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Plano criminal defense attorneyEven the most devoted parent may be shocked to discover their child is allegedly involved in criminal behavior. To make matters worse, parents are often accused of helping children break the law and offering them protection by allowing them to hide illegal substances or stolen goods in their home. 

If the police are investigating you because they suspect you knowingly helped your child, you need a criminal defense attorney - even if you are absolutely certain of your innocence. Police, investigators, and prosecutors are not your friends. They may act friendly, but they are not looking to protect your rights and do not have your best interests at heart. Instead, they are often looking to convict however they can - even if they do not entirely believe you are guilty. A Texas criminal defense attorney can guide you throughout a criminal investigation and, if necessary, give you the best criminal defense possible. 

What if My Child Hid Stolen Goods in Our House? 

Texas law makes it illegal to have property in your possession that you know is stolen - as illegal, in fact, as having stolen the property yourself. Depending on the value of the property, if you are found to have knowingly possessed stolen property, you could be facing anything from Class C misdemeanor charges to first degree felony charges. Expensive fines and years in jail could be at stake. 

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Tarrant County Sex Crimes Defense LawyerOriginally Published: January 31, 2022 --- Updated November 10, 2022

 

Teacher Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison

Earlier this year, we told you about a teacher from the Conroe Independent School District who was charged with indecency with a child for having an improper relationship with one of her students. According to local news outlets, law enforcement started an investigation following reports from the student’s family that he and the teacher were engaged in a sexual relationship. Family members said that the teacher and student had sex on multiple occasions and that the student even stayed overnight at the teacher’s home. The student’s family reportedly found out about the relationship after the student overdosed on prescription medication.

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Plano sex crimes defense attorneyMost people are aware that prostitution is the exchange of sexual acts or behavior for money. In Texas, even for consenting adults, prostitution is illegal. However, charges of prostitution do not automatically mean a conviction; with an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can fight the charges against you and hope for a better future. 

What Counts as Prostitution in Texas? 

Any sexual contact for money is considered prostitution; in fact, two people do not have to engage in sexual conduct or exchange money to be charged with a crime. They merely have to agree to have paid sexual conduct, making this a serious crime that could be charged simply by showing intent. Even making an offer could be enough to get you in trouble. 

This is intended to make it easier for police to go after people soliciting sex, although it also means innocent people can get caught up in charges. Having someone believed to be a sex worker in your car, taking money out of an ATM, or just offering to have sex for money could be charged under Texas law. Sting operations are common, and the police often engage in questionable practices as they try to catch those they believe may be trying to hire sex for money. 

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Plano federal criminal defense attorneyWhen criminals or criminal organizations are taking in large amounts of money because of their criminal activities and need to make that money look like it came from a legitimate source, they will often engage in a process known as “money laundering.” This is the process of taking “dirty” criminal money and “cleaning,” or laundering it, through sources that appear to be legal. Money laundering is a serious crime that is often prosecuted at the federal level. Banks, companies, and even international organizations are constantly renewing their efforts to catch and prevent money laundering, but criminals are nothing if not creative, and new ways to launder money are constantly being created. 

Sometimes, people get involved in money laundering schemes without realizing that was what they were doing - or at least, not to the full extent of the charges they may be facing. Whether you realized it or not, you may have been committing a serious crime, even if you were accidentally helping someone launder money, and you need help from a Texas criminal defense lawyer. 

Money Laundering Mules

Someone who moves criminally obtained money for someone else is known as a “mule.” When mules are used to launder money, the mule may not necessarily know they are engaged in money laundering - although there are usually some red flags that all is not well. If someone paid you a commission to help them deposit money in your personal account or small business, you may have been serving as a money laundering mule and you can still be prosecuted for your actions. 

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Plano criminal trespass defense attorneyMany people are familiar with the term “breaking and entering,” but may not know exactly what it means. It is often loosely used on television shows and in crime novels to describe property crimes, but without specifically providing a definition for the particular crime. In Texas, breaking and entering is not actually the technical term for the crime of wrongly entering someone’s property and stealing something; instead, Texas uses the terms “burglary” and “criminal trespass.” However, in Texas, you may also hear people use the term “breaking and entering” and you can generally understand it to mean the same thing as burglary and criminal trespass

Understanding Burglary and Criminal Trespass

Burglary and criminal trespass are crimes of entering a home, building, or vehicle without the permission of the owner with the intent to commit a crime such as theft or assault. Specifically, criminal trespass is entering or remaining on property without the consent of the owner, while burglary is going onto that property with the intent to commit a crime. 

