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Collin County criminal defense attorney domestic abuse

Domestic violence has been a long-standing epidemic for American women and men, especially for Texans. In the past decade, awareness regarding sexual harassment and assault in the workplace has led to major changes when it comes to employee training and discipline, including for those in positions of power. One Texas legislator, in particular, has made it her priority not to just make these changes in the workplace, but also to help those who are victims in their own homes. In 2018 alone, there were 212,885 victims of family violence in Texas, not including the number of victims who go unreported. While 71.6 percent of these victims were female, men are also victims of domestic violence, but they often let this crime against them fly under the radar. Those guilty of domestic violence should undoubtedly be held accountable for their actions, but if you are facing false accusations, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help.

Proposed Bill Calls for Advocacy

Hairstylists, barbers, and cosmetologists work in an environment where their customers come to them with an intimate request--help me with my appearance--and are comfortable chatting about the details of their lives. While clients may only see these individuals every few weeks or months, they build a trusting relationship with them in which they update them on what is currently going on in their life. State Representative Ana Hernandez recognized the intimate role of these professionals; not only do they hear about their clients’ lives from an outside perspective, but they also get a close look at their clients’ bodies or faces while working on them. 

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Denton County criminal defense attorney human trafficking

Since the Biden administration came into power just two months ago, immigration policies have changed from the previous administration’s “build a wall” mentality. Trump declared a state of emergency at the border at the beginning of 2019 to impose stricter immigration policies and reduce the influx of illegal immigration and crime along the Texas-Mexico border. One of President Biden’s first actions in office was to end this policy and cut the famous Trump administration’s border wall funding. Since then, Texas has seen a sharp increase in unaccompanied minors arriving at the border. Many believe that human traffickers are helping migrants cross the border, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott intends on getting to the bottom of things.

Increasing Security to Protect Children

This past week, Gov. Abbott referred to the recent influx of unaccompanied minors along the Texas-Mexico border as a “humanitarian crisis.” These migrant numbers have increased so much that the Dallas convention center is being converted into a temporary shelter for these children. The converted convention center housing thousands of migrant children will allow these young kids and teens to socialize and exercise after experiencing incredible trauma. The governor requested access for the Texas Department of Public Safety officers to the children so that they can interview the kids about their experiences and try to identify human traffickers. Gov. Abbott is adamant in obtaining this information so that “America can combat these human traffickers and prevent other children from being victimized.” 

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Collin County criminal defense attorney sexual assault

No matter how much time has passed after a crime has been committed, new evidence can surface and bring the case back into the limelight. In some cases, improved technology can reveal a person’s true role in the crime, while in others, a larger budget can allow law enforcement to conduct a deeper dive into the evidence. Female sexual assault victims from Fort Worth may be on the brink of getting the justice that they deserve after movements were made this past week. But what if they have the wrong person? As the years go by, it can become increasingly difficult to remember your exact whereabouts and activity on the night the crime was committed, making your defense less and less foolproof.

Justice in Fort Worth

This past week, an alleged serial rapist was arrested for attacking women in 2010 and 2011 after detectives found a DNA match linking him to the crimes. Pedro Samarrippas has also been connected to another 2011 Fort Worth case, and detectives have room to believe that he may have more victims spread throughout Fort Worth. Samarrippas was arrested in late February on two warrants for sexual assault. These have remained cold cases until Texas Rangers recently received a grant that allowed them to conduct comparisons of unknown DNA through a database known as the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). This database helped them link the unknown DNA to Samarrippas. These two sexual assault cases, in addition to another sexual assault that occurred in McAllen, Texas in 2002, all contained unknown matching DNA samples that led detectives to Samarrippas.  

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Collin County criminal defense attorney weapons charges

Over the past 10 years, the state of Texas has seen seven mass shootings, which in the aftermath of the tragedy led to conversations from lawmakers about the state’s gun laws. In August 2019, the state was devastated by back-to-back shootings in El Paso and Odessa, the likes of which left 30 people dead and dozens more injured. According to reports from the Poynter Institute, over 3,000 people are killed with a gun each year in Texas. Citizens are divided over how gun control should be handled in the state, with 40-50 percent of University of Texas poll participants stating that they want stricter gun control throughout the state. With requests like these, one may be concerned that weapons charges may become more stringent yet Governor Greg Abbott begs to differ.

