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Your JUUL Can Cause You Trouble With the Law

Cannabis Plant

What is a JUUL?

JUUL devices heat up a cartridge containing oils to create vapor, which quickly dissolves into the air. The device is small enough to fit in a closed fist and has a sleek look that resembles a USB flash drive. Some users are altering the device replacing the nicotine oil in the pod with cannabis oil.

What people may not realize is that possessing a cannabis oil is not only illegal, it can be a worse offense than possessing a small amount of marijuana. That is because it is charged as a marijuana concentrate, rather than just as possessing marijuana.

What is a Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis oil (otherwise known as marijuana oil, hash oil, dab or wax) is a thick, sticky, resinous substance made up of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. It is obtained by separating the resins from cannabis flowers using a solvent extraction process. Marijuana oil is not only the most concentrated form of cannabis, but also the most potent.

Penalties for Marijuana Concentrate

The penalties for possession of substances classified in Penalty Group 2 under Health and Safety Code, SEC. 481.116 include:

  • State Jail Felony: less than one (1) gram is punishable by up to six-months to two years in jail, and a fine up to $10,000
  • Third-Degree Felony: one (1) gram or more but less than four (4) grams is punishable by up to two years to ten years in jail and a fine up to $10,000
  • Second-Degree Felony: four (4) grams or more but less than four-hundred (400) grams is punishable by two years to twenty years in jail and a fine up to $10,000
  • First-Degree Felony: 400 grams or more is punishable by 10-years-lifetime imprisonment, and a fine up to $50,000

Total weight determines the range of punishment. The weight includes “all adulterants and dilutants”. So, it is the weight in its final form (possibility including the Juul device) that determines the penalty level.

Hire a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you were arrested for any kind of alleged criminal offense relating to THC oils or marijuana concentrates in Collin County, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. Contact our office at 972-369-0577 to setup a free consultation, where one of our seven attorneys can review your case and answer your legal questions.

Posted in Drug Crimes, Federal Criminal Defense

What Constitutes the Crime of Elder Abuse in Texas?

Elderly Abuse

While many accusations of elder abuse are real, some are exaggerated or arise from a misunderstanding. Are you a caretaker who is facing elder abuse charges? If so, you need to protect yourself from criminal charges.

Texas Elder Abuse Laws

While elder abuse is often physical in nature, it refers to any type of mistreatment that causes some sort of damages, such as injuries or financial loss. Under Texas law, abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child, senior or adult with disabilities must be reported by any Texas resident who witnesses it. If the report is made in good faith, the person who files the report will be immune from liability. In addition, their name will be kept confidential.

It is crime to not report abuse. Under Texas law, a person who knows about a situation involving abuse or neglect and does not report it can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. False claims of elder abuse are forbidden and can also result in criminal penalties.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse can come about in various forms. You can be charged and convicted of elder abuse if you commit actions such as the following:

  • Physical abuse. This occurs when a person causes injuries to an elderly person.
  • Emotional abuse. This may include name-calling, harassment, intimidation and threats.
  • Sexual abuse. This often involves sexual activity but can also include unwanted touching and fondling.
  • Financial abuse. This means using an elderly person’s resources for your own personal gain, such as stealing money, credit cards and financial account information.
  • Confinement. This involves unnecessary restraint or isolation.
  • Deprivation. This means intentionally depriving an elderly person of essentials such as food, water, shelter, medication or physical assistance unless the person desires to go without such care.
  • Neglect. Neglect occurs when a caregiver unintentionally fails to provide an elderly person with food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care and other essentials.

Protecting Yourself From Elder Abuse

Elders are perceived as vulnerable, and in a situation where you are charged with abuse, courts may believe the elder over you. To prevent elder abuse charges, it helps to be proactive. There are things you can do to protect yourself. For example, if you are a caretaker for a family member or other elderly person, contact a lawyer to understand your responsibilities. Ask how you can protect yourself from such allegations, even if they seem unlikely.

Even if you don’t physically provide care for your loved one, you should also seek legal advice if you are in charge of your senior’s finances or estate. You don’t want to be accused of financial abuse.

If you are convicted of elder abuse, you could face serious criminal charges. Depending on the circumstances, you could face first, second or third-degree felony charges. A third-degree felony can mean up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A second-degree felony can result in up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A first-degree felony is the most serious, resulting in a $10,000 fine and life in prison.

Get Help From a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney

When you think of elder abuse, you may think of nursing home staff being accused of such crimes. However, much of the time, family members are the ones facing accusations. This can be an emotional situation for loved ones, especially if they are innocent.

If you are in this situation, make sure you have a solid defense. A Collin County criminal lawyer from Rosenthal & Wadas can assess your case and reduce your charges or even get them eliminated altogether. If you have been charged with elder abuse, schedule a consultation with us. Give our office a call at (972) 369-0577 today.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Elder Abuse

Can I Get My Weapon Back?

Federal Firearm

If you are convicted of a crime involving a firearm in Texas, your gun could be taken away permanently if certain elements apply. It will be forfeited to the state, but you may be able to get it back in certain situations.

If you are wondering if you can get your gun, knife or other weapon back from the state, there is no clear yes or no answer. It will depend on the situation. If you have previous convictions, the offense occurred in a certain location or if the weapon is prohibited under Texas law, you may not be able to get your weapon back. Ultimately, your best option is to reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney for help with your case.

