Expunctions, Non-Disclosures, & Pre-Trial Diversions

Texas Expunction

Have you been charged with a crime in Texas, and you’re looking for the best way to secure your future?

Whether it’s your first misdemeanor or felony offense or you have a history of offenses, it is worrying to think about what your charge may do to your future. Will you be able to stay in your job or go after the career that you have a future in? How will it affect your ability to obtain housing or get into the school you want?

While misdemeanor and felony offenses are very serious, it’s important to know that there are silver linings. The best case scenario for you might include an expunction, a non-disclosure, or a pre-trial diversion. Find out what each of these are and when you are eligible for them, so that you can figure out what route you want to work towards with your lawyer.

Expunctions In Criminal Cases

What Is An Expunction?

An expunction of your charge or arrest means that any records kept by any agency, regarding your charge or arrest, will be permanently deleted. This is the best case scenario for just about anyone, but that doesn’t mean that an expunction is easy to obtain.

How To Qualify For An Expunction

There are three scenarios in which you may be eligible for an expunction. If your case is dismissed by the court or prosecution, you may be eligible for an expunction. If the Grand Jury on your case issues a “no bill”, you have a chance for an expunction. If you are found “Not Guilty” by the court or jury, you also might be eligible for an expunction.

When an expunction occurs, it is a civil lawsuit, and the court will order the prosecuting office (usually the District Attorney), the District or County Clerk, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and any law enforcement agency that arrested or investigated your case to delete your files permanently.

Summary: When you are granted an expunction on your case, your records are permanently deleted. To be eligible for an expunction, your case must either be dismissed by court, issued a “no bill” by the Grand Jury, or found “Not Guilty”

TEXAS NON-DISCLOSURE

Non-Disclosures In Criminal Cases

What Is A Non-Disclosure?

A non-disclosure is a court order that your record of arrest can be maintained by any government agency, but they will not be able to be release it to the general public, private companies, or individuals. The records can only be shared with other government agencies.

How To Qualify For A Non-Disclosure

An order of a non-disclosure is possible for those who have been granted a deferred adjudication, have been placed on probation, and have successfully completed probation. In most misdemeanor cases, not including those in domestic or family violence, you become eligible for the court to order a non-disclosure. For many types of felony offenses, a non-disclosure may be available to you after you complete your deferred adjudication and go five years without a conviction or being placed on probation for anything other than a traffic offense.

Summary: When you receive an order of a non-disclosure in a criminal case, government agencies may keep your record and share it with other government agencies. However, they will not be able to release it to the public, private companies, or individuals. To qualify for a non-disclosure, you’ll have to be granted a deferred adjudication, placed on probation, and successfully completed probation. In felony cases, you’ll also need five years without a conviction or probation, other than a traffic offense.

Pre-Trial Diversions In Criminal Cases

What Is Pre-Trial Diversion?

A pre-trial diversion is granted by the prosecution and is a supervision program that, if you successfully complete, will result in your case being dismissed. It’s a great way to keep your record clean. And if your case is dismissed, you may then be eligible for a full-on expunction in the future.

How To Qualify For Pre-Trial Diversion

Pre-trial diversion is a case-by-case scenario, but common qualifications for pre-trial diversion are:

  • Non-violent crimes
  • The offender is a minor or under age 25
  • Drug-related offenses
  • No continuing patterns of offense
  • The offender acknowledges wrongdoing
  • The offender shows a desire to participate in and be successful in the diversion program

Summary: When you are granted a pre-trial diversion, you are put into a supervision program, and if completely successfully, your case will be dismissed and possibly later expunged. In many cases, pre-trial diversions are granted for non-violent crimes, offenders under age 25, drug offenses, a lack of continuing pattern of offenses, and the offender acknowledging his or her crime, while desiring to be successful in a diversion program.

Texas Pre-Trial Diversions

How To Get The Best Results For Your Case

When you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Texas, it’s important for you to immediately get in contact with an experienced lawyer who knows what the best path is for you and your case. It’s important to discuss your options before court, so that you don’t accidentally disqualify yourself from your best case scenario.

The criminal attorney lawyers at Vinas & Graham, PLLC are former felony chief prosecutors who are experienced in knowing exactly what you need to do to qualify for the best scenario in your criminal case. They will ensure that you are on the right track for your future, because they know the in’s and out’s of each and every criminal case. They will be your guiding light throughout the process, and you will be confident that you chose Vinas & Graham, PLLC for your case representation.

Once you call us at (713) 229-9992, email us, or send us a message on our contact form, we’ll start to get to know you and your case, and we’ll get you set up for a free consultation to meet with a lawyer. We’ll then learn everything we can about your case, and we will figure out what steps we need to take to get you the results you want. We’ll be by your side throughout the process, helping you in any way possible.

