Jeremy Rosenthal
Kyle Therrian
Derk Wadas
Bo Kalabus
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Rosenthal & Wadas Named Best of Business in Customer Engagement

The McKinney criminal defense firm Rosenthal & Wadas received the award for Customer Engagement by Frisco Style. The firm is featured in the October issue of the magazine as one of eight area companies recognized as the Best of Business 2016.

Rosenthal & Wadas is designed as a team of lawyers and legal specialists offering exceptional customer service throughout the duration of a client’s case. The firm promises clients an experience that focuses on communication and positivity.

“Clients are treated just like family members. We treat our clients as we would want to be treated if we found ourselves in need of similar services,” explains Jeremy Rosenthal.

With seven full-time lawyers, Rosenthal & Wadas offers the advantage of attorneys who collaborate together, taking a team approach to explore every angle of the case.

“Our firm excels in keeping our customers’ satisfaction top of mind throughout their entire case,” said Derk Wadas. “We are honored to receive this award.”

Rosenthal & Wadas

Rosenthal & Wadas is the largest criminal defense firm in Collin County and is the only firm in the county with two Criminal Law Board Certified partners.
www.RosethalWadas.com

Posted in Uncategorized

What Is the Difference Between Shoplifting and Theft?

theftshoplifting

Many Collin County, Texas, residents have been arrested and charged with shoplifting. If you have been accused of stealing or “lifting” merchandise from a local retailer, do not assume it is a misunderstanding that will be quickly resolved. Shoplifting is a serious criminal charge and a conviction can have significant consequences on your life and freedom.

Defining Shoplifting

Retail theft has been a major problem for centuries. In 1699, responding to complaints from London merchants, the Parliament of England passed one of the first laws specifically targeting shoplifting. English justice was quite strict: Anyone caught taking more than five shillings worth of merchandise—about 80 cents in modern U.S. dollars—was subject to death by hanging.

Fortunately, modern shoplifting laws in places like Collin County are nowhere near that serious. In fact, shoplifting is not a specifically defined offense under the Texas penal code. Rather it is simply considered a form of “theft.” The degree of the theft offense is determined by the value of the property allegedly taken.

At the lowest level, for example, theft of property valued at less than $100 is classified as a Class C Misdemeanor. This carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine but no jail time. The offense is elevated to a Class B Misdemeanor if the shoplifted property is worth between $100 and $750. The difference between a Class B and Class C Misdemeanor is important, because the former not only carries a significantly larger maximum fine– $2,000 as opposed to $500– -but also a potential jail term of up to 180 days. Once the value of the allegedly stolen property exceeds $2,500, an accused shoplifter is looking at a state jail felony charge. A conviction here can lead to up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Again, these penalties apply to all forms of theft, not just shoplifting. Shoplifting only refers to theft in the context of a retail store, but it does not matter where a defendant allegedly stole the property. What ultimately matters is the value of the property itself.

A Collin County Theft Attorney Can Help

While a Class C Misdemeanor conviction may not seem like a big deal, especially since there is no risk of jail time, having a theft conviction of any type might affect your ability to get a job. After all, if you were a potential employer and saw a theft conviction on an applicant’s back, would you hire that person? You should also keep in mind that the retailer that accused you of shoplifting can file a civil lawsuit against you separate and apart from any criminal proceeding.

This is why you should speak with a qualified Collin County criminal defense lawyer if you have been accused of shoplifting or any type of criminal theft. The attorneys at Rosenthal & Wadas can advise you on how to deal with any type of theft charge, even a misdemeanor, and ensure your rights are protected.

Posted in Federal Criminal Defense, Theft

Rosenthal & Wadas to Offer Law Student Scholarship

Our firm is pleased to announce the Rosenthal & Wadas Law Student Scholarship. This scholarship is open to all students heading to or who are currently enrolled in Law School for the 2017 Spring Semester. We will award one student with a $1,000 scholarship to assist with college education expenses.

To enter the scholarship competition, applicants must complete the online application. The deadline for entries is December 31, and the winner will be announced in early January.

