R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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Houston Texas Criminal Defense Blog

Parole violations may feel very minor

When you're out on parole, it is very important not to violate the terms of that parole. The authorities only let you out on the condition that you follow their instructions and adhere to those terms without wavering. If you get caught breaking parole, you can face serious ramifications.

This can create some problems, though, as parole violations may feel very minor. You may not realize how important it is to follow the letter of the law or how easy it is to violate the terms.

Can you claim self-defense if you hit first?

The general advice regarding a self-defense claim is simple: You should not hit first. If the other person strikes you, then you can defend yourself. If you hit them first, you could find yourself facing assault charges because you instigated the fights.

That said, there are some rare situations in which you can hit first and still claim it was self-defense. A case like this may be tricky, but it is occasionally possible.

Professor claims you shouldn't talk to the police

You do have some legal obligations when the police approach you. For instance, you may have to identify yourself. You may have to tell them what you're doing. However, once you have fulfilled your obligations, should you say anything else?

One law professor says that you never should. He says that you don't need to tell them that you plead the fifth, you don't need to answer their questions and you don't need to offer any information. Instead, all you need to say is that you want your lawyer.

1 reason police officers act aggressively

Have you ever encountered a police officer who was too aggressive? Maybe you felt like they were trying to intimidate you. Maybe they escalated a situation and wound up arresting you. No matter how it happened, you came away from it with a bad taste in your mouth, feeling like someone who is supposed to serve and protect the public never should have acted that way.

There are many potential reasons why police officers act aggressively. Dealing with alleged criminals all day may make them feel they have to act that way to stay in control, for instance. They may purposely act in an over-aggressive manner to push others around and get their way.

What do parents need to know about the juvenile justice system?

Finding out that your teenager is in legal trouble is hard for parents. There are often many uncertainties that creep up. Understanding the juvenile justice system in Texas can help parents who are facing this situation.

Whether your child is facing a case for delinquent conduct or a status offense, there are some specific points that you should remember. These can help you to make decisions as you navigate a system you hoped you'd never have to encounter.

Trying to keep fights from escalating

Many arguments start as nothing more than verbal disagreements. That's normal and natural; it happens to all couples at some point. The key is to work through it and find a solution.

One potential problem is when the verbal argument escalates. You want to prevent this if possible, but how can you do it?

You don't have to prove that you're innocent

When many people get accused of a crime, their first thought is that they have to clear their name by going to court and proving that they're innocent. They want to show that they did not commit the crime. They think it's their obligation, now that they've been accused.

It's a natural reaction, and you do want to clear your name, but this mindset is backward. You do not have to prove that you are innocent. Instead, the prosecution has to prove that you are guilty. This is the basic principle of being "innocent until proven guilty," or the presumption of innocence. The court has to assume that everyone who walks through the door did nothing wrong, only changing that opinion if the prosecution can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they did commit a crime.

Can you tell if someone lies about domestic violence?

Many domestic violence allegations are true and accurate, but not all. Maybe your significant other lied about you and said that you abused them when you did no such thing. Perhaps the two of you are involved in a divorce, for instance, and you think they're lying to try to keep you from getting custody of the children.

If this happens, it can be very frustrating. Domestic violence allegations are nothing to take lightly, and they can change your life. Knowing that someone else is doing that to you and not being honest is hard to cope with.

The 6 elements of fraud

If someone accuses you of fraud, that accusation alone may not be enough. Fraud has to be proven to a legal standard, and there are six basic elements that generally need to be present for the charges to stand.

The key to your defense, then, may simply lie in understanding what these elements are and how they pertain to your case. If they're not all present, you can argue that you never committed fraud in the first place, regardless of how the other party felt about whatever happened between the two of you. The six elements are:

  1. You made a claim to someone else.
  2. That claim was not true.
  3. You knew at the time that the claim was false, or you made the claim in a reckless manner -- in other words, you had no idea if it was true or not and didn't try to find out before claiming that it was.
  4. You made that claim because you wanted the other party to rely on it in some fashion.
  5. They did rely on your claim, not knowing it was false.
  6. As a result, they suffered some sort of direct harm. It is typically financial.

Questions to ask about self-defense

You get arrested on assault charges after a fight. You claim it was just self-defense. After all, you know you have a right to protect yourself from harm.

You do have that right, but making this claim does raise some interesting questions. These include:

  • Did you use the sufficient and appropriate amount of force? How do you even determine such a thing?
  • What could constitute excessive force?
  • If you could have escaped the violence without fighting, should you have done that? Do you have any obligations in this regard?
  • Did you do anything to entice the other person to attack you? Even if you did not act in a physical manner toward them, will your actions factor into the case?
  • Was there actually a threat, or did you just think there was? If you make a mistake in judgment, what will that mean?

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