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Are you currently in a situation where you are facing criminal charges for Murder? Houston Criminal Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson represents clients charged with Homicide crimes throughout all of Texas. The Charles Johnson Law Firm can provide legal counsel at virtually any stage of your case, even if formal charges have not yet been filed against you. Currently, Texas has six types of Criminal Homicide charges:
Homicide is the act of killing another person, either intentionally or unintentionally. It is perhaps the most serious crime you could be accused of, and the potential penalties you could face if convicted are equally serious. Your lawyer must be well-versed in Texas and Federal Homicide laws to successfully represent you. If you or someone you love has been charged with any type of Criminal Homicide, you must take these charges very seriously and seek the legal advice of an experienced and knowledgeable Houston Criminal Defense Attorney right away. The Charles Johnson Law Firm will examine all the details of your case and will challenge the evidence against you. Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson has helped his clients either prove their innocence, or obtain a reduction in the charges against them. Whether you or guilty or not, you deserve to have an experienced attorney on your side who will work aggressively, to protect you and your rights. Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson anytime night or day directly at (713) 222-7577. He is always available to discuss your case.
Texas Penal Code Chapter 19: Four Types Of Criminal Homicide
TPC section 19.01 states that there are four types of Criminal Homicide. They are Murder, Capital Murder, Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide.
Under TPC section 19.02 there are three basic ways to commit murder:
- intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual;
- intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual; or
- commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission
or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.
Murder is usually a felony of the first degree, the possible punishment for which is imprisonment in the institutional division for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years and/or by a fine not to exceed $10,000. The only exception to this that the crime is a felony of the second degree if the requirements of TPC sec. 19.02 (d) are satisfied:
At the punishment stage of a trial, the defendant may raise the issue as to
whether he caused the death under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising
from an adequate cause. If the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by a
preponderance of the evidence, the offense is a felony of the second degree.
During the punishment phase of the trial, a defendant may argue that he caused the death while under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause. “Sudden passion” is “passion directly caused by and arising out of provocation by the individual killed or another acting with the person killed which passion arises at the time of the offense and is not solely the result of former provocation.”
“Adequate cause” is a “cause that would commonly produce a degree of anger, rage, resentment, or terror in a person of ordinary temper, sufficient to render the mind incapable of cool reflection.” Sudden passion is a mitigating circumstance that, if found by the jury to have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence, reduces the offense from a first degree felony to a second degree felony.
Thus, before defendants are allowed to have the judge or jury consider sudden passion, defendants must prove:
- that there was a adequate (legally recognized) provocation for the emotion or passion;
- an emotion or passion such as terror, anger, rage, fear or resentment existed;
- that the homicide occurred while the passion or emotion still existed;
- that the homicide occurred before there was a reasonable opportunity for the passion or emotion to cool (dissipate); and,
- that there was a causal connection between the provocation, the passion, and the homicide.
A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000. This is where the old offense of “voluntary manslaughter” ended up after amendments to the TPC effective in 1994. Thus, there is currently no offense of voluntary manslaughter in Texas.
A capital murder is a capital felony. The Texas Penal Code specifically defines Capital Murder (and, thus, the possibility of the death penalty as a punishment) as murder which involves one or more of the elements listed below:
- the person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman;
- the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or
retaliation, or terroristic threat,
- the person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;
- the person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;
- the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another:
- who is employed in the operation of the penal institution; or
- with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination;
- the person:
- while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Sec.19.02, murders another; or
- while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under Sec. 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another;
- the person murders more than one person:
- during the same criminal transaction; or
- during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct;
- the person murders an individual under six years of age; or
- the person murders another person in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of the other person as a judge or justice of the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, a district court, a criminal district court, a constitutional county court, a statutory county court, a justice court, or a municipal court.
A capital felony is punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. If the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty, life without parole is the mandatory sentence. Prior to 2005, capital felony life imprisonment was life with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
Under current state law, the crimes of Capital Murder and Capital Sabotage (see below) or a second conviction for the aggravated sexual assault of someone under 14 is eligible for the death penalty.