The Scholarship will be judged on merit and need. Academic achievements as well as any leadership experiences will be taken in to account.

“The next generation of attorneys are learning their trade right now,” said Jeremy Rosenthal. “At Rosethal & Wadas, we want to award commitment to law students and help them achieve their academic and professional goals.”

More details about the scholarship program and how to enter are available on the Rosenthal & Wadas website.

About Rosenthal & Wadas

Rosenthal & Wadas is the largest criminal defense firm in Collin County and is the only firm in Collin County with two Board Certified partners. Visit www.rosenthalwadas.com to learn more.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Rosenthal & Wadas Attorneys Named to the 2016 Texas Super Lawyers List

We are pleased to announce that two attorneys from Rosenthal & Wadas have been selected to the 2016 Texas Super Lawyers list. This is an exclusive list, recognizing no more than five percent of attorneys in Texas.

Please join us in congratulating Derk Wadas and Bo Kalabus on their selections. Mr. Wadas was previously named on the Super Lawyers list from 2014-2015. Mr. Kalabus is celebrating 5 years on the Super Lawyers list for his outstanding legal achievements.

Super Lawyers magazine uses a patented selection process of multiple phases to create their list of top attorneys in the state. The process starts with nominations by peers. These nominations are validated by third-party research across 12 categories. Candidates are then grouped into categories based on practice area and reviewed by those attorneys who received the highest totals from each category. In the final selection, five percent of the state’s attorneys are named to the Super Lawyers list.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country, as well as the Texas Super Lawyers Digital Magazine.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Be Prepared This Holiday Weekend

Stars on Flag

Labor Day weekend is the last hurrah for many folks to get out and camp, barbecue, swim and relax. All the things Texans love to do. Three day weekends also mean that there will be a greater police presence watching the roads for drunk drivers.

Getting stopped by police is a scary experience, whether you have been drinking or not. There is no easy way to know how many drinks will put you over the legal limit. You might feel sober but that doesn’t guarantee your blood alcohol level is under the legal limit. Your blood alcohol level depends on many factors including your height, weight, how much you are eating, how fast you drink, whether you are on medications and your metabolism rate. The best way to avoid a DWI if you plan to get behind the wheel this weekend is just not to drink.

Even if you have never been involved in any kind of legal situation before, it is hard to know when trouble might be around the corner. Be prepared by making sure that you have the Rosenthal & Wadas contact information in your phone.

Rosenthal & Wadas encourages you to never drink and drive. Instead choose a designated driver or call Uber of Lyft for a ride.  But if you do end up driving after you’ve been drinking and are pulled over, remain calm and follow these steps.

  • Slow down and pull over as soon as possible- If you’re signaled by an officer’s flashing lights behind you, use your turn signal and pull over as soon as it’s safe to do so.
  • Wait for the officer to approach- Turn off your car, roll down the window and keep your hands on the steering wheel where the officer can see them. Don’t reach for your wallet or your registration in the glove compartment. Wait to get those things when the officer asks for them.
  • Be polite but not chatty-  Remain calm and cooperate with the office. Nerves usually make people talk more than normal, and this usually leads to trouble. Stick to “yes” and “no,” and make your answers to open questions concise.

The most important thing you can do for yourself and your family if you are arrested for a DWI is to consult with a Collin County DWI lawyer about your case right away. Rosenthal & Wadas can help you chose the best way to proceed and give you confidence through the entire legal process ahead of you. Our office is available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week – 972-369-0577.

Posted in DWI

Spice, K2, and Synthetic Marijuana in Texas

Synthetic Marijuana

It has long been illegal to possess or distribute marijuana in Collin County, Texas. Even possessing less than two ounces of marijuana may subject a Collin County resident to a fine of $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. These penalties double for possessing up to four ounces of marijuana, and continue to ratchet up depending on the quantity involved.

What Is “Synthetic Marijuana”?

