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Monthly Archives: November 2018

Do I Have to Register as a Sex Offender in Texas if I Move Here From Another State?

By Peek & Toland on November 30, 2018

Individuals do have to register as a sex offender in the state of Texas if the following conditions apply:

·         They live, work, or attend school in Texas.

·         They have a reportable conviction or adjudication under the laws of another state, federal law, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, or the laws in another country for an offense that contains substantially similar elements to the elements of a Texas criminal offense that requires registration under Texas law.

Do I Have a Register as a Sex Offender in Texas if I Move Here From Another State?

The Texas Department of Public Safety determines whether a conviction from a criminal offense from another jurisdiction is substantially similar to a Texas offense that requires registration. Some of the offenses that require registration in Texas and that may have corresponding offenses under the laws of other states include continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children, indecency with a child, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, and prohibited sexual conduct. Other offenses that also require registration are prostitution, compelling prostitution, possession or promotion of child pornography, and some other serious criminal offenses that may involve children and sexual contact.

For individuals who move, begin working, or begin attending school in Texas and are required to register, they must do so no later than the seventh day after the date that they arrive in the municipality or county, or the first date that the relevant law enforcement agency of the municipality or county by policy allows them to register, whichever is later.

The duty of an out-of-state sex offender to register as a sex offender in Texas ends if the individual no longer resides, works, or attends school in Texas. However, that individual still may be required to register under the laws of other states in which he or she resides, works, or attends school.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. 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

Unique Consequences for Texas College Students Accused of Crimes

By Peek & Toland on November 29, 2018

Attending college is difficult enough without having to contend with legal problems, as well. When young adults go away to college, they often find themselves involved with the criminal justice system for the first time, which is not likely to be a pleasant experience. This can be a stressful, confusing, and scary time for students and their parents, who often live hours or even states away.

 

Unique Consequences for Texas College Students Accused of Crimes

College students may face the same sort of criminal charges as any other individual, but there are some criminal offenses that are more common among college students than others. Some of the more typical criminal charges that students may be facing include:

·         Underage possession and consumption of alcohol

·         Unlawfully providing alcohol to minors

·         DWI

·         Illegal drug possession

·         Resisting arrest

While some of these offenses may be relatively minor, particularly for first-time offenders, college students can face some repercussions that other adults may not face. Even if students are arrested, but never charged with a criminal offense, students may face disciplinary proceedings at their college or university. The conduct code violation process is very different from criminal proceedings. There are no rules of evidence or restrictions on what kind of information or evidence can support a student conduct policy violation.

Furthermore, the consequences of college disciplinary proceedings may be severe. A student could face probation, lose privileges, or even be suspended or expelled in extreme circumstances. Plus, the incident will be placed in the student’s records, which can have an adverse effect on graduate school admissions and potential employers. In addition to obtaining strong legal representation in any pending criminal charges, a student also needs assistance in minimizing the impact of any school proceedings to the greatest extent possible. This step can be essential for securing a student’s future goals and career.

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

Posted in Criminal Defense

What is the Difference Between Evading Arrest and Resisting Arrest?

By Peek & Toland on November 28, 2018

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 38.04, individuals commit the offense of evading arrest or detention if they intentionally flee from a person whom they know is a peace officer or a federal special investigator who is attempting to lawfully detain or arrest them. Generally, evading arrest is a Class A misdemeanor, but it can become a felony offense when certain aggravating circumstances exist, such as:

·         You have a previous conviction for evading arrest.

·         You use a vehicle or watercraft to evade arrest.

·         Another individual suffers serious bodily injury or death as a direct result by an officer or investigator to apprehend you while you were in flight.

In most cases, evading arrest charges arise from an individual who tries to run from police, whether on foot or in a vehicle. This offense also requires an element of intent; you must intentionally or knowingly flee the police in order to avoid being arrested.

                                    What is the Difference Between Evading Arrest and Resisting Arrest?

