Criminal defendants must be legally
competent to go through a court trial in the state of Texas for the criminal
charges that they are facing. If they are incompetent, they cannot stand trial
for the criminal charges until they have become competent in the future.
To be competent, defendants must be able
to consult with their attorneys with a reasonable degree of understanding. They
also must have rational and factual knowledge of the proceedings against them. If
the evidence shows that defendants lack either one of these capacities by a
preponderance of the evidence, then they will not be competent to stand trial.
Either the defendant’s defense attorney or
the prosecutor may raise questions about whether a defendant is competent. The
court also may initiate an inquiry into whether a defendant is competent. At
this point, the court questions the defendant informally to determine whether a
full competency examination of the defendant is warranted. If the court decides
that the defendant must undergo a complete examination, the court can appoint
an independent expert to evaluate the defendant, who is usually a psychiatrist
If the expert determines that the
defendant is incompetent, the defendant must receive treatment until he or she
is competent to stand trial. In most cases, the defendant will be committed to
an inpatient mental health facility for treatment. If the defendant regains
competency following treatment, the criminal proceedings will resume, and he or
she will stand trial for the criminal charges as planned.
Some of the most common reasons for incompetence findings include mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Addictions such as alcohol and drug abuse also may contribute to incompetency findings.
Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to assisting individuals in resolving their criminal charges. We know that criminal proceedings can be intimidating and overwhelming for those who are facing potential penalties for criminal charges. We will work with you to achieve the most favorable outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled criminal defense attorneys today.
Trump Administration has announced new plans to limit the amount of time that
international students can spend studying in the U.S. The new guidelines
provide for a maximum period of authorized stay, so students now must obtain
additional authorization to remain in the U.S. whenever their plans change. If
a student does not graduate when expected, for instance, that student must
undergo a reevaluation process, just as if the student were transitioning from
college to graduate school.
new rules would impact international students in the U.S. on student visas F1,
F2, M1, and M2. Under current regulations, students can remain in the U.S. as
long as they are enrolled in school and maintain their nonimmigrant status.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claims that the change is necessary to
prevent the incidence of visa overstays by international students. However,
critics of the proposed rule change point out that U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) is already processing immigration applications at
an exceedingly slow rate. Adding more applications and forms for individuals
who already hold student visas are likely to add to the backlog of
As participation by international students in U.S. educational programs has already declined precipitously amidst the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigration laws, these changes could result in a further reduction in the number of international students coming to the U.S. for education. According to figures from the U.S. State Department, almost 1.1 million international students were studying in the U.S. during the 2018-2019 school year. This number constitutes about 5.5% of all students enrolled in American colleges and universities.
Our goal is to assist you with your immigration concerns, whether family or business-based. We can evaluate your situation and develop a strategy that is most likely to be efficient and effective in your case. Regardless of the immigration matter that you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge, and reputation that you want and need to advocate on your behalf. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 474-4445.
people commit crimes, many assume that since they are guilty of the crimes,
they should not spend time or effort hiring a criminal defense lawyer.
Ultimately, they do not believe that having experienced legal counsel to
represent them will make a difference in the outcome of their cases.
for various reasons, hiring a lawyer for guidance during your criminal
proceedings is always a good idea. Even if there is no question that you
committed the crime of which you are accused, you may still benefit from the
advice that only a skilled criminal defense lawyer can provide you.
the burden of proof in a criminal case is on the prosecutor, who must prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed a crime. Meeting this burden of
proof requires admissible, legally valid evidence that you committed the crime.
In some cases, the police may have illegally obtained evidence, which makes it
inadmissible in court. Evidence may be lost or compromised by mishandling. Police
may not have gathered enough evidence to support a criminal conviction. If this
is the case, then you may not always be convicted of the crime, even if you did
Furthermore, a knowledgeable defense attorney may be able to negotiate reduced charges, reduced penalties, or even a dismissal of all charges in rare cases. Instead of simply pleading guilty to a crime and accepting whatever initial offer and penalties that a prosecutor offers you, an attorney may be able to improve the resolution of your case. By pointing to weaknesses in the state’s case, the prosecutor ultimately may agree to reduced charges or penalties. Likewise, your defense attorney is likely to have handled hundreds of cases in your jurisdiction just like yours. This situation makes your attorney far more likely to obtain a plea agreement in your case than you might be able to achieve on your own.
If you or a family member is facing any 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.
Widespread reports of
U.S. Customs and Border Protection detaining Iranian American travelers at the
northern border surfaced soon after the U.S. attacked and killed a top Iranian
general. At the time, CBP officials stated that although travelers experienced
increased wait times, they were not targeting travelers of Iranian descent.
After two U.S.
representatives from Washington met with CBP’s director of field operations in
Seattle, however, they publicly released statements to the contrary. They
explained that not only did CBP make mistakes during the incidents, but they
breached protocol and inappropriately singled out Iranian Americans crossing
Soon thereafter, CNN
published an internal CBP memorandum that directed U.S. border officers at
Canadian ports of entry to detain and question all travelers of Iranian
descent, including American citizens. Additionally, the memo targeted individuals
born in Lebanon or the Palestinian territories, as well as anyone with
connections to these countries or territories for U.S. border officers to
submit to vetting.
