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The Charles Johnson Law Firm is one of the foremost criminal defense law firms in Houston in defending people from drug convictions, including the possession and sale of marijuana. Expert Houston Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson skillfully defends clients who have been charged with marijuana-related crimes through the entire State of Texas, with offices conveniently located in Houston, Austin, Dallas and San Antonio. Our unique strategy gives our clients the best opportunity to avoid criminal penalties, and our criminal defense law firm’s familiarity with drug laws, both felonies and misdemeanors, is unrivaled. We provide each client a high-quality legal defense that is superior. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson can defend against any criminal drug charge in both federal and state courts, and our firm’s track record of success continues to grow.
Hire the Best Houston Marijuana Possession Law Firm: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Criminal Marijuana Penalties
Texas has a reputation as being extremely severe in its imposition of penalties for drug use and possession, and it is well earned. Minor marijuana possession is not decriminalized in Texas, as it is in several states, which means that even a minuscule amount can land you in jail. Marijuana possession and sale charges can be either misdemeanors or felonies, but both carry serious penalties. Jail time, heavy fines, probation, mandatory rehab programs and more are all possible penalties for drug charges. Skillful Drug Attorney Johnson’s finely tuned defense techniques have evolved from years of experience, and he brings that knowledge and experience to those facing marijuana-related criminal charges.
Of all the marijuana laws in Texas, possession of marijuana may be the most unfair. It punishes otherwise responsible citizens merely for keeping some pot for personal use and who have no intention of ever doing anything hurtful with it or profiting from it. Nonetheless, it is an offense to possess, distribute or cultivate marijuana in Texas. Depending on the quantity, possession of marijuana can be charged as a misdemeanor of felony in both state and federal court.
The prosecution may argue that you’re “in possession” of marijuana in Harris County, TX, if you’re found smoking marijuana or if you knowingly “exercised control” over the marijuana. Therefore, the location of the marijuana is very important:
- If the marijuana is found on your person, in your car, in or around your home, in a storage unit belonging to you, or in any other place that you have some authority over, the prosecution will argue that you were in possession of the marijuana since you had some control over the location.
- Furthermore, if marijuana is found in your system during a drug test or you were caught driving under the influence of marijuana in Texas, the prosecution may try to use that to prove you’ve been in possession of marijuana since you presumably “exercise control” over your body.
Marijuana Possession Penalties in Texas
- Two ounces or less include a fine up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail or both
- More than two ounces, but less than four ounces. Penalties include a fine of up to $4,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
- Four ounces or more, up to and including five pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, between 180 days and two years in prison, or both.
- More than five pounds, up to and including 50 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, between two and ten years in prison, or both.
- More than 50 pounds, up to and including 2,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, between two and 20 years in prison, or both.
- More than 2,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $50,000, between five and 99 years in prison, or both.
Sale of Marijuana
Various states have different marijuana laws, and Texas is no different. Texas treats marijuana sales as a much more serious crime than possession, which is reflected in the penalties. The sale of any amount of marijuana can lead to prison time, even for small amounts.
Sale of Marijuana Penalties in Texas
- 1/4 oz – 5 lbs: 6 months – 2 years, $10,000 fine
- 5 lbs – 50 lbs: 2 – 20 years, $10,000 fine
- 50 lbs – 1 ton: 5 – 99 years, $10,000 fine
- 1 ton or more: Mandatory minimum of 10 – 99 years, with a $100,000 fine
These are for either the sale OR delivery, meaning it is irrelevant whether or not you are actually paid or just just giving it to someone. On top of that, if the delivery or sale is to a minor (in ANY amount), that is punishable by an additional 2 – 20 years in prison. Also, sale within 1,000 feet of a school or within 300 feet of a youth center, public pool or video arcade increases the penalty classification to the next highest level (which in some cases is a difference of many years).
The Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson understands the unique nature of Texas marijuana laws, and can provide a skilled defense. His unparalleled knowledge of state and federal drug laws gives him a unique ability to provide excellent legal services for you and your loved ones. If you are in need of criminal defense legal representation in the Houston area, contact Attorney Johnson anytime day or night at (713) 222-7577 to discuss your situation.
What Is Marijuana?
Cannabis sativa: There are two species of Cannabis. One species is Cannabis sativa, originally cultivated to make hemp. The stalks of the plant contain fibers that are woven to make rope, cloth, and paper. The other species is Cannabis indica, known for its psychoactive properties. Hashish is derived from Cannabis indica. In Africa, cannabis is know as “dagga,” in China as “ma,” and in India as “ganga” or “bhang”. Marijuana is the Mexican colloquial name for Cannabis sativa. Marijuana is a greenish-gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant.
THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is found in the plant’s resin. The amount of THC determines the potency of the marijuana. The resin is mostly concentrated in the flowers of the plant. Because of various cultivation techniques the amount of THC varies considerably in the flowers of individual plants.
Other Chemicals: Marijuana is a complex drug and is made up of 420 chemical components. Sixty-one of these chemicals are called cannabinoids and are unique to marijuana. Many scientific studies focus on the primary psychoactive chemical, THC but don’t know how these other cannabinoids affect the various organs, brain, and behavior.
Grades of Marijuana
- Low-grade marijuana is made from leaves of both sexes of the plant.
- Medium-grade marijuana is made of the flowering tops of female plants fertilized by male plants.
- High-grade marijuana is made of the flowering tops of female plants raised in isolation to male plants. This marijuana is called sinsemilla because it does not produce a seed.
- Hashish is produced when resin is collected from the Cannabis indica plant. The THC-rich resin is dried and then compressed into a variety of forms, such as balls, cakes, or cookie-like sheets. Pieces are then broken off, placed in pipes, and smoked or rolled into a cigarette along with tobacco or low-grade marijuana. The Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are the main sources of hashish. THC content of hashish can vary from 8% to 20%.
What are the Physical Effects of Marijuana usage?
