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Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer for hate crimesAs increased awareness of racial discrimination has circulated across the country, many are left wondering whether the words and actions that they are seeing in news reports are considered hate crimes or other types of criminal offenses. Many racial attacks that have occurred over the last several months have been targeted at Asian-Americans, and in many cases, this violence has been in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some people falsely blaming Asians for the origin and spread of the virus. In fact, just a few weeks ago, a video was released of a violent attack in an Asian-owned beauty store in Houston. Some may be wondering whether violent crimes of this nature qualify as hate crimes.

Texas Hate Crime Laws Explained

Texas legislators took a strong stand against racial discrimination in 2001 after James Byrd, Jr. was violently killed by white supremacists in 1998. In response to the Black man’s death, previous state senator and now Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis pushed for sentencing enhancements for those found guilty of committing a hate crime. In other words, those who commit a hate crime will face increased jail time when compared to other crimes of that same magnitude. In order for an action to be considered a hate crime, one must prove that the person “acted out of bias towards the victim’s perceived color, race, religion, disability, national origin, gender, age, and/or sexual preference.

While proving that someone’s actions classify as a hate crime may seem like an easy task, this is more challenging than it often appears. According to ProPublica’s 2010-2015 analysis, there were 981 potential hate crime cases, and only five, or 0.5 percent, led to specific hate crime convictions. The reason it is so difficult? One must prove the intent of the person behind the crime. Pointing out that the statements or actions were discriminatory is often not enough to be convicted of a hate crime. Hate crime cases require the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the intent behind the person’s actions was motivated by the victim’s protected status. 

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Fort Worth criminal defense attorney drug trafficking

Drug trafficking is never a one-man operation. In some cases, the drug sales may be moving locally across various hands while in others the drug trafficking operation can span across the globe. A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Texas indicted eight individuals for their illicit involvement in an international drug trafficking conspiracy. Only one of the people involved is actually from Texas despite the case happening in a Texas court. So why is the case taking place in the Lone Star State and what are the charges being made?

Texas As Home Base

Eight individuals, including 40-year-old Carlos Villaurrutia of McAllen, Texas, were charged with conspiracies to manufacture and distribute cocaine, commit money laundering, commit wire fraud, commit export violations, and commit federal registration violations involving an aircraft. According to the indictment, these eight people have been involved in approximately $350 million in alleged criminal offenses over the past five years. 

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Collin County criminal defense attorney fraud

Although Texas is not often highlighted in the news for its snowstorms, the recent deadly snowstorms throughout the state placed the Lone Star State at the top of the news cycle. Many news outlets reported how a shortage of natural gas left Texans without power in the midst of freezing temperatures and non-stop snow. Coined “Winter Storm Uri,” the Texas snowstorm resulted in numerous tragedies, including one mother’s devastating story of losing her own mother and three children in a fire that was being used to keep them warm during the power outages. With conditions like these, one would think that the state would rally together, but unfortunately, the panic-induced conditions have led to reports of alleged white collar crimes.

Warnings from the FTC

You have likely received numerous unknown calls over the years in which the person on the other line pretends to be informing you of overdue charges, identity theft, and more. Typically, you can pick up on the recorded, robotic voice or notice that the information they are asking you for is financially related. But what about those times when you are caught off guard, such as during a statewide, devastating snowstorm? Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a warning about scammers targeting those without power due to the weather conditions. According to the warning, scammers often use these conditions to their advantage, knowing that you may have had your electricity, heat, or water turned off and pose as your utility company. The person on the other line may apologize for your loss of power and offer you a reimbursement for your most recent payment, first asking for your bank account information. You may also receive an email stating that there is an error in their system and that they need your personal information before turning on your gas again. You can also receive false threats that your utilities will be turned off if money is not sent over immediately. All of these scare tactics, especially in the midst of a statewide emergency, can be convincing enough to leave many desperate Texans with empty bank accounts.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney murder

The U.S. court system is meant to provide every person with a fair trial—everyone is considered innocent until proven guilty—but what happens when that system fails? What if the judge and jury’s verdict is not reflective of the truth? One Texas woman, and many others in the criminal justice system, have experienced this firsthand. She was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and later suffered the consequences. For those who find themselves in this exact situation, is there a solution to save them from facing unwarranted penalties for criminal charges in Texas?