On the other hand, resisting arrest pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 38.03 occurs when individuals intentionally prevent or obstruct a person that they know is a peace officer from carrying out an arrest, search, or transportation of them or another by using force against the peace officer or another individual. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor under Texas law, but it may rise to the level of a felony offense if you use a deadly weapon in order to resist the intended arrest or search.

The offense of resisting arrest coves a wider range of behavior than evading arrest, but usually involves some type of force or violence. For example, you might face resisting arrest charges if you try to prevent a police officer from handcuffing you, struggle when an officer tries to arrest you, or otherwise hit, kick, punch, or strike the officer to avoid being handcuffed or arrested.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. 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

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Nielsen v. Preap

By Peek & Toland on November 27, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments from the parties in Nielsen v. Preap, an immigration law case concerning the federal government’s ability to initiate deportation proceedings and detain immigrants without bond following their release from criminal custody. 8 U.S.C. § 1126(c) provides for the mandatory detention of immigrants who commit certain criminal offenses.

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Nielsen v. Preap

Mony Preap, a Cambodian immigrant and legal permanent resident since 1981, accumulated two drug convictions that resulted in his mandatory detention without bond pursuant to § 1126(c). Prep and similarly situated immigrants argued that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must immediately arrest immigrants with certain criminal offenses upon their release from criminal custody in order for § 1126(c) to apply to them. The federal government’s main argument was that reading the statute so narrowly would inhibit the intent of Congress to reduce the growing threats to the public from the release from custody of the criminal immigrants with a high risk of flight. Their interpretation of the statute is that § 1126(c) applies to certain individuals, regardless of whether DHS detains them immediately upon their release from criminal custody or not.

The district court that initially heard the case sided with Preap and ruled that immigrants in this situation should be released on their own recognizance or have the ability to request a bond hearing. The government appealed, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court’s decision, ruling that the immigrants were entitled to a bond hearing. The government again appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari.

No matter the type of immigration issue you are facing, 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 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 Immigration

Interfering with an Emergency Call Penalties

By Peek & Toland on November 26, 2018

Tex. Pen. Code § 42.062 defines the criminal offense of interfering with an emergency request for assistance as occurring when an individual knowingly prevents or interferes with another person’s ability to place an emergency call or otherwise request emergency assistance. This offense includes the use of an electronic communications device to request assistance. Additionally, this offense might occur if an individual recklessly renders an electronic communications device unusable for the purposes of contacting an agency for emergency assistance.  

The primary purpose of the person’s call must be to request assistance from a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or other entity to provide for that person’s safety in an emergency. This section further defines emergency as circumstances under which the person reasonably fears of imminent assault or property damage or destruction.

 

Interfering with an Emergency Call Penalties

In many cases, allegations of interfering with an emergency phone call may result if an alleged victim of domestic violence or assault accuses an individual of preventing him or her from making a 911 phone call for emergency assistance. Testimony from the alleged victim of the offense usually is necessary evidence in support of this type of criminal charge. 

Interfering with an emergency request for assistance is a Class A misdemeanor offense under Texas law. A conviction for this offense may result in a fine of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year. A second charge of interfering with an emergency request for assistance can result in a state jail felony charge. A conviction for a state jail felony may result in up to two years in a state jail and a maximum fine of $10,000.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, 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

Drunk Driving and Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on November 25, 2018

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04(b)–(d), a DWI occurs when an individual operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. A first DWI conviction typically is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours and a maximum term of confinement of 180 days. A first-time DWI conviction also may result in a fine of up to $2,000, license suspension, and an annual fee or surcharge of $1,000 for three years in order to keep a valid driver’s license.

However, certain aggravating circumstances may increase the potential charges and penalties for DWI. For instance, if a blood, breath, or urine test shows the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be 0.15 percent or more, the offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor, and the annual surcharges will increase to $2,000 for three years. Likewise, if the individual has a passenger who is a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle while driving intoxicated, the offense becomes a state jail felony, which can result in a prison sentence of up to two years, a license suspension of 180 days, and as much as a $10,000 fine. Various other circumstances may result in greater penalties for a DWI conviction, as well.

