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Is Your Seven-Day Pill Box Illegal?

Prescription Drugs 1

Prescription drug abuse has emerged as a major public health issue in recent years, notably with respect to opioid painkillers like Oxycontin. But legally speaking, all drugs requiring a doctor’s prescription are tightly regulated. If you are found in with any such drug on your person without a valid prescription, you can be arrested and charged with illegal possession of a controlled substance.

What Constitutes a Valid Prescription in Texas?

Under Texas law, only a licensed physician, dentist, podiatrist, or veterinarian, and certain optometrists may issue a prescription. In some cases, an advanced practice nurse or physician’s assistant may also issue a prescription if he or she is under the supervision of a physician. The prescription itself must comply with certain labeling and packaging requirements.

For instance, the Texas State Board of Pharmacy requires prescriptions be dispensed in a childproof container (unless the patient requests otherwise) that bears a label with the name, address, and phone number of the dispensing pharmacy. The label must also list the date the prescription was filled, the name of the prescribing doctor, the quantity dispensed, and any instructions for use that is “easily readable” by the patient.

A prescription can only be refilled with a physician’s authorization. The doctor may authorize one or more refills as part of the original prescription. But you cannot ask the pharmacist to give you any refills “in advance.” Prescriptions also come with a legal time limit, either six months or one year, after the expiration of which no remaining refills are valid.

In addition, there are certain controlled substances, known as Schedule II drugs–including morphine, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Percodan–that carry such a high risk of abuse that refills are legally forbidden. Instead, you need to obtain a new prescription in writing each time your doctor determines additional medication is necessary.

Can You Travel With Your Pills Without the Original Bottle?

It is a good idea to always carry your prescription drugs in the original container from the pharmacy. But some people decide to use a separate container–such as a 7-day pill organizer–to help keep track of their drug usage. While this is perfectly fine at home, it may carry certain legal risks while traveling.

Some states specifically forbid carrying prescription drugs in a “generic” or unlabeled container. Texas has no express law on this subject. The problem is that if you are stopped by the police and found in possession of your prescription medication outside of its original container, you can still be arrested for possession of a dangerous drug. This is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas, which carries a potential jail sentence of one year, in addition to a maximum fine of $4,000.

Of course, you are unlikely to actually be convicted if you can prove you have a valid, current prescription. If for some reason you do find it necessary to travel with your medications outside of their original container–for example, if you need to take multiple drugs and it would be unwieldy to carry a group of bottles–make sure you keep copies of your written prescriptions in your wallet or car. This way, if you are detained by the police, you can avoid a potential misunderstanding.

Keep in mind, however, that law enforcement does not have an automatic right to stop and search you for pills. Even in the context of a routine traffic stop, police must normally have probable cause before searching your vehicle without your consent. In other words, just because you have a broken taillight, that does not give an officer the right to demand you produce prescriptions for any drugs on your person.

Do You Need Help From a Collin County Drug Offense Attorney?

When traveling with medication outside of Texas, you should also be aware of any applicable local laws regarding prescription bottles. The Transportation Security Administration does not require you to keep medication in their original containers. Nor do you have to declare or present any non-liquid medications to security agents. But once again, the laws of the state you may be traveling to may prohibit keeping prescription medication in generic or unlabeled containers.

And if you do find yourself in any legal trouble arising from the use or possession of prescription medications–including your own–it is important not to panic. The first thing you need to do is seek qualified legal advice from an experienced Collin County drug lawyer. Contact the Collin County criminal defense lawyers at Rosenthal & Wadas today if you need to speak with someone right away.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

What Will Happen to Me If I Aid or Assist a Fugitive?

Assisting a Fugitive

Many of us have faced a situation where a family member or friend is accused of a serious crime. Your first instinct may be to offer help. After all, if you believe the person is not guilty, then you want to do everything in your power to help them avoid possible jail time.

But there is a critical difference between offering moral or legal support–such as helping them find a qualified Collin County criminal defense lawyer–and actually helping them to hide from law enforcement. Such acts may be considered aiding or abetting a fugitive under Texas and federal law, and in some cases you may end up being charged as an accessory to the underlying crime.