Rosa Jimenez Is Set Free

Rosa Jimenez spent the past 18 years behind bars for a crime she allegedly did not commit. After leaving her home in Mexico City for a better life in Austin at the age of 17, Jimenez found work as a babysitter to a 21-month-old child. The child choked on a wad of paper towels and died while in Jimenez’s care. Anyone who has a child knows that children put anything and everything in their mouth, leaving them at constant risk of choking hazards. Though Jimenez claims the child died accidentally, she was charged with murder and sentenced to 99 years imprisonment. She was not an inexperienced caregiver, as Jimenez is a mother of two, yet this accident left her life bound behind prison bars.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney assault

Since the conclusion of voting for the 2020 presidential election in early November, many Americans have questioned the validity of the results. The majority of suspicions come from conservative voters, and as Texas is dubbed a red state, many Texas legislators have voiced their doubts. This past Monday, the Electoral College affirmed former Vice President Joe Biden’s triumph in the 2020 election, but the 38 electors from the state of Texas provided their votes for President Donald Trump and encouraged swing state legislatures to appoint their own electors. Texas lawmakers are not the only ones taking charge in regards to voter fraud allegations, as one ex-cop took matters into his own hands.

Former Houston Police Captain Arrested

This past Tuesday, a former Houston police captain was arrested for allegedly running an air-conditioner repairman off the road and threatening him at gunpoint. In response to an unsubstantiated voter-fraud conspiracy theory, suspect Mark Anthony Aguirre was involved in a project to find evidence of voter fraud in Harris County. Aguirre was paid $266,400 by activist Steven Hotze, leader of the group Liberty Center for God and Country, to help the group investigate voter fraud in the county. According to Aguirre, he threatened a man who he believed was in charge of a slew of forged election ballots. At this time, there is no evidence that the man who Aguirre threatened was involved in a fraud scheme of any kind. 

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Collin County criminal defense attorney child abuse

Breakups and divorce can sometimes lead people to make choices they would never make otherwise. Some individuals even fabricate stories of child abuse or neglect in order to “get back” at their former partner. Unfortunately, even if an accusation of child abuse is completely unfounded, the allegation can have dramatic effects on the wrongfully accused. He or she may be investigated by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or even arrested and charged with a criminal offense. If you or a loved one has been accused of causing injury to a child, it is crucial that you take swift action to protect your rights.

Responding to Allegations of Child Abuse

Understandably, being accused of a crime you did not commit can be infuriating. However, it is important to remain calm and avoid taking actions that could be used against you in any criminal proceedings. Do not confront your accuser in any way. If you have been served with a protective order or restraining order, comply with the provisions contained in the order. You may be required to surrender your firearms and/or concealed carry permit, stay away from the alleged victim’s school, or even temporarily move out of your own home. Even if the grounds for the protective order are fraudulent, you should comply with these requirements. By doing so, you show the court that you are a law-abiding citizen. Even more importantly, violating the terms of the protective order can result in additional criminal charges which will make your situation even worse.
Injury to a child is a felony offense in Texas. If you are accused of causing bodily injury or mental impairment to your child or any other child through reckless actions or inaction, you could face up to two years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. If the alleged injury was intentional, the maximum punishment for causing injury to a child is 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. If a serious bodily injury or mental impairment was allegedly caused, the crime is a first-degree felony, which is punishable by life in prison. As you can see, the punishments for harming a child in Texas are severe. This is why it is critical for you to obtain legal support from an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Do not respond to police questioning without your lawyer present. You could say or do something incriminating that is later used against you.

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Fort Worth criminal defense attorney sexual assault

Because children’s brains are not fully developed and they have not had the same life experiences as adults, it is assumed that children cannot consent to sexual activities. In the eyes of the law, this makes any sexual conduct between a child and an adult non-consensual and therefore unlawful. However, the “age of consent” or age at which a person is considered to be capable of agreeing to sex, varies from state to state. This can make it difficult to know when a sexual relationship is in violation of the law. If you have been charged with sexual assault of a child or accused of statutory rape, you could be facing life-altering criminal consequences. That is why it is important to contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Texas Law Regarding Statutory Rape

The age of consent is 17 in Texas. This means that it is unlawful for an adult to participate in sexual activities with someone who is 16 years old or younger. Texas law does not use the term “rape” for nonconsensual sex but instead refers to the act as sexual assault. Many people do not realize that they can be charged with sexual assault of a child even if the underage person agreed to the sexual activity. Sexual activity does not need to be forced or involve drugs such as Rohypnol in order to be a criminal offense. Sexual assault of a child is a second-degree felony in Texas. If convicted, you could be imprisoned for 2-20 years and fined up to $10,000. If you are accused of participating in non-penetrative sexual activities with a person under 17, you could be charged with indecency with a child. This is also a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. You will also be required to register as a sex offender.