However, someone who does not successfully commit a theft or assault while trespassing on private property may still be convicted of burglary. Indeed, someone who even reaches their hand into a window and gropes about for something to take can be convicted of both criminal trespass and burglary, even if they did not actually grab and take anything. 

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Collin County sex crimes defense lawyerWhile everyone agrees that children who are being sexually abused deserve to be protected and their allegations taken seriously, finding out that someone is accusing your child of sexual abuse can be a completely different situation. Whether your child is an adult or a minor, you may feel panicked and naturally want to do everything you can to protect them from the allegations being made against them. 

Allegations of sexual misconduct are becoming increasingly common, and while this has enabled many true victims to come forward and seek justice, there has also been an increase in false sexual assault allegations. Even if an investigation shows the accused is not guilty, simple accusations can ruin a young person’s life. Here are some steps to take if your child is being accused of sexually abusing another child in Texas. 

Take the Allegations Seriously

As with any accusation of sexual assault, you need to take the allegations against your child seriously, even if they seem impossible or obviously fake. With the help of a lawyer, find out as many details as you can about the allegations, including where and when they happened, to whom they happened, and whether there are any witnesses who can offer corroborating evidence in support of the victim or your child. 

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Plano sex crimes against children attorneyThe state of Texas takes crimes against children very seriously, especially those that are sexual in nature. Even the accusation of being accused of a sex crime against a child can have severe repercussions on someone’s professional and personal life. If you are facing accusations or charges for sex crimes against children, it is important to understand the charges against you, as well as their potential consequences. In this blog, we discuss indecency with a child; read on to learn more about this charge, and then contact a criminal defense attorney with specific experience in sex crimes defense

What Is Indecency With a Child? 

Indecency with a child occurs when someone engages in any of the following behaviors with a child under age 17:

  • Engages in sexual contact
  • Causes the child to engage in sexual contact
  • Exposes their genitals knowing a child is present
  • Causes a child to expose their genitals

Sometimes indecency with a child requires proving intent; for example, someone who is urinating in an alleyway may inadvertently expose their genitals to a child without the intent to arouse or gratify their own or someone else’s sexual desire, which is an essential part of certain indecency with a child charges. Proving lack of intent may be an important part of a criminal defense. Another possible defense could be showing that the age difference between the victim and the accused is less than three years and that the accused did not use force or duress against the victim. 

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Plano criminal defense lawyerCertain cases of high-profile sexual assault allegations in recent years have brought the issue of sexual assault into the public sphere again and again. While some of the men accused of sexual assault were clearly guilty and convicted of at least some of the allegations against them, others faced long, humiliating public harassment over allegations of incidents that occurred many years or even decades ago for which evidence was scant or non-existent. 

The idea that someone - usually a woman - would make false allegations of sexual assault is often brushed off as laughable or even offensive. One particular study is frequently cited as “proving” that sexual assault allegations are only false an estimated 2-10 percent of the time. Yet the study only examined 136 cases and fails to acknowledge one of the most obvious facts about false sexual assault allegations: They are easy to make, hard to disprove, and rarely result in any meaningful cost to the person making them. If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault, an experienced, assertive Texas sexual assault defense attorney can help you fight these allegations, even before they are brought to court. 

What to Do Now If You Are Facing Allegations of Sexual Assault

First, it is important to take an accusation seriously - even if you find it absurd and assume others will, too. Many people, especially young men at promising points in their lives, have had their careers and personal lives completely derailed by false allegations. 

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Texas intoxication manslaughter defense attorneyWhile we may not be inclined to admit it, most of us have gotten into a car and driven ourselves home after having too much to drink. Most of the time, taking such a foolish risk results in little or no consequence; other times, however, making the mistake of drinking and driving can change lives forever. If you are facing charges for getting into a car accident while drunk and accidentally killing someone, you need to know the penalties you may be facing. 

