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4 Mistakes To Avoid After Criminal Charges Have Been Filed

Boy Hanging Head

Most people have never faced criminal charges in Collin County before, the first time you are arrested comes as a serious shock. Many Collin County residents have no idea how to deal with the situation. And unfortunately, their ignorance often leads them to make some easily avoidable mistakes that harm their ability to successfully defend themselves in court.

Here are some of the more common mistakes that our firm has seen people make after they are charged with a crime:

1. Talking to the Police Without an Attorney Present

If you have ever watched a television police drama, you know that law enforcement officers are trained to interrogate a suspect to elicit as much information as possible before the right to counsel is invoked. Yet many people are reluctant to contact an attorney right away. Some people think they can “talk their way out of” an arrest. Others assume that asking for a lawyer will only make them seem more guilty. The truth is, if the police have already taken you into custody, they already think you are guilty. Not hiring a lawyer only hurts you.

2. Speaking to Other People–Other than an Attorney–About Your Case

We all have a natural desire to want to talk to someone about a stressful situation. But talking about a pending criminal case to anyone except your defense lawyer is generally a bad idea. This is especially true if you are being held in jail pending a bail hearing or trial. Texas law allows law enforcement to record any phone calls you make from a jail telephone, so anything you tell a family member or friend may be used as evidence against you at trial.

Never talk to your fellow inmates in jail about your case. Again, it is perfectly understandable that you want to commiserate with someone about a stressful situation. But many prison inmates know they can bargain for leniency of a reduced charge if they can “rat out” a fellow inmate.

3. Hiring the Wrong Lawyer

If you have never hired a criminal defense attorney before, you might just assume that all lawyers are the same. Some defendants may simply hire an attorney they already know even if they do not specialize in criminal defense matters. But law is a highly specialized profession. An attorney who dedicates 90 percent their practice to tax matters probably will not be much help if you are charged with capital murder.

4. Trying to Manage Your Own Criminal Case

Once you do hire a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer, you need to let that person do their job. If you are the type of person who needs to be in control of every situation, this may be difficult. But trying to manage–or micromanage–your own criminal defense is generally counterproductive.

Speak With Our Collin County Lawyers Today

If you are facing any kind of criminal charges, you do not have to face them alone. At Rosenthal & Wadas, our firm can assist you in preparing a defense and making sure the judge or jury hears your side of the story. Contact us today at (972) 369-0577 for a free consultation.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Fireworks in Collin County, Texas

Firework - Sparkler

With the Fourth of July coming up next week, we pulled some facts together about shooting off fireworks in Collin County.

Can I shoot off my own fireworks in Collin County?

Use and possession of fireworks is allowed, but only in the unincorporated areas of Collin County. In other words, as long as you are not within the city limits of any town in Collin County, feel free to have your own fireworks-related fun. Just be careful, because fireworks can turn dangerous in a hurry and without any warning.

Also, it is important to respect the rights of others. Loud or dangerous conduct can disturb others and land you in trouble with the sheriff’s department. Also remember that fireworks and alcohol do not mix. Texas Penal Code § 49.02 (Public Intoxication) makes it a crime to be intoxicated to the extent that you are a danger to yourself or others.

What about in the city limits?

Every major city in Collin County prohibits not only the use of fireworks, but their possession by local ordinance. Fines can be up to $2,000 for violations.

Where can I watch the fireworks this year?

Browse 40 of the top local festivals, parades, parties and observances in the link below. Please note, many events take place during the weekend before and days leading up to July 4.

Where to watch fireworks
No matter what you end up doing, remember to be safe and be responsible. Happy July Fourth!

Posted in Uncategorized

Theft, Robbery and Burglary Charges…What is the Difference?

Theft - Burglary

If you were charged with robbery, burglary, or other types of theft crimes in Texas, the first thing to keep in mind is that an arrest is not a conviction: You have constitutional rights and the prosecuting attorney must prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a relatively heavy burden. You will have your day in court to fight the allegations and present a defense, and you have an advantage if you retain an experienced Texas theft crimes lawyer to represent your interests.

Still, you probably have a number of questions about your case. You may be confused about the differences between robbery and burglary in Texas, and how these crimes are distinct from other theft offenses. Your concerns are well-founded, but you are not alone. The definitions of theft under Texas law are extremely convoluted, and there are multiple degrees of felony and misdemeanor falling within each category.

Theft Charges

The unlawful taking of another person’s property, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, is theft under Texas law. The statute goes on to provide that taking an item is considered “unlawful” if:

  • The taking is accomplished without the owner’s consent;
  • The actor takes property knowing it was stolen by another person; or,
  • The property is in custody of authorities due to it being a stolen it, and the actor takes it.

There are multiple degrees of theft crimes, which are distinguished based upon the value of the property. A minor offense involving less than $100 may be a Class C Misdemeanor, though Class A Misdemeanor charges apply to amounts up to $2,500. A conviction could mean up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000.

Theft is a felony is $2,500 or more, or if the subject of the crime consists of certain types of property; examples include livestock, firearms, and certain metals. State law includes harsh penalties for felonies, so you face years in prison and hefty fines for a conviction.

Robbery

The crime of robbery is more serious than theft, even though both offenses refer to an unlawful taking of property. With robbery, a prosecutor must prove that, during the commission of the crime:

  • You intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause injury to another person; or,
  • You make a threat to hurt a person.

