Minimize the Consequences of a DWI on Your Car Insurance

DWIConsequences

DWI Car Insurance Help from an Attorney

Hiring an Attorney to Defend You Can Lessen the Insurance Impact

There are many potential negative ramifications of a DWI conviction in Texas. You may spend time in jail and/or pay a hefty fine and court fees. You could lose your license for a significant period of time or be required to have an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle. Another byproduct of a conviction—your motor vehicle insurance premiums could go up substantially, or you might even have your insurance cancelled!

It may seem like the impact on your insurance coverage is the area where an attorney would have the least impact, but an insurance industry study came to a different conclusion. In fact, the data collected by researchers at QuoteWizard suggests that hiring a lawyer to aggressively defend you on DWI charges can more than pay for itself by helping you avoid both premium increases and additional fines. The analysts at QuoteWizard talked with defense lawyers, considered conviction data and examined insurance rates. When they crunched the numbers, here’s what they found:

  • If you hire an attorney to handle your DWI prosecution, you are up to three times more likely to have the charges reduced
  • The difference between insurance rates if you’ve convicted for negligent or reckless driving, as opposed to driving under the influence? An average of almost $500 every year.
  • The average annual cost of a DWI conviction (in terms of your motor vehicle insurance)—About $830!

The Breakdown of Effects to Your Car Insurance After DWI

Before seeking quotes from insurers, QuoteWizard put together a profile for a hypothetical driver. For purposes of the study, that motorist was 30 years of age, single and currently insured for 10 years. The insured vehicle was a 2010 Honda Accord, fully paid for, and the driver put an average of 10,000 miles on the car each year, primarily back and forth from work. The quotes assumed state minimums of personal liability, property damage and uninsured motorist coverage, with $500 comprehensive and collision deductibles. QuoteWizard then obtained quotes for male and for female drivers who had:

  • A clean driving record
  • A negligent driving charge
  • A DWI charge

According to the data collected, the average court fees and fines for a person without an attorney was $3,600. That average was reduced to just $1,600 when the defendant opted to hire a lawyer. In addition, an unrepresented defendant incurred, on average, a $3,400 increase in insurance premiums over a three year period. A defendant who chose to retain counsel experienced an average premium increase of only $1,500 over the same period. The average cost of an attorney was $2,500, but that expense was more than offset by the reduction in fines, fees and insurance premium increases.
Among the costs that can be reduced or avoided by hiring legal counsel are:

  • Court-imposed fines, which in Texas can be as much as $4,000 for a first time offender
  • Traffic school or treatment programs—Anywhere from $150 to $500 or more
  • Ignition interlock fees—You will be assessed an installation fee ($75 to $150) and a monthly maintenance fee (up to $100)
  • Department of Motor Vehicle fees, including license reinstatement costs

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we aggressively defend people who have been charged with drinking and driving or operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. Our phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Clearing Your Criminal Arrest Record in Texas

expungement

Expunging Misdemeanor and Felony Records

Are you still paying the consequences for a stupid mistake you made a few years back and want to know the cost to expunge your record? We’ve all done things without thinking, and it can be a real blessing when we’ve learned the error of our way without hurting someone else or facing criminal charges. A criminal record, of any kind, can make it difficult to find the job you want, to get credit, to live in a nice apartment and even to qualify for assistance with higher education. Fortunately, in Texas, the expungement process is available for many types of records. With expungement, you seek to erase or limit access to certain criminal records. Records that are expunged are no longer accessible by employers and others. In most instances, you can even tell others that you were never arrested or charged (except when you are testifying under oath).

Now that you’re interested, you probably have some questions—

  • How do you expunge a criminal record in Texas?
  • Are there restrictions on the types of records that can be expunged?
  • What types of records may be expunged?
  • How do I know if I qualify for expungement

Here are the situations in Texas where you can have prior criminal records expunged:

  • You were found guilty of a crime at trial, but the conviction was overturned or you were pardoned
  • You were charged, but the prosecutor or the court dismissed the case and the statute of limitations has expired
  • You were not formally charged, but only detained or arrested, and you have completed the statutory waiting period
  • You were arrested and charged and your case went to trial, where you were acquitted

Expungement is available for both misdemeanors and felonies in Texas. For felonies, if you were detained or arrested, but not charged, you must wait at least three years from the date or your arrest to request expungement. For a Class A or Class B misdemeanor, the waiting period is one year. Class C misdemeanors may not be expunged until 180 days (6 months) have passed.

