Are There Different Types Of Kidnapping You Can Be Charged With In Texas?

Kidnapping

Kidnapping is a serious charge in Texas, and convictions can result in imprisonment, fines, and other consequences. There are several types of kidnapping charges that vary in severity. Unfortunately, kidnapping charges are often the result of a misunderstanding or an error in judgment with no intent to commit a crime.

If you have been charged with kidnapping in Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who will vigorously defend the claims against you. Attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, know that there is a lot at stake when you have been charged with kidnapping, and they can help. Keep reading to learn more about different types of kidnapping charges in Texas.

Unlawful Restraint

Under Texas law, unlawful restraint occurs when you knowingly or intentionally restrain another person. Restrain means to restrict a person’s movement by confining them or moving them from one place to another without their consent. Unlawful restraint can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.

Kidnapping And Aggravated Kidnapping

Kidnapping is a 3rd-degree felony and is defined as knowingly or intentionally abducting another person. To prove kidnapping, the prosecutor must be able to show that the defendant restrained a person with the intent to prevent the victim’s liberation by holding the victim in a place where they are unlikely to be found or by threatening to use deadly force.

Kidnapping can be elevated to an aggravated kidnapping charge when certain circumstances exist. For example, you can be charged with aggravated kidnapping if you used a deadly weapon to carry out the crime or held the victim for ransom or reward. An aggravated kidnapping conviction is a 1st or 2nd-degree felony.

Other crimes related to kidnapping include smuggling of persons, continuous smuggling of persons, and operation of a stash house. In general, smuggling of persons involves transporting one or more people to conceal or help them flee from authorities.

You can be charged with continuously smuggling of persons when you smuggle people two or more times for more than ten days. Operation of a stash house involves using or permitting another to use your property to commit kidnapping or a related crime.

Additionally, kidnapping crimes can be charged at the federal level. The federal government often prosecutes kidnapping when the abduction involves crossing state lines or when a parent tries to leave the country with a child illegally. Federal kidnapping convictions can result in severe penalties, such as life imprisonment or the death penalty if someone is killed during the commission of the crime.

Contact A Houston Kidnapping Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with unlawful restraint or kidnapping in Texas, contact a Houston kidnapping defense attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC. Schedule a confidential and private consultation by calling 712-229-9992 or submitting an online form.

Our attorneys defend clients who have been charged with kidnapping crimes at the state and federal levels. Follow us on Facebook for more information about our law firm and Texas criminal law updates.

Understanding Money Laundering: Definition, Stages and Methods

money laundering

Money laundering is a serious offense that carries hefty consequences. It’s important to know the law so you can ensure that you don’t break it inadvertently. If you’ve been charged with money laundering or are being questioned by the police, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.

What is Money Laundering?

Under Texas law, money laundering is defined as knowingly having an interest in concealing, transferring, transporting, or facilitating a financial transaction in any way that involves the proceeds of criminal activity. Criminal activity is any transaction that knowingly comes from any activity that is considered to be a felony.

It can also be considered money laundering if one were to invest, receive, or spend proceeds that were used or funded by criminal activity. Simply put, money laundering is typically a way for criminal enterprises to make money illegally and then “clean” it so that they can use the funds legally without anyone knowing about its criminal origins.

Stages of Money Laundering

According to Texas law, money laundering usually involves the three following steps:

Step One: Placement

Placement refers to moving cash from its original criminal source. Money laundering is a way for criminal enterprises to move their cash and “clean” it so that they can use the funds for other legal purposes, so they must place the cash into legitimate sources.

Examples of placement include depositing money into banks, transporting money across borders to deposit it somewhere out of the country, or purchasing items that can then be resold for cash.

Step Two: Layering

Layering is the process of trying to cover up or conceal the fact that the money was moved. The purpose of this is to make it difficult for anyone to know that the money was laundered and to hide its origins.

Step Three: Integration

The final stage of money laundering is known as integration. In this stage, the laundered (moved) money is put back into the economy, and the criminal enterprise is able to use the money without anyone knowing that it came from criminal origins.