In recent years, many Texas residents have turned to synthetic marijuana in an attempt to circumvent the state’s ban on marijuana possession. “Synthetic marijuana” does not refer to a single drug or compound. Instead, it refers to products marketed under a variety of different names, such as K2, Spice, and Black Mamba, that are used to simulate the effects of marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, synthetic marijuana—or “synthetic cannabinoids”—are “related to chemicals found in the marijuana plant,” notably THC, the compound commonly associated with marijuana’s mind-altering properties. These chemicals are commonly sprayed on shredded plant material to make it look like naturally grown marijuana.

Synthetic marijuana is often more harmful than the real thing, due in large part to the wide variety of toxic chemicals used by its producers. In 2014, Texas authorities noted that approximately 120 people in Austin and Dallas overdosed on K2, a popular form of synthetic marijuana. As a result of this and similar reports, the Texas legislature has added “controlled substance analogues” to the list of illegal drugs. This includes most forms of synthetic marijuana and any other “substance with a chemical structure substantially similar to the chemical structure of a controlled substance.”

What Should I Do If I’m Arrested for Synthetic Marijuana Possession in Collin County?

If you are charged with possession of synthetic marijuana, you need to take the matter seriously. The criminal penalties for possession of a controlled substance analogue is generally the same as the actual controlled substance. In other words, possession of up to two grams of any product deemed “substantially similar” to marijuana may land you in jail for six months.

That is why it is important to speak with a Collin County drug offense attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, there may be one or more viable defenses available to you. For example, the prosecution must prove the chemicals found in your possession were in fact “substantially similar” to an already illegal drug. This requires expert testimony that can be challenged in court.

If you are facing any type of drug offense charge, contact the offices of Rosenthal & Wadas,PLLC, to speak with a Collin County criminal defense lawyer right away.

Posted in Uncategorized

Understanding the Basics of SR-22 Insurance

SR-22 Insurance Form

If you live or work in Collin County, Texas, you understand the importance of being able to drive. But driving is a state-regulated privilege, not a right, and therefore there are many legal requirements that a driver has to comply with. These requirements include maintaining a certain level of automobile insurance. For certain drivers deemed a higher risk by the state, a driver may also need to obtain a special insurance endorsement.

What Is an SR-22 Endorsement?

This endorsement is referred to as an SR-22 form. Basically, it requires the issuer of the endorsement to monitor in the status of the underlying policy and inform the Texas Department of Public Safety of any changes. In other words, if a driver required to have an SR-22 endorsement allows his or her insurance policy to lapse, the insurer must inform state authorities the driver is not currently insured.

Why Do I Need an SR-22 Endorsement?

Texas generally requires an SR-22 when a driver has had his or her license suspended following an accident or a conviction for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or for a suspension as a result of the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process. For example, a Collin County resident convicted of DWI may have his or her driving privileges suspended but still be able to receive an occupational license that allows him or her to drive to work and school. An SR-22 is necessary, however, to obtain an occupational driver’s license.  An occupational driver’s license will allow someone to continue to drive during the period of time in which their license is suspended.

What Does an SR-22 Actually Do?

The SR-22 is formally called a “Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate.” It certifies to the State of Texas that you are currently carrying a minimum amount of automobile liability coverage. Currently, those minimums are $30,000 in coverage for bodily injury or death caused to one person in an accident or $60,000 for multiple people injured or killed in the same accident, and $25,000 for the destruction of any property in a single accident.

Does My Insurer Have to Issue Me an SR-22?

An insurer may refuse to issue, or delay issuing, an SR-22. In many cases even if your insurer does issue an SR-22 it will decide not to renew your policy because you are deemed too high of a risk. Therefore, if your insurer refuses to issue an SR-22, you may have to obtain a new policy from a different insurer.

Do You Need Help From a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney?

While there are many circumstances where you may be required to obtain an SR-22 endorsement, the most common reason is that you have had your license suspended following an ALR hearing, or following a conviction for Driving While Intoxicated. This is just one example of how a DWI can have a significant long-term impact on your life. If you have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated and need assistance from an experienced Collin County DWI lawyer, contact the offices of Rosenthal & Wadas in McKinney, Texas, today.