When marijuana is smoked, the affects are felt in minutes. The high usually peaks within a couple of hours. Marijuana affects users differently. The “high” can include a feeling of relaxation, improved sense perception, and emotional well-being. Music and visual images may seem more vibrant and intense. Time seems to slow down. Some people experience physical hunger and a range of emotion from laughter to introspection. Marijuana does not always produce pleasant feelings and may cause paranoia and hallucinations. Emergency room visits have increased because some people feel anxious or fearful after smoking high-grade marijuana. Whether the marijuana is smoked or eaten, THC can remain in the body for days. About half the THC is in the blood 20 hours after smoking. Although the initial high has disappeared, physical and mental functions may be affected for days.
The physical effects of marijuana depend on many individual factors such as personal health, the time of day that marijuana is used, the problems it causes, and how well a person is able to control his or her use. Research studies have shown that one of the primary concerns for those who use marijuana is cardiovascular damage. Marijuana causes damage to lungs that is similar to that caused by cigarettes. For people who inhale deeply or hold the smoke in their lungs longer, the risk can be greater. One study that compared cigarette and marijuana smokers found that marijuana smokers absorbed five times the amount of carbon monoxide, and had five times the tar in their lungs, as compared to cigarette smokers. For those who smoke both marijuana and cigarettes, the damage can be exponentially greater than that caused by marijuana or cigarettes alone.
Research shows that people who use marijuana more than one time during the day tend to have more social and physical problems than those who only use in the evenings. Those who use at multiple times may also be more likely to be smoking to avoid problems they feel unable to confront. A person who uses marijuana in addition to alcohol or other drugs can be at additional risk. The effects of some drugs become exponentially greater when taken together. In addition, the physical tolerance that one drug produces can sometimes affect another drug, and lead to dependence on multiple substances.
Is Marijuana Addictive?
While marijuana is not in the same addictive league as cocaine, heroin, and even alcohol, recent studies raise the possibility that THC affects the level of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that affects the pleasure circuits. Many addictive drugs cause the release of dopamine from the neurons. One report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse states that long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction for some people. This report concludes that along with craving, withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term marijuana smokers to stop using the drug. People trying to quit report irritability, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety.
Texas does not prosecute possession of drugs only. In fact, Texas will prosecute a person for possession of drug paraphernalia. Thus, it is a separate criminal charge classified as a Class C Misdemeanor and typically carries a penalty of $500. Normally, if one is charged with a possession of controlled substance, then a possession of drug paraphernalia will be charged against the person, as well.
Under federal law the term drug paraphernalia means “any equipment, product or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”
Drug paraphernalia is any legitimate equipment, product, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Drug paraphernalia generally falls into two categories:
User-specific products are marketed to drug users to assist them in taking or concealing illegal drugs. These products include certain pipes, smoking masks, bongs, cocaine freebase kits, marijuana grow kits, roach clips, and items such as hollowed out cosmetic cases or fake pagers used to conceal illegal drugs.
Dealer-specific products are used by drug traffickers for preparing illegal drugs for distribution at the street level. Items such as scales, vials, and baggies fall into this category. Drug paraphernalia does not include any items traditionally used with tobacco, like pipes and rolling papers.
With the rise of the drug culture in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, the country began to see the appearance of “head shops,” which were stores that sold a wide range of drug paraphernalia. While some of the paraphernalia was crude and home-made, much was being commercially manufactured to cater to a fast-growing market. Enterprising individuals even sold items openly in the street, until anti-paraphernalia laws in the 1980s eventually ended such blatant sales. Today, law enforcement faces another challenge. With the advent of the Internet, criminals have greatly expanded their illicit sales to a worldwide market for drug paraphernalia. For example, in a recent law enforcement effort, Operation Pipedreams, the 18 companies targeted accounted for more than a quarter of a billion dollars in retail drug paraphernalia sales annually. Typically, such illicit businesses operate retail stores as well as websites posing as retailers of legitimate tobacco accessories when in reality the products are intended for the illegal drug trade.
Identifying drug paraphernalia can be challenging because products often are marketed as though they were designed for legitimate purposes. Marijuana pipes and bongs, for example, frequently carry a misleading disclaimer indicating that they are intended to be used only with tobacco products. Recognizing drug paraphernalia often involves considering other factors such as the manner in which items are displayed for sale, descriptive materials or instructions accompanying the items, and the type of business selling the items.
The Charles Johnson Law Firm is experienced in marijuana-related matters involving:
- Marijuana Possession
- Marijuana Cultivation
- Marijuana Distribution
- Drug Paraphernalia
- Search and seizure laws
- Asset seizure
- Search warrants, wiretapping and surveillance
Contact the Leading Houston Marijuana Possession Lawyer: Drug Attorney Charles Johnson
Before someone can be convicted of marijuana possession in Houston, the state must prove that the accused actually had possession or took action to control the drug. Drug possession cases are complicated and depend the police’s adherence to strict guidelines concerning search and seizure of the drug.
As you could be facing fines, probation, drug classes, community service, and jail, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced Houston criminal attorney if you have been accused of this crime. Our team at the Charles Johnson Law Firm is well-equipped to handle any type of drug crime, including those involving possession of marijuana and/or drug paraphernalia. We understand that mistakes can happen and not everyone who has been accused of a crime is guilty. No matter how serious you may believe your case to be, contact The Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson personally by calling (713) 222-7577 anytime, day or night to discuss your case.
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Credit Card Fraud is rather common all over the United States, as is the prosecution rate for such crimes. Any form of credit card fraud or abuse — even the possession of someone else’s credit card with the intention of committing fraud or theft — can be charged as a felony and lead to jail time and significant fines upon conviction. Whether you are accused of “borrowing” a friend’s Visa to pay for gas or you actively opened an account in someone else’s name and engaged in thousands of dollars of purchases, if you have been charged with fraud then you need experienced legal counsel.
It is possible to simply be accused of credit card fraud or for there to be circumstances in the case that constitute reduced charges, which means reduced penalties. No matter the case, it is important to have a Houston Credit Card Fraud Attorney to help you from the time you are accused until the end of the case.
If you are investigated for a credit card fraud crime in Houston, do not discuss anything with detectives. Even if you believe that you are innocent of the accusations or think that you can simply “explain what happened” so that the the problem is resolved, it is not wise to say anything to an investigator. Always insist on talking to an attorney first. If you have been arrested for Credit Card Fraud 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 at (713) 222-7577 to discuss your case.