What the Law Says

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 18.19 discusses the disposition of firearms after being charged with a weapons offense. Once you are convicted of an offense involving the use of a weapon, you must forfeit your weapon. The state can then destroy your weapon or sell it.

If you are convicted of a weapons offense under Texas Penal Code 46, you can get your weapon back in most situations. There are some exceptions, though, such as the following:

  • You have been convicted of a previous firearms offense under Texas Penal Code 46. If you have multiple convictions, you are considered a risk.
  • The weapon is prohibited under Texas law. Even though Texas is fairly lenient when it comes to allowing residents to exercise their Second Amendment rights, not all weapons are allowed. Prohibited weapons include brass knuckles, zip guns (improvised firearms), pepper spray and other chemical devices, armor-piercing ammunition, and tire-deflating devices such as spike strips and caltrops. In addition, certain weapons are prohibited in Texas unless they are registered with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. These include machine guns, rifles with barrels under 16 inches, shotguns with barrels under 18 inches, firearm silencers, sawed-off shotguns, and explosives such as rockets, bombs and grenades. If you are caught in possession of any of the above weapons—even if you don’t use them—you could face misdemeanor or even felony charges.
  • The weapon is considered stolen property. In this case, the gun will be returned to its rightful owner.
  • You do not request the weapon in time. In order to get your weapon back, you must request it before the 61st day after your conviction.
  • The offense occurred at a certain location. If the weapons offense occurred at a youth center, school, playground or arcade center, your weapon won’t be returned to you.
  • You are a threat to the community. Based on the circumstances, the court may not allow you to get your weapon back if you pose a threat.

Illegal Knives and Clubs

Certain knives and clubs are legal to possess in the privacy of your home but are illegal to carry while out in public. These include knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches, throwing knives, swords, spears and daggers. Illegal clubs include tomahawks, nightsticks, blackjacks and mace. Being caught in possession of any of these weapons is typically considered a Class A misdemeanor.

These weapons will also get confiscated by the state. You will likely get these weapons returned to you unless any of the above situations apply to your case.

Get Help From a Collin County Criminal Lawyer

Both state and federal firearm violations are treated as serious crimes. Your weapon will be taken away, but you can get it back by understanding the process and seeing if you qualify under the factors listed above.

A Collin County firearm offense attorney from Rosenthal & Wadas can assess your situation and see if getting your weapon back is an option in your case. We have the skills and experience to handle even the most complex weapons charges. To learn more about your rights after being charged with a weapons offense, contact us today. Give us a call at (972) 369-0577 to schedule a free consultation.

Posted in Federal Criminal Defense, Federal Firearms Violation

Can I Choose Jail Instead of Probation?

Jail Cell

In some criminal cases, defendants are able to get probation as an alternative to incarceration. Probation, known as “community supervision” in Texas, is a period of court-ordered supervision that allows a person to stay within their community while they serve out their sentence. The terms of a person’s community supervision can vary. In some cases, a person who is on community supervision may be required to abide by a curfew, enroll in and attend certain classes, or live in a specific location. For most people, community supervision is a welcomed alternative to jail.

Though, this does raise a question: Can a Texas defendant choose jail over community supervision? In general, the answer to the question is ‘yes’. If an accused person negotiates an outcome with the prosecutor through their lawyer, the parties can usually agree upon a jail sentence, as opposed to community supervision. If a defendant elects to proceed to trial, that person may choose whether they will be sentenced by the judge or by the jury if convicted. However, following a Guilty verdict, the defendant loses the ability to negotiate the outcome. At that point the defendant must request jail and hope that the judge (or jury) depending upon whom the defendant elected to sentence him or her, agrees with the request. Following a trial, the path to the outcome you desire is uncertain. In fact, there is caselaw in Texas indicating that a judge may disregard a jury’s decision to impose a jail sentence and may place a person on community supervision over their objection and in spite of the decision of the jury. However, there has been an observed trend in Texas of defendants choosing jail over community supervision. According to reporting from the Texas Tribune, there are now many defendants in the state who have selected jail over community supervision.

However, just because people are making this choice does not mean that it is a good option for you. If you are considering opting to go to jail instead of going through community supervision, it is strongly recommended that you first consult with an experienced Collin County probation violation attorney. Your lawyer will be able to review the specific circumstances of your case in order to help you find the best path forward for you and your family.

Why Would Anyone Choose Jail Over Community Supervision?

For many people, this entire question is confusing. Why would a defendant voluntarily choose to go to jail instead of opting for community supervision? On the surface, it does not seem like a choice that makes any sense. However, there are some limited advantages that jail offers over community supervision. Specifically, three key advantages are:

  • Shorter overall punishment: Jail is a finite term, and it can be significantly shorter than the length community supervision. Some defendants prefer this type of arrangement.
  • No ongoing costs: When on community supervision, defendants are generally required to pay ongoing monthly fees.
  • No risk of violation: If a person violates their community supervision, it could be revoked outright. This is a very serious problem, and it could result in a defendant serving a longer jail term than they would have been facing in the first place.

