DWI Arrest In Texas? Crucial First Steps To Take

DWI

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense. In Texas, about every 20 minutes, someone is hurt or killed in a vehicle crash involving alcohol. A person is considered to be legally intoxicated and may be arrested and charged with a 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC).

A person is also legally intoxicated if he or she is impaired due to alcohol or other drugs regardless of BAC. The punishment for a DWI in Texas varies depending on the individual’s number of prior convictions. Each offense involves a fine, time in jail, loss of driver’s license, and an annual fee to retain a driver’s license.

For people who have never been charged with a DWI before, it can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. Here are five steps you should take after getting a DWI:

Step 1: Find An Experienced DWI Lawyer

A qualified and experienced attorney is your best defense when charged with a DWI. They will investigate your case and make sure all of your rights are protected. Your attorney will work with the judge and prosecution assigned to your case to speak on your behalf. Your attorney’s efforts will give you the best chance of having your charges diminished.

Step 2: Show Up To Your Court Date And Follow Your Attorney’s Advice

To avoid any more legal trouble, you need to show up to your assigned court date. In court, your lawyer may advise you to take a plea bargain. In the state of Texas, accepting a plea bargain for a DWI is essentially a way of agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced punishment. By accepting a plea bargain, you are allowing the state to make the final decision on your DWI charge rather than having to go through the process of trial by jury.

Step 3: Pay Off Any Dues

Pay off any court costs. When you have been convicted of drunk driving, there will be fines to pay. These fines vary based on your prior convictions. It’s important to pay these fines as well as any additional punishments given out by the judge by their due date.

Step 4: Find Out The Status Of Your Driver’s License

In most DWI cases, your license will be suspended or even revoked for a pre-determined amount of time. It’s vital that you find out about the status of your driver’s license and the steps you need to take to get it reinstated.

Contact An Experienced & Trustworthy Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with a DWI in Texas, you need an experienced and trustworthy criminal defense lawyer who knows the state’s criminal justice system to plead on your behalf. Your attorney can help you understand your rights for your particular situation. It’s essential to get the right professional representation.

The outcome of your case could impair a professional license from being granted, hinder opportunities for you to advance in your career, or may result in further incarceration. Fill out our online form or reach out by phone at (713) 229-9992 to speak directly with a knowledgeable attorney today to discuss your options and protect your rights when charged with a DWI. Be sure to follow and like us on Facebook as well.

What Happens During The Texas Grand Jury Process

grand jury

Under Texas criminal law, defendants have the right to have all felony criminal cases presented to a grand jury to determine if a felony criminal case may be formally charged. A Texas grand jury does not determine a defendant’s guilt or innocence. It only determines if sufficient evidence exists to move forward with a formal criminal case and trial of a specific defendant for a specific crime. People who are the subject of grand jury proceedings have the right to have the attorney of their choice represent them throughout the grand jury process.

Grand Jury Proceedings Are Conducted In Private

Witnesses, members of the grand jury, prosecutors, and other participants are not allowed to discuss or reveal publicly any part of the testimony, the evidence, or the general existence of the proceedings . Secrecy over grand jury proceedings is intended to promote the willingness of witnesses to freely testify and to protect the privacy and reputation of potential felony case defendants before formal charges are authorized.

What Is The Grand Jury And How Does It Function?

Texas Grand Jury proceedings are controlled by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Prosecutors must follow the rules governing grand jury proceedings at all times.

Similar to ordinary trial jury duty, the members of the grand jury are chosen at random for grand jury service from the roll of registered voters in the county where the grand jury is to be seated.

What Happens During The Grand Jury Hearing?

The prosecutor has control of the conduct of the grand jury hearing. A defendant has a right to have an attorney present at the hearing, but only if a request is made of the prosecutor and the prosecutor allows the defendant’s attorney to present evidence at the hearing.

The prosecutor presents the case to the grand jury by explaining the proposed criminal charge and what the state has to prove in order to convict the defendant of the crime. The prosecutor can present statements from police reports, written evidence, and recordings. The grand jurors are allowed to ask questions of the prosecutor, and they can also formally request production of other evidence if they think it is needed. Because the hearing is not a trial of the defendant’s guilt, the prosecutor does not have to present any evidence that would be exculpatory or prove innocence.

The prosecutor can also call witnesses to offer live testimony about the alleged crime. Under normal circumstances, a grand jury hearing is completed in less than a day.

Should A Defendant Ask To Make A Presentation At The Grand Jury Hearing?

When it is possible, a defense presentation during the grand jury hearing can be very beneficial to a defendant. Depending on the situation, a defense presentation may be best made in writing rather than through testimony and statements. Grand jurors are allowed to ask defense attorneys questions, so when a strong argument can be made at the hearing, an indictment might be avoided altogether in some cases. Other times, an effective defense presentation can result in a lesser charge than the original felony sought by the prosecutor.