Overview of Texas Credit Card Fraud Laws
Performing a variety of fraudulent acts in connection with a credit card amounts to the crime of credit card fraud in Texas. Prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant had an intent to receive some type of benefit by the following means, the most common of which are:
- Using a credit or debit card the defendant knows is not his own;
- The card has expired, been revoked, or cancelled;
- Using a fictitious card, or the pretended number of a fictitious card
- Receiving any benefit that the defendant knows has been obtained by violation of this law;
- Stealing a credit or debit card with the intent to use it, sell it or transfer it to anyone but the cardholder;
- Buying a credit or debit card from someone the defendant knows is not the issuer of the card;
- Selling a credit or debit card;
- Inducing the cardholder to use his/her card to obtain property for the defendant’s benefit when the cardholder is financially unable to pay for it;
- Possessing a credit or debit card that is not the defendant’s own and having the intent to use it.
Credit card fraud is a problem that affects the entire consumer credit industry. It is one of the most common types of fraud and also one of the most difficult to prevent. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), credit-related complaints have consistently ranked among their top 10 complaints for many years. In fact, some organized crime rings and even drug dealers have shifted criminal career paths to engage in this simple, lucrative, and relatively safe form of crime.
Credit card fraud can occur in person or via the Internet. Most consumer action groups, police departments, retail stores, and agencies, such as Better Business Bureaus (BBB) and the FTC, routinely release information for consumers on how to avoid credit card fraud and identity theft. Nevertheless, there are numerous forms of credit card fraud that are committed by enterprising thieves, organized rings, business owners, and even otherwise legitimate cardholders.
One method of obtaining account information or even an actual credit card is through postal theft. Other methods that have proven surprisingly effective in obtaining personal information include impersonating a card or application verifier via telephone, obtaining copies of past bills, or utilizing on-line directories. In some situations, offenders are also able to take advantage of contacts within the various credit bureaus to obtain legitimate bankcard account information for counterfeiting or telephone order purchasing. After having illegally obtained legitimate cards or account information, offenders then create fictitious identification including driver’s licenses, social security cards, and other materials to aid in the commission of credit card fraud.
Once the information is obtained, there are several forms of fraud that can occur. One popular type of credit card fraud is the advance payment scheme. This scheme utilizes counterfeit or stolen credit cards. The offender either makes an advance payment on the card or overpays an existing balance with a fraudulent check. Since the account is credited upon receipt of payment, cash advances can be immediately withdrawn before the payment check has cleared. Through numerous payments on numerous cards, an offender can realize large profits within a relatively short period of time.
Another type of credit card fraud involves the illegal counterfeiting of credit cards. New technology has aided criminals in producing exact replicas of existing cards and in creating fraudulent cards including the so-called “hidden” counter-measures. Illegal counterfeiting may be primarily responsible for the overall upsurge in credit card fraud.
Counterfeiters also buy and sell magnetic strips to produce fraudulent credit cards. The magnetic strips are essential because they contain names, account numbers, credit limits, and other information for legitimate or contrived Visa/MasterCard holders. By using a desktop computer system, source material, and peripheral equipment, a counterfeiter can produce a fraudulent bankcard with relative ease. As technology has improved, counterfeiting credit cards has become a multi-step process. These steps can often include using desktop computer systems and peripherals such as laminators to produce more realistic looking cards. The counterfeited cards come complete with a hologram and fully encoded magnetic strip. Most of the supplies used to manufacture counterfeited bankcards, including the plastic cards and Visa/MasterCard holograms (the Visa dove and the MasterCard interlocking globes) are smuggled into the United States from the Far East.
Costs and Statistics
- It is estimated that the global rate of credit and charge card fraud is seven cents for every $100 transaction. Illegal credit card purchases totaled $788 million in the United States alone for the year 2004, representing 4.7 cents of every $100 worth of total purchases. Similar estimates have been reported in Great Britain, where it is estimated that £535.2 million were lost due to credit card fraud in 2007. In addition, Australia loses an estimated 4 cents per every $100 transaction to fraud.
- According to estimates, over 229 million records containing individuals’ identifying information have been compromised by data breaches since 2005, Although it is difficult to estimate or predict the number of compromised records that will be or may have been utilized for perpetrating fraud, the sensitive nature of the information contained within these records harbors the potential for increasing credit card fraud losses. Estimates of monetary amounts lost from data breaches can reach hundreds of millions of dollars.
- The Federal Trade Commission reports that victims’ information was used to perpetrate credit card fraud in 23% of the cases brought to the attention of the Identity Theft Clearinghouse in 2007.Of online credit/debit card fraud, the Internet Crime Complaint Center(IC3) reports that this type of fraud ranks 4 in the types of fraud committed over the Internet, compromising 6.3% of complaints reported to the IC3 in 2007.
- A report issued by Cybersource shows that, according to a 2007 survey of both small and large online businesses, 1.4% of all online revenue was lost due to payment fraud, with an estimate of $3.6 billion in losses for 2007. Additionally, the survey found that 1.3% of all accepted orders resulted in fraud losses. The median fraudulent order was $200 versus a median of $120 for legitimate purchases. Those retailers which also accept orders not located with the U.S. or Canada reported that international orders were rejected at a rate approximately 2.5 times higher than U.S. and Canadian orders due to suspicion of fraud. Overall, merchants rejected 4.2% of total orders on suspicion of fraud.
The Response/Current Efforts
Merchants are more at risk from credit card fraud than are consumers. Regardless of whether the transaction occurred in person or on-line, the consumer generally only has to face the hassles of reversing a fraudulent charge, canceling their lost or stolen card, or paying the first $50 of the loss (although most credit card companies waive this fee). In contrast, a merchant loses the cost of the product sold, must pay numerous credit card charge-back fees, and even faces the possibility of having their merchant account closed.
Many methods of safeguarding credit card purchases exist. Credit card companies started using holograms in 1981 to identify genuine cards at the time of purchase. At the same time, large-scale hologram counterfeiting operations developed in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China. A separate market emerged for these holograms, which sell for between $5 and $15, depending on the quality of the hologram. In 1994, the Canadian Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit and the Combined Forces Asian Investigation Unit arrested members of a Chinese syndicate that produced approximately 300,000 counterfeit holograms and had distributed 250,000 of them. Based on the quantity delivered and using an estimate of $3,000 lost per card, Visa and MasterCard estimated that their combined losses caused by this group approached $750 million.
