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Tarrant County Sex Crimes Defense LawyerTeachers can often be placed in a difficult position when dealing with students. While some high school students may seem mature as they get closer to reaching the age where they are considered to be adults, teachers will still need to respect boundaries and avoid certain types of situations and interactions. Unfortunately, cases where teachers are accused of acting inappropriately are all too common. However, while there are a variety of interactions between teachers and students that some people may consider to be inappropriate, criminal charges for improper relationships between teachers and students will generally only apply if there is evidence that a teacher and student have engaged in sexual contact or sexual intercourse. An ongoing case in Conroe, Texas serves as a good example of the types of teacher-student relationships that may lead to arrests and criminal charges.

Conroe Teacher Accused of Having a Sexual Relationship With a High School Student

In January of 2022, a female science teacher at a high school in the Conroe school district was arrested and charged with having an inappropriate relationship with a student and indecency with a child. Law enforcement officials began investigating the teacher after the student’s family members reported that the teacher and student had been having a sexual relationship. According to these reports, the teacher and student had intercourse multiple times, and the student had spent the night at the teacher’s home. Online messages between the teacher and student also indicated that the teacher had given the student money to buy drugs, and the teacher had sent the student sexually explicit pictures of herself.

Based on these reports, the teacher may face criminal charges for multiple types of offenses. The charge of “inappropriate relationship between educator and student” may apply in any situation where a teacher or school employee engages in sexual contact or sexual intercourse with a student enrolled in elementary school, middle school, or high school. One defense against these charges may include showing that a teacher was no more than three years older than the student in question, and the teacher and student had a relationship before the person began working as a teacher. However, the teacher in this case is 36 years old, so this defense will not apply.

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Collin County Criminal Defense LawyerNearly every week, we publish blogs covering a variety of topics related to criminal defense. Our goal is to provide readers with helpful information about the types of charges people may face, including in state and federal courts, as well as the potential defense strategies that may be available. Our firm works to protect the rights of defendants and help them resolve criminal cases successfully. We wanted to highlight the most-read blogs from 2021, and we plan to continue covering similar topics in the months and years to come.

  1. Can a Parent Face Charges for Leaving a Child Home Alone in Texas? - We look at how Texas law addresses these situations and when parents may be accused of child neglect or charged with offenses such as child abandonment or child endangerment.

  2. What Actions Can Lead to Charges of Credit Card Fraud? - We describe the situations that could lead to fraud charges based on the illegal use of credit cards or financial accounts while also looking at the penalties for fraud under Texas laws and federal laws.

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Fort Worth Federal Criminal Defense LawyerGun violence is an ongoing issue in the United States. In many cases, the firearms used in crimes are purchased or acquired in states other than where crimes involving these guns occur. Since Texas is a state that has been identified as a common source of firearms used in other states, dealers or private gun sellers in Texas will need to be aware of possible violations of the law that could result in federal criminal charges.

Federal Crimes Involving the Sale or Transfer of Firearms

Firearms trafficking will typically involve gun diversion in which firearms that are legally purchased are transferred into the possession of people who are not legally allowed to possess firearms or who go on to use these guns when committing a criminal offense. Straw purchasing, in which one person purchases a firearm on behalf of someone else, is one of the most common methods of gun diversion. Guns may also be diverted into illegal markets through private sales by firearm owners or thefts from firearm dealers or sellers.

In most cases, The specific federal offenses in cases involving firearms may include:

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Fort Worth Child Abduction Defense LawyerChild custody disputes can be very contentious. When parents get divorced or break up, they may disagree strongly about where their children will live and when they will spend time in each parent’s home. Ongoing conflicts between parents may lead a person to take action to try to keep their children with them or prevent a child from spending time with the other parent. While parents may be aware that attempts to do so may affect child custody proceedings, they may not realize that these actions could potentially lead to criminal charges for kidnapping, child abduction, or interference with child custody.

What Is Interference With Child Custody?

