fbpx
Monthly Archives: March 2019

Can I Vote if I Have a Felony Conviction?

By Peek & Toland on March 30, 2019

In the state of Texas, individuals who have a felony conviction cannot vote. However, after these individuals have completed their sentences, whether it involves incarceration, probation, parole, or some combination thereof, they can regain the ability to vote. Although they cannot just show up at the polls at the next election and vote, they can re-register to vote. Once they have properly re-registered in a timely manner, these individuals are free to vote in the next election. Texas is one of several states that restores voting right to those with felony convictions following the completion of their sentences.

Can I Vote if I Have a Felony Conviction?

A felony conviction must be final before an individual becomes ineligible to vote. If criminal charges are pending against an individual, he or she still has the right to vote. If an individual is convicted of a felony offense following a trial, but the case is currently on appeal, the individual still can vote. If the individual completes deferred adjudication, meaning that that after he or she completes a form of probation, the charges are dismissed, then he or she still can vote.

Those who vote, but who are ineligible to do so because of a felony conviction can face prosecution for voter fraud. In 2018, a Texas woman made news after illegally voting in the 2016 election, while she was still on supervised release for tax fraud. She not only violated her probation in doing so, but a judge also sentenced her to return to prison for five years due to voter fraud.

If you find yourself charged with any type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, 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 individuals 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

Tagged with:

What is Aggravated Assault?

By Peek & Toland on March 29, 2019

Assault under Tex. Pen. Code § 22.01 occurs when individuals intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to others, purposely threatens them with imminent bodily injury, or intentionally causes physical contact with others that reasonably will be seen by them as offensive or provocative.

In certain circumstances, assault rises to the level of aggravated assault. Tex. Pen. Code § 22.02 defines aggravated assault as committing an assault and

·         Causing serious bodily injury to another, or

·         Using or exhibiting a deadly weapon in the commission of the assault

Serious bodily injury is any physical injury that causes death or a substantial risk of death or causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of any bodily member or organ.

 

What is Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony under Texas law. Conviction on a second-degree felony can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years, as well as a maximum fine of $10,000. However, aggravated assault becomes a first-degree felony if:

·         The individual uses a deadly weapon and causes serious bodily injury to a family or household member

·         Committed by a public servant in the course of his or her employment or official duties

·         Committed against a public servant whom the individual knows is a public servant acting in his or her official capacity

·         Committed against a security officer acting in the course of his or her official duties

·         Committed as retaliation for another acting as a witness, informant, or reporter of a crime

·         The assault is committed while in a motor vehicle and knowingly discharges a firearm at a home, building, or vehicle with reckless disregard as to whether it is inhabited and causes serious bodily injury to another person

A first-degree felony conviction can result in a life sentence, a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 year, and a fine of up to $10,000.

The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here 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 criminal matter.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Tagged with:

What Should I Do if My Visa is Denied?

By Peek & Toland on March 28, 2019

With increasing security measures and other policy changes put into place by the Trump administration, individuals seeking all types of visas are seeing more and more denials of their applications. For example, when applications were deficient or missing information in the past, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) simply sent applicants a notice of the deficiency and gave them an opportunity to remedy it. Now, a Trump administration-era policy change permits USCIS officers to simply deny these applications with no prior notice. For these individuals who receive visa denials, their only recourse may be to start over and reapply. This obviously can add months or years to the application process, as well as thousands of dollars in additional fees.

Although reapplication may be the only way to seek a visa, repeatedly reapplying for a six-month visitors’ visa may be a bad idea. Rather, taking time between applications to figure out what caused the denial in the first place may be more productive then simply reapplying immediately using the same information that already has resulted in a denial. For example, if you received a denial because you had insufficient proof of your ties to your current country of residence, then you should take the time to develop this evidence prior to reapplying for a visa.

 

What Should I Do if My Visa is Denied?

Similarly, if you are denied a student visa by the consulate, you should ask specifically what resulted in the denial of your visa application. If you can correct the problem, then you can reapply for a student visa, perhaps successfully.