Methods

There are several methods for cleaning or laundering money. Some examples include the following:

Create a Shell Company

One common way that criminal enterprises launder money is by creating a shell company. A shell company is a fake company that is presented as a legitimate business, but it doesn’t actually sell anything or perform any services. However, its paperwork would be created as if the company were real.

There would be articles of incorporation or documents forming a legitimate LLC, for instance. The purpose of a shell company is to make it seem that money that is being obtained illegally is actually coming from this legitimate business.

Smurfing

Another common way to launder money is referred to as smurfing or structuring. This entails dividing up large amounts of cash into smaller amounts in order to deposit funds into one bank or several banks so that they can evade triggering an audit and alerting the authorities.

If an individual deposits a significant amount of cash into their account, it must be documented with the IRS, and it could raise red flags. By splitting the funds up, less attention is drawn, and there may be no reason for law enforcement to ever look into where the money is truly coming from.

Vinas & Graham, PLLC Is Here to Help

If you or a loved one is arrested for money laundering or you are being questioned by the police, it’s important to speak with a lawyer right away. Speaking to the authorities without legal representation by your side can often create the possibility for self-incrimination, as everything you do and say can typically be used against you if you haven’t invoked your right to remain silent or requested an attorney.

When you hire a lawyer, it’s important that you hire a firm that is truly dedicated to helping you. Vinas & Graham, PLLC, are the lawyers that you need. Both Attorney Vinas and Attorney Graham understand the laws regarding federal crimes. Both attorneys were former Felony Chief Prosecutors, which provides them with the unique perspective and abilities to see cases from both sides. This allows them to raise a defense that is more likely to be successful.

Call the law firm of Vinas & Graham today at 713-229-9992 for a private and confidential consultation or fill out the online contact form for a callback. You can also follow us on Facebook to learn more about our firm and everything that we do to help our clients.

I Have Just Been Arrested For A DWI In Texas. What Do I Do?

DWI

Nobody begins a night out thinking that they will end up with a DWI charge. And yet, this is what often happens. Whether it’s meeting coworkers after work or celebrating a big life event, the influence of a few drinks can sneak up on you, and before you know it, you are headed to the police station facing DWI charges.

A Texas DWI is a serious criminal charge, even if this is only your first offense. Prosecutors take drunk driving seriously, but with the right legal defense, there are ways of getting charges reduced or even getting them dismissed entirely.

If you have been arrested for a DWI in Texas, your first course of action should be to get skilled legal assistance as soon as possible. At Vinas & Graham, PLLC, our team of Houston DWI attorneys is here to help.

What Defines A DWI In Texas?

Unlike some states, a DWI in Texas is not just a traffic violation. It is a criminal offense. If you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more, you are considered legally intoxicated. But according to the Texas Department of Transportation, “you are breaking the law as soon as drugs or alcohol affect your driving.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much alcohol consumption to get to a 0.08% BAC or for it to begin to affect your driving behavior.

What Happens In A DWI Stop?

If you are stopped by law enforcement for suspected driving impairment, the officer will be looking for behaviors or other indications that you may have been drinking. You may be asked to perform a few field sobriety tests at the site.

If the officer’s suspicions are confirmed, you will be taken to the police station to submit to further testing, including a breath or blood test. Once your blood alcohol concentration confirms you are over the limit, you will be charged with a drunk driving offense.

Depending on your BAC level and any past convictions, your potential penalties can include license suspension, hefty fines, jail time, alcohol intervention or education programs, or the requirement of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. In addition, a conviction will leave you with a criminal record that can affect many areas of your life.

DWI Defense Strategies

Fortunately, there are many possible defense strategies available to you, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Your attorney will look at the factors in your case and develop a tailored defense.

Common drunk driving defenses often include

  • challenging the reliability of the test that determined your BAC
  • challenging whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over
  • challenging witness or expert testimony
  • other possible lines of defense

Even if you are facing a conviction, a skilled Houston DWI defense attorney should be adept at working with the judge or prosecution to downgrade your charges and arrange creative plea deals on your behalf.