A Second Amendment Sanctuary

Over the past several weeks, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have met with state lawmakers and publicly expressed their willingness to consider at least one gun control proposal which could make it more challenging for Texans to buy firearms. Yet Gov. Abbott’s words during the first 2021 legislative session reveals different priorities. According to the governor, he believes that the state needs to “erect a complete barrier against any government official anywhere from treading on gun rights in Texas.” He did not mention last year’s deadly mass shootings in El Paso and Odessa, but following those tragedies, Gov. Abbott raised concerns about Texas laws that allow private gun sales between strangers without proper background checks. Additionally, he recommended several ideas on how to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not possess them, including banning “straw purchases.” These currently legal purchases allow someone to purchase a gun for another person. In regards to stranger-to-stranger sales, Gov. Abbott did not push for mandatory background checks, but rather suggested ways that the legislature could make it “easy, affordable, and beneficial for a private seller of firearms to voluntarily use background checks when selling firearms to strangers.” 

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Tarrant County criminal defense attorney drug possession

Policing and the criminal justice system has been under intense scrutiny over the past year. With tapes being released showing police brutality and mass gatherings protesting law enforcement tactics, many government officials have been forced to rethink how public safety is being reinforced. A recent article released by Chron reveals that a number of Texas counties are not prosecuting minor crimes. For some, this may seem like a red flag for a lack of public safety, while others may see this as a nod in the right direction for the criminal justice system.

Crimes That Will Not Get You Prosecuted

With the overcrowding of prisons and the high cost of the current criminal justice system, some Texas district attorneys are changing county policies in an attempt to reduce the jail population.  Chron reporting reveals four locations that have taken a more modern, laissez-faire approach to criminal justice and policing:

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Collin County criminal defense attorney child neglect

You may think that there is a clear line between child neglect and a more laissez-faire approach to parenting. When you imagine parents being charged with neglect and abandonment, you picture a child at home alone for days, struggling to care for himself or herself. The parents that you might picture in your head are risking their child’s safety to sustain their substance addiction. While this is, unfortunately, a common reality for those facing child neglect charges in Texas, others may be facing such charges based on their hands-off approach to caring for their child. Also known as “free-range parenting,” there is debate about whether or not this relaxed parenting style makes children more independent or places kids in harm’s way.

Free-Range Parenting Explained

In 2018, Utah passed a law that addressed different parenting styles and set a line for what is considered free-range parenting and what is considered neglect and abandonment. In the age of smartphones, parents have constant contact with their children, either through text message updates or actually tracking their child’s location. Many argue that this is a blessing and allows parents to fully protect their children in a way that was unavailable to previous generations. Others, however, believe that this constant contact and watchfulness can stunt kids’ individuality and ability to navigate the world on their own. Advocate Lenore Skenazy started the movement almost a decade ago after she allowed her 9-year-old son to ride the New York City subway by himself. Since then, Utah passed the country’s first law to legalize this form of parenting to give children the freedom to do things on their own, with their parents’ permission. This includes activities such as exploring a playground, riding a bike to school, or allowing your child to remain home alone at a young age without a parent’s supervision. Some view this type of parenting as a nod to “the olden days” while others see it as the failure to protect your child. Texas does not have such a law in place, leaving some of these more radically viewed parental decisions up to the court’s discretion.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney drug trafficking

Young, college-age kids are notorious for pushing the envelope. Whether that involves going against their parents’ wishes, drinking underage, or trying illegal substances, one defiant action can quickly lead to a series of poor decisions. Drinking under the age of 21 can also result in a driving while intoxicated (DWI) charge depending on the circumstances, and trying a single drug can often result in a life riddled by drug crimes. Those involved in drug rings recognize young adults’ willingness to try drugs and the likelihood of them getting hooked on these substances. With this in mind, many will target college-age kids to create regular customers of their products, many of which are not the drug that they think they are.

UT Students at Risk

In early December, authorities busted a drug trafficking operation that targeted the University of Texas (UT) students. At least 13 people were charged in connection with the scheme, including current and former UT students. Authorities reported that the drug ring sold counterfeit prescription drugs, claimed to be Adderall and Xanax, to students that were laced with methamphetamine and fentanyl. Adderall and Xanax are regulated and legitimate prescription medications that many students will purchase in the hopes that they will improve their studying and focus before major assignments or exams. Purchasing these drugs without a prescription is a crime in and of itself, but finding out that the regulated, FDA-approved medication is laced with dangerous substances was not what the students signed up for.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney homicide

It is no secret that violent crime is more prevalent in urban areas, and Dallas is no exception. After seven fatal shootings occurred in the city in mid-November, Gov. Greg Abbott saw an urgent need for additional protection for Dallas residents. The city has surpassed its homicide count from 2019, with 220 homicides recorded in this year alone. In order to keep this number from rising as the year comes to a close, Governor Abbott has sent state police into the city for added protection. This is not the first time the governor has opted for these additional measures, and due to past experiences, not all Dallas residents agree with the governor’s tactic for combating crime. 

