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Houston Criminal Defense Blog

Can you send and receive pot through the mail?

Today's blog is going to examine a thoroughly hypothetical situation where a Texan could suddenly find themselves in great need of a skillful and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

Jorge has a friend, Sam, who lives in Colorado and works as a budtender in one of Denver's most popular marijuana dispensaries. Sam often brags to Jorge about the potency of the buds he sells to his customers and offers Jorge an especially good deal on some very potent strains of high-grade marijuana.

Field sobriety test basics

If you have ever wondered just what happens during a typical drunk driving arrest process in Texas, you are not alone. While many people have heard about field sobriety tests, few truly understand them. As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, these different tests administered at a stop location do not prove that you are actually drunk.

All that a field sobriety test can show is that you might be under the influence of alcohol. This is then used by an officer to support placing you under arrest for suspected driving while intoxicated. Before an officer even asks you to perform any of these field sobriety tests, they may rely on their sensory data to surmise that you have been drinking. They visually look for redness in your eyes, listen to how you speak to identify potential speech difficulties and they use their sense of smell to detect the aroma of alcohol.

Clarifying Texas' implied consent law

For those who have been stopped by law enforcement officials in Houston for suspected drunk driving, their first thought may be to refuse taking any sort of sobriety testing. Most may assume that officials cannot compel one to do anything that he or she does not consent to do. Yet when it comes to drunk driving, law enforcement is offered a little leeway. States have enacted implied consent laws that basically say that by driving, one agrees to chemical testing to confirm his or her sobriety. Indeed, Texas' implied consent law can be found in Section 724.011 of the state's Transportation Code

In this section, it clearly states that those arrested for offenses committed while allegedly intoxicated are deemed to have consented to breath or blood analysis in order to confirm their impairment. It also goes on to say that one may consent to either forms of analysis. Some may view this as empowering law enforcement officials to perform chemical testing on whomever they want, whenever they want to. However, the Supreme Court of the United has ruled contradictory to this assumption. 

Marijuana possession: is it still a crime?

The controversy surrounding marijuana legalization in America has taken the spotlight in regards to attitudes towards the drug as a whole. As for Texas, legalization has yet to take place, yet lawmakers are recently reconsidering the legal penalties for possession. There currently exist a number of penalties and fines for marijuana possession, but the growing number of those incarcerated as a result has caused many to reassess the ways society views the drug, and the crippling costs to support those behind bars for posession.

Although laws involving medical marijuana are currently changing, there is still a long way to go when it comes to actual possession penalties, and who, exactly, is allowed to possess the drug. KSAT News reflects on the 2015 "Compassionate Use Act," a Senate Bill signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott that requires the Department of Public Safety to create a registry of physicians treating epilepsy for the purpose of prescribing cannabis to patients. While KSAT reports that this act is a huge relief to those in need of medical marijuana, it nonetheless contains limitations. All medical marijuana patients have to prove diagnosis of epilepsy, be under current physician care, tried FDA-approved drugs to no avail and be a permanent resident of Texas.  

When divorce turns criminal in Texas: Domestic violence charges

A potential -- and very unfortunate -- consequence of getting divorced is finding out that you have been accused of domestic violence against your spouse. The repercussions of a domestic violence arrest are numerous and long-lasting, affecting not only your parental and custodial rights with your children, but possibly even your freedom.

What is an Order of Protection?

Can drunk driving charges prevent me from visiting Canada?

If you have been charged with operating a motor vehicle while drunk, you may have many types of questions about the charges and how they could affect your future. Whether you are worried about a prison sentence, losing your ability to drive, or costly fines, these charges can make life hard for people in Houston, and all over Texas. However, you may want to realize that these charges could affect your life in other ways. For example, they may create problems if you plan on visiting Canada.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, immigration authorities in Canada may decide to prevent you from entering the country if you have been convicted of drunk driving. Whether you plan on spending time with loved ones who live on the other side of the northern border or want to visit for work or sightseeing, these charges could leave you unable to enter Canada. As a result, it is crucial for you to carefully prepare yourself if you are facing these charges.

The one-leg stand test for drunk driving

An important thing for anyone who drives in Texas to understand is what may happen to them if they are stopped by police officers. There are many reasons you might be pulled over ranging from basic speeding to even having a tail light that is out. Once you are stopped, however, a law enforcement officer may well be able to pursue other issues if they feel there is reason. Drunk driving is one of these issues. 

If an officer were to believe you have been drinking before you drove or even while you were driving, you might be asked to take certain tests. As FieldSobrietyTests.org explains, these roadside tests do not in any way determine whether or not you are intoxicated but are meant to give an officer enough reason to support placing you under arrest for suspected drunk driving. Among the tests that may be used is the one-leg stand test.

Protective orders: a solution to domestic violence

Violence is an unlawful exercise in every state in America, and can stem from a number of complex situations. Violence often does not stem from any particular cause, and such dangerous behavior in the home can be an even more frightening matter. Thousands of Texas residents report domestic violence each year. Officials encourage victims of domestic violence to report any incident that occurs, and to go forward with legal processes that can protect them and other family members.

The Harris County official website provides a document that describes the types of legal routes victims of domestic violence may choose to take. An individual may seek a Peace Bond if someone has threatened to harm them or their property, and the bond can force the person making threats to deposit money with the court. This money can indefinitely remain with the court if the person who made the threat commits the threatened crime. The following are additional types of orders an individual may seek when experiencing domestic violence:

  • Temporary Restraining Order: This order can take place if an individual already has a lawsuit filed, and if the individual requests that the court orders the other party not to harm the individual
  • Protective Order: An order wherein an individual has been harmed by a family member or someone he or she dated, and the individual fears the other party may harm them again
  • Temporary Ex-Parte Protective Order: An order that the court can file if officials believe an individual is in danger
  • Emergency Protective Order: An order that the Municipal Court can file after an abuser is arrested, and is enforced when an individual violates the order     

Accused of shoplifting? Things you need to know

Although shoplifting is not considered the most serious crime, you need to realize one thing to be true: This can still have a negative impact on your life.

It's important that you take the right steps if you are accused of shoplifting. Depending on the situation you're facing, this could range from a minor misunderstanding to an expensive criminal charge.

Bill in Senate to change bail system

Across the state of Texas, there are many families who have had to scrape together enough money to get a relative out on bail. This is often difficult, and some families are unable to afford the amount set by the court, leaving their family member to stay in jail until their trial or a time when they can get the money. Two Senators are trying to change this system.

According to their New York Times opinion piece, Senators Kamala Harris and Rand Paul are co-sponsoring the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act to prevent people from being jailed while awaiting their trial solely for being unable to pay their bail. Minor crimes can carry a high price tag, such as $20,000 for the theft of just over $100 worth of clothes, and it is these cases that keep 450,000 Americans in jail waiting for their day in court because they cannot afford to pay. Detaining all of these people costs the taxpayer $14 billion each year. And it can cost the people being held in jail the custody of their children, their jobs, and their homes.

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R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Houston, TX 77008

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