How Much Will It Cost to Expunge My Criminal Record in Texas?

As a general rule, it costs more to expunge a felony than a misdemeanor. The expungement of a felony will customarily cost a minimum of $1,000, but may cost upwards of $2,500 or even more. Misdemeanors can usually be expunged for $1,000 or less.

How Quickly Can I Expect the Expungement Process to Be Completed?

When you file a petition to have a criminal record expunged, you’ll first have to appear before the court. That hearing usually comes about a month after your filing. The court may grant the expungement at the hearing, but it can take upwards of six months for the decision to be registered.

If you don’t qualify for expungement, you may still be able to limit access to your criminal records by seeking an “order of non-disclosure” with the court. This seals your criminal record from the general public while making it available on a very limited basis to specific governmental agencies.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment or to discuss the cost to expunge your criminal record, contact us by e-mail or call us at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What Does No Refusal Weekend Mean in Texas?

policesirens

No Refusal Weekend in Texas

Understanding Implied Consent and the Texas “No Refusal” Program

In Texas, often at holidays or times when police know that there will a greater volume of traffic on the roads or more likelihood of people drinking and driving, counties within the state will institute what’s known as a “no refusal” program. You may or may not have heard of such an operation and may wonder what it is. The “No Refusal” program relates to the implied consent laws in Texas, which deal with your rights and obligations related to blood alcohol testing after an arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

No Refusal Weekend – What Is Implied Consent?

In Texas, as in all other states, the law of “implied consent” applies whenever a motorist gets behind the wheel. Under the principle of implied consent, when you decide to operate a motor vehicle in the Lone Star State, you “imply” that you will agree to submit to a blood test if you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI or DWI. If a law enforcement officer asks you to take a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) test and you refuse, you will automatically have your driving privileges suspended for 180 days. Some courts, though, have held that implied consent violates a suspect’s 4th Amendment right to unreasonable search and seizure.

How Does the “No Refusal” Program Change the Consequences of a DUI/DWI Traffic Stop?

Under Texas law, when a motorist refuses to submit to a blood alcohol test, law enforcement officers must have a valid search warrant to compel the suspect to provide a blood sample. In most instances, that requires that the police officer appear in court and provide the judge with probable cause to issue the search warrant. Blood must be drawn by a medical professional. Furthermore, the number of people who are available to provide such services is limited during late-night hours, the time when most DUI/DWI arrests are made. As a practical matter, in the time it would take to obtain the search warrant, the suspect would most likely sober up and fail the test.

Under the “No Refusal” program, police officers may submit an electronic request for a search warrant from the scene of the traffic stop. The court may then transmit the electronic warrant to the officer’s dashboard computer or cell phone. Once the electronic warrant has been received, the law enforcement officer is legally authorized to use force to obtain a blood sample.

It’s fairly common for counties or municipalities to set up “No Refusal” weekends or put such programs in place during holidays. During such times, police departments will typically have more judges available to issue warrants, and more nurses available to take blood samples.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Admissions Scandal Rocks Higher Education

Wrongdoing Includes Bribes, Cheating on Entrance Exams and Misrepresentation of Athletic Ability

college students on campusIn March, 2019, federal prosecutors announced a total of 50 indictments in what officials say is the most extensive college admissions fraud ever uncovered in the United States. The FBI investigation, codename “Operation Varsity Blues,” led to charges against coaches and parents, including some celebrities. Among the charges levied were conspiracy, racketeering and wire fraud. The colleges and universities at which the fraudulent acts affected admissions included Stanford, the University of Southern California, Yale, Wake Forest, Georgetown and the University of Texas at Austin.

