Public Indecency

SUBCHAPTER A. PROSTITUTION

Sec. 43.01. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:

(1) “Deviate sexual intercourse” means any contact between the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person.
(2) “Prostitution” means the offense defined in Section 43.02.
(3) “Sexual contact” means any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.
(4) “Sexual conduct” includes deviate sexual intercourse, sexual contact, and sexual intercourse.
(5) “Sexual intercourse” means any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.

Sec. 43.02. PROSTITUTION.

(a) A person commits an offense if, in return for receipt of a fee, the person knowingly:

(1) offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct; or
(2) solicits another in a public place to engage with the actor in sexual conduct for hire.

(b) A person commits an offense if, based on the payment of a fee by the actor or another person on behalf of the actor, the person knowingly:

(1) offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct; or
(2) solicits another in a public place to engage with the actor in sexual conduct for hire.

(b-1) An offense is established under Subsection (a) regardless of whether the actor is offered or actually receives the fee. An offense is established under Subsection (b) regardless of whether the actor or another person on behalf of the actor offers or actually pays the fee.

Text of subsection as amended by Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 332 (H.B. 10), Sec. 14

(c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is:

(1) a Class A misdemeanor if the actor has previously been convicted one or two times of an offense under this section;
(2) a state jail felony if the actor has previously been convicted three or more times of an offense under this section; or
(3) a felony of the second degree if the person solicited is:

(A) younger than 18 years of age, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the person solicited at the time the actor commits the offense;
(B) represented to the actor as being younger than 18 years of age; or
(C) believed by the actor to be younger than 18 years of age.

Text of subsection as amended by Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1273 (S.B. 825), Sec. 1

(c) An offense under Subsection (a) is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is:

(1) a Class A misdemeanor if the actor has previously been convicted one or two times of an offense under Subsection (a); or
(2) a state jail felony if the actor has previously been convicted three or more times of an offense under Subsection (a).

(c-1) An offense under Subsection (b) is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is:

(1) a Class A misdemeanor if the actor has previously been convicted one or two times of an offense under Subsection (b);
(2) a state jail felony if the actor has previously been convicted three or more times of an offense under Subsection (b); or
(3) a felony of the second degree if the person solicited is younger than 18 years of age, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the person solicited at the time the actor commits the offense.

(d) It is a defense to prosecution for an offense under Subsection (a) that the actor engaged in the conduct that constitutes the offense because the actor was the victim of conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20A.02 or 43.05.
(e) A conviction may be used for purposes of enhancement under this section or enhancement under Subchapter D, Chapter 12, but not under both this section and Subchapter D, Chapter 12. For purposes of enhancement of penalties under this section or Subchapter D, Chapter 12, a defendant is previously convicted of an offense under this section if the defendant was adjudged guilty of the offense or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere in return for a grant of deferred adjudication, regardless of whether the sentence for the offense was ever imposed or whether the sentence was probated and the defendant was subsequently discharged from community supervision.

Sec. 43.03. PROMOTION OF PROSTITUTION.

(a) A person commits an offense if, acting other than as a prostitute receiving compensation for personally rendered prostitution services, he or she knowingly:

(1) receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement to participate in the proceeds of prostitution; or
(2) solicits another to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is:

(1) a state jail felony if the actor has been previously convicted of an offense under this section; or
(2) a felony of the second degree if the actor engages in conduct described by Subsection (a)(1) or (2) involving a person younger than 18 years of age engaging in prostitution, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the person at the time the actor commits the offense.

Sec. 43.04. AGGRAVATED PROMOTION OF PROSTITUTION

(a) A person commits an offense if he knowingly owns, invests in, finances, controls, supervises, or manages a prostitution enterprise that uses two or more prostitutes.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the first degree if the prostitution enterprise uses as a prostitute one or more persons younger than 18 years of age, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the person at the time the actor commits the offense.

Sec. 43.05. COMPELLING PROSTITUTION.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly:

(1) causes another by force, threat, or fraud to commit prostitution; or
(2) causes by any means a child younger than 18 years to commit prostitution, regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the child at the time the actor commits the offense.

(b) An offense under Subsection (a)(1) is a felony of the second degree. An offense under Subsection (a)(2) is a felony of the first degree.
(c) If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code, the actor may be prosecuted under either section or under both sections.

Sec. 43.06. ACCOMPLICE WITNESS; TESTIMONY AND IMMUNITY.

