Is Your Concealed Blade Legal? Find Out Here

concealed blade charge texas

As the debate about gun laws and open carry rage on, a surprising number of Texans find themselves forgotten and in uncertain territory.

While Texans can openly carry a pistol as of January 1, 2016, what about other weapons?

Bladed weapons are an entirely different matter altogether, so if you’re wondering what the law says about a concealed blade, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s everything you need to know about the legality of your concealed blade.

Rainer v. State

We’ll begin our journey into Texas law by looking at Rainer v. State, a revolutionary case that drastically changed state legislature.

In 1993, Ronald Rainer was picked up by the police after a warrant for his arrest was made public. Once police located Rainer in a bar, they found a large, sheathed blade on his person, adding an unlawful weapons possession charge.

The case is crucial because it defined what is — and isn’t — considered a blade.

According to the legal definition, a blade isn’t simply the sharpened section of the weapon. In fact, it’s considered the “cutting portion” which includes the handle.

Since Rainer’s blade was larger than the legal limit, 5 1/2 inches, Rainer was in violation of state law and sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Is Carrying A Concealed Blade Legal?

Let’s cut straight to the chase: carrying a bladed weapon is, in fact, legal in the state of Texas.

While there are some exceptions (which we’ll get to in a moment) most Texans are well within their right to carry a bladed weapon on their person whenever they choose.

Texas legislature recognizes that bladed weapons have been around as long as man and can be a great way to defend one’s self.

What Are The Exceptions To The Rule?

Like any good piece of legislature, bladed carry laws are quite reasonable.

While any citizen is free to carry a bladed weapon, there are certain stipulations that the weapon must meet to be considered legal.

Remember, the blade (including the handle) cannot exceed a length of over 5 1/2 inches.

Additionally, citizens cannot conceal or carry throwing knives, swords, dirks, or bowie knives.

So what can you carry on your person?

As of 2013, citizens can carry butterfly knives again, as well as switchblades or basic daggers.

Final Thoughts On The Legality Of Carrying A Concealed Blade

It’s well within your rights to defend your livelihood and that of your family.

Thanks in part to Rainer v. State, as well as the more recent legislature, citizens of Texas, are free to carry bladed weapons as long as they don’t exceed the legal limit of 5 1/2 inches.

So what happens if you do get picked up on an unlawful possession charge?

Get in touch and schedule your free consultation as soon as you can.

Our weapons possession specialists will fight for you to make sure your rights and freedoms are rigorously defended.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Houston: What to Look For

best criminal defense attorney

In most misdemeanor cases, more than 80% of people accused of crimes go with inadequate or no defense attorney.

Estimates suggest they lose their cases more than half of the time. Those who hire the best criminal defense attorney available are likely to win almost 90% of the time.

Navigating the complexity of the law and the criminal justice system alone is like going to a foreign country without a map. While you may have some loose idea of how to get around, without knowing the language or the attitude you need, you are likely to lose. Having an attorney by your side is like having a guide to tell you where to go and what to do.

If you or someone you know is looking for a lawyer, they might not know what to look for. Here are three traits that the best criminal defense attorney is sure to have.

1. Relevant Experience

Finding an attorney who went to a good school is easy. Finding one who has been out fighting cases like yours is a little bit harder. Most attorneys will try to find the easiest cases for the quickest turnaround and the fattest paycheck.

When navigating the legal world, you should look for someone who doesn’t just have years of experience, but one who knows how to defend your case. An attorney who has seen a case like yours knows how to win. They’ll be able to strategize so that you get the best possible result.

Find someone with relevant experience to see a ruling in your favor.

2. Good Reviews

The best criminal defense attorney will have testimonials ready to show you. They’ll be on their website or on any printed or digital materials they send you. Read these carefully and try to see between the lines.

Go beyond what they send you and look through local business and legal directories. Many lawyers are rated on Yelp, Google, or Avvo.

On these sites, you can read important information regarding the lawyer you’re thinking about hiring, including ours:

Joe Vinas Avvo profile

Spence Graham Avvo profile

3. Comfortable Rapport

Make sure you feel comfortable speaking to your lawyer. In all likelihood, you’ll be spending lots of time together over the next few months. You need to feel like you can tell them anything.

If you’re being accused of possession but have a past that prosecutors could bring up, you need to be open about that.

Anything that you tell your lawyer is protected under the law and their license. If they want to win your case and keep you as a client, they need to listen to you and show they have a sincere commitment to your issues.