If you are arrested for robbery, you face Second Degree Felony charges. A conviction means at least two and up to 10 years of incarceration, plus a maximum fine of $10,000.

Burglary

If you enter into a structure without consent, for purposes of committing a felony, theft, or assault, you could be arrested for burglary. This crime is among the most serious types of theft crimes in Texas, but you do not even have to take any property to be charged. The fact that you intended to unlawfully take something inside the structure is enough to support a conviction. Burglary is always a felony, but the nature of the charges depends upon the type of building you enter.

  • If you enter into a residential building or habitation, the crime is a First-Degree Felony punishable by at least five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • If the structure is not a dwelling, Second Degree Felony charges apply, so you face a minimum of two years’ incarceration and a $10,000 fine.

Defenses to Property Crimes

There are multiple defenses to theft, robbery, and burglary offenses, which could help you reduce your punishment or beat the charges entirely. If officials violate your constitutional rights, such as by engaging in an illegal search or seizure, any evidence they obtain could be thrown out of court.

Discuss Your Case with a Collin County Criminal Lawyer

Regardless of whether you are charged with robbery, burglary, or other theft offenses, you need a skilled attorney to assist with your case. You could face serious penalties, including jail time, fines, and probation. Plus, you could have a conviction on your permanent criminal record, which has harsh consequences for your future.

At Rosenthal & Wadas, our Collin County theft lawyers have in-depth knowledge of criminal law, backed up by years of experience in a Texas courtroom. We can tell you more about your criminal defense options after reviewing your case, so please call us at 972-369-0577 to schedule a free consultation. You can also visit our website to learn more about our legal services.

Posted in Federal Criminal Defense, Theft

Do I Turn Myself In If There’s a Warrant for My Arrest?

warrant for arrest

Most criminal cases in Texas begin with a judge or magistrate issuing a warrant for the suspect’s arrest. If you have reason to believe there is an active arrest warrant for you, your first instinct might be to try and run. That is never a good idea. The longer a person waits to turn themselves in a warrant, the more it looks like they are being either irresponsible or trying to avoid the legal process or both. In representing someone, we advise people turn themselves in and post bond in an orderly way at their convenience as soon as they can. In turning yourself in you develop a track record of conscientious and responsible behavior that is sure to pay dividends to you as your case proceeds.

Your second option with respect to a warrant is to simply wait for the police to come to your home and arrest you. But you may also opt to turn yourself in and “face the music,” as it were. Before taking this step, however, it is always a good idea to first speak with a qualified Collin County criminal defense lawyer. Remember, you have a constitutional right to the advice and assistance of counsel at all stages of a criminal case against you. This includes the period of time before you choose to surrender yourself to police custody.

Arrest Warrant vs. Summons

In some criminal cases an arrest warrant is unnecessary. For example, if you are driving your car and a police officer pulls you over, you are subject to immediate arrest if there is evidence to suggest you committed a crime such as driving under the influence of alcohol. But when you are not already in police custody, it is necessary for a magistrate to issue an arrest warrant under Section 15.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

A warrant is simply a written order to a police officer “or some other personal specifically named” directing them to take a “person accused of an offense” into custody. A warrant is not the same thing as a formal indictment. In other words, it will not include a detailed account of the specific charges or evidence against the suspect named. However, it must include a statement that the person “is accused of some offense against the laws of the State, naming the offense.”

Negotiating Your Surrender & Making Bail

Once a magistrate issues a warrant, you will be taken into custody. The only question is whether you surrender yourself voluntarily or wait for the police to find you. Keep in mind, once a warrant is issued, law enforcement can arrest you at any time and in any place. Leaving Collin County, or even the State of Texas, will not defeat the warrant. And once the police do find you, they are not obligated to “give you time” to put your affairs in order before entering into custody.

Put another way, time is of the essence when there is a warrant for your arrest. So, the first thing you should do once you learn there is an arrest warrant is contact a Collin County criminal defense attorney. Defense lawyers are experts when it comes to assisting criminal suspects through the arrest and booking process. Depending on the nature of the charges, a defense attorney may be able to assist you in negotiating the specific terms of your surrender and even help you make bail within a few hours of your formal arrest.

Indeed, in all but limited circumstances such as repeat family violence or protective order violations, you are entitled to reasonable bond. Your defense attorney can help you deal with the court at a bond hearing. It may be possible to reduce or even eliminate the need for cash bail. Again, a lot depends on the specific nature of your case and the severity of the charges against you. But not having a lawyer will almost certainly make your case for reasonable bail more difficult.

Facing a Warrant for Your Arrest in Texas? We Can Help

Once you have dealt with the arrest and bail process, you are still facing a criminal trial. At Rosenthal & Wadas, our experienced criminal lawyers in Collin County can assist you in preparing a defense and making sure the judge or jury hears your side of the story. Contact us today at (972) 369-0577 if you need immediate legal advice or assistance.

Posted in Bail, Federal Criminal Defense

Getting Caught With Weed – Collin County vs. Dallas County

Marijuana

What happens if you get caught with weed in Texas depends on the amount of marijuana with which you are caught and the city you are in.

In Dallas County, if you are caught with less than 4 oz. of weed, the police no longer have to take you to jail due to a Cite and Release program that was instated December 2017. Instead, you could be fingerprinted and then given a court summons.

