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Over the many years of representing clients in the Houston area, Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson has handled the cases of many individuals charged with drug charges and or drug related offenses and have come to understand that good people fall into bad times and then bad situations. Sometimes people break the law because they wanted to provide a better life for their families. You begin to understand the forces that shape humans, and you better understand why and how someone could end up in the backseat of a cop car, and you want to help.
Houston Drug Possession Lawyer Charles Johnson sees more criminal cases involving drug charges than probably any other criminal offense aside from drunk driving. In times of economic depression people turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of dealing with the stress of job loss and financial insecurity. It is no secret that until the United States Government treats drug use and abuse like a health issue instead of a crime there will always be a need for an Houston Drug Lawyer who specializes in helping people avoid jail time for drug possession charges, drug trafficking charges and/or other drug-related offenses. Our top ranked Federal Drug Lawyers are not only well-equipped to provide you with assistance through your Possession of a Controlled Substance case, but you will also find that they are also willing to listen to what you are going through without judgment or recrimination. We get that no one wakes up and decides to become a heroin or meth addict. It is the end result of a slippery slope that addicts and users have been sliding down for years.
If you are looking at Federal Level cocaine charges or heroin possession that also as related charges of “intent to distribute” or possibly other related offenses that elevate your drug crimes to the level of federal rather than local attention, you need to hire the experienced Houston Drug Trafficking Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm. There is a huge difference in not only the drug possession charges themselves, but how they must be handled. Courts are sometimes willing to overlook a possession of a controlled substance – even cocaine charges if the amounts imply a “personal use” and if it is your first offense. If your case involves not only a drug possession charge but also with intent to distribute, the courts are looking to put you away for a long time. Houston Drug Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson will mount an aggressive offense to suppress evidence, as well as paint you as a human being with a story that is worth listening to.
Those who have been arrested with large quantities of drugs are without a doubt seen automatically as villains, as opposed to those who have personal use levels. These individuals require that their drug offense lawyer suggest drug rehab or other inpatient program that will satisfy the courts that the person is taking the drug possession charge seriously. When, however, you have been arrested in Houston on drug charges that also involve drug trafficking or intent to distribute you must quickly move to mount an aggressive defense that looks to suppress evidence. The Charles Johnson Law Firm will work tirelessly to move to suppress, to push for discovery, and mount a strategic and hard-hitting defense. This is the type of Federal drug defense lawyer you need, not someone who is rushing from court to court handling arraignments and accepting the first plea deal an ADA throws out.
Moreover, you will find as you look around that many of the cheaper, flat-rate attorney’s are actually only marijuana attorney’s and not the type of aggressive drug defense lawyer who can stand up to the Feds and mount the type of defense that will see you back in your home watching the Superbowl next year. You don’t want to find out once it is too late that your drug lawyer has never handled a case of your size before. When you are looking for lawyers for drug charges, especially in cases of distribution or potential trafficking, you must find an experienced drug defense lawyer. Drug possession charges are one thing, drug distribution or trafficking is another. You need a skilled Federal Drug Trafficking Lawyer to handle this type of case.
Federal crimes such as those involving drug trafficking have high conviction rates. Without a dedicated, experienced Houston drug possession lawyer on your side you could very well be looking at a great deal of jail time for your drug-related offense. Houston Drug Attorney Charles Johnson will work aggressively to suppress evidence, create plea bargains or find grounds for dismissal. He will not rest until he finds some means of mitigating, lowering, or dismissing the charges against you. When you are seeking out lawyers for drug charges look to us!
That’s our promise to you. Call Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson today at 713-222-7577 to see how Houston’s #1 rated Criminal Firm can help your case. Attorney Johnson is directly available 24/7.
About Drug Trafficking
Drug trafficking is generally referred to as the manufacturing, transporting and distributing of large quantities of drugs. It often involves more than one person. Drug trafficking charges are wide and varied depending on the scope of the trafficking. Additionally, if the drug trafficking was directed towards minors, then prosecutors will seek enhancements to the charges. State and federal governments have adopted strict laws and severe penalties regarding the trafficking of drugs. Penalties can approach seven figures and decades in prison for severe cases. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson has proven how to successfully approach and handle these types of cases and he should be contacted immediately when an arrest is made for drug trafficking.
Drug Trafficking is probably the most charged offense in federal court and is also quite prevalent in state courts. Because of the severity of the sentences, evidence and all circumstances and conditions regarding your arrest will be thoroughly examined by the Charles Johnson Law Firm and their team of experienced investigators. Drug trafficking cases can be quite involved, and with the vast amounts of drugs coming in from Mexico, prosecutors are aggressively pursuing convictions.
Types of Drug Trafficking Laws
Drug trafficking laws vary by country and region, but generally include distribution, manufacturing, and dispensing certain categories of controlled substances. Usually, the drugs are classified according to type and the addictive nature of the drug. Highly addictive narcotics like heroin and crack typically fall into one class, while marijuana and prescription drugs are considered less harmful. International drug trafficking laws are commonly handled under customs law.
Possession of drugs with the intent to sell routinely falls under drug trafficking statutes. If someone is found with a large amount of narcotics, it may be presumed that he or she intends to distribute the drugs for money. Different regions determine how much and what kind of drug is considered outside limits for personal use. Penalties for violations of these drug trafficking laws are often based on the quantity of the substance and its type.
Those who manufacture drugs may be charged under drug trafficking laws in most places. These sections of the law typically include possession of chemicals or equipment needed to make the controlled substance. Narcotics laws in each country outline the exact chemicals or equipment considered illegal.
Drug trafficking laws may include a provision that allows law enforcement to seize assets used to commit a crime. For example, if drugs are sold from a house or vehicle, a judge may order that those assets be forfeited to the government. The property is typically sold at a public auction, with the proceeds going to fund narcotics operations.
Almost any scheduled narcotic can qualify for a drug trafficking charge. In state courts the amount of drugs (cocaine, cannabis, extasy, crystal meth, acid, heroine, prescription medication) will determine if a possession charges becomes a trafficking charge. Even if you are only going to used the drugs for your personal consumption, the amount that you possess could bring a trafficking charge. You may also qualify for a distribution charge if it appears that a small amount of drugs was packaged for distribution. Each state is different as to the amount necessary for the trafficking charge. Under the federal statute you can be charged for the amount you have and or the amount you were trying to buy from a government agent. You may never actually possess the drugs, but you will be charged.
Supplying drugs to children or using minors to distribute narcotics generally carries tougher penalties than those that apply to adults. In some areas, maintaining a home for the purpose of making or distributing drugs where children live is also considered a more serious drug trafficking offense. Stiffer sanctions might also be imposed for those who sell drugs near schools, playgrounds, arcades, and other areas where children congregate.
Laws also exist that regulate drug trafficking by criminal gangs or organized groups. Penalties might be enhanced if weapons are used in the distribution of a controlled substance. Those with profits from organized sales of narcotics can also be prosecuted under money laundering statutes in some jurisdictions.
Defenses for Drug Trafficking Charges
Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson will provide skilled advice and representation to clients facing state or federal drug charges. He is considered an expert when defending against charges related to:
- Interception of a drug shipment
- Drug conspiracy charges
- Interstate drug distribution
- Undercover interstate trafficking stings
- Illegal sale and trafficking of prescription drugs
- Illegal sale and trafficking of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine (meth), MDMA (Ecstasy)
Drug trafficking charges often hinge on the prosecution’s illegal search and seizure of your vehicle, undercover drug operations, and confidential informants who are attempting to make a deal. As an expert lawyer skilled in drug cases, Attorney Johnson will thoroughly investigate how the prosecution came upon the evidence collected and determine if the method of collecting the evidence is in violation of your constitutional rights.
The court will have no choice but to keep any illegally obtained evidence out of trial. Attorney Johnson’s ability to thoroughly investigate drug cases and vigorously challenge the factual and constitutional merits of the prosecution’s case has proven effective in his defense of clients facing drug trafficking charges involving cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine (meth) or prescription narcotics.
Even if the police find drugs directly in a person’s possession, the drugs and other evidence could be suppressed (thrown away) if the police did not follow the proper procedures required under the U.S. Constitution. One of the first things Attorney Johnson will look for when defending someone accused of a drug offense is whether the police themselves acted in a legal manner. Other defenses include areas such as whether the actual weight of the substance was correct when allowing for hydration, whether the chemical composition of the substance was correct as charged, whether there was joint or constructive possession of the substance which could subject the case to a Motion to Dismiss and whether the accused was entrapped into committing the offense by law enforcement or one of its informants.
Another possible defense for drug trafficking charges would involve a violation of constitutional right to counsel and right to remain silent. Once charged or in custody, you are required to be informed of your rights and given access to legal representation if you request it. Contact Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson immediately upon arrest before saying anything that could be used against you in the future. This can often mean the difference between a conviction and walking away free of any charges. You would be surprised at how many cases result in a conviction due largely to statements made by the accused.
Other possible defenses may include:
- Lack of knowledge
- Mistake of fact (For example, thinking the drug was sugar when in fact, it was cocaine.)
- Duress (For example, if Bob was forced to transport the cocaine because if he refused, something bad would happen to his family.)
- The substance was not intended for human consumption
Lastly, Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson will determine if inappropriate charges were filed. Drug trafficking is a highly political issue, and you may find yourself facing inflated charges. The right attorney can insure that any charges you do face are appropriate to the acts alleged by the prosecutor.
At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we have the experience and know-how to guide you through this complicated process from the moment of your arrest through trial, if necessary.
The defense of drug-related crimes can be difficult and complex and requires an attorney with special skills, experience and knowledge. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is highly qualified to defend your case. Whether it is identifying a drug addiction issue so that we may assist in getting them treatment or counseling, negotiating a fair resolution in an effort to have charges or a sentence reduced or preparing and taking a case to trial, the Best Houston Criminal Lawyer is available to assist and defend you.
As an extremely experienced criminal lawyer specializing in drug cases at both the Federal and State level, Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is well aware of the strategies, theories and methods employed by prosecutors when they prosecute a drug case. Attorney Johnson will use this knowledge to his client’s advantage while defending their cases to get the best possible outcome on their behalf.
We are proud to represent and care about our clients. We know the devastation that a drug conviction, an addiction or incarceration for a drug offense can bring to an individual or his/her family. We will answer your questions and guide you through the whole process, working to take away some of the confusion and uncertainty that comes along any drug offense charge, while all along seeking the most favorable outcome for you or your loved one.
Drug Trafficking by Criminal Gangs
There are nearly 1 million active gang members in the United States, based on analysis of federal, state, and local data, and the involvement of criminal gangs in domestic drug trafficking is becoming increasingly complex. Since 2001, many gangs have advanced beyond their traditional role as local retail drug distributors in large cities to become more organized, adaptable, deliberate, and influential in large-scale drug trafficking. Much of their growing influence has come at the expense of local independent dealers and small local criminal groups who cannot compete with gangs that establish control in smaller drug markets.
The influence of Hispanic and African American street gangs is expanding as these gangs gain greater control over drug distribution in rural and suburban areas and acquire drugs directly from Drug Trafficking Organizations (“DTOs”) in Mexico or along the Southwest Border.
In 2009, midlevel and retail drug distribution in the United States was dominated by more than 900,000 criminally active gang members representing approximately 20,000 domestic street gangs in more than 2,500 cities. These street gangs vary greatly with respect to their ethnic or racial identities, the types and amounts of drugs that they distribute, their strength and influence, and their adaptability. Their prevalence varies geographically, with the greatest concentration of street gangs occurring in the Great Lakes, Pacific, Southeast, and Southwest Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Regions.
Many Hispanic and, to a lesser extent, African American gangs are gaining control over drug distribution outside urban areas that were previously supplied by local independent dealers or small local criminal groups. Around 2007, Hispanic and African American gangs throughout the country, but especially in the Southwest and Great Lakes Regions, began to command greater influence over drug distribution in many rural and suburban areas. This trend continued in 2009. For example, in 2009, the Avenues street gang based in Los Angeles, California, expanded its operations to distribute drugs in suburban and rural locations throughout southern California.
To increase their control over drug trafficking in smaller markets, street gangs have been increasingly acquiring larger wholesale quantities of drugs at lower prices directly from DTOs in Mexico and along the Southwest Border. Several Southwest Border street gangs, such as Shelltown 38th Street, Tri-City Bombers, and Vallucos, smuggle wholesale quantities of drugs obtained in Mexico into the United States. By purchasing directly from Mexican wholesale sources in Mexico or along the Southwest Border, gangs throughout the country realize cost savings that enable them to sell drugs at lower prices than local independent dealers in small communities, driving these dealers out of business. For example, members of the Chicago-based Latin Kings street gang who operate in Midland, Texas, purchase cocaine from Mexican traffickers in south Texas for $16,000 to $18,000 per kilogram, compared with $25,000 to $35,000 per kilogram from wholesale traffickers in Chicago. With this savings, the gang undersells other local dealers who do not have the capacity to buy large wholesale quantities directly from Mexican DTOs in Mexico or along the Southwest Border.
