What’s The Difference Between State And Federal Charges?

federal crimes

Each state has its own set of unique criminal laws, and in many cases, federal prosecutors prefer to let states handle their own criminal matters. However, under some particular circumstances, the federal government steps in to charge defendants at the federal level. Attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, defend clients who have been charged in state and federal courts, and they understand the key differences between state and federal prosecutions.

State And Federal Laws

Even though state governments and federal governments have their own sets of laws, those laws often overlap, meaning that some crimes can be charged at both the state and federal levels. Typically, state prosecutors will prosecute those who have violated Texas laws unless federal prosecutors step in and file charges in federal court. As discussed below, the penalties for federal convictions are almost always more severe than state-level convictions.

Some facts and circumstances make it more likely that crimes will be charged at the federal level. Criminal activity that takes place across state lines is usually charged as a federal crime. For example, crimes that impact interstate commerce, such as moving goods or services across state lines, will likely be charged as a federal crime. Additionally, crimes that involve federal property or institutions, such as banks and government agencies, and international crimes are typically charged at the federal level.

Consequences For Federal Versus State Convictions

As mentioned above, the consequences for federal convictions are generally more severe than the consequences for state convictions. Although Texas has a reputation for being tough on crime, federal sentencing guidelines usually provide for harsher penalties than for the same offense charged at a state level.

Additionally, if you are convicted in federal court, you may serve your sentence at a federal prison. Federal prisons are high-security facilities, and they are often located farther away than local state prisons, making visitation more difficult for family members and friends. As a result, federal prisoners may feel more isolated than those serving time at a state prison.

Federal And State Prosecutions

When crimes are charged at the federal level, everyone involved works for the federal government, including prosecutors, judges, and investigators. Federal courts are separate from state courts, and federal courts have different procedural rules and requirements as well. Attorneys will implement different defense strategies based on whether their client’s cases are pursued in federal or state courts.

Federal Charges Defense Attorney

Only attorneys who have the experience and knowledge to defend federal charges should represent clients in federal cases. Criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, know that there are major differences between federal and state prosecutions and not all Texas criminal defense attorneys are prepared to represent clients in federal matters.

If you are facing federal or state criminal charges, contact us at 713-229-9992 or reach our office here to schedule a free consultation. Follow our Facebook page to learn more about state and federal criminal law.

When Is A Grand Jury Used in Texas?

grand jury

A grand jury is an essential part of criminal proceedings. In felony cases, prosecutors use grand juries to determine whether to charge a defendant in a criminal case. Although most 50 states use this process in felony cases, only some make it a requirement before prosecution. Texas happens to be one of the states that require a defendant to be indicted by a grand jury to bring about a criminal proceeding.

Difference Between A Regular Jury And A Grand Jury

Although both require an impartial group of people who help decide in legal proceedings, a regular jury and a grand jury are two separate matters and used at two distinct parts of our legal system.

A regular jury is a body of peers or community members summoned to render a verdict in a court case, identifying who or what is liable or criminally responsible. A regular jury, or trial jury, is called after the filing of charges. The jury then decides whether the defendant is guilty or not.

A grand jury, on the other hand, is used before filing charges against a defendant. The grand jury determines whether or not the state has probable cause to bring on those charges. The finding of the grand jury helps begin the process of criminal proceedings.

Types Of Cases

Texas has two categories of crimes: misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are considered the more serious of the two. These crimes include such things as rape, murder, robbery, and more. Under Texas law, before the state can bring any felony cases to trial, the defendant must be indicted by a grand jury.

Members Of The Jury

Members of a grand jury are summoned the same way as a regular jury pool. In grand jury hearings, the prosecutor will choose 12 people from the jury pool. To serve as a member of the jury, a person has to meet specific requirements. These requirements include being a resident of the county, the ability to read and write, not under indictment themselves, not on probation, and more.

The Grand Jury Process

The prosecutor uses a grand jury to see whether a defendant should be charged and prosecuted in a trial court. In deciding if a criminal court case should go forward, the prosecutor explains the proposed charges and presents evidence to the grand jury.

The process is not open to the public and is considered “secret.” There is no judge present, and the prosecutor leads the proceeding. The jury and all others who participate in the proceedings cannot discuss or divulge anything during the process.