In the case of a denial to change your status from one visa to another, you must act quickly by consulting a lawyer and applying for reconsideration. If you fail to do so, you risk being placed in deportation proceedings if your original visa has run out. Unless you have some other legitimate basis for being in the U.S., you will be asked to voluntarily depart by a certain date or face deportation.

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal representation of countless individuals facing various immigration-related issues. 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 immigration attorneys today.

Posted in Visas

Tagged with:

Average Delay for Immigrant Visas Has Increased 46% Since 2014

By Peek & Toland on March 27, 2019

A recent article published by Houston Public Media details the findings of a new study by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). In that study, statistics show that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processing times have increased by 46% since Trump took office, although the number of petitions received by USCIS in fiscal year 2018 decreased.

 Overall, processing times have nearly doubled since 2014, which is an increase of 91%. The delays are affecting families, businesses, and the most vulnerable populations, including women fleeing violence. AILA characterizes the current status of the delays as crisis-level. Individuals waiting on the processing of their applications are often unable to work, reunite with their families, or get out of refugee camps.

The USCIS backlog, as of the end of fiscal year 2017, had reached more than 2.3 million. This figure demonstrates a 100% increase in a year’s time, although the receipt of petitions during that same year increased only 4%. Immigration advocates are characterizing the massive delays and backlogs as an “invisible wall” that is preventing legal immigration processes from operating in an efficient and timely manner.

 

Average Delay for Immigrant Visas Has Increased 46% Since 2014

Although the AILA report attributes much of the delays to new policies enacted by the Trump administration that make immigration processes more difficult, delays also increased to some degree during the last two years of the Obama administration. Nonetheless, new security protocols have mired USCIS processing of most types of petitions down substantially. For instance, every employment-based green card applicant now must undergo a personal interview, which takes substantially more time than processing applications without personal interviews.

These processing delays have a significant impact on cities with high rates of immigrant residents, such as Houston. The city of Houston has 1.66 million foreign-born residents. About 531,000 of these residents hold green cards, and another 83,000 are legally present in the U.S. pursuant to temporary visas. Another 30% of this population is undocumented, a figure which includes those currently protected by DACA and TPS programs.

At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you obtain through your immigration problems. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout the immigration process. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering documentation to support your goals. Allow us to handle your immigration law case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.

Posted in Immigration, Visas

Tagged with:

Amnesty International Condemns Administration’s New Asylum Policy as an Illegal Violation of Human Rights

By Peek & Toland on March 26, 2019

According to Margaret Huang, the executive director for Amnesty International U.S., the Trump administration’s new policy on asylum violates U.S. and international law. By law, when foreign nationals present themselves at a U.S. border, they have the right to seek asylum if they can demonstrate a credible fear of prosecution in their native countries. However, the Trump administration is seeking to keep asylum seekers at the southern border in Mexico, in part by sending U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers to the international border to ask Individuals for documentation prior to them even reaching the port of entry. The goal of this new policy is to keep asylum seekers in Mexico while their cases wind their way slowly through the immigration court system.

Aside from the legal issues raised by the new policy, Huang and an Amnesty International delegation, who recently visited San Diego, Tijuana, and El Paso, have determined that Mexico has neither the infrastructure, the resources, nor the capacity, to adequately provide for these asylum seekers. These individuals need shelter, social services, access to legal counsel, and transportation across the border for court hearings. Mexico is ill-equipped to provide any of these necessities to asylum-seekers.

 

Amnesty International Condemns Administration’s New Asylum Policy as an Illegal Violation of Human Rights

Immigration advocates also fear that forcing those seeking asylum to reman in Mexico will make it more likely that they will attempt to cross the border illegally and circumvent the lengthy asylum process. If caught, they would become subject to immediate removal and denial of asylum. Since crossing the border illegally also is dangerous, the possibility of injury and death for these immigrants will increase.