Being charged with a DWI and being convicted are two different things, and there is much a skilled defense lawyer can do in between. If you are facing DWI charges in Texas, the experienced legal defense team at Vinas & Graham, PLLC will work diligently on your behalf. Call us at 719-229-9992 or contact us via our online form to schedule a consultation. You don’t have to face these charges alone.

For more information on our firm or Texas DWI laws, follow us on our Facebook page.

Miranda Rights: Knowing And Understanding Your Rights

Miranda Rights

You’ve probably seen it a thousand times: a suspect is arrested on TV, and they’re “read their rights.” They’re told that anything they say or do can be used against them and that they are entitled to a lawyer even if they can’t afford one. You’ve also probably seen a case get thrown out or a defendant win their case because the police officers didn’t read them their Miranda rights.

While some of what is depicted on television is accurate, this is not exactly how the legal system works. So, what are your Miranda rights, when are the police required to give them to you, and what happens if you aren’t read these rights?

What are Miranda Rights?

The Miranda warning – or Miranda rights – comes from a United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. The purpose of the Miranda warning is to ensure that anyone who is arrested knows exactly what their rights are. They give you the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney even if you cannot afford one, and the knowledge that anything you say to law enforcement and anything they observe you doing after the arrest can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Many people assume that if they try to explain something to the police, it will help the police understand what really happened, and it will ultimately help them should the case go to trial. This is almost never true. It is always advisable to have a lawyer present when you speak with law enforcement after you’ve been arrested.

What if I’m Not Read My Rights?

If you are not read your Miranda rights, this doesn’t mean you can’t be convicted of a crime. If you aren’t read your rights but you are questioned by law enforcement without the presence of a lawyer, this is a violation, and anything you say should be inadmissible in court, meaning it cannot be used as evidence against you.

Any evidence that is uncovered as a result of that statement is called fruit of the poisonous tree – it was only discovered because of the statement you made, which was in violation of your rights, so it should be inadmissible as well. However, if you were read your rights and you didn’t request a lawyer, anything you say to law enforcement after that is fair game, assuming they aren’t harming you or coercing you into making certain statements.

There’s a false misconception that your Miranda rights have to be spoken to you as soon as you’re arrested or the arrest isn’t valid, but this simply isn’t the case.

The only time you need to be read your Miranda rights is before law enforcement begins interrogating you.

Your case could end up being dismissed, or you could be found not guilty as a result of your Miranda rights not being read to you, but that’s simply because some evidence recovered and the statements you made can’t be used in court because you were questioned without receiving your Miranda warnings. It’s a possible outcome, but it’s not always a direct result of law enforcement failing to read someone their Miranda rights.

You Can Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent at Any Time

Another important thing to remember is that you can invoke your right to remain silent at any time while the police are questioning you. If you’re in the middle of an interrogation and you decide you don’t want to say anything else without your lawyer present, you can inform the police that you would like a lawyer. They are supposed to stop questioning you immediately and can only resume the interrogation once your lawyer shows up.

Learn More Info On Miranda Rights With Vinas & Graham, PLLC

Many people get into trouble because they simply don’t know what their rights are. If you’ve never encountered the criminal justice system, you might have no idea that you’re entitled to a lawyer even if you can’t afford one and that the police aren’t allowed to question you without your permission.

You also need to know that you have every right to remain silent until you have a lawyer present if you request one. If you were arrested and believe your rights were violated, criminal defense attorneys Vinas & Graham can help you. They have handled hundreds of criminal cases on both the defense and the prosecution sides, giving them a unique vantage point to your situation.

If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call the law firm of Vinas & Graham today at 713-229-9992 for a private and confidential consultation or fill out the online contact form for a callback. You can also follow us on Facebook to learn more about our firm.

