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Are you currently in a situation where you are facing criminal charges for Murder? Houston Criminal Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson represents clients charged with Homicide crimes throughout all of Texas. The Charles Johnson Law Firm can provide legal counsel at virtually any stage of your case, even if formal charges have not yet been filed against you. Currently, Texas has six types of Criminal Homicide charges:
Homicide is the act of killing another person, either intentionally or unintentionally. It is perhaps the most serious crime you could be accused of, and the potential penalties you could face if convicted are equally serious. Your lawyer must be well-versed in Texas and Federal Homicide laws to successfully represent you. If you or someone you love has been charged with any type of Criminal Homicide, you must take these charges very seriously and seek the legal advice of an experienced and knowledgeable Houston Criminal Defense Attorney right away. The Charles Johnson Law Firm will examine all the details of your case and will challenge the evidence against you. Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson has helped his clients either prove their innocence, or obtain a reduction in the charges against them. Whether you or guilty or not, you deserve to have an experienced attorney on your side who will work aggressively, to protect you and your rights. Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson anytime night or day directly at (713) 222-7577. He is always available to discuss your case.
Texas Penal Code Chapter 19: Four Types Of Criminal Homicide
TPC section 19.01 states that there are four types of Criminal Homicide. They are Murder, Capital Murder, Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide.
Under TPC section 19.02 there are three basic ways to commit murder:
- intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual;
- intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual; or
- commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission
or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.
Murder is usually a felony of the first degree, the possible punishment for which is imprisonment in the institutional division for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years and/or by a fine not to exceed $10,000. The only exception to this that the crime is a felony of the second degree if the requirements of TPC sec. 19.02 (d) are satisfied:
At the punishment stage of a trial, the defendant may raise the issue as to
whether he caused the death under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising
from an adequate cause. If the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by a
preponderance of the evidence, the offense is a felony of the second degree.
During the punishment phase of the trial, a defendant may argue that he caused the death while under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause. “Sudden passion” is “passion directly caused by and arising out of provocation by the individual killed or another acting with the person killed which passion arises at the time of the offense and is not solely the result of former provocation.”
“Adequate cause” is a “cause that would commonly produce a degree of anger, rage, resentment, or terror in a person of ordinary temper, sufficient to render the mind incapable of cool reflection.” Sudden passion is a mitigating circumstance that, if found by the jury to have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence, reduces the offense from a first degree felony to a second degree felony.
Thus, before defendants are allowed to have the judge or jury consider sudden passion, defendants must prove:
- that there was a adequate (legally recognized) provocation for the emotion or passion;
- an emotion or passion such as terror, anger, rage, fear or resentment existed;
- that the homicide occurred while the passion or emotion still existed;
- that the homicide occurred before there was a reasonable opportunity for the passion or emotion to cool (dissipate); and,
- that there was a causal connection between the provocation, the passion, and the homicide.
A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000. This is where the old offense of “voluntary manslaughter” ended up after amendments to the TPC effective in 1994. Thus, there is currently no offense of voluntary manslaughter in Texas.
A capital murder is a capital felony. The Texas Penal Code specifically defines Capital Murder (and, thus, the possibility of the death penalty as a punishment) as murder which involves one or more of the elements listed below:
- the person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman;
- the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or
retaliation, or terroristic threat,
- the person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;
- the person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;
- the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another:
- who is employed in the operation of the penal institution; or
- with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination;
- the person:
- while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Sec.19.02, murders another; or
- while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under Sec. 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another;
- the person murders more than one person:
- during the same criminal transaction; or
- during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct;
- the person murders an individual under six years of age; or
- the person murders another person in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of the other person as a judge or justice of the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, a district court, a criminal district court, a constitutional county court, a statutory county court, a justice court, or a municipal court.
A capital felony is punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. If the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty, life without parole is the mandatory sentence. Prior to 2005, capital felony life imprisonment was life with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
Under current state law, the crimes of Capital Murder and Capital Sabotage (see below) or a second conviction for the aggravated sexual assault of someone under 14 is eligible for the death penalty.
Note: The Texas Penal Code allows for the death penalty to be assessed for “aggravated sexual assault of child committed by someone previously convicted of aggravated sexual assault of child”. The statute remains part of the Penal Code; however, the Supreme Court of the United State’s decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana which outlawed the death penalty for any crime not involving murder nullifies its effect.
The Texas Penal Code also allows a person can be convicted of any felony, including capital murder, “as a party” to the offense. “As a party” means that the person did not personally commit the elements of the crime, but is otherwise responsible for the conduct of the actual perpetrator as defined by law; which includes:
- soliciting for the act,
- encouraging its commission,
- aiding the commission of the offense,
- participating in a conspiracy to commit any felony where one of the conspirators commits the crime of capital murder
The felony involved does not have to be capital murder; if a person is proven to be a party to a felony offense and a murder is committed, the person can be charged with and convicted of capital murder, and thus eligible for the death penalty.
As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime or mentally retarded are precluded from being executed by the Constitution of the United States.
Manslaughter (TPC sec. 19.04) is recklessly causing the death of an individual. Manslaughter is a felony of the second degree, which is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Texas does not officially use the term “involuntary manslaughter” or “voluntary manslaughter” which can sometimes be a little bit confusing. Many states do make the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Instead, Texas combines involuntary and voluntary manslaughter together and it is known as just “manslaughter.”
To convict a defendant of manslaughter, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant recklessly caused the death of another individual. There is no requirement of premeditation to this crime and no requirement for there to be intent or knowledge on the part of the defendant. The only requirement is that the defendant’s conduct was reckless.
Although manslaughter is defined broadly in Texas, there are specific types of manslaughter that are treated separately. For example, intoxication manslaughter is one, and vehicular manslaughter is another. Intoxication manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while intoxicated. Cases involving driving while intoxicated would probably be prosecuted under TPC sec. 49.08, Intoxication Manslaughter (see below), rather than under this section. Vehicular manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while driving a vehicle or vessel.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
Criminally negligent homicide (TPC sec. 19.05) is causing the death of an individual by criminal negligence. It is a state jail felony under which in general, a person can be confined in a state jail for not more than two years nor less than 180 days. In addition, a fine of not more than $10,000 may be assessed.
