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Plano Criminal Defense LawyerA major Dallas Police Department data deletion could have a significant impact on many of the department’s criminal cases currently pending. According to information released to the public, the deleted data includes case files, evidence, case notes, videos, and audio recordings. To compound the issue, the Dallas County District Attorney's office did not learn about the issue until months after it occurred.

How Was All the Data Lost?

According to information finally provided to Dallas city officials, an IT worker who was employed by the city accidentally deleted approximately eight terabytes of police data. Officials originally found out about the deletion through media reports or from the District Attorney, who had only recently learned of what had happened. The data deletion occurred in March, but the District Attorney’s Office did not learn of the incident until August when they questioned the police department about why there were missing files in pending cases.

Once city officials were informed of the issue, they had their own internal audit done. That audit identified an additional 15 terabytes of missing files, with the potential of discovering even more as the internal investigation continues.

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Fort Worth Weapon Charges Defense AttorneyThis month, permitless carry became legal in the state of Texas. Although this means that anyone who legally owns a gun is now allowed to carry it in public without a license, there are still some stipulations to the law that citizens should be aware of in order to avoid any issues with law enforcement and possible criminal charges.

Recent Gun Law History in Texas

In 1995, then-Governor George W. Bush signed the Texas concealed carry law. This law gave Texans the right to carry a licensed gun in public. Almost 20 years later, lawmakers passed the Texas Motorist Protection Act which made it legal for people who do not have a handgun license to keep a weapon in their vehicle. Several years later, laws were passed that allowed open carry and the allowance of guns on state university campuses.

Even with all of those laws passed, Texans were still required to have a handgun license in order to take their guns outside of their homes or their vehicles. However, this new law changes that. For the first time since the United States Reconstruction Era, Texans who legally own a gun can now carry it in public for the first time without a carry license.

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Collin County Criminal Defense AttorneyAccording to data from the Texas Department of Transportation (DOT), pedestrian fatalities account for one in five traffic accident deaths in the state. More than 600 pedestrians are killed each year and at least 1,300 victims are left seriously injured. Unless the driver who struck the pedestrian was committing a crime, such as driving under the influence, the most serious consequence the driver could face was a traffic citation. But a new law that went into effect September 1 changes all that – drivers who hit a pedestrian can now face criminal charges.

The Lisa Torry Smith Act

Under the new law, a driver who hits and injures a pedestrian who is legally using a crosswalk can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. If the victim suffers serious injuries, the charges can be upgraded to a state jail felony. In addition to pedestrians, the law also applies to victims using bikes, electronic personal assistive mobility devices, golf carts, motor-assisted scooters, and wheelchairs.

The law was named after Lisa Torry Smith, a Missouri City woman who was killed in 2017 while she was walking her six-year-old son to school. The two were struck as they were walking in a crosswalk. Her son suffered a shattered pelvis and broken femur from the impact of the vehicle.

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Tarrant County Criminal Defense AttorneyIn Texas, if you are arrested for a crime, there are three possible things that could happen while you are awaiting trial, depending on the severity of the crime you are accused of. The judge could order you to stay in jail until your trial, he or she could release you on your own recognizance with the stipulation that you agree you will appear for your trial, or the judge could require the posting of bail so you can be released pending trial. 

In the majority of criminal cases, a defendant is either released on their own recognizance or allowed to post bail so they can be released. However, a new bill in the Texas legislature could make it more difficult for many defendants to post that bail, leaving them to sit in jail until their trial. 

Current Bail System in Texas

The more serious the crime, the higher the bail amount usually is.  That full amount of bail needs to be posted in cash. The amount is often too high for most people to be able to access that amount of cash on their own. In these cases, the defendant can go to a bail bondsmen or bail agency. 

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Tarrant County DUI Defense AttorneyUnder Texas law, if a driver has a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 percent or higher, they are considered legally intoxicated. In order to measure that concentration, police will usually take a breathalyzer test at the scene and may request or obtain a warrant for the driver to submit to a blood test for a more accurate reading. It was recently announced, however, that a medical supply company’s recall of test tubes used in the blood tests may put the results of hundreds of DWI blood tests in Texas in jeopardy.