Summary: Vinas & Graham, PLLC is an experienced criminal defense law firm that specializes in helping you become granted with an expunction, non-disclosure, or pre-trial diversion. When you partner with us, you’ll know you’re going to get the best result for your case.

Contact Us To Get Help With Your Expunction, Non-Disclosure, Or Pre-Trial Diversion

While being charged with a criminal offense can be paralyzing, it is a lot easier to put your case in the hands of a top Texas lawyer who can help you with an expunction, non-disclosure or pre-trial diversion, so that you know that your future is secured. We want to make sure to do everything we can for your case to not get in the way of your goals, dreams and your family life.

Don’t wait to get help! Talk to one of our friendly professionals now by calling (713) 229-9992, emailing us, or sending us a message on our contact form, and we’ll get you started on your case today!

1210 West Clay
Suite 12
Houston, TX 77019

Know Your Rights During An Arrest, Search And Seizure

rights during an arrest

An arrest, search and seizure can be an unsettling time, particularly when you’re not sure how your case is going to go. It can be harrowing if you don’t know your rights or if an attorney will even be able to fight for your freedom. Not all evidence is equal in the eyes of the law though, and how incriminating items are processed or whether your rights are violated are key in the outcome of your situation.

There are many situations and places in which search and seizure can occur. It can happen in your home, car, a public place, or a friend’s home. The law varies slightly based on your location and your actions.

You do have rights. It’s important to be aware of your rights during an arrest.

When Can I Be Legally Be Searched?

The law provides protection from unreasonable intrusion and upholds privacy. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The Fourth Amendment allows searches and seizures in two types of situations (1) the police have probable cause in the form of facts or evidence that you’ve got possession of something illegal, or (2) the circumstances elicit a search and seizure and a warrant is not required.

It does not protect against all searches of course, but is a baseline upon which the law needs to show respect.

Police usually need a warrant to search your home or person, but there are exceptions. They need to have some evidence, called probable cause, before they can search your vehicle. There must be some statable facts that led them to believe you might have been in possession of something illegal.

These facts can’t be just a suspicion. For example, they can include the sight or smell of drugs or admission of guilt. Included under the probable cause umbrella is if there is the presence of a police drug dog which smells drugs; they can then conduct a search. A random traffic stop is not evidence enough.

A solid, experienced attorney will know the intricacies of what the police need to uphold on their end in order for the arrest to be legitimate.

It is legal for them to ask for access to your phone or other electronic devices. They wouldn’t need a search warrant for that. You have the right not to comply.

If you were arrested, they aren’t legally able to check out the data stored inside the phone without a warrant. If that situation occurred at your home and they had a search warrant, the situation would be different.

There are special circumstances in which the police don’t require a warrant to gain possession of your electronic devices. Those times include:

  • When there is probable cause that evidence exists on your device when that device or information is foreseeably going to be eliminated or destroyed.
  • Your location- you’re at an international border.
  • Another person can give them access, such as someone you live with providing police access via shared permissions.

Summary: Generally police need a warrant or must have probable cause before searching your person or car. You have the right to not agree to searches in some circumstances.

rights during an arrest

Do I Have Rights During An Illegal Arrest, Search And Seizure?

If police conduct an illegal search and seizure, evidence can become inadmissible in court. The right attorney will recognize when that is the case and use it to fight for your case. As in most situations, using your ‘right to remain silent’ is a smart course of action. Using that right during an arrest gives you the option to not give up passwords or encryption codes to unlock your devices, if they are being searched or confiscated.

If your phone or computer was seized in an illegal manner, the seizure can be contested. Your Texas criminal defense attorney can help you file a motion to have it returned.

When legally taken, it may be kept for some time as evidence.

Remaining silent is referred to as “pleading the fifth” or the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It protects people from incriminating themselves in a heated moment, such as arrest.

When being searched, don’t physically resist, but don’t consent to any searches. If an officer asks for your permission to search, you don’t need to give it. If he is asking, most likely there is not yet the standard of ‘probable cause.’

Evidence that is the result of an illegal search or arrest may not be able to be pursued by the prosecution. As a criminal defendant, it is important to learn the rules and your rights.

Summary: You should remain calm even during an illegal search. With the right attorney, evidence can become inadmissible.

What Should I Do If I Am Involved In An Arrest, Search And Seizure?

When you are initially detained, it is acceptable to ask if you are free to go. Aside from that, silence is your most important right to assert. This is not just for the purpose of avoiding incriminating yourself. It is also so that no one can take your words out of context or point out any inconsistencies in your story.

Even refusing to verbally comply with certain searches can be done in a compliant manner. Since you are being filmed, it’s best to remain polite and follow police directions. If and when a jury sees this video, it will be in your best interest to show agreeable behavior.