Criminally Negligent Homicide differs from Manslaughter only in terms of the culpability or mens rea. Criminally negligent homicide involves criminal negligence. Manslaughter involves recklessness. Thus, Manslaughter involves conscious risk creation (the actor is aware of the risk surrounding his conduct or the results thereof, but consciously disregards that awareness). Criminally negligent homicide involves inattentive risk creation. The actor ought to have been aware of the riskiness of his or her conduct but failed to perceive the risk.
Recklessness and criminal negligence are more serious forms of culpability than the negligence that can result in civil liability. Unlike civil or ordinary negligence, recklessness requires some subjective awareness of the risk. Ordinary negligence is a totally objective standard. Criminal negligence requires a “gross” deviation from the standard of care a reasonable or ordinary person would have exercised under the same circumstances. Criminal negligence is roughly equivalent to “gross negligence” which is a more serious form of culpability than ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence can be made out by showing any deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise.
Texas Penal Code Section 49.08 Intoxication Manslaughter
The final type of criminal homicide found in Texas Code is found in TPC ch. 49, “Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverage Offenses.” A person is guilty of intoxication manslaughter if the person operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, watercraft or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride and “ is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.”
“Intoxicated is defined as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more or
“not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body . . .”
This offense is a felony of the second degree. A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000
Note that this is a strict liability offense. Guilt attaches even if the death is caused by accident or mistake. Many observers are critical of strict liability offenses because they arguably punish conduct which is not blameworthy. Supporters of strict liability offenses counter that such offenses are usually fine-only offenses. This is clearly not the case for sec. 49.08 for which a person could be imprisoned for up to 20 years.
Section 49.08 does not apply to injury or death of an unborn child if the offense against the unborn child is committed by the mother of the unborn child. Thus, if a pregnant woman is driving while intoxicated and has an accident which kills her fetus, it is not a crime.
Texas Government Code – Section 557.012 Capital Sabotage
- A person commits an offense if the person commits an offense under Section 557.011(a) and the sabotage or attempted sabotage causes the death of an individual.
- An offense under this section is punishable by:
- death; or
- confinement in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for:
- life; or
- a term of not less than two years.
- If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under other law, the actor may be prosecuted under both sections.
Possible Defenses for Murder Charges
Defenses to first degree murder charges fall into two major categories: claims that the defendant did not commit the killing in question, and admission that the defendant committed the killing, but did not commit first degree murder.
Defendants admitting to having killed the victim can assert defenses that they were justified in doing so (in self defense, for example), or that they were somehow incapacitated and thus not legally liable. These defenses require the defendant to put forth proof to support his or her defense.
First degree murder defendants also may simply argue that the prosecution has not proved all elements of a first degree murder charge typically that the defendant killed willfully, deliberately and with premeditation. Though the defendant may support such an argument with evidence, he or she is not required to do so, as proof of all elements of the crime falls on the shoulders of the prosecution.
As with statutes defining crimes, the defenses recognized for a specific crime can vary by state. Furthermore, which defenses a criminal defendant may have depends on the particular facts of the case in question. For guidance, defendants should consult an attorney well versed in his or her state’s criminal laws.
In first degree murder cases, as well as other homicide crimes, defendants often argue mistaken identity i.e., that the prosecution has charged the wrong person with the killing. A defendant arguing mistaken identity often asserts an alibi if possible, which he or she tries to support with evidence of being somewhere else at the time of the killing. Other arguments in a mistaken identity defense include challenges to evidence placing the defendant at the scene of the crime. This can include challenges to witness identification as well as challenges to forensic evidence. A mistaken identity defense may also point to evidence implicating another possible suspect, but courts do not require defendants to do so.
Not all homicides are crimes, let alone first degree murders. The most common legal justification for a killing is self-defense or the defense of others.
To succeed, a defendant arguing self defense must show that the killing resulted from a reasonable use of force to resist a reasonable fear of death or bodily harm. The defendant cannot have instigated the threatening situation. The degree of force used in self-defense must be proportional to the threat perceived, and the threat perceived must be something that would place a reasonable person in fear of death or great bodily harm. Mere words or insults do not suffice.
The defendant’s reaction to the threat cannot take place after the threat of death or bodily harm has passed. Many states require that the defendant attempt to retreat or avoid danger if possible before resorting to the use of deadly force.
For example, if someone incapacitates a mugger with pepper spray, he or she may need to attempt to flee to safety instead of taking out a pistol and shooting the mugger. States differ in the degree to which they require an attempt to retreat if the threat they face occurs in the defender’s home.
Defense of Others
The reasonable and proportional defense of others also justifies some killings. The same requirements as self-defense typically apply: the use of force must be timely and proportional to the threat faced, and the perceived threat of death or bodily harm must be reasonable.
Exercise of Duty
Certain killings by law enforcement and other public officers qualify as justified homicides. If an officer kills someone in the exercise of duty and without an unlawful intent, recklessness or negligence, that killing generally does not constitute murder, let alone first degree murder.
Accident or Misfortune
Killings committed by accident in the course of lawful activities do not constitute murder. Some such killings may result in liability for manslaughter, but unless an accidental homicide takes place during the commission of a crime or as a result of other criminal intentions, they would not be covered by first degree or second degree murder statutes. In certain cases, such as parental discipline of children which results in even accidental death, the use of physical force beyond excepted norms can push the killing into murder and possibly, depending on state law, first degree murder.
Most states recognize an insanity defense to charges of first degree murder. Even states which allow the defense, however, treat it differently and often apply different tests. Most states define insanity, for purposes of determining criminal liability, as cognitively being unable to appreciate the quality of the act being committed, or unable to realize that the act is wrong. Some states also recognize a volitional aspect to “insanity” giving some defendants with disorders affecting impulse control access to the insanity defense.
Hire the Best Criminal Homicide Lawyers: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Murder charges are of course the most serious of all charges and the most seriously pursued by the State Attorney’s Office or Federal Prosecutors. A person charged with homicide (murder) in Texas risks significant jail time and most convictions will result in never being released from custody. In some cases, they face being sentenced to death. Texas has become infamous in the country for the number of murders.
However not all deaths are criminal, and there are several powerful homicide defenses provided under Texas Law. If you or someone you know is charged with some form of a Homicide charge, then you need the best possible attorney. You are entitled to the best legal defense possible. Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson can deliver that defense for you. Houston Criminal Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson is available to discuss your case whenever you need him. Contact him directly at (713) 222-7577. His Law Office is headquartered in Houston, with offices conveniently located in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.