Note: The Texas Penal Code allows for the death penalty to be assessed for “aggravated sexual assault of child committed by someone previously convicted of aggravated sexual assault of child”. The statute remains part of the Penal Code; however, the Supreme Court of the United State’s decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana which outlawed the death penalty for any crime not involving murder nullifies its effect.
The Texas Penal Code also allows a person can be convicted of any felony, including capital murder, “as a party” to the offense. “As a party” means that the person did not personally commit the elements of the crime, but is otherwise responsible for the conduct of the actual perpetrator as defined by law; which includes:
- soliciting for the act,
- encouraging its commission,
- aiding the commission of the offense,
- participating in a conspiracy to commit any felony where one of the conspirators commits the crime of capital murder
The felony involved does not have to be capital murder; if a person is proven to be a party to a felony offense and a murder is committed, the person can be charged with and convicted of capital murder, and thus eligible for the death penalty.
As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime or mentally retarded are precluded from being executed by the Constitution of the United States.
Manslaughter (TPC sec. 19.04) is recklessly causing the death of an individual. Manslaughter is a felony of the second degree, which is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Texas does not officially use the term “involuntary manslaughter” or “voluntary manslaughter” which can sometimes be a little bit confusing. Many states do make the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Instead, Texas combines involuntary and voluntary manslaughter together and it is known as just “manslaughter.”
To convict a defendant of manslaughter, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant recklessly caused the death of another individual. There is no requirement of premeditation to this crime and no requirement for there to be intent or knowledge on the part of the defendant. The only requirement is that the defendant’s conduct was reckless.
Although manslaughter is defined broadly in Texas, there are specific types of manslaughter that are treated separately. For example, intoxication manslaughter is one, and vehicular manslaughter is another. Intoxication manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while intoxicated. Cases involving driving while intoxicated would probably be prosecuted under TPC sec. 49.08, Intoxication Manslaughter (see below), rather than under this section. Vehicular manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while driving a vehicle or vessel.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
Criminally negligent homicide (TPC sec. 19.05) is causing the death of an individual by criminal negligence. It is a state jail felony under which in general, a person can be confined in a state jail for not more than two years nor less than 180 days. In addition, a fine of not more than $10,000 may be assessed.
Criminally Negligent Homicide differs from Manslaughter only in terms of the culpability or mens rea. Criminally negligent homicide involves criminal negligence. Manslaughter involves recklessness. Thus, Manslaughter involves conscious risk creation (the actor is aware of the risk surrounding his conduct or the results thereof, but consciously disregards that awareness). Criminally negligent homicide involves inattentive risk creation. The actor ought to have been aware of the riskiness of his or her conduct but failed to perceive the risk.
Recklessness and criminal negligence are more serious forms of culpability than the negligence that can result in civil liability. Unlike civil or ordinary negligence, recklessness requires some subjective awareness of the risk. Ordinary negligence is a totally objective standard. Criminal negligence requires a “gross” deviation from the standard of care a reasonable or ordinary person would have exercised under the same circumstances. Criminal negligence is roughly equivalent to “gross negligence” which is a more serious form of culpability than ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence can be made out by showing any deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise.
Texas Penal Code Section 49.08 Intoxication Manslaughter
The final type of criminal homicide found in Texas Code is found in TPC ch. 49, “Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverage Offenses.” A person is guilty of intoxication manslaughter if the person operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, watercraft or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride and “ is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.”
“Intoxicated is defined as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more or
“not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body . . .”
This offense is a felony of the second degree. A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000
Note that this is a strict liability offense. Guilt attaches even if the death is caused by accident or mistake. Many observers are critical of strict liability offenses because they arguably punish conduct which is not blameworthy. Supporters of strict liability offenses counter that such offenses are usually fine-only offenses. This is clearly not the case for sec. 49.08 for which a person could be imprisoned for up to 20 years.