Intoxication Manslaughter

Under Texas law, the term for causing a fatal car, truck, or other vehicle accident while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is “intoxication manslaughter.” Manslaughter is a legal term that recognizes that, as opposed to murder, in which the act was premeditated, the crime of killing someone can happen without malice or forethought. Instead, manslaughter charges are brought when someone’s actions amount to an extreme, reckless disregard for life in the form of criminal negligence. 

What Are the Consequences of Intoxication Manslaughter? 

As with most serious crimes, the exact penalties for a particular person will depend somewhat on their past criminal history and the circumstances of the case. However, intoxication manslaughter cases are often very severe and are at least second-degree felonies. This carries punishments that include: 

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Texas federal criminal defense attorneyImagine a fairly common scenario: A group of college buddies from Texas goes on a road trip to California, where marijuana is legal. Visiting several dispensaries, the group stocks up on flower, vape pens, and dabs, and then gets ready to head back home. The group figures they might share some of the product with friends, sell a little of it, or maybe keep it all for themselves. No big deal, right? 

But when the group is driving back through Texas, they get pulled over by a highway patrol officer for driving nine miles over the speed limit. The officer claims he smells marijuana on the group, orders them out of their car, and then searches the car. He finds the friends’ stash, arrests them all, and suddenly an entire group of friends without a criminal history is facing federal drug charges

Federal Drug Charge Penalties

While there is increasing talk about making marijuana legal on the federal level, it has not been done and in many states, including Texas, recreational marijuana is still against the law. Furthermore, moving restricted drugs of any kind over state lines is a serious crime that can trigger a federal prosecution. 

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Collin County criminal defense attorneyOpioid abuse is a major problem in Texas. About 5,000 people are known to have died of an overdose in Texas in 2021 alone, and officials fear that number underestimates the true number of opioid deaths because postmortem toxicology tests can be expensive. Nearly 10,000 people visited emergency rooms for opioid-related problems in previous years and Texas’s program to provide medicine that can save someone from an overdose ran out of funding in January. 

Federal law allows a drug dealer who sells opioids to someone who later dies of an overdose to be held responsible for that person’s death, but Texas state laws are not yet in line with other states that have implemented harsh drug homicide laws that match federal penalties. For now, despite charges for drug-related homicide being somewhat difficult to prove, prosecutors are still eager to punish alleged drug dealers to the fullest extent of the law. Defending against these charges requires the help of an experienced drug crimes defense attorney. 

Issues of Evidence

The main problem standing the way of an effective prosecution for a conviction of drug-induced homicide is that it is often very difficult for prosecutors to collect evidence linking the dealer to the victim. When the main witness is dead, how can officials prove that a specific person provided the drugs that caused the overdose? Extensive investigations are necessary, including search warrants and a lot of time spent combing through text messages, voicemails, and more. 

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Texas homicide defense lawyerYou may have heard horror stories in the news - friends being careless while driving, tragic accidents between family members out hunting, or a night of partying gone wrong - but never thought such a thing would happen to you. Yet accidental killings do sometimes happen, and when they do, they change lives forever. While the victim’s family and friends suffer the greatest loss, the person responsible for an accidental death will also have to deal with terrible consequences, whether or not criminal charges are filed. When criminal charges are filed, an excellent criminal defense attorney is essential for preventing even more suffering. 

Criminal Charges for Accidental Killings in Texas

Killing someone in Texas can be prosecuted as murder, capital murder, involuntary manslaughter or voluntary manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide. Involuntary manslaughter charges can be brought after an act of recklessness that kills someone, but which was not committed with the intent to cause serious harm or death. Driving drunk and crashing and killing someone is a classic example of involuntary manslaughter. But what about when a death is truly an accident? In these cases, charges of criminally negligent homicide may still be brought. 

Consequences for Criminally Negligent Homicide

To successfully prove someone is guilty of criminally negligent homicide, the prosecution must show that the person knew, or should have known, that the action they took was risky and could have caused someone else to die. Even if the defendant claims they did not know the action was risky, they may still be found guilty if a reasonable person would not have committed it in the same circumstances. 

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Collin County sex crimes defense attorneyMost people know that using the internet to look for sex with minors in Texas is a crime. Likewise, many people know that police conduct “sting” operations to find people looking to engage in criminal behavior. But sometimes, police conduct crosses a line and people get caught in sting operations and charged with crimes of which they are innocent. 