(a) A party to an offense under this subchapter may be required to furnish evidence or testify about the offense.
(b) A party to an offense under this subchapter may not be prosecuted for any offense about which he is required to furnish evidence or testify, and the evidence and testimony may not be used against the party in any adjudicatory proceeding except a prosecution for aggravated perjury.
(c) For purposes of this section, “adjudicatory proceeding” means a proceeding before a court or any other agency of government in which the legal rights, powers, duties, or privileges of specified parties are determined.
(d) A conviction under this subchapter may be had upon the uncorroborated testimony of a party to the offense.

Sec. 43.21. DEFINITIONS.

(a) In this subchapter:

(1) “Obscene” means material or a performance that:

(A) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest in sex;
(B) depicts or describes:

(i) patently offensive representations or descriptions of ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including sexual intercourse, sodomy, and sexual bestiality; or
(ii) patently offensive representations or descriptions of masturbation, excretory functions, sadism, masochism, lewd exhibition of the genitals, the male or female genitals in a state of sexual stimulation or arousal, covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state or a device designed and marketed as useful primarily for stimulation of the human genital organs; and

(C) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, and scientific value.

(2) “Material” means anything tangible that is capable of being used or adapted to arouse interest, whether through the medium of reading, observation, sound, or in any other manner, but does not include an actual three dimensional obscene device.
(3) “Performance” means a play, motion picture, dance, or other exhibition performed before an audience.
(4) “Patently offensive” means so offensive on its face as to affront current community standards of decency.
(5) “Promote” means to manufacture, issue, sell, give, provide, lend, mail, deliver, transfer, transmit, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, or advertise, or to offer or agree to do the same.
(6) “Wholesale promote” means to manufacture, issue, sell, provide, mail, deliver, transfer, transmit, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, or to offer or agree to do the same for purpose of resale.
(7) “Obscene device” means a device including a dildo or artificial vagina, designed or marketed as useful primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs.

(b) If any of the depictions or descriptions of sexual conduct described in this section are declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be unlawfully included herein, this declaration shall not invalidate this section as to other patently offensive sexual conduct included herein.

Sec. 43.22. OBSCENE DISPLAY OR DISTRIBUTION.

(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly displays or distributes an obscene photograph, drawing, or similar visual representation or other obscene material and is reckless about whether a person is present who will be offended or alarmed by the display or distribution.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Sec. 43.23. OBSCENITY.

(a) A person commits an offense if, knowing its content and character, he wholesale promotes or possesses with intent to wholesale promote any obscene material or obscene device.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (h), an offense under Subsection (a) is a state jail felony.
(c) A person commits an offense if, knowing its content and character, he:

(1) promotes or possesses with intent to promote any obscene material or obscene device; or
(2) produces, presents, or directs an obscene performance or participates in a portion thereof that is obscene or that contributes to its obscenity.

(d) Except as provided by Subsection (h), an offense under Subsection (c) is a Class A misdemeanor.
(e) A person who promotes or wholesale promotes obscene material or an obscene device or possesses the same with intent to promote or wholesale promote it in the course of his business is presumed to do so with knowledge of its content and character.
(f) A person who possesses six or more obscene devices or identical or similar obscene articles is presumed to possess them with intent to promote the same.
(g) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the person who possesses or promotes material or a device proscribed by this section does so for a bona fide medical, psychiatric, judicial, legislative, or law enforcement purpose.
(h) The punishment for an offense under Subsection (a) or (c) is increased to the punishment for a felony of the second degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that obscene material that is the subject of the offense visually depicts activities described by Section 43.21(a)(1)(B) engaged in by:

(1) a child younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made;
(2) an image that to a reasonable person would be virtually indistinguishable from the image of a child younger than 18 years of age; or
(3) an image created, adapted, or modified to be the image of an identifiable child.

(i) In this section, “identifiable child” means a person, recognizable as an actual person by the person’s face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic, such as a unique birthmark or other recognizable feature:

(1) who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the visual depiction was created, adapted, or modified; or
(2) whose image as a person younger than 18 years of age was used in creating, adapting, or modifying the visual depiction.

(j) An attorney representing the state who seeks an increase in punishment under Subsection (h)(3) is not required to prove the actual identity of an identifiable child.

Sec. 43.24. SALE, DISTRIBUTION, OR DISPLAY OF HARMFUL MATERIAL TO MINOR.

(a) For purposes of this section:

(1) “Minor” means an individual younger than 18 years.
(2) “Harmful material” means material whose dominant theme taken as a whole:

(A) appeals to the prurient interest of a minor, in sex, nudity, or excretion;
(B) is patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community as a whole with respect to what is suitable for minors; and
(C) is utterly without redeeming social value for minors.