This does not change the potential punishment range for the offense, instead only avoids the initial arrest. The purpose of this change is to free up officers in the field so that they can handle offenses that are more serious. The law benefits the arrestee by allowing them to go home the same day of the offense instead of spending the night in jail. The punishment range is still the same if an arrestee is convicted of the offense.

When using the Cite and Release law, Dallas police officers must determine two things:
1. Where the arrestee lives
2. Whether the arrestee has any warrants

If the person resides within the county and has no warrants, they are given a field release citation and told to report on a certain date in the future.

In Collin County if you are caught with less than 4 oz. of marijuana you will more than likely be arrested and charged with possession. Even though the cite and release law has been on the books since 2007, few Texas cities and counties have implemented this program— but the list is growing. Houston, Austin and San Antonio are among large cities with similar programs in place.

So be prepared, if you are caught with marijuana in cities outside of Dallas County (Collin, Denton, Tarrant County) you could be arrested and taken to jail.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes

What is a Straw Purchase?

Gun With Bullet

A straw purchase is any purchase wherein the buyer is receiving the goods or services on behalf of a third party. In reference to firearms transactions, straw purchases are strictly unlawful. A buyer cannot purchase a gun on behalf of a person who is prohibited by law from buying or possessing the weapon or who wants to avoid a background check.

Under United States law, a person who purchases a firearm from a licensed dealer, but lies or misleads the seller about the identity of the ultimate possessor, can be charged with a very serious federal crime.

Understanding Federal Form 4473 (Firearms Transaction Record)

To understand how straw purchases work, you need to understand your requirements when buying a firearm from a dealer. When you purchase a gun from a licensed firearm dealer, you will be legally required to fill out Federal Form 4473. This form is the official Firearms Transaction Record that is kept by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The key question to look at on this is Question 11. This question asks the buyer if they are the actual “transferee/buyer” of the weapon. This question comes with an explicit warning: a person is not the actual transferee/buyer if they are purchasing the firearm behalf of another party.

Defining a Straw Purchase

The language of Federal Form 4473 can be confusing. Does it mean that you cannot buy a gun as a gift? Can you only purchase a firearm for your own use? Can you buy a firearm with the intention of immediately re-selling it? The answers to these questions are all deeply complicated. You need to be very careful when dealing with firearms purchases. In order to protect yourself, you should always disclose as much information as possible. To give you a better understanding of ATF regulations, the following four scenarios are all examples of illegal straw purchases:

1. You cannot buy a firearm as a gift for a person if you have reasonable cause to believe that the person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms.
2. You cannot buy a firearm for a person if you have reasonable cause to believe that they will use that firearm to commit a crime.
3. You cannot buy a firearm for a person in order to help them get around the background check.
4. You cannot buy a firearm for a person so that their name is not listed as a purchaser or possessor for a certain make and model of a gun.

A Straw Purchase is a Serious Crime

Under 18 U.S. Code § 922, a straw purchase is considered to be a very serious criminal offense. The bottom line: It is a serious crime to make false oral or written statements when attempting to acquire a firearm from a licensed dealer. If you attempt to deceive the seller or the government, you could end up in trouble.

Recent Developments: Supreme Court Grants Broad Powers to Combat Straw Purchases

In 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the case of Abramski v. United States. This was one of the most important cases involving the alleged straw purchase rules that have been decided in recent years. The petitioner, Abramski, was a former police officer. His uncle, who had the legal right to purchase firearms, gave Mr. Abramski money to buy a gun for him. The purported reason for this was that Mr. Abramski’s status as an ex-law enforcement officer allowed him to obtain a discount on the purchase. On his Firearms Transaction Record, Mr. Abramski falsely reported that he was purchasing the weapon for himself. Even though his uncle had the legal right to buy this type of weapon, the Supreme Court ruled that this still qualified as an illegal straw purchase. The Supreme Court affirmed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has very broad authority when regulating straw purchases.

Contact Us About Straw Purchases in Texas

At Rosenthal & Wadas, our top-rated Collin County criminal lawyers have extensive experience handling federal firearms cases. If you were arrested or charged with a crime in connection to an alleged straw purchase, we can help. Please call us today at (972) 369-0577 to schedule a confidential review of your case. From McKinney, TX, we represent defendants throughout the region, including in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, and Tarrant County.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Federal Firearms Violation

Your JUUL Can Cause You Trouble With the Law

Cannabis Plant

What is a JUUL?

JUUL devices heat up a cartridge containing oils to create vapor, which quickly dissolves into the air. The device is small enough to fit in a closed fist and has a sleek look that resembles a USB flash drive. Some users are altering the device replacing the nicotine oil in the pod with cannabis oil.

What people may not realize is that possessing a cannabis oil is not only illegal, it can be a worse offense than possessing a small amount of marijuana. That is because it is charged as a marijuana concentrate, rather than just as possessing marijuana.

What is a Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis oil (otherwise known as marijuana oil, hash oil, dab or wax) is a thick, sticky, resinous substance made up of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. It is obtained by separating the resins from cannabis flowers using a solvent extraction process. Marijuana oil is not only the most concentrated form of cannabis, but also the most potent.