While those ‘cons’ of community supervision are real, it is important to view them in the proper context. Going to jail is serious. Community Supervision allows people to continue their life with relatively little disruption; going to jail, especially for an extended period of time, will inevitably cause major disruptions. Defendants also should understand that going to jail is traumatic. There are adverse emotional and psychological effects that you may not be ready to take on. There are also often serious “collateral consequences” that flow from a final conviction and jail sentence including driver and professional license suspension among a host of others. Do not make a decision to voluntarily accept a jail sentence until you have at least consulted with a qualified and experienced Collin county defense lawyer.

Why You Should Always Be Represented By a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Consider the following scenario: A person was arrested for a DWI in Collin County, Texas. This defendant admits that they were intoxicated while behind the wheel of their vehicle, and they are not interested in community supervision. They are set on pleading guilty and serving out any required jail sentence. Even in this hypothetical example, this person should still be represented by an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney. Why? Because sentencing varies dramatically. In Texas, a first-time DWI conviction is punishable by up to 180 days in jail. However, in many cases, defendants serve far less than that, and they may even be able to avoid jail altogether. The above scenario would also likely cause an additional driver license suspension and preclude one from ever sealing their record of conviction from public view.

You should always work with a defense attorney who can help you find the best possible solution given your specific circumstances and desires. Choosing jail over community supervision could make sense in a limited number of cases. However, if you are going that route, you need to be sure that you are not hit with a maximum possible jail sentence. Your criminal defense attorney will make sure that your rights and interests are being fully protected.

Contact Our Collin County Juvenile Defense Attorneys Today

At Rosenthal & Wadas, our Collin County criminal lawyers are committed to providing top-quality legal services to our clients. No matter your specific situation, we will find you the best solution. If you have questions about community supervision, please call our office today at (972) 369-0577 to request a fully confidential case evaluation. From McKinney, we represent defendants throughout Collin County, TX, including in Plano and Frisco.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Federal Criminal Defense

Headed To Court? Here Is What You Need To Know Before You Go

Court Room

Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, there’s one thing you need to know: how to behave in court. Attending court is a serious matter. Behavior and appearance are of utmost importance. If you do anything that can cause the judge to view you in a negative manner, this may impact your case. You could be cited for contempt of court and face harsher punishments, which is the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish if you have been accused of a crime.

If this is your first time attending a courtroom, you will likely be a bit anxious. What do you do? What do you say? What do you wear? Follow this guide for professionalism in a Texas courtroom.

Be On Time

Being on time is probably one of the most important things you can do to make a good impression. You are not the only case the judge will be ruling on. Court cases go on all day long, so the schedule is tight. Being even a few minutes late is viewed as unprofessional and can negatively impact your case.

Set your alarm clock the night before. Make sure you give yourself adequate time to get ready, as you don’t want to be rushing out the door. Find out how long it takes to get to the courthouse and allow yourself plenty of time to park. Strive to be at the courtroom at least 10 minutes early. It’s better to be early and have to wait a few minutes than to be late and see your case dismissed.

Dress Appropriately

When you dress professionally, you show the court that you take your case seriously. Therefore, leave the tank tops and shorts at home when entering a courtroom. You should wear business attire to court. Basically, you should dress like you’re attending a job interview. This means collared shirts (tucked in), ties and slacks for men. Dress pants and dresses are appropriate for women, as long as they are not too short. If you have doubts, it’s better to overdress than to dress too casually.

Avoid Bringing Certain Items

Certain items cannot be brought into the courtroom, so you will need to leave them in your car or at home. These items include food, beverages, chewing gum and tobacco products. Newspapers, cell phones and recording devices are also not allowed. While children are allowed in some courtrooms, it’s best to leave them with someone. The courtroom is not the most exciting or appropriate place to bring a young child, and they will have to leave if they become disruptive.

Be Polite and Courteous

Be polite to not just the judge and court staff, but to everyone you come in contact with, including the judge—even the opposing side. Remember that you are in a courtroom and you must therefore have respect. This includes addressing the judge as “Your Honor.” When responding to questions, add “sir” or “ma’am” at the end, such as “yes, sir” or “no, ma’am.” In addition, you should rise when the judge and jury enter or leave the courtroom.

The judge should be the only person you are addressing. You should not address the other party at all.

Do Not Speak Out of Turn

Judges do not like interruptions. You should not talk to the judge unless you are permitted to do so. This is because recording devices are used by the court, so only one person is allowed to speak at a given time.

Do not speak out of turn or argue with the judge or any other court staff. If you are asked questions, keep your answers brief. Use formal English and avoid slang. Remember, you are in a professional environment.

Get Help From a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you ever have questions or concerns about the court process, don’t hesitate to ask your criminal defense attorney. Attorneys have been inside a courtroom numerous times and know the rules of proper etiquette.

If you are facing criminal charges, don’t hesitate to contact the Collin County criminal lawyers at Rosenthal & Wadas. Contact us today at (972) 369-0577 to schedule a free consultation.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Don’t Let Your DWI Criminal Record be a Roadblock to Your New Year

Drunk Driving

This past legislative session (2017), Texas lawmakers from both sides of the aisle proposed legislation to help expand the opportunity to seal criminal convictions with an order of non-disclosure.

The new law HB 3016 allows a person convicted of nonviolent misdemeanors, including DWI’s, to petition the court for orders of nondisclosure under certain circumstances and alters some waiting periods.