Federal and State Laws Punish “Harboring”

In Texas, the law that criminalizes the act of harboring a fugitive is known as Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution. This is a very broad state law that could subject a person to criminal charges if they harbor, conceal, provide or aid in providing a person with the means of avoiding arrest or effecting escape; or even warns someone of impending discovery or apprehension. This law could even land parents in legal trouble if the person they are “harboring” is their own child. Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution is a Class A misdemeanor unless the harbored person is wanted for a felony, in which case it is a Third-Degree Felony punishable by 2-10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Now at the federal level, there are specifically enumerated offenses applicable to “fugitives for justice.” In this context, a “fugitive” is normally defined as someone subject to a court-issued arrest warrant, as opposed to someone who may merely be under suspicion of a crime by the police. Under 18 U.S.C. § 1071, anyone who “harbors or conceals” a person to prevent their “discovery and arrest” is guilty of a crime.

If the fugitive’s alleged offense is a misdemeanor, the penalty for harboring the person is no more than 1 year in jail. However, if the fugitive is charged with a felony, anyone who helps him or her evade arrest could face up to 5 years in prison. The judge may also impose a fine for a harboring conviction.

Note that just because you provide aid or assistance to someone charged with a crime, that does not necessarily mean you are guilty of harboring. The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over federal criminal cases in Texas, has said that harboring requires the prosecution to prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • the defendant knew that there was an outstanding federal arrest warrant issued for the fugitive;
  • the defendant committed one or more “physical acts” designed to help the fugitive avoid detection and arrest; and
  • the defendant’s actions were expressly “intended to prevent the fugitive’s discovery.”

The first and third elements–knowledge of an arrest warrant and intent–are often the most important when defending against a harboring charge. Say your brother asks you for the keys to your car. You think nothing of this, since he regularly borrows your car. If he then proceeds to rob a bank and uses the car to flee Texas, you are not guilty of harboring, since you did not know that he committed a crime–and therefore lacked knowledge of any arrest warrant–and you never intended to help prevent his capture by the police.

As for the second element–a physical act–the Fifth Circuit has said that merely failing to disclose a fugitive’s location or providing “financial assistance” does not, in and of itself, constitute harboring as defined by the law. But if the police come to your home looking for a fugitive and you lock him in the basement to conceal him, that would fulfill the “physical act” requirement.

Do You Need Advice From a Collin County Criminal Lawyer?

Texas prosecutors often use the threat of harboring or aiding and abetting charges to force family members or associates to testify against the principal. That is why if you know someone who has been arrested or charged with a serious crime and fear the prosecution may target you next, it is important to seek advice from the experienced McKinney criminal defense attorneys at Rosenthal & Wadas. Call us today at 972-369-0577.

Posted in Federal Criminal Defense

When Does Smashing Pumpkins and Ding Dong Ditching on Halloween Become Criminal?

Pumpkins

Halloween is about trick-or-treating and scarfing down way too much candy. But when does too much fun become criminal?

Harmless Pranks or Misdemeanors & Felonies?

Smashing Pumpkins – This common prank usually just upsets those who devoted their time to carving the pumpkins. But if you smash the pumpkin of another, and are caught by law enforcement, you run the risk of being charged with theft or criminal mischief.

Theft is committed if you unlawfully “appropriate” the property of another, with intent to “deprive the owner of property.” Criminal mischief applies when you “intentionally or knowingly” damage someone else’s “tangible property,” or otherwise tamper with it. You don’t actually need to take the pumpkin anywhere. If you smash it, you are intentionally damaging it and depriving the owner of his or her ability to enjoy it. A criminal charge in such cases can range from a Class C misdemeanor (if the value of the pumpkin was less than $100) to a state jail felony (if it was an award-winning pumpkin valued at more than $2,500). Criminal Mischief can also be charged by establishing that the actor intentionally damaged the property of another.

Ding Dong Ditching Billy Madison Style – Otherwise known as placing a paper bag filled with solid excrement (usually of the canine variety) on someone’s doorstep, lighting it on fire, and ringing the doorbell. This prank could lead to a criminal mischief charge if the you cause property damage due to the negligent use of fire. Indeed, if the fire spreads from the bag to the doormat or the porch, you may be guilty of criminal mischief. As with the smashing pumpkins scenario, if the doormat or other property damaged was worth less than $100, you are looking at a Class C misdemeanor charge.

