First Amendment

The First Amendment grants American citizens freedom of speech. Generally, this means Americans have the right to say what they want about anyone or anything, whenever they want, in whatever medium they choose. Freedom of speech allows citizens to fearlessly criticize their government. However, it does not mean freedom from the consequences of one’s speech. Defamation laws exist to create the line between protected speech and malicious, false statements one person uses to harm another.

Private citizens generally have more protection from defamation under the First Amendment than public figures. This is primarily because criticisms of public officials, even if untrue, are matters of public interest. This is why defamed officials must prove the defendant acted with actual malice. An example could be a journalist publishing negative comments about a politician without corroborating the facts before publishing. In some cases, the court may decree a defendant must publicly retract the defamatory statements he or she made.

Defamation cases can easily turn into complex legal battles, so if you find yourself in such a situation, reliable legal representation is crucial to reaching a positive result. Proving the extent of the damage done by the defaming speech is one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of most defamation lawsuits. However, a competent and experienced attorney can show the court the full extent of the damage done to the plaintiff’s reputation.

Can You Legally Drive After One Beer?

Posted by admin on October 17th, 2016 under DWI - Driving While Intoxicated  •  No Comments

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a major offense in every state. In Texas, DWI is punishable with jail time, fees, license suspension, and potentially an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle. Experts say that even one drink can impair a driver. While it’s best not to drink at all before driving, you should learn the legal limits in Texas.

So is one beer enough to convict a driver of DWI? The truth may surprise you.

BAC Levels and Your Driving

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the measurement law enforcement uses to gauge if a driver is legally impaired. Every state has its own limits for BAC levels in drivers, but most follow the same or similar standards. In Texas, the legal BAC limits are:

  • Drivers 21 years and older: 0.08%
  • Commercial drivers 21 years and older: 0.04%
  • Drivers under 21 years: 0.01% (any BAC level)

Texas is one of only 10 states that allow minors to consume alcohol in certain locations, such as the privacy of one’s home or under the supervision of consenting family members. However, a minor who has consumed any amount of alcohol is liable to receive a DWI charge if he or she gets behind the wheel. Commercial drivers have a lower BAC limit because they have a greater responsibility for roadway safety in larger, more dangerous vehicles.

Police officers measure a driver’s BAC levels using field sobriety testsr and chemical tests. As a licensed driver in Texas, you automatically consent to these tests. Refusal to take a BAC test has penalties of a 180-day license suspension for first-time offenders and a two-year suspension for second and third offenses. If you’re past the legal BAC level, regardless of how many drinks you consumed, the officer can arrest you for DWI.

Alcohol enters the bloodstream, impairing the body and mind. At a 0.08% BAC level, the typical person experiences poor coordination, slowed reaction time, and sedation. Coffee, a cold shower, and energy drinks won’t lower your BAC level. The only way to lower your BAC level is to wait long enough for your body to expel the alcohol. At levels lower than 0.08%, a driver may still experience lowered coordination and reaction times. An officer can still charge a driver with a DWI if the BAC level is below 0.08% in certain circumstances.

How Many Drinks Does It Take?

One 1.5-ounce shot of liquor, one 5-ounce glass of wine, and one 12-ounce beer have the same amount of alcohol. Just one drink could impair a person who weighs less than 100 pounds enough to not be able to drive safely. He or she may not have a BAC of 0.08%, but an officer could still make an arrest based on broken roadway rules, such as reckless driving. In general, it takes about three drinks for a person weighing 120 pounds to be legally intoxicated. However, a number of variables can influence this number, including how much the person eats, gender, body fat percentage, and any prescription medications he or she takes.

There’s no hard and fast rule for how many alcoholic beverages a person can consume before becoming too intoxicated to legally drive. Alcohol affects each person differently, and it’s up to the individual to know when he or she is too impaired to safely operate a motor vehicle. The best way to ensure that you don’t break the law or endanger the lives of others is to not consume any alcohol before driving. Otherwise, make sure you have a designated driver (someone who isn’t drinking) to take you home – or be prepared with the telephone number of a local taxi company.

