Collin County Theft/Burglary Attorneys

Theft in Texas is taking, or appropriating, someone’s property with the intent to deprive its true owner of his or her property. According to Section 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code, such appropriation occurs when one of three things happens:

  • the owner does not consent to the appropriation,
  • the property is stolen and the actor appropriates the property knowing it was stolen by another, or
  • when a law enforcement officer purports that property is stolen, and the suspect takes the property believing it to be stolen.

Theft comes in many shapes and sizes, as discussed below, and an important thing to note is that you do not have to have actually stolen the property to be guilty of theft. Under the Texas Criminal Code, an accused may be guilty of theft simply by taking property that he or she knows to be stolen.

In Collin County, Texas there are often ways to get the charges reduced or get you into a diversion program that would ultimately result in a dismissal. Both of these things could potentially lead to an expunction, which is incredibly powerful and requires under Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure all agencies with any information regarding your arrest destroy them. Once the charge is expunged, you may deny being convicted, pleading guilty, or even being arrested.

Although expunction is a powerful tool and is sometimes available in theft cases, theft is a crime of moral turpitude, and it is important that you understand this in the event that your case cannot be expunged. Many professional licensing associations (for doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, etc.) will ask you if you have ever been charged with a crime of moral turpitude, and if you have a theft on your record, the answer to that question, unfortunately is yes.

For these reasons, you must hire a Collin County theft attorney who understands how to investigate and diagnose your case so that expunction (removing the crime from your record) may be possible for you.

Types of Theft

Robbery

In Texas, robbery and aggravated robbery are two separate offenses carrying different punishments. The difference between facing up to 99 years in prison or as little as two years in prison may come down to whether there was a mere display of a deadly weapon.

To prove a Robbery, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  • was in the course of committing a theft,
  • intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes, threatens or places another in fear of bodily injury or death,
  • for the purpose or with the intent to maintain control of the property.

For purposes of Robbery or Aggravated Robbery, bodily injury is defined as “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.” Robbery is a Second-Degree Felony with a range of punishment from 2 years up to 20 years confinement and a fine up to $10,000.

Robbery becomes Aggravated Robbery if the state alleges and can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did any of the following in addition to committing Robbery:

  • causes serious bodily injury to another,
  • uses or exhibits a deadly weapon, or
  • causes bodily injury or threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death and that person is 65 years or older or disabled.

Serious bodily injury is defined as “bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” Aggravated Robbery is a First Degree Felony with a range of punishment from 5 years up to 99 years or life confinement and up to a $10,000 fine.

Aggravated Robbery is also classified as a 3(g) offense (an offense falling within the purview of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 42.12 Sec. 3(g)). These types of offenses are those which our legislature have identified as the most serious of criminal offenses. Individuals charged with a 3(g) offense may not receive regular probation from a judge and are not eligible for parole until at least one half of the original sentence has been served.

The value of competent and aggressive legal representation when charged with a 3(g) offense such as Aggravated Robbery cannot be overstated. Whether you are a person charged with Aggravated Robbery or a someone seeking legal assistance on behalf of a close friend or family member who is in jail awaiting prosecution, contact our office to schedule a consultation with an attorney or a jail consultation.

Burglary of an Automobile

Burglary of an Automobile (also referred to as burglary of a motor vehicle) falls under its own section of the Texas Penal Code, Sec. 30.04, but is quite similar to other burglaries. To charge and convict a person of Burglary of an Automobile, the State must prove:

  • knowing or intentional breaking or entry into,
  • any part of a vehicle, with
  • the intent to commit any felony or a theft.

Entry includes physically placing any part of the body or object connected with the body inside a vehicle.

Most Burglary of an Automobile cases will be classified as a Class A Misdemeanor with a range of punishment of up to 1 year in county jail and up to a $4,000 fine. However, the range of punishment can be modified under several scenarios. With one prior conviction for the same offense, the minimum term of confinement is enhanced to six months. The offense can also be enhanced to a State Jail Felony with two prior convictions for the same offense. One feature which makes Burglary of an Automobile unique is that, by statute, any previous case resolved with deferred adjudication probation can be treated as a conviction for enhancement purposes.

Many Burglary of an Automobile cases depend upon circumstantial evidence. For instance, it is not uncommon for a Burglary of an Automobile case to be based upon pawn tickets which were traced back to the defendant. Circumstantial evidence is legally sufficient evidence for a jury to convict a defendant. However, many circumstantial cases leave room to mount a successful defense.

Even when a case fails to present viable legal or factual defenses, favorable outcomes can still be attained through strategic legal representation and negotiation. Contact our office today to discuss how to begin approaching your Burglary of an Automobile case.

Burglary of a Building

Burglary of a building is the same crime as burglary of a home as far as the elements involved; however, the punishment for burglary of a building is less than that of burglary of a home. Entering, or remaining in, a building without consent of the owner and with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault is burglary. Again, these other offenses need not be committed; there must simply be the intent to commit one of them.

