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Monthly Archives: July 2018

U.S. Adds Prosecutors and Immigration Judges to Process Immigrants at Mexican Border

By Peek & Toland on July 31, 2018

According to a recent Reuters article, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced that the Trump administration is taking steps to add more prosecutors and immigration judges to help process the immigrants arriving at the Mexican border. Reportedly, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is sending 35 assistant U.S. attorneys and 18 immigration law judges to the border to help deal with a growing backlog of immigration cases. The new positions are located in Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico, although some immigration judges will participate via video-conferencing; seven of those supervising judges are placed along the Mexican border in the state of Texas. This is about a 50% increase from the current number of immigration judges actively hearing cases in immigration court.

The most recent encampment of over 100 people seeking entrance to the U.S. at the San Ysidro pedestrian bridge between Mexico and California. This encampment is part of a larger “caravan” of about 1,500 migrants traveling across Mexico to enter the U.S.  These immigrants mostly are from Central America, including Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. From the most recent encampment, immigration authorities have allowed 74 individuals, who are mostly women, children, and transgender, through the border to seek asylum. The DOJ also has launched federal prosecutions against 11 suspected members of the caravan.

U.S. Adds Prosecutors and Immigration Judges to Process Immigrants at Mexican Border

Caravans of hundreds of people from Central America have been traveling through Mexico to reach the U.S.-Mexican border since 2008. However, this activity has gone largely unnoticed until now. Trump has used the most recent caravan as justification for ramping up security along the U.S.-Mexican border, including the deployment of U.S. National Guard members to provide a military presence and “secure” the border.

If you or your family is facing deportation or another type of immigration law issue, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas immigration attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through the often-complex process of immigration court proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our deportation defense lawyers, and learn how we can assist you.

Posted in Immigration

Are There Any Alternatives to Incarceration if I Am Convicted of a Crime?

By Peek & Toland on July 30, 2018

One of the biggest concerns for individuals who are facing criminal charges is the potential for jail time. Since Texas, like other states, has really cracked down on drunk driving for example, a person who is charged with DWI for even the first time may fear that he or she will need to serve a jail sentence. Fortunately, there are alternatives to jail time for many criminal convictions, particularly when the criminal offense is relatively minor and non-violent in nature. While this is not the case for all crimes, jail time is not the only potential punishment for many commonly-charged crimes.

Are There Any Alternatives to Incarceration if I Am Convicted of a Crime?

For many criminal convictions, the judge has the option of suspending the sentence and placing the individual on community supervision, or probation, for a certain period of time. This typically is a much better alternative, because it allows the individual to continue working and living with his or her family. However, when a judge places a person on community supervision, he or she must comply with all terms and conditions imposed by the judge for the full period of supervision. These requirements often include the following:

·         Payment of court costs, restitution, and monthly probation fees

·         Attendance at meetings with a probation officer on at least a monthly basis

·         Attendance at required meetings and classes, such as DWI education and/or a victim impact panel

·         Submission to periodic alcohol and drug tests

For a DWI offense, probation can last from six months to two years. If the individual fails to meet any of the probation requirements, including meeting with his or her probation officer as ordered, he or she is subject to charges for a probation violation, which can result in additional fines, jail time, and community service.

If you are a non-violent offender and you are charged with a drug-related felony, you may be eligible for the Travis County Drug Diversion Program. This Drug Court program lasts a minimum of one year and involves multi-disciplinary drug treatment and case management intervention. The individuals involved in this program must appear in Drug Court on a frequent basis, which allows the court to monitor their treatment and program performance.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges of violating a protective order. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Jail Release

Texas AG and Other States File Federal DACA Lawsuit

By Peek & Toland on July 29, 2018

Even as various federal lawsuits attempt to block the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program wage on, the Texas Attorney General, along with six other states, has filed yet another lawsuit. The difference is that the Texas-led suit has the opposite goal than the pending lawsuits; these states are seeking to force the Trump administration to end DACA as an illegal exercise of executive branch authority. In the suit, these states argue that the executive branch cannot “unilaterally grant unlawfully present aliens lawful presence and work authorization.”  