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Fort Worth criminal defense attorney entrapment

Entrapment occurs when a government official such as a police officer compels someone to commit a criminal offense. Some people falsely believe that police must always identify themselves as law enforcement officers. In reality, police are fully authorized to lie or use deceptive techniques to obtain evidence of a criminal act. However, police cannot use extreme behavior, threats, or coercion to force a normally law-abiding citizen to commit a criminal act.  Entrapment is an “affirmative” defense against criminal charges in Texas, which means that the defendant is admitting that he or she committed the offense but is also presenting a justification for doing so.

What Is the Difference Between a Sting Operation and Entrapment?

If you have ever seen television shows such as To Catch a Predator, you may have wondered about the legality of police undercover stings. A sting operation is a law enforcement action intended to catch an individual committing a criminal offense. It typically involves an undercover police officer or detective posing as a potential victim or criminal partner in order to gather evidence that can be used during a criminal prosecution. However, if a police sting operation crosses the line into entrapment, evidence obtained during the operation may not be admissible in court. Sting operations are often used to catch individuals engaging in the purchase or sale of illicit drugs, solicitation of a minor, solicitation of a prostitute, or the possession or distribution of child pornography. The main difference between entrapment and a lawful sting operation is that a sting operation offers an individual the opportunity to commit a crime while entrapment involves the individual being coerced or persuaded into committing a crime.  

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Dallas prostitution defense attorney

Exchanging money or property for sexual contact is against the law in the majority of the United States, including Texas. Being charged with a prostitution-related crime can result in serious criminal consequences as well as devastating damage to the accused person’s career and reputation. This is especially true if the alleged crime involved a person younger than 18 years old. Read on to learn about prostitution-related crimes in Texas and what you should do if you or your loved one has been accused of this serious criminal offense.

Prostitution According to Texas Law

According to the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with prostitution if he or she:

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Fort Worth child pornography defense attorney

There is no doubt about the tremendous influence smartphones have on our everyday lives. The use of text messaging has especially skyrocketed in recent decades. Research shows that over 15 million texts are sent every minute, and this number is expected to continue to increase. The use of text messages to send sexually explicit photographs and messages has been nicknamed “sexting.” Although it may seem harmless, sexting can sometimes lead to child pornography charges and other criminal charges. If you have been accused of creating, distributing, or possessing child pornography, speak to a Texas criminal defense attorney right away so you can start building a solid defense strategy.

Sexually Explicit Photos Between Minors May Be Illegal in Some Situations

Although many parents may not realize it, teenagers commonly send nude photographs of themselves to their peers. They may assume that these images do not constitute child pornography because the images are not being sent to an adult. However, under Texas law, it is illegal for anyone, including minors, to transmit any images or videos depicting a minor engaged in sexual conduct. In some cases, sexting between minors can be considered a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. The law does provide defenses for those who receive unsolicited photos and for minors who are in a dating relationship, who are within two years of age of each other, and who share the images privately.

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Dallas sexual assault defense attorney statutory rape

The age of consent is 17 in Texas. This means that, according to Texas law, individuals under 17 years of age are incapable of consenting to sex or sexual contact with an adult. The crime commonly referred to as “statutory rape” falls under the law prohibiting the sexual assault of a child in Texas. If you have been accused of sexual assault against someone under age 17, you could face serious, life-altering criminal consequences. It is essential to consult with a criminal defense attorney experienced in handling cases involving crimes against children as soon as possible.

What if the Sex Was “Consensual?”

Most people know that forcing someone to have sex against his or her will is wrong both ethically and legally. However, you may not realize that you can be charged with sexual assault against a child even if you did not force the alleged victim to participate in the sexual act. Because the age of consent is 17 in Texas, it is against the law for an adult to have sex with someone aged 16 years or younger, even if the underaged person did not object to the sexual activity. This is true even if the defendant did not know that the alleged victim was under age 17.

