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Houston Texas Criminal Defense Blog

Court fees and fines punishing poverty

The accumulation of fines and fees that emerge from the criminal justice system can be particularly damaging to people living in poverty in Texas. Across the country, multiple state, county and city governments have developed a growing dependence on the proceeds of court fines and citations in order to fund their activities. As a result, impoverished people are disproportionately affected as they are far less able to pay these fines. While the original citation issue can be relatively minor, an inability to pay can escalate the issue rapidly. People may find themselves facing the loss of their driver's license or even jail time as a result of being unable to pay fines.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that people cannot be thrown in jail because they are too poor to pay fines. Nevertheless, local jails are filled nationwide with people with no criminal convictions, or even charges in some cases, who are unable to repay their bills. In other cases, people are put on probation and in extended contact with the criminal justice system until they finally pay off all of their nearly unrepayable debts.

How civil asset seizure impacts criminal activities

When Texas residents are accused of a crime, the authorities may seize assets that are suspected to be connected to a crime. While many law enforcement groups have argued that seizing assets, known as civil asset forfeiture, is a crucial tool for law enforcement to stop drug trafficking, a study has found that it actually has little impact on the prevention of crimes.

Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement agencies to seize property that may have been involved in criminal activity. Property that can be seized includes vehicles, houses and cash. The proceeds of the property are often split between the prosecutor offices and the police department. However, it is important to note that the owner of the property does not have to actually be charged with a crime in order for law enforcement to seize the property.

Texas man facing felony charge over alleged phone scuffle

A 58-year-old man is facing a felony charge for allegedly punching a woman in the face and then kicking her as she lay on the ground. The incident is said to have taken place in Raymondville on June 10. The man, who remains in custody on a $150,000 bond, claims that he was acting in self-defense. He has been charged with domestic assault in the third degree, which is a Class E felony in Texas.

Police became involved when a deputy was dispatched to the Texas County Memorial Hospital after the Texas County Sheriff's Department received a report of an assault. Initial reports do not make clear if it was the alleged victim or doctors who called law enforcement. According to media reports, the woman identified her assailant and told the deputy that he had become enraged because she was speaking with her son on the telephone. Initial reports reveal that the woman had a lump and a small bruise on her face but no stomach or hip injuries.

Prescription medication and driving: Things you need to know

Although prescription medication is designed to improve your health, don't overlook the many potential side effects. If you neglect to discuss this with your doctor and pharmacist, it's possible you could make a costly error, such as operating a motor vehicle at the wrong time.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes it clear that you should double-check the side effects of your medication before driving. While most medications won't hinder your ability to operate a motor vehicle, some do. They cause side effects such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed movement
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to focus
  • Excitability
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fainting

Police in Texas find marijuana in senior city official's home

Law enforcement officers including Texas Rangers took part in a search of the Wichita Falls deputy city manager's home that led to the seizure of undisclosed amounts of marijuana and evidence that the drug was being cultivated on the property. Media reports reveal that the man tendered his resignation after learning about the May 28 search of his Wendover Street residence. Wichita County District Attorney's Office investigators also took part in the multi-agency operation.

The investigation into the man's alleged activities began in April when a confidential informant told members of the Wichita County District Attorney's Office Drug Enforcement Division that marijuana plants were being grown in the man's home. The informant is said to have told investigators that he stepped forward despite believing that the man would not be prosecuted because he was a senior city official.

Most African-Americans feel the criminal justice system is unfair

The criminal justice system in Texas and around the country has been harshly criticized in recent years for its treatment of minorities, and the results of a recent Pew Research Center survey suggest that the vast majority of African-Americans feel these criticisms are justified. Almost 9 out of 10 of the African-Americans polled said that black defendants were treated unfairly by police and prosecutors, but only 61% of the white respondents shared this view.

Other Pew Research Center polls have revealed a similar wide disparity between the views held by white and black Americans about how criminal justice is dispensed in the United States. Black respondents tell researchers that they have been stopped by the police because of their ethnicity or race about five times as often as white respondents, and only about a third of them say that the police do a good job and use force appropriately.

Drivers on keto diets could have problems with breath tests

Many police departments in Texas and around the country use portable breath-testing devices to determine whether or not motorists have consumed alcohol. However, prosecutors do not generally rely on the results of roadside breath tests to establish impairment beyond a reasonable doubt, as the fuel-cell based devices issued to police officers are known to be unreliable in many situations.

Drivers who suffer from medical conditions including acid reflux disease and diabetes have been known to fail such tests despite consuming little or no alcohol, and there is evidence to suggest that individuals who follow strict ketogenic diets may also have good reason to be concerned when asked to blow into a portable breath testing device. Diets low in carbohydrates have become extremely popular in recent years because they prompt the body to deplete its glucose stores and go into a metabolic state known as ketosis. During ketosis, acetone is produced by the liver as it burns fat to provide the body with energy. Isopropyl alcohol is one of the byproducts of this process.

Gang members indicted for drug trafficking

On April 18, a federal grand jury in Texas indicted seven men for their alleged roles in a drug trafficking ring. The defendants are reportedly members of the East Side Bloods street gang.

According to media reports, the defendants were acquiring powder cocaine and crack cocaine from suppliers in Austin and distributing them in San Antonio. The operation was apparently being run from the Springhill Apartments, which are located on the 4800 block of Ray Bon Drive. Law enforcement officers searched the property and allegedly uncovered large amounts of cocaine and marijuana, nine firearms and a large amount of cash. They also discovered approximately 20 kilograms of methamphetamine pills, some of which had been dyed pastel colors to mimic the look of Easter candy. Over 20 different pill dyes were allegedly found during the search. Authorities believe the pills were intended for sale in clubs, but the colors could have enticed children to consume them.

What is drugged driving and what should drivers know?

While many people focus on alcohol as the cause of impaired driving, drugs are also a cause. There are many factors that people don't realize about this matter. It is imperative that anyone who has a driver's license know a bit about drugged driving.

These cases are handled in much the same manner as drunk driving charges. There are a few differences that come into the picture but things like your rights when you are stopped remain the same.

Shops turning to facial recognition to deter shoplifters

People who visit shopping centers and stores throughout Texas may be interested to learn that getting caught shoplifting in one store could result in a ban from shopping at other stores. This is due to the fact that some stores have begun using facial recognition technology to capture digital records of potential shoplifters.

As digital records can be shared, other stores may determine a particular person to be a threat if one store captures that person potentially shoplifting. As such, another shop could consider a person a threat before that person ever enters the building and ban them as a result. In theory, a person who is considered a shoplifting threat can be banned from all shops.

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