The prosecutor presents their case for indictment by presenting evidence. Evidence presented can include documentation as well as witness testimony. Members of the grand jury can ask questions to the prosecutor as well as the witnesses. After the presentation of the evidence, the grand jury will determine if there is probable cause. In Texas, at least nine members of the jury must agree to issue an indictment.

If a grand jury decides to indict a defendant, the grand jury is said to “true bill” the case. If the grand jury decides not to indict, the grand jury is said to “no-bill” the case.

What Happens If A Person Is Called Before A Grand Jury?

If someone becomes the subject of a grand jury investigation, some critical things should be kept in mind. First and foremost, the person has a right to be represented by an attorney.

A defense attorney cannot be present at the hearing alongside the defendant, but having an attorney during this process is very important. A defense attorney’s role is to prepare their client for the hearing and ensure that the defendant is aware of their legal rights. In some cases, the defense may even make a presentation to the jury members. On occasion, this presentation may lead to a defendant receiving a lesser charge or even no indictment at all.

Grand Jury In Texas – What It All Means

Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, all felony cases must begin with an indictment from a grand jury. The process is a significant one in a criminal proceeding and determines if a defendant will be facing charges.

If you find yourself a subject of a grand jury investigation, it is vital to have someone on your side. The attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, have decades of experience and can help you. As former prosecutors, they have the knowledge and expertise to represent you in any criminal matter. Contact Vinas & Graham today for a consultation. Be sure to follow us on Facebook for other Houston defense law information.

What To Do If You Have Been Charged With Kidnapping?


Kidnapping is a crime where someone is taken without consent and held without permission. Kidnapping is considered a felony and a serious crime against a person. Most kidnapping charges are a matter of state law and fall within the parameters of the state court. In certain situations, kidnapping can also be a federal crime.

As these charges are some of the most severe in criminal law, the penalties they carry are harsh. If the government charges you with such a crime, it is essential to know what you are facing and seek immediate legal advice.

Kidnapping Charges Under Texas Law

In Texas, kidnapping is a serious crime. It is considered a violent crime against a person and is looked at very sternly. Kidnapping is a felony and can carry penalties from 2 years to life in prison, depending on the exact charge. The difference lies in whether the kidnapping is regular or considered aggravated.

A simple kidnapping charge in Texas is where the defendant abducts and holds someone without that person’s consent. The defendant did not physically harm the victim. One example of this type of kidnapping is holding a relative without their permission. The penalty ranges from 2-10 years with a possible fine of up to $10,000.

On the other hand, an aggravated kidnapping charge is when the victim is abducted and held without consent but is being physically harmed, terrorized, or even held for ransom. An aggravated kidnapping charge comes with more stringent penalties. A defendant can see jail time of up to life in prison, along with a $10,000 fine.

Kidnapping As A Federal Crime

Federal law describes kidnapping as the unlawful seizure, abduction, and carrying away of a person. The charge would become a federal charge if this abduction were in exchange for money. If the defendant takes a person across state lines or international lines, kidnapping is also considered a federal crime. It is also a federal crime if the victim is a federal or foreign official.

As a serious felony offense, if a defendant is charged and convicted of kidnapping in federal court, a steep penalty will be enforced. Kidnapping penalties will differ depending on the circumstances. Penalties can range from 5-year mandatory sentencing to even capital punishment, depending on the nature of the kidnapping and the level of harm.

Parental Kidnapping

Parental kidnappings, where a parent removes and abducts their child without the other parent’s consent by blocking that other parent’s parental rights, is not considered a federal crime unless that child is removed from the United States and taken overseas. Most parental kidnapping cases are not international cases, however, and only a matter of state court.

These types of cases are sensitive and a matter of family issues. Obtaining counsel can help you understand and defend these charges.

The Bottom Line

If you or anyone you know has been charged with kidnapping, either under state law or as a federal crime, it is imperative to contact defense attorneys who have experience handling these types of cases.

The Houston-based law firm Vinas & Graham, PLLC, has the years of experience and know-how to handle the most serious of crimes appropriately. Follow them on Facebook or contact them today for a consultation.

