What is an Arrest Warrant and How Does It Work?

By Peek & Toland on November 20, 2019

An arrest warrant is a legal document signed by a judge that authorizes law enforcement officials to take people into custody. Judges issue arrest warrants when they find probable cause to believe that a specific person has committed a crime. Probable cause normally is based on a written affidavit by a law enforcement officer or another person making the complaint.

If the judge issues an arrest warrant, law enforcement officers then serve the warrant on the person named in the warrant and take them into custody. Arrest warrants are good throughout the entire state of Texas. These warrants must contain the name of the person, a reasonable description of the person, the offense of which the person is accused, and the judge’s signature.

What is an Arrest Warrant and How Does It Work?

In some cases, judges will opt to issue a court summons instead of a warrant. A summons does not allow police officers to take people into custody. Rather, the individuals simply have a summons to appear in court on a particulate date and time.

Police officers also do not need to have an arrest warrant signed by a judge in all cases to arrest a person. Law enforcement authorities may arrest people when they:

  • Observe them committing a crime
  • Have probable cause that a person has committed a felony and is trying to escape
  • Have probable cause than an assault has occurred and a victim is still in danger
  • Receive a voluntary statement from individuals stating that they have committed a felony

Other circumstances that can result in warrantless arrests are those in which police officers have probable cause that a person has committed an offense that violates a protective order or recover stolen property that they believe a person has stolen. Various other situations exist that may also justify a warrantless arrest.

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. Our goal is 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.

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National Association of Immigration Judges President Slams Tent Courts

By Peek & Toland on November 19, 2019

Under the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which went into effect earlier this year, immigration officials have returned more than 45,000 migrants to Mexico to await asylum hearings. As a result, thousands of asylum-seekers have simply given up on their claims rather than risk the violence inherent in living in Mexican border towns.

Furthermore, in Laredo and Brownsville, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has enacted “tent courts” outside of the ports of entry. DHS has banned the public and the press from the proceedings held in these tent courts, which occur with an immigration judge presiding over cases by video teleconference. For journalists and members of the public to view these hearings, they must travel to the courts where the judges conducting the hearings are located.

According to one reporter for the Texas Observer who attended some of these hearings, many migrants simply did not appear in court as scheduled. Others pleaded to not be returned to Mexico, where they had been assaulted. Most migrants were confused, unclear about how to file for asylum, with very few migrants being represented by attorneys. Even worse, major translation errors seemed to plague the hearings, which migrants often unable to understand the judge.

National Association of Immigration Judges President Slams Tent Courts

As a result of these hearings, immigration judge and president of the National Association of Immigration Judges Ashley Tabbador has publicly denounced the tent courts. She pointed out several issues with MPP and the resulting court hearings, including:

  • Caseloads too large to handle and too many hearings scheduled at one time
  • Migrants overwhelmingly unable to access legal assistance
  • No addresses for migrants to send them correspondence about their cases
  • Tent court hearings run by prosecutors rather than by immigration judges, who are not even physically present for the hearings
  • No accountability to the public by conducted closed proceedings

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the immigration cases of countless individuals and businesses facing immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf to get the outcome that you are seeking. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.

Posted in Asylum, Immigration Reform

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Sex Crimes on College Campuses

By Peek & Toland on November 18, 2019

Allegations of sex crime often occur on college campuses, often in the context of on or off-campus parties where individuals have been drinking. Some of the potential sex crimes that may arise on campus include rape, sexual assault, and indecent exposure, among others. These allegations can give rise not only to criminal prosecution, but also to college conduct proceedings under Title IX.

Under Title IX, college campuses that receive federal funding, which typically is the form of federal financial aid that college students receive, must disclose information about sex crimes on campus and enact strict policies to prevent it from happening. While these policies vary from one school to the next, the potential for a finding of misconduct in these proceedings is very high, even if there never a criminal prosecution or conviction arising from the incident.