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, The Charles Johnson Law Firm
At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we have extensive experience in the investigation of cases involving illegal search and seizure of property. Search and seizures can involve cases involving Drug Crimes, Federal White Collar Crimes or Child Pornography cases, as examples. Anytime local officials search your person, car, home, office or property, they must follow strict protocol to ensure compliance with your Fourth Amendment Constitutional Rights.
Has an illegal search of your home, vehicle, or other property resulted in drug charges involving possession, distribution or some other drug crime? Although the Constitution grants you the right against illegal search and seizure, it is often necessary to have a skilled lawyer on your side to advocate for and enforce your rights. Contact Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson for aggressive criminal defense representation anywhere in Texas. Attorney Johnson is available to discuss your case anytime night or day. You can reach him directly at (713) 222-7577.
Search and seizure law today is built around three key questions. First, did the police “search” or “seize” anyone or anything? If not, the law leaves police action basically unregulated. If so, what justification must the police have — probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or (in rare cases) something else? Finally, what process must the police follow — must they seek permission in advance from a magistrate, or can they search first and defend themselves in a suppression hearing later?
Search and Seizure: Understanding The Laws
One of the hallmarks of the US criminal justice system is our search and seizure law. The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution guarantees the right to be free from unlawful or “unreasonable” searches and seizures by the police and other law enforcement personnel. Generally, this means that the police have to have a good reason before they may search you or your property, seize your belongings or even seize or arrest you.
The key term here is “unreasonable.” Of course, not all searches and seizures are illegal. The lynchpins to the search and seizure law are probable cause and the expectation of privacy.
In simple terms, probable cause means that there are facts or circumstances to justify a search or seizure of a place, things or a person. Generally, this means that there’s a good reason to believe that a person is or has committed crime or that evidence of a crime can be found in a particular place. Probable cause is the driving factor for any search or arrest.
With probable cause, a police officer may:
- Convince a judge or magistrate to issue a warrant that authorizes him to search a certain and particular place for certain and particular things and seize them, or to arrest a particular person, or
- Conduct a search and seize evidence of a crime, or make an arrest, without a warrant, if there are “exigent” or emergency circumstances that make getting a warrant impractical
For example, during an investigation, police officers gather evidence that a suspect is selling illegal drugs from his home. The officers may ask a judge or magistrate for a search warrant for the home (and an arrest warrant for the suspect), and if the magistrate thinks there’s enough evidence, they willl issue the warrant(s). However, if during a stakeout the officers learn that the suspect is about to destroy the drugs in his home, the officers may be justified to enter the home, search it, and seize any drugs and arrest the suspect, all without a warrant.
As a general rule, the police need to get a warrant. It’s the mechanism that makes the Fourth Amendment work, that is, it makes sure that a search and seizure is reasonable. If warrantless search and seizure is conducted, the police have to prove that a warrant was needed or that there was no time to get one.
Expectation of Privacy
Generally, unless you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in a certain place or thing, it may be searched and/or seized by the police without a search warrant. In other words, the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to any place or thing in which you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy if:
- You actually expect privacy in the place or thing. This is called the “subjective” expectation of privacy, and
- Your expectation of privacy is one that that society as a whole would think is legitimate and reasonable. This is called the “objective” expectation of privacy
Some examples of places or things where you may have a reasonable expectation of privacy include:
- Your home, or anywhere you actually live, including a rented apartment or a hotel room
- The trunk of your car
- Luggage or other containers that aren’t transparent or see-through, even if you’re carrying it in a public place, like an airport or bus station
- Your business office
- A public telephone booth, once you’ve shut the door
On the other hand, there are many places and things in which there is no reasonable expectation of privacy, such as
- Things that are in “plain view,” that is, exposed or out in the open that anyone can see. Illegal drugs or weapons on the front seat of your car are good examples
- Portions of your business office or building that’s open to the public, such as a reception area
- Public places, likes restaurants and parks
- Your trash or garbage, once you placed it at the curb for pick-up or collection
The laws on search and seizure can be complicated, and the facts and circumstances of each particular case are very important to determining if an unlawful search and seizure has taken place. If you or your property has been searched already, you should contact Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson immediately to make sure that your rights are protected. He can be reached anytime at (713) 272-4586 to discuss your case.
Hire the Best Houston Search & Seizure Lawyer: Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson
Search and seizure law is complex and ever changing and the police always know it better than you. Don’t give them an even bigger advantage by agreeing to a search of your home, your car, or your person. The 4th Amendment to the Constitution says that you are supposed to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures unless the police have a warrant. In other words, the law specifically sets forth when an officer can look through your possessions and what he can take if he finds it during the search.
If I let the police search my car, new case law suggests that unless my consent is limited, they can search anywhere in the passenger compartment, including hidden places and containers. That means behind the door panels, speakers, or dash area.
Searches have been expanded to places the framers of the constitution could never have imagined, like inside your body. If the police stop your car and think you are intoxicated, they can ask a judge to give them a warrant to “search” inside your body for evidence of intoxication contained within your blood.
We have a huge body of case law that prevents the State from infringing on your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and ensures the police must follow all the applicable rules when searching your car or person, and all of it is thrown right out the window when you tell the police it is okay to go ahead and look through your car, house, pockets, or body.
Say NO. It really is that easy. Just like you should say “no” to drugs, you should also say “no” to searches. If you are carrying something you don’t want the police to find, do not let them search for it.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects personal privacy, and every citizen’s right to be free from unreasonable government intrusion into their persons, homes, businesses, and property — whether through police stops of citizens on the street, arrests, or searches of homes and businesses.
Lawmakers and the courts have put in place legal safeguards to ensure that law enforcement officers interfere with individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights only under limited circumstances, and through specific methods.
What Does the Fourth Amendment Protect?
In the criminal law realm, Fourth Amendment “search and seizure” protections extend to:
- A law enforcement officer’s physical apprehension or “seizure” of a person, by way of a stop or arrest; and
- Police searches of places and items in which an individual has a legitimate expectation of privacy — his or her person, clothing, purse, luggage, vehicle, house, apartment, hotel room, and place of business, to name a few examples.
The Fourth Amendment provides safeguards to individuals during searches and detentions, and prevents unlawfully seized items from being used as evidence in criminal cases. The degree of protection available in a particular case depends on the nature of the detention or arrest, the characteristics of the place searched, and the circumstances under which the search takes place.
When Does the Fourth Amendment Apply?
