Articles Posted in Drug Offenses

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Tampering with Evidence
An interesting opinion was just released from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  For those of you that don’t know, this is the highest court in the State of Texas that rules on criminal matters. The case is State v. Zuniga.  Zuniga was allegedly pulled over right in front of her own house for running a stop sign.  We assume the officer saw a bottle of prescription medication in plain view and Zuniga was not able to show a valid prescription.  In Texas, if the officer sees something in plain view that he believes is illegal, then he is going to be able to search the vehicle.  While handcuffed in the back of the police car, Zuniga moved her hands to her side, reached into her crotch area, and pulled something out with her hands cupped.  All this because supposedly, she knows the officer is watching her.  Seems more than a little odd, doesn’t it?    Next, she moves her hands toward her mouth, moves her head down, and apparently, the officer thinks she swallowed something.  What is this Ms. Houdini?

The officer then took Zuniga to the hospital where x-rays were performed and her stomach was pumped.  The hospital officials did not find any illegal substance nor a baggie that may have contained something.  Of note, the State of Texas didn’t test the defendant’s blood for any illegal substance or had the lab perform an analyses the contents of Ms. Zuniga’s stomach.

Ms. Zuniga was indicted for the Texas felony charge of tampering with physical evidence.  This offense is defined in the Texas Penal Code as:

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“That was in the past; I’ve paid my debt to society.” Criminal defense attorneys hear that quite a bit.  The truth of the matter is that your past counts.  A lot.  When a potential employer looks over your job resume’, do you think he or she considers the fact that you have been fired from your previous three jobs?  Of course they do. 

So what’s the big deal?  Well, anyone that keeps up with what is happening in criminal law in Conroe, Texas, or even the Nation sees myriad headlines such as, “Man Gets Life Sentence for Fifth DWI Conviction.”  The past is a good indicator of the future.  People tend to forget that little inconvenient fact.

So, how does your past affect you?  It could in many profound ways.  First off, if you are arrested for a crime in the counties that I practice in, which include Harris, Montgomery, Walker, Madison, Grimes, and Leon for example, then it can and will affect your bail.  First time criminal offenders usually have a trivial amount of bail.  Repeat offenders have a bail that rises steeply with each consecutive offense.  This is especially true of felonies.  Montgomery County tends to be more secretive with their bail amounts.  Walker, Madison, Grimes, and Leon Counties post their prospective bail amounts online.  For instance, if you are arrested on a first-degree offense in Walker County and it’s your first offense, the bail would typically be set at $20, 000.  A prior first offense gets you a $30,000 bond and more than one prior offense will land you at the $50,000 mark.  In addition, the underlying Texas Penal Code Statutes that you will be charged with are generally getting tougher.

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Criminal Defense Attorney
Citizens of Montgomery and Harris counties can sleep easier tonight now that a large shipment of high grade Feline Bam Bam has been taken off the street.  The Kingpin was quoted as saying, “they thought they had the biggest bust in Harris County.  This was the bust of the year for them.”  Except that it wasn’t.

Twenty-four-year-old Ross Lebeau was charged with possession of almost half a pound of methamphetamine.  On the evening of December 5, 2016, Lebeau was stopped for an unknown traffic offense.  Harris County Sheriff’s Officers used the old standby technique of “smelling a strong odor of marijuana emitting from Lebeau’s vehicle,” in order to initiate a search. Lebeau was cooperative and admitted he had a small amount of marijuana in the console of his vehicle.

In the process of doing an inventory of the vehicle (a search), the officers recovered a crystal-like substance wrapped in a sock.  Mr. Lebeau was questioned about the substance located in the sock and indicated that he had no clue as to what it could be. 

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Criminal Defense Attorney
It appears yet another lab is in hot water due to poor protocol.  The Austin Police Department crime lab has been in and out of the news for years now.  As you may recall, the DNA analysis section was actually shut down following claims of improper testing.  In 2012, the lab was found to have many contaminated samples and reagents in the lab.  One person was exonerated after a sample from a penis swab had been mixed with a vaginal swab of the victim.  Yes, you read that correctly.  It doesn’t get much worse than that.

Well now, the section that performs the blood analysis on DWI samples is under fire.  A scientist and former employee of the lab claims the lab’s blood alcohol analysis methods were not up to existing standards in the industry.  The former employee who now works at a different lab was hired to retest a sample from the APD crime lab.  She states that her analysis of the sample had a much different level of alcohol and reached a different conclusion about the intoxication of the individual.

A defense attorney and former chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission recalled a similar situation involving this crime lab.  The criminal defense attorney had a sample retested on behalf of a felony DWI client.  In Texas, when a person is charged with their third DWI they are elevated to a third degree felony which carries a sentence of two to ten years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Institutional Division and up to a $10,000 fine.  That’s the big house folks.  The sample tested by the DWI attorney came back with a reading that was off by 0.025.  In Texas, the legal limit is .08.  That creates a wide disparity in the prosecution of a Texas DWI case.  The difference between a .06 and a .10 is huge in the eyes of the law.  Officials believe that retesting of the sample from the questionable twelve-year period could cost over $14 million.