Title IX hearings often can result in severe penalties for individuals whom colleges find have committed misconduct. They may be subject to probation, suspension, eviction from campus housing, and even expulsion. These disciplinary findings become part of the student’s criminal record and can hinder future career opportunities.

Sex Crimes on College Campuses

Furthermore, the Texas legislature enacted even stricter standards for college campuses handling allegations of sexual assault, passing several bills that the Governor Abbott signed into law this year. As a result, Texas now has laws that in some respects more stringent than those requirements imposed by Title IX. These laws are among the strictest in the nation.

Criminal charges for sex offenses likewise can have harsh consequences. Individuals can face years in prison, mandatory registration as a sex offender, probation, and fines if convicted of a sex crime. To avoiding these potentially devastating effects, individuals should not hesitate to seek legal advice.

If you or a family member is facing accusations of a sex crime or any other 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.

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Can I Get My Criminal Case Dismissed?

By Peek & Toland on November 17, 2019

When you are facing criminal charges, the District Attorney’s office has the legal authority to make prosecutorial decisions for the State of Texas. While dismissals do occur in some cases, they are not as common as one might think. Ultimately, it is up to the District Attorney’s office whether to dismiss a specific criminal charge. No defense attorney can ever promise you or guarantee a dismissal of your criminal case.

Criminal cases can be dismissed without prejudice, or, more rarely, with prejudice. A dismissal without prejudice means that the District Attorney’s office can refile the same charges against you after previously dismissing them. For instance, if the District Attorney later receives more evidence against you for the charge from police, the District Attorney then could refile the same charges. However, if the court grants a dismissal without prejudice, then the District Attorney can never refile the same charges against you.

Can I Get My Criminal Case Dismissed?

Various factors can dismiss the decision of the District Attorney’s office whether to dismiss criminal charges. The input of an alleged victim of the crime can be useful in persuading the District Attorney to dismiss the charges. Other relevant factors may include the strength of the evidence against you, the availability of witnesses, potential defenses or justifications for the crime, and other mitigating circumstances. Evidence that is contrary to the state’s evidence in support of prosecution also may help sway a decision whether to dismiss criminal charges.

Another circumstance that can lead to dismissal of criminal charges is the use of a deferred prosecution agreement. For instance, a defendant may be able to ultimately obtain a dismissal of charges by signing a written confession to the offense, agreeing to not commit other crimes, and agreeing to complete specific conditions, such as completing domestic violence or substance abuse counseling. The prosecutor often will dismiss the charges without prejudice when individuals enter these agreements. If the individuals fail to meet their end of the bargain, then the prosecutor can refile the charges and use the signed confession against them. If the individuals follow the agreement, then the charges will remain dismissed.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and explore your options. We then can help you make the decisions that are mostly like to be beneficial to you, based on your situation. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

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Trump Administration Travel Ban Impacts More Than 31,000 People

By Peek & Toland on November 16, 2019

According to a recent CNN article, the State Department has announced that the Trump Administration’s travel ban has resulted in the denial of entry to more than 31,000 people as of September 14, 2019. The travel ban in effect, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in June 2018, affects primarily Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, as well as North Korea and Venezuela. This version of the travel ban has been in effect since the Supreme Court failed to prevent it from going into effect in December 2017.

The State Department also reported that it had issued more than 7,600 waivers. During the first 11 months of the ban, however, only 5.9% of visa applicants were given a waiver, with another 25% remaining in administrative processing.

Trump Administration Travel Ban Impacts More Than 31,000 People

When the ban went into effect, the number of immigrant visas that the federal government issued to citizens of the Muslim-majority countries affected by the ban dropped sharply. The government issued over 1,400 such visas in December 2017, but in January 2018, that number fell to 69. Although numbers have increased, they remain abnormally low. For instance, the federal government issued over 6,600 immigrant visas to foreign nationals of Iran in 2017. In 2018, the government issued only 537 such visas to individuals born in Iran.