Don’t consent to a search even if you have nothing to hide. Follow directions, but you have the right to not verbally agree to a search.

Wait to answer questions until you have a reputable attorney. Assert this right politely when questions start and until they stop. An attorney can determine the appropriate course of action and counsel you how best to face the questions coming your way.

Summary: Even under dire circumstances, politely using your right to remain silent and wait until your attorney arrives before answering questions is best.

rights during an arrest

Call The Office Of Vinas And Graham And Learn Your Right During An Arrest

Even if you are arrested illegally in an arrest, search and seizure, it is important to remain calm and not resist the arrest. Your prospects will be that much more favorable based on your actions. You have the right to remain silent, although you do need to give your name, date of birth and address if you are detained in public.

You have the right to a fair trial. This means you may be represented by an attorney, call witnesses and confront government witnesses via cross-examination.

If knowing your rights during an arrest and what is legal during a search and seizure seems complicated, that’s because hiring an excellent attorney is your best bet for navigating the nuances of the law.

Summary: You have rights, such as the right to an attorney and to a fair trial. Hiring a reputable Texas criminal attorney is your best defense.

Abiding by certain staples is crucial, such as politely asserting that you choose to remain silent and will wait to answer questions when your attorney is present. Aside from that, choosing an experienced Texas criminal attorney will be the best choice you can make. Call us today for a free consultation on your case at 713-229-9992.

1210 West Clay

Suite 12

Houston, TX 77019

Clearing Your Criminal Record: Getting A DUI Expunged

getting a dui expunged

Every 20 minutes in Texas, someone gets hurt or involved in a DWI incident.

DUIs are treated seriously in Texas because they’re usually issued to minors. The idea is to get them to improve their behavior before they receive a DWI.

If you’ve learned your lesson from your run-in with the law and want to start fresh, you’ve probably wondered about getting a DUI expunged.

Every kid makes mistakes. We all hope we can go into adulthood with a clean slate. Getting a DUI expunged helps make sure the mistakes of our adolescence don’t affect our lives as adults.

If you’ve got a DUI on your record, here are three ways you could start fresh.

1. Were You Found Not Guilty?

If you were found not guilty of a DUI, getting it removed is easy. You may still have an arrest on your record, but the DUI charge can be stricken from your file.

Most people charged with a DUI get convicted, mainly because blood alcohol tests and roadside exams prove them guilty.

If you passed one of these tests or the arresting officer made a mistake, you have a high chance of getting the DUI expunged; you might even lose the arrest itself.

2. Was The Case Dismissed?

A dismissed case provides you some leeway when expunging your DUI. In the case of a dismissal, you may be able to have both the arrest and the DUI removed.

If your case never went to trial, it may have been dismissed. Whether or not you remember all of the details, you can check with your county clerk’s office. 

If your case was dismissed, you should petition to have your DUI removed from your criminal record.

3. Try For An Appeal

If you were convicted in your DUI case, don’t worry. All is not lost. You can still appeal your conviction in court. A successful appeal, by the right attorney, can overturn your conviction and clear your name.

If you had an otherwise clean record, a judge might take pity on you and grant an appeal.

If you get an appeal and win, make sure you fly right in the future. A judge who supports this appeal will be frustrated if you return to the court with a similar conviction in the future.

Getting A DUI Expunged Is Possible Under Any Conditions

If your DUI has kept you from certain jobs or scholarships, getting it expunged will give you a second chance. 

Once you’re ready to get the process started, contact us for more guidance on how to get the results that you want.

What To Do When Faced With Federal Crime Charges

federal crime

According to the most recent reports by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS), almost 900,000 federal crimes are committed in the state of Texas every year. 

People make mistakes, some more serious than others. If you find yourself looking at serious charges here’s what you need to know.

It’s Not The End Of The World

If you’ve committed a federal crime, it probably feels like your life is ruined forever. The possibility of going to jail and the financial burden are no walk in the park, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

You may feel depressed, remorseful, and angry with yourself. This is all part of the process and for the time being, there isn’t much you can do about it. What you have to remember for your own sanity is that life will get better. 

You don’t have to get trapped in a life of crime. You don’t have to go back. There’s a plethora of examples of people who’ve come back from a similar situation stronger and wiser than ever. 

It’s okay to feel bad right now, just know that you can move on. It’s up to you.

Federal Crimes Are No Laughing Matter

Many individuals feel incredible amounts of stress and experience a roller coaster of emotions when they are charged with committing a crime, others fall on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Not taking a federal crime seriously is a huge problem in and of itself. Federal charges aren’t speeding tickets. There’s no sweet-talking your way out of them. 

Whether or not you have committed a crime, not taking it seriously is courtroom suicide. 

Not taking charges seriously signals two things that jurors, police officers, judges, and prosecution attorneys will capitalize on extensively. 