Hispanic prison gangs, primarily in Southwest Border states, are gaining strength by working directly with Mexican DTOs to acquire wholesale quantities of drugs and by controlling most street gangs in areas along the Southwest Border.
Prison gangs are active in all 50 states and are increasing their influence over drug trafficking in areas along the Southwest Border (see Table B4 in Appendix B). Prior to 2001, the criminal influence of prison gangs was limited primarily to retail-level drug distribution. However, since that time, Hispanic prison gangs have become increasingly involved in the transportation and wholesale distribution of drugs.
Hispanic prison gangs such as Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos (HPL) and Raza Unida operating in Southwest Border states have increased their involvement in wholesale drug distribution activities through cooperative relationships with Mexican DTOs. Through these relationships, Hispanic prison gangs are able to gain access to wholesale quantities of drugs. For example, in September 2009, 21 members of HPL were convicted in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) of conspiring to distribute more than 150 kilograms of cocaine and laundering millions of dollars in drug proceeds. In April 2009, 15 members and associates of the Raza Unida prison gang were indicted for trafficking multikilogram quantities of cocaine and methamphetamine weekly in McAllen and Houston, Texas.
To ensure a consistent profit stream from the wholesale drugs that they purchase from Mexican DTOs, Hispanic prison gangs distribute drugs through street gangs that they largely, if not entirely, control. Through force or intimidation, Hispanic prison gangs exercise significant control over local gangs that distribute their drugs in the Southwest Border region. For example, Barrio Azteca prison gang members operating in El Paso, Texas, collect drug payments and taxes from 47 street-level gangs and independent drug dealers trafficking drugs in El Paso.
Potential Penalties for Drug Trafficking
The penalties for drug trafficking offenses vary and depend on a number of factors. These include the type and amount of illegal drugs (also called “controlled substances”) found in a person’s possession, whether the person is a repeat offender and the state in which the person is charged.
Drug trafficking or distribution in Texas is a felony upon which a wide range of penalties may be imposed. It may be anywhere from a state jail felony, which carries the lightest sentence, to a first degree felony, which carries the harshest. The factors influencing which sentence will be imposed are: (1) the amount of the drug being distributed or delivered; and (2) the type of drug and which of the four groups of drugs it is classified under. The smaller the amount of a drug in a certain group, the lighter the sentence may be.
Texas has some very heavy penalties for drug trafficking. Prosecutors may often offer plea deals to defendants where they may offer a charge with a lesser penalty in exchange for information that would help them gather evidence for a higher priority investigation.
The sentences involved may range anywhere from 180 days to two years in state jail and/or a fine of no more than $10,000 for a state jail felony, to life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice or a term of 15 to 99 years in prison and/or a fine of not more than $250,000 for the heaviest first degree felony. The harshness of the sentence imposed depends on how much of the drug is being trafficked. For example, trafficking or distributing less than one gram of a substance in the first grouping of drugs carries a state jail felony charge, whereas trafficking 400 grams or more of any one of the same drugs carries a first degree felony charge that may include a life sentence.
At the Federal level, the Controlled Substances Act (PL 91-513, 1970, last amended in 2000) provides penalties for the unlawful manufacture, distribution, and dispensing (or trafficking) of controlled substances, based on the schedule (rank) of the drug or substance. Generally, the more dangerous the drug and the larger the quantity involved, the stiffer the penalty. Trafficking of heroin, cocaine, LSD, and PCP, all Schedule I or II drugs (see Table 2.1 in Chapter 2), includes mandatory jail time and fines. A person caught selling at least five hundred grams but less than five kilograms of cocaine powder (seventeen ounces to just under eleven pounds) will receive a minimum of five years in prison and may be fined up to $2 million for a first offense. (See Table 6.1.) The same penalty is imposed for the sale of five to forty-nine grams of cocaine base (“crack”). Five grams are equal to the weight of six plain M&Ms candies, and forty-nine grams are a little more than a bag of M&Ms candies (47.9 grams). The high penalty for selling crack is an expression of the unusual severity with which legislators are trying to curb the use of this drug.
Penalties double with the second offense to ten years in prison and up to $4 million in fines. When higher quantities are involved (five or more kilograms of cocaine powder, fifty grams or more of crack, etc.), penalties for the first offense are ten years, and fines up to $4 million may be levied. For the second offense, twenty years and up to $8 million in fines are given, and the third offense results in mandatory life imprisonment. These examples are for an individual. Higher penalties apply if an organized group is involved or if a death or injury is associated with the arrest event.
These penalties apply also to the sale of fentanyl (a powerful painkiller medicine) or like-acting drugs, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, and PCP. The smallest amount, which can earn someone a minimum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $2 million, involves trafficking in LSD, where a one-gram amount carries a five-year minimum sentence in prison.
Special penalties exist for marijuana trafficking, since it may be traded in large quantities or grown in substantial amounts. The lower the amounts sold or the fewer the plants grown, the lower the sentence. A person cultivating one to forty-nine plants or selling less than fifty kilograms of marijuana mixture, ten kilograms or less of hashish, or one kilogram or less of hashish oil may get a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentences for second offenses involving large amounts of marijuana may earn the trafficker up to life imprisonment.
The penalties for drug trafficking are harsh, and reflect the seriousness of this felony offense and the current political climate. A conviction can lead to jail time, forfeiture of property and fines, but that is only part of the story. It places your current employment in jeopardy, places a severe emotional strain on you and your family, adversely affects your ability to find new work, and places your entire future at risk.
Hire the Best Houston Drug Trafficking Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
A drug trafficking conviction can have an extremely adverse effect on a person’s current and future life in many regards. Both state and federal prosecutors have their eye on a conviction of the most severe charges possible and not on your rights. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson will work diligently with prosecutors regarding any circumstances or conditions that could result in charges being dropped or reduced. If necessary, our firm can take your case to court and present a strong defense on your behalf.
The Charles Johnson Law Firm expertly handles all types of Texas drug-related offenses, from the less severe, like simple possession of a small amount of certain drugs, to the more serious ones, such as participating in an organized drug trafficking business with sale, distribution and manufacturing activities. We also defend charges involving controlled substances, such as, marijuana, crack, paraphernalia, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamines (meth), hallucinogens such as LSD, oxycontin, oxycodone, hydrocode, xanax, and Rohypnol club drugs. We represent all levels of people charged with drug offenses, from the student or small time person, to the professional, medical doctor or person accused of being a large scale distributor or trafficker.
If you have been arrested for drug trafficking in Houston, TX, take fast action with a skilled and resourceful Houston Criminal Lawyer. Contact the Charles Johnson Law Firm immediately anytime night or day for a free phone consultation to discuss your case.
Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson can be reached directly 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.
News Stories Related to Drug Trafficking in Houston:
Alleged sex trafficking leader faces Houston showdown against her family
Regardless how the charges against Medeles are resolved, the Houston region is seen as a major sex trafficking hub given its size ... and U.S. gangs as well as Mexican drug cartels are now taking control of much of the action. Officials have said there ...
Houston Chronicle - Apr 07 2015
Houston Man Arrest for Role in Money Laundering Case
a houston man confessed to a million-dollar money laundering ... he admitted he knew the cash was from drug trafficking. he told investigators he was paid three- grand to deliver it to someone in the valley. he faces up to 20 years in prison.
KRGV-TV 5 - Apr 16 2015
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Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is a Federal Drug Defense Attorney. He represents clients who have been charged or are about to be charged with drug charges in Federal Court. The Charles Johnson Law Firm has earned an international reputation as a Leading Federal Drug Law Firm.
Regardless of the federal or international drug charge, Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson has the drug defense experience to handle your case. He has successfully handled sophisticated drug defense cases that included Trafficking, Importation, Distribution and many others. When faced with a federal drug crime there is absolutely no substitute for experience. If you have been charged with drug crime and need a Federal Drug Defense Attorney, contact Attorney Johnson directly anytime night or day at (713) 222-7577. In Federal and International Drug Defense, experience makes the difference.
Federal Drug Crimes Overview
The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, also known as the Controlled Substances Act, classifies narcotics, marijuana and other drugs into five categories, or Schedules. Besides establishing requirements relating to manufacture and distribution of drugs, the law also defines penalties for violations of the Act. Depending on the nature and quantity of the substance involved, as well as the presence of sentence-enhancing factors, the criminal penalties can be severe. If you are facing federal drug charges, call Federal Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson for advice on the law, your rights and how to proceed. He is available around the clock to take your call.
Offenses at the Federal Level
Federal drug offenses differ from those at the state level, even though the conduct in question might be the same. In defining crimes, Congress’ authority comes from its Constitutionally-granted powers over the areas of commerce, taxation and the postal service.
Some of the drug crimes under the Controlled Substances Act include:
- Drug trafficking: manufacturing, distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute illicit drugs
- Manufacturing: operating places for the purposes of manufacturing, distributing or using illicit drugs, or endangering human life while so doing
- Continuing criminal enterprise crimes: trafficking in illicit drugs by a person in concert with five or more other persons
- Conspiracy: involves attempts and the promoting and facilitating of manufacture, distribution or importation of illicit drugs
- Protected location offenses: distributing illicit drugs to persons under age 21 or within a school or playground zone; employing persons under age 18 in drug operations
- Simple possession: possessing controlled substances without a valid prescription from a licensed medical practitioner (unlike trafficking, simple possession does not involve intent to distribute the drugs)
Other drug offenses under the Act include investing illicit drug profits in businesses affecting interstate commerce and unauthorized importation of controlled substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the federal controlled substances laws and regulations.
In addition, drug crimes at the federal level may include violations of tax law, such as tax evasion, or engaging in activities prohibited by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Federal drug laws specify minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment, based on the type and quantity of drug involved. Likewise, under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, these factors are taken into account, along with:
- Whether the offense involved injury to another person
- Whether a weapon was possessed or used
- The defendant’s criminal history
While judges have discretion to depart from sentencing guidelines, they must still stay within the mandatory minimum and maximum terms specified by statute. Where the offense occurs in a school or other protected zone, penalties may be enhanced.
Hire the Best Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Drug crimes can be charged and prosecuted under federal law, state law or both. Because federal drug crimes can carry significantly harsher penalties, it is important to contact a knowledgeable lawyer who is familiar with both federal and state drug laws. If you are facing either federal or state drug charges, call Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson now at (713) 222-7577. He can explain the intricacies of both systems and vigorously represent your interests.
Charged with a Federal Crime? What To Expect
The following is a short summary of what you can expect if charged with a Federal Crime.
By the time you read this material, you or your loved one will have already entered the Federal Criminal Justice System. Whether you are in custody or in the “free world”, one firm rule applies: Do not discuss your case with anyone but your lawyer. Anything you say can and will be used against you. This is true whether you talk to a police officer, a person you just met in a holding cell, or a “friend”.
RELEASE OR DETENTION
The first thing to worry about is whether you are going to be released while waiting for trial. There is no bond set automatically in federal court. Your family cannot simply pay a bondsman to get you out.
Court Appearance: If you were arrested and taken into custody, you will soon appear before a United States Magistrate Judge. This is not the District Judge that will hear your trial. This Magistrate Judge will decide if there are any conditions that would allow your release.
Pretrial Report: In order to assist the Magistrate Judge, a Pretrial Services Officer will interview you and give the Magistrate Judge a written report about your background and criminal history. The Officer will not ask you about the facts of your case and you should not volunteer any information. If you lie to the Officer, it will hurt you later on.
Chance for Release: You are most likely to be released if you have little or no criminal history, if you have solid employment and family ties in your community, if you are a United States Citizen, and if you are not charged with a serious drug trafficking offense or crime of violence. Even if you are not a good risk for release, the Magistrate Judge must still hold a hearing and find reasons to keep you in custody. The only time this hearing is unnecessary is when you are being held in custody for other reasons — such as a sentence in another case, a parole warrant, or a probation revocation warrant.
When you are facing criminal charges, your choice of legal representation is a critical issue. You must ensure that you have legal representation from a proven attorney with a record of successfully defending difficult cases.