Recalled Test Tubes

In 2019, the manufacturer issued a recall notice for a total of 247,000 test tubes because there was a concern that some of the tubes in that lot were missing preservative powder. The preservative powder is a critical component in the testing process because it is supposed to keep the blood alcohol level from changing before the blood in the tube is finally tested in a lab. In the notice, the company stated that blood alcohol levels could be “either falsely low or falsely high” if the preservative is missing.

At the time of the recall, the company urged any agency using the tubes to immediately review the inventory they had and return the tubes subject to the recall.

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Fort Worth Sexual Offense AttorneyThe U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced the indictment of a Denton, TX man on federal sex offender registry violations. According to the indictment, in 2011, the man was convicted of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse in Iowa. The conviction also required he register as a sex offender. In early 2020, the man moved to Texas and registered as a sex offender as required, however, he moved back to Iowa a short time later and deregistered in Texas. In October, he moved back to Texas and failed to register again in Texas as required.

The man has pleaded not guilty to the crime and is currently being held until trial. Failing to register can be charged as both a federal or state crime and carry the potential of lengthy prison time and hefty fines.

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Tarrant County Sexual Offense AttorneyAccording to statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the state of Texas has the second-highest rate of human trafficking in the country. Texas lawmakers have just passed a new bill that takes aim at human trafficking, making it a state felony offense for buying sex instead of a misdemeanor offense under the current law. Texas is the first state in the nation to elevate these charges.  

The New Law: HB 1540

According to a report prepared by the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project of Texas, there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking just in the state of Texas. Almost 80,000 of those victims are minors. The report found that sex trafficking of minors reaps approximately $600 million for traffickers, while the consequences of trafficking minors cost the state of Texas about $6.6 billion each year.

Historically, state criminal justice systems – including Texas – have treated prostitutes as criminals, often harsher than the traffickers or buyers. Studies show that many prostitutes are actually victims of human trafficking who have been forced into the sex trade. Instead of criminal charges, convictions, and jail, advocates argue that these victims should be given protection, mental health treatment, and assistance in finding jobs, education, and housing.

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plano defense lawyerAny time a person is charged with physical or sexual abuse of a child, the consequences can be severe. However, if the alleged offender is subject to a protective order at the time, they may face an additional layer of criminal penalties. If you are the subject of a protective order, or if you have been charged with violating a protective order, a criminal defense attorney can help you understand what is at stake and advise you on how to proceed.

Types of Protective Orders

Texas courts may issue protective orders in response to a variety of situations in which a person has allegedly been a victim of abuse. One common reason for a protective order is an act of family violence, which may include child abuse and other acts that cause or threaten physical harm or sexual assault toward a member of one’s household. Protective orders may also be issued in response to various forms of abuse toward someone outside of one’s household, including sexual abuse or indecency with a child, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking.

Violations of Protective Orders

A protective order prohibits the named person from engaging in further acts of violence or abuse against the protected persons while the order is in effect. If a protective order has been issued against you in response to a prior act, committing another similar act can not only result in new criminal charges for the act in question, it can also result in criminal charges for violating the terms of the order.

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Fort Worth Criminal Defense AttorneyA person who is accused of committing crimes against children will often struggle to defend against these types of criminal charges. In addition to facing prosecution by law enforcement officials, a person’s reputation and standing in the community may be damaged. In these situations, a person will need to understand the nature of the specific charges they have been accused of. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between charges such as injury to a child and child endangerment, but with the help of a criminal defense lawyer, a person can determine how these charges may apply in their situation while also creating an effective defense strategy.

Charges Involving Child Injuries and Risky Situations

The offense of injury to a child may apply in situations where a person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused a child who was 14 years old or younger to suffer a bodily injury or a serious mental deficiency or impairment. If a person intentionally or knowingly caused a child to suffer a serious bodily injury that put them at risk of death, permanent disfigurement, loss of a limb or organ, or a serious mental impairment, they may be charged with a first-degree felony. If a person caused a serious bodily injury or a serious mental impairment by acting recklessly, meaning that they were aware of a substantial risk of injury but disregarded these risks, they may be charged with a second-degree felony.

In cases involving less serious bodily injuries to children, which may include any form of physical pain, illness, or impairment, a person may be charged with a third-degree felony if an injury was inflicted intentionally or knowingly. If an injury was inflicted recklessly, a person may be charged with a state jail felony. If a person causes any type of injury to a child because of criminal negligence, they may be charged with a state jail felony. Criminal negligence involves a failure to perceive a substantial risk that an ordinary and reasonable person would have been aware of.