Drunk Driving and Texas Law

The number of prior DWI convictions also impacts the penalties for subsequent DWI charges. A second-time DWI offense typically is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, and the minimum sentence of incarceration is 30 days, ranging up to one year. A second-time DWI conviction also may result in a fine of up to $4,000, license suspension, and annual surcharges of $1,500 for three years. 

More serious criminal charges and penalties may result in if the DWI offense results in injury or death to another person. Elevated charges and additional penalties also apply when the offense causes serious bodily injury or death to certain individuals, such as emergency medical services personnel, firefighters, peace officers, and judges.

An experienced Texas drunk driving defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. 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 DWI

U.S. Companies Claim Limiting Legal Immigration is Hurting Them

By Peek & Toland on November 24, 2018

According to a recent New York Times article, the federal government is denying and delaying more and more work visas in an attempt to restrict the flow of foreign workers who are legally entering the U.S. As a result, hospitals, hotels, IT companies, and seasonal businesses are experiencing worker shortages like never before. Many businesses must have existing employees work more hours to get the job done, and some are being forced to curtail the services that it can offer and turn down business opportunities. Corporations fear that these difficulties in obtaining visas will cause more highly skilled foreign workers to relocate to Canada instead of the U.S., where government officials are continuing to welcome more foreign workers.

Back in 2017, the Trump administration endorsed legislation that would cut legal immigration in half. Thus far, however, Republicans have not advanced that proposal in Congress. Nonetheless, the current administration is taking all steps possible from an administrative and policymaking standpoint to stem the flow of legal immigration as much as possible.

 

U.S. Companies Claim Limiting Legal Immigration is Hurting Them

These delays and administrative snafus in obtaining visas for foreign workers, when combined with the nation’s low unemployment rates, has resulted in major worker shortages for all different types of businesses. If these trends continue, experts fear that the large numbers of Baby Boomers who will be retiring and leaving the workforce over the next several years will create an even more dire need for workers. This is the case for both highly skilled positions and lower skilled service industry positions, such as those providing elder care, child care, and cleaning services.

A group of corporate leaders, the Business Roundtable, has recently challenged the Trump administration over these changes, which they claim are leading to threats to American economic growth and competitiveness in the marketplace. They also fear an eventual exodus of highly skilled foreign workers from the U.S., who no longer may be able to meet the administration’s requirements. For its part, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) claims that it is merely trying to reform immigration into a “merit-based” system.

The Peek & Toland immigration lawyers are here to assist you with all of your immigration needs. Trust us to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in your situation. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your immigration case.

 

Posted in Immigration

ICE Arrests 160 Employees at Texas Trailer Plant on Alleged Immigration Violations

By Peek & Toland on November 23, 2018

Reuters is reporting that U.S. immigration officers recently arrested 160 individuals at a north Texas trailer plant on allegations that they had violated immigration laws and were working illegally in the U.S. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) indicated that it initiated the investigation based on a tip that the company was knowingly employing undocumented immigrants, some of whom were working using fictitious or fraudulent documents. The raid involved multiple helicopters and over 300 federal agents.

The plant, owned by Load Trail, is located about 110 miles northeast of Dallas. Load Trail proclaims on its website that it employs over 500 workers and has been a family-owned business for the last 22 years that manufactures trailers and trailer parts. In 2014, the company agreed to pay a fine of over $444,000 for allegedly employing over 179 unauthorized immigrant workers.

 

ICE Arrests 160 Employees at Texas Trailer Plant on Alleged Immigration Violations

By May 2018, ICE had doubled the number of worksite inspections for immigration violations over fiscal year (FY) 2017; investigations thus far in FY 2018 numbered 3,510, as opposed to $1,716 total in FY 2017. From October 2017 through July 20, 2018, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) opened over 6,000 workplace investigations, which netted over 1,600 arrests on criminal and administrative worksite-related charges. Businesses in FY 2017 were ordered to pay $97.6 million in fines, forfeitures, and restitution, and another $7.8 million in civil fines, all stemming from workplace immigration violations.