Of the 50 indictments, 33 named parents, who prosecutors say paid as much as $6.5 million to ensure that their offspring would be admitted to one of the elite institutions. The alleged brains behind the scam, William Singer, allegedly coordinated bribes to coaches, test proctors and others. Singer purportedly ran a private “counseling” firm and foundation through which the bribe money was funneled.

According to documents obtained by the FBI, Singer boasted that his company “help[s] the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school.” Singer told prospective parents that he offered a “guarantee,” which he could secure because he had created a “side door” to various institutions of higher learning.

Apparently, the side door most often involved the falsification of student athletic profiles, so that the children of the wealthy parents would be admitted based on alleged athletic ability. In wiretaps, FBI agents overheard one parent detailing plans of how he would get his son into the University of Southern California as a football recruit (listing him as a highly sought after kicker/punter), even though the high school the student attended had no football program. The parent talked about taking a picture of the youth and using Photoshop to create a false impression that the student was a talented athlete.

The coaches indicted represented a number of “second-tier” sports, including men’s and women’s tennis, volleyball, soccer, sailing and water polo. One athletic director was also named.

Singer allegedly charged different fees, based on the college to which the parents sought admission. He also coached parents on how to describe the transaction if it came to light, saying he told the IRS that it was money being used to “help underserved kids.”

The indictments also contend that the participants conspired to cheat on college entrance exams. Some of the children of the indicted parents were encouraged by Singer and others to file requests for extra time on ACT and SAT exams, alleging that they had learning disabilities. Test proctors were also bribed to allow someone to take the test in the applicant’s place. There was also evidence that some test proctors either gave student correct answers or reviewed and corrected their answers after the test was completed (for which they received payments).

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor Traffic Offense

Man pulled over in car worried about police

Understanding the Different Types of Traffic Violations

In Texas, as in all other states, the criminal laws make a distinction between those that are considered misdemeanors and those that rise to the level of a felony. Many states also have lesser offense, labeled as an “infraction” or “petty offense.” There can be a significant difference in the way a case is prosecuted, in your options, and in the potential penalties for conviction. Let’s take a look at what distinguishes a misdemeanor from a felony, and then identify how that applies to traffic citations or violations.

What is a Misdemeanor?

As a rule, a misdemeanor is typically considered to be a less serious offense. There are certain types of crimes that are only prosecuted as misdemeanors, but there are also crimes that may be categorized as either, based on the specific facts of the offense. For example, some drug crimes may be charged as misdemeanors, including most types of possession, but others may be prosecuted as felonies, including trafficking or possession with intent to sell.

As a general rule, a misdemeanor results in a shorter period of incarceration, typically less than a year. In addition, a sentence for a misdemeanor it customarily served in a city or county jail, rather than a prison. You can be charged with multiple misdemeanors in the same legal proceeding and may be sentenced to serve time concurrently (at the same time) or consecutively (one sentence after the other).

You have the same constitutional rights with a misdemeanor that you have when charged with a felony. You have the right to representation by legal counsel—an option you should always take. Jury trials may or may not be available, depending on the jurisdiction and the offense. Typically, the jury for a misdemeanor is smaller than for a felony.

What is a Felony?

Felonies are considered much more serious. As a result, the penalties are more severe and certain basic rights, such as the right to vote or own/possess firearms, may be lost upon conviction. Many violent crimes are prosecuted only as felonies, including most forms of homicide and many sex crimes. Other offenses, such as theft, may be charged as petty theft (a misdemeanor) or grand theft (a felony), based on the value of the goods stolen.

As a general rule, conviction for a felony will result in incarceration in a state or federal prison for a minimum of one year. Felony convictions can also lead to substantial fines, payable to the state.

Traffic Offenses

In most instances, a traffic violation will be charged either as an infraction/petty offense or as a misdemeanor. In fact, most traffic citations don’t even rise to the level of a misdemeanor, unless there was damage to property, someone suffered a personal injury, or there was a legitimate threat of personal injury/property damage. A traffic offense will seldom constitute a felony, unless the defendant is a repeat offender or there’s death, great bodily injury or substantial property damage.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Do You Lose Rights When Convicted of a Felony?