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Tarrant County sex crimes defense attorney

The Texas Education Agency investigated more than 400 cases of alleged illegal student-teacher relationships during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Reports of inappropriate sexual and romantic relationships between students and teachers have risen dramatically in recent years in Texas. Many attribute this increase to the heightened awareness of illegal sex acts prompted by the #MeToo movement. Educators who are convicted of having an improper relationship with a student can lose their ability to teach, their reputation, and even their freedom. If you are a teacher or school employee who has been accused of having sexual relations with a student, speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

When Does a Teacher-Student Relationship Cross the Line?

Teachers spend a great deal of time with their students. Some pupils may actually see their teachers more often than they do their own friends and family. However, when a teacher-student relationship stops being professional and starts being sexual, this constitutes a criminal offense. According to the Texas Penal Code, it is against the law for a teacher, counselor, librarian, school administrator, or any other educator to engage in sexual contact with a student. Online solicitation of a student may also constitute an illegal student-teacher relationship. The age of consent in Texas is 17; however, a teacher may still be charged with a criminal offense if he or she has sexual contact with a student who is over the age of 17.

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Collin County white collar crimes attorney

You may be surprised to learn that an estimated 2 to 5 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) is represented by money that is laundered across international borders. The criminal offense of money laundering occurs when a person conceals the identity, source, or destination of money that has been acquired unlawfully. Both state and federal laws prohibit money laundering. If you are being investigated by a federal government agency for possible money laundering, it is imperative to seek help from a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Federal Money Laundering Charges

It is important to note that money laundering involves the concealment or attempted concealment of profits from criminal activity. If you sold an expensive diamond ring and then failed to report that money to the IRS, for example, this may be in violation of tax law, but it is not money laundering. Furthermore, the United States Supreme Court mandates that federal money laundering laws do not apply if an individual is only making money from a crime but not hiding it. For example, if a criminal defendant runs an illegal lottery, he or she is receiving money from a crime, but this does not constitute money laundering if he or she does not hide the proceeds. A conviction for money laundering requires prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is concealing profits from the illegal activity.

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Fort Worth child pornography defense attorney

While all criminal charges have the potential to be life-changing, being accused of a crime against a child can be especially disastrous. If you have been charged with an offense related to child pornography in Texas, you should not take these charges lightly. If convicted, you could face incarceration, substantial fines, plus a lifetime of stigma. A qualified criminal defense lawyer with experience fighting child pornography charges can help you understand your legal options if you have been accused of possessing, creating, or distributing child pornography.

Possession of Child Pornography 

Title 9 of the Texas Penal Code addresses crimes related to child pornography. In Texas, it is against the law to produce, distribute, or possess media depicting a person under age 18 engaging in sexual conduct. This can include still photographs, videos, and other materials. Sexual conduct is defined in the law as actual or simulated intercourse, masturbation, deviate sexual intercourse, sexual bestiality, lewd exhibition of the genitals, anus, or female breast, and sadomasochistic abuse. If you are convicted of viewing or possessing child pornography, you face a third-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years of incarceration and a fine up to $10,000. If you have previously been convicted of possessing child pornography, the offense is a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. A third or subsequent child pornography conviction carries penalties including up to 99 years of imprisonment.

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Dallas kidnapping and abduction defense attorney

Being charged with a criminal offense related to kidnapping, child abducting, unlawful restraint, or smuggling of persons should never be taken lightly. The criminal penalties for these crimes vary depending on the circumstances, but some can result in a lifetime of incarceration. False allegations about holding a child against his or her will can stem from a malicious ex-spouse or other individual, or they may simply be the result of a misunderstanding. If you have been falsely accused of kidnapping or abduction, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately to learn how best to defend against these serious accusations.

Texas Laws Regarding Kidnapping and Aggravated Kidnapping

Texas statutes state that an individual commits the crime of kidnapping if he or she knowingly abducts another individual. “Abduct” is defined as restraining another person with the intent to prevent his or her freedom by either holding him or her somewhere that he or she cannot be found or through the threat or use of deadly force.