Different Ways You Could Face Federal Weapons Charges

federal weapons charges

Federal weapons charges can result in years behind bars and hefty fines if you are convicted. There are several ways that a simple state weapons charge can be elevated to a federal weapons charge, including:

Felon In Possession Weapons Charges

If a person has been convicted of a felony, they cannot legally possess a firearm. Additionally, under 18 USC 922(g), various other individuals are prohibited from possessing a firearm, including:

  • Undocumented immigrants
  • A veteran who was dishonorably discharged
  • A person convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence
  • Fugitives
  • Individuals who qualify as drug addicts under the Controlled Substances Act
  • Individuals who have been committed to a mental institution or have been determined by a court to be mentally defective

If any of these individuals are found to be in possession of a firearm, they can face up to ten years in federal prison.

Illegal Possession of a Firearm

In addition to certain people not being permitted to possess a firearm, there are also federal weapons charges related to when a person is in possession of a firearm when they should not be. Certain weapons, such as machine guns, cannot legally be possessed. There are also certain places where it is illegal to bring a firearm, such as a school zone.

Using Or Possessing A Gun During A Crime

A person may face federal weapons charges if they use or possess a gun during a drug trafficking or violent crime. Under 18 USC 924(c), a person will face a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for a first-time offender who possesses a gun while committing a drug trafficking offense or other violent crime.

Making False Statements When Purchasing a Gun

You can also face federal weapons charges if you make a false statement on your firearm application or use someone else to purchase a firearm on your behalf. This offense alone carries up to ten years in federal prison.

Sale of Firearms Without a License

To lawfully sell a firearm, you must usually have a license issued by the government. If you sell a gun across state lines without a license, you can face serious federal weapons charges.

Sale of Illegal Firearms

Even if you possess a valid license to sell firearms, you can still face charges if you sell certain weapons that are prohibited by law, such as machine guns or weapons of mass destruction. You can also face charges if you sell weapons to a minor or a convicted felon.

Contact An Experienced Federal Defense Lawyer For Help

If you are facing federal weapons charges, reach out to an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer for help. Federal weapons charges can result in years behind bars. You need an aggressive defense to help combat the weight of the federal government’s case against you.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer will understand the range of weapons charges a prosecutor may file against you and how to build a strong defense against these charges. Contact our proven advocates today to begin mounting your defense. You can also follow us on Facebook to get to know us better.

What Is Double Jeopardy And Are There Exceptions?

double jeopardy

Many people have heard the term double jeopardy before and have some idea of what it means. The most common explanation of double jeopardy is that you can’t be tried a second time for a crime you’ve already been convicted of. This prevents defendants from being punished more than once for the same actions.

While this is partially true, it’s a lot more nuanced than this. There are other situations that double jeopardy applies to, even if you haven’t been convicted before. There are also some exceptions to double jeopardy where you can actually be punished twice for the same crime.

What is Double Jeopardy?

As previously stated, double jeopardy generally prohibits you from being punished for the same crime twice. If you’ve already been convicted of a crime, you can’t be tried for it again. Additionally, it prevents you from being brought to trial on a crime that you were already acquitted of. Once you’ve been found not guilty, that’s the end of it; the prosecutor can’t just keep bringing you to trial until they get the outcome they want.

Double jeopardy can apply in other situations also. In a jury trial, jeopardy is said to “attach” once the jury is empaneled and sworn in. This means that even if your trial doesn’t go forward for some reason – maybe the prosecutor’s witness is suddenly unavailable – you typically can’t be brought to trial again once the court determines that the trial is over/can’t go forward.

Exceptions to Double Jeopardy

As with everything, there are exceptions. The following are some of the most common exceptions to double jeopardy:

  1. Criminal cases only. One important thing to understand is that double jeopardy applies only to criminal cases. If you had a trial and were acquitted in criminal court, you can still be brought to trial in civil court based on the exact same actions.
  2. State & federal law. If you commit a crime that violates both state and federal law, you can be tried for this crime in state court and federal court. This is true whether you were acquitted or found guilty in the first trial.
  3. Some mistrials. If your trial ended in a mistrial, there are many circumstances in which you can be brought to trial again. For example, when a mistrial is declared on procedural grounds, you can usually be retried.
  4. Hung jury. If you had a trial but the jury couldn’t come to a decision about your guilt or innocence, you can be retried for the same crime.