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, Immigration Reform

Tagged with:

What is the Legal Status of CBD Oil in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on March 25, 2019

States throughout the country have seen a huge increase the sales of CBD oil, a non-psychoactive substance containing marijuana and hemp, including the state of Texas. Nonetheless, given the vagueness of Texas marijuana laws and continually changing marijuana policies at the federal level, many persons disagree about the legality of CBD oil in the state. Some law enforcement officials believe that so long as the product contains no detectable amounts of THC, or a very low amount of THC, CBD oil is illegal. Others, however, believe that all CBD oil is illegal, regardless of its composition.

Currently, the only Texas law in place that legalizes any form of hemp or marijuana is the Compassionate Use Act, which legalizes medical marijuana usage for patients with a rare form of epilepsy. Neither hemp nor marijuana, or derivatives thereof, are legal in any other form. Although the Texas District and County Attorneys Association consider CBD oil to be illegal under their interpretation of current state law, however, the fact that is a non-intoxicating substance renders it an extremely low priority, even it is illegal. There has been almost no prosecution of individuals for possessing, buying, or selling CBD oil and there have been no court cases interpreting Texas marijuana laws with respect to CBD oil.

 

What is the Legal Status of CBD Oil in Texas?

This position is consistent with recent moves in larger counties to essentially eliminate prosecution of persons caught with small amount of marijuana. In Travis County, for example, persons facing first-time charges for possessing small amount of marijuana can simply take a class in order to avoid prosecution. This tactic allows an already-overburdened court system to better prioritize cases for prosecution.

Our goal is to minimize the penalties that you can potentially face for the criminal offenses with which you are charged. We are here to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, evaluate your situation, and devise the best strategy for fighting your criminal charges. No matter what type of criminal charges you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge and reputation that you want and need for your criminal defense. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Drug Crimes

Tagged with:

Providing Alcohol to Minors

By Peek & Toland on March 24, 2019

The penalties for individuals who provide or sell alcohol to minors, or persons under the age of 21, can be harsh. Making alcohol available to minors is a Class A misdemeanor offense. Conviction on a Class A misdemeanor can result in a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to $4,000, or both. These individuals also will lose their driver’s licenses for up to 180 days following the date of their convictions.

Furthermore, adults who are over the age of 21 (other than parents or guardians) can be financially responsible for any damages caused by a minor under the age of 18 due to intoxication. This liability exists if the adults knowingly provided alcohol to a minor or allowed a minor to be served alcohol on property that they owned or leased.

 

Providing Alcohol to Minors

Charges of providing alcohol to minors often result from bartenders, liquor store owners, and hosts of parties who intentionally serve minors with alcohol. On college campuses, students who are over the age of 21 can be charged with this offense for serving individuals who are under the age of 21.

In order to be found guilty of this offense, the accused persons must have acted with criminal negligence in providing the alcohol to the minor. For instance, if the adult failed or declined to check the minor’s ID, he or she might be criminally negligent, particularly in the case of a liquor store employee or bar employee whose job it is to check IDs before serving anyone with alcohol.

If you are facing alcohol-related charges or other types of criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can ensure that your rights a protected at all stages of your criminal proceedings. At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you any accusations of wrongdoing that you may be facing. 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 attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Tagged with: ,

Can I Get a Visa to Come to the U.S. if I Am Self-Employed?

By Peek & Toland on March 23, 2019

The H-1B visa is for foreign nationals with bachelor’s degrees, or the foreign equivalent, to come to the U.S. to perform services in a specialty occupation. Normally, a U.S. company must sponsor the foreign national through the H-1B visa program. Now, however, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepts H-1B visa petitions filed by U.S. companies that the prospective visa beneficiary owns. This is widely referred to as the H-1B visa for entrepreneurs.

Can I Get a Visa to Come to the U.S. if I Am Self-Employed?