In order to protect your rights and to fight a possible Federal drug conviction, it is very important to hire the Best Federal Lawyer you can find. Your future is at stake, and this is not a time to cut corners. A knowledgeable Drug Crime Defense Lawyer will be able to sort out the details of your drug crime charges and diligently work to provide evidence that will benefit you. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we have been successful at lowering or dismissing charges against our clients and will look to do the same for you. To counteract the aggressive investigation and prosecution from the federal government, you will need an equally aggressive criminal defense attorney. Federal Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson understands federal drug crime cases inside and out and will provide an unmatched dedication, commitment and an aggressive approach when defending your case.
Honesty: Defendants often believe it is better not to tell their lawyers the truth about their case. This is not a good idea. Everything you tell your lawyer is privileged and cannot be told to others. The best defense is one that prepares for all the bad evidence the prosecutor may present against you at your trial. Your lawyer must know all the facts. It is foolish to ignore the dangers and simply hope everything will turn out all right. That is the sure way to be convicted.
Bad Advice: If you are in custody, you will probably get a lot of free advice from other inmates. Unfortunately, much of that advice will be wrong. Many of the other inmates are in state custody and know nothing about federal criminal law. Even the ones facing federal charges may give you bad advice; they may not know any better, or they want to mislead you.
Respect: Treat your lawyer with respect and that respect will be returned to you. Lawyers are human beings who tend to work harder for clients who do not mistreat them.
When people talk about “rights” in the federal criminal justice system, they are usually talking about the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution. These rights include freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to remain silent, the right to legal counsel, due process of law, equal protection under the law, protection from double jeopardy, a speedy and public trial, the ability to confront one’s accusers, subpoenas for witnesses, no excessive bail, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.
Caselaw: There are many books and thousands of cases that discuss what these rights mean. The law is always changing. A court opinion written in 1934 by a Montana court of appeals is probably no help in your case. Your case will mostly be affected by recent published opinions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
Application: Not all of these rights apply in all cases. If you never made a statement to the police, then it will not matter whether you were told of your right to remain silent. If you consented to a search of your car, then it will not make a difference whether the police had a search warrant.
There are no benefits to being locked up. Jail has many rules and regulations. Some of those rules are made by the jailers. Some of these rules are made by the United States Marshal.
Clothing: You can get clothing two ways. The way to get underwear, tennis shoes, socks, etc, is to buy them through the jail commissary. Despite what others tell you, your lawyer cannot simply bring you these items. In most instances, trial clothing can be brought to the U.S. Marshal’s office shortly before your court appearance. You will be allowed to change in the holding cell at the federal courthouse.
Other Possessions: Sometimes the jail may allow you to receive magazines by subscription or books mailed from a store. It depends on the jail’s rules. Most other items need to be purchased through the commissary. All jails prohibit your lawyer from bringing you any items, such as cigarettes. You may keep legal documents in your possession.
Visits: Your friends and relatives must follow the jail’s rules when making appointments to visit you. You must put the names of these persons on your visitation list.
At some point you will come to court for an arraignment. This is the time when you enter a plea of “Not Guilty”.
Indictment: Before the arraignment, you will have been indicted by a Grand Jury. Neither you, nor your attorney, has a right to be present at the Grand Jury session. A Grand Jury decides if there is enough evidence to have a trial in your case. If there is not, then the case is dismissed. If there is, the Grand Jury issues an Indictment. An Indictment is the document that states what the charges against you are. The Grand Jury sessions are rarely transcribed, so it is usually not possible to receive a transcript of their sessions.
Hearing: The arraignment takesplace before a Magistrate Judge,notthe DistrictJudge who will hear your case. The Magistrate Judge will ask you several questions:
- Do you understand what you are charged with?;
- Do you understand the potential penalties if you are convicted?; and
- How do you plead to the charges?
Since you will have discussed the case with your lawyer by this time, you will be able to answer the first two questions “Yes”. Your answer to the third question is “Not Guilty”. You cannot plead “Guilty” at an arraignment. Pleading “Not Guilty” will never be used against you.
Discovery: Federal law provides only limited access to the government’s evidence against you. Under local rules, you and your attorney are permitted to have copies of only certain types of documents in the government’s file. The rules of discovery must be strictly adhered to, and your attorney will discuss these rules with you more thoroughly as your case progresses.
Motions: Before or after investigating your case, your attorney may feel it appropriate to file a motion(s), which may be heard before or at trial. You should never file your own motions without fully discussing the proper procedures with your attorney. If you have ideas about specific motions that could be filed your case, you should discuss with your attorney whether those particular motions would be appropriate or beneficial to your defense.
Many defendants want a quick trial. This is usually for two reasons. First, defendants who are in custody want to get out of the county jail as soon as possible. Second, defendants believe that if they are not tried within the Speedy Trial Act’s 70-day time limit, then their cases will be dismissed.
Pretrial Detention: There is no question that conditions in the county jail are not good. However, a defendant is rarely ever helped by going to trial as soon as possible. The prosecutor is prepared to try the case when it is filed. Your lawyer is only then beginning to investigate the case. Your lawyer does not have access to offense reports of the law enforcement officers that have already investigated the case. Also, “aging” a case has other benefits — the case becomes less important over time, witnesses’ memories fade, etc.
Dismissal: There are many exceptions to the Speedy Trial Act. Generally, a prosecutor can get a continuance of the trial whenever requested. The usual reason why a prosecutor requests a continuance is because there are codefendants who have not been arrested yet. The speedy trial deadlines do not begin to run until all charged defendants have appeared in court. Also, any time any of the defendants file motions, the time until those motions are decided is not counted toward the speedy trial deadline.
A felony trial in federal court is decided by twelve jurors. The jurors only decide if you are “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” of the charges in the Indictment. Jurors do not decide punishment. The District Judge decides punishment.
Jury Selection: The trial begins with the selection of the jury. A panel of potential jurors is called to court from voter registration lists. The District Judge, the prosecutor, and your lawyer talk to the panel and ask questions. The lawyers are allowed to keep certain members of the panel from sitting on the jury. The first twelve of the remaining panel members become jurors.
Opening Statements: Before the evidence is presented, the lawyers may make opening statements. Opening statements are when the lawyers tell the jury what they believe the evidence will show.
Order of Proof: The prosecutor presents evidence first. You are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You do not have to present any evidence or testify. If your lawyer does put on evidence, it will happen after the prosecutor has finished presenting evidence.
Rules: During the trial, the lawyers must follow the rules of evidence and procedure. These rules are complicated. The rules can both help and hurt you. For instance, the rule against hearsay evidence prohibits a prosecutor from calling a witness to testify how he heard about what you did. The same rule will stop your lawyer from introducing an affidavit made by some person who is unwilling to come to court and testify.
Prior Acts: Although you are only on trial for the charges in the Indictment, there are two ways the jury can learn about other accusations against you. First, if you testify then the prosecutor will be able to introduce your prior convictions. Second, the prosecutor can introduce your prior acts –even if they are not convictions — if they are similar to the crime you are charged with (for example, prior drug sales in a drug distribution case).
Final Arguments: After all the evidence has been presented, the lawyers argue the facts to the jury.
Jury Deliberations: Jurors are usually average working people from the community. They are not specially trained in law. They use their common sense when deciding the case. Although the District Judge will instruct them about “the presumption of innocence” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”, jurors rely on many things in coming to a decision in a case. Jurors often rely on things such as: the appearance of the defendant, the defendant’s character, and their own biases and prejudices. They cannot be questioned about how they reached their decision.
Verdict: If you are found “Not Guilty”, you will be released. If there is a “Guilty” verdict, then the District Judge will order the Probation Department to prepare a Presentence Investigation Report to assist the District Judge at sentencing. It takes approximately two months between a conviction and sentencing.
Release: If you were previously on pretrial release,the District Judge may continue thatrelease until sentencing, unless you were convicted of a crime of violence or a serious drug trafficking offense.
Statistics show that most defendants plead guilty. You make the decision to plead guilty. That decision is never simple. Some possible benefits of a guilty plea are that:
- the prosecutor may dismiss some charges;
- the prosecutor may not file new charges;
- the prosecutor may recommend a favorable sentence;
- you may get credit for accepting responsibility, etc.
Plea Agreement: Any promises the prosecutor makes for your guilty plea will be stated in a written plea agreement. That agreement is signed by you, your lawyer, and the prosecutor.
Plea Hearing: You must enter a guilty plea in court before the District Judge. The District Judge must ask you many questions so the record shows you understand what you are doing. During the hearing, the prosecutor will briefly tell the District Judge the facts of the case. You must agree to those facts for the District Judge to accept your guilty plea.
Effect of Plea: Once the District Judge accepts your guilty plea, you are just as guilty as if a jury returned that verdict. Once you are convicted of a felony, you lose certain civil rights, including the right to vote; the right to sit on a jury; and the right to possess firearms.
After Plea: The procedure after a guilty plea is the same as after a conviction at trial. A Presentence Investigation Report will be ordered and you will either be released or detained until sentencing (see “Trial” section).
Some defendants give prosecutors information against other persons for the possibility of a reduced sentence. There is no guarantee that a defendant will get a lower sentence for “giving people up”. Cooperation usually requires a defendant to testify in court or before a Grand Jury.
Many times, federal defendants are first arrested by state officers on state charges. Sometimes, even when federal charges are filed, the state charges are not dismissed. It is possible to be convicted of both state and federal charges for the exact same offense. This is not “double jeopardy”. It is also possible to receive “stacked time” (a consecutive sentence), by pleading guilty to an unrelated state or federal case before being convicted in your federal case. Be careful not to do anything about your other cases without telling your attorney. If you are summoned to “jail call”, do not agree to plead guilty to your state charge in exchange for “time served” without telling your lawyer. Despite what the state prosecutor may tell you, this conviction will affect your federal sentence.
Sentencing takes place approximately three (3) -six (6) months after you have been convicted by a jury or guilty plea. The District Judge decides the sentence. Unlike state court, you cannot simply agree with the prosecutor to serve a particular amount of time or probation.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines: The District Judge decides your sentence based upon a book called the “Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual”. That book works on a point system. You get points for the seriousness of the offense and your role in the offense. Points may be subtracted if you accept responsibility for the offense or if you were only a minor participant. The Manual also considers your criminal history. Your criminal history is the record of your prior convictions in state and federal courts. A chart at the back of the Manual determines your sentencing guideline range, based upon your criminal history points and the points you received for the offense conduct.
Mandatory Minimum Punishments: Some drug and firearms cases have mandatory minimum punishments. These minimum punishments apply even if the Federal Sentencing Guidelines would otherwise give you a lower sentence. For instance, anyone possessing over 280 grams of crack cocaine after August 3 2010, with the intent to deliver it, must receive at least ten (10) years in prison; even if that person is a first offender.
Departures: If the District Judge sentences you to more or less time than your sentencing guideline range, it is called a “departure”. Departures are unusual. The District Judge must have a good legal reason for a departure. The District Judge cannot depart downward below a mandatory minimum punishment, unless the reason is that you have provided substantial assistance to the government in the prosecution of others or you qualify for the “safety valve” provision as a first offender. Only drug cases qualify for the “safety valve”.
Presentence Investigation Report: Before the sentencing hearing,the District Judge will review a Presentence Investigation Report prepared by a Probation Officer. That report summarizes the offense conduct, your criminal history, and other relevant background information about you. Most importantly, the report calculates a range of punishment for the District Judge to consider in your case. The Probation Officer creates the report based upon information from the prosecutor, independent investigation, and an interview with you in the presence of your lawyer.
Interview: It is important to be honest with the Probation Officer at the presentence interview. If you mislead the officer you may increase your sentence for “obstruction of justice”. Also, you will not get credit for accepting responsibility unless you talk truthfully about your crime. Do not talk about any other conduct for which you have not been convicted, unless your lawyer tells you to.
Objections: Before the District Judge gets the Presentence Investigation Report, it will be sent to your lawyer. The probation office will also mail a copy directly to you for your inspection. Review it carefully. If there is anything incorrect about the report, your lawyer can file objections. Some mistakes are more important than others. If the report says your car is red rather than blue, that is probably not important. If the report says you have five (5) prior felonies when you do not, that is important.
Sentencing Hearing: At the sentencing hearing, the District Judge will review your objections to the Presentence Investigation Report and make findings about any facts or legal issues that cannot be agreed upon. Your lawyer will address the legal issues and point out the facts in your favor. District Judges do not want to hear from witnesses who are just there to plead for a reduced sentence. Letters of recommendation and other helpful evidence should be provided to your lawyer well before sentencing so the District Judge can see them before the hearing. Before the District Judge pronounces sentence, you can make a statement.
Concurrent and Consecutive Sentences: No area of law is more confusing to defendants and lawyers than whether multiple sentences (more than one) may be served at the same time (concurrent) or one after another (consecutive).