Facing Double Jeopardy? Vinas & Graham, PLLC Is Here For You

Double jeopardy is confusing, and there are a lot of nuances in the law. It’s not as simple as it might seem at first. If you believe your right to be free from double jeopardy has been violated, it’s important to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. If you’ve been acquitted of serious charges and you are being threatened with another trial for the same actions, Vinas & Graham, PLLC are always here to assist you.

When you hire Vinas & Graham, you’re hiring attorneys who have a unique perspective on the law, as they both formerly served as Felony Chief Prosecutors. This allows them to see your case from both sides and represent you more effectively. Call the law firm of Vinas & Graham today at 713-229-9992 for a private and confidential consultation or fill out the online contact form for a callback. You can also follow us on Facebook to learn more about our firm and how we help all of our clients.

Different Types Of Federal Crimes You Can Be Charged With

federal crimes

Being charged with a federal crime is a bit different than being charged with a state crime. Violations of most local laws are investigated at the local level or at the state level. Depending on the severity of the crime, some local cases can become federal crimes.

Any crime committed on federal property, against federal personnel, or against the government is automatically federal jurisdiction. Also, any crimes that include going from one state into a different state are prosecuted at the federal level. There are many different crimes that can be prosecuted in the federal courts.

Kidnapping

Kidnapping is intentionally taking another person against their will. Sometimes this can be taking another person and demanding a ransom for their return. It could also be taking someone against their will to terrorize them.

In some cases, a person can be charged with kidnapping if they take a child during a custody battle. This crime can be at the state or federal level. When a victim is moved across state lines, it becomes a federal crime.

Trafficking And Distribution

Growing, manufacturing, or selling illegal drugs is a serious crime. Drug trafficking and distribution charges at the federal level carry very high penalties. Even someone charged for the first time could face years of prison if they are convicted.

Immigration Fraud

Immigration fraud falls into two categories – document fraud and benefit/qualification fraud. Document fraud includes creating, selling, or using counterfeit documents. This could include birth certificates, social security cards, passports, or employment authorizations.

Benefit/qualification fraud is misrepresenting facts to qualify to stay in the United States. This could be a sham marriage, for example. It includes lying about living in the US long enough for naturalization or omitting a criminal conviction.

Illegal Re-entry

Someone can be charged with illegal re-entry if they have been deported and come back into the country. Anyone who has been denied entry into the United States and comes in illegally can also be charged.

Money Laundering

Money laundering is the process of taking money gained from illegal activities like selling drugs and making it look like the money was gained legally. This can be done by using a fake business, depositing it into a foreign account, or depositing small amounts over time.

Conspiracy

Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. A federal conspiracy charge means that the government believes someone made an agreement with another person to commit a federal crime. The prosecution does not have to prove the person actually committed the crime, just that they agreed they would commit the crime.

RICO Federal Crimes

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was passed in 1970. When a person has a pattern of racketeering activity connected with an enterprise, they can be charged with a RICO violation. The enterprise could be a mob, a street gang, or a corporation.

Are You Under Investigation For A Federal Crime?

People charged with a federal crime need to have a federal crimes defense attorney who has experience with federal courts. Both Vinas & Graham, PLLC, have the experience you want. With over 30 years of experience and being former Felony Chief Prosecutors turned criminal defense attorneys, they have a unique perspective.

Let their knowledge and experience help you with the federal crimes charges you are facing. So, reach out for a private and confidential consultation and be sure to follow them on Facebook for more federal crimes information.

What Happens If I’m Convicted Of A DWI in Texas?

DWI

DWI convictions can have serious consequences in Texas, especially if there are aggravating circumstances, such as prior DWI convictions or an open container in the vehicle. If you have been charged with a DWI, an attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, can help defend those charges and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

What Is The Difference Between A DUI And DWI

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two in Texas. Minors can be charged with DUI for driving when any amount of alcohol is detected, even when their BAC is below .08%. Drivers can be charged with DWI when their BAC is .08%, or greater or they are under the influence of drugs.