Handcuffed man standing in courtroomWhen you’ve been charged with a felony in the state of Texas, one of your concerns may be the ultimate loss of some of the basic rights of citizenship. You may have heard rumors that such a conviction will cause you to forfeit more than your freedom of movement. Here’s how a felony conviction in Texas will impact your rights.

The Right to Vote

Under Texas law, if you are convicted of and imprisoned for committing a felony, you will not be allowed to vote while you are in prison. However, your right to vote may be restored upon the completion of your sentence. In Texas, that will only happen when you have completed all parole and probation associated with the conviction. The ban does not affect persons under deferred felony supervision.

The Right to Hold Public Office

In Texas, once you have been convicted of any type of felony, you will be barred from seeking or being appointed to public office. There’s only one way to change that—you must obtain a full pardon from the governor or the president.

The Right to Own or Possess Firearms

Upon conviction of a felony in Texas, you will be prohibited from purchasing, owning or possessing a gun of any kind. You can seek to restore some of your gun rights, but must wait five years after the completion of a prison term, parole and probation. Even if you are successful in restoring your gun rights, you will only be allowed to possess a firearm in your home.

After conviction of a felony in Texas, you will also be banned from owning or possession body armor.

If you violate the rule against ownership or possession of a firearm by a felon in Texas, you can be charged with a 3rd degree felony.

The Right to Serve on a Jury

Under Texas law, anyone convicted of a felony will be permanently barred from sitting on a jury.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Facing an Assault Charge after the Holidays?

Women criminal in handcuffs arrested

Tips for Minimizing the Risk of a Drunk Driving Arrest Over the Holidays

It’s supposed to be a time of peace on earth, good will to all persons. Unfortunately, most domestic violence experts say, physical assault doesn’t take a holiday at Christmas and New Years. While the data is inconclusive about whether or not the holidays see a jump in the number of domestic abuse and assault claims, there are many factors present during the holidays that can kindle or fan the flames of an interpersonal dispute:

  • The holidays are typically a time for spending more time with family. Family dynamics can be challenging and the emotional baggage that accompanies many family relationships can be a cauldron for conflict.
  • Increasingly, the holidays put pressure on people to spend more money, whether it’s for gifts or for hosting and feeding others. Extra expenses can be a tremendous source of anxiety for many people, particularly if finances are already strained.
  • The holidays often involve consumption of alcohol, which can often turn a minor disagreement into something far more dangerous

Protecting Yourself after an Arrest for Assault in Texas

If you’ve ended up with an assault charge this holiday season, the first thing you need to do is retain an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer. You can also improve your chances of a better outcome by understanding the process. Here’s what you can expect to happen after you’ve been detained:

  • You’ll appear before a judge—This will happen at some point within 48 hours of your arrest. You’ll learn about your right to an “examining” trial, where prosecutors must show probable cause for your arrest. The judge may also set bail, though you can be held without bail in certain circumstances.
  • You’ll be charged—After the initial appearance before the judge, prosecutors will either charge you with assault or let you go. In Texas, assault can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, with varying degrees of each.
  • You’ll be arraigned—Once charges are filed, you’ll appear in court again and you’ll have the opportunity to make your plea (guilty or not guilty). Either party may ask the court for more time (a continuance) to gather additional evidence.
  • Your case will be resolved—At any time up to and during trial, you can enter into a plea bargain. This typically involves pleading guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a lesser penalty. However, if you are unable to resolve the charges through a plea bargain, the case will go to trial. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, there will be 6 juror. For a felony trial, you’ll have 12 jurors.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Avoiding a DUI/DWI Charge This Holiday Season

dui checkpoint

Tips for Minimizing the Risk of a Drunk Driving Arrest Over the Holidays

It’s the holidays—time to celebrate—and that often means a cocktail or two with friends and family. That’s all part of the season—unless you decide to get behind the wheel after having a few. Statistics consistently show that Christmas and New Year’s see more DUI/DWI arrests than any other period of the year, and with good reason—it’s also when the most alcohol-related fatal car crashes occur. It’s also the time when drunk driving arrests and alcohol-fueled accidents are not limited almost exclusively to individuals with some kind of drinking problem.