Section 49.08 does not apply to injury or death of an unborn child if the offense against the unborn child is committed by the mother of the unborn child. Thus, if a pregnant woman is driving while intoxicated and has an accident which kills her fetus, it is not a crime.
Texas Government Code – Section 557.012 Capital Sabotage
- A person commits an offense if the person commits an offense under Section 557.011(a) and the sabotage or attempted sabotage causes the death of an individual.
- An offense under this section is punishable by:
- death; or
- confinement in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for:
- life; or
- a term of not less than two years.
- If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under other law, the actor may be prosecuted under both sections.
Possible Defenses for Murder Charges
Defenses to first degree murder charges fall into two major categories: claims that the defendant did not commit the killing in question, and admission that the defendant committed the killing, but did not commit first degree murder.
Defendants admitting to having killed the victim can assert defenses that they were justified in doing so (in self defense, for example), or that they were somehow incapacitated and thus not legally liable. These defenses require the defendant to put forth proof to support his or her defense.
First degree murder defendants also may simply argue that the prosecution has not proved all elements of a first degree murder charge typically that the defendant killed willfully, deliberately and with premeditation. Though the defendant may support such an argument with evidence, he or she is not required to do so, as proof of all elements of the crime falls on the shoulders of the prosecution.
As with statutes defining crimes, the defenses recognized for a specific crime can vary by state. Furthermore, which defenses a criminal defendant may have depends on the particular facts of the case in question. For guidance, defendants should consult an attorney well versed in his or her state’s criminal laws.
In first degree murder cases, as well as other homicide crimes, defendants often argue mistaken identity i.e., that the prosecution has charged the wrong person with the killing. A defendant arguing mistaken identity often asserts an alibi if possible, which he or she tries to support with evidence of being somewhere else at the time of the killing. Other arguments in a mistaken identity defense include challenges to evidence placing the defendant at the scene of the crime. This can include challenges to witness identification as well as challenges to forensic evidence. A mistaken identity defense may also point to evidence implicating another possible suspect, but courts do not require defendants to do so.
Not all homicides are crimes, let alone first degree murders. The most common legal justification for a killing is self-defense or the defense of others.
To succeed, a defendant arguing self defense must show that the killing resulted from a reasonable use of force to resist a reasonable fear of death or bodily harm. The defendant cannot have instigated the threatening situation. The degree of force used in self-defense must be proportional to the threat perceived, and the threat perceived must be something that would place a reasonable person in fear of death or great bodily harm. Mere words or insults do not suffice.
The defendant’s reaction to the threat cannot take place after the threat of death or bodily harm has passed. Many states require that the defendant attempt to retreat or avoid danger if possible before resorting to the use of deadly force.
For example, if someone incapacitates a mugger with pepper spray, he or she may need to attempt to flee to safety instead of taking out a pistol and shooting the mugger. States differ in the degree to which they require an attempt to retreat if the threat they face occurs in the defender’s home.
Defense of Others
The reasonable and proportional defense of others also justifies some killings. The same requirements as self-defense typically apply: the use of force must be timely and proportional to the threat faced, and the perceived threat of death or bodily harm must be reasonable.
Exercise of Duty
Certain killings by law enforcement and other public officers qualify as justified homicides. If an officer kills someone in the exercise of duty and without an unlawful intent, recklessness or negligence, that killing generally does not constitute murder, let alone first degree murder.
Accident or Misfortune
Killings committed by accident in the course of lawful activities do not constitute murder. Some such killings may result in liability for manslaughter, but unless an accidental homicide takes place during the commission of a crime or as a result of other criminal intentions, they would not be covered by first degree or second degree murder statutes. In certain cases, such as parental discipline of children which results in even accidental death, the use of physical force beyond excepted norms can push the killing into murder and possibly, depending on state law, first degree murder.
