Jeremy Rosenthal
Kyle Therrian
Derk Wadas
Bo Kalabus

Texas Criminal Laws That Took Effect in 2015


This past summer, the 84th Texas Legislature put a number of new criminal laws on the books that took effect in September of 2015. In fact, Texas will see more than 1,200 new laws this year that may have an effect on criminal cases throughout the state. Although many of these new laws are quite specific—and thus may not impact a particularly large number of Texas residents—it is important to understand some of the new key measures that could influence criminal defense proceedings.

While we cannot discuss all of the new laws in depth, we want to point out a few that may be especially relevant for residents of Collin County, Texas. These new laws deal with various issues, from tougher penalties for drug offenses to new search and seizure requirements. We should turn to some of the specifics of these new laws so that you can assess how they might impact your case.

New Texas Criminal Laws in Detail
Significant changes have been made to a number of criminal laws in Texas this year that may play significant roles in criminal defense matters. Some of the new laws:

  • Search warrant requirement for cellular phones: under the terms of HB 1396, law enforcement officers will have to obtain a search warrant in order to search the cell phone or other wireless communication device of a person who has been arrested. This new language concerning search warrants and cell phones will amend Article 18.02(a) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. In other words, the police must now obtain a search warrant in order to search a smart phone. As with other laws concerning search and seizure, however, there are exceptions that an experienced Plano criminal defense attorney can discuss with you.
  • Texas Penal Code 46.03 was amended to create an affirmative defense for the inadvertent bringing of a weapon into the secure area of an airport.
  • 32.54 of the Penal Code was amended to increase the penalties for “Fraudulent or Fictitious Military Record.
  • The legislature also added a new section to the Obstruction or Retaliation statute which criminalizes the act of posting the home address or telephone number of a public servant with the intent to “harm.” Essentially this act purports to criminalize so called “doxing” or the public posting of identity of police or other public officials. This statute may face a first amendment challenge at some point in the future on the ground that it criminalizes protected speech.
  • Rule of Lenity codification: also under HB 1396, Section 311.035 of the Government Code now requires that “a statute or rule that creates or defines a criminal offense or penalty shall be construed in favor of the actor if any part of the statute or rule is ambiguous on its face or as applied to the case.” In other words, if you are arrested for a criminal offense and the statute under which you are charged is ambiguous, the law requires that the statute be construed in your favor. This applies to ambiguities that may exist both in an element of the offense and in the penalty imposed for the offense.
  • SB 1317 attempted, among other things, to restore the former Improper Photography or Visual Recording that was previously struck down by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals as a First Amendment violation. It is possible that the revised statute may also be the subject of a First Amendment challenge in the future, but that remains to be seen.
  • Under HB 1424, a narrow category of drug offense with prior convictions will face harsher punishments.

Contact a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you were charged with a criminal offense in Collin County, it is important to seek experienced legal representation. Contact Rosenthal & Wadas today at 972 369 0577 for a consultation.

Posted in Uncategorized

What To Do When CPS Shows Up At Your Door?


Child abuse is a serious accusation and a serious crime. However, in this day and age, child abuse accusations are sadly made more often than they should be, sometimes as weapons in a nasty divorce or custody case. Whatever the reason, if Child Protective Services (CPS) shows up at your door, there are things you must do, and there are actions you must absolutely avoid.

DO: Take it seriously. CPS is required to investigate all allegations made when abuse is alleged to have been committed by someone who is “responsible for a child’s care, custody or welfare.” They are duty bound to ensure that no abuse is taking place, and if there is, to act accordingly. Laughing off the allegations creates a problematic impression on CPS investigators, as you will be seen to not respect their authority.

DO: Know your rights. It is not uncommon that some CPS workers stretch the truth when informing you of your rights while conducting an interview. You are entitled to a hearing if facing accusations of abuse. You are entitled to an attorney appointed for you (if you cannot afford one) if the Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS) initiates any action to attempt to remove your children from the home. You are entitled to refuse entry to your home if CPS workers have no warrant or court order. There are many other rights that remain yours, even if you fall under suspicion.