That may not sound too bad, but consider that if you intentionally set any kind of fire, even as a “Halloween prank,” you can also be charged with arson, which Section 28.02 of the Texas Penal Code defines as starting a fire “with intent to destroy or damage any building, habitation, or vehicle” that you know belongs to someone else. Arson involving a “habitation”–i.e., someone’s house–is classified as a first-degree felony in Texas. This means a ding dong ditch could, in theory, send you to prison for a minimum of 5 years (and possibly the rest of your life).

Toilet Papering Your Neighbor’s House – Covering someone’s house in toilet paper has become a popular prank not just at Halloween time, but also following celebratory events like a high school graduation or winning an important sports contest. For instance, Chicago hockey fans famously TP’d their coach’s house after winning the Stanley Cup in 2015. But when the homeowner doesn’t appreciate such “festive” decorating of their property, you can find yourself in significant legal trouble.

While there are no specific laws in Texas prohibiting toilet papering, it can be charged as criminal mischief. You can also be liable for [criminal trespass] under Section 30.05 of the Penal Code if the owner had a “No Trespassing” sign posted or ordered you to leave the property prior to the toilet papering began. Criminal trespass is normally a Class B misdemeanor, but the charge may be elevated to Class A if the act occurs “in a habitation.”

Also note that a parent may be liable if they assist their children (or their friends) with a toilet paper prank. In 2013 a grand jury in Tarrant County indicted a Coleyville mother for criminal mischief after she was seen “purchasing more than 100 rolls of toilet paper with a group of children the night before” a local house was covered in toilet paper and other items, allegedly causing more than $6,000 in property damage.

Egging a House, Car, or Person – Similar to toilet papering but potentially more hazardous–and certainly more smelly–is the time-honored practice of egging a house, car, and in many cases even a person. The truth is that eggs are best used in an omelet, not as part of a prank. Egging can do serious damage and open you up to civil as well as criminal lawsuits.

Consider what might happen if you and your friends decide to egg that really nice Mercedes parked out on the street. In addition to the dents caused by the smashed egg shells, the chemicals in the egg whites and yolks can damage the car’s paint job. Let’s say it costs the owner $1,000 to repaint the entire car. At that level of damage, you are looking at a Class A misdemeanor, a few steps up from the Class C misdemeanor for smashing that pumpkin we discussed earlier. The owner can also seek civil damages against you–or your parents, if you are a minor–which can also lead to an award of attorney’s fees and court costs.

Similarly, if you decide to egg a person, the victim could turn around and press criminal charges for assault. That may sound excessive, but Section 22.01 of the Penal Code defines assault as “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” causing “bodily injury to another.” And if you think an egg does not cause bodily injury, consider there have been cases where people were blinded by egging attacks.

What Penalties Do I Face If I’m Arrested for a Prank?

In this article we have referenced various classes of misdemeanors. But what are the actual consequences when a Halloween prank turns into a criminal charge? Here is a brief rundown of the sentencing possibilities:

  • For a Class C misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is a $500 fine.
  • For a Class B misdemeanor, the maximum find is raised to $2,000 and you can also be sent to jail up to 180 days (about 6 months).
  • For a Class A misdemeanor, the Class B penalties are essentially doubled, to a $4,000 fine and/or 1 year in jail.

Beyond the Class A misdemeanor level are felonies, which in Texas refers to offenses where you may be sentenced to more than 1 year in prison. Felony convictions also carry a number of restrictions on a person’s civil rights, such as the loss of your right to vote or carry a firearm. And any kind of criminal record, even just for a misdemeanor, can negatively affect your employment, housing, or credit opportunities.

Do You Need Help from a Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Halloween pranks may start out with harmless intentions, they can quickly turn into legal headaches. But with the assistance of an experienced attorney, you can put forth a successful defense and protect your child’s future. Keep the contact information for Rosenthal & Wadas in your phone. We hope you don’t need us but if you do we are just a phone call away.

A DWI arrest on Halloween will not only ruin your evening, but can also create a haunting conviction on your record, which can take a toll on your future. If you do find yourself or your child in a legal situation, please contact the Collin County criminal lawyers at Rosenthal & Wadas to discuss your situation.

Posted in Criminal Defense

What Is Deferred Adjudication in Texas?