A Drunk Driving Charge — Not What You Want for Christmas This Year

It may seem like the simplest solution is to abstain from alcohol unless you’re at home and staying there. That may be easier said than done, though, as 22% of people responding to a survey from Scramsystems.com admitted that they had been pressured to drink by colleagues at an office holiday party, and approximately half of all Americans said alcohol was a part of their holiday celebrations. Here are some other tips for reducing the likelihood that you’ll be pulled over and arrested for driving while impaired.

  • Let someone else drive—Whether it’s a friend or family member who functions as a designated driver, a taxi, Uber or Lyft, or some form of public transit, this will allow you to go to the party, have as many drinks as you want, and not worry about a potential DUI.
  • Have your party somewhere where you can spend the night—This can be at the home of a friend or family member or at a hotel. Don’t worry about the accommodations—it’s better in the long run to be uncomfortable on your friend’s couch than in a jail cell for a DWI charge.
  • Give yourself a limit and stay within it—You may decide in advance that you’ll have two beers or one mixed drink. Pace yourself so that you haven’t hit your limit a few minutes after you arrive. The longer you take to drink two beers or one mixed drink, the less impact it will have on your blood alcohol content. One of the best ways to limit your intake of alcohol is to alternate an alcoholic drink with a non-alcoholic one, starting with a non-alcoholic libation.
  • Make certain you eat plenty—Drinking on an empty stomach is always a bad idea. Don’t try to lose weight and drink during the holidays.
  • Stop drinking alcohol at least 90 minutes before you get in your car—If you have to drive and want to have an alcoholic beverage, be sure to give yourself plenty of time for any effects of alcohol to wear off.
  • Make certain your vehicle is in fully working order—Don’t give police officers a reason to pull you over. If you have a headlight or a turn signal that’s not working, you can be stopped and police can ask if you have been drinking. It can all go downhill from there.
  • Obey all traffic signals and laws—Again, this will minimize the likelihood that you’ll be pulled over.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law offices of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by email or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Start the New Year with a Clean Slate — Expunging Your Criminal Record

expungement criminal law

Use the Texas Expungement Process to Seal Criminal Records

What’s your New Year’s resolution? A better job or a new place to live? A return to school, so that you have better job skills? When you have a criminal record hanging over your head, those can be unreachable goals. When you have to report a prior conviction on a job or apartment application, it can really limit your options. In addition, a criminal record can disqualify you for some types of student financial aid. What if you could do something to remove that blemish from your past? Under the Texas expungement law, you may be able to do just that.

What is Expungement?

An expungement in Texas is the permanent removal of information about an arrest, charge or conviction from a person’s criminal record. If an expungement is granted by the court, the information is removed from the record and the person obtaining the expungement can legally deny that the arrest, charge or conviction ever occurred.

Expungement is available in Texas on a limited basis. You can never expunge a conviction, unless the conviction resulted from identity theft, the conviction was subsequently overturned on appeal or you received a pardon from the Governor or the President.

The records related to the following events are generally available for expunction:

  • Arrest for any crime for which the person was not formally charged
  • Any criminal charge (misdemeanor or felony) that was dismissed and not re-charged (although your record will not be expunged if the statute of limitations has not yet expired)
  • Qualifying misdemeanor juvenile crimes
  • Some alcohol offenses involving minors
  • Conviction for not attending school

In addition, you will not qualify for expungement if you have received deferred adjudication or probation, or if you have been convicted of a felony within five years of the event you want expunged.

How to Apply for and Get Your Record Expunged

Obviously, the first step is to look at the statute and make certain you qualify. You must than file a Petition for Expunction in the district court. The petition includes information identifying you, documents the offense charged and identifies when the alleged offense took place. You also need to notify the court of the identity of the arresting officer and department, as well as any agency or entity that has a record of the arrest. If you were charged, you’ll also need to identity which court heard your case, the docket number of the case, the final resolution, and the date the matter was resolved. All this information must be notarized and submitted to the court.