Posted in Criminal Defense, DWI

DWI Process in Collin County

DWI Process Blog Post

By: Justin Wilson

While the facts of every DWI investigation have their own unique nuances, in general, DWIs follow a predictable process. The following outlines this process after an arrest through the disposition of a case.

Bond Process

After you have been arrested and booked on a charge of DWI, you will be held in a jail facility. Some cities, such as Plano and Frisco, have their own jails and will hold you there overnight before transferring you to the Collin County Jail the next day. Other cities, such as McKinney, do not have their own jails and will transfer arrestees directly to the county facility. There, you will wait until a judge can see you to set a bond and attach conditions to that bond. This process may require you to spend one or two nights in jail. Once the judge has set your bond, someone can either pay the full amount of the bond in cash (cash bond), or the individual can pay 10% to a bail bondsman (surety bond). The key difference here is that, in a cash bond, once your case is disposed, the cash amount will be returned or it can be applied to court costs and fines. With a surety bond, the bail bondsman keeps the 10% paid as income.

Attorney Writ Bond

There is another option if you do not want to wait in jail until the judge sees you – an Attorney Writ Bond. If you are arrested for DWI, you can contact a Collin County DWI attorney and for a fee, the attorney will drive to the jail, meet with someone there on your behalf, and file the necessary paperwork. Once the paperwork is processed, you will be released from jail.

About a week later the attorney who executed the writ bond for you will meet you at the courthouse and represent you in a bond condition hearing. Typically, the judge will require you to abstain from alcohol, submit to random urinalysis, and may require you to have a deep-lung ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. Typically, in Collin County, the courts will require you to install an ignition interlock device on any car that you own or operate if your alcohol concentration is a .15 or greater, or there was a car accident, or if you are accused of committing a second or greater offense of DWI. Once the hearing is complete, you will remain on bond as long as you comply with all the conditions.

ALR

Once you are arrested for a DWI, the law enforcement officer is required to give you written notice that your license will be suspended. Generally, this is done in the back of the patrol vehicle or in an intoxilyzer room at the jail. Once the officer gives you the written notice, the clock starts ticking. You have 15 days from the time notice is given to request your Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

If you voluntarily submitted a specimen that was .08 or more, your license will be subject to a 90-day suspension, assuming you have no previous “alcohol related law enforcement contacts.” If you refused to submit a specimen, your license will be subject to a 180-day suspension. Again, this assumes that there are no prior contacts. Previous convictions or alcohol related suspensions may have the effect of increasing the length of the suspension. In order to avoid the ALR suspension you must request an ALR hearing. By hiring a Collin County criminal defense attorney, he or she can request your hearing and file all the necessary paperwork and subpoenas. Your presence is not required at the ALR hearing.

At the hearing, your attorney will be able to cross examine the officer involved in your case. From time to time, the officer will not show up. If that happens your license will not be suspended, if the officer was under a subpoena issued and served by your attorney. If the officer appears in court, then an administrative law judge will review the police report, consider the officer’s testimony under cross examination, and make a decision regarding whether your license will be suspended.

During ALR hearings, the State has a lower burden of proof than at trial. The attorney you hired may petition the court to grant you an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL). An ODL will allow you to legally drive your vehicle for work and other necessities during certain hours of the day. If your license is suspended and you drive without an ODL, you risk arrest for a Class B Misdemeanor for driving with a suspended license. Once the 90 or 180 days have elapsed, your license will be reinstated.

If you do not request a hearing, the suspension automatically goes into effect on the 40th day after the Notice of Suspension was served. The length of the suspension, as noted above, will be 90 days if you submitted a breath or blood specimen with an alcohol concentration above .08, or it will be 180 days if you refused to submit a specimen.