Most states recognize an insanity defense to charges of first degree murder. Even states which allow the defense, however, treat it differently and often apply different tests. Most states define insanity, for purposes of determining criminal liability, as cognitively being unable to appreciate the quality of the act being committed, or unable to realize that the act is wrong. Some states also recognize a volitional aspect to “insanity” giving some defendants with disorders affecting impulse control access to the insanity defense.
Hire the Best Criminal Homicide Lawyers: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Murder charges are of course the most serious of all charges and the most seriously pursued by the State Attorney’s Office or Federal Prosecutors. A person charged with homicide (murder) in Texas risks significant jail time and most convictions will result in never being released from custody. In some cases, they face being sentenced to death. Texas has become infamous in the country for the number of murders.
However not all deaths are criminal, and there are several powerful homicide defenses provided under Texas Law. If you or someone you know is charged with some form of a Homicide charge, then you need the best possible attorney. You are entitled to the best legal defense possible. Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson can deliver that defense for you. Houston Criminal Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson is available to discuss your case whenever you need him. Contact him directly at (713) 222-7577. His Law Office is headquartered in Houston, with offices conveniently located in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.
Download “Arrested for Murder in Houston? Why Hiring An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Is Crucial” in PDF Format
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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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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 Top Houston Criminal Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm can decide which defenses might pertain to your case should you be arrested for possession of illegal drugs, either for private use or with intent to sell, in the event you plead not guilty. Various states deal with the issue of unlawful drugs in various ways, while the federal government has a tendency to have the most stringent drug sentencing regulations. Nevertheless drug possession defenses are rather standard across state lines. Several defenses challenge the stated information and facts, testimony or evidence within the case, whilst others focus on procedural mistakes, frequently search and seizure infractions.
The following are a few defenses to drug possession criminal charges, several much more typical than others:
Illegal Search and Seizure
The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the privilege to due process of law, such as legal search and seizure methods before a charge. Search and seizure challenges are very typical in drug possession cases. Unlawful drugs discovered in “plain view,” including a vehicle’s dash panel following a legal traffic stop, might be seized and utilized as evidence. However illegal drugs discovered within the trunk of your vehicle after prying it open with a crowbar, presuming the suspect didn’t provide authorization, can’t be put into evidence. In the event the accused’s 4th Amendment rights had been breached, then the illegal drugs can’t be utilized at trial and the criminal charges usually are dismissed.
Illegal Drugs Belong to Another Individual
A typical defense to any type of criminal offense arrest would be to merely state that you did not do it. The drug possession equivalent would be to state that the illegal drugs are not yours or that you simply had no idea they had been inside your apartment, for instance. The Finest Houston Criminal Lawyers at the Charles Johnson Law Firm will compel prosecutors to demonstrate that the marijuana cigarette discovered within the automobile really belonged to their client rather than another individual within the automobile.
Crime Lab Assessment
Merely because it appears to be crack or Ectasy does not necessarily mean that it is. The prosecution needs to establish that a seized material is actually the illegal drug it claims it is by submitting the evidence for crime lab analysis. The crime lab analyst then needs to testify at trial in order for the prosecution to prove its case.
Missing Illegal Drugs
Attorney Charles Johnson will make certain prosecutors have the ability to provide the actual illegal drugs for which their client has been arrested. Comparable to the requirement for analysis by a crime lab, prosecutors who misplace or otherwise don’t have the actual drugs risk getting their case dismissed. Seized drugs frequently are transferred a number of times prior to ending up within the evidence locker, therefore it should by no means be presumed that the evidence continues to exists throughout the trial.
Illegal Drugs Had Been Planted
This might be challenging to establish, because a law enforcement officer’s sworn testimony carries a great deal of weight within the courtroom. Moreover, other police officers might hesitate to blow the whistle on a fellow police officer. However, The Charles Johnson Law Firm will file a motion that, if authorized by the judge, demands the department to produce the complaint file of the given police officer. This file references the names and contact details of those that produced the complaints, who may then be interviewed by the lawyer or his private detective.