The FTC recommends that consumers sign their cards in a manner that requires the user to show photo identification, carry their cards in a separate compartment of their wallet or purse, destroy carbon copies, void incorrect receipts, reconcile monthly account statements, and shred unsolicited credit card offers. These steps will reduce the likelihood of either fraudulent purchases charged to the victims’ accounts or more severe identity theft.
Credit card fraud is a recognized issue of import. One problem facing the struggle to reduce this type of fraud, however, is the lack of law enforcement resources devoted to this type of crime. Although law enforcement acknowledges the extent of the crime, resources are often such that many agencies are simply not able to allocate the time and manpower needed to police these crimes. This is especially true when a fraudulent transaction may only account for $20-50 loss per victim, such as with the recent cases involving the company Pluto Data. While these fraudulent transactions are noteworthy, they may simply not garner the resources that more salient crimes attract. Additionally, many credit card frauds may suffer from jurisdictional problems; for instance, many of the fraudulent transactions may take place in a city, state, or country other than that in which the victim is residing. Due to the lack of consistent law enforcement involvement and jurisdictional issues, ensuring transaction safety often falls to the individual; as a consequence, many, especially merchants involved with online transactions, utilize a variety of methods for ensuring credit card security and safety.
Internet credit card transactions are referred to as CNP (cardholder not present transactions). In order to validate a card, many on-line merchants use cardholder recognition software, validity checks, and red flag order settings. These “red flags” are based on subtle differences in the card’s information that have also proved fraudulent in past purchases. For example, one red flag arises when the shipping and billing addresses are not the same. This is especially true in situations involving PO Boxes and private, rented boxes (e.g., at Mailboxes Etc.). Other types of red flags are purchases of high dollar items or orders in multiples with requests for rush or expedited shipping. On-line criminals generally like to receive their items quickly for resale purposes and, since they have no intention of paying the bill, they do not mind the higher cost for shipping.
One of the latest technological advancements in the race to foil credit card fraudsters is the employment of new chip-based technology in credit cards. Rather than relying on the standard magnetic strip to divulge card owners’ information, the new technology stores this information on a computer chip embedded within the card which requires a pin to unlock—a practice that is currently underway in Europe and has been going on in France for over ten years, where credit card fraud has dropped 80%. This system is currently being unveiled in Canada and is also being employed by select card issuers in the U.S.
Also, both Visa U.S.A. and MasterCard currently offer state-of-the-art identity check offerings. Visa U.S.A. invited cardholders to link their cards to passwords that would be required when shopping at participating on-line stores. The service, “Verified by Visa,” is designed to raise the level of security and allay fears of fraud that haunt many merchants and consumers. Verified by Visa is a way to authenticate on-line buyers to on-line sellers in which customers register for a password with the bank that issues their credit card. Merchants are linked back to the card issuer that verifies the cardholder’s identity based on that password. In addition to programs such as “Verified by Visa”, Visa is also using a new “advanced authorization” system. By evaluating 40 variable factors (such as whether or not the card being used was part of a known security breach or if items are being ordered at a high-volume quick rate), the system can provide banks with an instant rating of the transaction’s potential for fraud, allowing the issuer to decline the purchase if warranted. This new system is reported to be able to flag up to 40% of false transactions which may have gone undetected previously.
Additionally, many major credit card companies have banded together to help to ensure safety by issuing what is known as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This standard requires all merchants to follow the same guidelines of data security. It is unknown how many retailers are PCI compliant, but Visa estimates that upwards of two-thirds of its large and medium-sized merchants meet requirements as of January 2008. In order to assist business owners in this endeavor, card companies and payment processors are supplying tutorials and Webinars to business owners in order to help navigate the intricate technology regulations. The latest version of the security standard is scheduled for release in October 2008.
Recent initiatives in an effort to battle credit card fraud and identity theft have also emerged on a federal level. A recent amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires consumer reporting companies to provide consumers with a free copy of their credit report (including information on where you live, how you pay your bills, and whether you’ve been sued, arrested, or filed for bankruptcy) once every 12 months, at the consumer’s request. This went into effect on December 1, 2004 in the Western states and is now available nationwide. This allows consumers the ability to closely monitor their own credit histories without paying charges to reporting agencies.
Defenses to Credit Card Fraud Charges
Police and prosecutors have the technological sophistication to effectively investigate credit card fraud, whether it allegedly occurs via the Internet or in person. The police may be able to follow the trail of an online credit card purchase back to the computer used in the transaction, to find a suspect in an online credit card fraud investigation. For credit card fraud cases occuring inside a store, the police may request security camera footage to show the person who signed for a specific purchase at a specific time.
Houston White Collar Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson will conduct a thorough, independent investigation into the case against you — seeking both exculpatory evidence and possible misconduct by the police investigators.
If you are facing charges for credit card fraud, contact Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson personally anytime night or day at (713) 222-7577. Attorney Johnson will be able to work with you and investigate the case against you, explaining your options along the way.
A defense attorney, who is experienced in this type of law, will be able to look for possible defenses in your case. Sometimes fraud, credit card theft, embezzlement and identity theft are committed due to a drug addiction, psychological issue, or gambling addiction. If you are suffering from an addiction or a mental issue, we may be able to argue for a lesser charge.
Other possible defenses include:
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of intent
- Duress (being coerced to perform a crime that you otherwise would not perform)
- Age (being a minor may lessen the penalty imposed)
If you are facing charges of credit card theft or any other type of fraud anywhere within the state of Texas, we will:
- Investigate the case against you
- Investigate possible defenses and options
- Work with you and explain your options
- Communicate all charges and information clearly to you
- Prepare the best defense case for your situation
When you hire an experienced Houston Criminal Defense Attorney regarding theft charges you face, we may be able to get your charges lessened or see that you get alternative sentencing for your crime.
