Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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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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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An arrest record can follow a person for years and may cost him or her employment opportunities and financial hardship, even if the person was not convicted or was ultimately pardoned. In certain cases, however, a person can seek an expunction and have all records and files relating to the arrest removed.  Expunction is not available in all cases, however, as illustrated in a recent Texas appellate court case, where the court reversed a prior order granting an expunction, on the basis it was improperly granted. If you were previously arrested and would like to seek an expunction you should consult a skilled Texas criminal defense attorney to discuss whether you may be able to request the removal of any records relating to your arrest.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Arrest

Reportedly, the defendant was arrested for, and charged with, larceny and theft by check. She pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of issuance of bad checks. She was subsequently convicted and fined and ordered to pay court costs. Almost thirty years later, she filed a petition to expunge her arrest records, stating she was not convicted of an offense relating to her arrest. The Texas Department of Public Safety filed a response stating that the arrest resulted in a final conviction. Following a hearing, the court issued an order granting expunction. The Department of Public Safety appealed.

Grounds for Expunction

Expunction is a right provided for under the Texas Criminal Procedure Code. Under the applicable statute, a person who was arrested for a felony or a misdemeanor is entitled to have the records and files relating to his or her arrest expunged if he or she was tried for the offense for which he or she was arrested and was subsequently acquitted. A person is also entitled to an expunction if he or she was convicted of the offense for which he or she was arrested but was then pardoned. Lastly, a person may seek an expunction if he or she has been released and the charge did not result in a final conviction and is no longer pending.
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In the legal realm, “negligence” typically refers to a civil claim in which an injured party alleges that another person breached a duty of care owed to the injured party and thereby caused the injured party harm. In Texas, however, there are certain instances in which a person can face criminal charges due to negligence. For example, a Texas bartender is currently facing criminal negligence charges for allegedly serving an intoxicated patron.  If you are charged with criminal negligence or another crime it is critical to engage a skillful Texas criminal defense attorney to assist you in formulating a strong defense.

Facts Regarding the Alleged Criminal Negligence

Reportedly, the bartender was working at a bar in Plano in 2017, when she served alcoholic beverages to a 32-year-old man, despite evidence that he was already intoxicated. Text messages obtained from the bartender’s phone indicate that the man had a knife in the bar and stated he was going to “go do some dirty work.” The bartender also texted a friend about the man’s excessive drinking. The bartender, who socialized with the man outside of the bar, called the police after the man left the bar to report his behavior.

It is alleged that after the man left the bar, he went to the home of his estranged wife where a party was being held. He then fatally shot his wife and seven other individuals. The man was killed by police who responded to the shooting. Following his death, it was determined that his blood alcohol level was over four times the legal limit for driving in Texas.
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Read the full article HERE.

HOUSTON (CN) – Unsealing a 43-count indictment, federal agents said they arrested 43 people Wednesday morning and seized millions of dollars from a Houston home, breaking up a cocaine-and-heroin trafficking operation involving an associate of the Gulf Cartel.

Houston DEA Special Agent in Charge Will Glaspy said the main target of the dragnet, dubbed Operation Wrecking Ball, is Mexican national Carlos Alberto Guajardo. Though Guajardo is the first of 56 people named in the indictment, he is still at large.

Under Texas law, if the evidence is insufficient to convict a defendant of a crime, he or she may be convicted of a lesser included offense. In some cases, a defendant may choose to enter into a plea bargain to a lesser included offense to avoid a possible conviction for the greater offense. Typically, either the State or the defendant will ask the court to submit an instruction to the jury regarding a lesser including offense.

As a Texas appellate court recently held, however, the court may choose to provide the jury with an instruction as to a lesser included offense regardless of whether either party requested the instruction. If you face criminal charges, you should retain a capable Texas criminal defense attorney to help you fight to protect your rights.

The Defendant’s Charges and Trial

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped by the police while he was on a bus. He submitted to a pat-down, which ultimately led to the revelation that he was carrying 332 grams of cocaine. He was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, to which he plead not guilty. The defendant did not testify at his trial but did not dispute that he possessed the cocaine. Rather, the contested issue at trial was whether the defendant intended to distribute the cocaine. During his closing, the defendant’s attorney argued that because the State had not produced sufficient evidence that the defendant intended to distribute the cocaine, the defendant was not guilty of the charged offense.

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In 2015, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that Moore did not have an intellectual disability and was eligible for the death penalty. The Supreme Court vacated the decision. The appeals court reconsidered but reached the same conclusion in 2018. The Supreme Court again reversed, noting evidence that “Moore had significant mental and social difficulties beginning at an early age. At 13, Moore lacked basic understanding of the days of the week, the months of the year, and the seasons; he could scarcely tell time or comprehend the standards of measure or the basic principle that subtraction is the reverse of addition … because of his limited ability to read and write, Moore could not keep up with lessons. … Moore’s father, teachers, and peers called him ‘stupid’ for his slow reading and speech. After failing every subject in the ninth grade, Moore dropped out of high school … survived on the streets, eating from trash cans.” The court of appeal employed the correct legal criteria, examining: deficits in intellectual functioning—primarily a test-related criterion; adaptive deficits, “assessed using both clinical evaluation and individualized . . . measures”.; and the onset of these deficits while the defendant was still a minor. The court focused on adaptive deficits and found the state’s expert witness more credible and reliable than the other experts The Supreme Court held that the opinion repeated the analysis previously found improper; it relied, in part, on prison-based development, considered “emotional problems, ” and employed some “lay stereotypes of the intellectually disabled.” Moore has shown he is a person with intellectual disability.

Read the full opinion HERE.

The Fifth Circuit denied a petition for review of the the BIA’s decision affirming the IJ’s determination that petitioner was removable because she was convicted of a drug offense. Petitioner argued that she was not removable because she was convicted for possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use. The court held that the BIA’s interpretation of 8 U.S.C. 1227(a)(2)(B)(i)’s personal-use exception was reasonable. Applying the BIA’s circumstances-specific approach, the court held that petitioner’s conviction did not fall within the personal-use exception. In this case, substantial evidence supported the BIA’s findings that petitioner possessed 54.6 pounds of marijuana—substantially more than the personal-use exception’s 30-gram threshold.

Read the full opinion HERE.

Consult an Experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney

Read original article from Courthouse News Services here.

Two legal rights groups filed a federal class action Wednesday claiming some New York inmates with mental disabilities who served their time are illegally kept behind bars because there are no beds for them at community mental health centers.

According to the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court by the Legal Aid Society and Disability Rights New York, the Empire State’s practices have “administratively” lengthened the terms for mentally disabled inmates who have finished out their sentences but may become homeless after they leave prison.

Recently, a teenage prankster who was alleged to have thrown eggs at other motorists was charged with murder after one of his alleged targets chased him and caused an accident with a third driver who died in the accident (read the full article here).

The moral of this story is that a person can be charged with ANY crime that results from that person’s conduct, even if he did not intend the more serious harm that occurred.

Under Texas Penal Code section  6.04, the law states that:

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