DON’T: Lose your composure. While it is understandable that you might do so at being accused of a heinous crime, it is also understandable that guilty people might vehemently protest their innocence. CPS workers have seen so many of both that it can be difficult in the extreme for them to tell the difference.

DO: Cover your bases. If your child will be asked to submit to a medical exam, ensure that your own doctor performs one as well. The standard used by DFPS investigators is a “preponderance of the evidence” – that is, if they can show by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse occurred, you will likely be found guilty – and as such, the more evidence you can provide, from sources you know are trustworthy, the better off you will likely be.

DON’T: Take any kind of deal or admit guilt if you are not guilty. You may think that taking a plea deal, so to speak, would be to your advantage, as it is to some criminals’ advantage in that it tends to get them a shorter sentence. That is simply not how CPS operates; if you admit to any kind of behavior that could be considered child abuse, you will be treated from then on as a criminal and your children will likely be lost to you.

DO: Consult An Experienced Attorney

If you are being accused of child abuse, neglect or molestation of a child , the best things you can do for yourself is to engage a competent attorney with experience in dealing with CPS. The Collin County CPS attorneys at Rosenthal & Wadas are a full service legal defense team and can assist you with all legal matters related to a CPS investigation. Contact us at 972-369-0577 today to discuss your options with one of our attorneys.


Posted in Uncategorized

Has Your Child Been Accused of Bullying?


If you have been following the news in Texas and across the country, you know that school bullying has become a serious issue. To be sure, the Huffington Post has reported on numerous bullying lawsuits filed by the parents of school-age kids, and some of those have resulted in costly settlements. But in addition to civil suits, your child could be facing serious criminal penalties. If your child has been accused of bullying, it is important to speak with an experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Bullying is taken very seriously in Texas, and an advocate at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC can get started on your case today.

Recent Bullying Cases in North Texas

What kinds of bullying cases have been prominent in the North Texas area? In particular, you might remember a CNN News report on a Cleburne, Texas case in which parents filed a lawsuit against school officials contending that their son’s suicide was the result of intense bullying. In that claim, the parents argued that students and school officials “observed several explicit act of bullying, including [their child] being thrown into a trash can easily a few times a week, but did nothing to stop it.”

Specifically, the parents explained that their son, 13-year-old Jon Carmichael, “was placed upside down in a toilet bowl, and had his head flushed several times, at each occasion.” Just prior to his suicide, the child “was stripped nude, tied up again and placed into a trashcan.” This incident is not the only one that has made news in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area. To be sure, a recent article in The Dallas Morning News emphasized that cyberbullying has become a serious issue in local schools. Just last April, a McKinney teenager, Raymond Howell, committed suicide. His family cited cyberbullying as the cause, according to another report from The Dallas Morning News.

Given the shock of Howell’s death to Collin County parents and teens alike, schools in the area are beginning to crack down on bullying. Under Texas law, school districts are required to adopt policies against bullying. And if school officials do not take particular steps, they may be open to a lawsuit. But in addition, the parents of students accused of doing the bullying also may find themselves at the center of a criminal investigation.

Texas Charges and Penalties for Bullying

How is bullying defined in Texas? Under Section 37.0832 of the Texas Education Code, bullying means “engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district” that does one of the following:

  • Has or will have the effect of “physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property”; or
  • Is “sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.”

If your student has been accused or bullying, it is essential that you understand your child could face criminal penalties and a criminal record. To be sure, you could be dealing with issues that reach far beyond a financial civil lawsuit if another student has accused your son or daughter of bullying. You need an aggressive Collin County criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact Rosenthal & Wadas today to learn more about how our McKinney, Texas criminal defense attorneys can assist with your case.

Posted in Federal Criminal Defense

Is a Polygraph Test Admissible as Evidence?