As a general rule, your application for expungement will be filed with the same court in which the original criminal matter was heard. Once you file your petition, the court will schedule a hearing, and will provide notice to all interested parties, including arresting agencies, who can then come to the hearing and give testimony regarding the requested expunction.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Your Personal Halloween Nightmare—Getting Arrested for DWI

Your Personal Halloween Nightmare—Getting Arrested for DWI

A Real Halloween Scare — A Drunk Driving Charge!!

There’s nothing quite like a good scare on Halloween night—but here’s a nightmare you can do without—getting pulled over by law enforcement officers after you’ve been enjoying a few cocktails with friends. Texas police officers take a very serious approach when enforcing the state’s DWI laws. A single mistake can be very costly, resulting in fines, incarceration and the potential loss of driving privileges. Your automobile insurance premiums can go up significantly and you could even put your job at risk.

Here’s something else you need to know—police will likely be on high alert on Halloween, as statistics show that more drunk-driving accidents occur on Halloween night and in the wee hours after trick-or-treating than any other time during the year. As Halloween has become more of an adult-oriented holiday, with many bars and restaurants hosting events with alcohol, the number of drunk-driving crashes has continually increased. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now says that there are more alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents between 6 pm on October 31 and 6 am on November 1 than any other 12 hour period during the calendar year. In a study conducted in Texas, almost half of all Halloween night traffic fatalities involved drinking and driving.

Tips for Avoiding a Halloween DWI Arrest

Whether you’re hosting or attending a Halloween bash this year, you want everyone to have a good time without risk of a drunk driving charge. Here are some ways that you can minimize the chances of just such a nightmare:

  • Go alcohol-free at your party—There are countless “mocktails” or non-alcoholic drinks that you can serve your party guests. How about a Halloween sherbet punch or blood-red (cranberry juice) Witch’s Brew Punch. Chances are your guests may not even know the punch isn’t spiked, but they may thank you later.
  • Make certain you have plenty of food at your party—Great food serves a couple of purposes—it counteracts the effects of alcohol and it encourages partygoers to drink less.
  • Have a plan if someone shouldn’t drive—It can be a cab or Uber service on call, a designated driver running a shuttle or even a few bunks at your house. It’s better for your guests to crash on your couch than to spend the night in the slammer.
  • Hire a bartender—Instead of letting guests manage their own alcohol consumption, enlist the aid of a professional bartender to limit portions and pull the plug on anyone who’s had too many.
  • Use tough love when you have to—If you have an attendee who won’t listen to reason, and insists on getting behind the wheel after too many drinks, be willing to take their car keys or even call police, if necessary. After all, if they cause injury to someone in an accident, you may be liable.
  • Never, under any circumstances, allow minors to consume alcohol—The best way to do this—insist that only adults come to the party and make no exceptions.

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Probation Violations

Probation ViolationsIf you’re sentenced to probation, your initial feeling might be relief because you’re not incarcerated, you can spend time with your family and in your community, and you can resume your life. But, probation doesn’t offer absolute freedom. An important factor to remember is that you are still subject to certain conditions, such as you may have to be monitored or seek permission to travel outside the county. Other common restrictions include:

  • Reporting regularly to your probation officer.
  • Attending classes or counseling.
  • Participating in community service.
  • Agreeing to random drug testing.
  • Remaining gainfully employed.
  • Committing no new criminal violations.

Failing to comply with any of those conditions, from testing positive for drugs to missing an appointment with your probation officer, constitutes a probation violation and can compromise your newfound freedom.

Texas recognizes two types of probation, deferred adjudication and probation. Under deferred adjudication, a defendant enters a plea of “guilty” or “no contest,” but the judge defers any finding of guilt and places the defendant on probation. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the charges will be dropped and there will be no conviction on the defendant’s record. This type of probation is generally reserved for first-time offenders and is not available to defendants with charges such as DWI, murder, kidnapping, or sex crimes.

Under the terms of ordinary probation, the judge finds the defendant guilty and sentences the defendant to a number of years of probation. Even though probation is a relatively lenient sentence, the defendant’s record will reflect a criminal conviction.

