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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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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 federal criminal defense attorneyDuring the time following the end of WWII through the early 1970s, the United States experienced a period of massive economic growth. Automation, full employment, and a developing transportation system all enabled significant financial gains across many sectors. However, along with the opportunity to make money came those looking to game the system, and organized crime spiked. 

In response to this influx of organized crime, lawmakers in 1970 signed the Racketeer Influenced and Corruptions (RICO) Act into law and it remains in place to this day. The consequences for federal racketeering charges are serious and defending against them requires a fearless criminal defense attorney with experience combatting state and federal criminal charges

What is Racketeering? 

Racketeering is the act of obtaining money through illegal business activities or extortion. Under the RICO Act, as well as the Texas Penal Code, it is illegal for someone to plan or commit certain crimes in collaboration with an enterprise. What counts as an enterprise, however, is subject to much speculation and frustration because the definition is so vague. While the RICO Act was originally meant to cover organized criminal organizations like the mafia or motorcycle gangs, even people who do not know each other have been found to be in violation of the RICO Act as the government tries to take down allegedly corrupt organizations. 

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Texas federal hate crime defense lawyerExtensive news coverage has been recently given to alleged perpetrators of hate crimes all across America. Sometimes what constitutes a hate crime can seem fairly obvious, but other times charges of hate crimes seem to be overzealously filed against those who are merely expressing their opinions. Both Texas state and federal laws protect citizens against hate crimes, but few people know what actually constitutes a hate crime and may be surprised when charges of a federal hate crime are filed against them. Here are three facts about federal hate crimes. 

What is a Hate Crime? 

When someone assaults a random person on the street and robs them of their wallet, that may seem equally wrong no matter what the sex, race, religion, or national origin of the victim may be. But when the perpetrator of such a crime commits the crime because the victim is a member of a federally protected class, the crime becomes a hate crime. A hate crime is a crime committed against someone who has specific characteristics, whether real or perceived, that are defined and protected under the law. 

Can I Be Charged with a Hate Crime for Planning to Commit a Crime? 

While charges are usually filed against someone who is alleged to have committed a crime such as arson of a religious institution, hate crime charges can also be filed against someone who is alleged to have conspired to commit a crime - even if they never actually did commit the crime they were planning. For example, a man was recently sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for planning to target Jewish worshippers at a synagogue. Although he discussed plans to take action with undercover agents, he never actually attacked the synagogue. 

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Plano federal animal cruelty charges defense attorneyIn 2019, President Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) into law. Although every state previously had felony charges for cruelty to animals, the bill introduced the possibility of federal criminal charges for similar behavior. Now, federal prosecutors have the power and backing of the federal government to prosecute acts such as encouraging dogs or roosters to participate in fights and even selling or distributing videos of animals fighting.

For people in Texas who have been charged with extreme animal abuse, this new law can enhance already existing Texas state laws and bring serious penalties. If you have been accused of state or federal animal cruelty or abuse, it is essential to get competent criminal defense representation right away. 

What is Animal Cruelty? 

Among other abusive actions, it was already illegal to torture, abandon, overwork, or poison an animal in Texas; abandoning or failing to provide care for an animal is also illegal. Persons convicted under Texas state law of cruelty to animals can lose their animals, pay fines, and face jail time. 

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