The legal standards derived from the Fourth Amendment provide constitutional protection to individuals in the following situations, among others:
- An individual is stopped for police questioning while walking down the street.
- An individual is pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, and the police officer searches the vehicle’s trunk.
- An individual is arrested.
- Police officers enter an individual’s house to place him or her under arrest.
- Police officers enter an individual’s apartment to search for evidence of crime.
- Police officers enter a corporation’s place of business to search for evidence of crime.
- Police officers confiscate an individual’s vehicle or personal property and place it under police control.
Potential scenarios implicating the Fourth Amendment, and law enforcement’s legal obligation to protect Fourth Amendment rights in those scenarios, are too numerous to cover here. However, in most instances a police officer may not search or seize an individual or his or her property unless the officer has:
- A valid search warrant;
- A valid arrest warrant; or
- A belief rising to the level of “probable cause” that an individual has committed a crime.
What if My Fourth Amendment Rights Are Violated?
When law enforcement officers violate an individual’s constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment, and a search or seizure is deemed unlawful, any evidence derived from that search or seizure will almost certainly be kept out of any criminal case against the person whose rights were violated. For example:
- An arrest is found to violate the Fourth Amendment because it was not supported by probable cause or a valid warrant. Any evidence obtained through that unlawful arrest, such as a confession, will be kept out of the case.
- A police search of a home is conducted in violation of the homeowner’s Fourth Amendment rights, because no search warrant was issued and no special circumstances justified the search. Any evidence obtained as a result of that search cannot be used against the homeowner in a criminal case.
Search Warrant Requirements
Anyone who watches crime dramas on television is familiar with the scene where police officers enter a home or business brandishing a search warrant. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the people’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, which often — but not always — means that government agents must have a warrant to search and seize your person and property.
Here is the full text of the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Fourth Amendment protects the people from unreasonable searches and seizures, which means that many searches are fine as long as they meet certain requirements. Searches are generally considered reasonable when: 1) a judge issues a search warrant based on probable cause; or 2) certain situations occur that justify a search without a warrant (a search for weapons after an arrest, for example).
The Fourth Amendment’s requirements don’t apply when a person doesn’t have a “legitimate expectation of privacy” in the place or thing searched. If there isn’t an expectation of privacy, then the Fourth Amendment doesn’t come into play, and officers conducting a search don’t have to meet its requirements.
The United States Supreme Court has created a test for determining when a legitimate expectation of privacy exists. The test has two parts:
- Did the person subjectively expect the place or thing to be private? I.e., did they actually feel that the place or thing would remain private?
- Was that expectation objectively reasonable? I.e., would society as a whole agree that the place or thing should remain private?
An example might help clarify the point: most people feel that their homes are private, so there is a subjective expectation of privacy in one’s home. Most people in society would find this expectation reasonable, so a police search of one’s home must satisfy the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness requirement.
If someone leaves evidence of a crime on their front lawn, however, it’s likely that a police seizure of that evidence would not constitute an unreasonable search since most people in a society would not expect that an object that was clearly visible to anyone passing by would remain private. Even if the owner of the home or the evidence genuinely expected that the area would remain private, that expectation would not be reasonable, and so the seizure would not have to meet the requirements of the Fourth Amendment.
Also keep in mind that the Fourth Amendment’s requirements only apply to government actors. Private individuals, including security guards, don’t fall under the Fourth Amendment’s restrictions. While a private individual may break other laws if they conduct a search of a person or their belongings, any evidence they discover in the process would still be admissible in court.
If a government actor conducts an illegal search (one that violates the Fourth Amendment), the government cannot present any evidence discovered during that search at trial. Known as the “exclusionary rule“, this rule aims to deter police officers from conducting unreasonable searches. Opponents of the exclusionary rule, however, argue that it lets guilty criminals go free on technicalities.
In addition, evidence obtained through illegal searches cannot lead police to the discovery of other evidence. This legal rule, known as the “fruit of the poisonous tree”, is also designed to prevent government actors from invading people’s privacy by conducting unreasonable searches. If police know, so the theory goes, that any evidence they obtain based on what they discover in an illegal search will be thrown out, they won’t conduct illegal searches in the first place.
Here are a few examples to illustrate the exclusionary rule and the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine:
Officer Joe suspects that Chris is selling drugs. Without a warrant, Officer Joe walks into Chris’ house and finds drugs and a scale on the kitchen table. Officer Joe arrests Chris, but the judge throws out the evidence of the drugs and scale on the basis of the exclusionary rule.
In the example above, instead of finding drugs and a scale, Office Joe finds a map to locations throughout the city where Chris is storing his drugs for sale. Officer Joe collects the drugs and enters both them and the map as evidence. The map is thrown out because of the exclusionary rule, and, because Officer Joe would not have discovered the drugs without the map, the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine prevents the use of the drugs as evidence.
It is important to note, however, that just because the prosecution can’t use certain evidence at trial, it doesn’t mean that a judge will dismiss a case or that a jury will acquit the defendant. Prosecutors may have enough other evidence to convict the defendant even without the results of the illegal search.
Plus, while prosecutors can’t use improperly obtained evidence to secure a conviction, that evidence may enter into other areas of the trial. For instance:
- The evidence may become a factor in civil and immigration cases
- Prosecutors can use the evidence to attack the credibility of a witness under certain circumstances
- Judges may consider the evidence when determining a sentence after a conviction
Understanding the Difference between “Search” and “Seizure”
“Searches,” in Fourth Amendment law, are police tactics that infringe a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” A reasonable expectation of privacy is the kind of expectation any citizen might have with respect to any other citizen. A fair translation of this standard might go as follows: Police can see and hear the things that any member of the public might see and hear, without fear of Fourth Amendment regulation. Only when police cross that line, only when they see and hear things that members of the public would not be allowed to see and hear, has a “search” taken place.
A few examples might clarify the standard. Eavesdropping on telephone conversations is a “search.” Overhearing a conversation on the street is not. Climbing over a backyard fence is a “search.” Observing the same backyard from the window of an airplane is not. Hiding in the bushes outside a house and looking inside is a “search.” Standing on a public street and looking through open curtains into a living room is not. Opening a briefcase to inspect its contents is a “search.” Observing someone carrying a briefcase on the street is not.