Burglary of a building applies to any building that is not a “habitation” as defined in the burglary of a home section. Burglary of a building is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days up to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Burglary of a Business

Like Burglary of a Home/Habitation, Burglary of a Business (also known as Burglary of a Building) falls within the scope of the general Burglary statute under Texas Penal Code Sec. 30.02. To prove Burglary of a Business, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • knowing and intentional entry or concealment
  • into a building other than a habitation
  • without the effective consent of the owner
  • with the specific intent or attempt to commit a felony, a theft or an assault.

Burglary of a Business or Burglary of a Building is a State Jail Felony with a range of punishment of 180 days to 2 years in a State Jail and a fine up to $10,000.

Like Burglary of a Habitation, the State is not required to prove a physical act of breaking a window or door, nor the completion of a crime which the defendant intended to commit once entry was gained. Sometimes disputed cases focus upon whether the entry was a mere Criminal Trespass due to the absence intent to commit a felony, theft or assault at the time entry was achieved. Other defenses could include issues such as consent to enter, misidentification or ownership of the building.

Credit or Debit Card Fraud

Texas Penal Code Sec. 32.31 outlines 12 different acts which qualify as Credit or Debit Card Fraud. To paraphrase the statute, the State may prosecute as Credit or Debit Card Fraud the following scenarios:

  • fraudulent use of an expired or cancelled card to obtain a benefit
  • fraudulent use of another’s card without that person’s permission to obtain a benefit
  • receiving a benefit from the fraudulent use of a card, use of a fictitious credit card with intent to obtain a benefit
  • knowingly receiving a benefit from the fraudulent use of a card
  • stealing or knowingly receiving a stolen credit card
  • purchasing a card from someone other than the owner
  • selling another’s credit card
  • inducing another to use a card for a purchase he or she cannot afford
  • possession of a card without the owner’s consent and with the intent to use it
  • possession of two or more incomplete credit cards with intent to complete them and without the card-issuer’s permission
  • accepting a card for purchase of goods or services with knowledge that it’s use was fraudulent
  • accepting a card for purchase of goods or services and fraudulently failing to furnish purchased goods or services

Credit or Debit Card Abuse is s State Jail Felony with a range of punishment from 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine up to $10,000. Credit or Debit Card Abuse can be enhanced to a Third-Degree Felony if it is shown that the offense was committed against an individual 65 years of age or older.

Credit or Debit Card Abuse cases sometimes involve investigations which take place over the course of several months. During the investigation, law enforcement may encourage suspects to waive important rights or make detrimental statements. Whether you have been contacted by a detective to discuss a potential credit or debit card abuse or you have a pending case, it is important that you contact an attorney immediately.

Forgery Charges

Forgery is defined by Texas Penal Code Sec. 32.31 as altering, making, completing, executing or authenticating a writing for any of the following purposes:

  • to appear to be the act of another who did not authorize such act
  • to appear to be executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case, or
  • to be a copy of an original when no such original existed.

Forgery also includes utilizing or possessing forged writings under certain circumstances. For forgery to constitute a crime, it must be done with the intent to defraud or harm another.

A forgery is classified as a State Jail Felony when the writing forged is a will, codicil, deed, and certain financial or commercial instruments. A forgery is classified as a third-degree felony when it is done to replicate money, securities, postage, or certain documents or licenses issued by the government. A forgery charge can be enhanced by one offense level if it is shown that the offense was committed against an individual 65 years of age or older.

A forgery charge can be fact intensive, especially when considering all the caveats involved in properly classifying the level of offense. Sometimes the strength of a forgery case will depend upon the existence and content of statements made by a defendant to a detective investigating a potential forgery case.

Forging or Altering a Prescription

Section 481.129 of the Texas Health & Safety Code covers prescription fraud and criminalizes possessing or using a prescription with a forged signature, a prescription belonging to another person, a prescription bearing a false, suspended, or fictitious registration number. It also makes it illegal to phone in a prescription fraudulently or to obtain a controlled substance through fraud or misrepresentation.

Penalties for prescription fraud range from Class A Misdemeanor to a Second-Degree felony depending on the circumstances and the type of drug sought. At Rosenthal & Wadas we defend prescription fraud cases aggressively by requiring proof:

  • the prescription, if any, otherwise meets the legal definition of a prescription referenced by the code
  • the person who possessed or phoned in the invalid prescription is indeed the correct person
  • challenging whether the prescription is forged in the first place; and
  • challenging the entire circumstance could not have been explained by a mistake, miscommunication, or other explanation.

Defending prescription fraud cases requires aggressive representation by an attorney who is available 24/7 for such emergency counseling.

Grand Theft Auto

There is no specific section in the Texas Penal Code that sets forth a definition or range of punishment for “grand theft auto”, though that is a common term. Theft of a vehicle is treated the same as theft of any other property. Depending on the value of the car, the degree of the charge can range from a Class B Misdemeanor (for a car value at or below $500) to a first-degree felony (for a vehicle valued at $200,000 or higher).

If the state has a weaker case, and cannot prove that the accused intended to steal the vehicle, they may instead decide to charge him or her with unauthorized use of a vehicle, which is a state jail felony, as explained above. Your attorney must understand the importance of the value of the car as it relates to your case. For example, if you are charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, but the vehicle was only worth $1,000, a theft charge may be something that ultimately carries less punishment, although it may sound worse.