If you were caught in an internet sting operation, you may feel shame and fear and wonder what will happen to you. With a great criminal defense attorney, you can fight these unfair charges and have hope for a better future. 

What Counts as Online Solicitation of a Minor? 

When someone 17 years of age or older tries to use any form of electronic communication to get a minor to engage in sexual activity, including just sexual conversation, this is considered online solicitation of a minor whether the sexual activity occurs online or in person. Sending explicit photos and “sexting” with explicit language - two very common activities among young adults - are included in this crime. 

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Plano sex crimes defense attorneyThere is no accounting for taste, as the old saying goes, and nowhere is this more true than when it comes to sexual preferences. Yet there is growing concern that some people - men in particular - are successfully using their personal taste as an illegitimate defense in horrific murder crimes. When violent sex results in inadvertent injury or death, is the perpetrator truly culpable of assault or murder? And do people who enjoy BDSM need to be worried about potentially facing criminal penalties in a Texas court? 

Is BDSM Legal in Texas? 

Bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, and sadism, or BDSM, is a broad term that is used to describe sexual behaviors that are often considered deviant in nature. While some types of BDSM are objectively harmless, others can be violent, humiliating, and sometimes dangerous. 

When it comes to potential criminal prosecutions for sexual behavior, things can get complicated. Most criminal acts are considered criminal not only because of the act itself but because of the intent behind the act. For example, slapping someone in the face at a bar without their consent and with the intent to provoke or offend could be a Class A misdemeanor. Yet the same act, done in the consensual context of BDSM, is almost certainly legal. What determines whether sexual acts are criminal ultimately comes down to whether the acts were consensual, whether someone was, or could have been, seriously injured, and what the intent of alleged perpetrator was. 

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Texas criminal defense attorneyTexas law considers the welfare of children, disabled persons, and the elderly of the utmost importance. The inability of these protected groups to speak out for their wellbeing or to take action against predatory adults makes it all the more important for the law to protect their best interests at all times. Because of the internet’s saturation with child pornography and the difficulty of catching those responsible for creating and distributing indecent images, Texas has created laws that crack down all the harder on people who sexually exploit children

But while there are many types of child exploitation, Texas law means something very specific when it comes to charges of sexual exploitation of a child. If you are facing charges for this serious crime, it is important to understand what it is and what the consequences are. 

What is Child Sexual Exploitation in Texas? 

When someone knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly exploits a child (or an elderly or disabled person), they have broken Texas Penal Code section 32.53. Exploitation is defined as the improper or illegal use of a child for personal benefit, including financial benefit. This includes forcing a child to do anything against the law, including sexual acts, illegal labor, child sex trafficking, production of child pornography, and even using a child to transport drugs or weapons. This law dovetails with several other laws prohibiting inappropriate sexual behavior with children and someone charged with child sex crimes can be prosecuted under all relevant sections of the law. 

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Collin County criminal defense attorneyAccusations of child endangerment are easy to make and difficult to defend against. After all, in some cases whether a child is being endangered is somewhat subjective; discipline that one person finds reasonable may be seen as abusive to another. Texas law has specific definitions of what kind of behavior constitutes legal child endangerment or abuse, but it can be a long, uphill battle for a parent, neighbor, or teacher to clear themselves of charges.

If you have been accused or charged with a crime against a child, you may feel as though explaining your situation and trying to defend yourself is a reasonable approach. But the police, Child Protective Services, and prosecutors often have an agenda and are not so eager to see potential child abusers as innocent. Instead, learn as much as you can about how these accusations could impact you, and then contact a Texas criminal defense attorney with experience conducting a rigorous defense against child endangerment charges. 

What is Considered Child Endangerment in Texas? 

Any time a person exposes a child under 15 years old to a situation that could cause the child harm, the act may be considered child endangerment. Clearly, this is somewhat subject to interpretation; for example, it is illegal to leave a child without reasonable care. But while a parent may consider their child to be responsible enough to be safely left at home, a jury may see that as child endangerment. 

