Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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Marijuana Attorney - cannabis and its usage. marijuana leaf and marijuana products isolated on white background. cosmetics, hemp milk, hemp oil, cookies, brownies and nutritional supplements.
Being a criminal defense attorney, I try to keep up with the latest fad drugs to hit the market in order to better serve my clients and help them understand what they are being charged with when it comes to controlled substances.  This week I had a young man come in that was arrested for being in possession of marijuana.  However, when the charging instrument was filed it turned out that he was being charged by the Montgomery County District Attorney for possession of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony which carries a possible sentence of two to twenty years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division.  Wow, that is a whole lot scarier than simple pot possession.   Needless to say, my client was scared to death.  That is a pretty hefty sentence.  Luckily, the case was picked up by an assistant district attorney with a great deal of experience and very good discretion with these types of cases.  Thanks to him we were able to get the charge reduced and the client was ultimately happy with the outcome.  These types of cases are on the rise and are no longer considered unusual.  New states legalize marijuana each year and people are transporting these new pot products to Texas and will unknowingly face steep fines and sentences.  People in Conroe and Huntsville believe that Montgomery County and Walker County are following in the footsteps of Harris County in lessening the penalties.  This is simply not true.  You may ask what the pot product was that my client possessed for this severe penalty.  It was called Moon Rocks.

After a little research I found out that Moon Rocks are a new cannabis product created by a dispensary on the west coast.  Marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized marijuana are businesses.  Like all businesses they try to separate themselves from the competition.  Thus, coming up with new products that these businesses hope will set themselves apart from the growing field of competition in the growing field of legalized marijuana.  See what I did there?  Moon Rocks involve taking an already potent strain of marijuana, infusing it with hash oil, and then rolling it in kief.  The hash oil makes the weed much stronger. In one-two punch fashion, the bud is then rolled in kief which strengthens the potency even more.  Kief is the resin gland of the cannabis plant.  Think of it as a built-in defense mechanism for the plant that produces the potent THC that gets people high.  In other words, this is a powerfully concentrated form of marijuana.

These new products are classified by law enforcement as controlled substances.  Typically, controlled substances are classified by weight.  What happens when you add oil to a sponge?  It gets heavy.  Hence, the reason Moon Rocks carry such a severe penalty.  Think of pot brownies.  It is the same reason the penalty for edibles and for the THC oil commonly used in vape pens also carry a severe penalty. They are heavy.   It is not the amount of THC or drug in the product that determines the penalty but the gross weight.  Therefore, if you are caught with one of these products you could face serious consequences. 

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Conditions of Bond; Montgomery County Drug Lawyer
Rarely a week goes by where I am not contacted by a current or previous client that is having trouble with the drug testing routine in Montgomery County and Harris County.  Montgomery County is by far the most prevalent.  You see in Montgomery County, you are essentially guilty before being proven innocent.  If you are accused of a crime in Montgomery County, Texas you will most likely be subject to conditions of bond unless you chose to sit in court until your case is settled.  This can be months or years.  As a condition of bond, you must report to community supervision and you will be drug tested.  This involves you calling in daily, yes daily to see if your lot has been chosen to report for a drug test.  You then need to drop what you are doing and get to specified lab in downtown Conroe to give a specimen.  You are only supposed to be tested once per month.  This isn’t reality.   I’ve had numerous clients chosen upwards of three times per month and even multiple times per week.

One of the most common problems is a dilute sample.  Dilute samples affect active people who drink a lot of water.  Southeast Texas is one of the hottest places in the United States.  Who doesn’t drink a lot of water that works outdoors in the Houston area?  Would one think this situation causes lots and lots of false positives?  You bet!  You see in the eyes of probation, the district attorney, and the Judges in Montgomery County, a dilute urine sample is the same as a positive.  You can and will have your pretrial diversion contract revoked, and you can and will go to jail for up to several weeks all based on a false positive test.  Just last week I had a client that had multiple dilute samples over the course of her probation.  I had her take a hair follicle test that goes back weeks to test for drugs and she came back negative.  Therefore, each dilute test in her case was a false positive.  How much does it cost you for a hair follicle test to prove you are innocent of taking drugs while you are on bond or probation?  About $300.  And yes, you are also billed for the urine tests and other associated costs when you are on conditions of bond for something you may not have done but were only accused of doing.

Another frequent question I get weekly is, “you mean someone can lie to the police, and based on that lie I can be arrested and do jail time?”  The simple answer is yes, it happens all the time.  But what about positive drug tests?  Can you do jail time based on a positive drug test when you are not actually taking anything illegal?  Here are two of many examples.