Penalties for Marijuana Concentrate

The penalties for possession of substances classified in Penalty Group 2 under Health and Safety Code, SEC. 481.116 include:

  • State Jail Felony: less than one (1) gram is punishable by up to six-months to two years in jail, and a fine up to $10,000
  • Third-Degree Felony: one (1) gram or more but less than four (4) grams is punishable by up to two years to ten years in jail and a fine up to $10,000
  • Second-Degree Felony: four (4) grams or more but less than four-hundred (400) grams is punishable by two years to twenty years in jail and a fine up to $10,000
  • First-Degree Felony: 400 grams or more is punishable by 10-years-lifetime imprisonment, and a fine up to $50,000

Total weight determines the range of punishment. The weight includes “all adulterants and dilutants”. So, it is the weight in its final form (possibility including the Juul device) that determines the penalty level.

Hire a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you were arrested for any kind of alleged criminal offense relating to THC oils or marijuana concentrates in Collin County, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. Contact our office at 972-369-0577 to setup a free consultation, where one of our seven attorneys can review your case and answer your legal questions.

Posted in Drug Crimes, Federal Criminal Defense

What Constitutes the Crime of Elder Abuse in Texas?

Elderly Abuse

While many accusations of elder abuse are real, some are exaggerated or arise from a misunderstanding. Are you a caretaker who is facing elder abuse charges? If so, you need to protect yourself from criminal charges.

Texas Elder Abuse Laws

While elder abuse is often physical in nature, it refers to any type of mistreatment that causes some sort of damages, such as injuries or financial loss. Under Texas law, abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child, senior or adult with disabilities must be reported by any Texas resident who witnesses it. If the report is made in good faith, the person who files the report will be immune from liability. In addition, their name will be kept confidential.

It is crime to not report abuse. Under Texas law, a person who knows about a situation involving abuse or neglect and does not report it can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. False claims of elder abuse are forbidden and can also result in criminal penalties.

What is Elder Abuse?

Elder abuse can come about in various forms. You can be charged and convicted of elder abuse if you commit actions such as the following:

  • Physical abuse. This occurs when a person causes injuries to an elderly person.
  • Emotional abuse. This may include name-calling, harassment, intimidation and threats.
  • Sexual abuse. This often involves sexual activity but can also include unwanted touching and fondling.
  • Financial abuse. This means using an elderly person’s resources for your own personal gain, such as stealing money, credit cards and financial account information.
  • Confinement. This involves unnecessary restraint or isolation.
  • Deprivation. This means intentionally depriving an elderly person of essentials such as food, water, shelter, medication or physical assistance unless the person desires to go without such care.
  • Neglect. Neglect occurs when a caregiver unintentionally fails to provide an elderly person with food, water, shelter, clothing, medical care and other essentials.

Protecting Yourself From Elder Abuse

Elders are perceived as vulnerable, and in a situation where you are charged with abuse, courts may believe the elder over you. To prevent elder abuse charges, it helps to be proactive. There are things you can do to protect yourself. For example, if you are a caretaker for a family member or other elderly person, contact a lawyer to understand your responsibilities. Ask how you can protect yourself from such allegations, even if they seem unlikely.

Even if you don’t physically provide care for your loved one, you should also seek legal advice if you are in charge of your senior’s finances or estate. You don’t want to be accused of financial abuse.

If you are convicted of elder abuse, you could face serious criminal charges. Depending on the circumstances, you could face first, second or third-degree felony charges. A third-degree felony can mean up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A second-degree felony can result in up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A first-degree felony is the most serious, resulting in a $10,000 fine and life in prison.

Get Help From a Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney

When you think of elder abuse, you may think of nursing home staff being accused of such crimes. However, much of the time, family members are the ones facing accusations. This can be an emotional situation for loved ones, especially if they are innocent.

If you are in this situation, make sure you have a solid defense. A Collin County criminal lawyer from Rosenthal & Wadas can assess your case and reduce your charges or even get them eliminated altogether. If you have been charged with elder abuse, schedule a consultation with us. Give our office a call at (972) 369-0577 today.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Elder Abuse

Can I Get My Weapon Back?

Federal Firearm

If you are convicted of a crime involving a firearm in Texas, your gun could be taken away permanently if certain elements apply. It will be forfeited to the state, but you may be able to get it back in certain situations.

If you are wondering if you can get your gun, knife or other weapon back from the state, there is no clear yes or no answer. It will depend on the situation. If you have previous convictions, the offense occurred in a certain location or if the weapon is prohibited under Texas law, you may not be able to get your weapon back. Ultimately, your best option is to reach out to a skilled criminal defense attorney for help with your case.

What the Law Says

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 18.19 discusses the disposition of firearms after being charged with a weapons offense. Once you are convicted of an offense involving the use of a weapon, you must forfeit your weapon. The state can then destroy your weapon or sell it.

If you are convicted of a weapons offense under Texas Penal Code 46, you can get your weapon back in most situations. There are some exceptions, though, such as the following:

  • You have been convicted of a previous firearms offense under Texas Penal Code 46. If you have multiple convictions, you are considered a risk.
  • The weapon is prohibited under Texas law. Even though Texas is fairly lenient when it comes to allowing residents to exercise their Second Amendment rights, not all weapons are allowed. Prohibited weapons include brass knuckles, zip guns (improvised firearms), pepper spray and other chemical devices, armor-piercing ammunition, and tire-deflating devices such as spike strips and caltrops. In addition, certain weapons are prohibited in Texas unless they are registered with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. These include machine guns, rifles with barrels under 16 inches, shotguns with barrels under 18 inches, firearm silencers, sawed-off shotguns, and explosives such as rockets, bombs and grenades. If you are caught in possession of any of the above weapons—even if you don’t use them—you could face misdemeanor or even felony charges.
  • The weapon is considered stolen property. In this case, the gun will be returned to its rightful owner.
  • You do not request the weapon in time. In order to get your weapon back, you must request it before the 61st day after your conviction.
  • The offense occurred at a certain location. If the weapons offense occurred at a youth center, school, playground or arcade center, your weapon won’t be returned to you.
  • You are a threat to the community. Based on the circumstances, the court may not allow you to get your weapon back if you pose a threat.