Present Charges: If your federal Indictment has several related charges, and you are convicted of them, you probably will serve these sentences at the same time. However, it is possible for the District Judge to “stack” unrelated convictions so each must be served before another begins.
Other Charges: Sometimes a defendant is already serving a sentence before being convicted in a federal court. Unless the District Judge specifically orders the new sentence to run at the same time as the previous sentence, they will be stacked and will run consecutively. You would have to finish your other sentence before the new one begins. Even if the District Judge runs the new sentence at the same time as your previous sentence, you will not get credit for the time you served prior to sentencing.
If you were on release until sentencing, you may be allowed voluntary surrender. This means about 45 days later you report directly to the federal prison designated for sentence. Otherwise, you would go directly into custody if you received a prison sentence.
An appeal is not a new trial. An appeal is a review of your case by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. You may only appeal after you have been sentenced. A notice of appeal must be filed within 10 days after judgment (your sentencing order) is entered, or you lose that right. Transcripts of all testimony, and all the legal documents in your case, are sent to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals decides whether the District Judge made any mistakes in ruling on the law in your case. If the Court of Appeals decides there were some important mistakes made by the District Judge in your case, the usual remedy is that you will be allowed to have a new trial or a new sentence. That is called a “reversal”. It does not happen often. It is nearly impossible to be released while your appeal is being decided. The decision to appeal should be made only after a careful discussion with your lawyer. The Fifth Circuit is strict about accepting cases that raise legitimate issues. A claim that you received “too much time” will not prevail in the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit will dismiss your appeal if you do not present an issue they consider meritorious. Also, you and your lawyer can be sanctioned (punished) if you present a “frivolous” issue on appeal.
Probation means your term of imprisonment is suspended, you must follow restrictive conditions, and report to a probation officer. Probation is not available for federal drug trafficking crimes. Except for minor fraud cases, most federal defendants do not get probation. “Shock Incarceration” or “Boot Camp” is not probation. That is a military discipline program followed by time in a halfway house. It is available mostly to young, nonviolent, first-time offenders.
Most defendants who are sentenced to prison go directly into custody or continue to remain in custody. Where the sentence will be served depends on several factors.
State Custody: If the reason you first came into custody was a state charge, parole warrant, or probation revocation warrant, then you are in state custody, not federal custody. Neither the United States Marshal, nor the District Judge, has the authority to take you from state custody so that you may begin serving your sentence in a federal institution. This means you will remain in the county jail, or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, until your State of Texas (or whatever other jurisdiction you owe time) sentence is completely served. Even if you got a federal sentence that is to run at the same time as your previous sentences (see “Sentencing” section), you will do that time in the other jurisdiction’s prison.
Jail Credit: In the federal system, the district judge does not have the authority to award jail credit at your sentencing hearing. See United States v. Wilson , 112 S.Ct. 1351 (1992); 18 U.S.C. §3585(b). Under the statute giving a defendant convicted of federal crime the right to be credited for time spent in official detention before sentence begins, the Attorney General is required to compute credit after the defendant has begun to serve his sentence, rather than the district court at time of sentencing. Statute giving defendant convicted of federal crime right to receive credit for time spent in official detention before sentence begins does not authorize district court to award credit at sentencing.
Federal Custody: You are in federal custody if you were brought in on a federal warrant. It does not matter that you are being held in the county jail or that state charges or revocations are later filed. It is always better to be in federal custody, because the State of Texas will give you credit for serving your state sentences no matter who has custody of you.
Designation: If you are in federal custody, then a federal institution must be designated for your sentence. This designation takes about one (1) month and is made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During that month, you will probably remain in a county jail. The decision about where you will go depends upon the seriousness of the crime, your criminal history, the location of your family, among other things. A recommendation by the District Judge to send you to a particular place is not binding on the Bureau of Prisons.
Good Time Credit: The Bureau of Prisons can give you up to 54 days a year of “Good Time Credit”. This is time subtracted from your sentence. The credit is a privilege for good behavior, not a right. It does not begin to be counted until after your first year in prison.
Release: There is no parole in the federal criminal justice system. You will serve the majority of your sentence, minus Good Time Credit. You will receive a term of supervised release that begins after you are released. Like probation or parole, supervised release means you have to follow rules and report back to a probation officer. Violating supervised release can mean going back to prison.
You must use your own judgment about writing letters. You should not write about the facts of your case to anyone other than your lawyer. If you have any questions about your case or suggestions about it, you should contact your attorney immediately.
Federal Drug Charges in Houston, TX
Houston is in a unique position because of its convenient location. It is a criminal hotbed for illegal drug activity and because of its reputation, law enforcement; the FBI and the DEA are on high alert when it comes to detecting and convicting those guilty of trafficking or other federal drug crimes. Because drug activity is so rampant in Texas, the state has exceptionally harsh penalties for those who commit federal drug crimes. How one is prosecuted will depend on whether or not they have any priors on their record, the type of drug, and the quantity. A prison sentence for a federal drug crime can be as little as five years or it can be as long as life in prison.
The state of Texas has long been involved in a “war on drugs.” Federal prosecutors in the state of Texas come down hard on criminals involved in selling, distributing and trafficking large amounts of drugs. Not only do you face years in prison if convicted, non-citizens face deportation from the United States. At The Charles Johnson Law Firm, we are here to defend you against Federal Drug Charges.
Houston Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson comprehends the differential factor between State and Federal drug crimes. If in fact you or a loved one are under investigation for a drug crime, or if you have been apprehended for or charged with a drug crime in Texas or Houston, you could face harsher punishment than you expect. If you or a loved one’s alleged crime is based upon large amounts of illegal drugs, transporting or distributing drugs over state lines or over and across the border, or other specific details, you could face federal drug crime charges rather than state charges.
The significant thing to know pertaining federal drug crimes is that a conviction will carry a much harsher punishment, a longer mandatory at the very least sentence, and the possibility of no bond or bail. Attorney Johnson defends cases at the Federal Level that involve drug crimes such as:
- Federal drug trafficking
- Federal drug manufacturing
- Federal drug sales and distribution
- Internet drug distribution
- Federal drug importation and transportation
- Mailing drugs over and across state lines or national borders
- Drug smuggling into or out of the United States
- Other crimes related to drugs and money laundering
Contact Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson anytime night or day to discuss your case. You can speak with him directly by calling (713) 222-7577. If in fact you or a loved one think you are part of a federal drug investigation, don’t wait to contact a lawyer you can trust. Rest assured that The Charles Johnson Law Firm will zealously defend you against any type of Federal Drug Charge.
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The Leading Houston Criminal Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm aggressively defend clients charged with a sexual offense. The firm handles all sexual offense charges, whether in state or federal court, and whether the sex crime allegations are against children or adults.
Parties in contentious divorce or custody proceedings have been known to encourage children to say the other parent “touched” them a certain way or otherwise imply molestation. Child care workers, pastors, teachers, coaches, and others are frequently falsely accused. Parents have even been known to target individuals for extortion by coaching children. They may be coached by well-meaning social service and health care professionals, law enforcement officers, and prosecuting attorneys who want to make sure they obtain a conviction regardless of the truth.
Allegations of sex crimes are taken very seriously in Texas, and across the nation. With more stringent penalties being imposed, a false claim unchallenged or a single error in judgment can require you to be a lifelong member of the sex offenders’ registry and database. Before your reputation is devastated, invoke your right to an attorney and your right to remain silent. Contact the Charles Johnson Law Firm for a free phone consultation when you are under investigation for sex crimes or if charges have been brought against you for anything from possession and distribution of child pornography to sexual assault and rape.
How is Child Pornography Defined?
Federal and state laws make it a crime to produce, possess, distribute, or sell pornographic materials that exploit or portray a minor. Increasingly, child pornography laws are being utilized to punish use of computer technology and the Internet to obtain, share, and distribute pornographic material involving children, including images and films.
Under federal law (18 U.S.C. §2256), child pornography is defined as any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where
- the production of the visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
- the visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
- the visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
- Federal law (18 U.S.C. §1466A) also criminalizes knowingly producing, distributing, receiving, or possessing with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture or painting, that
- depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene, or
- depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex and such depiction lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Sexually explicit conduct is defined under federal law (18 U.S.C. §2256) as actual or simulated sexual intercourse (including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex), bestiality, masturbation, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person.
Who Is a Minor?
For purposes of enforcing the federal law (18 U.S.C. §2256), “minor” is defined as a person under the age of 18.
Is Child Pornography a Crime?
Yes, it is a federal crime to knowingly possess, manufacture, distribute, or access with intent to view child pornography (18 U.S.C. §2252). In addition, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws criminalizing the possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography. As a result, a person who violates these laws may face federal and/or state charges.
Where Is Child Pornography Predominantly Found?
Child pornography exists in multiple formats including print media, videotape, film, CD-ROM, or DVD. It is transmitted on various platforms within the Internet including newsgroups, Internet Relay Chat (chatrooms), Instant Message, File Transfer Protocol, e-mail, websites, and peer-to-peer technology.
What Motivates People Who Possess Child Pornography?
Limited research about the motivations of people who possess child pornography suggests that child pornography possessors are a diverse group, including people who are
- sexually interested in prepubescent children or young adolescents, who use child pornography for sexual fantasy and gratification
- sexually “indiscriminate,” meaning they are constantly looking for new and different sexual stimuli
- sexually curious, downloading a few images to satisfy that curiosity
- interested in profiting financially by selling images or setting up web sites requiring payment for access
Who Possesses Child Pornography?
It is difficult to describe a “typical” child pornography possessor because there is not just one type of person who commits this crime.
In a study of 1,713 people arrested for the possession of child pornography in a 1-year period, the possessors ran the gamut in terms of income, education level, marital status, and age. Virtually all of those who were arrested were men, 91% were white, and most were unmarried at the time of their crime, either because they had never married (41%) or because they were separated, divorced, or widowed (21%).3
Forty percent (40%) of those arrested were “dual offenders,” who sexually victimized children and possessed child pornography, with both crimes discovered in the same investigation. An additional 15% were dual offenders who attempted to sexually victimize children by soliciting undercover investigators who posed online as minors.4
Who Produces Child Pornography?
Based on information provided by law enforcement to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Child Victim Identification Program, more than half of the child victims were abused by someone who had legitimate access to them such as parents, other relatives, neighborhood/family friends, babysitters, and coaches.
What is the Nature of These Images?
The content in these illegal images varies from exposure of genitalia to graphic sexual abuse, such as penetration by objects, anal penetration, and bestiality.
Of the child pornography victims identified by law enforcement, 42% appear to be pubescent, 52% appear to be prepubescent, and 6% appear to be infants or toddlers.
Possible Punishment for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor/Child Pornography
If the photographs include children who are fourteen (14) years of age or younger, it is a Dangerous Crimes Against Children (DCAC) and carries a very severe penalty. A first offense carries the following punishment for each and every conviction: ten (10) years minimum in prison; seventeen (17) years presumptive in prison; twenty-four (24) years maximum incarceration.
If convicted of one previous predicate felony (which includes a prior DCAC, among other serious felonies), the range of punishment increases to a minimum twenty-one (21) years, presumptive twenty-eight years (28), and maximum thirty-five (35) years. Because this is a DCAC, 100% of the prison time must be served before being eligible for release. In addition, if the person is convicted of two (2) counts, they must be run consecutive to each other (i.e., the minimum is now twenty (20) years in prison, and all other ranges double). This is why these charges are sometimes referred to as “life enders”.
The maximum penalty on a Sexual Exploitation charge actually carries more time than the maximum penalty on a Second Degree Murder charge. A conviction will require you to register as a Sex Offender for the rest of your life, and you are not allowed to have any contact with anyone under the age of eighteen (18) (this includes your own children), without going through numerous testing procedures and only with the consent of your Probation Officer.
If the child was ages fifteen – seventeen (15-17), it is not sentenced pursuant to the DCAC statute. A first offense class two (2) felony, carries punishment of probation with zero (0) days in jail up to one (1) year in jail, or prison of three (3) years to twelve and one half (12.5) years of incarceration. If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is four and one half (4.5) years to twenty-three and one quarter (23.25) years in prison. If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is ten and one half (10.5) to thirty-five (35) years of incarceration.
Possible Defenses for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor/Child Pornography
The critical defenses to Child Porn charges involve showing that the person did not “knowingly” possess, receive, or do any of the listed actions with the images. One way of asserting this defense is by presenting evidence that the defendant was not the person who accessed the images. If it can be shown that there were multiple users who had access to the computer, and who did in fact use the computer often, then it is much more difficult for the State to prove the defendant actually accessed the images, rather than some other person. This defense is especially appropriate when the defendant lacks any other sexual crime convictions. In order to assert this defense, we need to present a variety of our own evidence to contradict whatever has been presented by the prosecution. Typically, the State would normally have executed a search warrant and confiscated the computer involved, then searched for the “IP address” and passwords that were used to trace the activates to a particular time, date, and user. Before they do any of this they will have “cloned” the hard drive in order to avoid any accusations that they have somehow tampered with the computer by adding images.