Texas law specifies that taking a child in violation of a child custody order is a criminal offense. This charge may apply if a parent knowingly takes a child under the age of 18 in violation of the terms of a court order, including temporary orders put in place while a couple’s divorce or a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) is pending. In cases where custody has not yet been decided, a parent may face charges if they take a child out of the geographic area where they currently live in an attempt to prevent legal child custody proceedings from taking place. A parent may also be charged with a crime if they take the child out of the United States in order to deprive a parent who is entitled to custody of access to the child. 

Interference with child custody may be charged in situations where a parent forces a child to leave the other parent or when they persuade or entice a child to come with them in violation of a child custody order. This offense is a state jail felony, and a person who is convicted may be sentenced to between six months and two years in prison.

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Tarrant County Criminal Defense LawyerWhile all criminal charges can be serious, certain types of offenses can lead to especially harsh sentences that can affect a person for the rest of their life. These include sex crimes, and a person who is convicted of these types of offenses may not only be sentenced to prison and required to pay large fines, but they can face restrictions that affect nearly every aspect of their lives. When a person is required to register as a sex offender, this may limit where they can live, what types of jobs they can hold, their ability to pursue education or obtain loans, and their personal relationships. By understanding when sex offender registration will be required and the restrictions that this will place on a person, a criminal defendant can determine the steps they can take to avoid or minimize the consequences of a conviction.

Reportable Convictions and Adjudications

Sex offender registration is required for anyone who has a “reportable conviction or adjudication,” including those who plan to live in Texas after being convicted of certain sex crimes in another state. Crimes that require sex offender registration include:

Tarrant County Criminal Defense AttorneyThere are multiple types of controlled substances that are regulated at the state and federal levels, and people who use or sell these drugs without authorization may face criminal charges for drug possession or drug distribution. While most people may think of drug crimes as involving “hard drugs” like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines, more and more of these cases are related to prescription opioids. These drugs can be highly addictive and dangerous, and law enforcement officials may investigate and prosecute those who are suspected of issuing illegal prescriptions or engaging in other types of drug trafficking.

Opioid Possession and Distribution Charges

Prescription opioid painkillers have been used for multiple decades, but the use and abuse of these drugs has exploded in recent years. These drugs include:

Tarrant County Criminal Defense AttorneyThere are a variety of situations where a person may be accused of committing crimes against children. These offenses may be classified into multiple different categories, and many of the most serious offenses involve sexual assault, sexual exploitation, or child abuse. However, a person may also face criminal charges in other situations where they are accused of causing injury to a child. By understanding when these charges may apply and the potential consequences of a conviction, a person can determine their best options for defense.

Texas Charges for Injury to a Child

The Texas Penal Code details the criminal charges that a person may face if they are accused of causing a child (defined as a person under the age of 15) to suffer a bodily injury or a serious mental injury or impairment. The specific charges and penalties will depend on the severity of the injury and whether a person acted intentionally, recklessly, or negligently. Charges may include:

  • Causing a serious bodily injury - If a person intentionally caused a child to suffer serious bodily harm, meaning that the child suffered a disability or disfigurement or was placed at substantial risk of being killed, the person may face first-degree felony charges. In these cases, a conviction may result in a prison sentence of between five and 99 years. If a child was injured because a person acted recklessly, meaning that they were aware of substantial risks but consciously chose to ignore these risks, they may face second-degree felony charges. A second-degree felony conviction may result in a prison sentence of between two and 20 years.

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Fort Worth Federal Crimes Defense LawyerAll types of criminal charges should be taken seriously, since a prosecution by law enforcement officials can affect a person’s life, reputation, and career. Federal charges can be especially serious, and prosecutors working for federal government agencies have significant resources to investigate an alleged crime and pursue charges in federal courts. What is more, a conviction of a federal crime will often result in more serious penalties. Wire fraud is one type of federal charge that has become more common in recent years, and those who are accused of committing this type of fraud will want to understand the nature of the crime and the potential consequences they could face if convicted.

What Is Wire Fraud?