As a result, some
American citizens of Iranian descent were subjected to hours of questioning about
their birth countries, their religious affiliations, and past military service.
Some officers confiscated car keys and passports belonging to the travelers while
they were questioned. Over two days, from January 4 – 5, 2020, border officials
detained over 200 such travelers based on their heritages alone.
An unnamed U.S. border officer also confirmed the existence of the internal directives to detain and question those of Iranian descent, regardless of their citizenship status. The officer also stated that as soon as CNN published the internal memo, CBP withdrew the directive.
Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration 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 and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.
Pen. Code § 21.12 establishes a specific criminal offense
based on an improper relationship between an educator and a student. Any
employees of private or public primary or secondary schools commit this offense
Engage in sexual contact or intercourse
with a student enrolled at the school at which they work
Engage in sexual contact or intercourse
with a student enrolled at another primary or secondary school or a student
participant in a school-sponsored event, if they hold specific positions in a
school, including a teacher, administrator, counselor, nurse, or librarian
Engage in the online solicitation of a
minor who is a student at the school at which they work, or a student enrolled
in another school or participating in a school-sponsored event, regardless of
This code section does establish some affirmatives
defenses to the crime of improper relationship between educator and student. For
instance, the fact that the educator and student were married at the time of
the offense is an affirmative defense. Likewise, it is an affirmative defense
if the educator is not more than three years older than the student, and the
couple already was in a relationship before the educator’s employment at the
Improper relationships between teachers
and students, as described above, can result in second-degree felony charges. A
conviction for a second-degree felony can cause a prison sentence ranging from
two to 20 years, as well as a $10,000 fine.
However, if a violation of this code section also is a criminal offense under another section of the Texas Penal Code, the accused person can face criminal charges under either code section or both code sections. As a result, the penalties can be very harsh for this offense, particularly if the prosecution chooses to file two separate charges against the accused.
When you are facing any criminal charges in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.
Department of Justice (DOJ) is striking back at sanctuary laws in various
states that are designed to curtail cooperation between local law enforcement
officials and federal immigration authorities. These laws restrict the sharing
of information between local and federal authorities to protect unauthorized
immigrants from being detained and deported. The DOJ has sued local and state
government entities in California, New Jersey, and Washington to compel them to
notify them and turn over immigrants with no legal immigration status whom they
have arrested for other criminal offenses. To date, five states and counties in
more than 30 states have passed sanctuary laws.
its suits, the DOJ is arguing that sanctuary laws are unconstitutional and pose
a barrier to the U.S. government’s ability to enforce immigration laws. These
suits are an additional tool that the Trump Administration’s DOJ has used to punish
sanctuary states and cities, along with the withholding of federal grant funds.
DOJ first sued the state of California over these laws in 2018, alleging that state
officials were preventing them from deporting non-citizen criminals. A federal judge
in California dismissed most of the claims, but the DOJ has continued to appeal
the suit to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Supporters of the sanctuary laws argue that cooperation with federal immigration authorities makes immigrants reluctant to report crimes and work with authorities in any manner. They feel that this lack of cooperation leads to decreased crime in the community, as immigrants are willing to work with police as victims or witnesses to serious crimes.
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 every day 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 resolve your immigration law case successfully.
are three different categories of misdemeanor crimes under Texas law: Class A,
Class B, and Class C misdemeanors. The most severe charge is a Class A
misdemeanor. A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor can result in one year in
jail, a $4,000 fine, or both. Common examples of Class A misdemeanors include assaults
that result in bodily injury, resisting arrest and the theft of goods worth
between $750 and $2,500. A Class A misdemeanor conviction can make it more
challenging for you to get a job. It also may prevent you from possessing
firearms or obtaining a license to carry or holding some professional licenses.
Class B misdemeanor is the next most serious category of misdemeanor crimes. A
conviction for a Class B misdemeanor carries the potential for up to six months
in jail, a $2,000 fine, or both. Crimes that may constitute Class B
misdemeanors include driving while intoxicated, prostitution, and criminal
trespass. A conviction for Class B misdemeanor may have collateral
consequences, as well, such as impacting your ability to obtain a license to
carry a firearm, drive, vote, and exercise other rights, depending on the
The least severe category for misdemeanor offenses is the Class C misdemeanor. A conviction for a Class C misdemeanor does not create a possibility of jail time. Instead, individuals will face a maximum fine of $500. Class C misdemeanors include speeding, public intoxication, and assault by contact. Although you cannot face jail time for a Class C misdemeanor, you still can face an arrest on most Class C misdemeanor charges, except for speeding, texting while driving, and open container violations. Pleading guilty to a Class C misdemeanor, however, does create a criminal record. In many cases, you might be able to negotiate a solution to the charge that results in an expunction of the criminal records, as these offenses do not tend to be severe.
The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the cases of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges in the state of Texas. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. As a result, we will strive 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.
