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Houston Criminal Defense Blog

The problems with civil asset forfeiture

The goal of civil asset forfeiture is to deter people who help criminals. If law enforcement seizes property related to criminal activity, it could deter more crime from taking place. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work as planned.

In 2017 alone, Texas law enforcement seized over $50 million worth of assets in criminal and civil forfeiture. While much of this is likely properly obtained, there are several issues that crop up with civil asset forfeiture including:

Opioid addiction in connection to incarceration

Following surgical procedures or in an effort to ease chronic pain, opioid medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine are often prescribed. Though these prescription narcotics tend to help with pain relief, they are known to be highly addictive. For some, this leads to trouble with the law.

Over time, narcotics can cause both physical and emotional problems. As tolerance develops, one might feel the need for an increased dosage, though a refilled prescription may not be medically necessary.

Can you have your criminal record cleared in Texas?

Perhaps you made a mistake when you were younger and now you have a criminal record following you, rearing its head every time you apply for a job or an apartment, or even volunteer. This can even happen without a conviction. You keep waiting for it to go away, but it doesn't. That's because you must request the court clear your record.

Texas has two methods for doing this: expunction (also called expungement) and a petition for non-disclosure. 

It's beginning to look a lot like the holidays

When the holiday season begins, you can always count on noticing a few things: fake cotton snow on window sills, nativity scenes on street corners and, of course, a few more police cars on your commute.

It's no secret that the holidays are a big time for police, with increased incidents of drunk driving and other infractions. What you may not know is that this is a result of a nationally-endorsed strategy called High Visibility Enforcement (HVE). The goal is to deter crime by making sure everyone knows that the police are out in force and you are more familiar with it than you think.

Don't let domestic violence allegations mar the holidays

There is a persistent myth surrounding domestic violence. The media has — falsely — claimed for many years that domestic violence peaks around the holidays. This is not supported by evidence and actually does further harm to the victims, as domestic violence occurs year round.

Which is not to say that incidents of domestic violence don't ebb and flow in relationships. They do, based on myriad factors unique to the relationships.

The distinction between assault and battery in Texas

Assault and battery are two legal terms that frequently are used together. Here in Texas, as opposed to many other states, the term "assault" covers both the threat of violence and the acts of it as well. In other words, what, across the state line in Louisiana, would be known as battery, falls under the umbrella of assault here in Texas.

Still, there are nuances involved. If a man walks into a bar and tells another patron that he's going to "punch [his] lights out," he can face an assault charge. If he actually does punch the man, he could still be arrested for assault. But in the first case, the threat would clearly be a misdemeanor charge, whereas with the latter action, the offender could potentially face felony charges dependent on many variables, including the damage done.

What qualifies as aggravated assault in Texas?

When it comes to physical altercations, there is a lot of confusion among citizens in Texas regarding what criminal charges and penalties apply. Each situation is unique. However, the Texas Penal Code has clear rules regarding which charges individuals may face after a fight or similar situation.

Assault is the most common charge to result from a physical altercation. Of course, assault is a relatively broad term, which often includes verbal threats and physically threatening or intimidating behavior. The courts may consider any kind of unwanted physical contact assault.

Former Texas Christian University player indicted

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in September that the former stand-out quarterback (QB) for Texas Christian University (TCU) and the Seattle Seahawks got indicted for aggravated assault that caused serious bodily injury.

Trevone Boykin, 24, was first arrested in Mansfield back in March and booked into the Tarrant County Jail. After posting a $25,000 bond the following night, he was released.

Fight a drug possession charge with the right defense strategy

A drug possession charge is a big deal, as a conviction is sure to alter your life both now and in the future. Depending on the severity of your crime, a conviction could result in a large fine, community service and/or prison time.

While there is no surefire way of knowing what will happen when your day in court arrives, it's important to note that there are several drug possession defense strategies you can employ. It's important to understand your options, including which one gives you the best chance of preventing a conviction.

  • Unlawful search and seizure: The Fourth Amendment protects you against unlawful search and seizure, so this is something to think about should you come under arrest for any type of drug possession crime.
  • The drugs aren't mine: It may be one of the more difficult strategies to employ, but it's possible you can prove that the drugs were not yours. Doing so will remove you from the line of fire, thus allowing you to avoid a conviction.
  • Entrapment: You understand that police are permitted by law to set up sting operations with the idea of catching people who are breaking the law. However, law enforcement officials are not permitted to induce a suspect to commit a crime. Known as entrapment, you can use this defense strategy to prove your innocence.
  • Planted drugs: It's not the easiest thing to prove, but with the right approach, you may be able to show the court that drugs were planted with the idea of making an arrest. In many cases, it will take one officer blowing the whistle on another for you to have the evidence you require to proceed with this strategy.

When you are charged with selling drugs in a drug-free zone

Any time that a Texas resident faces a drug offense, it's a serious matter. However, when the charge involves selling illegal drugs in a drug-free zone, the charges - and potential penalties - are even steeper.

Many people don't realize that some version of this prohibition has been enforced since 1970. That's when Congress first passed a law allowing for increased penalties for those who were convicted of specific drug offenses that took place around schools. In theory, the premise is arguably a good one, as selling contraband drugs around children's schools potentially exposes them to danger.

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