Operation D-Town

In June 2019, Dallas saw a similar spike in murders and violent crimes, and in response, Gov. Abbott deployed the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) into the city to assist the Dallas Police Department in their policing efforts. According to reports from Dallas police, the targeted areas saw a significant drop in violent crimes just two months into the operation. Even with the reduction in crime, a number of residents and community officials claimed that DPS did more harm than good.

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Fort Worth criminal defense attorney

As the last few months of 2020 begin to come to a close, everyone’s sights are set on 2021. This year has been historic, to say the least, with an international pandemic, racial protests across the United States, and a presidential election all happening in a matter of 12 months. With an eventful year like this one, it is no wonder that everyone is looking forward, Texas lawmakers included. The 87th Texas Legislature will not begin their next session until January; however, state lawmakers are already filing their legislative proposals for 2021, some of which touch on criminal law.

Looking Ahead With New Laws

On just the first day in which Texas lawmakers were able to file legislation, over 450 bills were filed in the House and Senate. According to reports from the Texas Tribune, an anticipated 1,000+ bills will be submitted during the legislative session, but only a few will be seen by the governor’s eyes. This session will be especially tough for lawmakers as COVID-19 leaves billions of dollars of shortfalls in its wake. Despite this, Texas legislators have forged ahead by proposing the following notable bills:

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Collin County criminal defense attorney

According to the Fourth Amendment, Americans have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. In other words, if an officer shows up at your home without a search warrant, or pulls you over and asks to take a look in your car, you are legally allowed to deny the search until a proper search warrant is present. A recent Texas case, however, may put the limits of this protection in question for those individuals who are facing criminal charges.  

Stopped for Speeding, Arrested for Drugs

In early November, two Austin residents were pulled over for a routine traffic stop after they were allegedly found speeding on US HWY 87. According to reports from local station San Angelo LIVE, couple Andrew Garlinghouse and Lee French-Todd provided their driver’s licenses to the police officer upon request. After noting Garlinghouse was acting “suspicious and very nervous” during the traffic stop, the officer was denied his request to search the vehicle. The law enforcement officer suspected additional criminal activity going on due to Garlinghouse’s refusal and visible discomfort, so he called a K-9 unit to the scene to check the vehicle for illicit drugs. During the search, the officer recovered several bags of methamphetamine, small baggies, a scale, Adderall, and Xanax from the couple’s vehicle. The two individuals were then arrested on multiple drug charges.

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Tarrant County criminal defense attorney DWI

College Station, the home to Texas A&M University, has seen a significant decrease in the number of driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrests in the past year. As 2020 has been a unique year in the history of the United States, these reduced numbers may be attributed to the restrictions enacted on Texans since COVID-19 began to surge. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 800 drivers across the state were killed in accidents involving DWI. While this number may not seem particularly significant in such a large state, it only accounts for those who were in fatal accidents, not those arrested or injured. If you are arrested for DWI, it is important to know the severity of the criminal charges that you may face and where to turn for legal guidance.

A Texas Town Considers the Implications of Reopening

In a KBTX news report from October 29, Police Officer Tristen Lopez from College Station, Texas notes an approximate 25 percent decrease in DWI arrests this past year. According to the report, College Station police have made 227 DWI-related arrests this year, compared to 303 arrests in 2019 by this same date. The same is true of DWI-related crashes in the area. COVID-19 restrictions in the state of Texas have left local bars closed for months in an attempt to reduce the spread of the virus. As of October 14, however, county governments were given the option of allowing their local bars to reopen at 50 percent capacity moving forward. Though these bars may reopen, they are still required to stop selling alcohol at 11 p.m.; the same is not true of restaurants, creating a gray area on which many bars and restaurants can tread. Officer Lopez connected the reduced DWI numbers to local bar closures and noted that the trend will likely change now that the bars have reopened. 