Different Types Of Federal Theft Crimes

federal theft crimes

Theft crimes involve taking property that belongs to someone else with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Theft can be charged at the state or federal level, depending on specific facts and circumstances. In general, theft crimes that involve government or public property, crossing state lines with stolen property, or theft that impacts interstate commerce, can be charged as federal crimes.

Attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC know that all criminal theft charges are serious, but the consequences are typically more severe for theft crimes charged at the federal level than for those charged at the state level. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of federal theft crimes.

Impacting Interstate Commerce Or Crossing State Lines

Interstate commerce involves the buying, selling, or moving of products, services, or money across one or more state borders. Theft crimes that impact interstate commerce are often investigated by federal agencies and prosecuted at the federal level. The federal government also prosecutes thefts that involve moving stolen goods across one or more state borders.

Government Property And Programs

Theft or misuse of government or public property can be charged as a federal crime. Bank employees and other people that are in a position of safekeeping public money will likely face federal prosecution for misappropriating those funds for financial gain. Theft from employee benefits plans and embezzlement related to healthcare also violates federal law.

Theft of U.S. money or property or theft of property from a U.S. government agency will also result in federal charges. Many government agencies offer grant and loan programs for businesses and individuals. Individuals and corporate representatives can be criminally charged for fraud in the application process and misuse of government funds from government programs.

Theft In Maritime Or Jurisdictional Territories

In some cases, theft crimes that occur beyond the United States’ territorial confines can be federally prosecuted. It is a federal crime to take or attempt to take someone else’s money or property in special maritime and territorial jurisdictions of the United States. Knowingly receiving stolen property in specified extraterritorial jurisdictions is also a violation of federal law.

Defenses To Theft Allegations

You may be facing federal theft crimes charges, but that does not mean that you will necessarily be convicted, especially when you have a valid defense to the allegations. Common defenses raised to theft allegations include mistaken identity, you did not intend to steal the property, and you committed the crime under duress. Under some circumstances of police misconduct, you may also raise a constitutional violation defense.

Federal Theft Crimes Attorney

Theft convictions can lead to significant consequences, and defendants should not try to defend these charges without an attorney, especially when facing federal charges. If you are facing federal theft crimes charges, an attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, can help. Contact our office at 713-229-9992 or online to schedule a no-obligation consultation. Follow us on Facebook for more information about our firm and areas of practice.

Federal Crimes: Different Ways You Can Be Charged With Drug Trafficking

drug trafficking

Drug cases are severe cases in the United States. The government takes a strict stance on them, and in most cases, prosecutes them very aggressively. Many states have harsh drug laws. Depending on the amount of drugs, where the person was, and how many others are involved, a drug case can become a federal matter.

Although all drug-related cases are serious, a federal case is more complicated than a typical state court case. If investigated for a drug charge, it is critical to seek legal advice. Obtaining counsel is even more vital if you are facing federal drug charges.

Things To Know About Federal Crimes

Federal cases are complex. It is essential to have an attorney when dealing with such matters. The process is often long and most likely began before a defendant is even aware. Cases can be somewhat complicated and include many factors. A defense attorney can help guide a defendant in understanding the process as well as preparing a defense.

Federal Investigations

In conducting a federal investigation, the government will use all resources that it has available to it, including all federal agencies and the endless supply of accessible tactics. These tactics include but are not limited to wiretapping, video surveillance, record pulling, subpoenas, and more.

Mandatory Sentencing

In Federal court cases, sentencing will be determined based on several factors. These factors include sentencing guidelines, possible prior convictions, and evidence presented. Federal crimes carry mandatory sentencing.

Federal Drug Trafficking And Distribution

Unbeknownst to many, what may seem like a regular drug possession charge may end up being a case of sale, import, and transport of a controlled substance.

Whether a charge is a state law charge or a federal charge depends on several things. The Controlled Substance Act outlines the class of drugs that is part of the crime by putting them in a particular schedule. This schedule classifies the type of drug based on its abuse potential and severity. This classification is one of the determining factors for sentencing.

The government can also make a federal drug trafficking case depending on the number of drugs found. These amounts will determine the level of sentencing and fine.

The amount of drugs in one’s possession may also lead the government to believe that there was intent to sell. The amount of controlled substance found can be the difference between a trafficking charge as opposed to possession.