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marijuana possession
Chances are, if you are reading this, you or a loved one has probably been charged with marijuana possession or another drug offense in one of the counties in which I practice:  Montgomery, Walker, Grimes, Madison, and Leon Counties.  Although the law is the same wherever you are in Texas, the prosecutor you are dealing with will determine the severity of the sentence if you don’t have an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Why?  First, because everyone has a different opinion on marijuana, and second, because some people are still naïve enough to try and represent themselves.  But as we all know, thoughts on this matter are fluid and ever changing.

So, what’s new?  Well now there are twenty-six states legalizing weed in some shape or form.  As of last week, three more states will soon join the above twenty-six after passing new measures permitting the use of medical marijuana.  In addition, seven states and the District of Columbia adopted more expansive laws which will legalize marijuana for recreational use.   On Super Tuesday, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada all passed the use of recreational weed.  Notably, California’s measures will allow anyone twenty-one or older to not only possess up to one ounce of weed, but can also grow up to six plants in their home.  How is that going to work?  Only time will tell.  Last I checked, marijuana has changed a lot since I was a kid, not only being stronger with a higher THC content, more varied, and the plants can be gigantic.  THC is the psychoactive component of cannabis or marijuana.  In Nevada, adults will be allowed to possess up to one ounce of weed beginning New Year’s Day of this next year and similarly, Massachusetts will allow possession beginning on December 15.  Clearly, the states aren’t wasting any time.  Recreational use of marijuana in Maine narrowly passed but they are still recounting the ballots.  Other states have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

So, what’s going on in Texas?  Not much.  Although the state approved certain dispensaries to sell products with low level THC like cannabis oil, it’s been slow to start.  The program was supposed to start on January 10th of this year but the reality is that the first license for a dispensary won’t happen until June of 2017.

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Lying DWI scientist
On the Watergate scandal, Nixon was quoted as saying, “It’s not the crime that gets you…it’s the cover up.”  Nixon knew that he may have avoided the whole Watergate scandal if instead of lying and covering his tracks, he had admitted his wrongdoing early on.  Mismanagement is one thing; obstruction of justice is not forgivable.  Now in the wake of the Wikileaks email dumps, we are finding that our government isn’t as bad as we thought it was, it’s much worse.  How does this massive government corruption parallel drug and alcohol arrests in Texas, specifically driving while intoxicated or DWI arrests?  A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about mistakes being made in the Houston and Dallas crime labs.  Recently, new information has surfaced about the cover up by Texas crime lab scientists.

Today, we know that one state forensic scientist that I discussed earlier will no longer perform services as an expert witness or perform lab work in drunken driving cases in Texas.  But wait, what happens to the thousands of samples where this scientist performed an analysis?  This DWI blood analysis evidence should no longer be used.  It’s tainted.

A little background, this scientist performed blood analysis in drug and DWI cases for the DPS crime lab in north Texas.  The DPS scientist then testified in court about his findings.  Just as the DPS scientists do in almost all blood testing trials here in Montgomery, Walker, Leon, Grimes, and Madison counties in trials against my clients.  In the only instance where the DPS scientist was caught, yes I said it, the only time he was caught, a driver that had not been drinking was shown to have a blood alcohol of 0.152.  That’s almost twice the legal limit for DWI in Texas which is 0.08.  The Texas Department of Public Safety said the error was caught within a matter of days and corrected.  DPS claimed this was an isolated incident.  Uh, huh…sure it was.  See my last article here to see that DPS doesn’t follow the proper lab protocol for blood testing.  Therefore, the probability for mistakes skyrockets.  Okay, Mr. Scientist, you perform thousands of tests, and you don’t follow protocol, but we are supposed to believe this is an isolated incident?

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criminal defense lawyer

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals delivered an opinion yesterday that reigns in police searches. Finally, the pendulum swings back toward freedom for Texans. The facts state a citizen was stopped and searched while leaving his hotel room with another person at night. The police officer based his search on the citizen being a known criminal, walking at 2 a.m., and in an area known for narcotics activity. In a maverick decision, the court held the search was illegal based on these facts alone. The conviction for possession of drugs (cocaine) was reversed.

Sounds like a happy ending doesn’t it? It’s not. The citizen had to serve his prison sentence even though the conviction was dropped later.

Searches are complicated. The law changes constantly. It’s imperative you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney that is up to date on the law. Stopped daily, innocent people plead guilty to crimes because of government bullying. We are a nation of jailers ruining people’s lives. Don’t let your life be ruined. Be proactive. If you have been arrested by the police in Madisonville, Huntsville, or Conroe, the person you choose to represent you matters. Call Ron Voyles & Associates today.

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Have you been arrested for a Controlled SubstanceHave you been arrested for a Controlled Substance? If so, you need to have that substance checked. In a new Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas case, the defendant plead guilty to felony cocaine possession and the sample was never tested in a lab. In fact, the arresting officer used a field test kit and the sample was so small that the entire sample of the so called drug was used in the analysis. Years later when a lab test was asked for it could not be performed. There simply was no drug sample left to test. If you have been arrested for a drug possession offense such as cocaine, methamphetamine, etc., make sure it is tested by a lab or you may have an issue. Better yet, hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.

So, when we ask, “have you been arrested for a controlled substance?”… understand we’re looking out for your interests and want to make sure you take the best course of action for the best outcome, so give us the details. Above all, contact Attorney Ron Voyles if you’ve been arrested for a controlled substance.