DWI Conviction Consequences

A first-time DWI conviction can result in loss of license for up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, and a fee between $1,000 and $2,000 per year for three years to keep your license. The consequences are less severe for minors charged with a DWI. Minors can end up with community service, a $500 fine, loss of license for up to 60 days, and alcohol classes.

The following aggravating circumstances can result in increased penalties:

  • You have prior DWI convictions
  • Driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle
  • Someone is severely injured or killed because of your intoxicated driving
  • Your BAC is greater than .15%
  • You have an open container if your vehicle

In the worst cases, you may be looking at up to 20 years in prison, a fine of $10,000, and mandatory community service.

Defending Your DWI Charges

People often incorrectly assume that they will automatically be convicted once they have been charged with a DWI. This is not necessarily the case, especially when you have an experienced legal advocate defending your charges. Your attorney will go over the events that led up to your arrest and charges, examine the police report, and review all other evidence.

During the investigation, your attorney could discover that evidence in your case was mishandled, the police did not have a valid reason for pulling you over, or that there is other evidence that supports your defense. Additionally, your attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to see if you can reach a plea agreement that is in your best interests. Plea agreements can help you avoid a trial and potentially harsher consequences if convicted.

Call A Houston DWI Attorney

It is critical to remember that charges are not convictions, and you have the right to defend yourself and challenge the charges. An attorney can help you by investigating your DWI, reviewing evidence and documents, negotiating with prosecutors, and representing you in court. Call a Houston DWI attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, at 719-229-9992 or submit an online form to request a consultation.

We know that DWI convictions come with serious consequences, and we will do everything we can to protect your rights and your future. Follow us on Facebook to learn more about our law firm and Texas DWI laws.

Why Does A Case Go To A Grand Jury In Texas?

Grand jury

Many people don’t understand why some individuals are simply arrested and charged for crimes, while other cases are brought before the grand jury in order to decide if charges will be forthcoming and if a person will be indicted or not. It’s important to know why a grand jury is convened, how it works, and what you should expect.

What is a Grand Jury, and What is the Purpose?

A grand jury is similar to a typical jury; however, its purpose is to see if there is probable cause for a case to go forward rather than to decide if a person is guilty or not guilty during a trial. If the grand jury decides that there is probable cause, they will vote to indict the case.

If the jury decides there isn’t probable cause that a criminal offense has been committed, they will vote to issue what’s called a no-bill, meaning the case would typically be dismissed and the prosecutor would not be able to proceed with the case.

The purpose, therefore, is to see if the prosecution can move forward and bring a defendant to trial.

How Does The Grand Jury Work?

In Texas, there are typically 12 people in the grand jury. There’s no judge present; the prosecutor presents evidence to the grand jury so they can decide if there’s enough evidence to indict and bring a case forward.

The defendant is not permitted to have an attorney present in the proceeding since it isn’t a trial, and not all of the constitutional rights granted during a regular trial will apply. Even more concerning is the fact that grand jury proceedings are private; the prosecutor is the only lawyer in the room.

Prosecutor Not Required to Present Exculpatory Evidence to the Grand Jury

Another very concerning factor in a grand jury proceeding is the fact that the prosecutor is not required to present exculpatory evidence to the grand jury.

This means that if the prosecutor has evidence that might tend to show the defendant isn’t guilty of the crime they’re trying to receive an indictment on, the prosecutor doesn’t have to provide this evidence to the jury, which is definitely worrisome. However, those are the grand jury rules.

Only 9 Jurors Required for Indictment

Finally, another important factor to note is that the jury vote does not have to be unanimous. To move forward from the grand jury to a regular trial, only nine members of the grand jury have to vote for an indictment in order to bring criminal charges.

When comparing this to an actual trial, it’s very different. In order to be found guilty at a standard trial, all jurors have to agree on the outcome.

Vinas & Graham, PLLC Is Here For You

If you or a loved one has been arrested and you’re wondering whether there will be a grand jury proceeding, what it means, and how to properly deal with it, Vinas & Graham, PLLC, can help. Any kind of criminal proceeding can be incredibly frightening, and they’re always here for you.