Aside from Texas, the other states joining the suit include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, and West Virginia. The suit is an indication of the growing frustration of Republican states over the Trump administration’s failure to end DACA as promised. In the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, these states claim that the court has the power to rescind all existing DACA permits as unlawful and block the federal government from continuing the program in the future.

Texas AG and Other States File Federal DACA Lawsuit

The suit sets up a strange situation between the parties, who both want the same thing: to end DACA. Since Trump’s efforts to end the program have stalled in pending federal lawsuits in Washington, San Francisco, and Brooklyn, the Texas suit aims to set up conflicting rulings on the DACA issue. This situation is likely to prod appellate courts, and even the U.S. Supreme Court, into hearing the suit and issuing a ruling on the issue.

Whether you are a DACA recipient or you are facing another type of immigration issue, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases on a daily basis, including those related to the DACA program, and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to successfully resolve your immigration law case.

Posted in Deferred Action, Immigration

What Happens if I Am Charged with a Misdemeanor?

By Peek & Toland on July 28, 2018

While the consequences of a felony conviction are more severe than those of a misdemeanor conviction, any type of criminal conviction can have serious, long-lasting effects on your life. For instance, some misdemeanors carry up to a year of incarceration, as well as high fines; the exact penalties for a particular misdemeanor conviction depend on the classification of the criminal offense at issue. Any criminal conviction will create a criminal history for you, which can impact your ability to pursue certain types of employment in the future. Certain misdemeanor convictions also can impact your ability to obtain housing, get student loans, join the military, receive certain government benefits, and/or have adverse immigration consequences.

What Happens if I Am Charged with a Misdemeanor?

If you are arrested for any type of criminal offense, you need to remember that your arresting officers, or any officers whom you encounter, will use anything you say or do against you, if possible. While you must provide your name to officers when requested, you do not have to answer any further questions or give any statements. Similarly, if officers ask to search your person, your vehicle, or your home, you should exercise your right to refuse to allow the search. While officers may be able to get a warrant signed by a judge in order to perform the search at a later time, there is no reason to make their job easier than need be, and potentially give them more evidence against you. Additionally, you also have the right to ask for an attorney at any time. A skilled Texas criminal defense attorney should be the only person with whom you discuss your case.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony charge, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and provide you with the strongest defense possible. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Posted in Criminal Defense

What’s an Implied Consent Law?

By Peek & Toland on July 27, 2018

Texas has an implied consent law, which means that if you operate a motor vehicle in the state, you are consenting to take a DWI test, whether it is a breathalyzer or blood test. However, if a police officer, state trooper, or sheriff, asks you to take a test after pulling you over, you have a Fourth Amendment right to refuse to take any kind of test used to measure your blood alcohol level. The implied consent law gives law enforcement officers the right to ask you to take a test, but you still have the right to refuse to take it, although you will suffer some consequences as a result of your refusal.

If you refuse to comply with the request, you then receive a penalty for your refusal, or the automatic suspension of your driver’s license for a period of 180 days. Plus, if this is your second DWI offense in a ten-year period, you are subject to an automatic suspension of your license for two years. Perhaps more importantly, most courts will see your refusal as a sign of guilt in entering judgment on your DWI case. Therefore, it is very important to consider all these factors in deciding whether to consent to a test or not in this situation.

What’s an Implied Consent Law?

You also should keep in mind that law enforcement officers can force you take a blood test under certain narrow “exigent” circumstances. Some of the situations that qualify as exigent circumstances include the following:

·         The officer has probable cause and obtains a warrant for the extraction of your blood.

·         You have prior DWI convictions.

·         You were involved in an accident that caused injuries to yourself or another.

·         You were involved in an accident that left you either unconscious or dead.

If none of these circumstances were present, and a law enforcement officer still forced or coerced you into taking a blood test, you may be able to challenge the test, as well as the test results.

