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In many criminal matters, the State’s case hinges on physical evidence. Thus, if a criminal suspect alters or attempts to alter evidence during the course of an investigation for a crime, in addition to any charges arising out of the investigation, the suspect may also be charged with tampering with evidence. The Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston, recently discussed the elements of the crime of tampering with evidence in a case in which the defendant was found not guilty, and the State appealed. If you reside in Texas and are charged with tampering with evidence or any other crime, it is advisable to meet with a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney to talk about your available defenses.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that the defendant was sitting in a truck on the side of the road when a police officer approached him. The officer began questioning the defendant and noticed the defendant trying to shove something under his seat. Ultimately, the officer determined that the item that the defendant was trying to place under the seat was a syringe. The officer forced the defendant from the truck and to the ground, at which point the syringe fell and broke. The officer asked the defendant if he was trying to break or hide the syringe, and the defendant responded that this was his intention.

Allegedly, the police extracted liquid from the syringe, and testing revealed the liquid was methamphetamine. The State subsequently charged the defendant with tampering with evidence and possession of a controlled substance. A jury convicted the defendant on both counts, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for tampering with evidence. The State then filed a motion for rehearing on the tampering charge, which the court granted.

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Advances in technology have changed the way criminal cases are handled, and some advances can help a defendant prove his or her innocence. For example, in many cases, DNA testing can help prove that a defendant was wrongfully charged or convicted of sexual assault. In a recent Texas case, the court analyzed what a defendant must show to obtain post-conviction relief due to DNA evidence. If you live in Texas and are accused of sexual assault, it is in your best interest to speak with a skillful Texas sex crime defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Factual Background

It is reported that the victim and her date were sitting in a car in a park when they were approached by three men. The men robbed the victim and her date at gunpoint, forced the date to exit the vehicle, and then drove the victim to a wooded area of the park where she was raped. Two hours after the assault, the victim underwent a rape examination at a hospital. The sexual assault kit was then submitted to a testing facility.

Allegedly, the defendant was identified by the victim in a photo lineup and was subsequently charged with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery. He was convicted and sentenced to 45 years imprisonment. Several years later, he filed for post-conviction DNA testing. His motion was granted, and testing was conducted on the specimens collected from the victim. The test results stated that the defendant could not be excluded as a possible contributor of the DNA.

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Under the protections against double jeopardy provided by the State and Federal Constitutions, a defendant cannot be tried more than once for the same crime. While the concept of double jeopardy is widely understood, the application of the rule is often unclear. For example, collateral estoppel, which is a component of double jeopardy, prevents the government from re-litigating specific facts in criminal cases. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas recently discussed the application of collateral estoppel in a case in which the defendant was tried twice for aggravated assault arising out of the same act. If you reside in Texas and are charged with assault or any other violent crime, it is prudent to speak with a trusted Texas assault defense attorney regarding your case.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the two men became involved in a physical argument during which they were rolling on the ground wrestling. At some point, the defendant was advised to stay out of the fight. The defendant ultimately involved himself in the fight, however, and stabbed the first man involved in the fight and the man’s brother, who was standing nearby. The defendant was charged with two separate counts of aggravated assault for stabbing the first man and his brother. The defendant was tried for the assault of the first man in front of a jury. The jury found the defendant not guilty, and he was acquitted.

It is reported that the defendant was then tried on the second assault charge involving the brother. The defendant filed a writ of habeas corpus arguing that because the issues were the same as in the earlier trial, namely whether the defendant was justified in using defending a third party, the second trial was barred by collateral estoppel. The State argued that collateral estoppel did not apply because the issue of whether the use of force was justified against the brother was discrete from the issue of whether it was justified against the first man. The court denied the defendant’s motion. The jury could not reach a verdict, and a mistrial was declared. The defendant appealed, and the court of appeals reversed, after which the State petitioned the court for review.

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Recently, following the eighteen year anniversary of 9/11, the United States Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs issued a press release regarding the sentencing of a resident of North Texas to 240 months’ imprisonment in a federal penitentiary for conspiring to provide support to a terrorist organization overseas. The defendant’s arrest and conviction demonstrate the FBI’s continued efforts to combat terrorism domestically and abroad. If you are a Texas resident charged with conspiracy or any other crime it is in your best interest to meet with a skillful Texas criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and what defenses you may be able to set forth.

The Investigation and the Defendant’s Arrest

Reportedly, the defendant, who is 18 years old, was arrested and charged with conspiring to prove material support to LeT, a foreign terrorist organization based out of Pakistan, following an extensive investigation by the FBI. The defendant pleaded guilty as charged. Specifically, he admitted he communicated with his co-conspirator online, encouraging the co-conspirator to join  LeT and providing him with contact information of a facilitator who could help the individual travel to Pakistan to join LeT. The defendant then contacted the facilitator, who was an undercover FBI agent, to advise that he would kill the co-conspirator if he was a spy. The defendant also stated that he would recruit additional fighters for LeT, and made arrangements with the facilitator to go to Pakistan and join LeT.