A defendant’s attorney is not normally allowed inside the grand jury hearing with the defendant but can be present nearby to advise and instruct the defendant.

What Are The Possible Outcomes Of A Grand Jury Proceeding?

If the grand jury determines that there is probable cause that a specific defendant committed a specified crime, they issue a written indictment. The indictment is the formal charge of a specified crime and leads to the beginning of the trial process on the charge.

If the grand jury declines to issue an indictment, they can enter a “no-bill” which declines to issue the indictment requested by the prosecutor. The grand jury may also indict the defendant on a lesser felony charge or a misdemeanor charge.

Contact An Experienced Criminal Attorney For Help With Your Grand Jury Case

When grand jury proceedings result in a felony indictment, a defendant must mount a defense against a criminal case that can result in a wide range of penalties, including imprisonment and fines. If you are called before a grand jury, you have the right to be represented by the attorney of your choice during the entire process.

The attorneys of Vinas & Graham, PLLC, are experienced in representing clients during all parts of the grand jury process. Contact the firm today if you have been called before a grand jury or are the subject of a grand jury investigation at (713) 229-9992. Please also follow our firm’s page on Facebook.

When Is Robbery A Federal Crime?

FEDERAL CRIMES

The crime of robbery is a type of theft crime. According to current law, robbery is considered to be a class of theft that includes some act of violence or the threat of violence against one or more persons while committing the theft.

In the American legal system, robbery is typically handled in state court as a crime against a particular state. Every state and other jurisdiction of the United States has a local state-level robbery law that enables prosecution of robbery in a state court. In addition to state-level robbery, under federal law, there are certain classes of robbery crimes that are prosecuted in federal court as crimes against the United States federal government.

The General Elements Of The Crime Of Robbery

The general elements of the crime of robbery are consistent throughout the United States. To be found guilty of robbery, the government must prove that a defendant:

  • Took property belonging to others,
  • With the intent to steal the property,
  • Directly from the other person or persons or in their presence,
  • Against the other person or persons’ will,
  • Using violence or the threat of violence.

Depending on the actual statute a defendant is charged under, the state may have additional elements of the charged crime that must be proven in court.

The key distinction between robbery and other theft crimes is the requirement that the theft is accomplished through direct personal violence or the threat of direct personal violence. Because violence is the core element of the crime, all robbery crimes are serious and carry significant penalties on conviction. The violence used in committing the crime does not have to be deadly violence.

ROBBERY

A jury can find that the government has proven the violence requirement if enough violence was used or threatened against a victim to force the victim to give up their property against their will. Every situation is different, and every jury must weigh the facts in evidence to determine if violence was used or threatened.

Federal Robbery Crimes

The United States has enacted a number of statutes that provide for certain robbery crimes against the federal government.

The following situations, in addition to the normal elements of the crime of robbery, can lead to prosecution under federal law:

  • Committing robbery by stealing any property belonging to the United States
  • Bank robbery (Banks are considered to be bank buildings and any building where a bank is located, for example inside a grocery store or big-box retailer)
  • Committing robbery against a federal employee or agent (for example, a postal employee)
  • Committing robbery of a controlled substance from any person registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency as a distributor of controlled substances (for example, robbing drugs from a pharmacy)
  • Carjacking any vehicle that can be used on interstate highways (this statute applies to a robbery of any vehicle that is used on the public roadways)

Federal robbery statutes can legally apply when the victim of the crime is a federal officer or someone registered to handle federal property or controlled substances under the law, or when the items that are stolen are either federal property or used in interstate transportation or commerce.

Sentencing And Penalties For Federal Robbery

Federal robbery crimes carry from ten years up to the death penalty under certain circumstances (for example, bank robbery resulting in death) per conviction.

FEDERAL CRIMES

Following a federal conviction, sentencing is always conducted by the federal trial judge. Unlike the Texas state court, there is no provision under federal law for the jury to conduct any sentencing. Federal sentencing is governed by sentencing guidelines under federal law and is very different than sentencing under state law. Understanding the multiple layers of federal sentencing is an essential tool for an effective federal criminal defense attorney in properly representing and advising a client facing a federal robbery case.

Contact An Experienced Federal Criminal Attorney To Defend You Against Federal Robbery Charges

A robbery charge under federal law involves all the complexities of the federal criminal court system. Defending against federal crimes involves criminal statutes and sentencing guidelines that are entirely different from the Texas state criminal court system. Effective defense of charges in federal court requires the help of an attorney who is experienced in the federal system.

It is also essential that you consult with an experienced federal criminal attorney as soon as possible when you have been arrested or questioned in connection to a federal robbery case. Moving quickly is key to protecting your rights, preserving essential evidence, and developing an effective defense to a federal case.