An experienced Texas DUI attorney can help you build a strong defense against your criminal charges, whether they involve DUI or another type of criminal offense. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the beginning of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case may be too far gone to fix. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Tech Companies File Suit Against Trump Administration for H-1B Visa Restrictions

By Peek & Toland on July 26, 2018

A group of technology companies have filed suit in a New Jersey federal court against U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) over the Trump administration’s policy changes to the H-1B visa program. Consistent with its push to significantly limit the program, the administration has placed greater restrictions on companies who enter into contracts with workers who have H-1B visas. These changes particularly affect companies seeking access to IT professionals.

USCIS issued a memo in February that outlined the changes in policy. Specifically, an applicant for a H-1B visa now must provide detailed statements of work or work orders about any duties to be performed by a worker with a H-1B visa at a third-party site, including itineraries. The concern is that some outsourcing companies would be unable to meet these requirements, which would lead to a shortage in highly skilled workers.

 

Tech Companies File Suit Against Trump Administration for H-1B Visa Restrictions

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff companies allege that USCIS overstepped its role overseeing the H1-B visa program, since the U.S. Department of Labor is in charge of deciding what types of employers qualify for various visas. They also claim that the pool of highly skilled American workers is insufficient to meet their needs, which makes them understaffed and unable to compete without H-1B visa workers. For its part, the federal government and other critics of the H-1B visa program claim that companies seeking these skilled workers are outsourcing jobs to the detriment of American workers, who remain unemployed as a result.

The Peek & Toland immigration attorneys are here to assist you with the H-1B visa process necessary to you entering the U.S. as a specialty occupation worker. We are here to represent your interests and provide you with the legal help you need in this type of this situation, particularly in light of the heightened restrictions described above. Our experienced and skilled immigration lawyers know how to gather documentary evidence in support of your case and guide you through the complex U.S. immigration system. Schedule an appointment to meet with us today and learn how we can help you with your immigration matter.

Posted in Immigration Reform

Does Texas Have a “Stand Your Ground” Law?

By Peek & Toland on July 25, 2018

Stand your ground laws often appear in the headlines when a homeowner or other property owner uses a gun to prevent an intruder from entering the property. These laws, however, vary widely from one state to the next, so it is important to know your rights when it comes to defending your home and family in the state of Texas.

Currently, about half of the states have a stand your ground or self-defense law, which also may be referred to as “the castle doctrine,” “line in the sand,” or “no duty to retreat” law. In the state of Texas, you have no duty to retreat when you reasonably believe that you are in danger of bodily harm or death if you are threatened in your home, vehicle, or workplace. Additionally, you have the right to use deadly force in this type of situation if you believe that it is necessary to prevent another person using deadly force against you or to prevent a violent crime. Examples of eligible violent crimes include murder, sexual assault, or robbery.

 

Does Texas Have a Stand Your Ground Law?

However, in order to use this defense, you must be able to show that that you did nothing to provoke the person who attacked you, that you were not breaking any laws at the time the threat occurred, and that you had the right to be at the location in question. Furthermore, if you use deadly force, you must prove that it was warranted given the situation, in that you were justified to fear bodily harm or death.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have the experience and knowledge needed to represent the interests of those individuals charged with criminal offenses related to the possession, sales, and discharge of firearms. We will focus on gathering evidence on your behalf, building a strong defense in your case, and developing the best strategy for defending your case. The earlier we get involved with your case, the more help we can offer you. Don’t hesitate to contact us today and learn what we can to help.

Posted in Criminal Defense

What is a Plea Bargain?

By Peek & Toland on July 19, 2018

In Texas criminal cases, plea bargains are often the best way to resolve criminal charges against you. While some criminal cases do proceed to trial, a large number of cases are resolved by plea bargain, which is a deal or contract that you and your criminal defense attorney work out with the prosecutor. The plea bargain generally sets forth the punishment that you have agreed to and helps you avoid the uncertain outcome of a trial. When you enter into a plea bargain, you are giving up certain constitutional rights, such as the right to a jury trial and the right to confront the witnesses against you. You ultimately plead guilty to one or more of the charges, or to a lesser charge. Once you have reached a plea bargain, it must go to the judge for approval. While in most cases the judge approves the plea bargain, the judge does have the discretion to reject the plea bargain.