Penalties and Sentences
There are various punishments for different types of fraud. The sentences normally depend on the nature of the fraud committed. A few of the penalties that could be assessed under Texas law include:
- Jail or prison time
- Fines and restitution
- Loss of a professional license
- Seizure of property or wage garnishment
It is extremely important that you contact Houston Credit Card Fraud Lawyer Charles Johnson as soon as you are aware of an investigation. Prosecutors often attempt to intimidate ordinary citizens into thinking the state of Texas has a clear cut case against them. Investigators often apply for search warrants in order to look for evidence that a fraud has taken place. These search warrants limit the type of evidence that may be seized, but those who are unfamiliar with how this process works may nonetheless allow law enforcement officers to overstep their bounds when serving one of these warrants.
Hire the Best Houston White Collar Crime Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Don’t make the mistake of waiting until it is too late to do something about it. Just because you have been charged with a theft crime in Texas does not mean that you will get the maximum punishment for that charge. You have a legal right to hire a lawyer who has experience in criminal proceedings who can help represent you and get you the best possible outcome.
Experienced Houston White Collar Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson represents people on theft and fraud charges including robbery, burglary, petty theft, credit card theft, grand theft, embezzlement, shoplifting, forgery, passing bad checks, and obtaining money by false pretenses. There are many possible defenses for your case. Allow us the time to discuss your case with you and investigate the matter.
The Charles Johnson Law Firm will investigate your case, interview witnesses and present the best possible defense. Don’t let a mistake that you made affect the rest of your life. You may contact Houston Credit Card Fraud Lawyer Charles Johnson at (713) 222-7577 and speak with him directly anytime night or day, 7 days/ week to discuss your case.
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Any DWI arrest carries the potential for significant penalties and requires the attention of a highly experienced lawyer. But when that DWI arrest involves serious injury or a fatality, there is simply no room for error. The question is no longer as simple as getting your license back or avoiding some time in the county jail.
Accidents do happen and tragically, someone can die. Mitigating factors are thoroughly checked out such as whether the person broke any traffic laws, was driving with a suspended license, or if the person was negligent in some way. These are usually tried as misdemeanors. However, if a person is found to be intoxicated or under the influence of something, it is treated in Texas as a second degree felony and the prosecution goes after the person diligently. In intoxication manslaughter cases, the prosecution only has to prove that the driver was indeed, intoxicated. The term of incarceration could be anything from two years to twenty years.
If you have been charged with DWI after being in an accident that involved a death, you may be facing very serious charges of intoxication manslaughter. It is imperative that you speak with Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson as soon as possible after you have been charged, or think you may be charged. Attorney Johnson has the experience you can rely on for aggressive and effective defense strategies against the charges. The skilled attorneys at the Charles Johnson Law Firm do not believe there is any such thing as being slam-dunk guilty. No one truly intends to commit intoxication manslaughter. They do not wake up and say “I’m going to get drunk tonight and drive and see who gets in my way.” No matter what the circumstances of the accident are, your personal story is behind the charges and will make a difference in the outcome of your case. We will make sure that the judge and jury know that this isn’t just about an intoxication manslaughter case. It is about you and your family.
Intoxication manslaughter is a Second Degree felony which holds people liable for any death which occurs because of criminal negligence, or a violation of traffic safety laws. A common use of the vehicular manslaughter laws involves prosecution for a death caused by driving under the influence (determined by excessive blood alcohol content levels set by individual U.S. states), although an independent infraction (such as driving with a suspended driver’s license), or negligence, is usually also required.
Intoxication manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and other similar offences require a lesser mens rea (Latin for “guilty mind”. In criminal law, it is viewed as one of the necessary elements of a crime) than other manslaughter offenses. Furthermore, the fact that the defendant is entitled to use the alcohol, controlled substance, drug, dangerous drug, or other substance, is no defense. For example, in Texas, to prove intoxication manslaughter, it is not necessary to prove the person was negligent in causing the death of another, nor that they unlawfully used the substance that intoxicated them, but only that they were intoxicated, and operated a motor vehicle, and someone died as a result.
Types of Intoxication Manslaughter
In Texas, intoxication manslaughter does not only apply to automobile drivers. Individuals may be charged with this crime under any of the following circumstances:
- If they are operating a car, truck, motorcycle, or any other type of motorized vehicle in a public place
- If they are operating a boat, airplane, or amusement park ride
- If they assemble an amusement park ride
If the alleged offender has done any of these things while intoxicated, and someone was killed by the vehicle they were operating or had assembled, they can be convicted of intoxication manslaughter. There is no requirement that the prosecutor prove negligence, that their intoxication was the direct cause of the crash, or that they were behaving unlawfully by using the substance that caused their intoxication.
Defenses For Intoxication Manslaughter
Intoxication manslaughter cases should be attacked on two fronts if the case is going to trial. Notwithstanding whether a person is or is not intoxicated, a good lawyer would examine the Texas Peace Officer collision report which was completed as part of the investigation. Just because a driver may be intoxicated does not mean that he should be held criminally liable for the death of another.
There have been cases where the deceased driver was as much at fault if not more at fault than the accused. Examples could include the deceased having run a red light, the deceased having operated his motor vehicle at night without lights, the deceased also being intoxicated, the deceased merging improperly into traffic, and the list goes on. A lawyer familiar with crash reconstruction and who has worked with reconstruction experts should be able to present this defense if it is available. The issue is one of causation and is set forth in Tex. Penal Code Section 6.04. In a nutshell, what 6.04 states is that if an accused’s conduct is insufficient in itself to cause the result, and the conduct of another contributed to the result and the contributing cause was sufficient to cause the result, the accused cannot be held liable.
A good accident reconstruction expert’s report may convince a prosecutor to agree to probation if causation is questionable. That in itself may be worth the investment in hiring both a reconstruction expert and a lawyer who knows how to present such findings.
The second line of defense is whether a person is intoxicated. Scientific evidence can be compelling for a jury. However, the State is allowed to rely upon opinion evidence based upon observations such as lack of coordination, blood shot eyes, smell of intoxicants on breath, slurred speech etc. Some of these symptom could be explained by lack of sleep, allergies, injury, but not all.
