Articles Posted in Montgomery County

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World Suicide Prevention Day raises awareness of mental health issues and some of the consequences of untreated disorders. Oftentimes, these mental health issues intersect with criminal defense. After practicing law in Montgomery County, Texas for almost 11 years I have identified certain fact patterns where mental illness reveals itself. This can be seen in drug, assault and other cases. While there are certain similarities in cases where underlying mental health issues exist, each person and condition is unique in their own right. Mental health is a complex and nuanced topic that requires much more attention than one blog post. This is just one effort in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day.

If you’re arrested for a criminal offense, that does not mean that you’re a bad person. Innocent until proven guilty, right? Exactly. Outside of the pillars of the Constitution, the law, your individual rights, and the presumption of innocence this is even more true for someone suffering from a mental illness. I see this in drug cases when people are suffering from what is diagnosed by a qualified professional as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. who simply just want to feel better; they want the pain to stop. I see this in assault cases where the person is in crisis and not typically a violent person, but can’t process through conflict or control their emotions. Many cases that come across my desk lack criminal intent, but contain an unmistakable element of untreated mental health conditions.

Overall our system is lacking for those who suffer with mental health issues. However, in the cases where my client lacks criminal intent or simply needs help, I work with some local resources such as diversion courts, DWI and Drug Court, Mental Health Court Services and other local mental health professionals to find a plan to meet their needs and in the right situations – resolve their case.

K9 Units in Montgomery County & How They Impact Your Drug Case

K9 in Montgomery County & Your Drug Case
Stakes rise for those in possession of drugs in The Woodlands, Texas and surrounding areas as Montgomery County Precinct Three (3) Constable’s Office adds two new K9 officers to their team. The two dogs, Rambo and Marlin, will be doing double duty as narcotics and patrol K9s. However, an alert in a search by Rambo or Marlin to drugs isn’t the smoking gun many think. There are both scientific and legal issues to consider when addressing K9 search cases. What are they and how do they impact your case?

K9 dogs are specially trained to alert to the odor of drugs in a vehicle. Animal behaviorists and trainers work with the dogs to cue on demand to the smell of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. If a dog though, is man’s best friend how is he going to sell you out like that? Well, what is more loyal than a dog? Nothing really. They are loyal by nature. By nature though, they also eat, sleep, love on you and…smell around; sniffing your food, your butt, and the air. When the odor of a substance is present in the air they will react.

Montgomery County Disaster Declaration Enhances Punishment for Certain Criminal Offenses

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Montgomery County County Judge Mark Keough extends the Disaster Declaration until May 11th. This comes after Texas Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for Texas on March 13th. These proclamations are intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus and provide national relief and benefit for the community. Specifically, in an emergency meeting in Conroe, County Judge Mark Keough said, “We want to be able to recoup all our costs.” However, there are consequences that accompany the benefit.

A disaster declaration triggers tougher punishments for crimes under Texas Penal Code § 12.50. The section, Penalty if Offense Committed in Disaster Area or Evacuated Area, tells us who can make the declaration and who it impacts. The increase in punishment is for Assault, Arson, Robbery, Burglary, Burglary of Motor Vehicle, Theft and Criminal Trespass cases. In speaking on the harsher punishment, Montgomery County District Attorney’s prosecutor Kelly Blackburn has said, “The enhancement (of punishment) is just a better tool in our tool belt to use to try to effectively prosecute people that are taking advantage of this situation.” The last time we saw a similar disaster declaration in Texas was during Hurricane Harvey.

Montgomery County Probation Isn’t Cancelled Amongst COVID-19

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Court dates in Montgomery County have largely been rescheduled or cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Judges are adapting by using video conferencing applications such as Zoom to address issues related to bond and to take pleas, but downtown Conroe, despite its sizable essential employee status, is a ghost town. This comes as no surprise as Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough extends his stay-at-home order and families cancel birthdays, showers, family reunions, and vacations and replace their party hats with their teacher hats as schools cancel as well. What hasn’t been cancelled though, is Montgomery County probation. Drug testing through Averhealth too has not been cancelled.

Why does that matter? Approximately 60% of criminal cases result in some sort of community supervision. In 2018, the Prison Policy Initiative counted 4.5 million adults per year in the United States on community supervision. About half of the population in county jails are individuals who have violated the conditions of their release.  That’s approximately 350,000 people each year who are jailed for revocations. You’re likely to see a spike in that number as people become more desperate from layoffs, isolation, and pressure from dealing with the consequences of COVID-19 rises. Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office has already reported a 35% spike in assault calls.

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