The Defendant’s Sentencing

It is alleged that during the defendant’s sentencing hearing, the FBI presented evidence that the defendant’s recent acts were consistent with a pattern of ongoing behavior. For example, the defendant repeatedly posted online statements in support of violent extremism. He also made several posts threatening to harm people who opposed his extreme beliefs and searched the internet for methods of carrying out such attacks.

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When a person is accused of a crime, he or she has the constitutional right to confront any witnesses relied upon by the prosecution. If the prosecution is permitted to rely upon testimony from witnesses the defendant has not had a chance to cross-examine, it may constitute a violation of the defendant’s rights and any conviction based on that testimony may be unjust. In a recent case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the court ruled that a defendant’s right to confront witnesses was violated by testimony from a police officer regarding information about a drug transaction involving the defendant that was provided by a confidential informant. If you are charged with drug trafficking or any other crime it is critical to retain a seasoned Texas drug crime defense attorney to assist you in presenting a vigilant defense.

Facts of the Case and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the defendant was arrested following an investigation regarding methamphetamine trafficking. Specifically, the police received a confidential tip that a drug transaction was going to take place in a parking lot. A surveillance team monitored the lot and observed the defendant pull up next to another person in a different vehicle, after which the two vehicles drove off together. An officer observed the drivers of the two vehicles meeting briefly, then driving off separately. The police began following the defendant, and after he committed a traffic violation, attempted to stop him.

It is alleged that the defendant sped up and drove away, temporarily evading arrest. The police searched the area and found a gun and a bag of methamphetamines on the side of the road. The defendant was charged with possession of methamphetamines with the intent to distribute. During the trial, the arresting officer testified that he did not actually see a drug deal happen between the defendant and the other driver. The officer then stated, however, that after the alleged drug transaction he called his confidential source, who confirmed that the transaction occurred. The defendant was convicted. He appealed, arguing in part that the officer’s testimony regarding his confidential source violated his rights pursuant to the Confrontation Clause.

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Sex crimes are often hard to prove, as they largely rely on circumstantial evidence regarding whether the defendant had consent. Many statutes defining sex crimes include lack of consent as an element of the crime the State must prove to obtain a conviction, but do not require the defendant to set forth any proof. Recently, the American Bar Association weighed in on the issue of whether the criminal statutes should be overhauled to impose a burden on the defendant to prove affirmative consent. If you are a resident of Texas charged with a sex crime it is crucial to retain an assertive Texas sex crime defense attorney to help you protect your rights.

The Proposed Resolution

The American Bar Association (ABA), is not a governing body but is a voluntary association that sets academic standards for law schools and adopts policies on legislative issues. Recently, the ABA was presented with a controversial issue via Resolution 114, which originally recommended that criminal codes be modified to include “affirmative consent” as an element of sexual offenses. In other words, the burden of proof would essentially shift from the State, who is required to prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, to the defendant, who presently does not have a burden of proof in criminal trials. Requiring proof of affirmative consent means that the defendant must prove that he or she obtained consent from his or her partner before and during any sexual activity. Additionally, any change or advances in the activity may require renewed consent.

Prior to the vote, the language of the resolution was modified in part, to change the word assent, which was deemed unclear, to consent, and to include a phrase indicating that the defendant was still presumed innocent and the burden of proof remained with the State. While the modifications would mirror the consent standard of many colleges the standard would be impossible to meet on a practical level, and would likely lead to increased plea bargains.

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In many states, a person can face criminal and civil penalties if he or she falsely accuses another person of a crime. One high profile example of the consequences you may face if you are suspected of making false accusations is the recent case involving an actor who alleged he was a victim of a hate crime earlier this year in Chicago. While the actor was cleared of all criminal charges arising out of the incident, he now faces civil liability for the purported costs of investigating the crime. Currently, the actor is attempting to have the civil claims dismissed, arguing that they are unfounded. If you live in Texas and are charged with making a false police report you should consult a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case.

Criminal and Civil Allegations Against The Actor

Reportedly, in January of 2019, the actor reported to Chicago police that he was attacked outside of his apartment by men making racist and homophobic comments. The incident was initially treated as a hate crime, with numerous political and entertainment figures speaking out against the crime. Shortly after the alleged crime was reported, however, the two men who were named as people of interest in the crime by the Chicago police alleged that the actor  hired them to stage the attack.