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Plano sex crimes defense attorneyWhile most of us think of the term “sex offender” and think of serious sex offenses like rape, child sexual assault, or prostitution, the truth is that even crimes like indecent exposure, which are typically only a Class B misdemeanor, can result in the requirement to register as a sex offender as well. Once someone’s name is caught up in the Texas sex offender list, it is very hard to get it removed and the consequences associated with being a sex offender are devastating. 

Fortunately, it may be possible for some people to deregister as a sex offender. Different sex crimes have different lengths of sex offender registration, but if you meet certain requirements, you may be able to get your name taken off the list. Talk to a Texas criminal defense attorney to learn more about your options. 

How Can I Get My Name Taken Off the Texas Sex Offenders List? 

Only people convicted of certain offenses may be removed from the sex offender list. The offense must have been a first-time, non-aggravated defense, meaning that those convicted of sex crimes against a child under 14, using drugs to incapacitate a victim, causing bodily harm to the victim, etc. may not apply for deregistration. There is a list that shows whether a particular crime is eligible for deregistration. An applicant must also have completed treatment and have spent least ten years on the sex offender list.

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Plano sex crimes defense attorneyMany Texas churches have come under close scrutiny for their handling of cases involving child sexual abuse by clergy members. The clergy members were often powerful, well-protected men in their communities and even in the world at large, making successful prosecution difficult for many years. Now, however, victims of child sexual abuse are finally getting their day in court and thousands of esteemed clergy members from worldwide religions are being sent to prison for their crimes. 

In the midst of rightfully-placed compassion for bona fide victims of abuse, many clergy members who are innocent have also been caught up in accusations of child sexual abuse that they did not commit. And, whether an individual is guilty or not, he or she is always entitled to a vigorous defense against the charges they face. That is where a Texas child sex abuse defense attorney comes in. If you are a clergy member who has been accused of sexual abuse, get a criminal defense attorney right away. 

What is the Statute of Limitations for Child Sexual Abuse Charges in Texas? 

In 2019, Texas changed its statute of limitations such that victims of sexual abuse had twice as much time to bring a civil lawsuit against their abuser. Now, someone can bring a case 30 years after their 18th birthday. This lengthening of the statute of limitations also applies to institutions, such as schools, nonprofit organizations, or religious institutions that protected or enabled an abuser to commit the sexual assault. 

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Texas federal criminal defense lawyerA well-known star of a reality TV series recently received a sentence of 12 years in federal prison for receiving and attempting to receive child pornography, and trying to solicit minors to engage in sexual contact with him. The 22-year-old man is accused of using his fame as a prominent cheerleader and media star to solicit the minors, who lived in Florida, Illinois, and Texas. Although he initially pleaded not guilty, he later did plead guilty to two of the charges.

Convictions for child pornography and soliciting a minor carry serious consequences under Texas and federal law. This case illustrates perfectly how prosecutors are eager to pursue sex offenders and punish them to the fullest extent of the law, using victims’ testimonies to bolster their case and minimize public sympathy for perpetrators who are very often victims of sexual abuse themselves. If you are facing charges of this nature, get help right away from a Texas criminal defense attorney who will aggressively defend you. 

Federal Child Pornography Charges

When a defendant’s actions involve sending or receiving material over state lines, even if that material is over the internet and is deleted or destroyed after receipt, the federal authorities may get involved. Someone convicted of knowingly possessing child pornography can face up to 10 years in federal prison and up to 20 years if the child is under age 12. Someone distributing pornography faces even higher prison sentences. All penalties can be increased if the defendant has a prior criminal history. 

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Texas criminal defense attorneyTexas law defines manslaughter as an offense that occurs when one person recklessly causes the death of another person. In contrast to homicide, in which a killing is deliberate or even premeditated, manslaughter is more akin to an accident—albeit a very serious accident in which the guilty party should have known better. Add a car or other vehicle to the situation, and you have vehicular manslaughter—although in Texas, vehicular manslaughter is just called “manslaughter.” 

The consequences of a conviction for manslaughter are serious. If you have been charged with manslaughter, it is important to learn more about the topic and then get the help of an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney. 

What Is an Example of Vehicular Manslaughter? 

Any action in which one person’s recklessness behind the wheel of a vehicle kills another person could be vehicular manslaughter, giving authorities wide leeway when bringing vehicular manslaughter charges. Examples of behaviors that may allow for vehicular manslaughter changes include: 

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