When applying the “reasonable expectation of privacy” standard, courts ask whether, at the moment the police officer observed the illegal behavior, he was in a position any member of the public might have been in. The duration and intensity of police observation does not matter. Thus, police officers can stake out a private home, taking up residence across the street and watching all comings and goings for a period of days or even weeks, and that behavior does not constitute a “search,” because at any given moment, any member of the public might have been looking. And police can follow a suspect’s movements along public streets, in shops or restaurants, and so forth; once again, such behavior is not a “search” (even though it amounts to something like stalking), because any member of the public might have seen any given transaction in public.
One other feature of the definition of “search” bears mention. Consensual transactions are not “searches,” even if consent was given under false pretenses. So if a police officer poses as a drug buyer, and a suspect lets him into the suspect’s house in order to sell him drugs, anything the officer sees and hears in the house is fair game—no Fourth Amendment “search” has taken place. The use of undercover agents is thus routinely permitted by search and seizure law, whether or not the police have good reason to suspect the person with whom the undercover agent is dealing of any crime. Also, if a police officer asks permission to look in a suspect’s car or briefcase, and the suspect says yes, once again no “search” has taken place. This last point is particularly important. Police officers exert a certain amount of force just by virtue of their status. For many, perhaps most, a request from a police officer will sound like a command; the tendency will be to say yes whether one wants to or not. Nevertheless, if the police officer asks, and the suspect says yes, that almost always amounts to consent. Only if the officer behaves unusually coercively—if he pulls his weapon, or grabs hold of the suspect, or the like—will a court find that the consent was involuntary.
All these rules sound complicated; in practice, they are relatively simple. In general, the police are “searching” when they are either committing some kind of trespass—grabbing a suspect’s briefcase and looking inside, breaking into a house or apartment, climbing over a backyard fence—or are engaged in some kind of electronic eavesdropping—for example, wiretapping a phone. Most of the rest of what police do to gather information falls outside the Fourth Amendment.
“Seizures” are harder to define. The Supreme Court says that a suspect has been “seized” if a reasonable person in the suspect’s shoes would not feel free to leave. If the Court took its own language seriously, every conversation between a police officer and a citizen would be a “seizure.” After all, few people, when approached on the street by an officer, feel free to turn on their heels and walk away. The consequences of that position would be huge; the police would need some adequate justification for every interaction.
Not surprisingly, the law does not operate that way in practice. The working standard seems to be roughly the same as the standard for consent. The dispositive question is this: Did the police officer behave coercively (not counting the coercion that is inherent in a police officer questioning a suspect)? If so, the encounter is a “seizure.” If not, it is not. Compared to the definition of “search,” which has acquired a good deal of definition over the years, the definition of “seizure” remains remarkably vague and open-ended. Conversations on the street between police officers and citizens often begin as consensual conversations; at some point the encounter often becomes a “seizure.” Neither the officer nor the suspect—nor, for that matter, courts—know precisely when that point is.
The Penalties for Illegal Searches and Seizures
To ensure that police officers respect individuals’ constitutional rights, the U.S. Supreme Court provides strict penalties. If the police perform an illegal search, the evidence they obtain as a result of this search will not be allowed in a courtroom.
This means that if police search you without probable cause, even if they find drugs, they will not be allowed to present this evidence to a jury. Illegal search and seizure is one of the strongest defenses available for any criminal matter.
If you have been accused of any crime, contact the firm to discuss your concerns with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Houston Attorney Charles Johnson can help you understand your rights and remedies following an illegal search or seizure.
Houston Search and Seizure Lawyer Charles Johnson will fight aggressively on your behalf to get the charges against you dismissed in cases of police misconduct, police brutality or violations of your civil rights. Those actions include:
- Illegal search and seizure
- Failure to read Miranda rights
- Arresting you without a valid search warrant
- Refusing you access to an attorney
- Racial profiling
- Making false statements to obtain a warrant
- Making false statements in court
There are many other examples of police misconduct that could invalidate the charges against you. If you have been subjected to a search or seizure action, contact Attorney Johnson immediately to inquire about possible violations of your legal rights. Houston Lawyer Johnson has extensive experience challenging evidence that was gathered during an illegal search. Once the evidence against you is suppressed, there is no basis for the charges against you, which may lead to a dismissal of all charges.
Tips for avoiding all types of searches:
- Keep your appearance neat and clean. Look like a criminal, get treated like one. There is a reason why middle-aged women driving minivans rarely get pulled over.
- Keep your car clean. When I say clean I mean get your car detailed at least a couple of times a year. People who leave the inside of their car messy often forget about things they have tossed on the floor or cannot see items other people have left behind.
- Keep your car in good working order. Don’t give the police a reason to stop you. Make sure your car is registered, inspected, and that all the lights work. A busted taillight can cost you thousands and a trip to jail.
- Put questionable items in the trunk of your car. There is no excuse to leave illegal items in the passenger compartment of your car. Better yet, don’t put anything illegal in your car.
- Don’t attract unwanted attention. If your stereo has to be that loud for you to hear it, get your hearing checked. All you are doing is inviting the police to pull you over and give you a hard time.
- Don’t carry drugs on your person. This is common sense regarding illegal drugs, but prescription drugs carried outside the containers they are dispensed in can get you arrested as well.
- Don’t carry cigarette packages or hide your drugs inside them. This is the first place police look for dope.
- Don’t leave smoking paraphernalia where police can see it. Nobody believes you use that bong or water pipe to smoke tobacco! If an officer sees something like that it will only confirm that he or she really needs to find some legal way to search you, your car, or your home.
- Be careful what a police officer can see when standing at your front door. A police officer standing at your front door can look inside when you open it. What the police see from your front door is considered in “plain view” and thus not an actual search. Once the police have lawfully seen something illegal in your home they can then seize it and get a warrant to look for more.
- If you can see out, the police can see in. Looking through a window does not constitute a search in most instances. No one should be able to look into your home and watch what you are doing without you knowing about it. Put up window shears or install windows with either faceted glass or glass that distorts the viewable image.
The most important thing to remember when asked for consent to search is to say “NO”.
Contact the Best Search and Seizure Attorney in Texas: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
If you have been arrested, detained, stopped, or investigated in Houston or anywhere in the state of Texas, you may have legal defenses available to the contest the charge or mitigate possible penalties. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson has extensive experience defending cases involving Fourth Amendment violations, motions to suppress evidence, and illegal police searches.
The Charles Johnson Law Firm is committed to providing the highest-quality defense. As a criminal defense law firm, they are dedicated to protecting their clients’ rights throughout the legal process. Attorney Johnson offers a free initial consultation that can be done over the phone. Contact him directly anytime night or day at (713) 222-75778 or toll-free at (877) 308-0100.