While police are free to operate sting operations, entrapment happens when police officers or informants cause a suspect to commit a criminal offense this individual otherwise might not have committed. If the informant pressures a suspect into giving illegal drugs to a 3rd party, for instance, then this might be regarded as entrapment. Usually, entrapment happens when the state offers the illegal drugs involved.
Do I Need A Criminal Lawyer?
If you’re arrested for any sort of of these or some other drug related criminal offense you should get in touch with The Finest Houston Criminal Lawyers as soon as you possibly can. The consequences of carrying out a drug offense may be very serious, such as actual jail time, in some cases for several years in significant high profile drug cases. Being found guilty for a drug-related crime could not just harm your personal and professional stature, but may lead to actual termination from a good job or even the suspension or revocation of one’s professional licenses. It is not whether or not you’ll acquire an attorney, rather, it is who you’ll find to handle your case at your most susceptible time.
Top Houston Criminal Lawyers: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Do not let drug charges spoil your future. The Top Houston Criminal Lawyers will expertly defend drug charges in the courtroom. If you’re struggling with misdemeanor or felony drug possession charges after having a drug arrest in Texas, safeguard your legal rights and future. Contact the Charles Johnson Law Firm 24/7 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Charles Johnson |
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Virtually all drug charge convictions bear severe consequences, but the state of Texas makes every effort to crack down on drug manufacture cases. From meth laboratories to marijuana grow houses, in the event you or a loved one faces criminal charges surrounding the cultivation of drugs; you need to speak to the Finest Houston Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm prior to taking any sort of legal action on your own.
The Top Houston Drug Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson will have many years of experience protecting the accused within the courts throughout Texas and is going to be willing to respond to your questions and reduce the damages facing you following your drug manufacture arrest.
When you initially step into their office, the Top Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm will talk about your case, talk about what happened, and how the criminal charges you face might be affected by a prior criminal record. Listening to your side of the story, they’ll help you explore any and all potential defenses.
Understanding your side of the story is important. They will tell you about the court in which your charges are being heard. In all instances, they will want to hear your side of the story before beginning to fully evaluate your choices.
Hire The Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm
Texas defense attorneys see many drug distribution cases due to the sheer volume of interstate highway traffic. Sadly, it’s all-too-easy to move drugs along the interstate highway system in all directions. In particular within the Houston area, our law enforcement officers have noticed patterns when searching for drug traffickers. It is common for vehicles to be stopped along northbound interstates and for big amounts of drugs to be found. When suspect automobiles are stopped heading southbound, big amounts of currency are occasionally found. Whether the criminal arrest will be sale, distribution, or drug trafficking depends upon the kind and also the amount of drugs in question. However the difference you face in penalties is substantial.
A first degree felony drug conviction usually results in a minimum five-year prison term, but in large-scale drug manufacturing or drug distribution cases, jail terms can jump to a minimum of 15 years.
If excessively big sums of U.S. currency are found inside your vehicle (or perhaps a vehicle you are riding in), you may face charges of money laundering. Amazingly, the penalties at the federal level for possessing big amounts of money are similarly severe to those for possessing big amounts of drugs.
You might also discover yourself dealing with conspiracy charges, something federal prosecutors might add on to drug crime cases.
The Recommended Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Charles Johnson will have handled numerous state and federal drug cases in Texas courts, from drug manufacturing cases involving meth laboratories and marijuana grow houses to international drug trafficking. No case is too big or complicated for their firm to handle.
Seizure of Assets
Law enforcement officers doing drug interdiction work have the legal right to seize assets that had been utilized in furtherance of a criminal offense or purchased using the proceeds of criminal activity. This indicates they not only confiscate drugs; they also seize money, cars, boats, various other personal property and even real estate. The police or law enforcement agency is able to then sell the assets and keep the proceeds or just keep the property altogether for their own purposes. This is especially typical with vehicles.
Asset forfeiture sometimes goes too far, with the police taking property that doesn’t belong to anybody charged with the criminal offense, property and assets that in fact belongs to totally innocent family members or third parties. The Most Dedicated Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm handles asset forfeiture cases, helping customers fight to recover seized assets .