In addition to the amount of drug, a federal trafficking case occurs if there is any movement of said substance over state or international lines or the number of people involved in the drug case. All of these factors can lead to stiffer penalties and fines.

What To Do If You Are Being Investigated For Drug Trafficking

If you find yourself a subject of a federal crime, including drug trafficking, it is essential to get legal assistance right away. The federal government has top attorneys working on building a case against you. It is critical to know how to prepare and proceed. The attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, have years of experience as former prosecutors and are here to help. Contact them today for a consultation. Be sure to follow us on Facebook for more federal and Texas law information.

What Is Capital Murder In Texas?

Capital murder

Under Texas law, a homicide is the killing of another person. Murder is when a person causes death by intentionally or knowingly wanted to bring harm or death. The government can charge a defendant with murder due to their reckless disregard. A defendant can also be charged with murder if the death occurred during a felonious act.

A murder charge can also be capital murder. A murder charge turns into capital murder depending on the circumstance. These circumstances are defined and outlined by the Texas Penal Code.

Circumstances That Lead To A Capital Murder Charge

  • The defendant murders a police officer or firefighter while they are on duty.
  • The defendant murders while committing another specific felony.
  • The defendant commits or contributes to murder for payment or remuneration.
  • The defendant murders another during an escape from prison.
  • The defendant murders another while incarcerated.
  • The defendant murders more than one person during one connected act.
  • The defendant murders a child under the age of 15.
  • The defendant murders a judge in retaliation of or because the victim is a judge.

Possible Defenses

Being charged with capital murder is one of the most serious, if not the most serious, criminal charges against a person. No state, Texas included, takes a murder charge lightly. Texas, in fact, hands down has some of the most stringent penalties for such cases.

For this reason, defendants must seek legal advice right away if charged with such a crime. A lawyer can ensure that a defendant knows their rights and help prepare a possible defense. Some possible defenses to murder include mistaken identity, lack of intent, self-defense, age, and violation of a defendant’s rights.

Based on the severity of the charges, a defense attorney familiar with complex criminal law charges is in the best position to help. The quicker the defendant can start building their defense, the better.

A Two-Phase Process

Capital offense trials are conducted in two phases. The first phase of the process is the actual trial, where the prosecutor presents its case by presenting evidence to the jury. The defense presents its case and defenses as well. The jury, or in some circumstances the judge, then has the opportunity to review all the evidence. After deliberation, the trier of fact will decide guilt or innocence.

If the jury finds the defendant guilty, the case then goes to the second phase of the process, the punishment phase. In the punishment phase, the trier of fact, which will be the judge or jury, will listen to both sides’ arguments regarding possible punishment.

This phase, unlike the guilt-innocence one, will allow both parties to present additional evidence. Most of the evidence presented during this phase would not necessarily be allowed during the first phase.

Penalties For Capital Murder

Capital murder is considered a capital felony offense. The penalty for such a violation ranges from life in prison to the death penalty.

Life In Prison

Most defendants convicted of capital murder and not sentenced to death will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. There are only a few exceptions to this rule. Age is one of the exceptions. If the defendant was a minor when the crime occurred, the only time a defendant will be sentenced to life in prison, if no death penalty, is if the defendant was a minor.

Capital Punishment

Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is a sentence used by law upon a defendant’s conviction. In essence, the government executes a defendant after a finding of guilt.

Capital murders are considered to be serious and will fall under this classification. Capital murders are murders based on specifically identified situations. Once the crime falls within the category, prosecutors can elect to seek the death penalty.

Appealing A Conviction

In capital felony cases, if a defendant is found guilty in a lower court, the defendant can appeal. If a defendant is found guilty of capital murder but not sentenced to the death penalty, the case goes to the Texas Court of Appeals.

If a defendant is sentenced to death by the lower court, the conviction automatically goes to direct appeals to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. A defendant can also challenge their conviction by way of writs of habeas corpus.

The Final Word On Capital Murder

Capital murder is the most serious of charges. It holds stiff penalties such as life in prison as well as the death penalty. If you find yourself in such a situation where you have been charged with capital murder, obtaining defense counsel is your priority.

Vinas & Graham, PLLC has some of the most experienced attorneys in the Houston area. With years of experience as both former prosecutors and now defense attorneys, you can count on them to provide you with sound legal advice. Contact them today for a consultation. Be sure to follow them on Facebook as well for more legal information.