This visa allows skilled professionals with the necessary academic qualifications to come to the U.S. to set up their own businesses. In order to qualify as a specialty occupation, the employment must be one of the following:

·         The work is so complex or unique that only an individual who holds a bachelor’s degree or higher can complete it,

·         The minimum requirement for the job is a degree or its equivalent, or

·         The work is specific that the knowledge required to perform it is that usually associated with those who hold bachelor’s degrees.

Since the company must have the ability to pay the visa holder’s salary, investments of less than $150,000 rarely qualify for this type of visa. Additionally, the individual must be able to establish an employer-employee relationship. For a company that you own, you cannot be self-employed in the traditional sense and obtain an H-1B visa. Rather, there must be someone other than yourself who exercises control over your work, such as investors, a board of directors, or shareholders. The required level of control must include the right to hire, fire, and review the employee’s work. This is the only situation in which a self-employed individual can obtain an H-1B entrepreneur visa.

Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration law matter. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of immigration forms, regulations, and policies, 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 Visas

Tagged with: ,

What is the Difference Between L-1 and L-2 Visas?

By Peek & Toland on March 22, 2019

Employers must petition on behalf of individuals seeking to enter the U.S. on L-1 visas. This type of visa allows foreign employees of international companies to relocate to the U.S. and work in the companies’ U.S. offices. These employees typically are executives or managers or have specialized skills that the companies utilize. The employees generally must have worked for the company for at least one year in their countries of residence before seeking to work for the company in the U.S.

An L-1 visa is a dual-intent visa, which means that its holders can apply for resident status in the U.S. without jeopardizing their current L-1 visas in any way.

An L-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa that is available for spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of L-1 visa holders. This visa allows the immediate family members of those immigrants with L-1 visas to accompany them to and remain in the U.S. during the term of the L-1 visa.

 

What is the Difference Between L-1 and L-2 Visas?

L-2 visas remain in effect based on the status of the L-1 visa holder. For L-1A visa holders, the L-2 visa duration for dependents is a maximum seven years, and the duration for L-2 visa dependents of L-1B visa holders is a maximum five years. If the status of the L-1 visa holder changes, then the status of the L-2 visa holder changes, as well.

Under an L-2 visa, spouses and children of L-1 visa holders may live and attend school in the U.S. Spouses present in the U.S. on L-2 visas can work full-time or part-time after they obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If they choose, they also can apply for nonimmigrant status under various types of visas, as well as apply for green cards.

The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any type of relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your case. It is our intention to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

Posted in Visas

Tagged with: ,

Theft: The Basics Under Texas Law

By Peek & Toland on March 21, 2019

The criminal offense of theft occurs under Tex. Pen. Code § 31.03 when individuals unlawfully appropriate property belonging to others, with the intent of depriving the owners of the benefit and use of the property. Generally, appropriation is unlawful when one of the following situations occurs:

·         The owners of the property do not give consent to the appropriation,

·         The individuals appropriate the property with the knowledge that it is stolen, or

·         The property was in the custody of a law enforcement agency, a law enforcement agent represented it as stolen, and the individuals that appropriated believe it to be stolen

 

Theft: The Basics Under Texas Law

The level of the charge and the resulting penalties depends largely on the value of the stolen property. Generally, theft is a misdemeanor if the value of the property is less than $2,500, and a felony if the value of the property is $2,500 or more. However, some thefts automatically qualify as a higher level of offense due to the nature of the property. For instance, theft of a firearm is a state jail felony charge under Texas law, regardless of the value of the firearm, as well as any item stolen from a grave, and official ballots from an election.

Furthermore, certain characteristics of the accused persons or the owners of the stolen property also can elevate the charge to the next highest level of offense. For example, if the owner of the stolen property is an elderly individual or a nonprofit organization, then the offense automatically increases to the next level of offense than the theft normally would be. In some cases, this can cause a theft offense to increase from a misdemeanor or a felony.  

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 Theft Crimes

Tagged with:

How Can We Help You?

Our team is standing by to help. Call us at (512) 474-4445 or complete this form to send a message about your legal situation.