The 10 Most Absurd Laws in Texas

Posted by admin on October 17th, 2016 under Criminal defense in Texas  •  No Comments

The Lone Star State is famous for more than just its friendly residents and affinity for barbeque. Texas is also home to some of the strangest laws in America. Many have become outdated and absurd for the modern Texan, yet they’re still active and enforceable. If you aren’t careful, you may find yourself convicted for one of these 10 absurd laws you probably didn’t realize existed.

You Can’t Sell Your Eyes

Texas Penal Code Section 48.02 prohibits the purchase and sale of human organs. This includes the eyes, kidney, liver, heart, lungs, skin, and other human organs or tissues. The law does not include hair or blood. If a person intentionally sells his or her organs, it’s a legal offense classified as a Class A misdemeanor. If you were considering selling your eyes to make a quick buck, think again – selling your organs in Texas can result in one year in the county jail and/or fines of up to $4,000.

You Can’t Own the Encyclopedia Britannica

The State of Texas outlawed the entire Encyclopedia Britannica because it has a formula for making beer at home. Lawmakers evidently don’t want Texans to create their own breweries at home. Breaking this provision can lead to fines and jail time – all for owning a book.

You Can’t Take More Than Three Sips (or Swallows) of Beer While Standing

Speaking of beer, there’s an absurd law that’s still active in LeFors, Texas. In LeFors, it’s illegal to take more than three sips (or swallows) of beer while standing. The background of this law is obscure, but likely has something to do with standing while intoxicated.

You Can’t Milk Another Person’s Cow

As tempting as milking someone else’s cow may be, you must refrain from this action in Texas. Older laws in the Texas Penal Code prohibit the milking of someone else’s cow, punishable with a fee not exceeding $10. Current laws still make milking another person’s cow illegal, but now the perpetrator faces theft of personal property charges.

You Must Warn Your Victims 24 Hours in Advance

If you’re planning a criminal activity in Texas, you must warn your victims within 24 hours of the crime. You must explain the nature of your upcoming crime, orally or in writing, giving your victims fair warning. This strange law is a recent addition to Texas’ anticrime provisions in an effort to reduce crime.

You Can’t Eat Your Neighbor’s Garbage Without Permission

One man’s trash is another man’s criminal conviction in Texas. If you eat your neighbor’s garbage without permission, you may face jail time for trespassing and stealing another’s property.

You Can’t Go Barefoot Without a Permit

Texas takes “No shirt, no shoes, no service” a bit further than most states. In certain Texan cities, citizens can’t walk around barefoot without first obtaining a $5 permit to do so. This law deals with city sanitation and appearance. Only when a citizen obtains the barefoot permit is he or she free to go shoeless.

You Can’t Shoot a Buffalo From the Second Floor of a Hotel

At one point in time, it may not have been unusual for buffalo to roam through the streets of town. Nowadays, however, this doesn’t happen often enough for the state to need an ordinance protecting the rights of such buffalo. However, there’s still an active Texas law that prohibits shooting a buffalo from the second floor of a hotel. This law is very specific, apparently allowing the shooting of buffalo from other locations.

You Can’t Feather Dust a Public Building

Texas currently prohibits the dusting of any public building with a feather duster. It’s unclear whether the dusting of a building with another tool is legal… or why the state would need to outlaw such an obscure act.

You Can Legally Marry Someone By Stating It Out Loud

Common law marriage provisions make a marriage legally valid if both parties agree to marry, live as a married couple, and tell others that they have married. If you publicly announce that the person is your husband or wife three times, your marriage is legal in the eyes of Texas. A few caveats: both parties must be at least 18 years old, unmarried, and not related to each other.

What Rights Do I Have When I’ve Been Arrested?

Posted by admin on September 12th, 2016 under Criminal Defense and Constitutional Rights  •  No Comments

Getting arrested is an experience nobody wants. An officer depriving you of your freedom and holding you accountable for a criminal offense is frightening and stressful, especially if you are unaware of your rights as a detainee. When a law enforcement officer places you in handcuffs and takes you into custody, it does not immediately strip you of your rights as an American citizen. Know your rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and Texas state statutes.

The Right to Remain Silent

One of the most commonly known rights during an arrest is the right to remain silent. This is the first line of the Miranda rights, or the warnings officers must provide suspects upon arrest. Based on the case Miranda v Arizona, a suspect’s Miranda rights let them know of certain pertinent facts. An officer does not necessarily have to read a suspect’s Miranda rights immediately upon arrest, but the rights must be given at some point before questioning the individual.