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Collin County defense lawyerIn the 21st century, most people use computers, electronic devices, and the internet on a daily basis for multiple types of personal and professional purposes. There are many ways someone’s personal or financial information may be exposed to others online, and the illegal access or misuse of this information could potentially lead to fraud charges. There are multiple offenses that are considered internet crimes, and those who have been accused of this type of activity will need to understand when an offense could lead to federal criminal charges, which may result in more serious penalties.

Federal Computer Fraud Offenses

Fraud may be charged as a state-level offense based on the laws in the state where the alleged offender or the person who was the alleged victim of fraud lived. However, federal charges for computer or internet crimes may apply if a person is accused of violating federal laws or if an alleged offense affected people in multiple states or countries or involved interstate or international commerce. Some cybercrimes that could potentially lead to federal fraud charges include:

  • Illegal access - “Hacking” into a computer system by obtaining access without authorization could result in fraud charges based on how the information that was accessed is used. For example, a person may face federal charges if they are accused of breaking into a company’s records and selling information about its customers to others.

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tarrant county criminal defense lawyerThere are many different types of situations where a person may be charged with crimes against children, and these cases can not only lead to serious criminal penalties, but they can also affect a parent’s custody of their children. Kidnapping is one offense that is not always fully understood by the general public. Rather than “stranger danger” situations in which a person snatches a child off the street, many of these cases involve a child’s parent or another relative holding or transporting a child without authorization. People who are involved in these types of situations will want to understand how the laws define kidnapping and unlawful restraint of children and the potential penalties they could face for these offenses.

Kidnapping and Unlawful Restraint in Texas

The offense of kidnapping involves the intentional abduction of a person in which they are kept or hidden in a place where they are unlikely to be found by others or when the offender uses or threatens to use deadly force. This offense is a third-degree felony. A person who is convicted kidnapping may be imprisoned for 2 to 10 years and fined up to $10,000. However, a person who is accused of kidnapping a child may defend against these charges by demonstrating that they did not intend to use deadly force, that they are a relative of the child who was allegedly abducted (such as a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or sibling, including those who are related to a child through marriage or adoption), and that their actions were meant to allow them to maintain “lawful control” of the child.

In cases where a person’s actions did not meet the requirements for a kidnapping charge, they may be charged with unlawful restraint if they restricted another person’s movements without that person’s consent. These charges may apply in situations involving taking a child by force or through intimidation or deception, restraining a child under 14 years old without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian, or taking a child between the ages of 14 and 17 outside the state of Texas without a parent or guardian’s consent. 

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fort worth criminal defense lawyerThe state of Texas is known as one of the most gun-friendly parts of the United States. The state’s lawmakers have emphatically stated their support for citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Even though many people have called for increased gun control to prevent firearm deaths, including those in mass shootings such as the incidents that took place in El Paso and Midland in 2019, Texas has taken steps to allow more people to own and carry firearms. While the passage of a new law has lifted some restrictions, Texans should be sure to understand their rights so they can avoid potential weapons charges.

“Constitutional Carry” of Firearms

On June 16, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new bill into law that will allow people in the state to purchase and own handguns without the need to obtain a license, and these weapons may be carried without the requirement to obtain a permit. This law eliminates the previous requirements that applied to gun owners, including submitting fingerprints, completing four to six hours of training, passing a written test, and demonstrating proficiency with shooting firearms. The new law goes into effect on September 1, 2021.

With this law, Texas has implemented a system known as “constitutional carry,” which gives most people over the age of 21 (or members of the military over the age of 18) the right to own and carry firearms. However, those prohibited by law from owning or carrying a firearm, such as people convicted of certain types of crimes, will continue to face these restrictions. In addition, people are prohibited from carrying handguns in certain locations, including courthouses, amusement parks, bars, airports, racetracks, sporting events, correctional facilities, and polling places.

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texas criminal defense lawerOriginally published: May 4, 2017 -- Updated: June 18, 2021

UPDATE: Over the past several years, more attention has been paid to police raids, especially in cases involving “no-knock” warrants that allow police officers to enter a home without providing a warning to the people inside. The case of Breonna Taylor, a woman in Louisville, Kentucky who was shot and killed by police officers during this type of raid, has led many to call for a ban on these types of warrants. Activists have noted many other similar incidents in which both suspects and police officers have been injured or killed during no-knock raids.