Whether you receive deferred adjudication or probation, you must adhere to the terms set by the court, and if you violate those terms, you face a host of new procedures. If your probation officer thinks that you have committed a violation, the officer will file a motion to revoke (in the case of ordinary probation) or a motion to adjudicate (in the case of deferred adjudication, this motion is meant to trigger a finding by the court). The court will then issue a motion for your arrest and set your case for hearing by a judge. The stakes are high: if you are on probation and probation is revoked, you may be incarcerated for the number of years outlined in your original plea. If you are on deferred adjudication, because there is no sentence defined in your plea, the judge could sentence you to the full range of punishment for your crime.

The probation officer’s claim that you violated your probation must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a lower standard than is applied to criminal cases where guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In this context, “preponderance of the evidence” means simply that it is more likely than not that you violated your probation. However, you are entitled to present evidence in your defense, and you are entitled to be represented by a lawyer.

We have experience ensuring that defendants’ rights are protected in court. If you need someone to fight by your side, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Statute of Limitations in Texas Criminal Prosecutions

Criminal Defense Statute of Limitations

Are There Time Limits on When a Criminal Case Must Be Initiated?

There’s a longstanding principle in our legal system, known as the “statute of limitations,” that sets limits on the amount of time that may pass before a civil lawsuit is filed or a criminal prosecution commences. In this blog, we will focus specifically on the rules governing criminal actions.

There are a number of sound reasons for having a statute of limitations in place:

  • The more time that elapses between the alleged commission of a crime and the prosecution of that offense, the greater the risk that evidence will be lost. Witnesses may move or die, and memories fade. Requiring that the case be presented within a certain amount of time promotes an outcome based on a clearer recollection of the facts.
  • Without a statute of limitations, a person suspected of criminal behavior would have to live constantly with the possibility of prosecution hanging over his head. This is generally considered patently unfair, although may not be considered so for certain serious crimes.

The Statutes of Limitations for Crimes in Texas

Under Article 12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, the various statutes of limitations for the different criminal offenses are set forth. Under the rules, if the prosecution fails to file its case within the specified time, the defendant can no longer be prosecuted.

The time period specified for prosecution varies, based on the type and severity of offense. It’s also important to understand that, although a specific time period may be set forth in the statute, the period of time can be “tolled,” or suspended, in certain situations. In such a scenario, the clock will not run on the prosecution. For example, in Texas, the statutory period will be suspended if the defendant was not present in the state (and thereby not subject to the jurisdiction of the court. “The statute of limitations will also be paused if the defendant was already under indictment for “the same conduct, same act or same transaction.”

As a general rule, a misdemeanor charge in Texas must be filed within two years of the date of the offense. As the offense becomes more serious, the statutory period is extended. Theft, kidnapping and fraud offenses generally carry a 5 year statute of limitations, although there are a number of other non-violent crimes with 7 year periods, including money laundering, tax code violations and criminal conduct by fiduciaries. For sexual assault, compelling prostitution, human trafficking, forgery and certain theft crimes, the statute of limitations goes up to 10 years.

There are, however, a number of crimes for which there is no statute of limitations, including:

  • Murder or manslaughter
  • Many types of sexual assault, including sexual assault of a child, serial sexual assault and indecency with a child
  • Leaving the scene of a fatal traffic accident
  • Human trafficking of a child or continuous human trafficking
  • Compelling a person under the age of 18 into prostitution

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Search and Seizure in Texas—The Basics

Search and Seizure

Understanding Your Rights under the Fourth Amendment

If you are under investigation for a criminal offense, or if you have been pulled over by police officers for any type of infraction, there may come a point where the officers want to conduct a search of your home or vehicle. It’s a longstanding principle and one of the essential components of our democracy that citizens shall be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. It’s right there in the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, ratified in December, 1791.

But exactly what protections the 4th Amendment provides can often be the subject of much uncertainty and confusion. What does a law enforcement officer need to initiate a search or seizure? Are there exceptions to the rules? This blog outlines the law and rules of search and seizure in Texas.
 

