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Houston Texas Criminal Defense Blog

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.

Understanding the First Step Act

Criminal justice reform has long been a major topic of concern for people in Texas and across the country. Now, the First Step Act has been introduced and is being backed by a diverse and sometimes incongruous set of supporters, including President Donald Trump and the American Civil Liberties Union. The bill has been criticized by some as only a cosmetic improvement while others have accused it of being soft on crime. Nevertheless, it's important to understand the specific provisions of the law to see how it will affect people dealing with the justice system.

One of the major issues handled in the bill is the historic disparity in crack sentencing as opposed to powder cocaine sentencing. In 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act to reduce the massive disparity, which disproportionately affected black defendants. However, people sentenced before 2010 are still serving disproportionate sentences. The First Step Act would make the sentence reform retroactive, and those affected could petition for release.

Two men facing drug charges after traffic stop

Two Texas men are facing felony drug charges after getting arrested at a traffic stop in La Porte. According to La Porte police, the two men were found to have 17 grams of methamphetamine in the car when they were stopped by police on Oct. 26. Police say that when they pulled over the vehicle, they heard or saw something that gave them probable cause to search the vehicle. After police brought a drug dog to the car, they found 1.7 grams of meth that belonged to the driver, a 36-year-old man.

In addition, police say that the passenger, also a 36-year-old man from Houston, was in possession of a small amount of methamphetamine. Police also found a locked safe inside the vehicle, which they confiscated when they arrested the two men for drug offenses. The first man was charged with a third-degree felony count of possession of a controlled substance while the second man was charged with a state jail felony of possession of a controlled substance, less than 1 gram of methamphetamine.

There are ways to get your DUI dismissed

Even if you fully understand that drinking and driving is a serious mistake, it doesn't mean you'll never partake in this behavior. If you do this, you're taking a big risk with your health and safety, while also putting yourself in position to face DUI charges.

There is a big difference between a DUI charge and a DUI conviction. Even if you're arrested for this crime, it doesn't necessarily mean a conviction will follow. There are steps you can take to get your DUI dismissed, so it's important to learn more about your legal rights.

Elements of assault and battery in Texas

In the state of Texas, the same elements apply to both assault and battery cases. A person commits assault if he or she makes contact with another individual with an intent to injure him or her. It may also be assault if a person makes contact with another in a manner that would reasonably be expected to cause harm. Someone who threatens to harm another person or his or her family member could also be charged with a crime.

Aggravated assault occurs if an individual is seriously injured or harmed because an assailant used a weapon. Depending on the details of the case, an individual who commits assault could be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Typically, if no aggravating factors are present, an individual will be charged with a misdemeanor. Individuals will generally face a fine or jail time, and the penalties are increased for an assault on a family member or elderly person.

Man charged with drug crimes after traffic stop

A Texas man is now facing drug charges after a bag of meth held together with duct tape was found in his car door by police during a traffic stop. The 45-year-old man was driving on I-35 in Waco on Oct. 9 when he was pulled over. McLennan County Sheriff's deputies said that the man was following another car too closely in traffic at 5:55 p.m.

However, police said that when they stopped the man's car, he was behaving in an anxious, suspicious manner. They claimed that they saw methamphetamine in the cup holder of his car and demanded to search the vehicle. Authorities then found a bag covered in black duct tape in the door on the driver's side. Inside, police allegedly found 20.5 grams of meth. The driver was arrested and charged with drug crimes, including possession of a controlled substance of over 4 grams and less than 200 grams, a second-degree felony charge. Police also said that they planned to be more active on the highways in seeking out drug violations.

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