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Collin County criminal defense attorney child abuse

Child abuse is a tragedy that happens all too frequently across the world. In Texas, an average of more than four children die from abuse or neglect every week and 184 kids are confirmed victims on a daily basis. As a parent, it may seem unimaginable how an adult can hurt a child or how the statistics can be this high in a single state alone. The cruelty behind child abuse is undeniable, which can unfortunately lead to quick judgments from the court and unfounded convictions. False accusations of child abuse or neglect are not uncommon when it comes to divorce or adjustments in child custody orders. Criminal actions like those committed by Justin Fountain, a father from East Texas, should be charged in a harsh manner, as shown below. However, those facing false accusations should seek out immediate legal help from a reputable criminal defense attorney to avoid facing severe consequences for a crime they did not commit.

Texas Man Found Guilty of Injuring Daughter

In early October of this year, a man from Cherokee County was convicted of child abuse. Fountain is the father of an infant daughter whom he caused serious bodily injury to in 2019. He admitted to shaking and throwing her down after he became upset with her. Her father also blew marijuana smoke into her face to “calm her down.” According to the child’s pediatrician and adoptive parents, she still suffers ill effects from her injuries that were inflicted last year. A year later, Fountain has been sentenced to 50 years in prison after being convicted of child abuse in Texas.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney drug crimes

As of late, a number of large-scale drug operations have been discovered and shut down by Texas law enforcement. Some spanning from Mexico, through Texas, and all the way to West Virginia while others are bringing down small Texas communities. Those found guilty of possessing, manufacturing, and distributing these illegal substances will face hefty charges in the state of Texas. Depending on the substance at hand, drug charges can span from a relatively minor misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. 

Fort Worth Drug Ring

In mid-October, 30 members of an alleged methamphetamine distribution ring were taken into custody and charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances. According to reports from KWTX, the group was led by Jonathon Rodriguez, the 30-year-old owner of Funky Town Swag, a clothing store located in Fort Worth. Investigators took possession of 16 kilograms of meth, 9 ounces of heroin, and 9 firearms during the arrest. According to sources, methamphetamine has been an ongoing issue in North Texas for some time. Law enforcement discovered that Rodriguez and his team had allegedly attempted to create a meth conversion lab inside a Fort Worth residence. Reports claim that the drug ring allegedly distributed kilograms of crystal meth out of Funky Town Swag’s back office, a number of trap houses, a car wash, and a local motel. If they are found guilty, the 30 members each face up to 40 years in federal prison.

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Collin County criminal defense attorney child sexual assault

A 24-year-old former educational assistant was indicted by a grand jury in Bowie County, Texas, earlier this month on two counts of an improper relationship between educator and student. The former aide was also indicted on a single count of sexual assault of a child. All three criminal charges are felonies, and they stem from interactions she allegedly had with students between November 2019 and May 2020.

Overheard Conversations

According to reports, a teacher at Texas High in the Texarkana Independent School District overheard a group of boys talking in June about how one of the boys might have gotten the instructional aide pregnant. After being confronted, the 17-year-old boy allegedly said that he had had sex with the aide but that she told him he was not her baby’s father. He also claimed that other students had sex with the assistant as well.

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Dallas criminal defense attorney violent crimes

A small city in East Texas was thrust into the national spotlight in recent days—and for all of the wrong reasons. On the morning of Friday, October 9, police in New Boston, TX, were called to a residence where they found the body of a young woman who had apparently been murdered. To make matters even worse, the victim had been pregnant at the time of her death, and a preliminary investigation indicated that the woman’s unborn baby had been cut from her body. The gruesome scene prompted action by several local and state agencies, looking into the case as both a murder and kidnapping investigation.

Pregnant Woman Found Dead

At a little after 10 a.m. last Friday, New Boston police responded to a 911 call reporting a deceased person. New Boston is a small city of approximately 4,600 people in Bowie County near Texarkana. When the police arrived, they discovered the body of a 21-year-old woman. According to officials from the Texas Department of Public Safety, the woman was clearly the victim of a homicide. She had also been almost eight months pregnant when she died, and her baby had been cut from her womb, presumably by her killer. Following the horrific discovery, an investigation was initiated by multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the region, including the Department of Public Safety, the New Boston Police Department, the Texarkana Police Department, and the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office.