The “right to remain silent” refers to a suspect’s right to refuse to give information to the police. This right comes from the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution and protects citizens against self-incrimination. The police cannot legally force you to say anything. If police coerce or force you into speaking or giving evidence related to a crime, they have violated your rights. Your Miranda rights also state that anything you do or say can be used against you in a court of law. Police can use any statements you make upon arrest or during questioning against you in trial.

The Right to an Attorney

You have the right to an attorney after an arrest. When police place you under arrest, you can immediately request an attorney or you can call your existing attorney to be present for questioning. You are legally entitled to have an attorney present during questioning and counsel during a trial. Police cannot deny your request for an attorney and cannot question you without your attorney present at a later time. This right also includes a right to a paid-for attorney by the state if you cannot afford one.

The Right to Know Your Crime

The government cannot hold you in jail for a long period of time without officially charging you with a crime. Depending on the state, this period of time may be 48 to 72 hours. You have the right to know what charges a prosecutor is bringing against you. You also have the right to communicate with someone by telephone soon after you are taken into custody. This phone call does not legally have to happen immediately upon entering the police station, but it must be soon after the police complete the booking procedure.

The Right to Humane Treatment

No matter your alleged crime, you have the right to humane treatment. Unfortunately, police cruelty and brutality happen frequently in our country. While by law police can employ “all reasonable and necessary” force to overcome a resisting suspect, they cannot treat a suspect inhumanely. For instance, if officers physically beat you during questioning or withheld food and water from you, this is a violation of your rights.

The United States legal system grants everyone the right to a fair trial, in which the law considers all people innocent until proven guilty. If law enforcement officials treat you as if you are already convicted of a crime before your trial, it is a violation of your rights. Regardless of how strong the evidence may be against you, as a criminal suspect awaiting trial, you have the right to treatment as an innocent individual.

When Is It Legal to Shoot Someone in Texas?

Posted by admin on July 14th, 2016 under gun laws in Texas  •  No Comments

Many Texans carry guns to protect themselves and ensure their family and friends’ safety. Still, knowing when it’s legal to use deadly force can be confusing. It’s vital to know when it’s legal to shoot someone you think is threatening your family.

What Is the Castle Doctrine?

The castle doctrine is the name given to so-called “hold your ground” laws, which have been passed in states all over the US (starting with Florida in 2005). The Castle Doctrine states that citizens may “stand their ground,” or use deadly force, if they think doing so will protect them from bodily harm. Texas law states that you have no duty to retreat if you feel your safety is being threatened. The places where you may exercise your right to stand your ground, though, vary from state to state.

The Castle Doctrine gets its name from the philosophy that everyone is the King or Queen in his or her own home. In other words, you shouldn’t have to flee your property because of an intruder. The Texas Penal Code designates certain areas under the protection of the Castle Doctrine: your home, vehicle, and workplace.

In your home, Texas law assumes that you’re justified in using force to defend yourself against intruders. You get immunity under this presumption given a certain set of circumstances:

  • An intruder entered unlawfully and with force
  • An individual removes or attempts to remove you from your castle with force

In Texas, a “castle” defines three places: an “occupied habitation,” “occupied vehicle,” and place of employment.

The term “occupied habitation” is perhaps the most important in the Castle Doctrine. According to Texas law, your occupied habitation is limited. The Texas Penal Code defines habitation as:

“…a structure or vehicle adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons; and includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle.”

In other words, this limits the places where you can use deadly force—a sticking point for many who seek to use the Castle Doctrine to protect their families.

Where’s the Confusion?

News headlines all over the Lone Star State point to a lack of consensus about the Castle Doctrine. A woman in Houston shot a man last year whom she thought was attempting to enter her house by force—it turns out it was just her neighbor, a firefighter who had taken a cab home from a bar. In Austin, a man shot a person who had run away from a group home because he feared for his family’s safety.

According to Representative Garnet Coleman D-Houston, cases like these illustrate how the Castle Doctrine goes too far. He’s committed to restricting the law to reduce the number of gun-related injuries. He says current legislation allows citizens to take the law into their own hands.

