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Houston Texas Criminal Defense Blog

Study reveals soaring youth arrest rates

Law enforcement agencies in Texas and around the country have adopted more aggressive tactics in recent decades, which has led to a rapid rise in the number of young people taken into custody each year according to a study from the RAND Corporation. After scrutinizing data gathered over several decades on thousands of American families, researchers from the California-based think tank found that a young person today is 3.6 times more likely to have been placed under arrest than people in their mid-60s. One of the study's authors remarked that the trend revealed the criminalization of an entire generation.

The rise in arrests encompassed all demographic groups, but researchers noticed particularly sharp increases among women and white men. Today, about one in seven women under the age of 26 have been arrested. That figure was one in a hundred just a few decades ago. The rate at which police arrest white men has almost tripled since the 1980s. The study was published in the March issue of the academic journal Crime & Delinquency.

Texas man busted with 30 pounds of meth in Kansas

A Texas man is facing multiple charges after authorities allegedly found 30 pounds of methamphetamine in his vehicle during a traffic stop on Feb. 20. The charges were filed in Lyon County District Court in Kansas on Feb. 25.

According to local media outlets, the defendant was driving a Ford F-150 on Interstate 35 outside Emporia at approximately 12:11 p.m. when a trooper from the Kansas Highway Patrol pulled him over for multiple traffic violations. These violations included driving in the middle of the road, failing to use a turn signal when changing lanes and partial coverage of the license plate's issuing state, which was Texas.

Take these steps if pulled over for suspicion of DUI

Police officers are trained to spot drivers who may be under the influence of alcohol. While they're not always correct about their suspicions, if an officer has reason to believe you're drunk, they're likely to pull you over to learn more.

There are a variety of signs that give an officer reason to believe you're under the influence of alcohol. For example, drifting out of your lane of travel is a common sign of intoxication.

What you should know about domestic violence.

This society has a major interest in limiting violence between domestic partners. Generally, judges and law officers view domestic violence (DV) as a crime of the utmost seriousness in Texas. DV covers all types of domestic injuries, threats of physical violence and unwanted physical contact. To secure a DV conviction, the state's prosecutor must show that the offending party acted intentionally. If the violent incident in question led to physical injury, the prosecutor typically must demonstrate that the injury was directly related to DV.

Assault, battery, and domestic violence are crimes that undermine the family unit, the foundational unit of society. Still, DV laws are not merely designed to protect people in marriages. These laws have application to a wide variety of people who are domestically affiliated or connected. Texas DV statutes apply to people who live together, blood relatives and people who are dating each other.

Alternative sentencing methods may reduce recidivism rates

There has been a movement in Texas and throughout the country to reform the way that the justice system treats convicted criminals. On the federal level, the First Step Act may reduce sentences and offer other forms of leniency for nonviolent offenders. These efforts have reduced the incarceration rate in the United States, and it looks like the trend could continue. In 2008, there were roughly 1,000 inmates per 100,000 adults in the country.

That number has dropped to 830 inmates per 100,000 adults. However, it may be possible to further reduce that rate by providing leniency to people convicted of violent crimes. Alternative programs have played a role in the number of people in New York City jails declining from 21,000 in 1991 to about 8,200 today. In Brooklyn, the Mental Health Court offers defendants that opportunity to get help for their illnesses.

Courts overwhelmed by misdemeanor cases and inequality

The criminal justice system in Texas and across the U.S. is being overrun by misdemeanor cases, according to a book by a former federal public defender. As a result, many people are being denied a proper defense. This is especially true for minority defendants.

Based on arrest data from the FBI and other sources, the author of the book estimates that misdemeanors account for approximately 80 percent of all cases currently making their way through the American criminal justice system. In fact, 13 million misdemeanor cases are filed nationwide each year. Because of this overwhelming number, prosecutors, public defenders, and judges struggle to keep up with their caseloads. For public defenders, this often means that they don't have the resources to investigate cases. They are also frequently discouraged from filing motions or fighting potential constitutional violations in court, which leads to a high number of plea bargains.

The different ways a person can be abused

A person in Texas or anywhere else does not need to be physically harmed to be the victim of domestic violence. It is possible for an individual to be abused sexually, financially or emotionally as well. It is important to note that a person does not need to experience a major injury to be a victim of physical abuse. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse may be difficult for a person to recognize.

A victim of emotional abuse may be the subject of constant criticism, and the goal of such behavior is to make a person question his or her self-worth. Generally speaking, it must be combined with some other sort of abuse to be considered domestic violence unless the behavior is particularly severe. Psychological abuse describes almost any action that causes individuals to fear for their safety. This may include not being able to leave the house or talk to friends or family members without permission.

Driving to Colorado? Don't risk bringing back marijuana

If you're planning a weekend trip to Colorado, a friend might ask you to bring back some marijuana edibles and other marijuana products, which anyone can purchase for recreational purposes in the state of Colorado. Bringing these products back to Texas, however, could result in your getting into serious trouble with the law.

Texas drug laws make the possession of 4 ounces or less of marijuana plant material a misdemeanor. Possession of marijuana hash and resin, on the other hand, is considered to be a felony offense. Possession of a "vape pen" cartridge that contains marijuana oil, resin or wax is also considered a felony. All of these products are freely available in Colorado, so it's important that Texas residents don't make the mistake of bringing them back home with them.

Revised federal prisoner reform bill advances in Senate

The United States has the highest prison population in the world with an estimated 716 people out of every 100,000 people currently in prisons. A new bipartisan bill could reduce the sentences for several thousand federal inmates in Texas and across the country. The bill, known as the "First Step Act," was recently revised and advanced in the Senate.

The bill has the support of President Donald Trump, the ACLU and many Democrat leaders. If it passes, the bill would direct the attorney general to devise a new prisoner assessment system that would evaluate the risks and needs of federal inmates. The bill would grant prisoners credits of time for participating in activities such as training, work or education while in prison. Those who participate in the program would be allowed to receive a reduced prison sentence.

Texas police discover high-grade marijuana grow house

Two Texas men are facing felony marijuana possession charges after the Galveston County Sheriff's Office discovered what it is calling a high-grade marijuana growing operation in a San Leon home. The house was raided and searched on Nov. 28 by GCSO deputies and members of the agency's Identification Division and Tactical Response Team. The two men, who are 34 and 43 years old according to reports, were both taken into custody at the scene.

According to the GCSO, the entire residence was dedicated to growing large amounts of marijuana. Deputies say that they found 25 pounds of cultivated marijuana buds and 124 marijuana plants as well as $3,167 in currency and equipment used to cultivate marijuana worth an estimated $15,000. Evidence is also said to have been found that led deputies to a second residence on 16th Street in Bacliff.

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