In nearly all cases, the answer is no. Despite the widespread use of polygraph tests in criminal investigations, these tests cannot be used to make a definitive determination that an individual is lying. What a polygraph does is measure minute physiological changes that the subject experiences while answering questions. These physiological changes can include a change in heart rate, increased sweating, and a rise in blood pressure. Although these can indicate that an individual is not telling the truth, they can also indicate nervousness or anxiety. Many factors can play into an individual’s polygraph test results, such as his or her emotional state at the time of testing, the individual performing the testing, and the way the questions are worded. Because of all the variables present that can alter a suspect’s results, most courts agree that polygraph tests are scientifically inaccurate. If you are a suspect in a criminal investigation and you are asked to take a polygraph test, do not take the test until you have discussed it with an experienced criminal defense attorney. You are under no legal obligation to take the test.

Should I Take a Polygraph Test?
You might think that taking a polygraph test will prove your innocence. Although volunteering to take a polygraph can be a tempting prospect, do not do it without consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney. There are certain very specific situations in which an attorney may recommend that a client submit to a polygraph exam for strategic reasons. A competent and experienced lawyer can advise you about the considerations involved. A polygraph can complicate your case in a few different ways. If you “pass” the test, law enforcement could potentially assume that you somehow “beat” the test. If you “fail” the test, meaning that the test picked up on physiological changes that could be correlated with untruthful answers, this can make you appear to be guilty and make you a target for further scrutiny. Even if a police officer were to tell you that you should take a polygraph test, you are never required to do so. Since 1990, polygraph test results have been inadmissible in all Texas criminal courts with very rare exceptions. Your attorney can help you determine whether taking a polygraph test is a productive choice for you. And if your lawyer sends you for a polygraph, the results can remain confidential. A failed polygraph is not an automatic conviction. Likewise, “passing” a polygraph test does not mean that you can not be found guilty later.

McKinney, Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys
If you are involved in a criminal investigation in any way, be proactive and start working with a Collin County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today at 972-369-0577 to begin working with a member of our firm. Our team of criminal defense attorneys can help you with your case by providing you with the legal counsel and representation you need. Do not wait to begin working on your case with our firm.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Does the Law Protect People with Behavioral Disabilities?


We are seeing many children, teens and young adults coming through the court system that have been diagnosed with ADHD, ADD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Tourette Syndrome and other disabilities that impact behaviors and can be at the root of behaviors that constitute crimes. These individuals should be given extra care when handling their case.

An attorney should be well-versed in understanding their client’s neurodevelopmental disorders or particular disabilities and making sure the courts and prosecutors are made fully aware of how these conditions impact their client’s case. A skilled attorney should also consult with experts in the applicable field in defending a client with neurodevelopmental disorders. Everyone has the right to an attorney, but these cases need an experienced attorney that is willing to go the extra mile in defending their rights and protecting them throughout the entire court process.

The law surrounding autism and other disabilities can be complicated. Please contact Rosenthal & Wadas if you have a son or daughter or know someone that suffers from a neurodevelopmental or behavioral disorder and is faced with legal issues.

Posted in Criminal Defense

The Five Most Common Illegally Used Drugs in Texas

Drug Possession Charges

The possession and distribution of illegal drugs is a common criminal offense in Texas and throughout the United States. The substances for which individuals are arrested for possessing and selling vary from state to state; some drugs are popular throughout the country and others are largely contained to specific states and regions.

In Texas, the following five substances are the most common drugs among individuals arrested for drug possession and those admitted to drug rehabilitation centers.


Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United States. Although it has been approved for medical and recreational use in some states, it remains illegal for all purposes in Texas. Individuals convicted of marijuana possession may face fines of $2,000 to $50,000 and jail sentences ranging from 180 days to 99 years, depending on the amount of marijuana they are found to possess. Individuals convicted of selling marijuana and producing marijuana concentrates face steeper penalties, which can include life in prison.


By far, most cocaine-related arrests and rehabilitation admissions are for individuals using crack cocaine, the rock form of the drug that can be smoked. Crack cocaine delivers a short, intense high to users and is considered to be the most addictive form of cocaine. Individuals convicted of the possession or sale of cocaine face significant fines and jail time.