Your Protections under the Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment reads as follows:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

As initially written and construed until 1961, the Fourth Amendment only applied to actions by the federal government. In Mapp v. Ohio (1961), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment also applied to state and local government actions.

The language of the Fourth Amendment specifically prohibits “unreasonable” searches and seizures, but the courts have more often focused on those factors that make a search “reasonable.”

Those include:

  • The existence of probable cause and a warrant based on that probable cause
  • The specific circumstances that may justify a search without the need for a warrant

One of the first issues a judge will address when considering whether to issue a search warrant is whether or not the subject of the search had a “legitimate expectation of privacy” in the place or thing to be searched or seized. For example, a person who operates a business open to the public would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in those areas open to the public. A police officer could conduct a search of those parts of the property without a warrant. However, there would be reasonable expectation of privacy in any private offices at the business. The search could not extend to those rooms without a warrant.

 

When a Warrant is Not Necessary

There are six specific exceptions to the requirement that law enforcement officers have a valid warrant to conduct a search:

  • If the evidence seized was “within plain view”
  • If the evidence was obtained as part of a lawful arrest
  • If the suspect consents to the search
  • If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a criminal act is underway or has been committed—the officer must, however, be able to articulate specific facts that reasonably lead to that conclusion. Even so, the officer may only stop and frisk a person.
  • If the evidence is obtained after “hot pursuit” of a suspect—the fear here is that the suspect may destroy evidence if the police officer has to wait for a warrant to conduct a search
  • If the evidence is in a motor vehicle and the police officer had probable cause to believe that the vehicle contained contraband, evidence, instruments or proceeds of a criminal act

 

Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Difference between Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in Texas

Distinguishing the Criminal Act from the Civil Wrong

Distracted DrivingIt seems like it’s almost impossible to read a newspaper or tune into the news without hearing a report of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault, with the terms often used interchangeably. Although sexual harassment can include some form of sexual assault, the two acts are treated differently by the law and have distinctly different consequences. Most importantly, sexual assault is a criminal offense in Texas, whereas sexual harassment is considered a civil wrong.

Criminal vs. Civil Offenses
Before looking at the specific elements of sexual assault and sexual harassment, it’s important to understand how they are treated differently under the laws of Texas. Here are the fundamental differences between criminal acts and civil wrongs:

  • The parties involved—Criminal actions are always prosecuted by the state, on behalf of the people. Civil actions are between two private parties.
  • The source of the law—Criminal wrongs are always defined by statute. Most civil wrongs are established by the common law, handed down in court opinions.
  • The burden of proof—A criminal offense requires guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The burden of proof in a civil matter is significantly lower.
  • The potential penalties—A criminal conviction can result in incarceration and/or fines. A civil wrong will never result in incarceration, but will typically involve a monetary award.

Understanding Sexual Assault in Texas
In Texas, sexual assault can take a number of different forms, but generally has two requirements: that the defendant acted knowingly and intentionally; and that the act was committed without the consent of the victim. In Texas, to constitute sexual assault, the non-consensual contact must involve some type of penetration, either of the mouth or of the victim’s private parts.

Sexual Harassment in Texas
Sexual harassment takes two distinct forms—quid pro quo sexual harassment and the creation of a hostile environment based on sex. As a general rule, sexual harassment involves the victimization of a person by someone with perceived or actual authority over the victim, such as a work supervisor or boss.

With quid pro quo (Latin for “this for that”) sexual harassment, there is customarily either a promise of benefits or the threat of sanctions in exchange for sex or sexual favors. In a work environment, a subordinate may be offered a raise, promotion, bonus, better working conditions or access to benefits in exchange for sexual favors or may be denied that same for refusing to engage in sexual acts.

With the creation of a hostile environment based on sex, the victim is exposed to repeated incidents that focus on or emphasize sex. It may involve jokes, e-mails, pictures, stories or other references to sexual content and can also involve the condoning of unwanted touching, fondling or even sexual advances. A hostile environment is considered to exist if the environment created unreasonably affects or interferes with a person’s ability to perform her or his job.

At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at one of the convenient locations listed below. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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