The police then ceased investigating any crime against the actor to turn the investigation on the actor himself. While it seemed that the actor may be convicted for filing a false police report, the case against him was dropped and the file was sealed. The actor was ordered to pay the City of Chicago for the costs of investigating the crime by April 4th but failed to do so. Subsequently, the City of Chicago filed a civil lawsuit against the actor seeking the costs associated with investigating the attack, as well as penalties for making a false report.

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It is not uncommon for business owners to ask their employees to enter into non-compete or non-disclosure agreements. If a former employee subsequently starts a competing business in violation of an agreement, the business owner can take legal action against the employee to recover damages. In many cases, however, the employee may be protected from enforcement of the agreement under the Texas Citizen’s Participation Act (TCPA) which is an anti-SLAPP law.

In a recent case in which an automatic stay had been issued pursuant to an interlocutory appeal following a denial of a motion to dismiss pursuant to TCPA, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that  a trial court lift the automatic stay to conduct proceedings.  If you are a business owner or an employee subject to a non-compete or non-disclosure agreement you should meet with a skilled Texas civil litigation attorney to discuss your options for seeking recourse for any alleged violation of the agreement.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is alleged that the plaintiff, a scrap metal recycling company, filed a lawsuit against defendant, another scrap metal recycling company started by some of plaintiff’s former employees, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, and other related claims. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss under the TCPA. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, after which the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal. Pursuant to Texas statutory law, the appeal triggered a stay of all proceedings in the case.

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If you are involved in an accident while you are intoxicated, it can result in serious charges with significant penalties. This was demonstrated by the recent arrest of a UFC fighter who was charged with 20 crimes following a DUI related accident in which two people lost their lives. If you are charged with multiple DUI crimes following an accident you should speak with an experienced Texas DUI defense attorney regarding your available defenses.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Incident

Allegedly, the fighter was involved in a car accident in August of 2018 that caused the death of two women. The accident occurred in the early morning of August 18, 2018, on a freeway in Florida. It is alleged that the fighter veered his SUV into the path of a tractor trailer, hitting the tire of the tractor trailer and setting off a chain reaction that lead to an accident involving three other cars. The fighter then struck a guard rail which caused his SUV to propel into the path of a car, causing the car to hit the guard rail and flip over. Two of the passengers in the car were killed and the driver sustained serious injuries. The fighter and another driver were treating for injuries as well.

It is reported that immediately after the accident, a witness observed the driver throwing an object over a concrete barrier. When the police investigated the accident, they collected the object, which was a tool used to grind marijuana. The police also spoke to the fighter, who appeared to be intoxicated. Specifically, his speech was slurred, and he had an odor of alcohol. The police also noted a bag of white powder on the passenger seat of the fighter’s SUV, which was later determined to be cocaine. The police reportedly obtained samples of the fighter’s blood from the airbag and interior of his car.

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Most people are familiar with the phrase “double jeopardy” and generally understand it to mean that you cannot be convicted twice for the same criminal offense. While many people understand the basic concept of double jeopardy, the precise protections the Double Jeopardy Clause of the United States Constitution provides is not always entirely clear. Recently, the United States Supreme Court made great strides towards narrowing and defining the Double Jeopardy Clause, in a case in which the Court analyzed whether similar crimes charged by the state and federal government constitute the “same offense.” If you are charged with one or more crimes, you should speak with a skilled Texas criminal defense attorney to discuss whether you may be afforded protection from multiple convictions under the Double Jeopardy Clause.

Factual Background of the Subject Case

Reportedly, the defendant was driving his car in Mobile, Alabama when he was stopped by a police officer due to a damaged headlight. The police officer searched the defendant’s car and found a loaded gun. The defendant was previously convicted of second-degree robbery, a violent felony, and therefore was prohibited from owning a firearm under Alabama law. He was subsequently charged with violating the state law barring him from possessing a gun and pleaded guilty. The defendant was then indicted for the same crime under federal law. He filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the federal charge was the same as the state offense and therefore, exposed him to double jeopardy. The district court denied his motion and the issue was ultimately appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

What Constitutes the Same Offense?

The Court affirmed the district court ruling, upholding the separate sovereigns doctrine. Under this doctrine, the state and federal government are considered separate sovereigns, and therefore, a state criminal charge and a federal criminal charge do not constitute the same offense. The Court noted that while the separate sovereignty doctrine is often referred to as an exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, it is not an exception but is explicitly provided for in the text. Specifically, the Court noted that the Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits more than one prosecution for the “same offense”, not for the same actions or conduct. The court explained that “offense” is the term used to refer to a violation of a law, and sovereigns draft laws. Therefore, if the same conduct constitutes a violation of distinct laws from separate sovereigns, it is not the same offense.

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