Democratic lawmakers recently held a three-hour hearing to obtain these statistics and slam government officials over the results of the ban. Democrats claim that the ban was solely to carry out campaign promises to ban all Muslims from entering the country, not for national security purposes.

Back in April 2019, the Democrats introduced a bill known as the “No Ban Act” in the House and Senate that would overturn the ban. However, the GOP-controlled Senate is not likely to approve the bill.

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.

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When Does Assault Rise to the Level of Aggravated Assault?

By Peek & Toland on November 15, 2019

Tex. Pen. Code § 22.02 establishes the crime of aggravated assault, which is an enhanced version of assault that carries the potential for more significant penalties than for a simple assault conviction. Assault occurs under § 22.01 when individuals:

  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to others
  • Intentionally or knowingly threatens others with bodily injury, or
  • Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with others when the person knows or reasonably should believe that others will consider the contact to be offensive or provocative

When individuals commit assault, and other aggravating factors are present, they may face aggravated assault charges. Individuals who cause serious bodily injury to others during an assault commit aggravated assault. The other situation that constitutes aggravated assault occurs when individuals use or exhibit a deadly weapon in the commission of the assault.

When Does Assault Rise to the Level of Aggravated Assault?

Aggravated assault generally is a second-degree felony offense, except that it becomes a first-degree felony offense in the following situations:

  • The accused persons use a deadly weapon during the assault and cause serious bodily injury to a specific family or household members
  • Public servants commit the offense within the scope of their employment or duties
  • Individuals commit the crime against others whom they know are public servants or security officers in the discharge of their official duties, or in retaliation for performing their official duties
  • Individuals commit the offense in retaliation against or on account of the service as a witness, informant, or a reporter of a crime

Furthermore, aggravated assault may be a first-degree felony if:

  • The accused persons are in a motor vehicle
  • They knowingly fire a gun in the direction of a home, building, or vehicle, with recklessness as to whether it is occupied, and
  • Someone suffers serious bodily injury as a result

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.

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Trump Administration Reverses Course on Plan to End Immigration Medical Relief Exemptions

By Peek & Toland on November 14, 2019

In late August 2019, the Trump Administration announced its intent to revoke medical exemptions from individuals that had provided them with deferred deportation. Those with medical exemptions generally have family members who are undergoing life-saving medical treatment in the U.S. that is unavailable in their home countries. The federal government quietly notified families with medical exemptions that it was rescinding permission for them to remain in the country and were allowing them 33 days in which to leave.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not make the policy change public or allow any opportunity for the public to review or comment before implementing the change. Instead, the government sent letters to each family, telling them to leave the country on their own.

Trump Administration Reverses Course on Plan to End
Immigration Medical Relief Exemptions

The backlash to the policy change was immediate and harsh. Many legislators pointed to the fact that if any of these individuals were removed from medical treatment and returned them to their native countries, they would die immediately.

A few days later, the Trump Administration abruptly reversed course, announcing that it would reopen the deferred deportation process for eligible immigrants based on medical needs. USCIS stated that it would reconsider the deferral requests filed as of August 7, 2019, for which agency employees had recently denied relief. This is the date to which USCIS made its previous policy change retroactive. However, it remains far from clear whether individuals submitting applications for medical deferral after August 7, 2019, will be able to seek relief. Immigration advocates fear that the reconsideration of these applications constitutes only a brief reprieve for immigrant families facing these issues.

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.

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Immigrant Population Growth at Slowest Pace in Over Ten Years

By Peek & Toland on November 13, 2019

According to recent findings by the Brookings Institution, the U.S. immigrant population growth rate in 2018 was the slowest that it had been in the past decade. The net increase of immigrants in 2018 was about 200,000, which is a decline of more than 70 percent from 2017 figures. Experts attributing the drastic drop in the growth rate to changes in the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, and many see it as a bad sign for the economic health of the country. Immigrant population growth has not been so slow since 2008 when the U.S. was in the depths of an economic recession.