The Texas legislature is currently considering a law that would place some restrictions on no-knock warrants. “Breonna’s Law,” which was recently introduced in the Texas House of Representatives, would limit no-knock warrants to cases involving violent offenders and situations where warning a building’s inhabitants before entering would either endanger someone’s life or lead to the destruction of evidence. It would also require police officers to wear recognizable uniforms, clearly identify themselves, and use body cameras, and the hours when no-knock raids can be conducted would be limited to between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.

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texas criminal defense lawyerThe laws surrounding marijuana in the United States have been in flux over the past decade. Multiple states have made marijuana legal for both medical and recreational use. Others have decriminalized possession of small amounts of the drug, meaning that people will usually face civil infractions rather than criminal penalties. However, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance by the federal government, and there are some situations where a person may be charged with federal crimes if they are accused of possessing, distributing, selling, or transporting this drug.

Federal Charges Related to Marijuana

Technically, possession of marijuana is a federal offense. “Simple” possession involves a person knowingly and intentionally carrying a drug on their person, transporting it in their vehicle, or storing it in their place of residence unless they have a valid prescription for the substance from a medical provider. A conviction for simple possession can result in a sentence of up to one year in a federal prison, as well as a minimum fine of $1,000.

However, most of the time, federal officials do not prosecute cases involving simple possession of marijuana. Federal authorities are more focused on large-scale drug trafficking, especially in situations where marijuana is transported and distributed in multiple states or smuggled into the U.S. from another country. These cases typically involve large amounts of marijuana, as well as a conspiracy by multiple people to manufacture, package, transport, and sell the drug to others.

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plano criminal defense lawyerEven though is it commonly known as the “world’s oldest profession,” prostitution is a crime in most of the United States, including the state of Texas. Those who sell sex for money and those who pay others for sexual intercourse or other sexual activities can face criminal charges. While prostitution and solicitation are usually charged as misdemeanors, charges related to prostitution become much more serious if minors are involved. As with other types of crimes against children, prosecutors are likely to “throw the book” at those who have allegedly forced or encouraged minors to engage in prostitution. Defendants who have been charged with these types of crimes will need to secure representation from an attorney who can help them understand how the laws apply to their case and how they can build an effective defense strategy.

Criminal Charges Related to Child Prostitution

Those who engage in prostitution by offering or agreeing to receive payment in exchange for engaging in sexual conduct may be charged with a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense. Those who solicit prostitution by offering or agreeing to pay someone else to engage in sexual conduct may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. However, if a prostitute is under the age of 18, this charge may be increased to a second degree felony, even if the person did not know the prostitute’s actual age at the time of the offense. A conviction for a second degree felony can result in a jail sentence of 2 to 20 years, and all felony charges have a maximum fine of $10,000.

Other offenses that can be charged for those who conduct activities related to child prostitution include:

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Fort Worth federal money laundering charges attorneySome types of criminal charges involve offenses committed directly by one person against someone else, such as assault or robbery. Other offenses are considered to be “white collar crimes,” and they often involve fraud or financial manipulation. Money laundering is one such offense, and it involves the attempt to conceal the source of money that was earned or obtained illegally.

While money laundering may be charged as a state-level offense, it will often be prosecuted as a federal crime. Those who may potentially face these types of charges will want to understand when prosecutors may pursue federal charges and the potential penalties that may apply if they are convicted.

Federal Charges for Money Laundering

A person may be charged with money laundering at the federal level if they conduct or attempt to conduct a transaction involving money or property that they know was obtained illegally. Money laundering charges may also apply if a person transferred or transported funds or monetary instruments between the United States and another country with the purpose of promoting or carrying out certain types of crimes. 

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Denton County child pornography defense lawyerCriminal offenses related to child pornography are treated very seriously by law enforcement officials. In many cases, prosecutors will pursue the most serious charges possible, and in the name of protecting children, they may seek the maximum prison sentences, or they may even ask for additional prison time or other consequences based on the seriousness of the crime. Anyone who has been accused of creating, distributing, or possessing child pornography will need a strong criminal defense attorney on their side to protect their rights and help them defend against criminal charges that could affect their freedom, as well as attacks in the court of public opinion that could affect their reputation.