Heroin is a powerful opioid synthesized with ingredients from the opium poppy. The bulk of the heroin found in the United States is cultivated in Afghanistan and Mexico. Individuals convicted of the sale and possession of heroin in Texas face consequences including fines and jail time, with offenders convicted of selling to minors facing harsher penalties than those convicted of selling heroin to adults.

Other Opioids

Heroin is not the only opioid found on Texas streets. Prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin, and morphine are all commonly sold, consumed, and abused by Texans. It is illegal to possess any of these drugs without a valid prescription and to sell them without a pharmacist license. Individuals convicted of the illegal sale and possession of prescription drugs can face significant fines and jail sentences.

Crystal Methamphetamine

Crystal methamphetamine, also known as “ice” or “glass,” is a party drug known for its clear, rock-like substance. It is a synthetic substance that has been used in the United States since the early twentieth century. Individuals convicted of the possession, sale, or manufacturing of crystal methamphetamine face penalties such as jail time and fines. As with other drug charges, the amount of crystal methamphetamine an individual is found to possess is a key part of determining his or her sentence.

Collin County Drug Charge Lawyers

A drug conviction has serious consequences. If you are facing any type of drug charge in Collin County, you need to begin working on your case’s defense with an experienced drug charge attorney right away. Call Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC today at (972) 369-0577 or toll free at (877) 538-8640 today to begin working with one of the knowledgeable drug charge lawyers at our firm.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Drug Possessions in McKinney, Texas

Drug Possession Charges

Drug possession is a serious crime in Texas, and it makes up a large percentage of criminal arrests. Indeed, Texas has some of the strictest laws when it comes to controlled substances and drug possession. According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, drug-related crimes account for about 25 percent of all local jail inmates and about 25 percent of state prisoners. It’s important to understand the severity of a drug possession offense, but it’s also essential to understand your rights if you have been arrested.

Do not hesitate to contact an experienced McKinney drug possession attorney. One of the dedicated advocates at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC can discuss your case with you today.

Understanding Drug Possession Charges

What do you need to know about drug possession penalties in McKinney, Texas? First, it’s important to understand that different drugs fall into different penalty groups. Then, once you determine the penalty group for the drug possession charge, the amount of the drug will also play a role in determining the severity of the charge. In general, the penalty for the crime will depend on numerous factors, including but not limited to:

  • Type of drug in possession;
  • Amount of drug in possession;
  • Presence of drug paraphernalia; and
  • Past convictions on your record.

Penalties for Drug Possession in Texas

When it comes to the type of drug, the following categories represent the different drug possession penalty groups in Texas:

  • Marijuana: in our state, marijuana has its own penalty group.
  • Penalty group 1: drugs in penalty group 1 include but are not limited to heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and Oxycodone.
  • Penalty group 1a: this penalty group is specific to LSD.
  • Penalty group 2: drugs in this penalty group include ecstasy, PCP, and mescaline.
  • Penalty group 3: this penalty group contains many prescription drugs such as Xanax, valium, and Ritalin.
  • Penalty group 4: drugs such as morphine and opioids are classified in penalty group 4.

Different penalty groups come with different offenses, but the amount of the drug in question is a significant factor in determining the classification of your crime. Understanding that charges vary depending on the amount of the controlled substance in your possession, drug possession charges can include all of the following:

  • Class B misdemeanor;
  • Class A misdemeanor;
  • 3rd degree felony offense;
  • 2nd degree felony offense; and
  • 1st degree felony offense.

The more of the controlled substance alleged to have been in your possession, the more serious the classification of the crime. In addition to the amount, aggravating factors can also increase the severity of the penalty. While aggravating factors can increase a drug possession penalty, an experienced Texas drug crime lawyer can also help you to understand the possible defenses to drug possession charges in our state.