Fraud generally involves the theft of money or property that is committed by making false statements, concealing facts, or misrepresenting a person’s identity. Wire fraud may include any forms of fraud that are committed through the use of interstate electronic communications. This includes a variety of criminal activities conducted over the internet, as well as those involving phones, radio, or television. Examples of wire fraud include:

  • A person may contact someone via email or social media, misrepresent their identity, and claim that they will pay a certain amount of money if the person provides access to their bank account.

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Tarrant County Criminal Defense AttorneyBeing charged with a crime can have a serious impact on an individual’s life, but when those charges involve accusations of sexual offenses, the penalties for conviction and the impact on the person’s reputation and future can be severe. A conviction for a sexual offense not only affects the individual’s liberty for the duration of their sentence, but it could also mean being required to register with the Texas sex offender registry for the rest of their lives.

Even if a person is acquitted of the charges, there is still often a stigma the person carries with them long after the case has been resolved. It is for these reasons that anyone who is accused of a sexual offense should contact a Plano, TX defense attorney immediately.

Defending Against Sex Crime Accusations

Many individuals who have been accused of committing a sexual offense worry that there is no defense against the charge and that the jury will believe they are guilty no matter what the truth may actually be. While many jury members may feel that people who commit sexual offenses should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, they are also charged with being fair and impartial, promising to listen to all the evidence presented by both the prosecutor and the defense attorney, and only vote a defendant guilty if the prosecutor has proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

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The Crime of Child Identity Theft

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Fort Worth Criminal Defense AttorneyThe crime of identity theft involves stealing an individual’s identity and using their personal information (including their name, Social Security number, credit or banking information, etc.) without their permission.

While many people may have heard of the crime of identity theft or may have even been a victim, one type of identity theft crime that is not as well known is the identity theft of a child.

Child Identity Theft

Because identity theft has become so widespread over the past several years, financial institutions and credit card companies are always implementing new security checks to fight against fraud. Many people have also taken steps to protect against identity theft, including putting alerts on any attempted activity connected with their credit history.

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Plano Child Neglect Defense LawyerPosted July 29, 2019 ------------ Updated November 15, 2021

A recent change in the law makes Texas the third state in the country to pass a free-range parenting law. Under the new law – which went into effect September 1 – parents will no longer have the threat of a Department of Family and Protective Services investigation for neglect or the possibility of losing custody of their child to the state for allowing certain activities outlined in the new law.

Under the Reasonable Childhood Independence law, parents are allowed to decide if their children can play outside, walk to a friend’s home, stay home alone, or engage in other activities that are age-appropriate without the fear of being accused of neglecting their child. According to the new law, the state will no longer intervene and remove a child from their home unless “the danger is so great and so likely that it outweighs the trauma of entering the foster care system.”

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Plano Criminal Defense AttorneyThere is no denying that human smuggling has turned into a major issue in the United States. Here in Texas, many human smuggling victims are brought into the country over the border from Mexico. Anyone involved in human smuggling faces serious criminal charges if caught, but now comes news that Mexican drug cartels are enticing Texas teenagers to become involved in these dangerous smuggling operations, putting the teens at risk of not only facing arrest but also the potential for serious injury in the process.

TikTok Advertisements

TikTok has become one of the most popular social media platforms for teens. Criminal Mexican cartels are taking advantage of this popularity and using the platform to attract teenagers into bringing illegal migrants into Texas.

According to an investigation conducted by a major news network, the cartels advertise on TikTok, offering teens one thousand dollars to drive the illegal migrants to Houston. Many of these migrants are actually drug cartel members or they have criminal records. Instead of surrendering to border authorities or being screened by immigration officials before being released, these migrants being smuggled are attempting to avoid apprehension because of their criminal histories and would be not allowed into the country by border patrol.

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Fort Worth Marijuana Defense AttorneyThe law regarding marijuana can be confusing. There may be differences between federal and state laws, and each individual state also has different laws. The federal government still considers the use of marijuana as illegal, yet some states have passed laws that make the use of recreational marijuana legal. Texas is not one of those states.