Can I Get Out Of A Drug Crime Charge In Texas?

drug crime charges

Attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC know that the first question defendants with drug charges often ask is whether or not they can get out of the charges they are facing. The answer is that each case is different, and it depends on the unique facts and circumstances in every case. It is important to remember that being charged with a drug crime does not necessarily mean you will be convicted.

Criminal charges can be dismissed by the court, reduced in plea deals, and dropped by prosecutors for a variety of reasons. Juries can also find defendants not guilty after a drug crime is fully prosecuted at trial. Keep reading to learn more about how to protect yourself against drug crime charges.

The best way to fight drug charges is to hire an experienced attorney to represent you. Drug charges are serious, and convictions can have lifelong consequences. An attorney will go over your case and carefully review the prosecutor’s evidence against you.

Criminal defense attorneys know the law, and they know what to look for when examining your case. For example, they will recognize issues such as police misconduct or evidence errors that may help your defense.

Constitutional Violations

Law enforcement officers do not have unlimited authority, and they are required to respect your constitutional rights. If they conducted an illegal search and seizure violating your 4th Amendment rights, drugs and other evidence that the prosecution wants to use against you might be thrown out by the judge in your case.

Another frequent violation involves your 5th Amendment rights. If you were in police custody and law enforcement officers failed to read your Miranda warnings before your interrogation, any admissions you made may be thrown out by the judge for violating your 5th Amendment rights.

Plea Bargaining

Prosecutors that want to avoid the time and risk involved with going to trial are often willing to negotiate with defense attorneys for a guilty plea to reduced charges. In some cases, prosecutors will drop or reduce your charges if you cooperate with the prosecution in another case and testify against another defendant. Depending on your case facts, your attorney may negotiate a deferred adjudication to avoid a trial and potential guilty verdict.

Plead Not Guilty

If you have a solid defense, you may choose to plead not guilty and go to trial. Common defenses to drug charges include the following:

  • Lack of knowledge that the drugs were in your possession.
  • The drugs belonged to someone else.
  • Chain of custody issues or unreliable drug testing results.
  • Police entrapment.

Texas Drug Crime Charges Attorney

If you are facing state or federal drug charges in Texas, we can help. Contact a Texas drug crime charges attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, to schedule a free consultation. Call us at 713-229-9992 or reach out to us online, and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible. Follow our Facebook page for more information about drug charges in Texas and other criminal law matters.

The Top Most Common Federal Crimes

federal crimes

Federal crimes attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC know that federal charges are different than state charges, and it takes specialized knowledge and experience to defend clients in federal court. Theft, weapons charges, armed robbery, possession of a controlled substance, internet crimes, and white-collar crimes are some of the most common federal criminal charges that our clients face.


Theft charges involve taking someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Typically, federal theft charges involve stolen property that has been transported across state lines or otherwise involves more than one state during the commission of the crime. Theft may also be charged at the federal level when text messaging, or email is used to commit a crime involving stolen goods.


Violating federal weapon laws and regulations can result in federal weapons charges. Federal agencies often get involved when firearms and other weapons are illegally possessed, distributed, or transported across state lines.

Smuggling weapons or ammunition across the national border or state lines often results in federal firearms trafficking charges. These charges are also common when a weapon is used during the commission of a crime or when a person with prior felony convictions is in possession of a firearm.

Armed Robbery

Robbery is similar to theft charges in that it involves taking someone else’s property with the intent to steal the property. Theft can be charged as the more serious crime of robbery when it involves the use of violence or threat of violence to accomplish the theft. Armed robbery is committed when a firearm or other type of weapon is used during the commission of the crime.

Possession Of A Controlled Substance

A controlled substance is a drug that the federal government regulates. It is not always illegal to possess a controlled substance. For example, if you have a valid prescription of a controlled substance, possessing it is not a crime. However, if you do not have a valid prescription, you can be charged with possession. Possession is a serious federal crime, but it is generally not as severe as selling or distributing a controlled substance.

Internet Crimes

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the lead federal agency that investigates cybercrimes, also known as internet crimes. Common types of internet crimes involve ransomware, phishing, spoofing, identity theft, online predators, business email compromise, and other crimes that involve internet use. In an effort to crackdown on criminal activity online, penalties for federal internet crime convictions are severe.