HB 3016 also allows a person to petition for an order of nondisclosure of criminal history if that person was ineligible to receive an automatic order based solely on a judge’s affirmative finding that issuing such an order was not “in the best interest of justice.” If the offense was a misdemeanor punishable by a fine only an individual may petition for an order of nondisclosure immediately upon the date of completion of their sentence. However, if the misdemeanor was not punishable by fine only, they must wait until the second anniversary of the date of completing the sentence to petition.

What is an Order of Non-Disclosure?

Orders of non-disclosure “seal” a criminal record from the eyes of the general public and allow a person to deny such record in most situations. However, the offense will remain visible to law enforcement, state and federal authorities, and employers in government fields.

Importantly, having your record sealed does not, however, mean that the conviction is no longer on your record; it simply means that it is cleared from public view. Certain agencies may still be able to access the conviction, such as law enforcement agencies, or certain professional licensing agencies like the Texas Bar.

Sealing your record is an important tool because it allows those who have made mistakes in the past to have a second chance. Being able to seal your criminal record makes it easier to get a job, apply for housing, or applying for certain loans that they may have otherwise been prevented from receiving.

Who qualifies for a Non-disclosure under the new law?

A person may petition to have a DWI sealed only if they:

  • The Driving While Intoxicated conviction must be a first offense
  • The alcohol concentration must be below .15 (breath or blood)
  • There must have been no automobile accident
  • The conviction must have resulted in community supervision (probation) as opposed to a jail sentence
  • The person seeking Nondisclosure of the DWI conviction must have never previously been convicted or placed on deferred for any offense other than a traffic citation

How soon can you file a Non-Disclosure under the new law?

  • You must wait two years after your successful discharge from community supervision before you may apply to seal the record if you had a Deep Lung Device (DLD) installed in your car as a condition of supervision before you may apply.
  • You must wait five years after your successful discharge from community supervision before you may apply to seal the record if you did not have a DLD installed in your car as a condition of community supervision.

How can the new law help you or a loved one?

HB 3016 makes it easier for persons with certain low-level nonviolent offenses, particularly DWI’s, to obtain employment and become productive members of society. If you or someone you know is a first-time DWI offender and is interested in applying for nondisclosure, contact Rosenthal & Wadas and we can help you determine if you are eligible. We are happy to provide a free consultation to walk you through the steps for sealing your record. Call our office today at 972-369-0577.

Posted in DWI

Kyle Therrian Named to 2018 ‘Best Lawyers Under 40 List’ by D Magazine

Kyle Photo For Blog Post

D Magazine has selected Kyle Therrian to the 2018 edition of Best Lawyers Under 40, a list that recognizes outstanding young attorneys in North Texas.

Kyle focuses his practice on representing individuals in both pending criminal cases and in criminal appeals. This is a dual-threat approach to criminal law. As an attorney who handles criminal appeals, Kyle has a reputation in the trial courts as an attorney who will take his cases to the next level when necessary. This provides value to clients with pending criminal matters who are hoping to convince a prosecutor for a favorable outcome or persuade a judge that their rights were violated.

“As a firm, Rosenthal & Wadas, strives to positively impact the legal industry in all of the communities in which we practice,” says Derk Wadas. “We are very grateful that our peers and the editors at D Magazine recognized Kyle Therrian for this honor.”

Therrian is among seven criminal defense attorneys on the Best Lawyers Under 40 list, selected from peer nominations and a review by a blue-ribbon panel of lawyers and D Magazine editors. The full list is available in the January 2018 issue of D Magazine.

Posted in Uncategorized

Firearm Discovered at TSA Checkpoint – What Now?

Firearm

Gun laws can be confusing. Every state has its own laws, and there are federal laws that come into play as well. Plus, some state laws are not transferable everywhere, so it’s not uncommon for people to face weapons offenses even though they believe that are within their legal rights.

Most states—like Texas—have concealed carry or license to carry laws. This allows residents to take a handgun with them in public places except for secure areas such as schools, parks and airports, as long as they have a license. Airports have strict security measures in place, so it would make sense to leave your handgun at home if you are traveling, unless you want to face criminal firearm charges. However, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is seeing more and more handguns being seized at airports.

In fact, 2017 was a record year. Through November 2017, the TSA seized 3,939 firearms at security checkpoints at airports. This is higher than the 3,391 firearms seized in 2016, the 2,653 firearms seized in 2015 and the 2,212 firearms seized in 2014. As you can see, the numbers are growing year after year. In December 2017, 72 firearms were found in carry-on bags in a one-week period. Sixty-six of them were loaded.

Given that a growing number of Americans are carrying guns legally, researchers say that the number of handguns found in carry-on bags has actually declined. Given that TSA screened more than 738 million airline passengers in 2017, finding a few thousand guns is not considered a big deal. Still, finding guns at the airport can be a scary situation after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

If TSA discovers a firearm at a Texas airport, what happens next? Will you face jail time? Will you be fined? Read on to understand the laws that may apply in your case.

What the Law Says

The penalties for carrying a gun into an airport can vary based on the state and airport. Some states consider it a misdemeanor and you could face hefty fines and one year in prison. At one airport in Georgia, the fine is a whopping $100,000.

