Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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Public intoxication arrest
An opinion out of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals this week entitled, State of Texas v. Roger Anthony Martinez, discussed probable cause and the offense of public intoxication.  So, what is Public Intoxication?  In Texas, public intoxication is defined as “a person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another. The Texas Penal Code goes on to state, “for the purposes of this section, a premises licensed or permitted under the Alcoholic Beverage Code is a public place.  In addition, “it is a defense to prosecution under this section that the alcohol or other substance was administered for therapeutic purposes and as a part of the person’s professional medical treatment by a licensed physician.  Just to let you know, public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor offense in Texas. The punishment for a Class C offense in Texas is by a fine that is not to exceed $500.  Therefore, a place with a permit under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is just what you think it is, a bar.  If you are in or around a bar and are intoxicated and may endanger yourself or others you are deemed to have violated the Texas offense of Public Intoxication.  As far as the substance being prescribed by a doctor for therapeutic purposes stipulation, you can go ahead and interpret that one on your own.  How long has it been since a doctor prescribed alcohol as a viable medical treatment?  If this has happened to you please contact me as I would like an appointment with your doctor.

The Martinezcase first discussed the burden of the State in a Motion to Suppress.  For those of you that don’t know, if you are arrested you have been seized. When this happens, your lawyer must prove to the court that your arrest happened without a warrant.  If no warrant was issued, then the burden shifts to the State which must prove the reasonableness of the search or seizure. In Texas under the Code of Criminal Procedure, “a peace officer may arrest an offender without a warrant for any offense committed in his presence or within his view.”  So, if a cop sees you break the law with his own eyes, you are toast.

So, what is the big deal here?  Apparently, the arresting officer for whatever reason did not testify at the trial. The trial court in this case reasoned the statute above stating that the offense was committed in the officer’s presence or view applied only to the officer who actually made the arrest.  As you know that officer was a no show in this matter. Therefore, the motion to suppress was granted.

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Stabbing
A new case out this week from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Ritcherson v. State

In a murder case the issue was whether the defendant was entitled to a lesser included offense of manslaughter.  Lesser included jury charge issues are always interesting because there are so few appellate issues that can actually gain any traction these days and this happens to be one of them.  The case stems from an argument that started in a nightclub between several people that was broken up and later resumed in the parking lot after the club closed. In the parking lot one of the partied stabbed the other in the chest. The man later died from his injuries. The initial charge was aggravated assault with a deadly weapon which was later enhanced to murder after the man passed away from his injuries.  The case was tried twice after the first case ended in a mistrial.  In the jury charge conference, the defendant requested a lesser included charge of manslaughter and negligent homicide.  The court denied the requests.  The jury convicted the defendant and sentenced her to twenty-five years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division.  The court of appeals affirmed the conviction by reasoning that the jury could not have found the defendant guilty of only manslaughter.

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Marijuana and THC arrest
Let’s continue our discussion of new THC products in 2018.  Again, these products are surprising many young people in the Conroe, Woodlands, and Huntsville area.  Mainly because marijuana products have not been decriminalized in our area and these products can land you in jail or even worse.  Many of these new products containing THC have a criminal penalty that corresponds to the gross weight of the product.  Frequently, these products will place you right in the middle of felony land.  Yep, we are talking pen time.  The big house.  So, what are some of the exciting new THC and other marijuana containing products?

Weed Beef Jerky

Let’s face it, we all like to stop a Buc-ee’s.  On the way to my last legal seminar I stopped in and picked up an old favorite…beef jerky. What’s better than all the great flavors of jerky that Buc-ee’s serves up?  You guessed it.  Weed beef jerky.  We have all heard of edibles such as pot brownies but come on, that’s old school. Pick up some weed beef jerky by the Santa Cruz Company.  This THC-laced beef jerky comes in a wide range of flavors and you even get to choose from several strains of marijuana.  Stoners have taken to calling this new product “reef jerky” based on the old term “reefer.” This one even won a prize at the Denver Cannabis Cup in 2014. What’s next?

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Conroe DWI lawyer
An interesting case out of Montgomery County was released by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals this last week.  The case involved a DWI and the state’s intended use of a trooper as an expert without disclosing the expert in a timely manner.  The Wednesday before trial the state designated its expert. Under 39.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure the state is obligated to disclose the name and address of each person who may provide evidence in a trial no later than twenty days before the trial date.  On the date of trial in this matter, a jury was picked and sworn in which placed the defendant Garrels in “jeopardy” which bars her from retrial under double jeopardy laws in Texas.

