Tips To Help You Avoid A DWI During The 4th Of July

DWI

The 4th of July holiday is right around the corner which means plans are already in the works for barbecue and swimming pool parties, fireworks, concerts and other types of gatherings and celebrations. Alcohol will, of course, be consumed at many of these celebrations and as our DWI attorneys know, unfortunately, this will lead to higher numbers of drunk drivers on the road, automobile accidents, and DWI arrests.

Drunk drivers put others at risk for serious injuries and death including their passengers, other vehicle passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians, but increased law enforcement presence will help to reduce some of these potential injuries. As is typical over one of the deadliest holidays each year, local police will be out over the holiday doing their best to keep drunk drivers off of the streets.

Holiday Drunk Driving Arrests

As ABC13 recently reported, there were over 134 arrests in Houston over this past Easter holiday weekend and even more over Memorial Day weekend with 245 arrests. The police officers on duty over the 4th of July weekend will be targeting drunk drivers and making arrests so that they do not hurt themselves or others. Drunk driving and the risk of DWI can be avoided, however, and it only takes a little responsibility and planning to make sure that you do not become one of the DWI statistics over the upcoming holiday.

Tips To Avoid A 4th Of July DWI

See below for tips to eliminate the risk of a 4th of July DWI while you are out celebrating with friends and family.

  • Be a sober driver. This can mean abstaining from alcohol completely or drinking alcohol responsibly by limiting your intake so that your BAC is under the .08 legal limit.
  • Enlist a sober driver. If limiting your intake or skipping alcohol isn’t your idea of holiday fun, arrange to have a sober ride such as a friend you are celebrating with who will not be drinking or a roommate/significant other who is staying home and does not mind picking you up.
  • Do not drink if you are under 21 and driving. In Texas, any amount of alcohol in a minor driver’s system, regardless of how much, can lead to a DWI because Texas has a zero tolerance policy for minors when it comes to drinking and driving.
  • Hire a driver. In 2019, transportation options are almost unlimited at any time of the day or night thanks to city buses, taxicabs, car services, and rideshares such as Uber and Lyft.
  • Walk to the party. Plan to celebrate close to home so that you can walk to and from your destination.
  • Get a hotel room. Make a night of it and book a hotel room within walking distance of the festivities.
  • Be a party host. If you host a 4th of July party, you may have a mess to clean up afterward, but you do not have to worry about driving yourself home.
  • Avoid all other substances that impair your faculties. DWI is not limited to drunk driving. Under Texas law, drivers with impaired faculties due to drugs or alcohol may be charged with driving while intoxicated.

Other Criminal Charges

DWI is a serious criminal offense that may lead to severe consequences, especially if there have been prior DWI convictions. Depending on the circumstances, other criminal charges may be brought in addition to DWI charges as well.

For example, when a minor is arrested for DWI, parents or other adult alcohol providers may be hit with criminal charges. Driving while intoxicated with a minor passenger in the vehicle may also lead to additional charges of child endangerment. And a DWI accident that leads to an innocent person’s death may result in a manslaughter charge.

Criminal Defense Attorney

When facing DWI charges, it is critical to find an experienced criminal defense attorney who is an expert in Texas criminal law. The consequences of criminal convictions can impact your life in many ways, including employment limitations, loss of driving privileges, jail time, and steep fines. If you have been charged with a DWI or other criminal charges, contact our criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC.

Our team has over 30 years of experience in the Texas legal system and will take all of the necessary steps to see that you receive the best possible outcome in your case. You may reach us by filling out our online contact form or calling our offices at 713-229-9992. Follow us on Facebook to keep up with current events and news related to Texas criminal law.

The Different Types Of Domestic Violence Crimes

domestic violence

Under Texas law, domestic violence can be charged as three different types of crimes depending on the circumstances of the case. These three types include assault, aggravated assault, and continuous violence against the family and they are described in more detail below. Domestic violence charges are taken very seriously in Texas and the consequences that come with convictions can be severe and life-changing.

Our domestic violence attorneys understand the severity of domestic violence convictions and if you have been accused of domestic violence, they recommend calling an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The consequences that are meant to punish offenders and deter this type of conduct in Texas are too serious to leave to chance, especially when the allegations are exaggerated or false. Consequences can affect your freedom, your livelihood, your rights, and your finances, which is why you need aggressive representation to protect your future.

When Violence Is Considered ‘Domestic’

Violence is considered domestic when it involves people that are in a current relationship or have had a prior relationship with each other. These relationships may include people living in the same house, spouses, ex-spouses, parents of the same child or children, family members, foster parents and foster children, current significant others, and former significant others.

Three Domestic Violence Crimes

Assault – In general, a domestic assault occurs when an offender intentionally or recklessly causes or threatens physical harm, or when an offender touches a victim in an offensive or provocative manner.

Aggravated assault – When serious bodily injuries are caused by domestic violence or when a weapon is used during an assault, the violence classification is upgraded from a simple assault to the more serious charge of aggravated assault. Serious bodily injuries include injuries that create a substantial risk of death or those that result in the victim’s disfigurement or impairment.

Continuous violence against the family – When two or more assaults against family members take place within twelve months of each other, the assaults can be charged as Continuous violence against the family. It is important to note that the assaults do not have to involve the same family member victims for this type of charge.

Domestic Violence Felonies

A first-time simple domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor, but when certain aggravating circumstances are present, domestic violence will be charged as a felony. See below for examples of circumstances that lead to felony charges.

  • If the defendant has a prior history of domestic assault, subsequent domestic assaults will be charged as a felony. This is true even if an offender previously avoided a criminal record by pleading guilty or nolo contendere in exchange for a deferred adjudication.
  • The offender impedes the victim’s normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure to the victim’s throat or neck or by blocking the victim’s airways.
  • A domestic assault committed with a weapon.
  • A domestic assault in which the victim sustains serious bodily injuries.
  • Continuous violence against the family is also a felony.

Consequences Of Domestic Violence Convictions

As mentioned above, a first-time simple domestic violence is a misdemeanor and the punishment is up to 12 months in prison and a fine of up to $4,000. Consequences become more severe for felony domestic assault and can result in up to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for the most serious cases involving a weapon and serious injuries.

Additional consequences may include loss of the right to possess a firearm, protective orders such as those that limit proximity and prohibit contact with the victim, probation, and fines and fees. Defendants may also be ordered to pay for the victims’ counseling, attorney fees, and other restitution.

Protective Order Violations

There are many different protective orders, including those mentioned above, that can be put in place before a defendant sees his or her day in court. These orders may seem unfair to innocent defendants, but violating those orders may result in steep consequences such as prison time and fines.

Contact A Domestic Violence Attorney

If you have been accused of domestic violence, contact an attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC to discuss your case and available defenses. As previously mentioned, these accusations are too serious to be taken lightly and only an experienced attorney should handle these matters.

You can follow us on our Facebook page and contact us to schedule a consultation at 713-229-9992 or submit an online form and we will contact you. We understand the stress and anxiety that comes along with domestic violence accusations and we will fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf.

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.