First of all, it signals a lack of remorse. It paints defendants as cold-blooded and completely lacking empathy.

Second, and probably worse than a lack of remorse, it will paint you as cocky or arrogant. 

Even if you are found innocent, if you find yourself back in that courtroom, you can be rest-assured that the prosecuting party will take great delight in throwing the book at you with full force.

On top of the effects it has in the court proceedings, having this sort of attitude towards charges is dangerous for your mental and physical health. If you can’t take a felony seriously, you may very well end up committing one again.

If you have committed a crime, please take time to reflect on the repercussions and think of ways to improve yourself.

federal crime

Call An Attorney Right Away

When being arrested, an officer is required to tell you your Miranda Rights, by law. You’ve probably heard them on TV “…You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” 

Finding an experienced and relevant attorney is crucial to making sure you are treated fairly in a court of law. Having the right lawyer when facing federal charges can be the difference between two years in jail and twenty years in jail. 

The government will throw every charge they can at you, even with the most circumstantial and questionable evidence. Police officers, prosecution attorneys, and even judges have been known to ask unfair and intimidating questions. 

As a defendant, the cards will be stacked against you. Judges and juries tend to side with the prosecuting party and without representation, it is extremely difficult to change their perception. 

Highly experienced attorneys are experts at recognizing this and act as counsel so that your rights aren’t infringed while going through this difficult and stressful process. They do everything in their power to make sure that you have a fair trial. 

Additionally, attorneys can help defendants make plea bargains with the courts or walk free. For those who are unaware, a plea bargain is a deal between the party facing federal charges and the prosecuting party. If the defendant pleas guilty, their charges are either reduced or eliminated. 

Many a plea deal have saved defendants from seeing jail time or having a felony on their record in exchange for probation or receiving a misdemeanor instead.

Having a felony charge or jail time dropped will greatly improve the chances of finding meaningful employment and improving your quality of life. 

If you’re looking for top quality attorney’s in the Houston area, Joe Vinas and Spence Graham are top rated attorneys in Houston with 10/10 scores on the attorney referral website, www.avvo.com.

federal crime

Don’t Say Anything (Until You’ve Talked To A Lawyer)

Whether or not you have committed a federal crime, do not say anything when you are arrested. Don’t say anything to your friends or family and especially not a police officer. 

Once you’ve been cuffed, you may be taken to jail or the police station. They will interrogate you, often using scare tactics or the famous “good cop, bad cop” strategy. 

Many thousands of innocent people have found themselves in prison with long sentences because they simply opened their mouths. The first person you should talk to after being arrested or presented with federal charges is an attorney. 

The first section of the Miranda Rights states that “…anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…” when the officer says that, he truly means it. 

On top of the fact that saying something (even if you’re innocent) can land you in prison, it is also imperative to your own safety. Many fatal encounters between officers and civilians happened because of heated verbal arguments. 

By remaining silent and collected, you will be seen as handling your arrest with dignity and keep yourself safe.

Take Action

Whether innocent or guilty, remember these points to give yourself the best chances of a fair proceeding when facing federal crime charges. 

The Sixth Amendment, according to the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, grants the right to counsel in criminal matters. Exercise that wisely, and if you’ve committed a federal crime, contact Vinas & Graham today to discuss your case.

Have You Been Charged With Attempted Murder?

Attempted murder

If you’ve been charged with attempted murder, your life has probably been turned upside down. You probably wonder what to do and how to get out of trouble.

Right now, the question isn’t whether you committed the crime.

The question is, who will defend you in this difficult time?

Attempted Murder Is A Very Serious Charge

That’s why it’s so important to find the right lawyer.

When you do get the opportunity to meet a defense attorney, you’ll need to know the important questions:

1. What Experience Do You Have In This Area?

First and foremost, your criminal lawyer should have prior experience defending against an attempted murder charge. An attorney who deals solely with drunk driving charges, for example, isn’t going to have the experience you need.

Once you find the right type of lawyer, ask where they attended law school, when they graduated, and how long they’ve been practicing criminal law.

Also, be sure to find out what sort of relationship the attorney has with the prosecutor’s office. How often does the attorney negotiate plea agreements with them, versus go to trial?

2. Who Will Ultimately Handle My Case?

Even though you might meet a specific attorney, if he or she works for a larger law firm, you may be assigned an entire team.

You need to know if the attorney is the individual who will represent you, or if you can expect other attorneys and paralegals to work on your case.

If the lawyer you meet isn’t going to be your primary defense attorney, request a meeting with all of the other people who will be working on your case.

It’s also important that you know whom to contact should you have any questions. Determine how long you can expect to wait for a response.

3. What Can I Expect?

Your criminal defense attorney should be willing and able to give you a good idea of what’s to come.