The most significant declines in the immigrant population in America were among Latin American and Asian people who were not U.S. citizens. In 2018, a total of about 45 million people who were not born in the U.S. lived in America. Nearly half of these individuals were U.S. citizens, another quarter were legal permanent residents, and the remaining immigrants had no legal immigration status. Another significant drop in growth appears to be among Chinese students, which has caused substantial decreases in revenues for universities.

Immigrant Population Growth at Slowest Pace in Over Ten Years

Among the federal government policies that likely impacted these figures were the travel ban on individuals from specific countries, increased scrutiny of visa applications, and policies designed to discourage people from seeking asylum. New procedures for processing visa applications, which have caused significant backlogs in processing times, also may have contributed to the slowed growth.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released these figures as part of its annual American Community Survey, which is a small-scale census that depicts how the American population has changed year to year. Another key finding of the survey was that economic inequality has continued to increase and may be at a record high.

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

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Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas

By Peek & Toland on November 12, 2019

Under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.08, individuals commit intoxication manslaughter when they operate motor vehicles in public places while intoxicated and in doing so, cause the death of others by accident or mistake. Intoxication manslaughter also occurs when individuals cause the death of others as a result of operating aircraft, watercraft, or an amusement ride while intoxicated. Finally, individuals may commit this offense if they assemble a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated, which results in the death of others.

Intoxication manslaughter charges differ in severity from manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter charges. When you are facing those charges, the state is alleging that you caused the death of others due to some reckless behavior. However, intoxication manslaughter charges are based on allegations that you caused death by mistake or accident, not due to reckless or intentional conduct.

Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas

Another unique feature of intoxication manslaughter is that a conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the death occurred as a result of your intoxicated status. The mere fact that you were involved in a fatal accident while you were intoxicated does not automatically lead to an intoxication manslaughter conviction. Instead, there must be a link between your intoxication and the resulting death.

Intoxication manslaughter generally is a second-degree felony offense. Individuals can face a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000 as a result of a second-degree felony conviction.

However, intoxication manslaughter is a first-degree felony offense if it results in the death of any of the following classes of people while in the commission of their official duties:

  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical services personnel
  • Peace officers, or
  • Judges

An intoxication manslaughter conviction also can count as a prior offense to enhance the penalties for other DWI-related crimes. Therefore, if you have a previous conviction for intoxication manslaughter, you can face third-degree felony rather than misdemeanor charges for a subsequent DWI offense. Facing a felony rather than a misdemeanor DWI charge can result in far more severe penalties if convicted.

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

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Can DWI Get Me Deported?

By Peek & Toland on November 11, 2019

Depending on your immigration status, you could face deportation from the U.S. if you are convicted or even arrested of DWI in Texas. Various circumstances and DWI-related offenses may put you at risk of deportation.

If you have no legal immigration status, you are likely to face deportation for a DWI arrest, even if you are not convicted. Immigration laws do not require a criminal conviction for you to be deported. The mere fact that you have no legal immigration status is enough to deport you alone.

Can DWI Get Me Deported?

If you hold a green card or are a legal permanent resident, a misdemeanor DWI conviction is not likely to jeopardize your status as a green cardholder. However, if you receive a felony DWI conviction, you may be subject to deportation. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) considers some felony DWI-related offenses to be crimes of moral turpitude, which can make you eligible for removal. For instance, you can face a felony DWI conviction if you have previous DWI convictions on your record or your blood alcohol content (BAC) was .015 percent or more. You also may receive felony DWI charges if you commit DWI while you have a passenger under age 15 in your car or cause an accident while intoxicated that results in injuries or death to others.

Furthermore, in today’s political climate, green card holders are facing arrest and deportation for DWIs and other criminal offenses that may be years old. They also may be subject to deportation now for offenses that would not have affected their immigration status many years ago. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have publicly announced their intent to remove even legal immigrants with any criminal convictions. As a result, even if your DWI conviction is ten years old, you still might face deportation under the current administration.

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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