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Judges might be incorrect in their rulings. Innocent Texas criminal defendants are given unjust sentences regularly and needlessly suffer. These incorrect convictions generally occur because of very common errors made during the defense process. Quite often, the verdict might be corrected by seeking a Texas federal or state criminal appeal aided by highly trained Houston Criminal Lawyers familiar with the appellate process.
What is the definition of an appeal?
An appeal is defined as a request to a higher court by the losing party in a court action to overturn a lesser court’s verdict. The basis of an appeal has to be a reversible fault within the application of what the law states at the trial court level (i.e., in line with the facts, the court evidently misapplied the law).
In defense cases, a great appeal might concentrate on the conviction on its own or merely the sentencing portion associated with the decision without the need of regard to the particular fundamental conviction. By way of example, if the defendant is properly found guilty of manslaughter but a judge sentences the defendant to a prison term which is beyond the limit of the law, the defendant will undoubtedly appeal the prison term while leaving the actual conviction itself intact.
An appeal shall be filed only after the final judgment or order has been reached by the trial court. This is quite simply for reasons of efficiency, so that the court system isn’t bogged down by delays and trials aren’t continuously put on hold while waiting for appeals for the judge’s every verdict.
At the culmination of a trial, the losing party is also able to produce direct appeals (e.g., motion for a new trial, motion for directed verdict) to the presiding judge to instantly overrule the jury’s verdict, nevertheless these are hardly ever victorious.
Does an appeal constitute a new trial?
No. In a appeal there won’t be any brand new issues provided or witnesses designated to testify. The appellate court will simply assess the trial’s transcript and evidence introduced in the course of the trial to ascertain whether or not there were mistakes within either procedure or application of the law. Even though there were problems, when they are judged small – legally designated “harmless error” – the judgment won’t be overturned or a new trial granted.
Can any type of judgment be appealed?
The short response is no, there isn’t any absolute right to an appeal. Every state has laws which outline the sorts of cases that appellate courts may evaluate. There should be an error of law for an appellate court to evaluate a case. The reality that the losing party didn’t like the decision isn’t enough to sustain an appeal.
That being said, even in administrative courts or lower level courts, if a person’s constitutional protection under the law have been infringed upon, some might file a suit in order to enforce his or her privileges and/or to take another look at the original case.
What is the definition of the appeals process?
In Texas court proceedings, the appellant or petitioner (the party appealing the judgement) has to file a notice of appeal within thirty days of the verdict. In federal court, the deadline is sixty days. The filing of the notice of appeal starts the clock running on the appeals process and there are prescribed deadlines from this point on. The petitioner submits a legal brief detailing the alleged mistakes of law made by the trial court, and the respondent or appellee (the party that prevailed at the trial) creates an answer.
Once the appellate court receives both petitioner and respondent briefs, it will consider the arguments and prepare a determination of whether: a) there were errors of law made by the trial court, and additionally b) whether the errors rise to the level of “reversible error” (extremely serious errors). As mentioned above, harmless errors are likely to be disregarded by the appellate court.
There might or might not be oral arguments presented by petitioner and respondent. If the court makes a decision to hear oral arguments, the petitioner will present their arguments and additionally field inquiries from the judge(s) and then the respondent will do the same. Usually in most appeals, this question and answer format may last ten to fifteen minutes per side.
Whether the appeals court listens to oral arguments or issues a verdict centered merely on the written briefs, the court will either: 1) affirm the decision; 2) request a new trial; 3) change the ruling in some manner; 4) give consideration to new facts or evidence (seldomly); or 5) in particularly exceptional cases, may possibly dispose of the case completely.
What is the likelihood of a winning appeal?
The number of winning appeals is in fact minimal. Appellate courts allow the trial court great freedom in carrying out trials. The law is unable to promise ideal trials, accordingly appeals courts can only overturn decisions that have obvious, substantial errors of law.
Because of the flexibility appeals courts give trial decisions, petitioners bear a far greater responsibility in verifying that errors of law happen to be considerable rather than innocuous. If an appellate court can discover any satisfactory argument that the mistake could not have modified the decision (and is hence “harmless”), it will refuse to overturn the verdict.
There tend to be, naturally, a large number of cases where significant errors were made and appeals courts will overturn those decisions. Significantly serious are charges that the trial court refused the law assured by the constitution, most notably due process and equal protection rights.
I lost my trial due to the fact that my attorney made ridiculous errors, can’t I count on an appeal to correct them?
Don’t depend on appeals to compensate for any genuine or perceived inadequacies at trial. You must put all of your energy into the trial itself, which requires locating the correct lawyer to attempt the case. Effectively appealing a verdict since you had a deficient attorney is a challenging proposition. You cannot appeal simply because you just had a poor lawyer.
You can appeal on the basis that your attorney was so incompetent that you simply had been basically denied your 6th Amendment right to a fair trial (identified legally as an “ineffective assistance of counsel” appeal). This occurs virtually exclusively in criminal defense circumstances and the standard for the appeal is quite high – courts are incredibly deferential to the competency of attorneys and maintain a strong presumption that the lawyer’s help was within professional standards. To put it in perspective, there have been situations where an attorney has fallen asleep during a trial, yet the verdict was not overturned nor the case retried.
Many circumstances aren’t eligible for appeal due to the fact the trial attorney did not object to a ruling during the trial, and therefore didn’t “preserve” that issue for appeal. For example, a written statement from a witness accusing a defendant of robbery is entered into evidence, but the witness does not testify at trial. The defense attorney does not object and the defendant is convicted based solely on the written statement. The Confrontation Clause of the 6th Amendment guarantees a defendant the right to face his accuser, a right which, if infringed, could form the basis for an appeal.
Because the lawyer neglected to object at trial to the admission of a written statement rather than live testimony, however, the defendant is regarded to have waived this priviledge and an appeal will possibly not be allowed on that issue.
The example sounds absurd; an attorney waives your constitutional protection through ineptitude, yet your appeal on the basis of inadequate assistance of counsel fails – but it happens frequently. An appeals court may reason that calling the witness to the stand wouldn’t have had any great effect for the defendant and for that reason the decision not to object may possibly be considered a trial strategy. That’s the type of deferential latitude attorneys get in ineffective assistance of counsel appeals as well as the reason why it is vital to pick your attorney wisely at the very beginning of the process and stay involved during each part of the trial.