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Fort Worth criminal defense attorney child endangerment

The public’s opinion of drugs and alcohol has changed dramatically throughout our nation’s history. Alcohol was common in many American homes until the 18th Amendment banned the consumption of liquor, beer, and wine in 1919. Then, the 21st Amendment repealed the ban on the manufacture and consumption of alcohol. Today, marijuana is a subject of great controversy across the United States. Some consider it a dangerous “gateway drug” while others believe that the substance offers significant medicinal benefits. Although the laws surrounding drugs and alcohol are constantly changing, one certainty has remained consistent: Drugs and alcohol should not be consumed by children. Allowing a child to consume drugs or alcohol or consuming an illicit substance in the presence of a child can result in child endangerment charges.

Criminal Charges Can Result from Exposing a Child to Danger

Children are unable to adequately provide for their own safety. Consequently, they are dependent on adults to protect them from harm. When an adult fails to protect a child or allows a child to be in a dangerous situation, he or she may be charged with the criminal offense of child endangerment. One Texas woman was recently arrested and charged with child endangerment after a video surfaced of the woman allowing her 3-year-old brother to smoke marijuana. The video, which was shared on Facebook and quickly shared with Texas police, shows the boy’s 18-year-old sister and another individual actively encouraging the toddler to inhale. Child Protective Services is currently investigating the situation. It is unknown if further criminal charges will be brought against the young boy’s parents. If the sister is convicted of child endangerment, she faces up to two years of imprisonment in a Texas state jail facility.

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Forth Worth criminal defense attorney bank fraud

When the average person thinks about what it means to steal money from a bank, images of masked robbers pocketing bundles of cash may come to mind. However, many schemes involving the unlawful acquisition of bank funds are much more technical in nature. Bank fraud refers to activities that intentionally defraud a financial institution. It is a criminal offense prohibited by federal law and investigated by local law enforcement as well as the U.S. Secret Service. If you or a loved one is facing federal charges related to bank fraud, it is critical to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Understanding Bank Fraud Accusations

Bank fraud is defined by 18 U.S. Code § 1344 as knowingly:

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Dallas criminal defense attorney child pornography

Society considers crimes against children especially heinous. In the United States, a person charged with any type of criminal offense is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, many people automatically assume that an individual accused of a child-related crime must be guilty of that crime. If you or a loved one has been charged with child sexual assault, child abuse, child pornography, or a related offense, understanding your rights is paramount to building a strong defense with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

The Right to Decline Police Questions

Law enforcement may use a variety of tactics to make a criminal defendant submit to questioning. However, it is absolutely vital that you remain silent and refrain from answering police questions until your attorney is present. Being arrested and charged with a crime can be frightening, confusing, and overwhelming. When you are in a heightened emotional state, you are in no position to answer police questions. You may say or do something during the interrogation that worsens your chances of avoiding conviction. The U.S. Constitution protects your right to prevent self-incrimination. This right applies to police questioning as well as during your trial proceedings.

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Dallas criminal defense attorney child neglect

Parents are legally responsible for providing their children with the care and attention they need to be safe. As children get older, they gradually begin to gain the skills necessary to look after themselves. It can be hard to know when a child is responsible enough to be left alone. If you are like many parents, you may have wondered, “At what age is it appropriate to leave my child at home alone?” Texas law does not state an exact age after which a parent may leave a child at home without supervision. However, there are circumstances in which a parent can face significant civil consequences and even criminal charges for leaving a minor child home alone.  

Texas Laws Regarding Child Neglect

Texas law requires parents and guardians to provide children with adequate food, water, shelter, clothing, supervision, and medical care. Failure to provide these basic necessities may constitute child neglect. A parent may also be accused of neglect if he or she allows a child to be in an unsafe situation that exposes the child to a significant risk of physical or mental harm. Child neglect is a civil offense in Texas, but it is often accompanied by criminal charges. Accusations of child neglect may lead to an investigation from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). If DFPS investigators find evidence of significant neglect or abuse, the child may be removed from the home. 

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Fort Worth federal firearms violation defense attorney

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution gives citizens the right to possess firearms. However, gun owners must also comply with a range of federal, state, and local laws regarding how and when firearms may be possessed and used. Many firearm violations are prosecuted by the federal government. Federal gun charges often carry much harsher penalties than state charges do. A person convicted of a federal firearm offense may be sentenced to years or decades of incarceration. If you have been accused of trafficking firearms across state lines, illegal possession or sale of a firearm, or other weapons violations, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will fight to keep you out of prison.

Unlawful Acts Related to Firearms

The laws regulating the sale, transfer, possession, and use of firearms are mostly contained in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 44. Section 922 identifies firearm-related acts that are prohibited under federal law. These acts include but are not limited to:

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