The Best Criminal Defense Attorney Is All Ears

If your attorney keeps you waiting around or doesn’t answer your calls, they’re not the one for you.

A good attorney stays in touch, keeps communication lines open and tries to be clear with you about everything.

If you’re looking to hire an attorney soon, contact us for more tips on how to make sure you end up with a perfect fit.

Murder vs Manslaughter: What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?

murder vs manslaughter

What’s the difference between murder vs manslaughter?

The difference is actually very important and can affect the outcome of a trail. For example, someone who has been charged with manslaughter will not spend as much time in prison as someone who was charged with murder.

The sticky part is understanding the difference between murder and manslaughter.

They both result in someone’s death, but the manner of death and the state of mind of the killer is what sets these two charges apart.

Let’s take a look at a few examples to better understand the difference.

The Situation

For these examples, we are going to picture someone pushing another person down the stairs. The reason for pushing a person down the stairs and the way one person pushes the other down the stairs will determine if the death was murder or manslaughter.

So let’s set up a few different scenarios.

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is a homicide that was premeditated and planned.

Picture two roommates who don’t have a good relationship. They have been arguing so much recently, one of them (Roommate A) decides to kill the other one (Roommate B).

Roommate A knows Roommate B gets up around midnight every night to use the bathroom. To get to the bathroom, Roommate B has to walk past the stairs.

So Roommate A also gets up a little before midnight and waits for Roommate B to get up. When Roommate B walks past the stairs, Roommate A jumps from his hiding place and deliberately pushed Roommate B down the stairs. Roommate B died from his injuries.

Sentence

Roommate A intentionally wanted to kill Roommate B, and he planned the murder out in advance. This could be ruled as a first-degree murder.

He could be sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole for 25 years. If he does get parole, he will remain on parole for the rest of his life.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder is still a homicide, but it wasn’t premeditated.

This time Roommate A bought take-out for dinner. Before he eats it, Roommate A decides to take a shower.

He meets Roommate B at the top of the stairs after his shower and learns Roommate B has just eaten the dinner Roommate A set-aside. Roommate A gets upset by this and decides to push Roommate B down the stairs, who dies from his injuries.

Sentence

Roommate A intentionally killed Roommate B, but it was spur of the moment and unplanned.

The sentence could be a minimum of life in prison without chance of parole for 10 years. However, the judge can change the parole date at his own discretion.

Voluntary Manslaughter

This type of homicide is usually called a “heat of passion” crime. The person killed, but only because they were reasonably provoked.

Roommate A has a girlfriend he loves very much. He invites her over to the house one evening and plans to meet her there after work.

When he gets home, Roommate A finds his girlfriend sleeping with Roommate B. Roommate A gets angry and starts a fight with Roommate B and ends up pushing him down the stairs.

Sentence

There is no minimum sentence for a manslaughter crime, but it could go anywhere from probation to life in prison.

Involuntary Manslaughter

This is an unintentional homicide brought about by criminal negligence.

Roommate A and Roommate B are having what starts out as a simple discussion at the top of the stairs. It soon turns into an argument.

When Roommate B shoves Roommate A, Roommate A shoves him back, accidentally causing him to fall down the stairs.

Sentence

Again, there is no minimum sentence.

The Differences in Murder vs Manslaughter

Though these two crimes may seem like the same thing at first, they are quite different from each other.

Knowing the differences in murder vs manslaughter can change the outcome of an entire homicide case.

Have you been charged with murder or manslaughter? Contact us and we will get you the legal help you need.

What’s the True Cost of a DWI Conviction in Houston, Texas?

DWI conviction

Blue and red lights are swirling in your rear-view mirror as you slow to a stop on the side of the road.

You’re in trouble. You had a few too many drinks at the bar and decided to drive home. Next thing you know, you’re in handcuffs being placed under arrest.

You know you’re guilty. You failed the breathalyzer test and see a possible DWI conviction in your future.

But what does that mean? Will you go to jail? Lose your driver’s license? Pay massive fines? How will this affect your future?

We’re here to answer those burning questions. Read on to learn more about what a DWI conviction will mean for you.

What Does a DWI Conviction Mean?

In Houston, Texas, the punishment for a DWI conviction will vary depending on the case.

You will see fines, suspension of license, and jail time increase drastically if this is your second or third conviction.

Fines

If this is your first offense, expect to pay a fine of up to $2,000 in fines.