                                                         What is a Plea Bargain?

In many cases, the punishment outlined in the plea bargain is more lenient than that you might receive if you took the case to trial. Your plea bargain may include a number of different penalties, including a jail sentence, a period of probation, and even deferred adjudication, which may involve terms and conditions such as community service, counseling, and random drug testing. While you are free to negotiate the terms of your plea bargain, the prosecutor will consider a number of different factors in determining what conditions to include in your plea bargain. For instance, the prosecutor is likely to consider factors such as the seriousness of the crime, any injuries that occurred, your previous criminal history, your psychiatric history, and home and work situations.

At Peek & Toland, we will explore all available alternatives to resolve your pending criminal case, including any plea bargains that are on the table. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you from any potential criminal charges, but we also can help you carefully consider any plea bargains and determine whether a plea would be in your best interest. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense.

Posted in Criminal Defense

ICE Repeatedly Targets U.S. Citizens By Mistake

By Peek & Toland on July 18, 2018

According to a recent Newsweek article, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been accused of wrongfully detaining hundreds of American citizens for days, months, or even years in some cases. Between 2008 and the beginning of 2018, immigration judges terminated or suspended deportation proceedings against 880 individuals whose claims of citizenship merited further investigation prior to deportation.

 

ICE Repeatedly Targets U.S. Citizen by Mistake

In one extreme case, ICE detained a U.S. citizen for nearly three-and-one-half years, simply due to an administrative error when looking for the man’s father in an immigration database. Even worse, after federal officials realized that the man had been wrongfully detained, they still refused to release him and attempted to deport him on the basis of a U.S. interpretation of a Jamaican law. An immigration judge ordered him deported, but a U.S. District Court finally ruled that the man should be freed from an Alabama immigration detention center. ICE ultimately released the man, leaving him stranded in Alabama in his prison clothes without any money to help him travel back to his New York residence. The man continues to seek compensation from the U.S. government after an appeals court denied a $82,500 award granted to him by a New York district judge.

Whether you are a green card holder, a U.S. citizen, or an undocumented immigrant, we are here to help prevent ICE from trampling on your rights. Whatever your situation may be, you need legal assistance to fight for your rights and work toward a resolution of your immigration law matter. We will put forth our full efforts to win your release from detention, defend you against deportation charges, and restore your family. There are a variety of defenses against deportation that may apply to your immigration case. The Texas deportation defense attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of deportation proceedings and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

Posted in Immigration Reform

Making Terroristic Threats: What Does This Mean?

By Peek & Toland on July 17, 2018

Texas Penal Code Section 22.07 defines the criminal offense of terroristic threats, which occurs when an individual threatens to commit an act of violence toward another person or property with the intent to:

·         Cause a reaction of any type by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies

·         Place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury

·         Prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place

·         Cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public, water, gas, or power supply or other public service

·         Place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury

·         Influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal, state, or local government

Making Terroristic Threats: What Does This Mean?

Making terroristic threats is generally a Class B misdemeanor. However, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it is committed against a member of the person’s family or household or otherwise constitutes family violence, if it is committed against a public servant, or if it prevents or interrupts the occupation or use of a public space. Additionally, the offense is a state jail felony if committed against a person whom the perpetrator knows to be a peace officer or a judge or causes a pecuniary loss of more than $1,500 to the owner of the public place affected. If the offense involves one of the final three situations listed above, the offense is a third degree felony.

Terroristic threats don’t always involve terrorism; rather, the offense focuses on situations in which an individual creates a fear of violence causing serious bodily harm in another. For instance, a terroristic threat could occur if a high school student calls in a false bomb threat to his school. A terroristic threat might occur if a driver who has been pulled over by a police officer threatens to shoot him or her. Even a library customer who threatens to beat up a worker because he or she is being charged a fine can constitute a terroristic threat.

If you find yourself charged with making terroristic threats or any type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced criminal defense attorneys can offer you. The consequences of a criminal conviction can be serious, no matter what type of criminal charges you may be facing. As a result, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for adults who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

Posted in Criminal Defense

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