Creating Your Drug Manufacture Defense
Most drug manufacturing criminal charges, whether they involve marijuana or methamphetamines, are heard in state court. Quite often, marijuana grow houses and meth houses are discovered following informants report activities to the authorities.
If you have been turned in by a third party, the Best Houston Drug Crimes Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm will attack the reliability of the source. Nevertheless, in every case the quality of the evidence is different. That is why we analyze possible actions on a case-by-case basis.
Contact the Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney Charles Johnson for a free consultation. They’ll fight hard to protect your rights throughout the legal process.
Charles Johnson |
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Although men and women in the United States are entitled to privacy and freedom from government intrusion, there is a limit to that privacy. State or federal police officers are permitted, where justified, to search your premises, car, or some other property and assets in order to look for and seize unlawful items, stolen goods or evidence of a crime. What rules must law enforcement follow when engaging in searches and seizures? What can they do in upholding the laws, and what can’t they do?
What the authorities May Do:
- Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement officials may engage in "reasonable" searches and seizures.
- To prove that a search is "reasonable," the authorities must generally show that it is more likely than not that a crime has transpired, and that if a search is conducted it is probable that they will find either stolen goods or evidence of the criminal offense. This is named probable cause.
- In a few situations, law enforcement need to first make this showing to a judge who issues a search warrant. In the majority of special circumstances, however, law enforcement may be able to conduct a search without the need of a warrant. In fact, virtually all searches are "warrantless."
- Police may search and seize items or evidence when there’s no "legitimate expectation of privacy." In other words, if you did not have a privacy interest in the items or evidence, the authorities can take them and, in effect, no "search" has happened.
Note: In deciding whether or not there was a "legitimate expectation of privacy," a court will consider two important things:
- Did you have an expectation of some degree of privacy?
- Was that expectation reasonable in our society’s view?
Example: You have a semi-automatic rifle that you had stolen from a pawn shop. You leave the firearm laying on the hood of your vehicle when you get home. You don’t have a "legitimate expectation of privacy" with regard to items you leave on the hood of your vehicle, and police officers may take the weapon. No search has happened.
- Police may use first-hand info, or tips from an informant to justify the need to search your property. If an informant’s information is used, the police must prove that the information is reliable under the circumstances.
- Once a warrant is obtained, police officers may enter onto the specified area of the property and search for the items listed on the warrant.
- Police could very well extend the search beyond the specified area of the property or include various other items in the search beyond those specified or listed within the warrant if it is necessary to:
- Ensure their safety or the safety of others;
- Prevent the destruction of evidence;
- Discover more about possible evidence or stolen items that are in plain view; or
- Hunt for evidence or stolen items that, based upon their initial search of the specified area, they believe may be in a different location on the property.
Example: The police have a warrant to search your basement for evidence of a drug manufacturing operation. On their way through your home to go down to the basement, they see a cache of firearms sitting on your kitchen table. Some may take the guns to guarantee their safety while searching your basement.
- Police may search your property without the need of a warrant if you consent to the search. Consent must be freely and voluntarily given, and you cannot be coerced or tricked into giving it.
- Police may search your person and the immediate surroundings without a warrant when they are placing you under police arrest.
- If an individual is arrested in a residence, law enforcement may make a "protective sweep" of the home in order to make a "cursory visual inspection" of places where an accomplice may be hiding. In order to do so, the authorities must have a reasonable belief that an accomplice may be around.
Example: Police officers arrest you in your living room on criminal charges of murder. Some may open the door of your coat closet to make certain that nobody else is hiding there, but may not open your medicine cabinet due to the fact that an accomplice couldn’t hide there.
- When you are being taken to jail, police may perform an "inventory search" of items you have with you without the need of a warrant. This search may include your vehicle if it is being held by law enforcement in order to make a list of all items inside.
- Police may search without the need of a warrant should they reasonably fear for their safety or for the public’s safety.