White-Collar Crimes

Federal white-collar crimes are typically non-violent crimes that involve criminal activity motivated by financial gain. Perpetrators are often professional employees with access to business and personal assets. Health care fraud, internet crimes, money laundering, mortgage fraud, bank fraud, and credit card fraud are examples of white-collar crimes.

Federal Crimes Attorney

If you are facing federal charges, an experienced attorney will help protect your rights and defend the allegations against you. Contact a federal crimes attorney with Vinas & Graham, PLLC at 713-229-9992 or here to discuss your case and potential defense strategies. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about our law firm and the types of cases we handle.

The Fourth Amendment And Your Rights

fourth amendment

Law enforcement officers do not have unlimited powers, and they do not have the right to violate your constitutional rights. Under the Fourth Amendment, you have the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy, and police officers have limits in their authority to conduct a search of your property and seizure of evidence.

Unfortunately, as criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC knows, police officers do not always respect the constitution. However, if you can prove that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights by conducting an illegal search and seizure, you may ask the court to throw out the evidence against you.

Your Rights Under The Fourth Amendment

As a general rule, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy and are entitled to be free from unreasonable government intrusions, and the police may not conduct a search and seizure of your property without a warrant. However, there are exceptions to this rule that afford police officers the right to search your premises, automobile, and belongings without a warrant.

To search your property without a warrant, one of the exceptions must apply, such as reasonable suspicion, consent, or plain view. For example, the police cannot pull over your vehicle unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you have broken the law. Even if they have a valid cause for pulling you over, they may not conduct a warrantless search of your vehicle unless the circumstances provide a reasonable basis to do so.

If the police ask to search your vehicle and you give them permission, they do not need a warrant because you consented to the search. Additionally, police officers may seize incriminating evidence without a warrant if that evidence is in plain view. Other exceptions to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement include a search conducted that is incident to an arrest or when exigent circumstances exist.

Evidence Gathered In Violation Of Your Rights

In most cases, evidence gathered during an illegal search and seizure will not be admissible in court. This means that prosecutors will not be able to use such evidence to prove their case against you. After the tainted evidence is thrown out, if there is not enough evidence to prove that you committed a crime, the court may throw out your case. If the court does not throw out your case and it goes to trial, the jury will not know about the inadmissible evidence because it cannot be used against you.

Fourth Amendment Rights Attorney

The Fourth Amendment is based on a reasonable standard. This means that if the court finds that you had a reasonable expectation of privacy and the police conducted an unreasonable search and seizure, your constitutional rights were violated.

Criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, represent clients who have been accused of crimes in Texas. They know that investigating police conduct is a critical part of defending every case they handle. If you are facing criminal charges, contact our office at 713-229-9992 or reach us online to discuss your case.

Follow us on Facebook for information and updates about our law firm and the types of cases we handle.

How A Houston Federal Crimes Attorney Can Help You – Part 2

federal crimes

Federal laws are separate and distinct from state laws. When federal laws are allegedly violated, defendants often find themselves faced with federal criminal charges. If you have been charged with a federal crime, attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, know that you need an attorney who has experience defending clients in federal prosecutions.

In part 1, we discussed six different types of federal crimes. In part 2, we will go over seven additional crimes and how a criminal defense attorney can help you defend your federal charges. The consequences for federal convictions can be life-altering, which is why you should only entrust your case to an attorney with specialized knowledge of federal laws.

Drug/Narcotics Trafficking & Distribution

Drug and narcotics trafficking and distribution charges are more serious than a possession charge. Trafficking and distribution are often charged as a federal crime, especially when there is a large amount of drugs and evidence that the drugs were moved across state lines.

Federal prosecutors are often overzealous with drug charges. Even if you are charged with trafficking and distribution, prosecutors may not have the evidence they need to secure a conviction. Your attorney will help review the evidence against you, examine how that evidence was collected, and help you build a defense to challenge the prosecution’s allegations.

Money Laundering

There are various types of money laundering schemes. All of those schemes involve obtaining illegal funds and attempting to make it appear as though the funds came from a legitimate source. For example, ‘laundering’ money derived from drug trafficking to make it look as though the money came from a legitimate business, such as restaurant profits.