Both Attorney Vinas and Attorney Graham handle federal crimes as well and are both former felony chief prosecutors, which gives them a unique perspective on defending criminal charges. Call the law firm of Vinas & Graham today at 713-229-9992 for a consultation or fill out the online contact form for a callback. You can also follow them on Facebook to learn more about their firm and everything they do to help their clients.

My Request For An Attorney Is Being Ignored By The Police. What Do I Do?

Miranda rights

Being arrested can be one of the most frightening experiences in a person’s life, regardless of whether it’s for something minor or for a more serious charge. Once you’re arrested, you should always be given the opportunity to speak with an attorney shortly after you’re taken into custody, as the 4th amendment of the United States Constitution requires that all people in the United States are free from illegal search and seizure, and those who are arrested are entitled to an attorney.

This is true even if you can’t afford one; in this case, a public defender or court appointed attorney would be assigned. So, what happens if you’re arrested, hours have passed, and no one is letting you speak with a lawyer?

Don’t Speak

One of the most important things you should remember is that you are absolutely entitled to a lawyer. You never have to speak with law enforcement without one. Anytime you’re arrested, the police should provide you your Miranda rights, essentially stating that anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law, and that you are entitled to a lawyer.

If you are arrested, never speak with anyone about anything related to your alleged crime without having your lawyer present. If you aren’t given a lawyer and aren’t allowed to contact one, calmly tell law enforcement that you refuse to speak with them until you have a chance to consult with an attorney. No matter how much they threaten you or how much they try to bully you, stand your ground. You are entitled to a lawyer!

Keep Asking

If you’re under arrest and the police won’t give you access to an attorney as they’re required to by law, KEEP ASKING! All you need to tell them is that you wish to speak with a lawyer and you will not talk to law enforcement without one.

Any Evidence Or Statements Obtained After Your Denied Request Should Be Suppressed

Keep in mind that if you’re refused a lawyer and the police continue to question you, this is totally illegal. If you confessed or said anything that leads them to evidence to use against you after you’ve requested and been denied a lawyer, your experienced criminal defense attorney should file a motion to suppress so the prosecutor can’t use any of your statements or the evidence against you.

Vinas & Graham, PLLC Is Here For You

If you or a loved one was arrested and has been denied access to an attorney, this is a very serious issue and it should not be ignored. Everyone who is arrested has the right to talk to a lawyer, so make sure you assert your rights. Simply knowing what you’re entitled to will make it much easier for you to get what you deserve. Once you are able to speak with a lawyer, make sure you share your concerns with them so they can look into the situation and make sure you’re treated appropriately and prevent it from happening again.

Vinas & Graham, PLLC can help. Both Attorney Vinas and Attorney Graham handle federal crimes as well as lesser charges, and as former felony chief prosecutors, they have a unique perspective and a strong success rate when defending criminal charges. Call the law firm of Vinas & Graham today at 713-229-9992 for a consultation or fill out the online contact form for a callback. You can also follow them on Facebook to learn more about the firm and everything that they can do to help their clients.

What You Need To Know About Drug Trafficking And Distribution Charges

drug trafficking and distribution

Drug trafficking and distribution charges are serious and require a serious response from an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer. Depending on the drugs involved, the rest of your life may be in jeopardy, so it is vital to begin mounting a strong defense from the outset. Here is what to know about drug trafficking and distribution charges.

Drug Trafficking And Distribution

In Texas, there are specific definitions that provide the basis for drug trafficking and distribution charges. Namely, Texas Health and Safety Code, § 481.002 (8) and (14) contain the following definitions:

Deliver – To transfer, actually or constructively, to another a controlled substance, counterfeit substance, or drug paraphernalia, regardless of whether there is an agency relationship (including offering to sell a controlled substance).

Distribute – To deliver a controlled substance other than by administering or dispensing the substance.

If you are found in possession of a large quantity of drugs, you can face serious drug charges, including federal crime charges.

Federal Drug Trafficking And Distribution Penalties

In addition to any state charges and penalties, you can also face penalties for federal drug trafficking and distribution. The federal government heavily penalizes drug trafficking. The potential penalty depends on the type of substance involved, the amount, and any prior criminal history.