Deferred Adjudication

A criminal conviction can have a serious impact on your life. Beyond the actual sentence–including the possibility of jail time–a conviction of any kind can make it harder to get a job, receive certain government benefits, and even exercise basic civil rights such as voting. One way to avoid the immediate and collateral consequences of a conviction is to seek a [deferred adjudication]. This is a special type of community supervision (probation) available in many–though not all–Texas criminal cases.

When Is Deferred Adjudication Available, and How Long Will It Last?

Section 42A, Subchapter C of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure spells out the parameters of deferred adjudication in Texas. The first, and most important, thing to note is that no defendant has the right to a deferred adjudication. It is granted at the discretion of the trial judge, who must decide whether deferred adjudication is in “the best interest of society” as well as the defendant.

The second thing is that deferred adjudication requires the defendant to initially enter a guilty or “no contest” plea. In effect, the defendant is foregoing the right to have his or her case tried by a jury. Instead, the judge conducts a separate hearing to determine whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence to “substantiate the defendant’s guilt.” Once the judge makes that determination, the court will then “defer further proceedings” without formally entering a final judgment of guilt.

Basically, the court suspends the case for a period of time, during which the defendant is on probation. The amount of time will vary depending on the type of crime and the specific facts of the case. Section 42A.103 establishes the following maximum time limits for deferred adjudication:

  • In felony cases, no more than 10 years; and
  • In misdemeanor cases, no more than 2 years; but
  • In criminal cases involving certain sex crimes (aggravated sexual assault, indecency with a child, etc.) deferred adjudication must last at least 5 years.

Also note there are some crimes where deferred adjudication is not permitted by law, including any offense that involves drunk driving.

What Conditions Apply to a Deferred Adjudication Probation?

It is critical for a defendant who receives deferred adjudication to strictly comply with all probation terms set by the court. Any probation violation, even one that is inadvertent or unintentional, may provide grounds for revoking community supervision and proceeding to an immediate adjudication of the original criminal charge. And that can mean a defendant is suddenly faced with the prospect of a criminal conviction and prison time.

So what exactly are the terms of probation or community supervision? The answer will vary somewhat from case to case. If you find yourself in a deferred adjudication situation, the court will give you a detailed list of conditions. But here are some of the standard conditions applicable to most Texas residents on probation:

  • Do not commit any further crimes under state or federal law;
  • Do not use illegal drugs or alcohol (you can be required to take a urine test);
  • Do not associate with persons or places with a “disreputable or harmful character”;
  • Report to your probation officer at least once a month, or as otherwise directed;
  • Allow your probation officer to visit your home or workplace as necessary;
  • Maintain “suitable employment,” and if your working situation changes, report that information to your probation officer within 48 hours;
  • Do not move out of your home county without permission from your probation officer or the judge responsible for your case;
  • Pay any fines or fees required by law, which may include restitution to the victim of your alleged crime; and
  • Keep current on all child support obligations.

Once again, if you do not follow any of your probation conditions, the prosecution may file a petition to end your deferred adjudication and sentence you for the original crime. By law, you have the right to a hearing before the judge before this happens. But unlike a criminal trial, where all charges must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” in an action to revoke probation, the prosecution only needs to show a violation occurred by a “preponderance of the evidence,” a much lower standard.

Work With an Experienced Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Assuming you complete probation without incident, deferred adjudication will ultimately lead to dismissal of the original charge. While this means there will not be a conviction on your record, this does not automatically erase the records of the arrest itself. This requires a separate legal proceeding to seal your criminal record.

There are also cases where deferred adjudication may not be in a defendant’s best interest. That is why it is important to work with an experienced criminal lawyer in Collin County whenever you are facing any kind of felony or misdemeanor charge. Contact the offices of Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today to speak

Posted in Uncategorized

Charged with Evading Arrest in Texas

Police Car

You are speeding down the road when a police car approaches and turns on the lights and sirens. Instead of pulling over, you keep on speeding until you reach your destination.

In another situation, you are shoplifting when the store’s alarm goes off. Panicked, you run from the police officers who are in pursuit.

The thought of being pursued by police and possibly arrested can cause us to instantly panic. Our bodies tend to experience a fight or flight reaction. Instead of fighting with the police officer and making things worse, though, we tend to go on flight and run—either on foot or in a motor vehicle.