Money laundering schemes are often complex operations, and sometimes innocent people are used to further a money laundering operation without their knowledge. Lack of intent, lack of knowledge, and the funds were illegally obtained are common defenses to money laundering charges that your attorney may raise.

Federal Conspiracy Charges

Federal conspiracy charges involve an agreement between two or more people to commit a federal crime or defraud the United States. Additionally, you can only be convicted if one co-conspirator takes an overt act in the commission of the conspiracy. Federal crimes attorneys know the requirements for a conspiracy conviction, and they will closely examine the facts of your case to help determine your best defense strategies.

White Collar Crimes

Federal criminal defense attorneys have access to the resources and experts necessary to defend white collar crime charges. White collar crimes such as money laundering, corporate fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and embezzlement typically involve complex financial and legal matters. Because of this, only an experienced attorney with sophisticated resources should defend these cases.


Kidnapping convictions can often be avoided if you have a viable defense and an attorney who aggressively advocates for your rights. Kidnapping cases are often the result of misunderstandings and miscommunications. Frequently raised defenses to federal kidnapping charges include that you had no knowledge or intent to abduct the alleged victim or that you are the parent of the alleged victim and you were attempting to assume lawful control of your child.

Federal Theft Crimes

Theft crimes involve taking or using someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property permanently. Shoplifting, automobile theft, money laundering, and embezzlement are crimes that can be charged at the federal level under certain circumstances. Criminal defense attorneys know the elements required to prove theft crimes, and they will go over the evidence against you and discuss your potential defenses.

Illegal Re-entry

Illegal re-entry is an immigration crime that may result in prison time, removal, and a ban on returning to the United States. Illegal re-entry charges are generally based on allegations that the defendant was previously removed from the United States and was caught in the United States or attempting to enter the U.S.

Defendants in immigration cases are often at a disadvantage, especially if they do not have an attorney representing their interests. There are often language barriers and a lack of due process for the accused. An attorney will make sure that your rights are protected and your case is heard before any judgments are made.

Texas Federal Crimes Attorney

Texas federal crimes attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, represent clients in all types of federal prosecution matters. To schedule a consultation, contact our office at 713-229-9992 or here to send us a message.

We know that a federal conviction can lead to serious and lifelong consequences. Our attorneys will stand up to federal prosecutors and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Follow us on Facebook for more information about our law firm and the cases we handle.

Everything You Need To Know About Murder Charges In Texas

murder charges

Murder laws in Texas can be complicated, especially because different types of murder charges come with varying consequences. If you have been charged with murder, you know that the stakes are high, especially in Texas, where prosecutors have a reputation for aggressively pursuing cases against homicide defendants.

Texas criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, represent defendants who have been accused of murder. The penalties for murder convictions are severe, sometimes resulting in life sentences or the death penalty. With an experienced attorney and a good defense strategy, murder charges do not always have to result in murder convictions. Keep reading for everything you need to know about murder charges in Texas.

Types Of Murder Charges

In Texas, there are two types of murder charges. Capital murder is the most serious homicide offense with the most severe consequences. In general, capital murder involves knowingly or intentionally causing another person’s death, accompanied by certain aggravating circumstances.

For example, knowingly or intentionally causing the death of a peace officer, firefighter, or child under ten years old may lead to capital murder charges. Capital murder is the only crime in Texas that may result in the death penalty. A capital murder conviction may also result in a life sentence without parole.

Murder charges are less serious than capital murder charges, but the consequences can still be severe. Murder involves knowingly or intentionally causing another person’s death or causing someone’s death during the commission of a felony. You can be charged with murder for intending to cause serious bodily injury that results in someone’s death.

The consequences for a first-degree felony murder conviction include 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. In some cases, murder can be reduced to second-degree felony sentencing with 2 – 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Defending Your Charges

It is important to remember that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty, even when you are facing murder charges. A skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney will review your case and go over all available evidence to help you build your defense.

Common murder defenses include self-defense, lack of intent to inflict fatal injuries, and someone else was responsible for the fatal injuries. Additionally, if the police violated your constitutional rights, you may have grounds to argue that the evidence against you should be inadmissible at trial.