It’s important to realize that you can’t use force on others for a simple act of trespassing. To shoot in Texas, you must fear for your safety when someone is breaking in or attempting to break in to your home, occupied vehicle, or workplace.

Your “Stand Your Ground” Lawyer in Houston

Legal presumptions for using deadly force in Texas are incredibly strong. If you’ve used deadly force on an intruder in Texas, the law is in your favor. Still, you’ll need an advocate in the courtroom to protect your rights. The Law Office of David Breston is committed to protecting your right to stand your ground. To learn more about our defense services, contact us today.

Open Carry Laws in Texas

Posted by admin on July 14th, 2016 under Uncategorized  •  No Comments

In early 2016, state legislators approved an open carry law in Texas. In June, Governor Greg Abbott signed it into law. There’s been much confusion about what this means for citizens, so we’re breaking down what you need to know about the new statute.

What Is the Open Carry Law?

Texans can now carry their weapons on a shoulder or hip holster. In the past, you needed to conceal your weapon and obtain a concealed carry permit.

To open carry in Texas, you must be at least 21, have a clean psychological and criminal record, complete classroom training, and pass a shooting test. You must also have a concealed carry license. An estimated 925,000 Texans have a concealed carry license and may choose to open carry. That’s around 3% of the population.

Can I Take My Gun Wherever I Want?

There’s a common misconception that this new law essentially makes Texas the Wild West. Gun-free zones are still gun-free zones, so you can’t take your weapon near schools or other designated places. Businesses are still free to make their stores gun-free, but they have to post signs saying so. Dallas and Fort Worth ban guns at the City Council and at local sporting events. Check your local municipal code to see if guns are banned in other public places.

What Makes the Law Controversial?

Opponents of the law think that seeing someone carry a gun on their holster will be emotionally upsetting for some people. They also argue that it may make law enforcement harder, as police may have a tougher time spotting criminals.

An advocacy group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, stated that 66% of Texans and 75% of police chiefs in Texas were opposed to the measure, but the state legislation passed it anyway. They say that it goes against public opinion in Texas

Supporters of the measure maintain that this is an overreaction, and that Texas is late to the game. It becomes the 45th state to allow open carry. The Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, told NBC’s Meet the Press that opposition to the bill was merely anti-gun “propaganda.”

What Do Businesses Think of the Measure?

Businesses are free to ban open carry, and several have taken advantage of that freedom—Whole Foods, HEB, Whataburger, and others have made their businesses gun-free. Others, like Kroger and Home Depot, allow holstered weapons.

Some restaurants are even offering discounts to those who open carry. Websites are compiling lists of area businesses and their plans to opt-out or embrace the new law.

How Is the Government Preparing?

Schools, police departments, and cities are training officers and employees about the new law. School districts, like Dallas, are placing reminders on their websites that they remain gun-free zones. It’s illegal for anyone to bring a gun onto school property, even if they have a concealed carry license. This includes all school-related events, like games and field trips.

Guns must still be concealed on college campuses, which also have the option of opting out of concealed carry on campus. Several private colleges have already done so.

Your Open-Carry Attorney in Houston, TX

Carrying a gun without a license or open carrying where guns aren’t permitted can carry stiff penalties. At the Law Office of David Breston, we believe that a simple lapse in judgment shouldn’t have a lasting effect on your life. We’re here to minimize the effect that a mistake has on your well-being. Let us be your advocate in and out of the courtroom. For more information and to take advantage of our criminal defense services, contact us today.

Is It Hard to Immigrate to the US?

Posted by admin on October 14th, 2015 under Immigration  •  No Comments

Breaking the law to get into the US is never recommended, but immigrants from all walks of life will tell you that getting into the country legally is an expensive and time consuming ordeal. And the initial process does not earn you citizenship.

If anything, getting through immigration legally is much like the game of Monopoly. At any point, you might receive a rejection notice that is the equivalent of saying, “Do not pass go, do not collect $200.” From there, you might have to begin the entire process all over again. You cannot go from being a citizen of another country to becoming a citizen of the US overnight. In fact, the process may take as long as a year or more.

I Have Decided I Want to Move to the US. Now What?

Now that you have made the decision, you will need to determine your eligibility and address any concerns that may prevent you from coming to the country legally. You may decide to apply for a visa and stay in the country from a few months to as many as six years before making the transition, or you can apply for a green card (permanent resident status) while living anywhere.