The recent Texas raid has been one of many workplace raids netting hundreds of allegedly undocumented workers being placed in immigration detention centers. Along with Texas, Montana and Nebraska also saw large workplace raids in the past few months. 

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have the experience and knowledge that are necessary to represent your interests when you are facing criminal court proceedings on any type of charges. We are here to gather evidence on your behalf, build a strong defense in your case, and develop the best strategy for achieving your goals. Take the first step by contacting us today and learning what we can do to help.

Posted in Immigration

DOJ Charges CEO with H-1B Visa Fraud

By Peek & Toland on November 22, 2018

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged a Seattle-area CEO, Pradyumna Kumar Samal, with visa fraud, alleging that he falsified documents in order to hire over 100, and as many as 200, foreign workers. Samal is the CEO of two technology firms in Washington: Divensi, an IT services firm, and Azimetry, a geospatial data processing company.

 

DOJ Charges CEO with H-1B Visa Fraud

H-1B visas are meant to provide a way for U.S. companies to hire highly skilled foreign workers in industries where they are unable to hire American workers due to shortages in a particular industry. Samal allegedly created fictitious projects that he claimed required the use of foreign workers by using fraudulent statements and letters in support of the projects. Once a worker obtained a H-1B visa, Samal would assign the worker to a different project than listed on the visa application whenever a project for which the individual was qualified would arise; during the interim period, the worker would remain “benched” and unpaid.

The federal fraud charges that Samal is facing could result in as much as ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The DOJ claims that it has been investigating Samal’s companies since 2015. Foreign workers also were allegedly paying Samar a “fee” in order for one of his companies to sponsor their visa applications, which sometimes was as much as $5,000. The DOJ is continuing to sift through visa applications filed by Samal’s companies from 2016 and 2017.

At Peek & Toland, we care about defending you against whatever type of criminal charges you are facing, including federal fraud charges and other white-collar criminal offenses. We will focus all of our efforts on standing up for your rights and representing your interests throughout the criminal proceedings. Additionally, our lawyers regularly assist and advise CEOs and businesses about legally bringing foreign workers to the U.S. Allow us to handle your criminal defense and immigration law needs by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

 

Posted in Visas

Texas Contractors Seek Immigration Reform Due to Shortage of Workers

By Peek & Toland on November 21, 2018

A recent Houston Chronicle article details the prolonged shortage of construction workers that is causing the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) calling on Congress for immigration reform. A recent report from the contractors’ group revealed that 78 percent of the construction firms in the state of Texas have had difficulties finding qualified construction workers, and 83% of the firms expect this trend to continue or worsen.

The City of Houston has been leading the nation in new construction jobs and activity since Hurricane Harvey. The Houston metro area saw an increase of 12 percent in construction jobs, or the addition of 25,000 new jobs.

 

Texas Contractors Seek Immigration Reform Due to Shortage of Workers

As a result, construction firms in Texas are scrambling to fill these positions. Almost 70 percent of these firms have increased pay rate, in-house training, and overtime rates in order to remain competitive with other firms for workers. The collateral effects of this worker shortage include higher bids for construction jobs and jobs taking longer and costing more to complete. Firms are increasingly using “smart” tools and other methods to try and complete work using fewer employees, as prefabricating materials off-site.

AGC is specially recommending that Congress double existing funding for career and technical education over the next five years, as well as allow more people with construction skills to enter the country and fill jobs. Industry leaders believe that those among the undocumented immigrants in Houston have the appropriate skills should identify and be required to work for employers to ensure that they are paying taxes.

Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to helping both individuals and businesses resolve their immigration-related issues. Immigration law is a complex, ever-changing area of the law that necessitates legal advice from experienced immigration lawyers who keep up-to-date with all relevant changes in law and policy. We will work with you to achieve the most positive outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled immigration attorneys today.

 

Posted in Immigration Reform

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