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Tarrant County child endangerment defense attorney

When it comes to children, the terms “neglect” and “abandonment” are often used together; however, these are two separate legal issues. Child neglect is a term used in the Texas Family Code to describe a situation in which a child is left unattended in an unsafe environment. Abandoning a child is defined in Texas Penal Code as not providing “reasonable and necessary care for the child” and leaving the child in a situation that most reasonable adults would not allow. If you have been charged with child abandonment in Texas, the penalties can be severe. Speaking with a criminal defense attorney experienced in handling crimes against children can help clear your name and avoid a criminal record.

Being Accused of Child Neglect

According to Texas law, parents are responsible for providing children with necessities like food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and appropriate supervision. The Texas Family Code identifies several acts that are considered neglect. These include but are not limited to:

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Fort Worth solicitation of a child defense attorney

The Internet has revolutionized the way that we communicate with each other. However, there are several ways that online discussions or digital communication can be a criminal offense. An individual can be charged with online solicitation of a minor if he or she uses the Internet to send sexually explicit messages or media to a child under 17 years old or to a person who the actor believes to be under 17 years old. A conviction for online solicitation has the potential to impact the rest of your life. If you or someone you know has been charged with solicitation of a child or any crime against children, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney right away.

What Constitutes Solicitation of a Child in Texas?

According to the Texas Penal Code, a person over the age of 17 commits online solicitation of a child if he or she communicates with a child under 17 years old via email, the Internet, or text messages with the intention of committing one of the following crimes: trafficking of persons, indecency with a child, continuous sexual abuse of a child, sexual assault, prohibited sexual conduct, compelling prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution, possession or promotion of child pornography, or sexual performance by a child. An adult can also be charged with online solicitation of a child if he or she uses email, text messages, or a commercial service to intentionally solicit a minor to meet another individual, including himself or herself, for the purposes of sexual contact.

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Dallas child abuse defense attorney

Criminal offenses against children, such as possession of child pornography, sexual assault against a child, and child abuse, carry more stigma than almost any other crime. When an individual is accused of a crime such as these, he or she may lose friends, family members, his or her career, and more. This is why false allegations of child sexual abuse are such an alarming issue. A woman in Arkansas is now facing her own criminal charges after fabricating a story about her husband’s alleged crimes against children.

Woman Says She Found Explicit Images of Children on Her Husband’s Phone

In 2018, a 34-year-old Arkansas woman went to police to make a report of her husband’s alleged sexual assault and domestic violence. She claimed that she had caught her husband sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl and that her husband attacked her when she interrupted the alleged crime. She showed investigators a bruise from the supposed attack as well as pictures on her husband’s phone depicting child pornography. However, when investigators looked further into the woman’s allegations, they discovered that the truth was wildly different than what the woman had claimed.

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Fort Worth child crimes defense attorney

Fall is just around the corner, but the hot weather in Texas has not relented. Many news outlets have run stories about the dangers of leaving children in cars during hot weather. Even when the outside temperature is only in the 70s or 80s, the temperature inside a car can climb much higher. Children left in hot vehicles can quickly become overheated and even die due to the extreme temperatures. According to the nonprofit group Kids and Cars, over 600 children have passed away in hot cars in the United States since 1990. You probably know that leaving a child unattended in a vehicle is dangerous, but you may wonder if it is considered a crime. In certain circumstances, leaving a child in a vehicle unattended constitutes a criminal charge in Texas.

Texas Penal Code Regarding Children Left in Cars

According to Texas law, there are certain situations in which it is against the law to leave a child unsupervised in a vehicle. The Texas Penal Code states that is a Class C misdemeanor criminal offense to knowingly leave a child in a motor vehicle if the child is all of the following: 

  • Under the age of 7

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Plano sex crimes defense lawyer

Being charged with any type of crime can be a shocking and overwhelming experience. However, being accused of a crime you did not commit is perhaps one of the worst feelings in the world. This is especially true if you are facing criminal charges related to a sex crime against a child. Due to the heinous nature of child sexual abuse, many people accused of these crimes are treated as if an accusation alone proves their guilt. Fortunately, the United States Constitution protects criminal defendants’ rights to due process and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you or a loved one has been charged with sexual assault of a child, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney experienced in defending against such serious accusations.

Texas Law Regarding Sexual Assault of a Minor

As in all other U.S. states, special laws exist in Texas to protect children from sexual contact with adults. Texas law considers a person under age 17 to be a child. The crime of sexual assault against a child is committed if an individual knowingly:

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