Most police departments have on board video cameras and video may very well have been used in this case. Video can be a two-edge sword. Many a video has convinced a defendant to make the best deal possible, while other videos have convinced an accused to take it to trial
In blood draws/test results, there are several considerations. A blood sample can be lost, yet there can be a medical record from a laboratory stating what the test result is. In fact, most hospitals don’t retain the blood samples, but for a very short period. If the blood draw was for medical treatment, sometimes there is a chain of custody problem that makes admission of the medical records unreliable. Most courts, when dealing with a chain of custody issue on medical records as the result of medical treatment rule that any problems goes to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility, that is, the records gets admitted but the defense lawyer gets to argue that it is not reliable because of the poor chain of custody.
Mandatory blood draws can be attacked, however, you should hire a lawyer familiar with the statutory and administrative requirements for blood draws.
Houston Intoxication Manslaughter Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
When you are charged with intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault, you have more than just the prosecutor against you. You have the victim’s family and the public screaming for your head. You don’t have to go through this alone. The Charles Johnson Law Firm will fight aggressively to protect your rights and your future.
After a car accident in which there has been a fatality, it is an extremely upsetting situation for everyone involved. Law enforcement will collect evidence at the scene and this evidence is an important part of the documentation of the case. It is crucial that if you have been charged with intoxication manslaughter that you contact The Charles Johnson Law Firm quickly. The evidence in the case can be reviewed and an attorney can advise you what can be done in your case. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson can offer a free evaluation of your case, and it is advised that you take advantage of this so it can be determined what can be done and what options may be possible in your case.
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.
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Sexual allegations where children are involved are delicate and complicated cases to defend. This type of sexual accusation can be devastating in every aspect of your life. The presumption of innocence in our legal system may do little to protect those accused. Indecency with a child, like other sexual allegations, is one area where accused people often find they are put in a position where they have to prove their innocence. You cannot allow embarrassment to keep you from getting a skilled criminal defense attorney on your indecency case IMMEDIATELY. Every minute you wait, there is potentially more damage being done to your life and potentially more false evidence being collected to prosecute you. Early on in a sex related case investigation and legal protection is imperative. Charles Johnson, Houston Sexual Accusation Attorney, will handle your case with discretion and skill. He will fight to keep you out of jail, keep your reputation intact, and fight to keep your life from falling apart.
It is well established and understood by experts that many accusations of indecency with a child and sexual assault of a child are false. Many are grossly exaggerated. The reasons giving rise to false accusations of such conduct are varied. A child can imagine or dream such an incident. Perhaps the child was abused by another previously and misinterpreted and then exaggerated innocent incidental contact. Children have been known to fabricate such accusations because they were angry at the accused or were jealous, even for the most trivial reasons. Children can be led to make such claims by another angry or jealous adult, such as the accused’s spouse or lover. They are too young to comprehend how grave such a false accusation can be.
Under Texas law, a sexual encounter with a child or sexual contact with a child is either Indecency with a Child, Sexual Assault of a Child, or Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child, depending on the nature of the incident or contact.
Indecency with a Child. Allegations of certain types of sexual contact with a child, exposure to a child or causing the exposure of a child, who is under the age of 17, can lead to charges of Indecency with a Child. Such an offense may be a second or third degree felony. A defense may exist where, in such an incident, no duress, force or threat was used and the accused was not more than three years older than the child at the time.
Sexual Assault of a Child. If more violative and egregious contact is alleged, the accused may be charged with Sexual Assault of a Child, also a second degree felony. Again, a defense may exist where, in such an incident, no duress, force or threat was used and the accused was not more than three years older than the child at the time.
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child. Sexual Assault of a Child becomes “aggravated” (first degree felony) when force or threat of force is used or when the child is younger than 14 years of age, regardless of consensual behavior. This latter is also commonly known as “statutory rape”. No child under the age of 14 can consent to such conduct. Mistaken understanding about the child’s age is no defense.
The consequences of a conviction in such matters are extreme. Even if prison time is avoided, an adult’s conviction results in the requirement to register as a sex offender for the rest of one’s life, and to have one’s photograph and address flashed on the computer screen of anyone in the world who decides to access the state’s sex offender registry site.
Indecency with a Child
The commonly phrased crime of child molestation is titled Indecency with a Child in Texas. There are two types of indecency: Indecency with a Child by Contact and Indecency with a Child by Exposure (similar to Indecent Exposure but a child is present). Both are serious felonies. Both require registration as a sex offender upon conviction.
Indecency with a Child by Contact is the more serious offense. The Texas statute does not distinguish between touching under the clothes or touching over clothes ñ any sexual contact is punished as a second degree felony. A person commits the offense of Indecency with a Child by Contact if:
With a child younger than 17 years and not the person’s spouse, whether the child is of the same or opposite sex, the person engages in sexual contact with the child or causes the child to engage in sexual contact.
Sexual contact means the following acts, if committed with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person:
(1) any touching by a person, including touching through clothing, of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a child; or
(2) any touching of any part of the body of a child, including touching through clothing, with the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a person.
Indecency with a Child by Exposure is a third degree felony. A person commits the offense if with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person he:
(A) exposes the person’s anus or any part of the person’s genitals, knowing the child is present; or
(B) causes the child to expose the child’s anus or any part of the child’s genitals.
The two crimes are often charged in conjunction as separate paragraphs of an indictment. Double jeopardy concerns are raised when the same act is used to prosecute a person for two different crimes. In a prosecution alleging Aggravated Sexual Assault, the acts constituting the assault may also constitute separate crimes of Indecency with a Child by Contact and Indecency with a Child by Exposure. In a prosecution for Indecency with a Child by Contact involving a child touching the genitals of an adult, the crime of Indecency by Exposure would logically also have to have been committed.
Why do these details matter?
Because the rules of evidence concerning extraneous offenses, double jeopardy, the right to election, and jury unanimity are incredibly important protections for innocent people falsely accused of child sex abuse. A three count indictment is more powerful psychologically than a single allegation. Even if all three counts reference the same incident, the news media, the general public, and potential jurors are given a false impression that there was more than one incident. Second, it bolsters prosecution based upon fear rather than proof. Since most people belief “where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” a juror may still convict an innocent person of a lesser charge because while they don’t believe the accused committed the most serious act alleged, he is probably guilty of something. Alleging indecency with a child by contact and indecency with a child by exposure provide two other bites at the apple. Finally, the fundamental nature of the criminal justice system is that the greater offense subsumes the lesser. If a person is accused of murder, the State does not also try to indict him for assault and aggravated assault en route to the completed homicide. When the appellate courts allow the trial courts to aggrandize the number of offenses, it creates inconsistencies in the system.