In Texas, the charges will vary based on how the authorities decide to proceed with the case. You could face anywhere from a Class A misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. If you are charged with a Class A misdemeanor, you could face a $4,000 fine and up to one year in county jail. If you are charged with third-degree felony, you could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Defenses to Texas Law

Under Texas Penal Code, Section 46.03, Subsection (a)(5), you commit a weapons offense if you knowingly or recklessly possess a firearm in a secured area of an airport. However, this does not mean you will face punishment. In fact, you might not even get arrested for such a crime.

That’s because taking a firearm into a TSA security checkpoint at an airport is decriminalized to some degree. However, all three of the following elements must apply:

  • You checked all firearms as baggage before entering the secured area, in accordance with state and federal laws.
  • You are licensed to carry a handgun in the state of Texas and had the license in your possession at the time you enter the checkpoint.
  • Once you completed the screening process and were notified that you had a handgun in your possession, you exited the screening checkpoint immediately.

This is what is considered an affirmative defense to the prosecution. So if you followed all these steps and did not make a fuss, you should be OK. Once you are informed that a gun was found in your carry-on bag, you should return it to your car or pass it off to a friend or family member who can take it out of the airport.

Get Help From a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney

Firearm offenses are often serious. If you are arrested at an airport for carrying a weapon, federal charges will often apply. It’s important that seek legal representation as soon as possible to protect your rights.

A Collin County federal firearm violation attorney can defend you against the state and federal charges you may face. Contact Rosenthal & Wadas today at 972-369-0577 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

Posted in Uncategorized

Christmas Package Theft in Texas

Christmas Present

Texas is strict when it comes to theft. Depending on the value of the package stolen, a person could face anywhere from a misdemeanor to a lifetime in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. If you have been accused of theft this holiday season, contact the Collin County criminal defense lawyers at Rosenthal & Wadas to learn about your options.

What the Law Says

Mail theft is a crime at both the state and federal levels. Therefore, a person could face multiple charges for stealing a Christmas package. Under federal law, 18 U.S. Code § 1708 states that a person who steals or takes any type of mail—including letters, bags, packages and postcards—shall be fined and imprisoned for up to five years. The theft may have taken place at a post office, mail carrier, mail box or other receptacle. Anyone who takes, buys, hides or has in their possession any mail that is known to be stolen will also be charged with theft.

Texas law can be much stricter, depending on the value of the mail stolen. Under Texas law Sec.31.03, theft occurs when a person takes or steals another person’s property to intentionally deprive owner of said property.

If the stolen property is valued at under $100, then the offense is classified as a Class C misdemeanor. This is punishable by a $500 fine. A Class B misdemeanor is reserved for theft of a driver’s license or property valued between $100 and $750. This crime is more serious in nature and results in up to 180 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. A person is charged with a Class A misdemeanor for stealing property valued between $750 and $2,500.

A state jail felony is the charge for theft where property valued between $2,500 and $30,000 is stolen. A person could also face this crime for stealing property from a corpse or for stealing a gun or an election ballot. This crime is punishable by between 180 days and two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

A person can face a third-degree felony if the value of the stolen property is between $30,000 and $150,000, or the property is cattle, horses or livestock, or 10 or more goats, sheep or swine, stolen in a single transaction. The punishment is 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Theft is a second-degree felony if the value of the property stolen is between $150,000 and $300,000, or the stolen property consists of an automated teller machine, its contents or components. The punishment is 2-20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The most serious form of theft occurs when the value of the stolen property exceeds $300,000. This is classified as a first-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years in prison as well as a $10,000 fine and probation.

Get Help From a Collin County Theft Attorney for Christmas Theft

Theft is a crime that can affect you for many years—even after you have served your time and paid any fines or restitution. Because this crime involves moral character, you could face issues in your professional life, such as applying for a license as a lawyer, teacher, doctor or financial professional.

There are defenses and other ways to get your charges reduced. Therefore, seek qualified legal advice from an experienced Collin County theft attorney. The criminal defense attorneys at Rosenthal & Wadas will fight for your rights. Contact us today at (972) 369-0577 to schedule a free consultation.

Posted in Federal Criminal Defense, Theft

Why Your College Student Needs to Hire a Lawyer for their Drug Possession Case

College Student

Thousands of arrests are made throughout the state yearly for possession of controlled substances. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the consequences of a first-time conviction for this offense. Young people, in particular college students, try to handle these cases themselves simply to avoid having their parents find out that they have been charged with a crime.

Unfortunately, a quick mistake in judgment or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can have a severe negative impact on your future. A criminal conviction can lead to you losing opportunities for jobs, graduate school, law school or medical school. It can even lead to you being expelled or suspended from your college or university.If you are a student that has been arrested for a criminal offense or if you are the parent of a college student charged with a crime, your first order of business in such a situation should be to get legal representation. It is important to hire an attorney right away to learn about your legal options.

Common defenses for Texas drug crimes stem from improper searches and seizures, as well as issues that arise during the chain of custody of the evidence. There are a number of diversion programs in most counties, both for the first-time offender and for offenders who are ready to make a substantial change in their lives.