Another typical defense is that the defendant inadvertently came across the images on his computer, and thus it was not a “knowing” exchange. It is an affirmative defense to Child Pornography charges if a person timely reports that they have received unsolicited images on their computer. Usually, reporting within three (3) days of discovering the child pornography is considered to be “timely reporting.”
The Top Houston Criminal Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm handles a very high percentage of the “Sex Crimes” cases. They have one of the largest libraries with research materials devoted to challenging accusations involving sex crimes. Registering as Sex Offender has drastic consequences and leaves a black mark on your record; do not underestimate the potential severity of this charge.
Additionally, because the Charles Johnson Law Firm fights conviction from all angles, they will assert a wide range of defenses and challenges to constitutional violations that apply in all criminal cases. The possibilities are numerous and diverse. One of those that is frequently asserted is a “Miranda rights violation.” In Texas, the standard of whether any incriminating statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible into evidence is based upon a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda Rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements.
In addition, the “denial of right to Counsel” is another common defense which is often raised. This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied and questioning continues. Other defenses may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case. Depending on what else you have been charged with, this could include exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, and urine testing; fingerprints analysis; DNA testing; computer analysis/cloning hard drive procedures; forensic financial accounting reviews; etc. Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups and inaccurate crime scene reconstruction. It is important to hire a skilled lawyer to defend you who has knowledge of all the possible defenses to assert in your case.
Do Not Make Statements. Obviously, the best defense begins before a defendant is ever charged. Often, in a misguided attempt to help law enforcement, defendants make statements that are twisted and turned into prosecutorial evidence. It is important to remember not to allow yourself be interviewed government agencies without an attorney present.
Any interview will be sent to the police and the county attorney’s office and can be used against you. An obvious corollary is do not let yourself be interviewed again by the police without your attorney present.
Computerized Evidence. Internet child pornography is a growing offense across the nation. Often files can be downloaded to a computer without the user knowing the content of the download. In such cases the electronic file will often include tell tale electronic evidence about the file, where it came from and its date of download. Using this evidence or challenging law enforcement’s sloppy investigation and acquisition of potentially exculpatory information is the best way for a defense lawyer to prove actual innocence.
Examine Prosecution Expert’s Background. An important part of every case is the ability to counter the reports and testimony of computer professionals, caseworkers and “experts” who examine pornographic evidence. To effectively counter a prosecution expert, the defense attorney must be well educated on the expert’s education, work history, published works and testimony in prior cases.
Use a Polygraph. When it is advantageous to the defense against a sexual assault, defense attorneys should obtain a credible polygraph examination from a respected professionals.
Texas Sex Offender Registration
In addition to the prison terms and fines one can face when convicted of any of these offenses, you may be required to register as a sex offender. This means you will be tracked for the rest of your life.
Knowing where to turn when facing charges as dark as these can be difficult. You have likely already seen people turn their backs on you because of the charges and you haven’t even gone to trial. You need someone in your corner fighting for your good name.
You are innocent until proven guilty. The Best Houston Criminal Lawyers will see to it that you get the best possible results on your day in court.
Hire the Best Houston Child Pornography Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
The Top Houston Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm defend against sexual assault allegations throughout Texas, no matter how small or large the city. They have developed a unique understanding of the dynamics of these very serious cases. Their competent, aggressive and thorough representation has made them a leading criminal defense firm in dealing with sex and pornography related criminal charges.
Defending in these areas is a very specialized area of criminal defense. Unfortunately, the very accusations themselves are often treated as conclusive proof of criminal activity. If Attorney Charles Johnson is retained at an early stage in the investigation, he is sometimes able to avoid charges altogether. At a minimum he will be able to avoid the trauma and embarrassment of his client being arrested at home or at the workplace by contacting law enforcement and the court in order to make the necessary arrangements.
Depending on the facts of your case and the evidence against you, the Leading Houston Criminal Defense Lawyers will work to help you beat a false accusation or try to lessen the punishment. We understand your freedom is at stake and that a conviction of possession of child pornography may result in lifetime registration as a sex offender. To protect your rights and liberty, we conduct thorough investigations to prepare for trial or to minimize the consequences or sentence.
Call today for your free consultation.
Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.
Houston Criminal Lawyers: Coping With An Arrest For Child Porn?
by Charles Johnson
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Your Houston News - Sep 21 2014
Fairfax police spokesman charged with child porn possession
(AP) - A Fairfax County police spokesman has been charged with possession of child pornography. Police announced that William "Bud" Walker was arrested Wednesday afternoon ... the United States were delivered in Houston last week, according to the Women's ...
WSLS - Apr 16 2015
A 29-year-old Houston woman, who made a habit of offering up herself ... Six airmen at Moody AFB in Georgia arrested in child-porn sting Eleven people, including six airmen based at Georgia’s Moody Air Force Base were arrested and charged this week ...
Examiner - Feb 05 2015
Facebook child predator sentenced to 40 years in federal prison
Whittemore sentenced a Tarpon Springs man to 40 years in federal prison for the production, receipt, and distribution of child pornography ... from at least December 2012, through his arrest on May 1, 2014, Bridgers used multiple Facebook accounts to ...
Tampa Bay Newspapers - Apr 18 2015
American charged with bringing child-porn through Saskatchewan
40-year old Andrew Ferrer, from Houston, is charged with possession and importation of child pornography. The investigation which led to Ferrer's arrest, on April 2nd, was a collaboration between Saskatchewan Internet Child Expoitation Unit and the ...
620ckrm.com - Apr 08 2015
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Domestic Violence is a difficulty that affects virtually every town, city, country and nation. Domestic Violence covers a broad spectrum of abuse between partners, spouses, members of the family or various other people who live together. Family Violence charges are quite severe. If you are convicted, you could confront prison time and other criminal penalties. A conviction will not only destroy your reputation, but your future as well. You could be refused future employment, housing, academic loans and worse, access to your home and children. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we see our clients falsely accused of Domestic Violence all the time. Whether you are innocent or guilty, Houston Family Violence Lawyer Charles Johnson will battle aggressively on your behalf in order to help protect your rights and your future. Contact us Twenty-four Hours A Day, Seven Days A Week for a free of charge consultation.
All too often the news bombards us with news regarding a high-profile Family Violence case, wherein a man or woman is suspected of murdering their wife or husband, with or without a prior history of domestic abuse.
Violence. How can a individual turn from loving and living with a person to beating them up or murdering them? What kind of a person resorts to Domestic Violence against their spouse or domestic intimate partner? What kind of person thinks it is okay to continually humiliate or talk down to their life intimate partner? What kind of an individual has sex with their partner without the person’s consent and desire to participate?
A common pattern of domestic abuse is that the perpetrator alternates between violent, abusive behavior and apologetic behavior with apparently heartfelt promises to change. The abuser may perhaps be quite pleasant most of the time. Therein lies the perpetual appeal of the abusing partner and why many men and women are unable to leave the abusive relationship.
Domestic abuse is most often one of the following:
- child abuse
- abuse of a spouse or domestic intimate partner
- elder abuse
In this article, we examine domestic abuse between spouses and intimate partners: the sorts of domestic abuse, signs and symptoms, causes, and consequences. Family Violence and abuse are popular. The initial step in ending the misery is recognition that the situation is abusive.
What is the definition of domestic abuse between intimate partners?
Domestic abuse between spouses or intimate partners is when one individual in a marital or intimate relationship tries to control the other individual. The perpetrator uses fear and intimidation and will likely threaten to use or may possibly actually use physical violence. Domestic abuse that involves physical violence is designated Domestic Violence.
The victim of domestic abuse or Family Violence may be a man or a woman. Domestic abuse takes place in traditional heterosexual marriages, as well as in same-sex partnerships. The abuse may perhaps occur during a relationship, while the couple is breaking up, or after the relationship has ended.
Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to physical violence. Family Violence may perhaps even end up in murder.
The key elements of domestic abuse are:
- humiliating the other person
- physical injury
Domestic abuse isn’t really a result of losing control; domestic abuse is purposely trying to control another person. The abuser is purposefully using verbal, nonverbal, or physical means to acquire control over the other person.
In many cultures, command over women by men is accepted as the norm. This article speaks from the orientation that control over intimate partners is domestic abuse within a culture where such control isn’t the norm. Nowadays we see many cultures moving from the subordination of women to increased equality of women within relationships.
What are the sorts of domestic abuse?
The types of domestic abuse are:
- physical abuse (domestic violence)
- verbal or nonverbal abuse (psychological abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse)
- sexual abuse
- stalking or cyberstalking
- economic abuse or financial abuse
- spiritual abuse
The divisions between these kinds of domestic abuse are somewhat fluid, but there is a strong differentiation between the various forms of physical abuse and the various types of verbal or nonverbal abuse.
What is physical abuse of a spouse or intimate partner?
Physical abuse is the use of physical force against another person in a way that ends up injuring the individual, or puts the person at risk of being injured. Physical abuse ranges from physical restraint to murder. When someone talks of Domestic Violence, they are often referring to physical abuse of a spouse or intimate partner.
Physical assault or physical battering is defined as a criminal offense, whether or not it occurs inside a family or outside the family. The police are empowered to protect you from physical attack.
Physical abuse includes:
- pushing, throwing, kicking
- slapping, grabbing, hitting, punching, beating, tripping, battering, bruising, choking, shaking
- pinching, biting
- holding, restraining, confinement
- breaking bones
- assault with a firearm that include a knife or gun
What is emotional abuse or verbal abuse of a spouse or intimate partner?
Mental, psychological, or emotional abuse could be verbal or nonverbal. Verbal or nonverbal abuse of a spouse or intimate partner consists of more subtle actions or behaviors than physical abuse. Although physical abuse may seem worse, the scars of verbal and emotional abuse are deep. Studies show that verbal or nonverbal abuse may be much more emotionally detrimental than physical abuse.
Verbal or nonverbal abuse of a spouse or intimate partner may possibly include:
- threatening or intimidating to obtain compliance
- destruction of the victim’s personal property and assets and possessions, or threats to do this
- violence to an object (such as a wall or piece of furniture) or pet, within the presence of the intended victim, as a way of instilling fear of further violence
- yelling or screaming
- constant harassment
- embarrassing, making fun of, or mocking the victim, either on your own within the household, in public, or in front of family or friends
- criticizing or diminishing the victim’s accomplishments or goals
- not trusting the victim’s decision-making
- telling the victim that they are worthless on their own, without the abuser
- excessive possessiveness, isolation from friends and family
- excessive checking-up on the victim to make sure they are at home or where they said they would be
- saying hurtful things when under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and using the substance as an excuse to say the hurtful things
- blaming the victim for how the abuser acts or feels
- making the victim remain on the premises subsequent to a fight, or leaving them somewhere else after a fight, just to “teach them a lesson”
- making the victim feel that there’s no way out of the relationship
What is sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a spouse or intimate partner?
Sexual abuse includes:
- sexual assault: forcing another person to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity
- sexual harassment: ridiculing another person to try to limit their sexuality or reproductive choices
- sexual exploitation (most notably forcing someone to look at pornography, or forcing someone to participate in pornographic film-making)
Sexual abuse often is linked to physical abuse; they can occur together, or the sexual abuse could possibly occur subsequent to a bout of physical abuse.
What is stalking?
Stalking is harassment of or threatening another person, especially in a way that haunts the person physically or emotionally in a repetitive and devious manner. Stalking of an intimate partner can take place during the relationship, with intense monitoring of the partner’s activities. Or stalking can take place after a partner or spouse has left the relationship. The stalker may very well be trying to get their partner back, or some might wish to harm their partner as punishment for their departure. Regardless of the fine details, the victim fears for their safety.
Stalking can take place at or near the victim’s home, near or in their workplace, on the way to the store or another destination, or on the Internet (cyberstalking). Stalking could be on the phone, in person, or online. Stalkers may possibly never show their face, or some may be everywhere, in individual.