The fundamental principle of the Constitution is that it shouldn’t matter what you‘re charged with ñ you have the right to a fair trial. Because of political popularity of getting tough on sex offenses, the centuries of due process and presumption of innocence is being sacrificed for cheap political gain. While this damages the credibility of our justice system in general, it is most harmful to innocent people who are falsely accused. Now that the legislature and appellate courts have rewritten the rules to make it easier to convict a group of people charged with a heinous act, pray that you are never wrongfully accused of a sex crime in Texas.
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child
Under most of the State laws, aggravated sexual assault against a child is clubbed with the section defining aggravated sexual assault. There are state specific laws on the subject which varies from state to state.
In Texas a person commits the offense of aggravated sexual assault against a child if he or she intentionally or knowingly:
(i) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child younger than 14 years of age by any means;
(ii) causes the penetration of the mouth of a child younger than 14 years of age by the sexual organ of the actor;
(iii) causes the sexual organ of a child younger than 14 years of age to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
(iv) causes the anus of a child younger than 14 years of age to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
(v) causes the mouth of a child younger than 14 years of age to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
A person can still be prosecuted for aggravated sexual assault of a child if the actor:
1. causes serious bodily injury or attempts to cause the death of the victim or another person in the course of the same criminal episode;
2. by acts or words places the victim in fear that death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping will be imminently inflicted on any person;
3. by acts or words occurring in the presence of the victim threatens to cause the death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping of any person;
4. uses or exhibits a deadly weapon in the course of the same criminal episode;
5. acts in concert with another who engages in conduct described by Subdivision (1) directed toward the same victim and occurring during the course of the same criminal episode; or
6. administers or provides flunitrazepam, otherwise known as rohypnol, gamma hydroxybutyrate, or ketamine to the victim of the offense with the intent of facilitating the commission of the offense.
The minimum term of imprisonment for aggravated sexual assault against a child is 25 years if the victim of the offense is younger than six years of age at the time the offense is committed; or the victim of the offense is younger than 14 years of age at the time the offense is committed and the actor commits the offense in a manner described by Subsection (a)(2)(A).
The law as it appears in the statute
Tex. Penal Code ß 22.021. Aggravated Sexual Assault
(a) A person commits an offense:
(1) if the person:
(A) intentionally or knowingly:
(i) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent;
(ii) causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person’s consent; or
(iii) causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
(B) intentionally or knowingly:
(i) causes the penetration of the anus or sexual organ of a child by any means;
(ii) causes the penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor;
(iii) causes the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
(iv) causes the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
(v) causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; and
(A) the person:
(i) causes serious bodily injury or attempts to cause the death of the victim or another person in the course of the same criminal episode;
(ii) by acts or words places the victim in fear that death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping will be imminently inflicted on any person;
(iii) by acts or words occurring in the presence of the victim threatens to cause the death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping of any person;
(iv) uses or exhibits a deadly weapon in the course of the same criminal episode;
(v) acts in concert with another who engages in conduct described by Subdivision (1) directed toward the same victim and occurring during the course of the same criminal episode; or
(vi) administers or provides flunitrazepam, otherwise known as rohypnol, gamma hydroxybutyrate, or ketamine to the victim of the offense with the intent of facilitating the commission of the offense;
(B) the victim is younger than 14 years of age; or
(C) the victim is an elderly individual or a disabled individual.
(b) In this section:
(1) “Child” has the meaning assigned by Section 22.011(c).
(2) “Elderly individual” and “disabled individual” have the meanings assigned by Section 22.04(c).
(c) An aggravated sexual assault under this section is without the consent of the other person if the aggravated sexual assault occurs under the same circumstances listed in Section 22.011(b).
(d) The defense provided by Section 22.011(d) applies to this section.
(e) An offense under this section is a felony of the first degree.
(f) The minimum term of imprisonment for an offense under this section is increased to 25 years if:
(1) the victim of the offense is younger than six years of age at the time the offense is committed; or
(2) the victim of the offense is younger than 14 years of age at the time the offense is committed and the actor commits the offense in a manner described by Subsection (a)(2)(A).
What makes a Sexual Assault of a Child Charge “Aggravated?”
The offense of Sexual Assault of a Child is defined by Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.011. Basically, the offense involves sexual activity with a person under 17 years of age. Sexual Assault of a Child is Aggravated if the child is under 14 years of age, if a deadly weapon is used or serious bodily injury is threatened. Sexual Assault of a Child is, in most cases, a Second Degree Felony. (2-20 years.) Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child is a First Degree Felony. (5 to 99 years or life.) If the child was younger than 6 if the child was under six at the time of the offense or there was violence or a threat of violence involved.
What is Indecency with a Child?
Indecency with a Child is defined by Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.11 as either engaging in sexual contact with a child or exposure of one’s anus or genitals to a child under 17 or causing the child to expose his or her anus or genitals to the actor with the intent to arouse or gratify someone sexually. Sexual contact is basically touching of the genitals with intent to arouse or gratify someone sexually. Note that some forms of genital contact may be Sexual Assault of a Child. Indecency with a Child by Contact in most circumstances is a Second Degree Felony. (2 to 20 years.) Indecency with a Child by Exposure is a Third Degree Felony. (2 to 10 years.)
Does the Age of the Accused Matter?
It is an affirmative defense to Indecency with a Child and Sexual Assault of a Child that the actor was not more than three years older than the child, and did not have a prior conviction for certain sexual offenses, and the child was older than 14 and was not related to the actor.
What Should I do if I am Contacted by the Police to Speak to them About an Allegation Against You of Child Sexual Abuse?
The first thing to do is to get a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. We see may individuals that have placed themselves at a serious disadvantage by speaking with police investigators without the assistance of counsel. Most people have no idea how coercive police interrogations are. Many individuals come away from an intensive interrogation having said things that were not true. If you are contacted by the police to discuss an allegation of child sexual abuse (or any other type of allegation) you should immediately contact Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson. You and Attorney Johnson can make a decision about whether you should speak to the police at all. If your lawyer advises you to speak to the police, he can be with you to make sure that the questioning is fairly conducted.