Prosecutors are usually open to plea negotiations, especially when your attorney presents them with a strong defense. To avoid a trial and a potential not guilty verdict, prosecutors will often agree to reduce their charges in exchange for a guilty plea.

Texas Murder Charges Attorney

If you are facing murder or another homicide crime in Texas, contact Vinas & Graham, PLLC at 713-229-9992 or online to speak with a Texas murder charges attorney. We know that your future is on the line when you are facing homicide charges, and we will aggressively advocate for your freedom.

Follow us on Facebook for more information about our law firm and Texas criminal law matters.

How A Houston Federal Crimes Attorney Can Help You – Part 1

federal crimes

Criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, have more than 30 years of combined experience handling federal crimes cases. We know that federal government cases are different than Texas state court cases, and we are not afraid to stand up to federal prosecutors.

Federal crimes are governed by federal laws and sentencing guidelines. See below for part 1 of how a Houston federal crimes attorney can help you defend your charges and your constitutional rights in federal prosecution matters.

Possession Of A Controlled Substance

Under the Controlled Substances Act, drugs regulated by the federal government are divided into schedules based on certain factors, such as medical use, the potential for abuse, and the risk to public health. Possession of a controlled substance is not always a crime, however. The possession of some scheduled drugs is legal with a valid prescription for legitimate medical use.

If you have been charged with possessing, manufacturing, or distributing a controlled substance, an attorney can help by examining police conduct and the evidence collected. If your rights were violated with an illegal search and seizure or another type of misconduct, your attorney might seek to have the evidence thrown out and your charges dismissed.

Federal Bank Robbery Crimes

Bank robbery is a felony crime, and charges are usually brought at the federal level. Sentencing for bank robbery convictions is based on the federal sentencing guidelines depending on the value of the property taken, whether or not a weapon was used during the robbery and other factors.

Sentencing for bank robbery convictions can be up to 25 years or more under some circumstances. Bank robbery charges do not have to result in convictions, however, especially when you have an experienced attorney to help you negotiate with prosecutors and build a solid defense.

Immigration Fraud

Immigration fraud, such as identity and benefit fraud, can result in prison time, removal proceedings, and other consequences. If you have been charged with an immigration fraud crime, you need a federal crimes attorney to make sure that your rights are protected during your legal proceedings.

Defendants accused of immigration crimes are often victims of unfair bias and language barriers. An attorney will help you understand the charges against you, ensure that you have access to interpretation services, and stand up to federal agents and prosecutors who have accused you of fraud and other immigration crimes.

RICO Crimes

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (‘RICO’) is broadly stated and interpreted to cover a wide range of criminal activity. Criminal conduct such as bankruptcy fraud, human trafficking, money laundering, and embezzlement that can be considered RICO crimes carry enhanced penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, steep fines, and forfeiture of assets.

Attorneys can not only help defend the charges against you, but they can help protect your assets and your freedom. They can also negotiate plea deals, including cooperation with federal agents and prosecutors for reduced or dismissed charges.

Federal Weapons Charges

U.S. citizens have a constitutional right to bear arms, but there are restrictions and requirements for possessing and carrying weapons. If you violate federal weapons laws, your right to bear arms may be in jeopardy.

Weapons charges often involve allegations of possession of an illegal weapon or the illegal use, possession, or dealing of a weapon. Federal crimes attorneys know conceal, carry, and possession laws. They can help you defend your weapons charges and fight to protect your right to bear arms.

Internet Crimes

There has been a steady increase in internet crimes over the last several decades, and these crimes pose threats to individuals, businesses, and government entities. As the severity of crimes and threats have increased, the federal government has stepped up efforts to prosecute these crimes.

Unfortunately, prosecutors and law enforcement officers sometimes overreact to conduct that they see as illegal or threatening, and innocent actors are charged with internet crimes that they did not intend to commit. Criminal defense attorneys with internet crime experience are familiar with overzealous prosecution, and they know how to gather exculpatory evidence and defend their accused clients.

Houston Federal Crimes Attorney Here To Help

If you or a loved one is facing federal charges in Texas, contact us online or at 713-229-9992 to discuss your case. Houston federal crimes attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, understand the severity of federal crimes convictions. They will aggressively advocate for the best possible outcome in your federal criminal matter.

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