What is the definition of a writ?
A writ is a directive from a higher court instructing a lower court or government official to take a specific action in accordance with the law. For instance, if a lower court decides to consider a legal proceeding that is outside of its jurisdiction, one or more of the lawyers concerned may object and seek a writ of mandamus (writ of mandate) from an appeals court ordering the lower court to reassign the case to another jurisdiction.
How do writs and appeals differ?
Writs are extraordinary court orders and solely issued in cases where a moving party (the one seeking the writ) has no other alternatives. In the case of the writ of mandamus from above, the moving party had to act quickly simply because the lower court improperly took the case. If the moving party had just objected at trial and waited to appeal, a remarkable waste of time and money would have taken place – and all for nothing at all if the trial court improperly took the case.
Generally, superior courts won’t review conclusions of a lower court until a final verdict is delivered, for the aforesaid reasons of efficiency and leeway given to lower courts. Unlike appeals, which need a final verdict, writs are instant orders and extraordinary in that the typical course of a trial is interrupted, potentially causing disorder and delay.
Courts do not necessarily take such events lightly and superior courts do not issue writs often. A court will only issue a writ when a lower court wrongly decided an issue, permanent harm would happen to a party, and there are no other options.
Courts may possibly also issue writs, such as writs of attachment and execution, in order to force compliance with a courts order by an unwilling party.
What’s the definition of a writ of habeas corpus?
A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought in to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he or she should be released from custody.
Literally translated, a writ of habeas corpus is a court order to “produce the body,” and is generally filed by those in prison, though they are also filed by those who have been held in contempt of court by a judge and either imprisoned or threatened with imprisonment. Also recognized as “the Great Writ,” habeas petitions are ordinarily referred to as the hallmark of the United States justice system. Distinct from other countries where the authorities may toss virtually anyone in jail and keep them there indefinitely without filing charges or conducting a hearing, habeas corpus serves as a check on the government and offers prisoners a legal avenue to protest their imprisonment.
A habeas corpus petition can be filed in state or federal court. Before filing in federal court, however, all state options must be exhausted first.
Everyone has the right to challenge illegal imprisonment or inhuman prison conditions. Like all writs, however, courts will insist on clear and convincing evidence in support of a writ and do not issue them frequently.
Houston Appeals Defense: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Dealing with the appeals process is hard and time consuming. The Experienced Houston Criminal Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm can help you plan your next move. Contact them today for a free initial consultation.
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.
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Houston Criminal Lawyers: Need Assistance With Obtaining An Appeal?
by Charles Johnson
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The Most Dedicated Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is going to be accessible twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to take your call. He will make himself accessible to meet with you for an initial totally free consultation to talk about your case at a time and date and location that’s convenient for you.
Consulting with the Best Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson is suggested for individuals charged with a crime, simply because persons accused of crimes will probably be able to better understand the charges that have been brought against them and what defense is available for those charges. It’s a constitutional right for anyone charged with a crime within the United States to have fair and competent legal counsel in a court of law or to have the capability to represent themselves in a court of law, based on the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Houston Criminal Defense: Hire the Most Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney » Charles Johnson
Anyone that has been charged with a crime should consult the advice and also the representation of the Best Houston Attorney to help comprehend the nature of the charge, what defenses are available for the crime, if plea bargains are available, and what could occur if the defendant is convicted of the crime. They can also help to identify pretrial problems and bring about essential motions either prior to or throughout the trial that can help to have the charge dismissed or have the charges lessened. Consulting with your attorney can mean the difference between serving a 20 year jail term and having your case dismissed. Charles Johnson is skilled in defending those charged with a selection of various crimes and studies the ever changing laws.
State vs. Federal Crimes
There are differences in between becoming charged having a state criminal offense or a federal criminal offense. Any individual charged for a crime ought to inform their attorney as to which level crime they’ve been charged simply because the defense that the lawyer prepares will probably be different if the crime is a state level charge or a federal level charge.
If You are Charged with a Felony or Misdemeanor
Waiting to consult a criminal defense attorney until a person is charged with committing a crime can be detrimental to that person’s case. An individual suspected of committing a crime, whether or not they actually committed the crime, ought to consult with the Most Dedicated Houston Lawyer instantly. Immediacy is an important factor when creating a defense to a criminal charge and Attorney Johnson will start working on a defense as soon as feasible.
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As an alternative to sentencing a defendant to a prison term, a judge could possibly choose to sentence a defendant to probation. Probation releases a defendant back into the community, but the defendant does not have the same degree of freedom as a regular citizen. Probation comes with conditions that restrict a probationer’s behavior, and if the probationer violates one of those conditions, the court may very well revoke or modify the probation.
Courts typically grant probation for first-time or low-risk offenders. Statutes determine when probation is practical, nevertheless it is up to the sentencing judge to figure out whether or not to essentially allow probation.
Houston Criminal Defense: Hire the Most Effective Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Even though sentencing judges have this latitude, they must still remain within the statutory limits when allowing probation. By way of example, a judge can’t impose probation for a period longer than the maximum sentence prescribed by statute.
Probation has three primary goals:
- To rehabilitate the defendant
- To protect society from further criminal conduct by the defendant
- To protect the rights of the victims
Once a judge has granted probation, the matter moves into the jurisdiction of probation officers, who monitor the probationer’s compliance with the terms of the probation.
Conditions are an inherent part of probation. Judges set conditions in order to meet the goals for probation stated above. A probationer needs to comply with these conditions or else the court may possibly impose a jail sentence or add more restrictive conditions to their probation.
Courts in most cases have a good deal of discretion when setting probation conditions, nevertheless that doesn’t mean that judges can set whatever terms they want. Probation conditions must be reasonable. This means that the conditions can never be vindictive, vague, overbroad or arbitrary. In addition, the conditions must be related to the protection of the public. Also, in cases where a judge wishes to impose special conditions, those conditions must relate to the nature of the transgression that the probationer committed.
Judges set the conditions, nevertheless probation officers enforce them. Any time a probation officer finds probable cause to believe that the probationer has violated the terms of the probation, the judge will likely either change the terms of the probation or revoke the probation and impose a prison sentence.
Because the probationer’s freedom is at stake, however, the probationer has to receive some procedural due process before a court revokes their probation. While the verdict to revoke probation, just like the ruling to grant probation, is at the court’s discretion, the court has to go through a number of procedural requirements before revoking probation. The probationer dealing with revocation doesn’t have as many legal rights during revocation proceedings as they do through the original criminal trial, however.