When the trial began, the trooper began to testify about the standardized field sobriety tests and how Garrels performed on the tests.  Garrels objected to the testimony and stated that her rights had been violated due to the fact that the trooper had not been designated as an expert.  Under the Texas rules if you are going to present a witness on behalf of the state you have to give the name and address of that expert twenty days before the trial date.  This allows the defense to vet witnesses since the state is the one doing the accusing and the burden is on the state.   As a counter the state asked for a continuance.  The defense argued that a continuance would allow the state a way out of their own error. In the face of two options, one to strike the testimony or two to grant a two-week continuance, the Judge decided to declare a mistrial.  The state objected on the basis that a mistrial would bar the state from retrial on the basis of double jeopardy.

The case proceeded to the 9thCourt of Appeals out of Beaumont.  There the court held that, “a defendant who does not object to the trial judge’s sua spontedeclaration of a mistrial, despite an adequate opportunity to do so, has impliedly consented to the mistrial.” In other words, the court held that Garrels had consented to the mistrial and was therefore not barred by double jeopardy.  The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas took the case up on the sole ground of, “has a defendant who did not object to a trial court’s declaration of mistrial, despite an adequate opportunity to do so, impliedly consented to the mistrial?”

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THC infused products
The next time you’re sore from overdoing it at the gym think about taking an Epsom salts bath.  Better yet, take an Epsom salts bath with some weed in it.  These days it seems that weed makes everything work a little bit better.  Right?  Or at least that is what we are hearing from the states that have legalized marijuana. Sadly, Texas isn’t one of those states. The bad part about cannabis being legal in some states and not in others is that when people get caught in possession of these products in a state like Texas, they are in big trouble.  How big is the trouble?  Well, it depends on the weight.  But the trouble is usually Hulk Hogan big.  These THC infused products are coming in at third-degree felonies and up. In fact, the majority of cases I see are usually second-degree felonies.  How bad is a second-degree felony in Texas?  Well, it could land you in the big house, that’s right, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division for up to twenty years.  To a young adult with no criminal history that can cause a person to soil their armor.

So, what about marijuana laced bath product called Soak?  Well, it is one of the many products that are being churned out in the fast-growing medical marijuana market currently sweeping the states.  Soak is the brainchild of Whoopi Goldberg and another stoner that has a reputation for making wicked edibles.  Soak is promoted as helping women with PMS and menstrual relief.  So just what is Epsom salts?  Well, it is not the salt that you use on your food.  Epsom is a place in England that the salt is named after.  If you take this salt orally you will tend to fill your pants.  Yeah, and not in a good way.  The product is composed of magnesium sulfate which is a natural laxative. According to stoner science, your body needs both magnesium and sulfate. According to tree huggers, these two minerals have strong detoxifying and natural healing properties.  And we all know that cannabis offers even more healing properties.  Whoa, dude I can feel my body shedding the toxins.  The theory goes that that when you soak in this stuff it magically gets into your body through your skin.  Sure, that makes sense.  Brings to mind that I was so wasted last night from my medicinal beer bath, but I digress.  Yeah, so the absorbing through the skin theory has never been proven.  But it sounds cool, right?  Soaking in hot water usually makes you feel pretty good anyway. If you really want to try it, you can pick up some plain old Epsom salts at the grocery store for next to nothing. Add the weed however you like. But if you are dead set in giving Whoopi Goldberg your money then you should pick up this product.

The bottom line is, every week I meet new clients that have been arrested for possession of products containing THC or some other cannabis derivative.  Over the next few weeks I will discuss a few of these products I have stumbled upon and hopefully help someone avoid jail time over something that they had no idea would have such serious consequences.  So, if you or a loved one has been busted for any type of THC product, edible, or vape pen give me a call.  Don’t let a stupid mistake ruin your life with a criminal record.  You need an experienced criminal defense attorney with a track record of defending marijuana, THC, and other cannabis related cases.  Call us today.

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Conroe DWI Attorney
A Conroe woman has been accused of biting off a large chunk of another woman’s nose and then swallowing it.  According to the Harris County Precinct Four Constable’s Office three local Conroe women decided to go bar hopping.  When they got home Jessica Collins of Conroe, Texas wanted alcohol and cigarettes from the other women.  When one of the girls refused to hand over the alcohol and cigarettes, Collins tackled her and bit off a part of her nose and then swallowed it.

“I didn’t have time to react, to push her away. I think I was trying to fight back, but I couldn’t. All I could remember was the taste of the blood in my mouth,” stated woman that was attacked.

Collins was charged with Class A misdemeanor assault and was release from jail after posting a $1000 bond.  Class A assault carries a possible penalty of $4000 fine and one year in jail. The victim states she has been staying at home because it is the only place she feels safe.

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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.