In both of these situations, though, you are breaking the law. When you are instructed by a police officer to stop and/or pull over, the best response is to comply with the request and communicate with the officer. When you continue to flee the scene, this is called evading arrest and can result in felony charges as well as fines and jail time.

What is Evading Arrest?

According to Texas Penal Code § 38.04, you can be charged with evading arrest if you intentionally flee from a police officer who is trying to detain or arrest you. “Intentionally” is defined as having a conscious desire to engage in the action of fleeing. No physical force is required for you to be charged with evading arrest.

However, in order to be charged with evading arrest, the prosecutor must prove all four of the following elements:

  1. You acted in an intentional manner to flee the officer.
  2. You physically fled the scene, either on foot or in a vehicle.
  3. You knew that you were fleeing from a police officer.
  4. The officer was trying to arrest or detain you for breaking the law.

Penalties for Evading Arrest

The penalties for evading arrest can range widely, depending on how the evasion occurred and your criminal history. If you are evading arrest on foot, then you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which can mean a fine of up to $4,000 and one year in jail.

You could be convicted of a state jail felony if you have a previous conviction of evading arrest or used a vehicle to flee from a police officer. Maximum punishment is two years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

The criminal charges could be elevated to a third-degree felony if someone suffered bodily injury while you were evading arrest in a vehicle. Maximum punishment is 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

You could face a second-degree felony if someone suffered death while you were evading arrest in a vehicle. Maximum punishment is 20 years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Possible Defenses for Evading Arrest in Texas

If you are facing charges for evading arrest, it’s a good idea to have a criminal defense lawyer help you avoid a conviction. There are several possible defenses that can be used. They include:

  • The arrest was unlawful. The police officer did not probable cause to arrest you or did not give a reason why he was trying to stop you.
  • False allegations. If the police officer mistook you for someone else or tried to charge you with evading arrest simply out of spite or revenge, this could be a valid defense.
  • Self-defense. If a police officer suddenly holds you down and starts beating on you for no reason, human nature tells you to break free and run. If you were running to avoid further injury, then this may be a solid defense.
  • You didn’t know the person was a police officer. If someone driving an unmarked car or wearing street clothes is trying to get you to stop, you may not think that person is a police officer. You know what a police car and a police uniform looks like, so when someone that looks like an ordinary person is running after you, you may think it’s a criminal. Therefore, if the police officer did not properly identify himself or herself, then you have a valid claim because one of the elements of evading arrest is that you knew you were fleeing from a police officer.
  • Necessity. If your reason for evading was critical to protect your life or save the life of another it may be a legal defense to evading

Work with an Experienced Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with evading arrest in Texas, you need to give your case a fighting chance. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate your situation and help provide the best defenses possible. Contact our team at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today to set up your free confidential consultation in our office. We have helped many clients reduce their charges and penalties and we may be able to help you as well.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Federal Criminal Defense

Rosenthal & Wadas Attorneys Named to the 2017 Texas Super Lawyers List

RosenthalWadas_logo

We are pleased to announce that two attorneys from Rosenthal & Wadas have been named 2017 Texas Super Lawyers by their peers for outstanding work in Criminal law. This is an exclusive list, recognizing no more than five percent of attorneys in Texas. It is with great pride that these select attorneys have been recognized by their peers for outstanding work in Criminal law.

Derk Wadas was previously selected a Super Lawyer in the Criminal Defense field for the fourth year in a row. He is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Board of Legal Specialization and is a former Collin County prosecutor.

Bo Kalabus is celebrating 6 years on the Super Lawyers list. He has been practicing law for seventeen years, focusing solely on criminal defense since 2010.

Lawyers are chosen as Texas “Super Lawyers” by a selection process that involves peer nominations, evaluations, and independent research. Over 55,000 attorneys who have been practicing for at least five years are surveyed across Texas. More than 70 different legal practice areas are represented by lawyers recognized by Super Lawyers®.

About Rosenthal & Wadas

Rosenthal & Wadas is Collin County’s largest criminal defense firm and is 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. Rosenthal & Wadas stands by your side from the beginning to the end of your case and provides you with the legal defense and guidance you deserve.