Any drug or marijuana conviction in the state of Texas will lead to a driver’s license suspension of 180 days. That means even paying a drug paraphernalia ticket will get your license suspended. Additionally, once the license is suspended, the only way to get it reinstated is to take a state-certified drug offender program which is a 15 hour in-person class.

If you have a criminal drug charge call our office to schedule a free consultation. Rosenthal & Wadas is Collin County’s largest criminal defense firm. We are the only firm in Collin County with two partners board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Both partners are former state criminal prosecutors and head a firm of seven lawyers who have dedicated their practice to the defense of individuals charged with criminal offenses.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Frequently Asked Question's

Assault Family Violence

1. What’s the difference between “domestic violence” and “family violence”?

Not much. “Domestic violence” commonly refers to violence between adults who are married, but “family violence” as defined in the Texas Family Code is broader and includes individuals who are:
  • Related by blood or marriage
  • Current and/or former spouses
  • Parents of the same child
  • Foster parents and children
It doesn’t matter for the above groups whether they live together or not. But the definition also includes:
  • Roommates
  • Individuals who are or were in a dating relationship

2. What are the different kinds of charges for family violence cases?

Several different offenses can fall under the “family violence banner,” but the most common cases are:
  • Assault (offensive touching, sometimes a reduction from a higher charge) – Class C Misdemeanor, $0 to $500 fine
  • Assault Family Violence – Class A Misdemeanor, 0 to 365 days jail and/or up to $4,000 fine
  • Assault Family Violence with prior FV conviction – 3rd and/or up to $10,000 fine
  • Continuous Family Violence (2 or more incidents alleged in one year) – 3rd to 10 years prison and/or up to $10,000 fine
  • Aggravated Assault causing Serious Bodily Injury with Deadly Weapon with Family Violence
  • 1st Degree Felony, 5 to 99 years or life in prison and/or up to $10,000 fine

3. Does it matter if it was a punch or “just a push”?

Yes and no. Bodily injury means any “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.” It can be as serious as a stab or gunshot wound, or as simple as pulling someone’s hair. The issue is “did it hurt?” or “did it cause pain?” Some felony offenses allege “serious bodily injury,” meaning “injury that creates a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, or [extended] loss or impairment of the function of” part of the body. The more serious the injury, the higher level the offense will be charged. And if the officers aren’t sure, they will usually err on the side of charging the higher offense.

4. What if I’ve been convicted of a case with a finding of Family Violence case before?

If you’ve already been convicted once before of a case with a finding of family violence, then the second arrest will be charged as a 3rd Degree Felony. A 3rd Degree Felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If the State can’t prove the enhancement (the prior case), they may still prosecute the case as a lower offense, usually a Class Assault Family Violence Misdemeanor.

5. I was issued an Emergency Protective Order. What does that mean?

An EPO can be issued on request from a police officer, an alleged “victim”, a guardian, or an attorney for the State. It may require you to not commit family violence or assault, communicate in a harassing or threatening manner, or go near a particular residence. An EPO can be effective for anywhere from 31 to 91 days, and it can be “replaced” upon request by a complainant with a standard Protective Order.

6. What happens if the complaining party doesn’t want to prosecute?

If the person who is alleged as the “victim” doesn’t want to prosecute, then he or she can file an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution with the District Attorney’s office. This can be done through an attorney or, sometimes, DA’s offices have their own protocol. This does not mean the case will dismissed – if the DAs feels they should go forward with the case or even if they can prove it without his or her testimony, they may still prosecute the case. But filing an ANP doesn’t hurt.

7. Can I still own a gun once if I plead guilty to Assault Family Violence?

No. If you are convicted of a Family Violence offense, like Assault Family Violence, you forfeit your rights to ever possess or transport a firearm or ammunition under federal law. If you violate the law, you will be subject to penalties under federal – not state – law.

Drug Offenses

1. What’s the difference between “possession” and “distribute” or “manufacture”?

“Possession” is the basic charge for any drug offense, whether it is marijuana or methamphetamine.  Proving possession requires a showing of “actual care, custody, control, or management.” To “distribute,” a person must deliver a drug in some way other than “administering or dispensing” it. But “manufacture” is the broadest definition of all, including the creation and altering of any drug (other than marijuana), by chemical synthesis and/or extracting natural substances. It can also include the packaging and labeling of a drug.

2. What’s a “penalty group” and how does it affect how I’m charged?

The legislature has divided controlled substances into 4 penalty groups, and each one has its own punishment range, depending on whether the offense is possession or manufacture and distribution, the amount of the substance, and generally based on the dangerousness of the drug itself. Some common drugs and their associated penalty groups are:
  • PG 1 – Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Heroin, Hydrocodone (over 300 mg)
  • PG 2 – Ecstasy, PCP
  • PG 3 -  Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, Hydrocodone (under 300 mg)
  • PG 4 – Morphine, Buprenorphine

3. How will the amount affect how I’m charged?

Charges are divided up by the amount involved, based on the penalty group. For example,  marijuana possession is charged as:
  • Less than 2 oz – class B misdemeanor
  • 2 to 4 oz – class A misdemeanor
  • 4 oz to 5 lbs – 3rd degree felony
  • 5 lbs to 2000 lbs – 2nd degree felony
  • Over 2000 lbs – 1st degree felony
For Penalty Groups 1 and 2 –
  • Less than 1 gr – state jail felony
  • 1 to 4 grams – 3rd degree felony
  • 4 to 200 grams (or 4 to 400 grams for PG2) – 2nd degree felony
  • 200 or more grams (or over 400 grams for PG2) – 1st degree felony

4. What is SAFP?

SAFP stands for the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment program.  This is an intense treatment program for probationers and parolees who need substance abuse treatment.   It includes an “in-prison” phase consisting of orientation, treatment, and then re-entry and relapse prevention.  Then there is a 3 month stay at a transitional treatment center, similar to a half-way house, followed by 9 months of outpatient treatment.  The program can last up to 30 months, depending on successful progress towards recovery and sobriety.  SAFP is perhaps the most intense drug treatment program available, but it is also considered one of the most effective.