Pen. Code § 22.05, the crime of deadly conduct occurs when
individuals recklessly engage in behavior that places others in imminent danger
of severe bodily injury. Individuals also may face this charge when they purposely
discharge a firearm toward one or more other persons or a home, building, or
vehicle with reckless disregard as to whether others occupy it. Furthermore,
under this section, it is assumed that recklessness and danger exist where
individuals intentionally point firearms toward others, even if they believe
the firearms are not loaded at the time.
Any act that constitutes general deadly
conduct is a Class A misdemeanor offense under Texas law. If the crime involves
discharging a firearm, however, the offense is enhanced to a third-degree
felony. A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor can result in up to one year in
prison and a maximum $4,000 fine. A third-degree felony conviction, however,
can cause a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years, plus a fine of up to
In some cases, you might think you are
defending yourself if you discharge a gun to protect your family or others.
However, if your conduct goes too far, you easily could face deadly conduct
charges. Even if your motives were good, creating a reckless risk of severe
physical harm to others can lead to these criminal charges.
As the penalties for deadly conduct are not insignificant, you should be sure to get the legal advice that you need in this situation. By attempting to explain your behavior to authorities, you may inadvertently incriminate yourself and create a high probability of criminal charges being filed against you. As a result, you should always consult an attorney before speaking with police about incidents involving the discharge of firearms or other potentially dangerous behaviors that put others at risk.
If you or a family member is facing 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.
the litigation over the policy change will continue, the U.S. Supreme Court has
permitted the newly revised “public charge” to go into effect. The high court stayed
the nationwide injunction against the new rule going into effect that a lower
federal court previously issued.
the new public charge rule, the federal government may deny green cards or
visas to enter the U.S. to individuals who are likely to rely on public
assistance. To measure whether an immigrant is expected to become a public
charge, USCIS will consider various factors about the applicant, including
education, medical history, employment, and assets. Additionally, if immigrants
have used any public benefit on an expanded list of such benefits, including
Medicaid, SNAP, and more, for a specific number of months, they could be
considered ineligible on public charge grounds.
recently, U.S. officials have clarified that they will not apply the new public
charge policy to any immigrants who use government benefits to seek care for
symptoms of coronavirus. The move is likely designed to encourage immigrants to
seek diagnosis and treatment for their symptoms to further avoid the spread of
the virus. The fear is that due to the new public charge rule, immigrants may
be reluctant to seek medical attention for themselves and their families. This
situation could result in heightened dangers to public health.
Additionally, the public charge rule will not apply to immigrants who must seek public benefits as a result of the pandemic because they are unable to work or attend school. Federal officials advise that immigrants in this situation can later explain and provide documentation that they will take into consideration when applying the public charge rule.
An experienced Texas immigration attorney can help you with all aspects of immigration law. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and present your options. Finally, we can help you make the decisions that will be most beneficial to you based on your circumstances. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.
Pleading guilty or no contest to a
criminal charge or charges typically occurs in one of two ways. Many people
enter a plea agreement, in which they agree to plead guilty to one or more
charges, usually in exchange for a more lenient sentence or the dismissal of
some charges. Alternatively, individuals can enter an “open plea,” in which
they agree to plead guilty without relying on any recommendations by the
prosecutor and leaving their sentence up to the discretion of the court.
Although it does not happen frequently, it
may be possible for you to appeal a plea bargain under some circumstances. For
instance, if you do not knowingly or voluntarily accept a plea agreement, you
may have grounds for appeal to the trial judge or higher appellate courts in
some cases. One situation in which a plea bargain might be appealable is if your
attorney did not properly advise you of some issues related to your plea. For
instance, if your attorney failed to inform you of the immigration consequences
of your guilty plea, you may have grounds for an appeal based on ineffective
assistance of counsel. Likewise, if you did not fully understand the complete
consequences of your plea, you might have a basis for an appeal.
Impaired judgment or a lack of mental
capacity to understand a plea agreement may be sufficient grounds to appeal
your guilty plea. In some cases, there may be technical grounds that support an
appeal, such as clerical errors that result in you receiving a sentence that
reflects an incorrect number of jail time credits.
Appealing your guilty plea after you have been sentenced for a crime, while not impossible, is not a common occurrence. Although some individuals receive their sentence on the same day that they enter a plea, most people have some time between their plea and their sentencing. Typically, a trial judge only will allow individuals to set aside their convictions and withdraw their guilty pleas in exceptional circumstances in which it is necessary to avoid injustice. For example, if a lawyer entered a plea on your behalf without your knowledge, you might have grounds to appeal. Similarly, if you were denied a constitutional right during the process, such as the right to counsel, then you might have a basis for a successful appeal.
At Peek & Toland, we care about helping you through your criminal proceedings. We will focus our efforts on advocating on your behalf and representing your interests throughout your case. Our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers know the best strategies for defending you and working toward your desired objective. Allow us to handle your criminal case by sitting down with us today and discussing your situation.
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The information provided on the Peek & Toland website should not be relied on as accurate or correct as laws in specific jurisdictions change frequently. Please consult an attorney in your jurisdiction for specific question about the law in your area.