One area where Texas law and the federal government do disagree on, however, is how it classifies delta-8 THC. While federal law has deemed the use legal, Texas health officials have now put it on the state’s list of illegal drugs, leaving those that sell CBD products in the state scrambling.

Delta-8 THC

Cannabis contains 100 cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the active psychoactive compound found in cannabis. This includes various forms of THC and CBD. Delta-8 THC is almost identical to the form of THC that is banned under fede ral and state law, however, it is sourced from hemp. Three years ago, under the federal Farm Bill, the definition of lawful marijuana extracts was changed, resulting in delta-8 THC being removed from the national list of controlled substances. This means the product is perfectly legal under federal law, even though users can get high from it.

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Child Neglect Charges in Texas

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Collin County Child Abuse LawyerA Texas couple was recently charged with child neglect after someone called police to request a welfare check be done for the couple’s two children. When police arrived at the couple’s complex, neighbors were able to provide additional information. According to several neighbors, the couple was “regularly under the influence of meth” resulting in the children being without any adult supervision for long periods of time. One neighbor reported on an incident where the couple’s two-year-old child got out of their apartment and was found outside at 3 a.m. The couple has been charged with child neglect and is being held on a $5,000 bond.

While Texas law has a very specific statute regarding child neglect, the determination of what constitutes child neglect can be subjective, especially to members of a jury. For example, leaving an 11-year-old child alone for an hour to run to the store can be considered reasonable by some parents, but other parents may think that the child is too young, and the parent is being neglectful.

If you have been accused of child neglect, a Collin County defense attorney can help.

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Collin County Criminal Defense AttorneyThe month of October is designated as National Domestic Violence Month. The goal is to bring awareness of how prevalent the issue of domestic violence is. According to national statistics, 10 percent of the nation’s domestic violence homicides occur right here in Texas. The Texas Council on Family Violence estimates one in three Texans will be a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime.

While there is no doubt domestic violence is a national issue that must be addressed, it is also true that there are many people who are arrested for domestic violence that should not be. False accusations are levied against innocent people for a variety of reasons – as leverage in a divorce or child custody battle, revenge for a romantic breakup, and more. Not only do these false accusations wreak havoc on the lives of those falsely accused, but they also are unfair and hurtful to those who are true victims of domestic abuse.

Texas Family Violence Laws

In Texas, domestic violence is legally referred to as family violence. The Texas Code defines family violence as follows:

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Plano Criminal Defense AttorneyAs written in a recent prior post, although Texas lawmakers are working on legislation that would change the state’s bail system, the current system does provide options for a person who has been charged with a crime to be released on bail while they are awaiting trial, depending on the circumstances of the crime they have been charged with and their prior criminal record.

But what happens if a defendant who has been released on bail fails to show up for their trial? What are the legal consequences they may be facing?

Operation Washout Silver Bear

Last month, during a one-week operation, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Texas Lone Star Fugitive Task Force worked together with local law enforcement and other agencies and captured 66 people who were wanted for jumping bail. The majority of those arrested were classified by the task force as “violent fugitives and gang members.”

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Fort Worth Crimes Against Children LawyerLast month, Apple announced its new policies and programs in an effort to protect children from people who use electronic communication tools in order to recruit and exploit children to produce and distribute Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). In addition to certain safety features that will be available to parents for monitoring their children’s phones, Apple has also announced it will begin monitoring iCloud photos for child abuse photos and forwarding what they find to authorities.

Scanning Photos

It may come as a surprise to some users, but the majority of cloud services, including Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, already scan user files for any content that may be illegal or that violates the company’s terms of service. In the past, Apple has refused to participate in this policy, but that is all changing with the recent announcement.

The company has developed a new technology called NeuralHash. Apple will use the technology to search for “hashes” on a user’s electronic device. Apple will store a database of hashes that will match up with known CSAM. The database CSAM hashes are being provided to the company by child protection organizations, such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and others.

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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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