For more information, visit RWLawyers.org or call 972-369-0577.

Posted in Uncategorized

If you are Convicted of Certain Offenses, you are Required to Register as a Sex Offender

Sex Offender Blog Post Image

Under Megan’s Law, a subsection of the federal Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act of 1994, all 50 states are required to maintain sex offender registries of individuals convicted of sex crimes. Each state creates and maintains its own guidelines for its registry, including which offenses carry registration as a requirement for convicted individuals and whether the state maintains a central registry or if counties and municipalities maintain their own registries.

Like other states, Texas has a public sex offender registry with which individuals convicted of certain offenses must register. Living as a registered sex offender has numerous disadvantages, such as being barred from living in certain areas, holding certain jobs, and the social stigma that can accompany this status. If you are facing any type of sex crime charge, working with a competent criminal defense lawyer can be the key to having your charge lowered or even dropped altogether, which can keep you from having to register as a sex offender and other penalties for conviction.

Sex Offenses that Require Registration

Certain offenses require convicted individuals to register for the rest of their lives. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Sexual assault;
  • Continuous sexual abuse of children;
  • Possession or promotion of child pornography;
  • Sexual performance by a child;
  • Compelling prostitution;
  • Human trafficking;
  • Aggravated kidnapping with the intent to sexually violate or abuse the victim; and
  • Any other conviction under the law of another state or country that is substantially similar to one of Texas’ sex crime laws.

Other offenses only require convicted individuals to register for 10 years. These offenses include:

  • Online solicitation of a minor;
  • Prostitution; and
  • Unlawful restraint or kidnapping if the victim was under the age of 17.

Registration as a Sex Offender in Texas

Sex offenders must register with their local law enforcement authorities in any municipality where they intend to reside for longer than seven days. To register, an individual must provide the following information:

  • A color photograph;
  • His or her full name;
  • The individual’s current address;
  • The individual’s height, weight, hair color, eye color, shoe size, race, and gender;
  • The date of the individual’s conviction;
  • All of his or her aliases;
  • Whether he or she is employed, in school, or intends to maintain a full time job;
  • The individual’s phone numbers;
  • Whether the individual is on parole, under supervision, discharged, or released from juvenile probation;
  • The age of the individual’s victim;
  • The offense for which the individual was convicted or adjudicated; and
  • All of the individual’s established online aliases.

Requirements for Registered Sex Offenders in Texas

Individuals who are registered sex offenders in Texas face the following requirements:

  • All registered offenders must update their personal information, including their addresses, with the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program yearly. Moving without notifying the program of one’s new address is a felony;
  • Individuals who spend 48 hours or more in a municipality or county other than their home county or municipality three or more times per month must provide their information to local authorities when away from home;
  • Those under court supervision must have all proposed moves approved by their probation officers;
  • Those who complete probation or parole are not required to obtain permission to move, but must continue to register all address changes. The Department of Public Safety reserves the right to mail a postcard to all residents and businesses of a high-risk individual’s new neighborhood informing them of his or her presence and if the individual’s victim was under the age of 17, DPS notifies all local schools as well;
  • Landlords may discriminate against prospective tenants who are registered sex offenders; and
  • Offenders under court supervision are prohibited from participating in civic, athletic, and cultural programs for children age 17 and younger. Additionally, if such programs are conducted on or near schools or playgrounds, offenders are barred from participating.

Work with an Experienced Collin County Criminal Lawyer

If you are facing any type of criminal charge, whether it is for a sex crime or another type of offense, it is in your best interest to start working with an experienced Collin County sex crimes lawyer as soon as possible to develop an effective legal defense strategy for your case. Contact our team at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today to schedule your free, confidential consultation with us in our office.

Posted in Federal Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

Five reasons you need to hire a Criminal Defense Attorney if you are arrested on Labor Day Weekend

Arrested on Labor Day

Labor Day Weekend is usually a busy weekend, with time spent enjoying backyard barbeques, spending time at the lake or taking a road trip. If you happen to find yourself arrested over the holiday weekend, odds are you don’t know where to turn next. The best thing you can do is contact a Collin County criminal defense attorney right away.

Here are five reasons why you should hire an attorney if you are arrested over Labor Day weekend.