He will clearly explain your legal options and recommend either a guilty plea, a plea agreement, or a trial. You should also be made aware of any potential problems that could arise from your case.

Finally, ask what you can expect at each of the different stages in the process, from the arraignment all the way to the possible trial.

4. What Are Your Legal Fees?

Most criminal defense lawyers charge either by the hour, or request a flat fee. If the criminal lawyer charges by the hour, ask if you have to pay a retainer to get started.

Your best bet is to get an understanding of the marketplace. More experienced lawyers will cost more. But if you’re looking at a potential conviction for attempted murder, it could be well worth it to pay the extra fee.

Be sure to ask if there will be any additional expenses. If so, ask for an estimate of those costs. In case you have to borrow money to pay those legal fees.

Because one thing is for sure:

You Can’t Afford To Go Without A Criminal Attorney

If you’re facing an attempted murder charge, attaining legal defense is absolutely necessary. The sooner you do it, the better

Contact us to get the right help, right now. You can’t afford to wait.

Is A DUI A Felony In Texas? Your Answer Here

is a DUI a felony

Houston has quite a reputation of a party town. Unfortunately, this non-stop partying attributed to 1,492 DUI-related crashes in 2016. Those lucky to avoid crashes are met with tough justice having them wonder… is a DUI a felony?

The short answer: It depends.

Let’s use this article to explain the factors and your options with a DUI charge.

Is A DUI A Felony? The Determining Factors

The Texas Traffic Code has specific thresholds for DUI and DWI.

  • DUI – Driving Under the Influence
  • DWI – Driving While Intoxicated

Minors under 21 with any alcohol in their system face a DUI charge if their BAC (blood alcohol level) is under .08. Those with a BAC over .08 face DWI charges.

Texas has a zero-tolerance policy with DUI & DWI offenses. The state determines penalties by first, second, and third offenses.

When asking “Is a DUI a felony?”, think 3 strikes.

  • 1st offense – Class B misdemeanor
  • 2nd offense – Class A misdemeanor
  • 3rd offense – 3rd-degree felony

This is where it gets tricky:

Several factors including open containers, recklessness, and harm increase the charge severity. Driving while intoxicated with a child under 15, for example, makes it an automatic felony. Assault or manslaughter with the vehicle results in felony charges, too.

Commercial drivers have specific laws. A BAC of .04 and over face similar charges. But, also lose their CDL license for 1-3 years (depending on their haul).

The Consequences Of Drunk Driving

The arrest process — mixed with intoxication — will lead to confusion. The “is a DUI a felony?” is the last item on your mind at this moment. What matters is remaining quiet and finding a DWI lawyer.

Many problems occur when you react without guidance:

Suspended License

From denying consent for testing and failing to request a hearing within 15-days. Or, failing to complete educational/intervention programs.

Fines & Hard Time

$2,000-$10,000 in fines depending on severity and 180-days to 10-years in jail or prison.

Community Service

A mandated, base 160-hours up to 600-hours.

Monitoring

An ignition interlock device to monitor usage and prevent misuse.

Records

Charges (especially felony charges) appear on your permanent record.

When To Talk With A DWI Attorney

Houston police are not infallible nor is the Texas justice system. There are several instances where your rights were abused. Or, you were wrongfully targeted.

Ask:

  • Did the officer have probable cause?
  • Were you read your rights?
  • Were you detained for an unnecessary amount of time without reason?

Likewise:

  • Does my public defender have my best interest?
  • Did I pass the chemical test after failing the field test?
  • Was the testing equipment clean and calibrated?

These are questions to ask your attorney. Their answer(s) may reveal whether your charges hold up in court. And, whether the occurrence becomes a felony.

Let Vinas & Graham, PLLC Fight For Your Rights

The looming weight of a felony conviction is unbearable. But, you’re not alone.

A felony charge can happen with your first-time offense. This offense may have been the result of improper processing. Or, perhaps you accept fault but show remorse for your actions.

We all make mistakes but they shouldn’t always dictate our lives. Get in touch to find your DUI representation. We’ll fight for you.

The Different Types Of Domestic Abuse (And How You Should Handle It)

types of domestic abuse

When we think of domestic violence, what comes to mind? Maybe what’s on the news such as a superstar’s case against an abuser. Or that there has been another death caused by a husband or wife.

It doesn’t all have to be physical. There are types of domestic abuse where the accused doesn’t have to lay a hand on you.

For example, 19.3 million women in the U.S alone have experienced being stalked by a current or former partner.

But it doesn’t end with stalking and physical mistreatment. That’s why we’ll go over the different types of domestic abuse and what you can do about it.

Here we go.

Emotional Abuse

When we’re young, we’re taught that our significant others should encourage and support us in life. For those who are abused, it’s the complete opposite.