McKinney Drug Possession Attorneys

Learning that you’ve been charged with drug possession in Texas can be an anxiety-inducing experience. Given the severity of many drug possession charges in our state, you could find yourself charged with a 1st degree felony. While the laws surrounding drug possession are complex, an experienced McKinney drug crime lawyer at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC, can assist you with your case.

Our team understands the seriousness of a drug possession charge, and we bring years of experience and dedication to each case we handle. Contact us in our McKinney office at (972) 369-0577 or toll free at (877) 538-8640 to discuss your case.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

Drug Charges in Collin County, Texas

Drug Charges

While drug charges are serious offenses anywhere in the country, drug crimes in Texas carry particularly severe penalties. To be sure, our state is known for having some of the toughest drug laws in the U.S. As such, being charged with a drug crime in Collin County, Texas can be a very distressing experience. At Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC, we have years of experience assisting Texans who have been charged with drug crimes, and we dedicate ourselves to every case we take.

If you’re facing drug charges in Collin County, it’s extremely important to have a skilled advocate on your side throughout the proceedings. The sooner you speak with a Texas drug charges lawyer, the sooner we’ll be able to get started on your defense.

Learning More About Texas Drug Crimes

What kinds of drug charges exist under Texas law? Generally speaking, drug offenses in Collin County are governed by the Texas Controlled Substances Act. Drug charges can vary widely, including but not limited to:

  • Possession of a controlled substance;
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia;
  • Manufacture of controlled substances; and
  • Trafficking or distribution of controlled substances.

In order to be found guilty of drug possession in Collin County, the state will need to prove that you knowingly and intentionally possessed the drugs, or that you had control over the substances in question. When it comes to drug trafficking or distribution, you can be found guilty if you knowingly deliver any of the substances listed in the different penalty groups under Texas law—from marijuana to cocaine to Oxycodone.

Defenses to Collin County Drug Charges

When it comes to drug crime defenses, there’s some overlap among the defenses you can use for the possession, manufacture, and/or distribution of a controlled substance. Yet for every drug charge, an experienced Texas drug crime lawyer can speak with you about the possible defenses to the charge. Let’s take a look at some of the different defenses for separate drug charges.

Defenses to drug possession can include but are not limited to:

  • You had no knowledge that you were in possession of the controlled substance;
  • You did not actually have possession of the drug because you didn’t have control over it;
  • You were charged with marijuana possession, and the drug is medical marijuana; and
  • You have a valid prescription for the drug from a medical doctor.

In general, defenses to drug trafficking or distribution can include but are not limited to:

  • You didn’t have knowledge about the drugs in your possession; and
  • There has been a mistake of fact in which you believed you were transporting a legal substance but in fact were transporting an illicit substance.

Depending on the specific facts of your case, a dedicated Collin County drug offense attorney can speak with you about the best defenses to the drug charges you’re facing and can advocate for your rights each step of the way.

Contact a Drug Charge Lawyer in Collin County

Texans who are facing drug charges should know that drug possession and drug distribution laws in our state are very harsh. It’s extremely important to have experienced counsel on your side when you’ve been charged with a drug crime. An experienced Collin County drug charges attorney at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC can discuss your case with you today. Contact us at (972) 369-0577 or toll free at (877) 538-8640 to learn more about how we can help.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Defense for DWI in Collin County


It is a sad fact that our great state of Texas leads the nation in drunk driving fatalities. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense that carries both criminal and civil penalties. But just because you’re arrested doesn’t mean you should plead guilty. An experienced DWI defense attorney can help have the charges against you reduced or dismissed.

Texas DWI Laws

A driver can be arrested for a DWI if his blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 or higher. A driver can also be arrested, regardless of his BAC, if his driving is impaired due to alcohol or other drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, or even prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Contrary to what you may believe, if you are pulled over for a suspected DWI you do have the right to refuse to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. However, the refusal is not without consequences – there is the potential that your license could be suspended for up to 180 days for a first DWI. If you refused the breathalyzer or blood test, or if you took it and failed, we will immediately request an Administrative License Revocation hearing. If requested within 15 days of arrest, your license will be valid until a decision is entered at the hearing. Depending on the outcome of the hearing, your license may or may not be suspended.