1. Getting released from Jail – Depending on the charge, an attorney can often quickly secure your release from jail with a writ bond. And with the legal holiday falling on a Monday, local courts may be running with minimal staff until the middle of the week. This means that if you are arrested over the weekend, you may not see a judge for 48 hours.

2. Begin Your Defense – The sooner you get in contact with an attorney, the sooner we can begin working on a plan to have the charges reduced or dismissed. One of the best ways to challenge the arrest is to begin formulating your defense as quickly as possible.

3. Know When to Keep Quiet – Do not discuss your case with anyone except your attorney of record. Police officers and investigators working for the prosecutor want you to talk to them to incriminate yourself. You must also remember this if you are using a jail pay-phone as these phone calls are recorded.

4. Cost-Effective Spending –The best way to handle a criminal charge is to hire a skilled attorney. While it may not seem fun spending money on a lawyer, it could help you avoid fines, the loss of your driver’s license and increased insurance premiums.

5. Rest Easy –It can be overwhelming trying to balance everything that comes with an arrest. An attorney can help give you peace of mind. We want you to get back to your normal routine while we do the heavy lifting on the legal side.

The attorneys at Rosenthal & Wadas will work with you to determine the correct defense strategy based on the facts pertaining to your case. Call our office to setup a free consultation and let us help you begin to get things back on the right track. 972-369-0577

Posted in Criminal Defense, DWI

New Texas Criminal Defense Laws That Will Go Into Effect Sept. 1

Texas Criminal Laws

Although new laws typically take effect when the new year starts, Texas residents will see some new laws coming their way later on this year—September 1, to be exact. The new Texas criminal laws cover various topics, including DWI convictions, cyberbullying, police brutality, texting, swords, drones, education and even voting. Read on to see which ones may affect you.

Second Chances for Non-Violent Offenders
Those convicted of non-violent crimes—such as misdemeanors—may get the opportunity to remove the crime from public view. This means that employers and citizens would not be able to view the conviction, although law enforcement would be able to if necessary.

In order to request this, the person would have to serve their sentence and pay any fines or restitution. They can then ask the court for an order of nondisclosure.

A first-time DWI offender may be able to get a second chance if they meet certain criteria. Their blood alcohol content must have been below 0.15 and they must not have any prior DWI offenses. They must not have hit a pedestrian or car with someone inside. The conviction must have resulted in community supervision (probation) as opposed to a jail sentence. In addition, they must fully pay court fines and either wait five years after their conviction or wait two years after a successful discharge from a community supervision if you had a Deep Lung Device (DLD) installed in your car as a condition of supervision before you apply. There are a lot of hoops to go through, but it would be worth it, especially for someone looking to find decent employment.

Texting While Driving Will Be Illegal
This is a big one for Texas motorists. Motorists will not be able to read, write or send text messages while the car is in motion. The car must be stopped. You are also not allowed to use your phone for accessing GPS or the stereo. The maximum fine for a first offense is $99.

Swords Can Be Carried in Public
This may seem like an odd law, but come September 1, Texas law will allow you to carry any knife longer than 5.5 inches—such as a machete or sword—in public. There are some restrictions, of course. The knife cannot be taken into a school, park, church, hospital, jail, bar or sporting event. In addition, a child under age 18 will not be allowed to carry one without adult supervision.

Don’t Fly Your Drone Near a Jail
This seems like another odd law, but it was passed for a reason. Many people carry drugs or weapons on drones to deliver to inmates. Therefore, flying them near correctional facilities is no longer allowed. Drones also cannot be flown near large sporting venues. You could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, which could mean six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Attacking an Officer Will be Considered a Hate Crime
The Police Protection Act will go into effect in Texas on September 1, enhancing penalties for judges and police officers who are victims of assault. Threatening a police officer will be a state felony, which could mean two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. Assault of a police officer is a second-degree felony and could mean $10,000 and up to 20 years in prison. Bodily injury to a police officer is a first-degree felony, which could result in life in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Cyberbullying Will Be a Crime
Electronically harassing children under age 18 with an intent to harm themselves will be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Courts will be able to find the identity of the bully and public schools will be required to report and intervene. Victims will also have the ability to obtain restraining orders and sue the parents of cyberbullies.