Signs of emotional abuse often mean the abuser is demeaning, critical, and insulting. They purposely say crude things to intentionally hurt their partner.

In order for it to be considered a domestic violence act, it has to be consistent. Calling you a name during an argument won’t suffice.

Reproductive Coercion

This is a type of sexual abuse. This is when a partner refuses to take the necessary steps to prevent pregnancy.

They may force their partner to stop taking contraceptives or make them have an abortion. Because this is a type of sexual abuse, it’ll hold up in court.

Psychological Abuse

Rather than being purposely demeaning or belittling, the abuser creates fear within their partner. This causes the victim to feel he or she is in danger.

The abuser may prevent their partner from leaving the house or not being able to talk to friends and family. In other terms, it’s isolation. They will then threaten with acts of violence whether it’d be physical or sexual.

In court, it’s the same as emotional abuse. It either has to consistent or severe in order to become a claim.

Financial/Economic Abuse

Remember that saying: what’s mine is yours? In this case, it’s not at all that.

Financial, or sometimes called economic abuse, is when a partner intentionally controls all the money. Even the money the victim earns from their job.

This is so the victim becomes solely dependent on them. They can withhold food, clothes and other necessities such as medicine and feminine products.

This type of abuse is more common but harder to prove in court. Lack of proof is a common defense strategy accusers will use to get the conviction dropped.

Stalking

Believe it or not, stalking is a type of abuse. The stalker could be a stranger who’s taken interest in you or it could be a former or current partner.

If you sense your life is in danger because of stalking, you’ll have the upper hand in court. Stalking is considered to be a felony.

Wrapping Up On Types Of Domestic Abuse

If it’s you or someone you know in one of the situations above, don’t hesitate to take action. Continuing to stay in abusive relationships will only worsen over time and increase chances of homicide.

Have questions?

Contact us today.

Charged With Felony Possession Of A Firearm? Here’s What To Do

felony possession of a firearm

If you are charged with a felony possession of a firearm, you can go to prison for ten to fifteen years without the offering of parole.

This punishment varies from state to state but is pretty common all over the United States.

If you have been charged with a felony possession of a firearm, here are some things you need to know and understand moving on.

What Is and Isn’t Considered A Firearm

A firearm is a weapon like a gun, shotgun, or any firearm. Decorative ones do not count.

However, every state defines a firearm under their own specifics, so it is vital that you know how your own state defines it. You may be able to get off on a technicality if the law isn’t explicit.

The Constitution Is Meant To Protect You

You will often hear people talking about “their second amendment rights”, but it is rare that most people know them well enough. It is vital that if you are being charged with gun possession that you understand the second amendment.

Not only could this prevent a federal charge, but it could greatly reduce your sentence time depending on the state you live in.

For example, Texas gun laws vary greatly from those of federal laws. However, it is not likely that a courtroom is willingly going to give you this information. So, it is important that you do research and look into your own rights.

Know What The Term “Possession” Really Means

Possession does not necessarily mean that you have to have a gun on your person and get caught with it. There are varying degrees of possession. For example, if you are a convicted felon, you cannot have a gun in your house or your car.

Even if that gun does not belong to you: it doesn’t matter. And even if you are not present in either location, you can still get tried with what is called constructive possession.

While such cases can be fought, it can often be hard to convince a jury that a convicted felon knew nothing about a gun in or around their home or person. This is why it is important in these situations to know your rights and to get a lawyer with gun possession know-how.

You may be lucky enough to get a misdemeanor for someone else’s mistakes. But if you have a background already, such a risk isn’t worth it.

Charged With Felony Possession Of A Firearm? A Lawyer Is Always Worth It

In a perfect world, you will not need an attorney to seek justice in the court system. However, this is not a perfect one, and no matter how much research you do on your own, it’ll never equate to the know-how that a defense attorney will have on such matters.

Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is often an open and close case. An open and close case that can take a decade of your life away.

And if you want someone on your side, who knows the law inside and out, and the ropes, it is important to hire someone to help you. You’ve already served time. Why serve time again?

Do you have questions or comments? Please feel free to contact us!

Everything You Need To Know About Hiring Homicide Attorneys

Houston Homicide Attorney

Over the past twenty years, thousands of Americans have been exonerated after being found guilty of crimes they did not commit, including murder. A wrongful conviction can rob years of freedom from innocent people.

Individuals charged with homicide face harsh penalties, including capital punishment. Without an attorney to effectively highlight mitigating circumstances, it can be difficult to receive fair sentencing.

This is why it is essential to be represented by qualified homicide attorneys. A trained attorney will be equipped to argue your case and fight for a favorable outcome.

Ready to hire the representation you need? Here’s what you need to know.