Filing Your Case

It can take several months for the police agency to file your case with the District Attorney’s Office. If they took your blood, it may take even longer for your case to be filed because the DPS Garland Crime Lab will have to test your blood for its alcohol concentration. If law enforcement suspects intoxication due to drugs, they will send your blood to the DPS Austin Crime Lab, which will take even longer. Once the police agency files your case, if it is a misdemeanor, an intake prosecutor will make the decision to accept your case. If your DWI is a felony, then your case will go before the grand jury for secret deliberations. If the grand jury finds probable cause, it will issue a True Bill of Indictment. If the grand jury does not find probable cause, then it will issue a No-Bill, and your case will go no further.

If your case is accepted or indicted, it will be assigned to a court, and you will receive notice by mail of your first appearance. You must show up to your first appearance. If you do not, courts will usually give you a few days to check-in, but if you do not, the court will forfeit your bond and issue a warrant for your arrest. During this first appearance, your attorney will meet with the prosecutors, receive copies of the evidence the State has against you, and will let you know the State’s initial offer.

After the first appearance, your attorney will review all the evidence and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case. Your attorney, and likely you, will have to appear at subsequent court settings called announcements. These announcements are work sessions where your attorney will negotiate with the State and discuss any outstanding evidentiary issues. Once you have had the maximum number of announcements for the respective court, you will have to set your case for a plea or trial.

The Decision to Plea or Go to Trial

Your attorney will advise you about the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case and all the possible outcomes. If your attorney has found that the police officer may have performed an unlawful search or seizure, they can file a motion to suppress. The motion to suppress hearing is like a mini-trial. The State usually calls the primary officer to testify. Your attorney will cross examine all witnesses. The scope of the testimony will be limited to the point where the unlawful search or seizure occurred. Then the attorneys will make legal arguments based on case law as to the legality of the search or seizure. If the judge grants your motion to suppress, then all evidence gathered after the unlawful act is suppressed. If the judge denies your motion, you can still plea or take your case to trial.

If you decide to plead guilty, you will either serve time in a detention facility, or the court will suspend your sentence for a certain number of months or years of community supervision. If placed on community supervision, you will have to complete a number of conditions and not violate the terms of your probation. If you have any violations or fail to complete the conditions, you risk having your probation revoked.

If you decide to plead not guilty, your case will go to trial. A jury or the judge alone will hear the evidence. The State has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To meet this burden, the State will usually bring officers, nurses, intoxilyzer operators, blood analysts, and sometimes 911 callers to testify against you. You do not have to present any evidence. Your attorney will cross examine the State’s witnesses. You will decide, based on your attorney’s advice, whether or not to testify. Your attorney may call any other witnesses who will be helpful to your case. Both sides will make closing arguments, and the judge or jury will determine if the State has met its burden.

If you are found not guilty, you will be eligible for an immediate expunction to wipe the arrest from your record. In addition, if your driver’s license was suspended as a result of an ALR suspension arising from the same case, you are entitled to have that suspension rescinded by the Department of Public Safety. If you are convicted, you will move into the punishment phase of your trial. Prior to the trial, you will decide if you want a jury or the court to assess punishment upon your conviction. You will either serve time or be placed on community supervision. Either way, the court will send notice of your conviction to DPS, and DPS may suspend your license again. For first offense DWI cases, if you are placed on community supervision (probation) and you complete the DWI Education Class in a timely manner, you will not suffer an additional driver’s license suspension based on the conviction. If that happens, your attorney can petition for another ODL so that you can drive legally for work and life obligations.

At Rosenthal & Wadas bold strategies and aggressive defense techniques are used to fight DWI charges from start to finish. Clearing your name is our number one priority. Contact our office 972-369-0577 for a free consultation and to learn how we provide personalized legal representation for all of our clients. We believe in your case and will fight to protect you. It is at the heart of everything we do.

Posted in DWI

What Constitutes Guilt in a Collin County White Collar Crime?

White Collar Crime

“White collar crime” is a catchall term used to describe a wide variety of serious non-violent criminal offenses, typically financial in nature.