Illegal Knives and Clubs

Certain knives and clubs are legal to possess in the privacy of your home but are illegal to carry while out in public. These include knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches, throwing knives, swords, spears and daggers. Illegal clubs include tomahawks, nightsticks, blackjacks and mace. Being caught in possession of any of these weapons is typically considered a Class A misdemeanor.

These weapons will also get confiscated by the state. You will likely get these weapons returned to you unless any of the above situations apply to your case.

Get Help From a Collin County Criminal Lawyer

Both state and federal firearm violations are treated as serious crimes. Your weapon will be taken away, but you can get it back by understanding the process and seeing if you qualify under the factors listed above.

A Collin County firearm offense attorney from Rosenthal & Wadas can assess your situation and see if getting your weapon back is an option in your case. We have the skills and experience to handle even the most complex weapons charges. To learn more about your rights after being charged with a weapons offense, contact us today. Give us a call at (972) 369-0577 to schedule a free consultation.

Reference: Daltech Force.

Posted in Federal Criminal Defense, Federal Firearms Violation

Can I Choose Jail Instead of Probation?

Jail Cell

In some criminal cases, defendants are able to get probation as an alternative to incarceration. Probation, known as “community supervision” in Texas, is a period of court-ordered supervision that allows a person to stay within their community while they serve out their sentence. The terms of a person’s community supervision can vary. In some cases, a person who is on community supervision may be required to abide by a curfew, enroll in and attend certain classes, or live in a specific location. For most people, community supervision is a welcomed alternative to jail.

Though, this does raise a question: Can a Texas defendant choose jail over community supervision? In general, the answer to the question is ‘yes’. If an accused person negotiates an outcome with the prosecutor through their lawyer, the parties can usually agree upon a jail sentence, as opposed to community supervision. If a defendant elects to proceed to trial, that person may choose whether they will be sentenced by the judge or by the jury if convicted. However, following a Guilty verdict, the defendant loses the ability to negotiate the outcome. At that point the defendant must request jail and hope that the judge (or jury) depending upon whom the defendant elected to sentence him or her, agrees with the request. Following a trial, the path to the outcome you desire is uncertain. In fact, there is caselaw in Texas indicating that a judge may disregard a jury’s decision to impose a jail sentence and may place a person on community supervision over their objection and in spite of the decision of the jury. However, there has been an observed trend in Texas of defendants choosing jail over community supervision. According to reporting from the Texas Tribune, there are now many defendants in the state who have selected jail over community supervision.

However, just because people are making this choice does not mean that it is a good option for you. If you are considering opting to go to jail instead of going through community supervision, it is strongly recommended that you first consult with an experienced Collin County probation violation attorney. Your lawyer will be able to review the specific circumstances of your case in order to help you find the best path forward for you and your family.

Why Would Anyone Choose Jail Over Community Supervision?

For many people, this entire question is confusing. Why would a defendant voluntarily choose to go to jail instead of opting for community supervision? On the surface, it does not seem like a choice that makes any sense. However, there are some limited advantages that jail offers over community supervision. Specifically, three key advantages are:

  • Shorter overall punishment: Jail is a finite term, and it can be significantly shorter than the length community supervision. Some defendants prefer this type of arrangement.
  • No ongoing costs: When on community supervision, defendants are generally required to pay ongoing monthly fees.
  • No risk of violation: If a person violates their community supervision, it could be revoked outright. This is a very serious problem, and it could result in a defendant serving a longer jail term than they would have been facing in the first place.

While those ‘cons’ of community supervision are real, it is important to view them in the proper context. Going to jail is serious. Community Supervision allows people to continue their life with relatively little disruption; going to jail, especially for an extended period of time, will inevitably cause major disruptions. Defendants also should understand that going to jail is traumatic. There are adverse emotional and psychological effects that you may not be ready to take on. There are also often serious “collateral consequences” that flow from a final conviction and jail sentence including driver and professional license suspension among a host of others. Do not make a decision to voluntarily accept a jail sentence until you have at least consulted with a qualified and experienced Collin county defense lawyer.

Why You Should Always Be Represented By a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Consider the following scenario: A person was arrested for a DWI in Collin County, Texas. This defendant admits that they were intoxicated while behind the wheel of their vehicle, and they are not interested in community supervision. They are set on pleading guilty and serving out any required jail sentence. Even in this hypothetical example, this person should still be represented by an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney. Why? Because sentencing varies dramatically. In Texas, a first-time DWI conviction is punishable by up to 180 days in jail. However, in many cases, defendants serve far less than that, and they may even be able to avoid jail altogether. The above scenario would also likely cause an additional driver license suspension and preclude one from ever sealing their record of conviction from public view.