Sooner Is Better When Hiring Homicide Attorneys

Every American is entitled to their Miranda Rights. These rights include the right to be represented by an attorney when you’ve been charged with a crime. This means that you are not obligated to answer any of law enforcement’s questions until you have an attorney present.

As soon as you are charged with a crime, it is important to request your attorney. Many folks assume that, because they know they are innocent, they will be safe speaking with investigators without an attorney.

In reality, because they are unfamiliar with the legal process, many suspects inadvertently say things that hurt their case when talking to law enforcement.

Look For Experience

When hiring a lawyer, it is always important to choose someone who is experienced in the specific area where you need representation.

For instance, if you have a close friend who is a tax attorney, that does not mean they are qualified to represent you on capital murder charges. Instead, you want to choose an advocate who has a history of defending people in similar predicaments to your own.

Keep Your Documents

While you will be interested in finding the lawyer that is right for you, lawyers will also want to know whether your case is right for them. This can help them decide if they are the best choice to represent you.

This is why it is important to always take your documents to any meeting with an attorney. This includes police reports, court documents, and official statements of charges.

Read The Contract

When you choose an attorney to hire, you will need to sign a contract to keep them on retainer as your representation. Different attorneys use different methods to bill for their services.

For instances, some homicide attorneys will charge their clients an hourly rate. While these rates are often the most affordable, they can also be unpredictable. After all, it’s difficult to tell how long a case will take until it starts.

Other attorneys will offer a flat fee. Make sure to ask whether you will be charged additional fees if your case ends up incurring additional costs.

Hire Homicide Attorneys Today

With these considerations in mind, it’s clear why homicide attorneys are essential for anyone charged with a capital crime.

To get started today with an attorney, contact us. Our team will work with you to find the representation you need.

When Does A Drug Crime Become A Federal Offense?

drug crime

Are you being charged with a drug crime?

Wondering whether you’ll be facing a state or federal offense?

While it can be serious enough to face drug crime charges in your state, it can be even more worrying if it becomes a federal offense. There are many reasons why this may happen, and if it does, you may be at risk of even more serious consequences as a result.

Below we’ll give you an overview of when this type of crime might be a federal offense.

1. A Federal Officer Or A Federal Informant Is Involved

One of the main reasons your crime may become a federal issue is if a federal officer made the arrest.

If a federal officer such as a Drug Enforcement Agent (DEA) or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent becomes involved in the case in some way then it is usually very likely that it will be taken to the federal level.

Likewise, if a federal informant was involved with naming you then it is also very possible that your crime will become a federal offense.

2. The Drug Crime Took Place On Federal Property

Similarly to the above reason, your case may also go to the federal level if you’re being tried for a crime that took place on a federal property.

This means that if your crime was committed on federal land or in a facility that is owned or operated by the government, you may have a problem. This includes spaces such as national parks, federal prisons, military bases, or other similar areas and facilities.

3. The Crime Is More Severe

The nature of your crime and the seriousness of your charges will also influence whether your crime is tried on the federal or state level.

Usually, the more severe crimes are pushed up to the federal level and become a federal offense. This may include things such as drug trafficking, manufacturing drugs and the intent to distribute.

To contrast with that, however, simple possession charges are much more likely to stay at the state level.

4. The Crime Involved Crossing Country Or State Lines

Another case in which drug crimes will become a federal issue is if the crime took place out of the country and if it involved either the crossing of the country or state lines.

Smuggling and drug trafficking charges are serious issues and usually falls under federal jurisdiction. Crossing over borders while committing a crime is a surefire way to get the federal government involved.

5. Other Federal And State Arrangements

Like it or not, there is a good bit of “wiggle room” on deciding what should be tried on the state level and what should be made into a federal problem. Oftentimes individual state and federal governments will have different arrangements for certain jurisdictions.

When a state lacks significant resources to tackle a high crime area, for example, they may request assistance from the federal government.

Depending on a number of factors and various arrangements between federal and state levels in a particular area, you may find yourself facing federal drug charges instead.

Final Thoughts

Any drug crime is a serious offense, but if your charge on is the federal level you’ll often face the possibility of even stricter punishment. If you’ve found yourself facing these serious consequences and wondering how to deal with a charge you’ll need to have a good lawyer on your side.

If you’re looking for a great drug lawyer in Houston, we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

Should You Hire a Lawyer With Trial Experience?

trial experience

With over a million lawyers in the US focusing on different areas of law, you might wonder if any given lawyer has trial experience.

Take real estate lawyers, for example. While some certainly do go to court, the majority of their work revolves around paperwork. A real estate lawyer could easily go an entire career without ever getting involved in a trial.

Whether you should hire a lawyer with trial experience depends on your circumstances. So let’s jump in and look at some situations where you need a lawyer.