A sampling of potential penalties for first-time drug trafficking offenses by the DEA includes:

  • Cocaine of 500 to 4,999 grams mixture – 5 to 40 years imprisonment
  • Fentanyl 40 to 399 grams mixture – 5 to 40 years imprisonment
  • Heroin 1 kg or more – 10 years to life
  • LSD – 10 years to life
  • Schedule V drugs of any amount – Up to one-year imprisonment
  • Less than 50 kg marijuana – Up to 5 years imprisonment
  • 1,000 kg or more marijuana mixture – 10 years to life

In addition to possible prison time, you can also face court costs, fines, and other penalties. If the drugs cause serious injury or death to an individual(s), additional penalties might be imposed.

Differences Between State And Federal Charges

There are several differences between state and federal charges. Federal charges may involve:

  • Stiffer potential penalties
  • Federal agencies like the DEA
  • Different criminal procedures
  • Greater resources and more in-depth investigative efforts
  • U.S. attorneys who prosecute the case
  • Federal criminal statutes

When you have the full weight of the federal government against you, you may want to consider hiring a criminal defense lawyer who can help protect your rights.

Contact Vinas & Graham PLLC To Fight Drug Trafficking And Distribution Charges

If you are facing drug trafficking and distribution charges, do not hesitate to contact Vinas & Graham, PLLC. Our knowledgeable federal defense lawyers can carefully review the circumstances surrounding your case and mount a personalized legal strategy to protect your rights. Follow us on Facebook to stay in touch with our firm and for the latest updates.

What A Criminal Conspiracy Charge Means In Texas

conspiracy

Many people are always surprised to hear that a crime does not have to happen to be criminally charged and convicted. Like the state of Texas, many states find that the act of conspiring with another to commit a crime is a crime in itself. Criminal conspiracy, as this type of crime is labeled, is severe and can carry harsh penalties.

Criminal conspiracy, under Texas law, makes it a crime to conspire with another person in an attempt to commit a felony offense. The Texas Penal Code states that a person commits criminal conspiracy if that person has an agreement with another person and has taken action regarding that agreement with the intention that they will commit a crime. When charging and prosecuting, the government will assume that there is an agreement based on the actions taken by the parties.

Possible Defenses For A Conspiracy Charge

Texas statutes not only outline what constitutes a charge of criminal conspiracy, but the law also makes it clear that some elements will not be considered a defense to the charge.

Under Texas Penal Code § 15.02(c), the following situations will not be considered a defense to being charged and prosecuted with criminal conspiracy: (1) one or more of the actors is not criminally responsible for the crime, (2) one or more of the actors have been acquitted, so long as two or more have not been acquitted, (3) one or more of the actors have not been prosecuted or convicted, (4) the actor by law would not be able to commit the crime alone, (5) the crime was actually committed.

Possible Penalties For A Conviction Of Conspiracy

If convicted of being part of a criminal conspiracy in Texas, the law explains what penalty you will face. Your penalty will be based on one category lower than the most serious felony associated with the object crime. In other words, regardless of whether the object crime was committed or not, if you conspired to commit the said crime with another party, you will face penalties associated with that object crime.

Federal Conspiracy Charges

If you find yourself facing a criminal conspiracy charge in Federal court, some key elements differ from state court. The government files federal conspiracy cases if two or more people conspire to intentionally commit a federal crime or defraud the United States. Furthermore, the law requires that one or more of the people who formed the agreement overtly acted to carry out the conspiracy.

Federal conspiracy cases may hold harsher penalties than those in state court. For example, federal cases may carry fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

Secure A Criminal Conspiracy Attorney

To be charged with conspiracy, you must have had an agreement with at least one other person to commit a crime. Furthermore, you must have behaved or acted in such a way that the government can assume that you were a party to such an agreement.

Conspiracy cases can be complex. It is crucial to have attorneys that understand the law. Whether being charged in state or federal court, the attorneys at Vinas & Graham have the experience to help. Contact them today for a consultation, or follow them on Facebook for more information.