Example: If the authorities drive past your house on a regular patrol of the neighborhood and see you, in your open garage, with ten cases of dynamite and a blowtorch, they may search your garage without having a warrant.
- If it’s necessary to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence, the police may search without the need of a warrant.
Example: If the authorities see you trying to burn a stack of cash that you stole from a bank, they could perform a search without a warrant in order to avoid you from further destroying the cash.
- Perform a search, without the need of a warrant, when they are in "hot pursuit" of a suspect who enters a private dwelling or area following fleeing the scene of a criminal offense.
Example: If the authorities are chasing you from the scene of a murder, and you run into your apartment in an effort to get away from them, they may follow you into the apartment and search the area without the need of a warrant.
- Police may perform a pat-down of your outer clothing, in what is named a "stop and frisk" situation, as long as they reasonably believe that you may be concealing a weapon and they fear for their safety.
What the authorities May NOT Do:
- The police may not perform a warrantless search anywhere you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, unless one of the warrant exceptions applies.
- If evidence was obtained through an unreasonable or unlawful search, the police may not use it against you in a trial. This is designated the "exclusionary rule."
- The police may not use evidence resulting from an unlawful search to obtain some other evidence.
- The law enforcement may not submit an affidavit in support of obtaining a search warrant if they did not have a reasonable belief in the truth of the statements in the affidavit.
- Unless there is a reasonable suspicion that it contains evidence, unlawful items, or stolen goods, law enforcement may not search your motor vehicle. If your vehicle has been confiscated by police officers, however, they can search it.
- Unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you are involved in a criminal activity, the authorities may not "stop and frisk" you. Should they have a reasonable suspicion, they can pat down your outer clothing if they are concerned that you might be concealing a firearm.
Houston Search & Seisure Defense: Hire the Most Respected Houston Lawyer
Courts quite often need to determine case-by-case whether or not the circumstances in which the police searched without a warrant had been legal. Therefore, if the search has already occurred and you are not sure of its legality, speak to the Leading Houston Drug Crimes Attorney as soon as possible. And any time a search has not yet been conducted, make sure that you understand your rights in advance.
Charles Johnson |
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Hire the Finest Houston Drug Crimes Attorney!
Drug possession is a severe criminal charge in Texas carrying a wide range of punitive measures from probation to lengthy prison sentences, depending on the quantity of the drug. A conviction on drug possession charges could have serious implications for you mainly because of the likelihood that you might have to go to jail and pay stiff fines reaching into the thousands of dollars, in addition to the probability the authorities may perhaps seize your vehicle or other assets.
Drug possession charges will follow you with a criminal record which can also keep you from certain jobs and professional licenses. If you are charged under the possession law, it means the state has arrested you for transporting or having access to a controlled substance including marijuana, cocaine, or Ecstasy.
A drug possession conviction may possibly bring about a six month driver’s license suspension under Texas statutes, so it makes sense to contact an criminal defense attorney for more information on alternatives to pleading guilty should you require the ability to drive. Law enforcement will be able to charge you with drug possession should they find drugs in your pockets or anywhere else on your body, or they can certainly charge you under a claim of “constructive possession“. This means the drugs had been in a place that you normally control or could very easily reach, that could be your car, your apartment, or the cushions of a couch where you had been sitting when police officers entered.
Speak to a Houston, Texas law firm to schedule a free of charge preliminary consultation with a qualified, aggressive Drug Possession Defense lawyer.
Aggressive Drug Possession Defense
The Most Effective Houston Criminal Lawyer will have a great deal of working experience providing vigorous defense for adults and juveniles confronting defense criminal charges for possession of illegal substances, that include:
- Crack cocaine
- Methamphetamines (meth
- Other illegal drugs
The penalties for a drug conviction can range from fines of $2,000 and 180 days in jail to fines of $50,000 and an entire lifetime in prison. The level of misdemeanor or felony charge is based upon the amount of drugs confiscated. By way of example, possession of five ounces of marijuana would lead to state felony charges with a sentence potential of up to $10,000 and a couple of years in prison.
