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

Recalled Test Tubes

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

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

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

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

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

The New Law: HB 1540

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

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

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

Types of Protective Orders

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

Violations of Protective Orders

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

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

Charges Involving Child Injuries and Risky Situations

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

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

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

Federal Computer Fraud Offenses

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

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

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

Kidnapping and Unlawful Restraint in Texas

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

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

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

“Constitutional Carry” of Firearms

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Charges Related to Marijuana

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

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

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

Criminal Charges Related to Child Prostitution

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

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

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

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

Federal Charges for Money Laundering

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

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

State and Federal Child Pornography Charges

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

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

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

Drug Trafficking Charges

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

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

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

Manslaughter Charges in Under Texas Law

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

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

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

When Is an Offense Considered Child Trafficking?

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

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

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Dallas criminal defense lawyer for property crimesWhen one thinks of camping, they likely imagine families on vacation, setting up tents in campgrounds to sleep under the stars. While camping like this is welcomed as a family-friendly activity, there is another form of camping that Governor Greg Abbott and state legislators are looking to eradicate: public camping. Recently, discussions began surrounding whether or not public camping should be considered a crime in Texas.

Addressing Homelessness

Cities have always been a haven for homelessness, as the numerous buildings can provide temporary shelter. Some homeless individuals seek refuge near buildings, while others set up camp in public areas. The topic of homelessness has been under discussion as of late as Austin political leaders have been developing a new strategy to address the area’s struggles with the homeless population. According to the Texas Homeless Network’s annual report, approximately 27,000 Texans experienced homelessness on a single night in 2020. This population is skewed to the Black community, with 37 percent of the homeless population consisting of Black individuals, even though they make up only 13 percent of Texas’ population. 

The legislators behind Senate Bill 987 highlight the economic and public health consequences that these public camping communities bring into Texas cities. For instance, the fires often lit in these public campsites can present deadly hazards to those in the encampments and the cities themselves. If passed, SB 987 would allow local governments to enact stricter camping ordinances and establish a statewide ban on public camping, making the act a property crime and Class C misdemeanor for violators. Though this misdemeanor classification is relatively low, those found guilty of camping on public property would still face criminal charges and fines.

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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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Dallas, TX DWI defense lawyer for breathalyzer testsWhen a police officer pulls someone over, they will often be looking to determine whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If an officer suspects that you are driving while intoxicated (DWI), he or she may ask you to submit to a few tests to determine your level of intoxication. But as a Texas driver, are you required to submit to such testing?

Types of Sobriety Tests

There are several different types of tests that police officers may ask a driver to take, including preliminary blood alcohol tests and field sobriety tests that are meant to gauge the driver’s balance, reaction time, and ability to drive safely. These tests may include:

  1. Nystagmus: This is often the first field sobriety test that officers will use, since it does not require the driver to get out of the vehicle or use any devices. The officer will place a pen in between the driver’s eyes, asking him or her to follow the pen with their eyes. This measures the driver’s ability to focus and follow directions.

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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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