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Disorderly Conduct Lawyer
On March 6, 2008,  a caller phoned the police with a complaint of a party that included loud music and illegal activities, at a home in Northeast D.C.  As in Washington, D.C.  A local neighborhood commissioner phoned the police and stated that he knew the home was vacant and had been for several months.  Officers arrived on the scene and interviewed several neighbors.  The neighbors confirmed that the home had been empty.  When the police approached the home, they heard loud music coming from inside.

The officers knocked at the front door.  A man came to the window, looked out, and then ran upstairs.  Okay, a little strange.  One of the occupants then opened the door and the police entered the residence.  Their immediate impression of the inside of the home was that the it was  “in disarray,” and “looked like a vacant property.”  The police smelled sweet cheeba in the air and observed beer bottles and cups of booze scattered around the floor.  In fact, it was noted that one of the partygoers refused to sit on the floor while being questioned because it was so filthy.  Surprisingly, the home did have working electricity and plumbing.  However, the entire downstairs furniture group consisted of nothing more than padded metal chairs.  To the occupants’ credit, there were blinds on the windows, some food in the fridge, and toiletries in the, well…toilet.  But wait, there’s more.

The “living room” had been converted into a strip club.  Women, milling around wearing bras and thongs, were socializing with the patrons.  The scantily clad women had cash stuffed into their thongs and garter belts.  Several women also captivated the audience by giving lap dances.  The patrons had cash and cocktails in each hand.  When the partygoers finally took notice of the police, they “scattered into other parts of the house.”  In other words, they beat feet.

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DWI breath test; DWI Attorney
If you have been convicted of DWI, you probably have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle. The device was probably ordered by one of the Montgomery, Harris, or Walker County Judges. Over the last few years these devices have become very popular. To make it work, you must push a button on the unit. Then when it says “blow,” you blow into the device. Viola, your vehicle will now start. Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, maybe not. Driving your vehicle with the device installed requires what is called a “rolling test.” Yep, to keep your car going you have to blow into the machine while driving. Hey, wait…isn’t that distracted driving? You bet. So, what could go wrong?

Last week an eighteen-year-old woman was killed by a person that had been ordered by a court to have an ignition interlock device installed in his vehicle after his DWI conviction. The young lady was backing out of her driveway and was subsequently struck by the man while blowing into his DWI device. The test takes three to four seconds to complete. In that time span, the man never saw the young lady backing out and never hit his brakes. The man had not been drinking at the time.

In the United States, every day, nine people are killed and over a thousand are injured from distracted driving. Distracted driving is when you are doing something other than paying attention to your surroundings when driving. The three main types of distracted driving are: visual, which is taking your eyes off the road, manual, which is taking your hands off your steering wheel, and cognitive, which is when your mind is not on your driving.

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DWI Attorney
Today, I spoke with a client that suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS) and is charged with DWI or driving while intoxicated.  For those of you who don’t know what multiple sclerosis is, MS is a disabling disease of the central nervous system which consists of your brain and spinal cord.  The disease attacks the protective covering around your nerve fibers.  Think of the plastic covering on copper wire.  The comparable covering on your nerves is called myelin.  MS attacks the myelin and causes communication problems between your central nervous system and the rest of your body.  The damage can become so severe that a patient can have problems walking and later may not be able to walk at all.  Is this the first client I have had that has been charged with DWI when they have not been drinking?  No.  I’ve had multiple clients charged with driving while intoxicated when they are suffering from a disease of the nervous system and have not been drinking at all and have not taken any medication. So, what are the consequences?

If you don’t already know, Texas is one of the harshest states in the nation when it comes to being charged with DWI and the consequences of the arrest.  Folks, we are not just talking about the fines and court costs.  The aftermath of a DWI conviction in Montgomery, Harris, or Walker County can be far reaching and life altering.  Most people have no idea how much it costs overall to be charged with DWI.

First off, your car is usually towed at your expense.  When you are arrested your car is left behind to be towed and impounded by a local company.  This system is not regulated and there are companies that will really take advantage of you.  I’ve seen towing and impound fees start at around $300 and go to upwards of $600.  This is what you are required to pay even if you are innocent and are later found to be not guilty or the charges are dismissed.