Types of White Collar Crimes

One of the most common types of white collar crime is embezzlement. This refers to a type of theft where someone has custody of someone else’s property and illegally converts it for their own use. For example, a corporate officer who diverts funds from the business to his or her personal bank account without permission commits embezzlement.

Other kinds of white collar crime are directed at consumers. Just about everyone has come across a telemarketing or Internet marketing scam at some point. A more sophisticated form of white collar crime against consumers is identity theft, where the criminal uses someone else’s identity to commit fraud.

Proving A “Guilty Mind”

When someone is charged with a white collar crime, the prosecutor must not only prove the underlying facts of the alleged offense but also the defendant’s “mens rea.” This is Latin for “guilty mind,” and it means the defendant must have acted intentionally and willfully in the commission of the crime. In other words, the prosecutor must prove—beyond a reasonable doubt—that the defendant “knowingly” participated in a scheme designed to obtain someone else’s property through fraud and took some action to further said scheme.

Now, a prosecutor may be able to prove intent using only circumstantial evidence. That is, a jury may infer that a defendant formed the required criminal intent based on a number of pieces of evidence rather than, say, a confession or eyewitness testimony. In white collar cases, prosecutors often rely on forensic accounting and other complex analytics to “reconstruct” an alleged fraud.

It should also be noted that different white collar crimes may have different mens rea standards. Many federal crimes, for instance, impose a lower burden of proof on prosecutors than do similar state laws. And almost any white collar crime can be elevated from the state to federal level, as all financial activity implicates interstate commerce in some way.

You Need a Collin County Theft Attorney

There are many cases where a Collin County resident may unjustly get caught up in a white collar criminal investigation. Overzealous prosecutors may see criminal activity where none exists. There are even cases where prosecutors and police may have coerced an innocent person into committing a crime.

If you find yourself in such a situation it is important you work with an experienced Collin County white collar crime attorney. White collar cases are often complicated and can overwhelm a defendant. And given the severe consequences that come with a criminal conviction, you need to have someone on your side who understands how the system works. Contact the offices of Rosenthal & Wadas in McKinney, Texas, if you are facing criminal charges and require immediate legal assistance.

Posted in Fraud, White Collar Crime

The Texas Three Strikes Law

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If you are like most people, you have likely heard of Texas’s “three strikes law” in reference to criminal proceedings. The law derives its name from baseball, where batters who accumulate three strikes “strike out” and their chance to bat is over. In the context of Texas criminal law, rather than referring to missed or foul balls, the word “strikes” refers to felony convictions. If you are convicted of three felonies in Texas, you can be subjected to extremely harsh legal penalties – in many cases, you will be facing a minimum prison sentence of 25 years, and up to 99 years or life.

What Crimes Count as Strikes?

To be subject to the enhanced mandatory minimum of 25 years under Texas law, you must be facing a first or second degree felony indictment and have been twice previously convicted of two non-state jail felony offenses. The second must have been committed after the first conviction became final,( i.e. not deferred, on appeal, etc.) Some of the offenses that can be a felony include the following:

  • Robbery
  • Homicide
  • Sexual Assault
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping

As a result, it is crucial for anyone facing a third felony conviction to retain a skilled criminal defense lawyer that understands how the complicated Criminal History Enhancement laws work and how to represent the client effectively in a way that minimizes the likelihood that the client will be subjected to a lengthy minimum sentence.

Less Serious Offenses Can Still Result in Significant Penalties

Any type of criminal conviction is a serious matter in the state of Texas, so do not make the mistake of thinking that you do not need to aggressively defend against allegations of misdemeanor offenses or a first or second felony. While perhaps not as serious as a third felony, these matters can nonetheless result in serious consequences, including fines, probation, community service and even jail time. Fortunately, in many cases, a skilled attorney can have an impact on how your case is resolved and may be able to help you avoid a conviction.

Call a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you are facing any type of criminal case, from a first misdemeanor to a third felony, you should call an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The McKinney criminal defense lawyers of Rosenthal & Wadas are ready to help. To schedule a free consultation with one of our Collin County criminal defense lawyers, call 972-369-0577.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Federal 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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