Fighting a Blood or Breathalyzer Test

If the results of the blood or breathalyzer test show that you had a BAC of 0.08 or higher, it does not mean your case is over. There are many factors that could cause the results of the blood or breathalyzer test to be tossed out of court. These may include:

  • Officer’s failure to have reasonable suspicion to pull you over;
  • Faulty administration of the breathalyzer test;
  • Errors in the testing procedure or reading of the results;
  • Medical conditions, such as hypoglycemia, diabetes or heart disease, or even being on a low-carb diet, which increase acetone levels in your breath and may result in a false breathalyzer result, or;
  • Anxiety (a common reaction to being pulled over), which may also increase acetone levels in your blood.

Recognized Experience in Texas DWI Defense

The Collin County DWI attorneys at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC utilize a “think tank” approach to their defense of all DWI charges. Throughout the lifetime of your case, beginning at arrest and ending when a verdict is reached, up to five of our experienced DWI attorneys will collaborate on your case to ensure that no possible defense strategy is overlooked. Every one of our DWI attorneys is certified by the National College for DUI Defense, an honor bestowed on only a chosen few who have proven vast skill and superior knowledge in DWI defense.

Collin County DWI Defense Attorneys Fighting for You

If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI, do not delay in contacting a Collin County DWI attorney at Rosenthal & Wadas, PLLC. There are many actions that can be taken to preserve your ability to drive and to get the results of a blood or breathalyzer test thrown out, but time is of the essence. If you live Collin County or the surrounding area, call our office today at 877.538.8640, or complete our online web form, to schedule your free initial consultation.


Posted in DWI

How Does an 11.07 Writ of Habeas Help a Convicted Person?

I recently answered a similar question in the context of a murder conviction where an individual was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment. The question also raised issues about the defendant being a first-time offender, having inadequate representation, false witness testimony and a prosecution based upon circumstantial evidence. In answering this specific question, I realized that these issues actually apply to a wide range of individuals seeking what is referred to as “post-conviction relief” in the form of a Writ of Habeas Corpus under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 11.07. Below is the analysis of the specific questions raised.

11.07 refers to a post-conviction remedy under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Section 11.07 known as a “writ of habeas corpus.” There is not deadline to file an 11.07 writ of habeas corpus, but our courts say that delay in requesting 11.07 relief can have the effect of watering down an issue. As a rule of thumb, 11.07 relief is limited to issues which could not be raised during the course of the original representation. Let me address the issues you raise below.

First-time offender. Typically, this is what is referred to as a “punishment issue.” A judge or jury’s determination as to what weight to give a defendant’s clean record in punishment is almost impossible to change on appeal. Presumably, this was factored-in when determining a 25 year sentence.

False statements. These fall into two categories: (1) false statements which were believed to be false during trial and for which the defense had ample opportunity to confront through cross-examination, and (2) false statements which were learned by all to be false after the trial because a witness recanted. Generally, the second scenario would be a potentially fruitful area to investigate on an 11.07 writ of habeas corpus.

Circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. If a judge or jury determines that it adds up to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, this is very hard to contest through the 11.07 writ of habeas corpus process

Inadequate representation. This is one of the most common forms of 11.07 writ of habeas corpus, also known as “ineffective assistance of counsel.” If there was something that the attorney at trial should have done but didn’t and it can be shown that it affected the outcome of the guilt/innocence or punishment, this would be a good 11.07 issue.

You should consult with an attorney. The points made above are not absolutes. Many times the only way to know if there is an 11.07 Writ of Habeas issue is to hire an attorney to order a transcript and take a look under the hood.

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Posted in Criminal Defense

Contact Us

Top 4 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 third degree felony. A third 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 A 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, go near a particular residence, workplace degree felony, 2 to 10 years prison degree felony, 2 degree felony, 5 to 99 years or life in prison and/or up to $10,000 fine or school, or possess a firearm. 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.


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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

All FAQ's