DWI

1. I was arrested for DWI. What happens next?

Please remember that you have only FIFTEEN DAYS from the date of arrest to request a hearing on the potential suspension of your driver's license. If you do not request a hearing your license will be automatically suspended 40-days from the date of the arrest. In a typical case, the arresting police agency will send your arrest report to the District Attorney’s Office (“DA”). The DA will then file the formal charge against you in one our six County Courts at Law and you will receive a notice to appear. Generally, there is a four to six week time lapse between the time of your arrest and your fist court appearance.  The period between the arrest and the filing may be much longer in blood draw cases where lab results are pending.

2. How long will it take to resolve the charge against me?

The length of time it takes to resolve a DWI charge will vary. Each case is as unique as a snowflake based on the underlying facts as well as your goals and the prosecutor’s stance on your particular case.  Cases can be resolved as quickly as three months or as long as a year.

3. I failed or refused to submit to a breath or blood test. Is my driver's license automatically suspended?

No. If you request hearing through the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process within fifteen days of your arrest, your license will remain valid until such time as a hearing takes place. We will personally handle all aspects of the ALR process on your behalf.  At the hearing the State must prove certain facts. If they fail to do so, your license will not be suspended.

4. WHY REQUEST AN ALR HEARING?

The ALR hearing will likely be the only opportunity you have to question the police officer that arrested you under oath prior to trial. If a hearing is set our attorneys will compel the State's lawyers to turn over all the evidence they intend to use against you at the hearing. This will include all police reports and frequently breath or blood test results. Also, unless strategy suggests otherwise, our attorneys will require the presence of the arresting officer at your hearing. The ALR hearing is a tremendous opportunity to test the strength of the State's case against you and to look for weaknesses in their case. At the ALR hearing we will be looking for ways to challenge all aspects of the state's case in an effort to maintain your right to drive. By way of example only:
  • Did the police stop your vehicle in violation of the law?
  • Did the police properly perform the HGN test according to their training?
  • Did the police properly administer the other Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in accordance with their training and the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration?
  • Do the recorded police observations concerning alleged intoxication rise to the level of probable cause?
  • Was there a valid refusal of a breath or blood test?
  • Did the police comply with the observation period prior to requesting a breath test?
  • Was discovery provided in a timely manner by the State's lawyers?
  • In blood test cases, is there proof that shows that the blood test was taken in a sanitary place, and by a qualified person?
  • In a Chapter 524 case, is there admissible, sufficient proof of operation?
  • Did the police provide any erroneous or extra statutory advice concerning the consequences of refusing or submitting to a breath test.
If you prevail at the ALR hearing the civil case is dismissed and you WILL RETAIN YOUR RIGHT TO DRIVE.

5. What happens if my license is suspended?

If your license is suspended you will likely be able to petition the court for an Occupational Driver's License (ODL). An ODL is a restricted driver's license that will allow you to drive up to twelve hours a day.

6. Why do I need an attorney who focuses his practice on DWI defense?

Defending DWI cases properly requires intricate knowledge of the applicable law; the science involved in breath, and the procedure used by the police to obtain and evaluate evidence in a DWI case. Most attorneys, even those who practice criminal law, do not focus on DWI defense. An experienced DWI attorney may see defenses that may be overlooked by some other attorney. In selecting a DWI attorney, just a few questions to consider are:
  • Does the attorney have experience and success trying DWI cases?
  • Can the attorney explain in clear terms the basic operation of the breath testing device known as the Intoxilyzer 5000?
  • Does the attorney remain current on DWI focused continuing legal education?
  • What specific strategy does the attorney plan to advance in your ALR hearing?
  • Does the attorney try blood draw cases to a jury?

7. I refused to submit to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, am I in trouble?

No. You have a lawful right to refuse to submit to any field sobriety test, including the One Leg Stand, the Walk and Turn, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, and the Preliminary Breath Test. You may also refuse to submit to the Breath Test, however your refusal may trigger certain consequences for your driver's license.