You should always work with a defense attorney who can help you find the best possible solution given your specific circumstances and desires. Choosing jail over community supervision could make sense in a limited number of cases. However, if you are going that route, you need to be sure that you are not hit with a maximum possible jail sentence. Your criminal defense attorney will make sure that your rights and interests are being fully protected.

Contact Our Collin County Juvenile Defense Attorneys Today

At Rosenthal & Wadas, our Collin County criminal lawyers are committed to providing top-quality legal services to our clients. No matter your specific situation, we will find you the best solution. If you have questions about community supervision, please call our office today at (972) 369-0577 to request a fully confidential case evaluation. From McKinney, we represent defendants throughout Collin County, TX, including in Plano and Frisco.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Federal Criminal Defense

Frequently Asked Question's

Assault Family Violence

1. What’s the difference between “domestic violence” and “family violence”?

Not much. “Domestic violence” commonly refers to violence between adults who are married, but “family violence” as defined in the Texas Family Code is broader and includes individuals who are:
  • Related by blood or marriage
  • Current and/or former spouses
  • Parents of the same child
  • Foster parents and children
It doesn’t matter for the above groups whether they live together or not. But the definition also includes:
  • Roommates
  • Individuals who are or were in a dating relationship

2. What are the different kinds of charges for family violence cases?

Several different offenses can fall under the “family violence banner,” but the most common cases are:
  • Assault (offensive touching, sometimes a reduction from a higher charge) – Class C Misdemeanor, $0 to $500 fine
  • Assault Family Violence – Class A Misdemeanor, 0 to 365 days jail and/or up to $4,000 fine
  • Assault Family Violence with prior FV conviction – 3rd and/or up to $10,000 fine
  • Continuous Family Violence (2 or more incidents alleged in one year) – 3rd to 10 years prison and/or up to $10,000 fine
  • Aggravated Assault causing Serious Bodily Injury with Deadly Weapon with Family Violence
  • 1st Degree Felony, 5 to 99 years or life in prison and/or up to $10,000 fine

3. Does it matter if it was a punch or “just a push”?

Yes and no. Bodily injury means any “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.” It can be as serious as a stab or gunshot wound, or as simple as pulling someone’s hair. The issue is “did it hurt?” or “did it cause pain?” Some felony offenses allege “serious bodily injury,” meaning “injury that creates a substantial risk of death, serious permanent disfigurement, or [extended] loss or impairment of the function of” part of the body. The more serious the injury, the higher level the offense will be charged. And if the officers aren’t sure, they will usually err on the side of charging the higher offense.

4. What if I’ve been convicted of a case with a finding of Family Violence case before?

If you’ve already been convicted once before of a case with a finding of family violence, then the second arrest will be charged as a 3rd Degree Felony. A 3rd Degree Felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If the State can’t prove the enhancement (the prior case), they may still prosecute the case as a lower offense, usually a Class Assault Family Violence Misdemeanor.

5. I was issued an Emergency Protective Order. What does that mean?

An EPO can be issued on request from a police officer, an alleged “victim”, a guardian, or an attorney for the State. It may require you to not commit family violence or assault, communicate in a harassing or threatening manner, or go near a particular residence. An EPO can be effective for anywhere from 31 to 91 days, and it can be “replaced” upon request by a complainant with a standard Protective Order.

6. What happens if the complaining party doesn’t want to prosecute?

If the person who is alleged as the “victim” doesn’t want to prosecute, then he or she can file an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution with the District Attorney’s office. This can be done through an attorney or, sometimes, DA’s offices have their own protocol. This does not mean the case will dismissed – if the DAs feels they should go forward with the case or even if they can prove it without his or her testimony, they may still prosecute the case. But filing an ANP doesn’t hurt.

7. Can I still own a gun once if I plead guilty to Assault Family Violence?

No. If you are convicted of a Family Violence offense, like Assault Family Violence, you forfeit your rights to ever possess or transport a firearm or ammunition under federal law. If you violate the law, you will be subject to penalties under federal – not state – law.

Drug Offenses

1. What’s the difference between “possession” and “distribute” or “manufacture”?

“Possession” is the basic charge for any drug offense, whether it is marijuana or methamphetamine.  Proving possession requires a showing of “actual care, custody, control, or management.” To “distribute,” a person must deliver a drug in some way other than “administering or dispensing” it. But “manufacture” is the broadest definition of all, including the creation and altering of any drug (other than marijuana), by chemical synthesis and/or extracting natural substances. It can also include the packaging and labeling of a drug.

2. What’s a “penalty group” and how does it affect how I’m charged?

The legislature has divided controlled substances into 4 penalty groups, and each one has its own punishment range, depending on whether the offense is possession or manufacture and distribution, the amount of the substance, and generally based on the dangerousness of the drug itself. Some common drugs and their associated penalty groups are:
  • PG 1 – Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Heroin, Hydrocodone (over 300 mg)
  • PG 2 – Ecstasy, PCP
  • PG 3 -  Valium, Xanax, Ritalin, Hydrocodone (under 300 mg)
  • PG 4 – Morphine, Buprenorphine