Home Burglary

Burglary under the Texas Penal Code occurs when someone, without consent of the owner, enters or remains in a building not open to the public with intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault.

Committing burglary in a “habitation” (essentially any building that is designed to accommodate people staying overnight) carries heavier penalties than burglary committed in other buildings. If the burglary occurs in a home and the felony intended is anything other than theft, the burglary is a first-degree felony.

Importantly, it is irrelevant whether or not the accompanying theft, assault, or other felony actually occurs. All that matters for a burglary charge is that one of those is intended. Additionally, no “breaking” is required. Burglary may occur by crawling through an open window or even walking through an unlocked door.

If the burglary takes place in a home and the accompanying intended actions constitute either a misdemeanor (i.e., assault) or felony theft, the burglary is considered a second-degree felony. First-degree felony punishment ranges from 5-99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A second-degree felony is punishable by 2-20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Unfortunately, the root of a burglary is often drug or other addictions or habits that the accused is trying to support, and it is important to get those issues treated and/or addressed as well as any criminal charges.

Shoplifting

Shoplifting is the most commonly charged form of theft, it is typically a Misdemeanor offense characterized as Class C Theft (Theft Under $100), Class B Theft (Theft $100 – $750), and Class A Theft (Theft $750 – $2,500). To prosecute and convict a person for Shoplifting the State must prove the following:

  • unlawful taking
  • of property of a specified value
  • with intent to deprive the owner of the property.

Usually, the most important element of a Shoplifting offense is intent. A person must act with intent to deprive the store of their property. Showing that a defendant was reckless, negligent or that their head was in the clouds when they walked out of a store with unpaid-for merchandise will not cut it. An accident does not qualify as Shoplifting.

Whether the scenario is purely accidental one or simply an uncharacteristic moment of poor judgment, when a person is arrested for Shoplifting, it will appear as Theft on a criminal history. Theft is considered a crime of moral turpitude and can seriously impact a person’s ability to obtain or retain employment. This highlights the importance of seeking an attorney who will work to have charges reduced or expunged and possibly pursue options like Pre-Trial Diversion which is specifically tailored to individuals with a clean record seeking to keep it that way.

Tag Changing

Tag Changing under Texas Penal Code Section 32.47, also known as Fraudulent Destruction, Removal or Concealment of Writing is most commonly a hybrid of Theft or Shoplifting. To charge and convict a person with Fraudulent Destruction, Removal or Concealment of Writing, the State must prove:

  • destruction, removal, concealment or alteration, substitution or impairment of a writing
  • with the intent to harm or defraud another.

Although this offense applies to a wide variety of scenarios, the most common is when the State has alleged that a person changed tags on merchandise prior to making a purchase.

Tag Changing is a Class A Misdemeanor with a range of punishment from 0 days up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $4,000. Tag Changing is also considered a crime of moral turpitude and can leave a serious blemish in a person’s criminal history.

Theft By Check

Theft by check occurs when someone commits a theft with a check as the main tool of the offense. Writing a hot check, alone, is not enough to prove such a theft.

The two main questions in most theft by check cases are:

(1) the identity of the person who wrote the check; and
(2) whether that person knew the check they were writing was worthless.

The prosecution must prove the defendant is the person who wrote the check and this can be extremely difficult despite whose name appears to have signed the check. Also, the prosecution must prove the Defendant intended to steal. Most jurors wouldn’t agree that someone who might have a low bank account is a thief.

There is very little reason to back down from a theft by check charge. The consequences are too great and the cases are too difficult to prosecute successfully.

Theft of Services

There are several acts under Penal Code Sec. 31.04 which constitute a Theft of Service. To charge and convict a person of Theft of Service, the State must prove that an individual acted with intent to avoid payment for service and one of the following scenarios:

  • use of deception, threat or false token to intentionally or knowingly secure services
  • diverting the benefit of to an individual not entitled to the benefit of those services
  • holding rental property beyond the expiration of the rental period without the consent of the owner, or
  • intentionally or knowingly securing performance of services by agreeing to provide compensation and subsequently failing to pay in full after the service is rendered and payment is requested.

Theft of Service ranges from Class C Misdemeanor to First-Degree Felony. The level of offense depends on the value of the service alleged to have been stolen. Theft of Service becomes a Class B Misdemeanor (0-180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000) at a value of $20 and a Felony (punishment ranges starting at a minimum of 180 days incarceration) at a value of $1,500.

Theft of Service is commonly misunderstood as merely the act of not paying for a service. It is not uncommon for people secure a service with the intent to pay and upon completion of that service no longer have the ability to do so. This is not necessarily Theft of Service.

Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle

Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is a state jail felony that occurs when a person “intentionally or knowingly operates another’s boat, airplane, or motor-propelled vehicle without the effective consent of the owner.”

Even if someone was not “stealing”, per se, a vehicle, he could still be on the hook for this crime if he did not have permission to operate the vehicle from the owner of the vehicle to operate it.

The punishment range for unauthorized use of a vehicle is 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

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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