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 Self-defense; assault; aggravated assault, criminal defense lawyer             
Last week the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas gave us some insight into the current state of guns laws in Texas and the availability of a self-defense claim handing out a decision entitled State of Texas v. Gamino.  In August of 2013, Mr. Gamino and his girlfriend were leaving a bar at closing time in downtown Fort Worth, Texas.  While walking back to Gamino’s truck they passed a group of three men sitting on a street corner.  Gamino heard one of the three, who we will refer to as Khan, quote a line from a movie that was extremely lewd.  Gamino thought the comment was meant for his girlfriend and confronted Khan.  Khan testified at trial that he was not talking to Gamino or his girlfriend.  Khan stated that Gamino said, “I’ve got something for you.” Khan stated that Gamino then walked to his truck and pulled out a gun which he then pointed at the three men.  Two off duty police officers were working security in the area.  One of the officers stated that although the area was noisy and people were laughing and talking, he heard someone arguing over the others and someone yelled, “Yeah, well I got something for you.”  The officers saw Gamino retrieve something from his truck and assumed that he was retrieving a weapon.  One officer named Flores saw Gamino with a pistol in his hand.  Officer Flores drew his gun as he saw Gamino raise his gun.  The officer saw several people backing up and saw Khan and his friends putting their hands in the air.  Officer Flores told Gamino to drop the gun and he immediately complied by lowering the weapon and was not aggressive in response to the command.  Gamino put the gun down on the driver’s side seat of the pickup truck.  Khan was arrested for public intoxication and Gamino was subsequently arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  It should be noted that Khan was very unruly and was on the verge of being tased by the officers.

Upon arrest Officer Flores recalled Gamino had said about Khan, “Well, he was talking shit.”  Flores testified that “talking shit” to someone does not give the other person the right to pull a gun.  Flores opined that any person including a police officer is only allowed to use deadly force when the other person presents a threat of either deadly force or serious bodily injury.  When cross examined by the defense, Officer Flores stated that whether a person had a right to protect himself depended on the situation.

Gamino’s girlfriend testified that she had known Gamino for eight years.  She said that after coming back from overseas Gamino had two back surgeries and two failed knees and some shoulder problems.  Was Gamino a veteran?  We don’t know because it is not mentioned in the case discussion.  Gamino was parked in a handicapped spot and was disabled.  The girlfriend said that she and Gamino had gone out to dinner with friends and then later to a club.  When leaving the club, the three men including Khan confronted them and one man threatened her.  We presume this man was Khan.  She stated that she feared for her life.

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Montgomery County Lawyer
In the James Bond as 007 movie A View to a Kill, Christopher Walken plays the evil villain Max Zorin who poses as a wealthy race horse breeder. Playing the part of James Bond, Roger Moore drops into Zorin’s palatial estate under the guise of securing a horse for breeding. Bond’s disguise is that of a James St. John Smythe. Smythe sits down across the desk from Zorin and his face is analyzed by a secret camera which discovers Smythe is really 007, licensed to kill. In 1986 this technology was pure science fiction; today facial recognition is science fact.

The new Apple Face ID program initiates every time you glance at your new IPhone X. The top of the line new iPhone contains an infra-red camera, a flood illuminator, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, a microphone, a front camera, and a dot projector which all collect and store your personal information in your phone. The process begins with what they call a flood illuminator that lights up your face. Even in the dark. Then, there is an infra-red camera that takes an infra-red picture of your face. The camera dot projector then pushes out over 30,000 invisible IR dots that track every topographical feature of your face. Apple then pushes this data through what they call a neural network to create a mathematical model of your face. Didn’t the Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 Series 800 Terminator also have a neural network? I digress, the mathematical model is then checked against your model that has been stored in your phone to see if it is your face looking at your phone. If it’s a match it will unlock your phone. The phone even learns. If you wear glasses or grow a beard, the phone is still supposed to be able to recognize your face. Apple says that all this personal facial data collected is safely stored and encrypted in your device, not on the Apple cloud.

What could possibly go wrong with this technology? Remember the Madrid bombing case back in 2004? 191 people were killed and another 2000 were injured. After the bombing, FBI fingerprint examiners in Quantico, Virginia found a fingerprint on a bag of detonators at the scene of the Spanish bombings. The FBI searched for possible matches to a digital image of the fingerprint. Wait, what else creates digital images of your fingerprint… oh yes, your iPhone. The FBI supercomputer came up with fifteen matches, one of them being a thirty-seven-year-old American lawyer named Brandon Mayfield living in Oregon. Mayfield was arrested and imprisoned for two weeks while being held as a material witness to the Madrid bombings. The FBI eventually released him and gave a rare public apology but the damage was done.

