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

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?

What are penalties for drunk driving with kids in the vehicle?

Everyone likes to have a good time. Maybe you meet up with friends or coworkers for happy hour before you pick your kids up from school or soccer practice. While there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun, it’s important to remember that you have a responsibility to yourself, other motorists, and the child you will pick up later to ensure you will be safe to drive when the time comes.

Parents drive drunk maybe more than you think. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that motorists make up to 102 million drunk-driving trips with passengers under age 15. That is a staggering number as children of this age may be most vulnerable in the event of an alcohol-related crash.

Experts: 20,000 people may be innocent in jail

Have you ever heard someone say that "everyone's innocent" in jail? It's a tongue-in-cheek way to claim that all people who have been convicted claim that they're innocent, even though they're not.

Here's what's frightening, though: A lot of them may be right. Some experts believe that around 20,000 people in the U.S. prison system are actually innocent, and they got falsely convicted.

Accidents and oversights can lead to criminal charges

We all make mistakes. But what if those mistakes lead to criminal charges? What if you accidentally do something that results in a call to the police?

For example, say you go to the store just to do some browsing. You find a shirt that you like, but you want to keep looking around. You tuck it under your arm so that no one else buys it, and then you keep walking around the store.

Assault and battery are not different charges in Texas

Many states look at assault and battery as two related, but very different, legal charges. The main issue is that an assault can just be a threat of physical violence, while battery is the carrying out of that physical action.

In Texas, they both fall under the general classification of assault. It can be a threat or a physical assault. There are very different ramifications -- you could see jail time for a physical assault and merely get a fine for a threat, for instance -- but they both count as assault of one variety or another.

How are domestic violence charges prosecuted in Texas?

Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 22.01 defines domestic violence as any instance in which an individual threatens or inflicts bodily harm on another individual. State law allows anyone residing in the same home with their alleged victim to be charged with domestic violence. It doesn't matter whether they're in a romantic relationship with their victim. They don't necessarily have to be related by blood either.

Domestic violence is considered as a type of assault in Texas. It can be prosecuted as anything from a Class C misdemeanor up to a first-degree felony here in this state. Prosecutors will generally base their decision as to what degree of crime to charge a defendant with on a variety of factors.

What are the penalties for a DWI conviction?

Everyone makes mistakes. When you are out enjoying your time with friends, it can be easy to lose track of time. It is also easy to miscalculate how much you have had to drink or how other intoxicants may be affecting your ability to drive.

You may have somewhere important to get to, or you may just be heading home for the night. However, even one intoxicated driving mistake can be very costly.

Let's Discuss Your Situation

I welcome your emails, but I'd love to talk to you, too, so please call me at: 713-489-7763.

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