State and Federal Child Pornography Charges

If a person faces child pornography charges at the state level, the penalties will depend on the specific nature of the crimes and whether a person has previously been convicted. In Texas, possession of child pornography or accessing sexually explicit images or videos of children with the intent to view them on a device such as a computer or cell phone is a third-degree felony for a first offense, and a person may be sentenced to two to 10 years in prison. Distributing child pornography, including publishing, selling, transmitting, or advertising sexually explicit content depicting children, is a second-degree felony for a first offense, and a person may be sentenced to two to 20 years in prison. Creating child pornography through the sexual performance of a child is a second-degree felony, but if the child was under the age of 14, it is a first-degree felony in which a person may be sentenced to five to 99 years in prison.

In many cases, child pornography offenses will result in federal charges. Possession of child pornography will often involve material that was transported or transmitted across state lines, resulting in prosecution in federal courts. Possessing or distributing child pornography can result in a sentence of between five and 20 years, although longer sentences may apply if child pornography depicted children under the age of 12 or if a person had been previously convicted under federal or state laws of an offense involving sexual abuse or exploitation of children. Creation of child pornography may result in charges of sexual exploitation of children, which can result in a prison sentence of 15 to 30 years.

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Plano, TX drug trafficking defense lawyer for state or federal chargesCriminal offenses involving controlled substances are taken very seriously by law enforcement officials and prosecutors. Different types of drug crimes may be charged depending on the types and amounts of drugs in a particular case, and the most serious offenses often involve drug trafficking. Those who have been arrested for drug-related offenses will want to understand when they may face these types of serious charges. By working with an experienced criminal defense attorney, they can determine their best options for defending against these charges.

Drug Trafficking Charges

A person may be charged with drug trafficking if they are accused of the following types of offenses:

  • Drug manufacturing or delivery - The act of transferring controlled substances to someone else is referred to as “drug delivery,” and it may include selling drugs or offering them for sale. Drug trafficking charges may also apply if a person was involved in producing, preparing, processing, or packaging controlled substances.

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Denton County vehicular manslaughter defense lawyerTypically, a person may be charged with a violent crime if they intentionally caused bodily injury or harm to someone else. These cases often involve accusations of assault and battery, robbery, or domestic violence. The most serious types of violent crime charges involve homicide, in which a person is accused of intentionally killing someone else. However, a person may also face criminal charges of manslaughter if they killed someone accidentally or because of recklessness or negligence. This includes situations in which a person was involved in a car accident that led to someone’s death. Those who have been accused of vehicular manslaughter will need to work with a criminal defense attorney to determine how to defend against these charges.

Manslaughter Charges in Under Texas Law

The Texas Penal Code identifies two types of offenses that a person may be charged with if they unintentionally killed someone else. Manslaughter, including vehicular manslaughter, may be charged if a person acted recklessly in a way that they knew could kill someone, and these actions led to a person’s death. For example, a person may be charged with manslaughter if they were driving 20 miles per hour above the speed limit in an area where they knew other vehicles were present, and this caused a car accident in which someone was killed. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony, and a person who is convicted may be sentenced to between 2 and 20 years in prison, and they may also be fined up to $10,000.

A person may be charged with criminally negligent homicide if they acted in a way that they knew could cause harm to someone, and these actions led to someone’s death. For example, if a driver was texting while driving, and this led to a car accident in which someone was killed, they could be considered criminally negligent. This offense is a state jail felony, and a person who is convicted may be sentenced to between 180 days and two years in a state prison, and they may also be fined up to $10,000.

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Fort worth criminal defense attorney for child traffickingThere are many reasons that a person may be charged with a crime. The potential penalties they may face if convicted will vary depending on the nature of their specific offense and whether they allegedly caused harm to someone else’s person or property. Crimes against children are taken especially seriously by law enforcement. Because children are often seen as innocent victims, an offender will face harsh punishments, including lengthy prison sentences and high fines. Child trafficking is one of the most serious of these types of crimes, and anyone who is accused of committing these types of offenses will want to understand what these charges entail and the potential consequences they could face if convicted.

When Is an Offense Considered Child Trafficking?

“Trafficking” can include a number of activities, and it typically involves transporting, harboring, recruiting, or enticing someone with the intent of forcing them to engage in illegal activities against their will. Child trafficking charges may apply if a person participates in these types of activities with a child under the age of 18 and causes them to engage in or be the victim of offenses such as:

  • Forced labor, such as requiring children to work in a sweatshop or perform other types of services.

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