You can come to the US legally if a family member (including a new spouse) sponsors you, an employer sponsors you, or you are seeking asylum as a refugee. The next step is submitting the relevant applications and paperwork, which could take as many as six months to process. An attorney who specializes in immigration can help you submit the appropriate information and, sometimes, expedite the overall process.

Once your application has been approved, you will need to have a medical exam. You will be asked to do this before your interview. This process may take several weeks to complete with all the attendant paperwork. Then, you will need to go to an interview at the embassy in your home country or in the US. If all goes well, you will be given your approval at the end of the interview. When you enter the US, you will have your green card and permanent resident status.

Overall, How Long Can This Process Take? 

If there are any clerical errors, lost information, or other obstacles, the overall process can take as long as a year. Without legal assistance, the time frame may be longer than normal. The immigration process is complicated and somewhat clunky.

Am I a Citizen After I Undergo This Process?

No, you will not be a citizen until you apply for citizenship here. The green card process only provides you with the status of a legal immigrant. After five years of living in the US without any trouble, you will be eligible to apply for citizenship. If you are married to a citizen, the time frame is shortened to three years. Unless you apply for citizenship, you will not be able to vote, obtain social security or the attendant benefits, or hold a passport.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Remember, this is just the process of becoming a legal immigrant. You will also need to think about finding a home, moving your belongings, and finding employment. There may be a period of several months when you need to handle affairs at home and in America before you complete the entire process.

Becoming a legal immigrant can be difficult, but it does not have to be. If you are interested in coming to the US legally, the Law Office of David A. Breston can help. Contact us today to learn more about immigrating to the US.

What Happens After Police Issue a Warrant?

Posted by admin on October 9th, 2015 under warrants  •  No Comments

Once a police department has sufficient evidence (probable cause) that a suspect is the most likely candidate for a crime, it will approach a judge to issue an arrest warrant. A warrant for your arrest means a law enforcement officer has the right to take you into custody wherever you are. You could be at work, the doctor’s office, or somewhere else. You do not have to be engaged in illegal activity for an officer to arrest you if he or she has a warrant.

Some people may have no idea a warrant is out for their arrest. The court may not call you to notify you of the warrant, but you can go online to find out if you may have an outstanding warrant. You can also contact the court clerk, who can provide that information.

Types of Warrants

Depending on the severity of the crime, a law enforcement unit may or may not actively pursue you. A bench warrant, for instance, is typically issued for minor crimes such as missing a court date for a traffic violation or for a misdemeanor. Officers will likely not come in pursuit of you for a bench warrant, but they will arrest you if they pull you over or happen to come across you during the normal course of work.

For more serious warrants, a law enforcement officer will deliver the warrant and conduct an arrest as soon as possible. He or she must show you the warrant at the time of arrest. If the warrant is not available, he or she can still arrest you, but must provide the written warrant as quickly as possible. Generally, a law enforcement officer will not enter your personal home uninvited. The officer will knock and identify him or herself. After doing so, the officer is free to use force to enter the premises if you do not answer.

If you learn an arrest warrant or a bench warrant is out for you, you can turn yourself in. You will always be booked after a warrant has been issued, but for minor infractions like missing a court date, you will likely be released soon after.

Contacting an Attorney

If you find out that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you may want to contact an attorney who specializes in what you have been charged with to help you determine the best approach. You will still have to turn yourself in and be arrested, but with an attorney by your side, you may feel more confident dealing with the process.

Your attorney can represent you in subsequent hearings and meet with you after you have been arrested. You always have a right to an attorney, and consulting with a professional is always advisable. The court system is complex, and there may be issues with your arrest or the evidence that law enforcement has gathered against you. Knowing a warrant is out for your arrest can be frightening. You may feel like you are being hunted, but trying to hide from or ignore the warrant is the worst thing you can do. Whether you are arrested for traffic violations or for a more serious crime, waiting to turn yourself in may only make matters worse.

At the Law Office of David A. Breston, we specialize in criminal law in Texas. If you discover a warrant has been issued for your arrest or you have been arrested on criminal charges, reach out to our office. We will start working on your case as soon as you contact us, and we can help you make informed decisions at every step