Stalkers employ a number of threatening tactics:
- repeated phone calls, in some instances with hang-ups
- following, tracking (possibly even with a global positioning device)
- finding the person via public records, online searching, or paid investigators
- watching with hidden cameras
- suddenly showing up where the victim is, at home, school, or work
- sending emails; communicating in chat rooms or with instant messaging (cyberstalking: see below)
- sending unwanted packages, cards, gifts, or letters
- monitoring the victim’s phone calls or computer-use
- contacting the victim’s buddies, family, co-workers, or neighbors to find out about the victim
- going through the victim’s garbage
- threatening to hurt the victim or their family, friends, or pets
- damaging the victim’s home, car, or various other assets
Stalking is unpredictable and should always be regarded as dangerous. If another person is
- tracking you,
- contacting you when you do not wish to have get in touch with,
- attempting to control you, or
- frightening you,
then obtain assistance immediately.
What is cyberstalking?
Cyberstalking is the use of telecommunication technologies including the Internet or email to stalk another person. Cyberstalking may be an additional form of stalking, or it could possibly be the sole method the abuser employs. Cyberstalking is deliberate, persistent, and personal.
Spamming with unsolicited email differs from cyberstalking. Spam doesn’t necessarily focus on the individual, as does cyberstalking. The cyberstalker methodically finds and contacts the victim. Much like spam of a sexual nature, a cyberstalker’s message may possibly be disturbing and inappropriate. Also like spam, you cannot stop the contact with a request. In fact, the more you protest or respond, the more rewarded the cyberstalker feels. The recommended response to cyberstalking is not to respond to the contact.
Cyberstalking falls in a grey area of law enforcement. Enforcement of a good number of federal and state stalking laws requires that the victim be directly threatened with an act of violence. Very few law enforcement agencies can act if the threat is only implied.
Regardless of whether you can get stalking laws enforced against cyberstalking, you must treat cyberstalking seriously and protect yourself. Cyberstalking in some instances advances to genuine stalking and to physical violence.
How likely is it that stalking will turn into violence?
Stalking can end in violence regardless of whether or not the stalker threatens violence. And stalking can turn into violence even if the stalker doesn’t have any history of violence.
Women stalkers are just as likely to become violent as are male stalkers.
Those around the stalking victim are also in danger of being injured. For example, a parent, spouse, or bodyguard who makes the stalking victim unattainable could very well be injured or killed as the stalker pursues the stalking victim.
What is economic or financial abuse of a spouse or domestic partner?
Economic or financial abuse involves:
- withholding economic resources that include money or credit cards
- stealing from or defrauding a partner of money or assets
- exploiting the intimate partner’s resources for personal gain
- withholding physical resources including food, clothes, necessary medications, or shelter from a partner
- preventing the spouse or intimate partner from working or choosing an occupation
What is spiritual abuse of a spouse or intimate partner?
Spiritual abuse includes:
- using the spouse’s or intimate partner’s religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate them
- preventing the partner from practicing their religious or spiritual beliefs
- ridiculing the other person’s religious or spiritual beliefs
- forcing the children to be reared in a faith that the partner has not agreed to
How do I know if I am in an abusive relationship? What are the signs and symptoms of an abusive relationship?
The more of the following questions that you answer Yes to, the more likely you are in an abusive relationship. Examine your answers and obtain guidance if you find that you respond positively to a large number of the questions.
Your inner feelings and dialogue: Fear, self-loathing, numbness, desperation
- Are you fearful of your partner a large percentage of the time?
- Do you steer clear of certain topics or spend a lot of time figuring out how to discuss certain topics so that you do not arouse your partner’s negative reaction or anger?
- Do you ever feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- Do you ever feel so badly about yourself that you think you deserve to be physically hurt?
- Have you lost the love and respect that you once had for your partner?
- Do you in some instances wonder if you are the one who is crazy, that maybe you are overreacting to your partner’s behaviors?
- Do you in some cases fantasize about ways to kill your partner to get them out of your life?
- Are you afraid that your partner could possibly try to kill you?
- Are you afraid that your partner will try to take your children away from you?
- Do you feel that there is nowhere to turn for guidance?
- Are you feeling emotionally numb?
- Were you abused as a child, or did you grow up with Domestic Violence within the household? Does domestic violence seem normal to you?
Your partner’s lack of control over their own behavior
- Does your partner have low self-esteem? Do they appear to feel powerless, ineffective, or inadequate in the world, although they are outwardly successful?
- Does your partner externalize the causes of their own behavior? Do they blame their violence on stress, alcohol, or a “bad day”?
- Is your partner unpredictable?
- Is your partner a pleasant person between bouts of violence?
Your partner’s violent or threatening behavior
- Does your partner have a bad temper?
- Has your partner ever threatened to injure you or kill you?
- Has your partner ever physically hurt you?
- Has your partner threatened to take your children away from you, especially if you try to leave the relationship?
- Has your partner ever threatened to commit suicide, especially as a way of keeping you from leaving?
- Has your partner ever forced you to have sex when you didn’t want to?
- Has your partner threatened you at work, either in person or on the phone?
- Is your partner cruel to animals?
- Does your partner destroy your belongings or household objects?
Your partner’s controlling behavior
- Does your partner try to keep you from seeing your pals or family?
- Are you embarrassed to invite buddies or family over to your house mainly because of your partner’s behavior?
- Has your partner limited your access to money, the telephone, or the car?
- Does your partner try to stop you from going where you would like to go outside of the house, or from doing what you would like to do?
- Is your partner jealous and possessive, asking where you are going and where you have been, as if checking up on you? Do they accuse you of having an affair?
Your partner’s diminishment of you
- Does your partner verbally abuse you?
- Does your partner humiliate or criticize you in front of others?
- Does your partner often ignore you or put down your opinions or contributions?
- Does your partner always insist that they are right, even though they are clearly wrong?
- Does your partner blame you for their own violent behavior, saying that your behavior or attitudes cause them to be violent?
- Is your partner often outwardly angry with you?
- Does your partner objectify and disrespect those of your gender? Does your partner see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
In my workplace, what are the warning signs that an individual is a victim of Family Violence?
Domestic Violence often plays out within the workplace. For instance, a husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend might make threatening phone calls to their intimate partner or ex-partner. Or the worker could very well show injuries from physical abuse at home.
In the event you witness a cluster of the following warning signs in the workplace, you can reasonably suspect domestic abuse:
- Bruises and other signs of impact on the skin, with the excuse of “accidents”
- Depression, crying
- Frequent and sudden absences
- Frequent lateness
- Frequent, harassing phone calls to the individual while they are at work
- Fear of the partner, references to the partner’s anger
- Decreased productivity and attentiveness
- Isolation from friends and family
- Insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards, car)
If you do recognize signs of domestic abuse in a co-worker, consult your Human Resources department. The Human Resources staff ought to be able to assist the victim without any your further involvement.
Who abuses their spouse or intimate partner?
Domestic abuse knows no age or ethnic boundaries.
Domestic abuse can occur during a relationship or after a relationship has ended.
Most psychological, medical, and legal specialists agree that the vast majority of physical abusers are men. However, women can also be the perpetrators of Family Violence.
The majority of stalkers are also men stalking women. But stalkers can also be women stalking men, men stalking men, or women stalking women.
Houston Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
As the justice system has come to recognize the social and legal effects of domestic violence, the penalties for conviction of domestic assault have become steeper. This is why it is so important to consult a lawyer who is familiar with your local court system. Seek the assistance of an competent attorney from the Charles Johnson Law Firm in Houston, Texas to learn more about what you can do to assert and protect your rights.
Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.
Best Houston Criminal Lawyer: Struggling With A Domestic Violence Arrest?
by Charles Johnson
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B2K boyband singer J-Boog has been arrested by Los Angeles police on suspicion of domestic violence, according to an online report. The "Uh Huh" star, real name Jarell Damonte Houston, was taken into custody on Monday afternoon, January 4, 2010 after ...
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Suspect In 6 Central Ohio Armed Robberies Charged
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My Fox Houston - Apr 18 2015
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Hire the Most Dedicated Houston Criminal Lawyers!
Being arrested for a criminal offense in Houston, TX is a quite scary moment in your life. The federal government has the ability to take away your liberty for the rest of your life. A very complicated process begins to operate the moment you are arrested by law enforcement. It truly is daunting and overwelming.
Nevertheless, these are generalities only. The real answer is determined by the form of crime you had been arrested for, the circumstances surrounding it, the county you are in, etc. Only those who understand the criminal law process, and know how to make it work, can really tell you what you should expect in your particular case. This is definitely one area of the law you do not ever want to handle on your own.
A good criminal defense attorney will usually provide a complimentary consultation to anyone charged with a criminal offense. You ought to take advantage of that no charge consultation asap. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney is extremely important to successfully getting through the criminal process. Get a no cost initial consultation by calling the Best Houston Criminal Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm right now, 24 / 7, 365 days a year.
Listed here are the steps you may expect to take place, and what each step within the process means to you:
Stop and Arrest
The entire process starts with a stop or an arrest by law enforcement. A stop isn’t as formal as an arrest. A police officer will stop you to ask questions. They cannot stop you unless they have a reasonable belief you violated the law. What is known as a valid “reasonable suspicion”? There are a million cases answering that question and a Attorneys In Houston is going to be able to give you a great many examples during your free consultation.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that an individual always has the right to remain silent, even if you are simply stopped and questioned. You do not have to respond to questions from law enforcement at any time. In reality, everyone ought to know their constitutional rights relating to criminal law.
If you are in a vehicle, the police officer could possibly ask to search it. The authorities cannot search your vehicle unless they have “probable cause”, or if you consent. Some might seek your consent mainly because they do not quite have “probable cause.” You do not have to give your consent to a search of your vehicle. Some might search your automobile later, nevertheless your lawyer can certainly then challenge the probable cause police officers asserted as being a reason to search the vehicle. Should you give your consent, law enforcement do not need any other reason to search your car, and your lawyer will have substantially less to challenge in court.
“Probable cause” is more serious than “reasonable suspicion”, however there are a million court cases explaining it too and the Houston Criminal Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm will give an explanation of those during your consultation. You cannot challenge a police officer’s assertion of probable cause until later on, in the courtroom. Once again, let your attorney handle that question later.
Generally, a law enforcement officer will be able to charge you should they have probable cause to believe you committed a crime, or if there is a warrant out for your arrest. If a stop and search bring about an arrest, you ought to not resist it. If it is not really valid, you will want to do so, nevertheless you cannot legally challenge it until later. Resisting arrest is known as a crime alone . The right advice in the event you are arrested is to be calm, always be silent, and demand a lawyer before they ask you any type of questions.
After being arrested, the police officer will “book” you. This is the process where they take your fingerprints, get your mug shot, do a background check, and ask you questions. Remember, you have the right to remain silent and the right to demand an attorney. You do not need to respond to questions. They aren’t going to let you out of jail even should you respond to virtually all their questions. Just be calm, always be silent, and let your attorney deal with things later. That is certainly the very best you can do.
The charge originates from the prosecutor, in no way the police. The victim does not get to charge you, and contrary to popular belief, they don’t get to drop the charges either. The prosecutor will quite often take into account the wishes of the victim, however they do not have to. You are in the hands of the state subsequent to being arrested. They can’t hold you forever, however. You must be charged with a criminal offense within a certain limited amount of time or they have to release you.
This is where the Judge or Magistrate will formally read your charges and let you know your rights. You should have asserted your right to a lawyer before now. If not, do so now. If you are asked how to plea, and you do not have an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer, you should say “not guilty.”
The Magistrate will determine whether or not you ought to be released, and if so, how much your bail will be. Bail is the amount of money you, or someone else, should post with the court so they can be sure you will reappear. If you do not, your bond is going to be forfeited, and the county retains it.
If bail is set, another person must post it for you or hire a bail bondsman to do so. Should you hire a bail bondsman, and you run off, the bondsman loses the bail money to the court. If that occurs, they send another person after you – a bounty hunter. Furthermore, there is going to be a warrant out for your arrest. In some cases you might be released on your own “recognizance”, which just means there is absolutely no bail. Nevertheless you are currently in the system and definitely will be required to appear for additional proceedings.
Discovery is known as a pre-trial process where the prosecutor needs to give certain information and facts to your Houston Criminal Lawyers. Attorney Charles Johnson will be entitled to see all of the evidence against you well before trial. There are no secret, last minute witnesses allowed.
This is the most effective reason to remain silent, not give your consent to a search, and demand a criminal defense attorney in the event you are arrested. Your Houston Criminal Defense Lawyers can prepare any number of pre-trial motions. They normally ask the Court to exclude certain evidence from trial if it was obtained in an illegal or impermissible fashion. It is challenging to suppress evidence if you spoke voluntarily or gave consent to a search.
This is a fancy word for negotiations. If the two sides reach an agreement, you will ordinarily be required to plead guilty to one or more of the criminal charges to acquire the deal that has been reached. This involves going to court, answering some questions from the Judge, and telling the court on the record that you are guilty to the charge agreed upon by Attorney Johnson and the prosecutor.