8. I am guilty, do I still need a lawyer?

The short answer is yes. Even a first offense DWI carries a potential punishment range of up to one hundred eighty days in the County Jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Even if you are sure that you are factually "guilty" you should still seriously consider an experienced DWI lawyer who knows the law, the science, and the ins and outs of the court system. First and foremost, we will always force the State's Attorney's to turn over ALL of the evidence to me. The evidence should include, at a minimum, all of the police generated documents, the DVD or video of both the roadside and Intoxilyzer room, and witness statements, the Intoxilyzer breath testing slip, and a lab report in blood test cases. Only when all of the evidence is available can you make intelligent decision about how to proceed. Even if you feel that you were intoxicated, and experienced DWI attorney should be looking at issues such as:
  • How do you look on video?
  • Was the breath or blood evidence obtained lawfully?
  • Was the breath or blood evidence obtained in such a way that its analytical reliability or validity may be compromised?
  • Was the stop of your car by police lawful?
  • Did the police officer administer the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests correctly?
  • Does the police report contain internal contradictions, or is it contradicted by the video?
  • Will the State be able to locate and secure the attendance of the witnesses at trial?
So, even if you think you are guilty, do yourself a favor and hire an experienced DWI attorney who can analyze your case for weaknesses that may benefit you.

9. Am I able to obtain a Deferred Adjudication for a Driving While Intoxicated Charge?

Not under the current state of the law. However legislation was introduced recently introduced which would authorize people charged with a first driving while intoxicated case in Texas to receive deferred adjudication.  The legislation failed, however it may be raised again at a future date in the Legislature. In a deferred adjudication situation, no judicial finding of guilt is made and and the end of the deferral period the case is dismissed.

10. When would I need SR-22 Insurance?

Ordinarily, SR-22 insurance will be required after a DWI conviction or when a person needs an occupational driver's license due to a driver's license suspension. Frequently the suspension is the result of a DWI conviction or an ALR suspension. You may obtain SR-22 insurance by contacting your own insurance company or by contacting another agency. Our office regularly recommends two separate agencies that have provided excellent service to our clients.

Theft Laws

1. I was arrested for Theft, what happens next?

The State typically files a criminal case within 1-2 months. Theft cases can range from a Class C Misdemeanor all the way to a First Degree Felony. The level of offense will depend on the value of what is alleged to have been stolen. Misdemeanor Theft is the most common form of Theft prosecuted in Collin County. Class C Theft (property less than $50), Class B Theft (property $50 - $500); Class A Theft (property $500 - $1,500). Felony Theft involves property valued at $1,500 or more.

2. What are the possible punishments for Misdemeanor Theft?

Potential punishment increases with each degree of theft:
  • Class C: $0 - $500 fine
  • Class B : 0 days  – 180 days in jail and/or $0 - $2,000 fine
  • Class A: 0 days – 1 year in jail and/or $0 - $4,000 fine
The vast majority of Theft cases resolved by a plea or finding of guilt result in some form of probation. Misdemeanor probation can last up to 24 months and can include a wide array of probation terms and conditions, including payment of hefty fines and fees.

3. How will a Theft case affect my record?

Theft is a crime of moral turpitude. If you are convicted of a theft offense, it will remain on your record for life. Unlike some criminal offenses, a Theft conviction will usually raise the concern or disapproval of a current or potential employer.

4. Is there a way to keep a Theft case off my record

There are a few of ways to keep a Theft off your record. The likelihood of doing this will depend upon a variety of factors, including the circumstances of the case and the person who is accused of committing Theft. 

5. What happens at my first court appearance?

The first appearance is more like a work session than anything else. It is an opportunity for your attorney to meet with the prosecutor and discuss the case. Typically, the prosecutor will have a police report, video, and witness statements to share with your attorney along with an initial recommendation for a punishment that the you can receive in exchange for a guilty plea. The first appearance date is usually concluded by selecting another appearance date.

6. What evidence is there that I stole something?

In a shoplifting case, there is usually one or more store employee who claim to have seen something take place inside the store. Frequently, a shoplifting case will involve camera footage shot from one or more angles. Depending upon the circumstances, the police may have conducted further investigation when they arrived, but they don’t always. The State does not need a police officer to testify to prove their case.

7. A store employee was harassing and humiliating to me, did he violate my rights?

Many places of business employ a loss prevention department. These are people who can be dressed up like officers or in plain clothes secretly watching customers. The law allows these people to use limited force to prevent shoplifting. They may grab you, detain you, and question you until the police come. They are not required to play by the same rules that police do because the law considers them to be private, as opposed to government, entities… therefore their thoughtless conduct rarely negates an arrest – but judges and juries have little tolerance for such conduct by store employees and may give them little credibility as witnesses.

8. Why am I in trouble when my friend did it?

The law allows the State to try and put you on the hook for the conduct of another person. Specifically, the law says “A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if, acting with the intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the person to commit the offense.” However, mere presence alone will not make someone a party to the offense. In this type of case, the prosecution has the burden to show you did something to affirmatively aid the person committing the theft.  Mere presence alone is not enough.

9. How did they come up with a dollar amount greater than what was on the sticker?

The law also allows the State to try and prove a dollar amount that varies from the sticker price. Specifically, the law says that “the value of the property taken is the fair market value of that property at the time and place of the offense,” and “fair market value is . . . the amount the property would sell for in cash, giving a reasonable time for selling it.”  Merchants are aware of the statutory amounts, and it’s not uncommon for them to attempt to find creative ways to ‘pile-on’ the price.  This is a specific area a trained attorney knows to attack.

10. Is there a link between shoplifting and depression?

Studies have shown that there is a link between shoplifting and depression especially for middle-aged women. While this may not be a circumstance which leads to a jury finding someone not guilty, it is something to consider when talking about punishment.

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