The Great Texas Warrant Roundup

Have you heard about The Great Texas Warrant Roundup? For the last several years, the state of Texas has sponsored the Roundup, with more than 300 jurisdictions taking part in the Roundup as of 2015. The 2016 Roundup is just around the corner! Although no official dates for the 2016 Roundup have been announced, we can assume, from past years, the 2016 Roundup may likely take place between the third week of February and the third week in March. Historically, there are usually two weeks at the end of February designated as the amnesty or grace period of the Roundup. Then during the first 2-3 weeks in March, the enforcement phase begins. During the enforcement phase, the primary focus of law enforcement will be to arrest those whose names are on the outstanding warrant list.

Because of this, all those with outstanding warrants are strongly encouraged to post a bond, then resolve their tickets. While this might seem like the best way to take care of the situation, don’t forget there is significant financial incentive for agencies to encourage you to do just that. Dallas/Fort Worth and surrounding areas typically bring in between $1 and $2.5 million in fines and fees during the Roundup. Across the state of Texas, the combined amount is close to $20 million. Law enforcement agencies will arrest thousands of residents who neglected to take the Roundup seriously.

If you have any unpaid tickets or are unsure, you can reach out to Bailey & Galyen. We have several locations in the metroplex.  Our goal is to keep that traffic violation off your record so you are not penalized in the future by possible surcharges, license suspension and higher insurance rates.

Joining the Military with a Juvenile Record

It is becoming increasingly difficult to join the military with a juvenile record
According to one Army recruiter, recruitment standards are stricter today than they were a few years ago. This is partly due to the pullout from Iraq and drawing down of forces in Afghanistan. Today, a drug-related charge can render someone unfit for the Army. Offenses ranging from multiple minor traffic citations to felonies can be problematic. Offenses involving serious aggression or a weapon can automatically disqualify someone from enlisting. Domestic violence cases will raise red flags, and almost certainly any type of sexually related offense will disqualify a person from every branch of the armed forces—even if the case was disposed of with some kind of diversion program. Recruiters focus on the type of offense and whether there was any kind of “adverse adjudication” associated with the charges. Adverse adjudication includes any conviction, finding, decision, sentence, judgment, or disposition other than unconditionally dropped, unconditionally dismissed, or acquitted. Participation in a pretrial diversion program is considered an adverse adjudication.

In recent years, society has become less tolerant of behaviors that were once dealt with informally and not through the legal system. At one time, calling the parent was a greater threat than calling the police. Today, for example, school yard fights are no longer resolved by the school, the child, and the families. These incidents are frequently reported to the police. In many instances, a fight at school results in assault charges being filed. At home, siblings may get into a fight and someone calls 911. It is likely that one of them will be taken into custody and charged with domestic violence.

A juvenile record will not necessarily disqualify a person from enlisting
The military can choose to waive certain offenses. These waivers are generally reviewed by officials higher up in the chain of command. If someone does not qualify due to past delinquent conduct, he or she may request a waiver for the specific offense that renders them unqualified. The waiver procedure is not automatic, and approval is based on each individual case. A waiver involves an application process whereby the applicant is requesting that a particular branch of the military make an exception in his or her case. The burden is on the applicant to demonstrate that the waiver will benefit the military regardless of his or her past. Waiver authorities will consider the “whole person” concept when reviewing an application. In processing waiver requests, the military considers the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the offense in question. If past delinquent conduct is disclosed to the recruiter, having had the record sealed may increase the chances of receiving a waiver because it shows rehabilitation efforts on the part of the applicant. However, depending on the offense and the circumstances, it could also permanently disqualify the person from enlisting. The standards for waivers can be complex and are different for each branch of the military. The standards also change depending on world events and the need to expand or decrease the size of the armed forces. Currently, fewer waivers are being approved, in part due to the downsizing of the military.

Recent Changes in Texas Criminal Law

By Cole Fulks

The 82nd Texas Legislature convened in January 2011, and began making changes to various Texas laws. Those changes became effective September 1, 2011. Some of those changes include:

House Bill (H.B.) 351 and Senate Bill (S.B.) 462 made changes to the process of expunging (sealing) criminal records. Expunging the record happens when an individual is accused of or charged with a crime but ultimately not convicted of that crime. Reasons for this range from the charges never being brought after arrest or the case being dismissed to the accused individual being found not guilty at trial. The new law reduces the waiting period previously required before expunging that person’s record. Now, instead of waiting until the statute of limitations (deadline) on the offense alleged has expired, applicants now only have to wait six months to a year for most offenses, or three years if the offense was a felony, before requesting that their criminal record be expunged. In some instances, there is no waiting period at all.

The state legislature in 2011 examined the tragic reality of human smuggling and trafficking in Texas. H.B. 260 created a separate office for human smuggling and made it a felony crime. H.B. 3000 created an offense for multiple instances of trafficking, and H.B. 2329 gave victims of human trafficking the right to ask for protective orders.

Identity theft, a growing problem in the age of cashless transactions, received legislative attention as well. H.B. 1215 now makes it easier to prosecute people for the use of credit/debit card “skimming” machines or telephoto lenses used to illegally obtain financial information.

Drug dealers have increasingly turned to the manufacture of cocaine, LSD and methamphetamine-like substances derived from chemicals commonly used in the making of bath salts. Texas law now prohibits the possession of bath salts or chemicals related to the making of bath salts, and makes possession of them a felony crime. Possession or manufacture of marijuana-like substances, known as “Spice” or “K-2,” is now also a felony crime in Texas under S.B. 331.

One of the unfortunate realities of underage drinking is fatal alcohol poisoning. H.B. 3474 and S.B. 1331 addressed the issue, providing immunity from criminal prosecution for minors seeking emergency medical help and for persons summoning emergency medical help for potential alcohol overdose situations, if the overdosing minor remains on-scene and co-operates with offered medical assistance and law enforcement investigation. S.B. 407 created a new offense of “sexting” for minors (the sending/receiving of sexually explicit images by mobile telephones). Provisions were added for frequent offenders, as well.

In other areas of interest, laws pertaining to cockfighting received legislative attention, by the passing H.B. 1043 and creating of a separate offense (as opposed to the existing offense of cruelty to animals) so that now the practice can be prosecuted as a felony crime.

Texas also made some changes in the laws involving recreational boating, fishing and hunting. H.B. 1806 now makes it a crime for someone to alter the length or weight of a fish to affect the outcome of a fishing tournament. This misdemeanor crime can become a felony if the tournament prize exceeds a value of $10,000. Boaters are now allowed under H.B. 25 to carry a weapon, including a firearm, on a personal watercraft as long as the weapon is hidden from plain view and the person carrying the weapon is not engaged in a crime, a member of a gang or is otherwise not prohibited from having a firearm. This new law also makes it clear that it is legal to carry weapons while hunting, fishing or engaging in other similar sports, or when traveling to where the event will be taking place.