If the prosecutor and your Houston Attorneys could not arrive at an agreement on a plea bargain, you will generally go to trial. Trial is where the government has to put on evidence that you committed a criminal offense, in most cases including producing witnesses live in court to testify. You do not have to testify. You do not need to put on any type of evidence whatsoever. The government needs to demonstrate its case, and it must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are found guilty, or in the event you enter a plea of guilty based on a plea bargain, you will undoubtedly be sentenced by the Court. The Judge will decide on the suitable punishment. This can be anything from probation to active prison time. There are guidelines that apply and give the Judge a general range of punishment options.
The Experienced Houston Criminal Defense Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm can certainly do a lot on your behalf at sentencing, such as ensuring that all the procedures are followed, arguing for lesser guidelines, and arguing circumstances which would allow the Judge to sentence you to less than that called for within the guidelines. Also, a lawyer is able to help you before sentencing by explaining to you what actions you might take to make the Judge more likely to be lenient on you. For instance, if you are charged with drunk driving, and take a class or go to rehab, the Judge might take that into consideration when sentencing you.
Aggressive Lawyers in Houston
I have attempted to provide you with a useful overview of the criminal process, with a few great tips on how best to deal with important things at every stage. But I should repeat my very first and most important advice here: call Attorney Charles Johnson the moment a criminal charge is made against you. It is no joke, and you could lose your protection under the law, your cash, and your freedom.
Remember, Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson will provide you with a free of charge consultation for any individual charged with a criminal offense. You should take advantage of that no charge time with a knowledgeable lawyer to better understand the exact nature of your situation, and what is likely to happen to you at trial or sentencing.
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Marijuana is considered the most commonly abused unlawful drug in the United States. Marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, classified as having a very high potential for abuse. Street names for marijuana include grass, pot, weed, Mary Jane, dope, indo, and hydro. Marijuana possession laws can certainly impose strict penalties under certain situations. If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug-related offense, it is important to get legal representation from an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. Houston Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson will make prompt efforts on his clients’ behalf to steer law enforcement and prosecutors away from considering serious felony charges, or even any charges, in his client’s cases. Charles Johnson is available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have regarding your case.
Possession of marijuana (sometimes often called simple possession) is regarded as the most common drug crime within the United States. Considered a misdemeanor in a majority of states, marijuana possession penalties include fines, probation, and/or community service. Criminal possession of marijuana is the next level up in marijuana possession offenses and consists of possession of marijuana in a public place where it is either burning or in open public view in quantities in excess of two oz . but less 8 ounces. Criminal possession of marijuana is also a misdemeanor but the penalties increase along with the potential for prison time.
Technically, under federal drug law, the possession of marijuana, in any amount, is punishable by up to twelve months in jail along with a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. Further convictions and larger amounts lead to much stiffer penalties. Fairly few marijuana possession court cases give rise to a felony level crime. Marijuana distribution, however, is always a felony under federal law. The sale of under 50 kilos of marijuana (the smallest amount category) is punishable by five years in prison along with a $250,000 fine.
Marijuana is commonly consumed in its organic state, the plant itself utilized in various ways to produce a hallucinogenic effect on the user. Abuse and use of the cannabis plant as a means for getting high dates back to biblical times. The advent of laws criminalizing the use of the drug occurred sometime during the 20th century, with fights to legalize the use of marijuana argued ever since, its use among Native Americans in religious ceremonies and the utilization of the drug by cancer patients to alleviate nausea being the most frequent arguments used for its legalization, and a significant change in the marijuana possession laws.
Marijuana production’s principal source is Mexico. Virtually all foreign-produced marijuana available in the United States is smuggled into the country from Mexico over the Mexico border by criminal groups. Mexican criminal groups control most of wholesale marijuana distribution in the U.S., with Asian criminal groups which bring in the product over the Canadian border running a close second. The potency of Canadian marijuana being considered finer quality than the Mexican version has resulted in an increase in Asian control of marijuana production and distribution. According to the National Drug Threat Assessment 2007, high potency Canada-based smuggling, distribution and production groups are increasing, giving rise to large-scale cannabis cultivation in large outdoor sites by both Mexican and Asian groups. Additionally, in an effort to stay competitive in the higher potency marijuana distribution trade, Asian groups have started operating indoor grow sites in homes throughout the Pacific Northwest and California. The trend is to buy or lease a house, modify the house for the objective of producing two to four crops of cannabis and walking away from the property when the crops are harvested.
Challenges to current marijuana production and distribution laws are ongoing, with many states decriminalizing certain marijuana usage for particular medical ailments. Even so , in United States v. Oakland Cannabis Club, the United States Supreme Court ruled that marijuana doesn’t have medical value as determined by Congress. The court’s opinion stated that: “In the case of the Controlled Substances Act, the statue reflects a determination that marijuana doesn’t have any medical benefits worthy of an exception beyond the confines of government-approved research projects.”
In 2002, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling that upheld the Drug Enforcement Act’s determination that marijuana should remain a Schedule I controlled substance, the most restrictive schedule under the Controlled Substance Act. The marijuana debate and court battles will certainly continue to occasionally appear in the United States Court system for years to come.
Defenses for those guilty of breaking marijuana possession laws, and distribution of marijuana laws, usually revolve around the misuse of law enforcement power to search and seize property and assets. Unlawful search and seizure, illegal surveillance, and entrapment are the primary means of defending an arrest of marijuana possession or marijuana distribution.
Houston Marijuana Possession Defense Attorney: Hire the Most Respected Houston Drug Crime Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Texas courts consider marijuana possession charges seriously, and so should you. Multiple convictions of marijuana possession can result in felony charges. Consequently, you want to battle every charge you encounter , not just right away , but to defend your legal rights in the future as well. Considering that possession charges can certainly very easily result in growing and cultivation charges, you want an attorney who will lower virtually all potential damages.
The Top Houston Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson will defend your liberties and fight for you against marijuana possession charges.
The severity of the charges you face is dependent on the quantity of marijuana. Should you are caught with less than two ounces, you will have to deal with minor misdemeanor charges, but the consequences go up steeply from there. Possession of two to four ounces is defined as a Class A Misdemeanor, and possession if over four ounces is recognized as a felony.
No one wants a drug arrest on their permanent record, so our first step is to have the criminal charges completely dismissed. If dismissal or an acquittal at trial is not possible, Houston Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson is going to seek to reduce the criminal charges or diminish the penalties where possible.
For first-time offenders, Attorney Johnson will explore diversionary programs as well. By seeking proper drug treatment, you will likely be able to avoid jail time. He will help you explore virtually all potential alternative sentencing methods.
Juvenile Marijuana Possession
Marijuana has a distinctive odor, and so it is dangerous for minors to smoke it anywhere: in a vehicle, at home, or in a dorm room. Authorities can certainly smell it and a second infraction may lead to serious repercussions, including the loss of student loans. The Best Houston Lawyer will handle juvenile crimes involving marijuana possession as well as criminal court cases.
If you or a loved one have been charged with marijuana possession, you want an expert Houston Drug Crime Lawyer who is willing to stand up for your protection under the law right right now. Get in touch with Attorney Charles Johnson today for a no charge preliminary consultation.
Charles Johnson |
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Virtually all drug charge convictions bear severe consequences, but the state of Texas makes every effort to crack down on drug manufacture cases. From meth laboratories to marijuana grow houses, in the event you or a loved one faces criminal charges surrounding the cultivation of drugs; you need to speak to the Finest Houston Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm prior to taking any sort of legal action on your own.
The Top Houston Drug Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson will have many years of experience protecting the accused within the courts throughout Texas and is going to be willing to respond to your questions and reduce the damages facing you following your drug manufacture arrest.
When you initially step into their office, the Top Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm will talk about your case, talk about what happened, and how the criminal charges you face might be affected by a prior criminal record. Listening to your side of the story, they’ll help you explore any and all potential defenses.
Understanding your side of the story is important. They will tell you about the court in which your charges are being heard. In all instances, they will want to hear your side of the story before beginning to fully evaluate your choices.
Hire The Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm
Texas defense attorneys see many drug distribution cases due to the sheer volume of interstate highway traffic. Sadly, it’s all-too-easy to move drugs along the interstate highway system in all directions. In particular within the Houston area, our law enforcement officers have noticed patterns when searching for drug traffickers. It is common for vehicles to be stopped along northbound interstates and for big amounts of drugs to be found. When suspect automobiles are stopped heading southbound, big amounts of currency are occasionally found. Whether the criminal arrest will be sale, distribution, or drug trafficking depends upon the kind and also the amount of drugs in question. However the difference you face in penalties is substantial.
A first degree felony drug conviction usually results in a minimum five-year prison term, but in large-scale drug manufacturing or drug distribution cases, jail terms can jump to a minimum of 15 years.
If excessively big sums of U.S. currency are found inside your vehicle (or perhaps a vehicle you are riding in), you may face charges of money laundering. Amazingly, the penalties at the federal level for possessing big amounts of money are similarly severe to those for possessing big amounts of drugs.
You might also discover yourself dealing with conspiracy charges, something federal prosecutors might add on to drug crime cases.
The Recommended Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Charles Johnson will have handled numerous state and federal drug cases in Texas courts, from drug manufacturing cases involving meth laboratories and marijuana grow houses to international drug trafficking. No case is too big or complicated for their firm to handle.
Seizure of Assets
Law enforcement officers doing drug interdiction work have the legal right to seize assets that had been utilized in furtherance of a criminal offense or purchased using the proceeds of criminal activity. This indicates they not only confiscate drugs; they also seize money, cars, boats, various other personal property and even real estate. The police or law enforcement agency is able to then sell the assets and keep the proceeds or just keep the property altogether for their own purposes. This is especially typical with vehicles.
Asset forfeiture sometimes goes too far, with the police taking property that doesn’t belong to anybody charged with the criminal offense, property and assets that in fact belongs to totally innocent family members or third parties. The Most Dedicated Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm handles asset forfeiture cases, helping customers fight to recover seized assets .
Creating Your Drug Manufacture Defense
Most drug manufacturing criminal charges, whether they involve marijuana or methamphetamines, are heard in state court. Quite often, marijuana grow houses and meth houses are discovered following informants report activities to the authorities.
If you have been turned in by a third party, the Best Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm will attack the reliability of the source. Nevertheless, in every case the quality of the evidence is different. That is why we analyze possible actions on a case-by-case basis.
Contact the Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson for a free consultation. They’ll fight hard to protect your rights throughout the legal process.
Charles Johnson |
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Although men and women in the United States are entitled to privacy and freedom from government intrusion, there is a limit to that privacy. State or federal police officers are permitted, where justified, to search your premises, car, or some other property and assets in order to look for and seize unlawful items, stolen goods or evidence of a crime. What rules must law enforcement follow when engaging in searches and seizures? What can they do in upholding the laws, and what can’t they do?
What the authorities May Do:
- Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement officials may engage in "reasonable" searches and seizures.
- To prove that a search is "reasonable," the authorities must generally show that it is more likely than not that a crime has transpired, and that if a search is conducted it is probable that they will find either stolen goods or evidence of the criminal offense. This is named probable cause.
- In a few situations, law enforcement need to first make this showing to a judge who issues a search warrant. In the majority of special circumstances, however, law enforcement may be able to conduct a search without the need of a warrant. In fact, virtually all searches are "warrantless."
- Police may search and seize items or evidence when there’s no "legitimate expectation of privacy." In other words, if you did not have a privacy interest in the items or evidence, the authorities can take them and, in effect, no "search" has happened.
Note: In deciding whether or not there was a "legitimate expectation of privacy," a court will consider two important things:
- Did you have an expectation of some degree of privacy?
- Was that expectation reasonable in our society’s view?
Example: You have a semi-automatic rifle that you had stolen from a pawn shop. You leave the firearm laying on the hood of your vehicle when you get home. You don’t have a "legitimate expectation of privacy" with regard to items you leave on the hood of your vehicle, and police officers may take the weapon. No search has happened.
- Police may use first-hand info, or tips from an informant to justify the need to search your property. If an informant’s information is used, the police must prove that the information is reliable under the circumstances.
- Once a warrant is obtained, police officers may enter onto the specified area of the property and search for the items listed on the warrant.
- Police could very well extend the search beyond the specified area of the property or include various other items in the search beyond those specified or listed within the warrant if it is necessary to:
- Ensure their safety or the safety of others;
- Prevent the destruction of evidence;
- Discover more about possible evidence or stolen items that are in plain view; or
- Hunt for evidence or stolen items that, based upon their initial search of the specified area, they believe may be in a different location on the property.