Contact Vinas & Graham, PLLC, today if you or a loved one has been charged with robbery in federal criminal court at (713) 229-9992. You can also follow us on Facebook.

Weapons Charges: Not Just For Guns Or Knives

weapons charges

Did you know that weapons charges in Texas aren’t just for guns or knives? For example, clubs, tire deflation devices, and firearm silencers are included under the law and can lead to an unlawfully carrying weapons (UCW) charge, since they are illegal.

When it comes to unlawfully carrying of weapons, Texas penal code § 46.01 says that persons can be charged for improperly carrying a weapon, carrying a weapon in a place where it is not legal to do so, and for carrying an illegal weapon.

You might be thinking that your rights are covered by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but the law is limited to what type of firearms can be carried, as well as how they are carried.

What Illegal Weapons Result In A Weapons Charge

So, what weapons are illegal, which can result in a UCW charge in Texas? There are many illegal weapons that will automatically result in a weapons charge in Texas if being carried, used, or even manufactured.

Unlike some firearms that simply require a concealed handgun license (CIL) to allow a person to legally carry a concealed handgun properly and in the right places, many weapons are simply illegal to carry, use, or manufacture. Some of them are guns and knives, but there are many others you may not know.

weapons charges

The list includes:

  • Clubs – Any instrument that is designed to inflict serious injury or death by striking a person, and they can be blackjacks, nightsticks, maces, and tomahawks.
  • Fully automatic firearms
  • Explosive weapons – This can be a bomb, grenade, rocket, or mine, which are designed to cause serious bodily injury, death, substantial damage, or an alarming sound.
  • Short barrel shotguns – Ones with barrels less than 18 inches long
  • Rifles – Barrels are less than 16 inches long
  • Switchblades
  • Knuckles – Knuckles are commonly made of brass, but this includes any finger rings or guards that are made with a hard substance that can inflict serious injury or death.
  • Firearm silencers
  • Improvised handguns or zip guns
  • Nunchucks
  • Tire deflation devices
  • Improvised explosive devices
  • Chemical dispensing devices
  • Hoax bombs
  • Armor-piercing ammunition

As you can see, many illegal weapons that result in a weapons charge in Texas go beyond just guns and knives. While some of these may be obvious to you, others may not. Find out more by learning the in’s and out’s of Texas’s PENAL § 46.01.

Summary – UCW charges in Texas cover illegal weapons other than guns and knives, such as explosive weapons and devices, knuckles, nunchucks, tire deflation devices, chemical dispensing devices, firearm silencers, and armor-piercing ammunition.

What Happens When You Get A Weapons Charge In Texas

If you are charged with the unlawful use of a weapon in Texas, the penalties can be very high, but they range. Depending on the circumstances, your UCW charge may be defined as either a misdemeanor or a felony charge, and once you are charged, you may lose your rights to own a firearm, in addition to other consequences.

weapons charges

The definition and outcome of your charge will be determined by the variables in your case, such as your intention with the weapon, how it was used, your criminal history and state of mind at the time, what led to the event, how the evidence was handled, and where the weapon was carried. Illegal places to carry a firearm include:

  • Churches
  • Schools
  • Liquor stores, bars, and some restaurants
  • Courthouses
  • Airports
  • Businesses who do not allow firearms
  • Polling places on election day
  • Racetracks
  • Places of execution on the day of execution
  • Amusement parks
  • Hospitals

A UCW is a Class A misdemeanor offense that can result in up to one year of time in county jail, as well as a fine of up to $4,000. Incarceration may even occur for first-time offenders, and consequences can be even more severe. Your weapons charge case can become up to a third-degree felony, which can result in two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Usually, punishment this severe is a result of a person who’s had a previous felony conviction.

Additionally, if the person charged is a member of a criminal organization who also committed another crime during the event, there may be severe consequences. In an event that any person carrying a weapon commits a crime, this can result in more severe consequences.

Any weapons possessions violations can be prosecuted in state or federal court.

Summary – When you get a weapons charge in Texas, punishment can range in severity, depending on many circumstances, but the penalties can be as great as up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

weapons charges

Get The Help Of An Experienced Law Firm If You’ve Been Charged

Weapons charges in Texas are not to be taken lightly, and it’s important that, if you’ve received a UCW charge in Texas, you have a knowledgeable and experienced law team by your side to fight for you. We know the in’s and out’s of your rights and can defend your case to get you the best outcome possible.

No matter whether you have a history of convictions or this is your first, it’s important to have a team you can trust to get you through this tough time. Vinas & Graham, PLLC will be your guiding light throughout the process and will answer any questions you have at any time about your case. We are the trusted team in Houston for representation in weapons charges cases.

Want to see how we can help you? Contact us today at (713) 229-9992 to discuss your situation with our experienced team in a free consultation. We’d love to get to know you and your case, so that we can pursue the best possible results together.