3. How will the amount affect how I’m charged?

Charges are divided up by the amount involved, based on the penalty group. For example,  marijuana possession is charged as:
  • Less than 2 oz – class B misdemeanor
  • 2 to 4 oz – class A misdemeanor
  • 4 oz to 5 lbs – 3rd degree felony
  • 5 lbs to 2000 lbs – 2nd degree felony
  • Over 2000 lbs – 1st degree felony
For Penalty Groups 1 and 2 –
  • Less than 1 gr – state jail felony
  • 1 to 4 grams – 3rd degree felony
  • 4 to 200 grams (or 4 to 400 grams for PG2) – 2nd degree felony
  • 200 or more grams (or over 400 grams for PG2) – 1st degree felony

4. What is SAFP?

SAFP stands for the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment program.  This is an intense treatment program for probationers and parolees who need substance abuse treatment.   It includes an “in-prison” phase consisting of orientation, treatment, and then re-entry and relapse prevention.  Then there is a 3 month stay at a transitional treatment center, similar to a half-way house, followed by 9 months of outpatient treatment.  The program can last up to 30 months, depending on successful progress towards recovery and sobriety.  SAFP is perhaps the most intense drug treatment program available, but it is also considered one of the most effective.

DWI

1. I was arrested for DWI. What happens next?

Please remember that you have only FIFTEEN DAYS from the date of arrest to request a hearing on the potential suspension of your driver's license. If you do not request a hearing your license will be automatically suspended 40-days from the date of the arrest. In a typical case, the arresting police agency will send your arrest report to the District Attorney’s Office (“DA”). The DA will then file the formal charge against you in one our six County Courts at Law and you will receive a notice to appear. Generally, there is a four to six week time lapse between the time of your arrest and your fist court appearance.  The period between the arrest and the filing may be much longer in blood draw cases where lab results are pending.

2. How long will it take to resolve the charge against me?

The length of time it takes to resolve a DWI charge will vary. Each case is as unique as a snowflake based on the underlying facts as well as your goals and the prosecutor’s stance on your particular case.  Cases can be resolved as quickly as three months or as long as a year.

3. I failed or refused to submit to a breath or blood test. Is my driver's license automatically suspended?

No. If you request hearing through the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process within fifteen days of your arrest, your license will remain valid until such time as a hearing takes place. We will personally handle all aspects of the ALR process on your behalf.  At the hearing the State must prove certain facts. If they fail to do so, your license will not be suspended.

4. WHY REQUEST AN ALR HEARING?

The ALR hearing will likely be the only opportunity you have to question the police officer that arrested you under oath prior to trial. If a hearing is set our attorneys will compel the State's lawyers to turn over all the evidence they intend to use against you at the hearing. This will include all police reports and frequently breath or blood test results. Also, unless strategy suggests otherwise, our attorneys will require the presence of the arresting officer at your hearing. The ALR hearing is a tremendous opportunity to test the strength of the State's case against you and to look for weaknesses in their case. At the ALR hearing we will be looking for ways to challenge all aspects of the state's case in an effort to maintain your right to drive. By way of example only:
  • Did the police stop your vehicle in violation of the law?
  • Did the police properly perform the HGN test according to their training?
  • Did the police properly administer the other Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in accordance with their training and the standards of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration?
  • Do the recorded police observations concerning alleged intoxication rise to the level of probable cause?
  • Was there a valid refusal of a breath or blood test?
  • Did the police comply with the observation period prior to requesting a breath test?
  • Was discovery provided in a timely manner by the State's lawyers?
  • In blood test cases, is there proof that shows that the blood test was taken in a sanitary place, and by a qualified person?
  • In a Chapter 524 case, is there admissible, sufficient proof of operation?
  • Did the police provide any erroneous or extra statutory advice concerning the consequences of refusing or submitting to a breath test.
If you prevail at the ALR hearing the civil case is dismissed and you WILL RETAIN YOUR RIGHT TO DRIVE.

5. What happens if my license is suspended?

If your license is suspended you will likely be able to petition the court for an Occupational Driver's License (ODL). An ODL is a restricted driver's license that will allow you to drive up to twelve hours a day.

6. Why do I need an attorney who focuses his practice on DWI defense?

Defending DWI cases properly requires intricate knowledge of the applicable law; the science involved in breath, and the procedure used by the police to obtain and evaluate evidence in a DWI case. Most attorneys, even those who practice criminal law, do not focus on DWI defense. An experienced DWI attorney may see defenses that may be overlooked by some other attorney. In selecting a DWI attorney, just a few questions to consider are:
  • Does the attorney have experience and success trying DWI cases?
  • Can the attorney explain in clear terms the basic operation of the breath testing device known as the Intoxilyzer 5000?
  • Does the attorney remain current on DWI focused continuing legal education?
  • What specific strategy does the attorney plan to advance in your ALR hearing?
  • Does the attorney try blood draw cases to a jury?

7. I refused to submit to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, am I in trouble?

No. You have a lawful right to refuse to submit to any field sobriety test, including the One Leg Stand, the Walk and Turn, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, and the Preliminary Breath Test. You may also refuse to submit to the Breath Test, however your refusal may trigger certain consequences for your driver's license.