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Madison County DWI Lawyer
Madison County, Texas

A woman who was arrested for DWI in Madison County, Texas managed to elude police after the arrest.  The woman was involved in a wreck on Old San Antonio road which runs from Midway along the Leon County border toward Brazos County along the northern Madison County Line.  The woman was taken into custody and handcuffed.  However, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, the woman was able to move her handcuffs from her back to her front and then jump into the DPS Trooper’s patrol car to flee the scene.  Luckily, a Madison County Sheriff’s Office deputy was on scene investigating the car crash.  The DPS Trooper jumped into the sheriff’s vehicle and chased the woman down Old San Antonio Road.  It appears the trooper fired at his own vehicle and was able to successfully disable the patrol vehicle.

Bridget Cast, 31 of Longview, Texas was arrested on charges of evading arrest, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and driving while intoxicated.  Evading arrest or detention in Texas is when a person intentionally flees from a person he or she knows is a peace officer while the officer is attempting to lawfully arrest or detain him or her.  Evading is a Class A misdemeanor unless the person has been previously convicted or the person uses a vehicle or watercraft to flee.  If the person evades in a vehicle or watercraft and has not been previously convicted, then the offense becomes a state jail felony.  If the person has been previously convicted and flees in a vehicle or watercraft the offense becomes a third-degree felony.  Class A misdemeanors in Texas are punishable by up to a year in jail or a $4,000 fine or both.  A state jail felony is punishable from 180 days to two years in state jail and or a $10,000 fine.  A third-degree felony can land you from 2-10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division and an additional $10,000 fine.

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Montgomery County Burlgary Attorney
While in court this week I had a person ask me about possible representation on a burglary charge.  Upon speaking with this individual, I think he was confused by the definition of burglary in Texas.  In addition, I don’t think he really grasped the true severity of this crime.  While there are proposed changes to the definition of burglary in the Texas Penal Code going into effect this September, let’s look at the history of the offense of burglary up until now.

The truth of the matter is that aside from murder, burglary and robbery were once thought of as some of the most egregious of crimes in colonial America and England.  In my opinion, not much has changed.  Juries just don’t like burglars and robbers.  Worse than thieves, burglars and robbers threaten our lives and well-being.  Thieves are thought of as being sneaky trying to take your property without being detected.  Burglars evoke an uneasy feeling of being violated.  After all, what is more discomforting than the thought of someone rifling through your possessions in your own home uninvited?  While robbers generally grab and go, burglars try to find an unoccupied home and take their time.  The burglar can do much more damage and cost the victim more because they can take their time emptying the contents of your home.

The definition of burglary has changed over time and to get to the modern definition you need to look at the history of burglary.  The crime has always reflected the breaking into the home or building of another and what flows from the damages caused to people and their property.

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Criminal defense lawyer
What do you do when your dorm room is searched?  I get this question quite a bit from students at Sam Houston State University.  First, hire an experienced criminal defense attorney before you speak with anyone.  The Sam Houston State faculty members and staff are very aggressive with what they consider to be drug and alcohol violations.  Your academic career may be on the line.  Don’t take chances.  A new decision by the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas has given us some guidance as to what the current state of the law is on dorm room searches and seizures.

In State of Texas v. Mikenzie Renee Rodriguez, resident assistants (RAs) conducted a dorm room search of Ms. Rodriguez’s personal space.  The RAs found drugs and then called their director at the University who in turn called the police.  The police responded, entered the dorm room, and seized the drugs.  Ms. Rodriguez was then formally charged or indicted for possession of a controlled substance.  Ms. Rodriguez was smart and hired an experienced criminal defense attorney who then filed a motion to suppress.  The State of Texas appealed and the court of appeals affirmed.  In their holding, the court of appeals held that there is no dorm room exception to the Fourth Amendment.  The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas subsequently granted review.

As is typical in most college dorm rooms, Ms. Rodriguez shared the room with another student.  You may know that there is typically an agreement between you, the student, and the university which permits routine inspections by authorized university personnel.  The agreement at this Texas university provided that, “duly authorized personnel of (said university) reserve the right to enter student rooms at any time for emergency purposes or for the purpose of maintenance, repair, and inspection for health, safety, or violation of university regulations.  Here, the resident assistants were doing routine room checks for prohibited items such as microwave ovens, candles, and of course drugs and alcohol.  While performing a room check on Ms. Rodriguez’s dorm room, no one was present.   According to the RAs the first trunk that was checked had marijuana located inside.  The RAs then contacted the resident director who instructed them to do a more thorough search of the dorm room.  On the second search, the RAs found a matchbox with several tablets located inside that appeared to be ecstasy.  The RAs also found a pipe located in a sock.  The pill box and the pipe were laid on the floor and the RAs took pictures of the items.  The university police were then contacted.