(b) A person commits an offense if, knowing that the material is harmful:

(1) and knowing the person is a minor, he sells, distributes, exhibits, or possesses for sale, distribution, or exhibition to a minor harmful material;
(2) he displays harmful material and is reckless about whether a minor is present who will be offended or alarmed by the display; or
(3) he hires, employs, or uses a minor to do or accomplish or assist in doing or accomplishing any of the acts prohibited in Subsection (b)(1) or (b)(2).

(c) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the sale, distribution, or exhibition was by a person having scientific, educational, governmental, or other similar justification.
(c-1) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor was the spouse of the minor at the time of the offense.
(d) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor unless it is committed under Subsection (b)(3) in which event it is a felony of the third degree.

Sec. 43.25. SEXUAL PERFORMANCE BY A CHILD.

(a) In this section:

(1) “Sexual performance” means any performance or part thereof that includes sexual conduct by a child younger than 18 years of age.
(2) “Sexual conduct” means sexual contact, actual or simulated sexual intercourse, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, masturbation, sado-masochistic abuse, or lewd exhibition of the genitals, the anus, or any portion of the female breast below the top of the areola.
(3) “Performance” means any play, motion picture, photograph, dance, or other visual representation that can be exhibited before an audience of one or more persons.
(4) “Produce” with respect to a sexual performance includes any conduct that directly contributes to the creation or manufacture of the sexual performance.
(5) “Promote” means to procure, manufacture, issue, sell, give, provide, lend, mail, deliver, transfer, transmit, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, or advertise or to offer or agree to do any of the above.
(6) “Simulated” means the explicit depiction of sexual conduct that creates the appearance of actual sexual conduct and during which a person engaging in the conduct exhibits any uncovered portion of the breasts, genitals, or buttocks.
(7) “Deviate sexual intercourse” and “sexual contact” have the meanings assigned by Section 43.01.

(b) A person commits an offense if, knowing the character and content thereof, he employs, authorizes, or induces a child younger than 18 years of age to engage in sexual conduct or a sexual performance. A parent or legal guardian or custodian of a child younger than 18 years of age commits an offense if he consents to the participation by the child in a sexual performance.
(c) An offense under Subsection (b) is a felony of the second degree, except that the offense is a felony of the first degree if the victim is younger than 14 years of age at the time the offense is committed.
(d) A person commits an offense if, knowing the character and content of the material, he produces, directs, or promotes a performance that includes sexual conduct by a child younger than 18 years of age.
(e) An offense under Subsection (d) is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the second degree if the victim is younger than 14 years of age at the time the offense is committed.
(f) It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution under this section that:

(1) the defendant was the spouse of the child at the time of the offense;
(2) the conduct was for a bona fide educational, medical, psychological, psychiatric, judicial, law enforcement, or legislative purpose; or
(3) the defendant is not more than two years older than the child.

(g) When it becomes necessary for the purposes of this section or Section 43.26 to determine whether a child who participated in sexual conduct was younger than 18 years of age, the court or jury may make this determination by any of the following methods:

(1) personal inspection of the child;
(2) inspection of the photograph or motion picture that shows the child engaging in the sexual performance;
(3) oral testimony by a witness to the sexual performance as to the age of the child based on the child’s appearance at the time;
(4) expert medical testimony based on the appearance of the child engaging in the sexual performance; or
(5) any other method authorized by law or by the rules of evidence at common law.

Sec. 43.251. EMPLOYMENT HARMFUL TO CHILDREN.

(a) In this section:

(1) “Child” means a person younger than 18 years of age.
(2) “Massage” has the meaning assigned to the term “massage therapy” by Section 455.001, Occupations Code.
(3) “Massage establishment” has the meaning assigned by Section 455.001, Occupations Code.
(4) “Nude” means a child who is:

(A) entirely unclothed; or
(B) clothed in a manner that leaves uncovered or visible through less than fully opaque clothing any portion of the breasts below the top of the areola of the breasts, if the child is female, or any portion of the genitals or buttocks.

(5) “Sexually oriented commercial activity” means a massage establishment, nude studio, modeling studio, love parlor, or other similar commercial enterprise the primary business of which is the offering of a service that is intended to provide sexual stimulation or sexual gratification to the customer.
(6) “Topless” means a female child clothed in a manner that leaves uncovered or visible through less than fully opaque clothing any portion of her breasts below the top of the areola.

(b) A person commits an offense if the person employs, authorizes, or induces a child to work:

(1) in a sexually oriented commercial activity; or
(2) in any place of business permitting, requesting, or requiring a child to work nude or topless.

(c) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree, except that the offense is a felony of the first degree if the child is younger than 14 years of age at the time the offense is committed.

Sec. 43.26. POSSESSION OR PROMOTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY.