Protections for Good Samaritans
Good Samaritans who break into a vehicle to rescue a child, senior or disabled person trapped inside will no longer face civil liability. They are already protected against criminal charges—if they follow certain criteria, which includes calling 911 first and avoiding using unnecessary force. They must also believe the person is in imminent danger. This law will provide extra protections so the “hero” is not punished.

Work with an Experienced Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime in Texas, you need to give your case a fighting chance. An experienced Collin County criminal lawyer can evaluate your situation and help provide the best defenses possible. Contact our team at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today to set up your free confidential consultation in our office.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Drug Paraphernalia Charges – You Could be Guilty Without Realizing It

Drug Syringe

If you are familiar with drug use and culture, you know that certain household objects double as items used for the storage, manufacture, or consumption of illegal drugs. These items are known as drug paraphernalia. Like the possession of illegal drugs, the possession of drug paraphernalia is a drug crime. But unlike illegal drugs, which only serve one purpose, items that may be deemed to be drug paraphernalia serve multiple purposes. Because of this, it is possible for an individual who is completely innocent of drug offenses to be charged with the possession of drug paraphernalia and even found guilty.

Any item used in conjunction with an illegal drug may be deemed to be a piece of drug paraphernalia. Examples of items that can count as drug paraphernalia include:

  • Glass, wooden, and metal pipes;
  • Elaborate smoking systems, such as water pipes and “bongs;”
  • Spoons;
  • Pill bottles;
  • Plastic baggies;
  • Lighters;
  • Needles;
  • Syringes;
  • Rolling papers;
  • Glass vials;
  • Razor blades;
  • Kitchen scales;
  • Cocaine freebase kits; and
  • Roach clips.

Proving a Drug Paraphernalia Charge

As you can see from the list above, many of the items that can lead to a drug paraphernalia charge have non-drug related uses as well. For example, an individual might use rolling papers or a pipe to smoke tobacco or a kitchen scale to weigh food portions. In order to find an individual guilty of the possession of drug paraphernalia, the court must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual had the item specifically for use with illegal drugs and that the item was used to manufacture, transport, or consume illegal drugs.

To prove that an item is a piece of drug paraphernalia, the court may connect it to other evidence found with the item, such as pieces of related paraphernalia or the illegal drug itself. Testimony from witnesses, instructions for the item’s use, and how the item was presented and sold to the possessor can all be used to support a claim that an item is a piece of drug paraphernalia.

Penalties for a Drug Paraphernalia Possession Conviction

In Texas, possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class C misdemeanor. The penalty for this conviction under the Texas Controlled Substances Act is a fine of up to $500. Selling drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor, the penalties for which are:

  • p to $4,000 in fines; and
  • Up to one year in prison.

Selling drug paraphernalia to a minor and committing repeat paraphernalia sales offenses are both felony-level charges. Individuals convicted of a felony drug paraphernalia sale charge can face the following penalties:

  • For a repeat offense, a minimum of 90 days in jail; and
  • For selling drug paraphernalia to a minor, a minimum of 180 days in jail and a maximum of two years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

Why Do I Need a Defense Lawyer to Handle my Drug Paraphernalia Charge?

A charge for possession of drug paraphernalia is not the same as a conviction of possession of drug paraphernalia. If you are charged with this offense, an experienced lawyer can make use of the available evidence and lack thereof to demonstrate your innocence to the court.

As we discussed above, many items that can be considered to be drug paraphernalia also have legal uses. Your legal right to own a certain item, such as a glass pipe for smoking tobacco, can be defended by showing that you use the item for legal purposes. If a pill bottle leads to an accusation of storing pills like Oxycontin, your prescription for the drug can show that you are legally permitted to possess and consume that substance.

A drug paraphernalia charge is not as simple as it might initially seem. There are many ways you can unknowingly incriminate yourself through what you say to law enforcement or the court. A lawyer has experience defending individuals facing this type of charge and can coach you through these interactions to potentially have your charge reduced or dismissed.

Work with an Experienced Collin County Drug Crimes Lawyer

To give your case the best possible chance of resulting in a favorable ruling, you need to work with an experienced Collin County drug offense attorney. Contact our team at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today to set up your free confidential consultation in our office to learn more about what you can expect from the criminal justice process and how we can help you.

Posted in Drug Crimes

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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