Example: The police have a warrant to search your basement for evidence of a drug manufacturing operation. On their way through your home to go down to the basement, they see a cache of firearms sitting on your kitchen table. Some may take the guns to guarantee their safety while searching your basement.
- Police may search your property without the need of a warrant if you consent to the search. Consent must be freely and voluntarily given, and you cannot be coerced or tricked into giving it.
- Police may search your person and the immediate surroundings without a warrant when they are placing you under police arrest.
- If an individual is arrested in a residence, law enforcement may make a "protective sweep" of the home in order to make a "cursory visual inspection" of places where an accomplice may be hiding. In order to do so, the authorities must have a reasonable belief that an accomplice may be around.
Example: Police officers arrest you in your living room on criminal charges of murder. Some may open the door of your coat closet to make certain that nobody else is hiding there, but may not open your medicine cabinet due to the fact that an accomplice couldn’t hide there.
- When you are being taken to jail, police may perform an "inventory search" of items you have with you without the need of a warrant. This search may include your vehicle if it is being held by law enforcement in order to make a list of all items inside.
- Police may search without the need of a warrant should they reasonably fear for their safety or for the public’s safety.
Example: If the authorities drive past your house on a regular patrol of the neighborhood and see you, in your open garage, with ten cases of dynamite and a blowtorch, they may search your garage without having a warrant.
- If it’s necessary to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence, the police may search without the need of a warrant.
Example: If the authorities see you trying to burn a stack of cash that you stole from a bank, they could perform a search without a warrant in order to avoid you from further destroying the cash.
- Perform a search, without the need of a warrant, when they are in "hot pursuit" of a suspect who enters a private dwelling or area following fleeing the scene of a criminal offense.
Example: If the authorities are chasing you from the scene of a murder, and you run into your apartment in an effort to get away from them, they may follow you into the apartment and search the area without the need of a warrant.
- Police may perform a pat-down of your outer clothing, in what is named a "stop and frisk" situation, as long as they reasonably believe that you may be concealing a weapon and they fear for their safety.
What the authorities May NOT Do:
- The police may not perform a warrantless search anywhere you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, unless one of the warrant exceptions applies.
- If evidence was obtained through an unreasonable or unlawful search, the police may not use it against you in a trial. This is designated the "exclusionary rule."
- The police may not use evidence resulting from an unlawful search to obtain some other evidence.
- The law enforcement may not submit an affidavit in support of obtaining a search warrant if they did not have a reasonable belief in the truth of the statements in the affidavit.
- Unless there is a reasonable suspicion that it contains evidence, unlawful items, or stolen goods, law enforcement may not search your motor vehicle. If your vehicle has been confiscated by police officers, however, they can search it.
- Unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you are involved in a criminal activity, the authorities may not "stop and frisk" you. Should they have a reasonable suspicion, they can pat down your outer clothing if they are concerned that you might be concealing a firearm.
Houston Search & Seisure Defense: Hire the Most Respected Houston Lawyer
Courts quite often need to determine case-by-case whether or not the circumstances in which the police searched without a warrant had been legal. Therefore, if the search has already occurred and you are not sure of its legality, speak to the Leading Houston Drug Crimes Attorney as soon as possible. And any time a search has not yet been conducted, make sure that you understand your rights in advance.
Charles Johnson |
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When the authorities suspect an individual has been driving under the influence, they will ask him/her to perform a series of standard tests, also named field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests help law enforcement determine a driver’s level of intoxication by challenging his/her physical and mental coordination and ability to follow instructions. They are also used to establish a probable cause for arrest.
If you are stopped for suspected DWI, be courteous to the officer. Nonetheless , do not respond to inquiries about what you have had to drink or when.
Politely refuse to submit to field sobriety testing, as this is not mandatory and you cannot be penalized for a refusal of this kind.
The three standardized field sobriety tests used by Houston police officers are:
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN): HGN refers to the involuntary jerking of the eyeball. When a person is intoxicated, it is believed that his or her eyes are more likely to twitch. Through the HGN test, law enforcement officer will hold an object in front of the driver and ask him/her to follow the object with his or her eyes. If the driver is unable to follow the object, or if his/her eyes start twitching, then it is taken as a sign of intoxication. (Having said that, it is important to note that Nystagmus is medical and physiological condition that is popular in a large amount of individuals, even when they are sober)
The One-Leg Test: the driver stands on one foot and raises the other leg six inches off the ground when counting out loud. The driver is expected to stand on one foot without raising his or her arms, losing balance, wobbling, hopping around, or putting the lifted leg down.
The Walk and Turn Test: the driver takes nine steps in a straight line touching heel to toe, stops, and then repeats the action in the other direction
In addition to these DWI tests, law enforcement officers could possibly require drivers to perform additional tests, such as:
- Finger to nose test
- Reciting the alphabet
- Counting backwards
- Balancing tests
Hire the Finest Houston DWI Lawyer!
If you did perform a field sobriety test and were arrested, it is important to contact the Most Dedicated Houston DWI Lawyer asap. Most police officers have already decided to charge you at this point, and are now simply looking for additional evidence to use against you in the courtroom. Many attorneys believe field sobriety tests are inaccurate, subjective, and designed for failure. There are many factors that may cause people to appear intoxicated, including nervousness, age, lack of natural coordination, lack of proper instruction, weather, fatigue, illness, physical problems, disabilities, injuries, car headlights, weight, footwear, intimidation, and traffic distractions.
Other important advice:
After your police arrest, you have the right to remain silent. You do not need to answer questions or submit to formal questioning about the case. While you should cooperate and be polite, you do not have to answer questions about how much you have had to drink and when. Exercise this right, and you will have a much better potential for avoiding a conviction.
You also have the right to legal counsel. This is a constitutional right that should be observed in order to provide defendants in criminal cases the opportunity to prove their innocence. By consulting a Houston DWI lawyer as soon as possible after a DWI charge, you will give him or her a better chance of making a positive effect on your case.
If you are arrested, be sure that you contact the Texas DPS as soon as possible. You have only Fifteen calendar days to schedule an ALR (Administrative License Revocation) hearing relating to your license suspension. A failure to schedule this hearing will bring about the automatic suspension of your license.
Most importantly, get in touch with the Most Dedicated Houston Attorney as soon as you are able to. Having a skilled lawyer at your side as early in the process as possible will mean that your legal rights will undoubtedly be protected and you will have the greatest opportunity of avoiding license suspension and a conviction.
Houston DWI Defense: The Leading Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested and charged for DWI, and you performed one or more field sobriety test, it is vital to hire an experienced Houston DWI attorney to investigate your case and represent you in the courtroom. The Most Qualified Houston Criminal Defense Attorney will use their expertise to fight the criminal charges brought against their clients and protect their rights. They will question the arresting officer’s ability to properly conduct a field sobriety test, and make sure the police officer did not violate their clients’ legal rights throughout the charge. In addition, they will be dedicated to providing every client with personalized attention, viable options, and aggressive DWI defense. They will not stop working until they obtain a favorable result, and see that justice has been served.
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Hire the Finest Houston Drug Crimes Attorney!
Drug possession is a severe criminal charge in Texas carrying a wide range of punitive measures from probation to lengthy prison sentences, depending on the quantity of the drug. A conviction on drug possession charges could have serious implications for you mainly because of the likelihood that you might have to go to jail and pay stiff fines reaching into the thousands of dollars, in addition to the probability the authorities may perhaps seize your vehicle or other assets.
Drug possession charges will follow you with a criminal record which can also keep you from certain jobs and professional licenses. If you are charged under the possession law, it means the state has arrested you for transporting or having access to a controlled substance including marijuana, cocaine, or Ecstasy.
A drug possession conviction may possibly bring about a six month driver’s license suspension under Texas statutes, so it makes sense to contact an criminal defense attorney for more information on alternatives to pleading guilty should you require the ability to drive. Law enforcement will be able to charge you with drug possession should they find drugs in your pockets or anywhere else on your body, or they can certainly charge you under a claim of “constructive possession“. This means the drugs had been in a place that you normally control or could very easily reach, that could be your car, your apartment, or the cushions of a couch where you had been sitting when police officers entered.
Speak to a Houston, Texas law firm to schedule a free of charge preliminary consultation with a qualified, aggressive Drug Possession Defense lawyer.
Aggressive Drug Possession Defense
The Most Effective Houston Criminal Lawyer will have a great deal of working experience providing vigorous defense for adults and juveniles confronting defense criminal charges for possession of illegal substances, that include:
- Crack cocaine
- Methamphetamines (meth
- Other illegal drugs
The penalties for a drug conviction can range from fines of $2,000 and 180 days in jail to fines of $50,000 and an entire lifetime in prison. The level of misdemeanor or felony charge is based upon the amount of drugs confiscated. By way of example, possession of five ounces of marijuana would lead to state felony charges with a sentence potential of up to $10,000 and a couple of years in prison.
A drug possession conviction might lead to criminal penalties, including fines and incarceration, and other penalties, such as license suspension, damage to reputation and loss of ability to acquire student loan financing. The Most Qualified Houston Criminal Lawyer will make every effort to minimize or altogether avoid such drastic repercussions through providing zealous defense counsel.
Drug Possession Sentencing
Judges will typically attempt to determine if the drugs had been for personal use or drug possession for sale and distribution when sentencing. Quite often the fines are quite major and quite often the sentence will include at least random drug testing and probation if not some jail time. Drug awareness classes and community service hours are quite often the initial option for the majority of judges, once it has been confirmed that the drugs had been for personal use.
Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson can help prove this, or simply prove that the drugs were definitely not yours in situations where they were recovered from an automobile or residence.
Protect Your Rights
You have a right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer – USE THEM. The Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney investigates the methods in which the evidence was acquired in order to uncover violations of your constitutional rights.
Elicited confessions and the seized drugs are quite often the only evidence creating a case against you. This will certainly provide leverage in plea negotiations and even lead to dismissal of drug criminal charges. Any evidence that is obtained in violation of your legal rights is inadmissible in court – which means the evidence can’t be utilized in a case against you. Any time a confession was obtained unlawfully or unlawful drugs had been confiscated with an invalid search warrant (illegal search and seizure), your attorney should fight to suppress the evidence. As a highly skilled drug possession criminal defense lawyer, Charles Johnson understands how to mitigate damaging evidence.
Will I have to go to Jail on my Drug Possession Criminal Charge?
State possession law allows counties to set up diversion programs for men and women charged with offenses concerning the use or possession of drugs, including marijuana. And, judges are required to give probation, or community supervision, in certain drug possession court cases.
The state health code also requires any county with a population of more than 200,000 to establish a drug court program to send some drug offenders to treatment as opposed to jail.
The punishment primarily depends on the quantity of drugs involved and your prior conviction history, but it is very conceivable you could possibly not have to serve time for a drug possession conviction if it’s your initial offense for a relatively small amount./p>
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure makes community supervision and mandatory drug treatment programs a sentencing requirement for folks convicted of possessing:
- Less than 1 gram of drugs such as crack or meth.
- Less than 5 units of drugs that include LSD.
- Less than 1 gram of drugs including Ecstasy (MMDA) or PCP.
- Less than one pound of marijuana.
Nevertheless, the judge doesn’t have to sentence you to probation if you have been found guilty of a previous felony, or in the event you have violated an earlier probation sentence. In those cases, it is up to the judge whether or not you go to jail or get probation.
If your attorney can show the officers did not have probable cause, your consent, or a search warrant, your attorney may possibly be able to challenge the legality of the search that turned up those drugs and get the evidence suppressed, keeping the state from making its case against you.
To do that, the prosecutor must show that law enforcement officials found the drugs on you or in your control following a legal search. The judge also can sentence you to serve three to six months in jail before starting probation. Bear in mind, the state must first prove the criminal charge of drug possession before you may be sentenced. I highly recommend you get in touch with your lawyer for a free of charge consultation on your Texas drug possession charge, and your lawyer will walk you through the basic facts of your case, and your ideal legal defense solutions. As you can see, drug possession court cases get complicated very quickly.
Hire The Very Best Houston Drug Possession Defense Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
If you are confronting misdemeanor or felony drug possession charges following a drug charge in Texas, defend your liberties and future. Contact the Best Houston drug crime defense lawyer to schedule a free preliminary consultation. Many times the first arrest on Drug Possession criminal charges can be dropped down to a disorderly conduct, resulting in less significant penalties that usually do not include incarceration. Additionally, the Best Houston Drug Crimes Attorney could possibly even be able to have the criminal charges dropped in situation where you had been merely within the vicinity where the drugs had been located.
Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson will definitely negotiate these types of arrangements to avoid you from having a drug related charge on your record.
Charles Johnson |
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