For second or third offenses, you will be ordered to pay anywhere between $4,000-$10,000 in fines.

These costs are only the fines that are required for you to pay. This does not include the additional costs you will pay for court fines, increases in car insurance, and possible bail.

Suspension of License and Possible Jail Time

For first, second, and third-time offenders, your driver’s license will be suspended for up to two years. In addition, you will be required to pay up to $2,000 annually for three years once your license is reinstated.

Jail time is also likely and the length of incarceration is dependent on whether this is your first DWI conviction.

First-time offenders will be sentenced between 3 and 180 days to the county jail. Second-time offenders will be sentenced up to 1 year in the county jail. Third-time offenders will be sentenced anywhere from 2-10 years in the state prison.

DWI Education Program

In order to get your driver’s license reinstated, you will need to attend a DWI education program.

These programs are provided by the Texas Department of State Health Services and are required to be completed within 180 days of probation.

How to Avoid Conviction

Don’t hesitate to call an attorney to represent you in court. The monetary costs and valuable time you will spend for a DWI conviction may be avoidable.

The arresting officer may not have had probable cause to pull you over in the first place. Or maybe the officer didn’t follow proper protocol by notifying you of your rights.

These questions are worth asking because a DWI conviction will be on your criminal record forever. It will not only cost you time and income, but will affect your ability to get a job, apply for loans, or rent an apartment.

You will carry this DWI with you for your whole life–unless you fight the charge and win.

We’re here to help you do just that. Contact us now so we can assist in your case.

What is the Federal Court Process in Texas

court process

If you or someone you know has been charged in Texas with a federal crime, it’s crucial to understand how the federal court process works.

We’ve put together some information to help you understand what will happen and the best next steps for a federal defendant.

What is a Federal Crime?

Federal crimes can include immigration crime, drug trafficking, kidnapping, bank robbery, bank fraud, and weapons violations, as well as many other crimes.

Federal crimes are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but they may involve different government agencies, including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Postal Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF), and The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Texas Federal Crimes

The top federal crimes committed in Texas include immigration violations, drug trafficking, child pornography, bank robbery, white collar crimes, money laundering, tax evasion, and gun offenses (felons found carrying guns.)

Federal Court Process in Texas

Federal CrimeThe federal court system operates separately from the Texas state court system, and a defendant’s experience in federal court will be different than for someone charged with Texas state crime.

Federal courts apply U.S. federal law within a three-level system. There are district courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court.

In Texas, the federal courts are further divided by region: southern, northern, eastern and western.

While the state court process is relatively straightforward, going through the federal court process can be complicated and confusing. It is crucial that you have an attorney with federal experience to protect your rights.

If you are aware that you are being investigated for a federal crime, do not wait until you are indicted (charged) or arrested to contact a criminal defense attorney.

Steps in a Federal Case

If the government believes you may have committed a federal crime, they must take additional steps before they can indict you and bring you to trial.

Prosecutors must either prove to a judge there is probable cause you committed a crime, or they must show their evidence to a grand jury, which then decides whether to indict you.

Grand Jury

A federal grand jury meets in secret and hears evidence from the prosecution and witnesses such as law enforcement officers. But unlike a regular trial jury, a grand jury does not decide if you are guilty or innocent. They determine if there is probable cause you committed a federal crime.

Your attorney will not be present at a grand jury and cannot present evidence to counter allegations against you. You are allowed to testify before a grand jury. You are not required to do so.

Only the prosecutor questions you, but the members of the grand jury can give the prosecutor questions to ask you and other witnesses.

If the grand jury is convinced that probable cause exists, they can charge you, and an arrest warrant will be obtained.

Though grand juries are the preferred method, prosecutors can file a complaint and hold a preliminary hearing in front of a magistrate judge instead. This method might be used if you have waived the grand jury process and want to enter a plea bargain.

Arrest

When you are arrested, you will be informed by the government of the charges being filed against you. Then you will probably be kept in federal custody in Texas until your preliminary hearing.

Preliminary Hearing

court processIn federal court, your preliminary hearing must be held within ten days of your arrest. This is the first chance for you and your lawyer to challenge the evidence the government has against you and to learn what weaknesses there may be in the prosecution’s case.

Keep in mind that at this stage, all the government has to show is probable cause, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the prosecutor goes to a grand jury first and the jurors indict you, then a preliminary hearing is not necessary.

