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

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.

Don't take a plea on an arson case before you read this

Most people associate arson charges with a scheme to defraud an insurance company. They picture someone setting fire to a warehouse or business and then trying to cash in on an inflated insurance check.

In reality, you can be charged with arson in Texas for such varied offenses as:

  • Burning down weeds in a field without permission
  • Setting fire in an abandoned building
  • Setting fire to an old car that's abandoned
  • Intentionally lighting a fire that puts other people in danger
  • Intentionally lighting a fire for warmth but letting it get out of control
  • Accidentally setting a fire while manufacturing drugs
  • Simply lighting a fire or causing an explosion -- even if the fire burns out or the explosion is minor

Get help when federal agents show up to your business

What do you do if federal agents suddenly show up at your workplace and want to ask you a few questions? You're worried about where things will go if you answer them. You're also worried about what will happen if you refuse to answer.

So, what do you do? Remember these facts if federal agents are waiting in your lobby:

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