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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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Under Texas law, if a person is convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), in addition to any sentences or fines imposed following the conviction, he or she may face increased penalties for any subsequent DWI convictions.

A Texas Court of Appeals recently clarified, however, that while prior DWI convictions may be considered during the sentencing phase of any DWI conviction, the State is not permitted to introduce evidence of prior DWI convictions as an element of the offense charged during a trial to assess guilt or innocence. If you are charged with a DWI, you should consult a seasoned criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your available defenses.

The Defendant’s Trial

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with DWI. The information stated that she committed the offense of DWI on October 25, 2014. Additionally, it stated that on June 12, 2012, she was convicted of a DWI and therefore, the current offense was elevated from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor.

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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

In Texas, the State must produce sufficient evidence of a crime to support a defendant’s conviction. If a defendant is convicted despite insufficient evidence, he or she may be able to have his or her conviction overturned. For some crimes, such as assault of a family member, a defendant can be convicted based solely on the victim’s testimony.

This was explained in a recent case in which a Texas appellate court upheld the defendant’s assault conviction, despite the fact that the only evidence of the assault was the victim’s testimony. If you are facing assault charges, you should meet with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to formulate a plan for your defense.

The Alleged Assault and Trial

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with assault causing bodily injury to a family member. During the trial, the defendant’s wife testified that she and the defendant were in a car when they began arguing. At one point, the defendant threatened to hit his wife. The defendant then pulled over and struck his wife. He began driving again but pulled over a second time and pulled his wife out of the car and threw her to the ground and kicked and hit her. The defendant then left the scene and the wife called 911. During the 911 call, she reported that she and her husband were arguing and the defendant hit her in the head. The wife also testified that she felt pain due to her injuries.

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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.

For many crimes, in addition to proving that the defendant committed an illegal act, the state must prove the defendant’s state of mind at the time the act was committed to convict a defendant of a crime.  In most cases, the state will show intent by producing evidence that allows the fact finder to infer the defendants’ state of mind at the time a crime was allegedly committed.

Recently, in Johnson v. State of Texas, the court found that the state had produced sufficient evidence of the defendant’s intent to commit theft, based on communications and transactions the defendant had with his victims. If you are facing theft charges, you should consult an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney to discuss what evidence the state has in support of the charges against you and to assess the most appropriate action going forward based on the facts of your case.

Defendant’s Contracts and Transactions

Reportedly, the defendant ran a mortuary. He did not perform cremations at his place of business but subcontracted that work to other entities. It became evident that he was accepting payments for cremations that were not performed when the defendant’s landlord visited his place of business and found several decaying bodies. The defendant was subsequently charged with two counts of theft for taking money to perform services that were never performed. A jury convicted the defendant of the charges, after which he appealed. On appeal, the court of appeals found insufficient evidence to sustain the convictions and, therefore, reversed the convictions. The state then petitioned the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas for review.

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Read the original Article from the New York Times here.
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Sundar Pichai, an engineer who rose through Google’s ranks to become its leader three years ago, faced more than three hours of questions from the House Judiciary Committee.CreditCreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Google’s chief executive, in perhaps the most public display of lawmakers’ unease with his company’s influence, was grilled on Tuesday about everything from search result bias and the data Google collects about its users to plans for a censored service in China.

Original post can be found here.

Recent rule changes in Canada regarding cannabis and alcohol could have a serious effect on U.S. travellers to Canada, as well as people who live and work there full-time. Let’s break them down.

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/960x0/https%3A%2F%2Fspecials-images.forbesimg.com%2Fdam%2Fimageserve%2F5b94a53333d843aba0f20dc1f35aeb3a%2F960x0.jpg%3Ffit%3Dscale

In this Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018 photo a vendor points to a selection of cannabis strains for sale during Kushstock 6.5 festival in Adelanto Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cannabis

You have probably heard that Canada has legalized the use of cannabis. All well and good for cannabis users, but take heed:

1) If you bring cannabis into Canada and are caught with it at the border, you can be arrested for drug trafficking and barred from Canada for life. It doesn’t matter that you may have bought the pot in a state where it is legal.

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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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