Arraignment

Your arraignment (sometimes called your initial appearance) will occur after you are arrested, whether this is before or after a grand jury indictment. Once you have been indicted for a federal crime, your arraignment must take place within ten days.

During your appearance, a magistrate judge will tell you about the charges against you and the conditions for your release, including whether there is an option for a bond. Having an attorney with you at this hearing will make it more likely you are released on bond.

The Bond Hearing

If you are being held on a federal charge, and you want to be released while your case is being decided, a hearing will be held to determine your bond status.

You usually need to be a legal U.S. citizen to get a bond. And if you have any outstanding warrants, you will probably not be released on bond.

Jury Trial

A federal criminal jury trial is very much like a jury trial in a state court.

The government proceeds with its evidence first. The prosecutor will call witnesses who testify and present evidence to the jury.

Just like in a state court, it is the government which bears the burden of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The federal rules of criminal procedure and federal rules of evidence apply to your trial. Your defense team can present evidence, but they are not obligated to do so.

Once evidence has concluded, the jury retires to deliberate on whether it believes you are not guilty or guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the jury finds you not guilty, the trial ends and you will be released. If the jury finds you guilty, the case will proceed to sentencing.

Federal Crime Sentences

If you are convicted of a federal crime in Texas, the judge will adhere to federal sentencing guidelines. These are rules federal judges must consider when sentencing you.

The range of your sentence will be determined by the seriousness of your offense and any previous criminal history you may have.

Unlike in a Texas state court, once a jury finds you guilty in federal court, you do not have the option to have the jury select your sentence. In federal court, the judge always does the sentencing.

Need Immediate Legal Advice?

If you or someone you know is being investigated for a federal crime or has already been charged with a crime, the advice of an attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of your case.

Don’t wait to get help going through the federal court process. Contact us today to talk to our experienced legal team!

5 Questions to Ask Your DWI Attorney

DWI attorney

Did you know that in 2017 the number of new DWI cases was more than twice the active cases for the same misdemeanor?

Since you are here, this probably means you have a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge. If this isn’t your first rodeo you might be asking yourself, do I hire the same DWI attorney from my last case? Or do I consult another lawyer?

So what should you know before and during the DWI case process? The key here is to stay informed and ask the right questions.

Don’t worry, we’re going to make it easy for you. Here are five questions you should ask your DWI attorney.

1. Is There a Charge for the Consultation?

When it comes to the first consultation it’s customary for attorneys to offer it for free. But, there are still some law offices that charge it depending on the case.

Also, you should ask what you can expect when it comes to the fees.

Ask questions like:

  • Do you bill per hour or for a flat rate?
  • What services are included in the rate?
  • What legal expenses can I expect? Ask for an estimate.

It’s enough that you have a DWI. You don’t need any MORE surprises!

2. What Can You Tell Me About Your Legal Experience?

First of all, you want to get to know the lawyer you are hiring.

DWI cases are complicated. You want to make sure you are getting the best option.

Some of the questions you should ask the attorney are:

  • Do you have experience defending DWI cases?
  • How many DWI cases have you defended?
  • What results have you been able to get in similar situations?

By asking these questions, you will make sure that this DWI Attorney can represent you.

3. Have You Appeared at the Court Where I’m Being Charged?

When you have a DWI, like in chess, you must make the best moves. When hiring an attorney, make sure to hire someone who has experience in the court where you are being charged.

The Rule of Thumb is that if the attorney has appeared there many times before, they will know the ropes of that courtroom.

4. What Options Do I Have in My Case?

So you made a mistake, and you have been charged with a DWI. Now you must be asking yourself, will I end up in jail? Will I have to pay a fine?

There are different penalties for drunk driving. It will all depend on your case. Is it your first, second, or third offense?

An attorney is the perfect resource to get an idea of what can happen before, during and after the case. Give them enough information so they can give you a clear possible outcome.

5. Will You Be My DWI Attorney?

When you go to your consultation, you might not meet the attorney who is going to be in charge of your case. So for you to be informed and comfortable when hiring your lawyer, ask them.

If they say they won’t be in charge of your case, ask to meet the lawyer who will be. If he or she isn’t available, ask for a consult with them.

You need to know what you are getting into. No more surprises!

When hiring your DWI Attorney, don’t forget the basics, be informed, and ask the right questions.

Don’t Forget to Contact Us

For more information about our services, contact us today.

If you or someone you know was charged with a DUI, check our post on 5 Questions to Ask Your DUI Lawyer.