(a) A person commits an offense if:

(1) the person knowingly or intentionally possesses, or knowingly or intentionally accesses with intent to view, visual material that visually depicts a child younger than 18 years of age at the time the image of the child was made who is engaging in sexual conduct, including a child who engages in sexual conduct as a victim of an offense under Section 20A.02(a)(5), (6), (7), or (8); and
(2) the person knows that the material depicts the child as described by Subdivision (1).

(b) In this section:

(1) “Promote” has the meaning assigned by Section 43.25.
(2) “Sexual conduct” has the meaning assigned by Section 43.25.
(3) “Visual material” means:

(A) any film, photograph, videotape, negative, or slide or any photographic reproduction that contains or incorporates in any manner any film, photograph, videotape, negative, or slide; or
(B) any disk, diskette, or other physical medium that allows an image to be displayed on a computer or other video screen and any image transmitted to a computer or other video screen by telephone line, cable, satellite transmission, or other method.

(c) The affirmative defenses provided by Section 43.25(f) also apply to a prosecution under this section.
(d) An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is:

(1) a felony of the second degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has been previously convicted one time of an offense under that subsection; and
(2) a felony of the first degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has been previously convicted two or more times of an offense under that subsection.

(e) A person commits an offense if:

(1) the person knowingly or intentionally promotes or possesses with intent to promote material described by Subsection (a)(1); and
(2) the person knows that the material depicts the child as described by Subsection (a)(1).

(f) A person who possesses visual material that contains six or more identical visual depictions of a child as described by Subsection (a)(1) is presumed to possess the material with the intent to promote the material.
(g) An offense under Subsection (e) is a felony of the second degree, except that the offense is a felony of the first degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person has been previously convicted of an offense under that subsection.
(h) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a) or (e) that the actor is a law enforcement officer or a school administrator who:

(1) possessed or accessed the visual material in good faith solely as a result of an allegation of a violation of Section 43.261;
(2) allowed other law enforcement or school administrative personnel to possess or access the material only as appropriate based on the allegation described by Subdivision (1); and
(3) took reasonable steps to destroy the material within an appropriate period following the allegation described by Subdivision (1).

Sec. 43.261. ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF CERTAIN VISUAL MATERIAL DEPICTING MINOR.

(a) In this section:

(1) “Dating relationship” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.0021, Family Code.
(2) “Minor” means a person younger than 18 years of age.
(3) “Produce” with respect to visual material includes any conduct that directly contributes to the creation or manufacture of the material.
(4) “Promote” has the meaning assigned by Section 43.25.
(5) “Sexual conduct” has the meaning assigned by Section 43.25.
(6) “Visual material” has the meaning assigned by Section 43.26.

(b) A person who is a minor commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly:

(1) by electronic means promotes to another minor visual material depicting a minor, including the actor, engaging in sexual conduct, if the actor produced the visual material or knows that another minor produced the visual material; or
(2) possesses in an electronic format visual material depicting another minor engaging in sexual conduct, if the actor produced the visual material or knows that another minor produced the visual material.

(c) An offense under Subsection (b)(1) is a Class C misdemeanor, except that the offense is:

(1) a Class B misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the actor:

(A) promoted the visual material with intent to harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment, embarrass, or offend another; or
(B) except as provided by Subdivision (2)(A), has previously been convicted one time of any offense under this section; or

(2) a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the actor has previously been:

(A) convicted one or more times of an offense punishable under Subdivision (1)(A); or
(B) convicted two or more times of any offense under this section.

(d) An offense under Subsection (b)(2) is a Class C misdemeanor, except that the offense is:

(1) a Class B misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the actor has previously been convicted one time of any offense under this section; or
(2) a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the actor has previously been convicted two or more times of any offense under this section.

(e) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the visual material:

(1) depicted only the actor or another minor:

(A) who is not more than two years older or younger than the actor and with whom the actor had a dating relationship at the time of the offense; or
(B) who was the spouse of the actor at the time of the offense; and

(2) was promoted or received only to or from the actor and the other minor.

(f) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (b)(2) that the actor:

(1) did not produce or solicit the visual material;
(2) possessed the visual material only after receiving the material from another minor; and
(3) destroyed the visual material within a reasonable amount of time after receiving the material from another minor.

(g) If conduct that constitutes an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another law, the defendant may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
(h) Notwithstanding Section 51.13, Family Code, a finding that a person has engaged in conduct in violation of this section is considered a conviction for the purposes of Subsections (c) and (d).

Sec. 43.27. DUTY TO REPORT.

(a) For purposes of this section, ” visual material” has the meaning assigned by Section 43.26.
(b) A business that develops or processes visual material and determines that the material may be evidence of a criminal offense under this subchapter shall report the existence of the visual material to a local law enforcement agency.

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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