Hiring A Lawyer With Trial Experience After An Arrest

Arrests happen every day in major cities like Houston. Some of the arrests are for minor offenses and some for serious crimes.

Regardless of why you get arrested, it’s always advisable to get a lawyer. A lawyer can help you in a lot of ways, including:

  • Charge reduction
  • Establishing if your rights got violated
  • Procedure errors during the arrest

A lawyer with trial experience is especially helpful because they know what will and won’t fly in court.

Trial Experience Counts with Serious Criminal Charges

If you get charged with a serious crime, you want a lawyer who spends some time in court. Odds are good that you’ll face a trial with the potential for real jail time. Hiring a lawyer without that experience sets you up for a losing case.

Getting charged with a serious crime is a lot like getting diagnosed with a serious illness. When you’re life is on the line, you want a specialist doctor with a long, successful track record. The same thing goes for your lawyer when you’re facing a serious charge.

You Plan to Plead Guilty

It’s possible that you’ll take a guilty plea in exchange for a reduced sentence. It’s a tricky business, though. A district attorney won’t offer a deal if they think they’ve got a slam dunk case.

You need an experienced lawyer for the negotiations. The better your lawyer, the more likely the DA will offer you a good deal.

Estate Planning

Let’s say you’re setting up your will. Wills get challenged sometimes, but it’s fairly rare. More importantly, it’ll happen after you’re out of the picture.

In the case of normal estate planning, you don’t need a lawyer who’s represented clients in a lot of trials. You just need a lawyer who understands wills, trusts, and the relevant tax laws.

Business

When it comes to your business, things get a little murky. Like real estate lawyers, business lawyers handle a lot of paperwork, such as:

  • Incorporation paperwork
  • Contracts
  • Intellectual property
  • Taxes

Since businesses get sued on a regular basis, though, it’s good if your lawyer has defended some clients in court.

Parting Thoughts

In answer to whether you should hire a lawyer with trial experience, the answer is: usually.

In any criminal matter, you need a lawyer with experience in criminal trials. Inexperienced lawyers get their clients sent away.

For a basic will or real estate purchase, you can get by without a lawyer who argues a lot of cases. If you run a business, you want a lawyer who’s argued some lawsuits.

Vinas & Graham specialize in criminal law and serve the Houston, TX area. If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a crime, contact us today.

Your Guide to Murder Laws in Texas

murder laws in Texas

Have you ever thought about what you would do if you were caught with blood on your hands? Whether or not you find yourself in this situation, it is important to familiarize yourself with the murder laws in Texas.

A federal criminal charge is a serious offense, and in some cases can lead to the death penalty.

Every state is different, and if you are tried with a murder charge in the state of Texas, you should know what you’re up against. Here is your short guide to the murder laws in Texas.

An Overview of Murder Laws in Texas

In Texas, murder crimes are defined in various ways. Texas law states a person could be charged with murder if they:

  • Cause death to another person
  • Intentionally seek to cause bodily injury to another individual
  • Commit a dangerous act that results in death to another person
  • Commit/attempt another type of felony (other than manslaughter)
  • Furthering the attempt to commit the offense
  • Fleeing from the attempt to commit the offense

This generally falls under the umbrella term of “criminal homicide”, which includes criminal negligence and manslaughter. If tried in a homicide case, there are several degrees of murder as well as other factors considered in a courtroom.

Criminal Homicide vs. Capital Murder

Not all forms of homicide are criminal. If you were defending yourself in a situation where you were in danger, you may not be charged at all. There are varying degrees of homicide murder and then there is capital murder, which is a very serious offense.

Criminal homicide includes willful intent, negligence, involuntary manslaughter, all the way to first-degree murder.

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder and second-degree murder can seem very similar, and sometimes it can be tricky to tell the difference.

The biggest difference between first and second-degree murder is whether it was planned or “a crime of passion”. A first-degree murder is pre-planned. Whereas second-degree murder is unplanned, but still resulted in the death of a human being.

If a person is convicted of a first-degree murder they could face between 5-99 years in prison. As well as a minimum fine of $10,000.

Capital Murder

Capital Murder is also known as an “unforgivable offense”. These crimes are tried with the utmost severity. If you are facing a capital offense, it would be wise to find a defense attorney immediately.

Capital offenses are crimes like murdering a peace office or firefighter in active duty, intentionally commits murder while committing another felony, murder for hire, murder while in jail or trying to escape from jail, the murder of a person under the age of 10 years, or murder of a person in the judiciary.

If convicted of a capital felony offense and over the age of 17, it is likely the state will pursue the death penalty. If the state does not, the criminal will face mandatory life in prison.

Find a Defense Attorney Today

Are you currently facing charges for one of the criminal offenses listed above? Our seasoned and skilled defense attorneys can help your case.

Give us a call today at 713-229-9992 or fill out our contact form here.