How Can I Defend Myself Against a False Accusation of Child Sexual Abuse?
A skilled lawyer will investigate your case factually and prepare a defense. It is important to determine why the child has made the accusation. Was the child influenced by an adult? Did the allegations result from improper questioning of the child by authorities? Experts may be added to the defense team to explain to the jury circumstances that could lead to false accusations.
Does Possession of Child Pornography Violate Both State and Federal Law?
Yes. Possession of Child Pornography is prohibited by both Texas law and federal law. Child pornography cases are investigated by local law enforcement, The Texas Office of the Attorney General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, United States Postal Inspectors and other agencies depending on how the images were discovered. Sometimes state law enforcement officials will begin an investigation but refer the case to the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecution in federal court.
How Can I Defend Myself Against an Accusation of Possession of Child Pornography?
In the age of the Internet, the vast majority of child pornography cases involve digital images found on computer hard drives. The defense lawyer’s first focus is on whether the discovery of the alleged illegal images was in violation of the constitutional rights of the accused. Also, the evidence must show that the accused knew that the images were on the computer hard drive. Examination of the computer’s drive by a forensic expert can sometimes uncover information about who may have place the images on the drive or whether they were intentionally placed there. Further, sometimes the evidence in the case does not prove that the images were of actual children rather than computer generated or altered images. Again, trained experts are needed to make this determination.
Laws in Texas Regarding Sexual Assault of a Child
Child sexual assault is a serious criminal offense in Texas.
Any kind of sexual conduct that harms children, whether physically, emotionally or both, is strictly prohibited in Texas. This includes sexual assault on a child, which is considered particularly heinous in the state. Consequently, engaging in these acts or failing to report this kind of abuse is a serious criminal offense, punishable to the full extent of the law.
Texas Family Code Chapter 261 outlaws any sexual conduct directed at or involving minors as well as failure to report these acts. This includes “fondling, lewd or lascivious exposure or behavior, intercourse, sodomy, oral copulation, penetration of a genital or anal opening by a foreign object, child pornography, child prostitution and any other sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional or physical welfare,” according to the website of the Texas Attorney General. Violators are prosecuted to the same extent whether or not children consent to these acts.
Sexual assault and child sex abuse carries severe penalties. Typically, Texas law classifies these offenses as felonies. Additionally, there are specific categories of felonies that different sexual violations fall into in Texas. As of 2010 and according to Texas Penal Code, indecent exposure to a child is a third-degree felony, punishable by 2-10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, while aggravated sexual assault on a child is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. (See References 2 and 4)
Persons convicted of child sexual assault are required to register with law enforcement officials in Texas. Names and information regarding these convicted sexual offenders are then placed in an online database. This database is considered public record, and any member of the community may view it.
Longer Prison Terms
A series of laws known as Ashley’s Laws were enacted by the Texas legislature in late 1990s to increase penalties for those convicted of child sexual assault. Under these laws, offenders are required to serve at least 50 percent of a prison sentence before being granted parole, though they typically end up serving 80 percent of a sentence.
Also in accordance with Ashley’s Laws, those convicted of child sexual assault in Texas who have been proven to be repeat offenders may face harsher penalties for continued sexual offenses. For example, a repeat child sexual abuser convicted of a second-degree felony may be sentenced with the same penalties as a first-degree felony under these laws. Additionally, a “two-strikes” provision was added to Texas state law for child sex offenders. Normally, a person convicted of three felonies in Texas is automatically sentenced to life in prison. This provision allows for an automatic life sentence for only two felony convictions of child sexual assault.
Finally, Ashley’s Laws also make it a legal requirement for convicted child sex offenders to undergo treatment in Texas. Because many traditional forms of treatment have proven ineffective in reducing child sexual abuse recidivism rates, some alternative treatments may be used, including certain behavioral modification programs. Additionally, tests may be administered to monitor progress, including the “plethysmograph” test, which monitors sexual arousal when presented with certain materials.
Sexual Assault of a Child: Hire the Best Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Charles Johnson
- In Texas, for purposes of the Sexual Assault of a Child and Indecency with a Child crimes, a child does not become an adult until age 17. For other sexual-related offenses, including Possession of Child Pornography and Sexual Performance of a Child, the age of an adult is 18 years.
- In Texas, it is not a defense that the accused did not know the child’s real age. So, the alleged victim could have lied about her age to the accused and the accused will still face criminal charges.The alleged victim cannot legally consent to sexual relations unless the alleged victim is 14 years of age or older and there is only a 3 year or less difference between the ages of the alleged victim and the accused.
- In Texas, only one eye-witness, the alleged victim, is sufficient for conviction, so long as the jury believes the alleged victim beyond a reasonable doubt.
- In Texas, neither genital trauma nor DNA evidence is required for a conviction.
- In Texas, voluntary intoxication is not a defense. So, if the accused goes to a party, gets drunk and sleeps with an underage girl, he cannot use his intoxication as a defense to the crime of Sexual Assault of a Child.
- In Texas, each separate sexual act can be separately charged within one indictment and, if there is a conviction, each Count can be stacked or served consecutively.
With these types of sexual offenses, there are many other legal issues involved. If a person is charged with sexual assault of a child, possession of child pornography or any type of sex offense, it is important to retain a criminal defense attorney who is experienced defending Texas sex offenses.
If you or a loved one has been charged with the sexual assault of a child, it is important that you contact an experience defense attorney immediately. The consequences for the sexual assault of a child if convicted can be several years in prison and the requirement to register on the sex offender registry. It is never a good idea to represent yourself in court. In a case like this, it is especially important that you find an experienced defense lawyer right away. Even if you have not been charged yet, it would be helpful for you to contact us via phone, anytime night or day, for a free consultation. The defense attorneys at the Charles Johnson Law Firm have had extraordinary success in defending serious cases such as the sexual assault of a child as well as other sex crimes. There are different levels of charges as well as different penalties for charges of sexual assault of a child. During consultation we can explain to you the details of what is possible in your specific case once you provide us with details regarding the matter. Contact Charles Johnson directly at (713) 222-7577 today for a free of charge consultation.
Houston Criminal Lawyer: Defense of Sexual Assault of a Child Charges
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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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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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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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