8. I am guilty, do I still need a lawyer?

The short answer is yes. Even a first offense DWI carries a potential punishment range of up to one hundred eighty days in the County Jail and up to a $2,000 fine. Even if you are sure that you are factually "guilty" you should still seriously consider an experienced DWI lawyer who knows the law, the science, and the ins and outs of the court system. First and foremost, we will always force the State's Attorney's to turn over ALL of the evidence to me. The evidence should include, at a minimum, all of the police generated documents, the DVD or video of both the roadside and Intoxilyzer room, and witness statements, the Intoxilyzer breath testing slip, and a lab report in blood test cases. Only when all of the evidence is available can you make intelligent decision about how to proceed. Even if you feel that you were intoxicated, and experienced DWI attorney should be looking at issues such as:
  • How do you look on video?
  • Was the breath or blood evidence obtained lawfully?
  • Was the breath or blood evidence obtained in such a way that its analytical reliability or validity may be compromised?
  • Was the stop of your car by police lawful?
  • Did the police officer administer the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests correctly?
  • Does the police report contain internal contradictions, or is it contradicted by the video?
  • Will the State be able to locate and secure the attendance of the witnesses at trial?
So, even if you think you are guilty, do yourself a favor and hire an experienced DWI attorney who can analyze your case for weaknesses that may benefit you.

9. Am I able to obtain a Deferred Adjudication for a Driving While Intoxicated Charge?

Not under the current state of the law. However legislation was introduced recently introduced which would authorize people charged with a first driving while intoxicated case in Texas to receive deferred adjudication.  The legislation failed, however it may be raised again at a future date in the Legislature. In a deferred adjudication situation, no judicial finding of guilt is made and and the end of the deferral period the case is dismissed.

10. When would I need SR-22 Insurance?

Ordinarily, SR-22 insurance will be required after a DWI conviction or when a person needs an occupational driver's license due to a driver's license suspension. Frequently the suspension is the result of a DWI conviction or an ALR suspension. You may obtain SR-22 insurance by contacting your own insurance company or by contacting another agency. Our office regularly recommends two separate agencies that have provided excellent service to our clients.

Theft Laws

1. I was arrested for Theft, what happens next?

The State typically files a criminal case within 1-2 months. Theft cases can range from a Class C Misdemeanor all the way to a First Degree Felony. The level of offense will depend on the value of what is alleged to have been stolen. Misdemeanor Theft is the most common form of Theft prosecuted in Collin County. Class C Theft (property less than $50), Class B Theft (property $50 - $500); Class A Theft (property $500 - $1,500). Felony Theft involves property valued at $1,500 or more.

2. What are the possible punishments for Misdemeanor Theft?

Potential punishment increases with each degree of theft:
  • Class C: $0 - $500 fine
  • Class B : 0 days  – 180 days in jail and/or $0 - $2,000 fine
  • Class A: 0 days – 1 year in jail and/or $0 - $4,000 fine
The vast majority of Theft cases resolved by a plea or finding of guilt result in some form of probation. Misdemeanor probation can last up to 24 months and can include a wide array of probation terms and conditions, including payment of hefty fines and fees.

3. How will a Theft case affect my record?

Theft is a crime of moral turpitude. If you are convicted of a theft offense, it will remain on your record for life. Unlike some criminal offenses, a Theft conviction will usually raise the concern or disapproval of a current or potential employer.

4. Is there a way to keep a Theft case off my record

There are a few of ways to keep a Theft off your record. The likelihood of doing this will depend upon a variety of factors, including the circumstances of the case and the person who is accused of committing Theft. 

5. What happens at my first court appearance?

The first appearance is more like a work session than anything else. It is an opportunity for your attorney to meet with the prosecutor and discuss the case. Typically, the prosecutor will have a police report, video, and witness statements to share with your attorney along with an initial recommendation for a punishment that the you can receive in exchange for a guilty plea. The first appearance date is usually concluded by selecting another appearance date.

6. What evidence is there that I stole something?

In a shoplifting case, there is usually one or more store employee who claim to have seen something take place inside the store. Frequently, a shoplifting case will involve camera footage shot from one or more angles. Depending upon the circumstances, the police may have conducted further investigation when they arrived, but they don’t always. The State does not need a police officer to testify to prove their case.

7. A store employee was harassing and humiliating to me, did he violate my rights?

Many places of business employ a loss prevention department. These are people who can be dressed up like officers or in plain clothes secretly watching customers. The law allows these people to use limited force to prevent shoplifting. They may grab you, detain you, and question you until the police come. They are not required to play by the same rules that police do because the law considers them to be private, as opposed to government, entities… therefore their thoughtless conduct rarely negates an arrest – but judges and juries have little tolerance for such conduct by store employees and may give them little credibility as witnesses.

8. Why am I in trouble when my friend did it?

The law allows the State to try and put you on the hook for the conduct of another person. Specifically, the law says “A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if, acting with the intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the person to commit the offense.” However, mere presence alone will not make someone a party to the offense. In this type of case, the prosecution has the burden to show you did something to affirmatively aid the person committing the theft.  Mere presence alone is not enough.

9. How did they come up with a dollar amount greater than what was on the sticker?

The law also allows the State to try and prove a dollar amount that varies from the sticker price. Specifically, the law says that “the value of the property taken is the fair market value of that property at the time and place of the offense,” and “fair market value is . . . the amount the property would sell for in cash, giving a reasonable time for selling it.”  Merchants are aware of the statutory amounts, and it’s not uncommon for them to attempt to find creative ways to ‘pile-on’ the price.  This is a specific area a trained attorney knows to attack.

10. Is there a link between shoplifting and depression?

Studies have shown that there is a link between shoplifting and depression especially for middle-aged women. While this may not be a circumstance which leads to a jury finding someone not guilty, it is something to consider when talking about punishment.

All FAQ's

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