In order to revoke probation, a court has to provide the probationer with notice of the proposed revocation and conduct a hearing on the matter. The probationer has a right to testify at the hearing, present supporting witnesses, and confront the witnesses against them. The probationer also has a right to a neutral hearing body, and needs to receive a written statement containing the reasons for revoking probation.
If there is sufficient evidence, a violation of even a single condition is able to bring about revocation of probation. The violated condition has to be valid, however. In cases where a condition is later found to be unreasonable then violation of that condition will not constitute grounds for revocation.
Houston Probation: Hire the Most Qualified Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are accused of violating the terms of your parole or probation or have questions regarding a potential probation offense, make sure you call the Most Respected Houston Criminal Defense Attorney the instant for a free of charge initial consultation.
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The illegal sale or use of prescription drugs might bring about serious criminal charges. In the event you have been arrested for a forged prescription or the unlawful possession of a prescribed pharmaceutical, you will need the Best Houston Criminal Lawyer to protect your legal rights and fight on your behalf in court.
The Most Effective Houston Criminal Defense Attorney is going to be available at any sort of hour, 365 days /year to answer the questions you have and build your defense.
Any individual can be dependent on prescribed pharmaceuticals. Many individuals started out taking their drugs for health-related reasons, however became dependent. When their prescriptions ran out, they obtained the drugs by some other means. The Top Houston Criminal Lawyer understands the consequences of a criminal conviction for average, everyday men and women. They can certainly help you deal with any sort of of the following criminal charges:
- Prescription Forgery
- Sale of Prescription Drugs
- Prescription Fraud
- Illegal Possession of Prescription Drugs
The main goal in each individual prescribed pharmaceutical case is to prevent a jail sentence. The Best Houston Lawyer will help you explore alternative sentencing options, such as entering a drug treatment center. You could very well be in need of rehabilitation, not a jail sentence. Looking forward, they will help you get the assistance you need.
While the majority of prescribed drug cases involve painkillers, the Most Dedicated Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer will handle criminal charges involving an array of drugs, for an array of clients, including juveniles. If your case involves any of the following prescribed pharmaceuticals or others, they can certainly help:
Houston Prescribed Drug Possession/Sales Defense: The Most Dedicated Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Trafficking in prescription medicine carries with it substantial prison sentences and hefty fines. Having five oxyCodone pills (4.26 grams) in your possession leads to mandatory sentence of 3 years minimum, with greater amounts ending up with sentences of up to Twenty five years. Some other prescription drugs that are prosecuted under the category of trafficking are Vicodin, opium, Valium, amphetamines and Ritalin. Labeling a person to be a drug trafficker because that person does not have a legitimate prescription for pain medication can destroy a person’s life. Frequently he or she is dependent on the drug, but wouldn’t be permitted to participate in a drug diversion program because he may be arrested for a first degree felony. If you or a family member has been charged with possession or trafficking of prescription drugs, or other prescription drug crimes, the Best Houston Attorney can prepare a strong defense for your case.
Prescription fraud is when forgery, misrepresentation or counterfeiting is used to illegally procure prescription drugs. This could be done for private use or to distribute or sell these drugs to other persons. Prescription fraud is typically accomplished by stealing, altering or creating fake/counterfeit blank prescription slips. Other crimes having to do with prescribed drugs are selling one’s own legal prescription or distributing it to other individuals and illegally manufacturing prescribed drugs.
Whether you have been arrested for prescription drug possession, sale, or fraud, you ought to take these charges as seriously as any sort of other drug arrest. Call the Best Houston Criminal Defense Attorney for a no cost preliminary consultation.
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Hire the Most Qualified Houston Drug Crimes Attorney!
Drug crimes are covered by both federal and state laws in Texas. Federal offenses are regulated by The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, known as the Controlled Substances Act.
The Controlled Substances Act covers almost all of the drug offenses in Texas and is codified within the Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapters 481 through 486. Because Texas is an international border state, drug traffic offenses are a major concern. The state of Texas also has a number of state drug laws which may not be applicable in other states.
What are the penalties for a drug conviction in Texas?
Drug offenses are amongst probably the most severe charges in criminal law. They carry with them severe penalties and can have other consequences in areas of one’s life such as family life and employment. The legal penalties for drug crimes will depend on the nature of the drug offense, and will generally consist of a fine and/or a lengthy prison sentence. If you’re charged having a drug related crime, you need to contact the Leading Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer at the Charles Johnson Law Firm as soon as possible. The penalties for committing a drug crime may be fairly severe, such as actual prison time, occasionally for numerous years in larger high profile drug cases. A conviction for a drug-related offense could not just damage your personal and professional reputation, but could result in actual termination from employment or the suspension or revocation of your professional licenses. It’s not whether you’ll acquire a lawyer, rather, it’s who you will get to represent you at your most vulnerable time.
What kinds of elements are considered in sentences for drug crimes?
In determining the sentence for a drug crime, a Texas court will take into account the following elements:
- The type of drug: The Controlled Substances Act classifies drugs into 5 “Penalty Groups”, with Group 1 being probably the most serious. For instance, cocaine is classified as Penalty Group 1, whereas prescription drugs are Group three.
- The quantity of drugs in possession: Prison sentences or fines will increase according to the quantity of drug possessed. Greater amounts of the same drug will result in greater sentences.
- The purpose for which the drug is utilized: Simple possession is usually considered less severe than other crimes, such as possession with intent to distribute, or manufacturing and delivering drugs
- Location of the violation: Drug offenses are regarded as more severe if they take place in particular areas, for example near a school or day care center
Another essential factor that a court will consider is whether the drug offense was combined with another offense. Numerous drug offenses are related to other crimes such as conspiracy, theft, or assault. If the drug offense is related to an additional felony, particularly a violent crime, the penalties will probably be much more severe.
Do I require a lawyer for a drug offense?
Drug offenses are serious and can lead to felony charges. Therefore, the services of the Finest Houston Drug Crimes Attorney can be crucial when dealing with drug charges. This is especially true if the defendant is involved in multiple or repeat offenses. A skilled lawyer can help explain the numerous requirements under Texas drug laws. If you or perhaps a family member is charged with a crime in the Houston area, contact the Most Respected Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer for a free consultation with successful criminal defense lawyer. They can provide compassionate legal counsel, accessibility and personal attention, years of encounter, and aggressive protection of your rights.
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