A drug possession conviction might lead to criminal penalties, including fines and incarceration, and other penalties, such as license suspension, damage to reputation and loss of ability to acquire student loan financing. The Most Qualified Houston Criminal Lawyer will make every effort to minimize or altogether avoid such drastic repercussions through providing zealous defense counsel.
Drug Possession Sentencing
Judges will typically attempt to determine if the drugs had been for personal use or drug possession for sale and distribution when sentencing. Quite often the fines are quite major and quite often the sentence will include at least random drug testing and probation if not some jail time. Drug awareness classes and community service hours are quite often the initial option for the majority of judges, once it has been confirmed that the drugs had been for personal use.
Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson can help prove this, or simply prove that the drugs were definitely not yours in situations where they were recovered from an automobile or residence.
Protect Your Rights
You have a right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer – USE THEM. The Recommended Houston Drug Crimes Attorney investigates the methods in which the evidence was acquired in order to uncover violations of your constitutional rights.
Elicited confessions and the seized drugs are quite often the only evidence creating a case against you. This will certainly provide leverage in plea negotiations and even lead to dismissal of drug criminal charges. Any evidence that is obtained in violation of your legal rights is inadmissible in court – which means the evidence can’t be utilized in a case against you. Any time a confession was obtained unlawfully or unlawful drugs had been confiscated with an invalid search warrant (illegal search and seizure), your attorney should fight to suppress the evidence. As a highly skilled drug possession criminal defense lawyer, Charles Johnson understands how to mitigate damaging evidence.
Will I have to go to Jail on my Drug Possession Criminal Charge?
State possession law allows counties to set up diversion programs for men and women charged with offenses concerning the use or possession of drugs, including marijuana. And, judges are required to give probation, or community supervision, in certain drug possession court cases.
The state health code also requires any county with a population of more than 200,000 to establish a drug court program to send some drug offenders to treatment as opposed to jail.
The punishment primarily depends on the quantity of drugs involved and your prior conviction history, but it is very conceivable you could possibly not have to serve time for a drug possession conviction if it’s your initial offense for a relatively small amount./p>
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure makes community supervision and mandatory drug treatment programs a sentencing requirement for folks convicted of possessing:
- Less than 1 gram of drugs such as crack or meth.
- Less than 5 units of drugs that include LSD.
- Less than 1 gram of drugs including Ecstasy (MMDA) or PCP.
- Less than one pound of marijuana.
Nevertheless, the judge doesn’t have to sentence you to probation if you have been found guilty of a previous felony, or in the event you have violated an earlier probation sentence. In those cases, it is up to the judge whether or not you go to jail or get probation.
If your attorney can show the officers did not have probable cause, your consent, or a search warrant, your attorney may possibly be able to challenge the legality of the search that turned up those drugs and get the evidence suppressed, keeping the state from making its case against you.
To do that, the prosecutor must show that law enforcement officials found the drugs on you or in your control following a legal search. The judge also can sentence you to serve three to six months in jail before starting probation. Bear in mind, the state must first prove the criminal charge of drug possession before you may be sentenced. I highly recommend you get in touch with your lawyer for a free of charge consultation on your Texas drug possession charge, and your lawyer will walk you through the basic facts of your case, and your ideal legal defense solutions. As you can see, drug possession court cases get complicated very quickly.
Hire The Very Best Houston Drug Possession Defense Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
If you are confronting misdemeanor or felony drug possession charges following a drug charge in Texas, defend your liberties and future. Contact the Best Houston drug crime defense lawyer to schedule a free preliminary consultation. Many times the first arrest on Drug Possession criminal charges can be dropped down to a disorderly conduct, resulting in less significant penalties that usually do not include incarceration. Additionally, the Best Houston Drug Crimes Attorney could possibly even be able to have the criminal charges dropped in situation where you had been merely within the vicinity where the drugs had been located.
Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson will definitely negotiate these types of arrangements to avoid you from having a drug related charge on your record.
Charles Johnson |
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