Be sure to also follow us on Facebook and check out our reviews from some of our satisfied clients!

What Makes A Federal Criminal Charge More Severe Than A State Charge

federal charges

When it comes to a federal crime in the United States, it is defined as one that is illegal under federal criminal law, rather than under state criminal law. There are three levels of law in the United States: federal, state, and local. It is most common to be charged under state criminal law, but in cases of a crime that is illegal in U.S. federal legislation, it is called a federal crime.

If you are facing a federal criminal charge, it’s imperative that you hire an experienced and qualified attorney to help you navigate through the complexities of the federal court system.

What Happens During A Federal Criminal Charge

A federal crime is a severe crime that is not to be taken lightly. During a federal crime investigation, federal law enforcement agencies can easily get involved. They will collect and provide information to the United States Attorneys in the respective district.

These agencies can include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the United States Secret Service (USSS), the Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In some cases, only one federal law enforcement agency gets involved in the investigation. In other cases, multiple agencies are involved. Most times, agencies require a search warrant, and if there is enough evidence to make an arrest, that may be done first. Other times, you could be under surveillance for months and even years by one or more federal, state and/or local law enforcement agencies, coordinated by the federal government in a way that violates your Constitutional rights.

federal charges

Federal investigators can obtain court orders and subpoenas that allow them to do everything from review your bank records and to gather private social media records with the help of prosecutors, once a federal investigation has begun. They can “trap and trace” and track your location via your cell phone, listen to calls, and even read your text messages.

When it comes to prosecution, many federal crimes can be prosecuted at either the state or the federal level, because they are illegal at both levels. Some federal charges, including those that occur on federal property or on Native American reservations, are only illegal on a federal level. It is more common to be prosecuted at the state level for federal crimes against a person or property, like cases of murder, rape, assault, theft, and robbery. Each state has district courts where trials for federal cases are held.

Summary – In the event of a federal crime, an investigation can be done by federal enforcement agencies, and state district courts hold most federal cases.

Common Types Of Federal Criminal Charges

Federal criminal charges are far and wide, and there are hundreds of categories that violations fall under. They are listed under Title 18 of the United States Code, as well as in other areas. Here is a list of common federal crimes:

  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Money laundering
  • Weapons charges
  • Drug/narcotics trafficking and distribution
  • White collar crimes
  • Internet crimes
  • Theft
  • Child pornography
  • Credit card fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Tax evasion
  • Counterfeiting
  • Carjacking
  • Drug abuse violations
  • Immigration offenses
  • Arson
  • Assault with a deadly weapon
  • Attempting to commit murder/manslaughter
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Sexual assault
  • Shoplifting
  • Use of weapons of mass destruction
  • Trespassing

Summary – There are many federal crimes, including hundreds of categories that violations fall under, and most are listed under Title 18 of the United States Code.

federal charges

How The Federal Criminal Process Works

Federal criminal charges are very serious, and unlike typical state criminal charges that are clearly defined with punishment ranges that are readily ascertainable, the federal system is complex, convoluted, and confusing. The federal criminal process can be daunting if you don’t have the right representation by your side throughout the way. The steps of the federal criminal process include:

  • Investigation
  • Charging
  • Initial hearing
  • Discovery
  • Plea bargaining
  • Preliminary hearing (if going to trial)
  • Pre-trial motions
  • Trial
  • Post-trial motions
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal

More often than not, people who commit federal crimes plead guilty and don’t even go to trial. They typically receive a plea bargain, which results in leniency, a reduced charge or a reduced sentence. The judge will sentence the person using federal sentencing guidelines, which consider the crime, the level of offense, and the criminal history of the defendant.

Sentences for federal crimes vary greatly. Defendants may find themselves paying a fine or restitution to the victim(s) of the crime, and in other cases, probation or life without parole may be the sentence. In some drug cases, drug testing and mandatory counseling are given.

Summary – The federal criminal process is complex, and most people plead guilty to avoid trial, receiving a wide range of sentences.

federal charges

Contact Us To Get Your Federal Charge Case In The Right Hands

To navigate your case properly, you’ll need the assistance of an experienced federal charge lawyer, such as Vinas & Graham, PLLC. Whether this is your first federal charge or you have a history of criminal charges, we will be your guiding light throughout the process and help you get the best outcome for your case possible. As former prosecutors, Vinas & Graham helps prepare your defense and protect your rights with the mindset of the prosecution. We will put our knowledge, skills, and experience to use for you in your case.

Want to find out how we can help you in your federal charge case? We’d love to talk with you today. Feel free to contact us at (713) 229-9992 to discuss your situation with our experienced team and schedule a free consultation at your convenience. We look forward to getting to know you and your case, so that we can find out the best path and solution together.

In the meantime, be sure to follow us on Facebook and read reviews from our many satisfied clients!