Open Container Law in Texas

By Peek & Toland on January 10, 2019

Under Texas law, it is illegal to transport an open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle. In order to be an open container, the container must be an unsealed bottle, can, flask, or any other device to hold alcohol. Furthermore, for an open container to be present in the passenger compartment of a vehicle, it must be visible and reasonably within reach of the driver’s seat. An open container, however, is not considered to be in the passenger compartment of a vehicle if it is in a locked glove box or another locked storage area within the vehicle, if it is in the trunk of your vehicle, or if it is in the area of your upright seat, if your vehicle does not have a trunk.

Open Container Law in Texas

The Texas open container law applies when you are driving on a public road, but also when you are stopped and parked in, on, or immediately next to a public road. Therefore, you do not have to actually be caught driving in order to violate the open container law. Plus, even if a driver does not have an open container of alcohol, but his or her passenger does, both individuals could be charged with an open container offense because they both could reach the open container of alcohol in the passenger compartment of the vehicle. This is the case even if the driver had no alcohol in his or her system at all at the time of the arrest.

Violation of the open container law is a Class C misdemeanor under Texas law, which means that you will receive a citation and fine for the offense. There is no possibility of jail time for this offense and the fine is not likely to be more than $500.

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.

New Asylum Policy Likely to Violate U.S. and International Law

By Peek & Toland on January 9, 2019

The Trump administration has announced new plans to foil the caravan of migrants, who have been traveling to the U.S. border from Central America over the past few months. The newly developed policy states that the federal government will automatically deny asylum and detain migrants if they attempt to enter the country illegally by not going through a designated port of entry. The caravan participants have been characterized by the government as not being legitimate asylum seekers, and the administration further indicated that they house these individuals in tent cities along the border until their asylum hearings are held or they are deported. This is contrary to the usual practice of releasing immigrants seeking asylum into the community pending the results of their asylum applications.

 

New Asylum Policy Likely to Violate U.S. and International Law

However, some legal experts are of the opinion that the latest move in a series of anti-immigration policies violates both U.S. and international law. According to a recent Newsweek article, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, an international treaty agreement to which the U.S. is a party, participating nations cannot deny individuals who are fleeing persecution in other countries the right to apply for asylum. Additionally, U.S. law, in the form of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), also requires that the federal government allow all immigrants seeking asylum to apply for this form of relief and be given the chance to undergo a “credible fear” interview. This interview is designed to help the government distinguish between those immigrants who potentially are eligible for asylum and those who are not.

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, including asylum. 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.

What Happens if I Fail to Appear in Court?

By Peek & Toland on January 8, 2019

In many situations, you must pay a bond to be released from jail prior to your next court date. One of the conditions of your bond is that you will appear as ordered at all future court dates. Even if you are released on your own recognizance, or without paying a bond, you still are ordered to appear in court at a later date. In other situations, particularly for minor offenses, law enforcement officers may not even arrest you, but they may still give you a citation or ticket containing a court date at which you must appear.

 

What Happens if I Fail to Appear in Court?

If you fail to appear in court as ordered, the judge is likely to issue a warrant for your arrest. Furthermore, if you did post bond, you likely will forfeit the amount of the bond to the court, which means that you will not get the amount you paid back as you normally might when a criminal case is resolved. You may face other possible penalties if you fail to appear in court, as well. For instance, the judge could hold you in contempt of court for failing to follow a court order.

There some cases in which you might have a legitimate excuse for failing to appear in court. For instance, a serious illness or emergency surgery might prevent you from appearing in court as scheduled. Death of a family member also might be a valid excuse in some cases. Occasionally, you might fail to get proper notice of the court date, which might excuse your failure to appear. However, when these unexpected events occur, it is best to immediately notify your lawyer or the court of the situation and get documentation of the reason for your failure to appear in court if possible, such as a note from the hospital or your surgeon.

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.

What is Bond Forfeiture?

By Peek & Toland on January 7, 2019

When you are arrested, the court often will set a bond or bail amount, along with other conditions of your release. In order to get released from jail, you will have to pay the full amount of the bond, or if you cannot afford to do, you may have to enlist the assistance of a bail bondsman.

Whatever the case may be, you (or the bail bondsman) can have the bond forfeited by the court if you fail to meet the pre-trial bond conditions set by the court. These conditions often include requirements that you show up for future court dates as required, abiding by a curfew, refraining from using drugs or alcohol, and not traveling outside the state or country unless specifically permitted to do so.

 

What is Bond Forfeiture?

In many cases, bond forfeiture arises when individuals fail to show up to court dates as scheduled. In this situation, not only is the judge likely to issue a warrant for your arrest, but you also are likely to forfeit any bond paid. The bond automatically becomes the property of the jurisdiction in which you are facing charges.

Plus, when you use a bail bondsman to get a surety bond posted by the court, you paid a non-refundable fee that typically is a flat percentage of the bond amount. However, if the bond is forfeited, the bail bondsman is required to pay the full amount of your bond to the court. You thus will become liable to the bail bondsman for the entire amount of the bond. This means that if you put up property or vehicles as collateral for the surety bond, then the bondsman may choose to liquidate those assets and collect their proceeds in order to get reimbursed for the bond amount that you now owe in its entirety.

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.

What Are the Penalties for Drugged Driving in Texas?

By Peek & Toland on January 6, 2019

Drugged driving falls under the category of driving while intoxicated, as set forth in Texas Penal Code § 49.04. This section makes it unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. In addition to the definition that refers to blood alcohol concentration (BAC), Texas Penal Code § 49.01 provides an alternate definition of intoxicated as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.

Determining whether a driver is sufficiently impaired by drugs to constitute driving while intoxicated is far less straightforward than simply measuring a driver’s BAC. There is not a definitive legal level at which an individual is impaired by a certain drug or combination of drugs. This is because unlike alcohol, science does not provide a method for equating a particular drug dosage with impairment. A dosage of a drug that may be incapacitating to one person may not impair another person at all. As a result, determining whether to charge a driver with impairment due to drug consumption can be rather arbitrary.

What Are the Penalties for Drugged Driving in Texas?

Just like with regular DUI involving alcohol intoxication, drugged driving is generally a Class B misdemeanor under Texas law that requires a minimum term of incarceration of 72 hours. Other aggravating factors can increase the potential charge and penalties, such as if the offense occurs with the presence of a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle, or if the offense results in serious bodily injury to others.

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. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Defining Drug Trafficking

By Peek & Toland on January 5, 2019

Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.112 defines drug trafficking as knowingly manufacturing, delivering, or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance. The level of the offense charged and the penalties for a conviction depend upon the classification of the controlled substance and the weight of the controlled substance at the time that the offense was committed. Certain enhancements to drug trafficking crimes also can make the penalties for a conviction more severe, such as a history of previous criminal convictions, whether serious bodily injury occurred due to the offense, whether weapons were involved, and whether any minors were involved.

The Texas Controlled Substances Act classifies controlled substances according to penalty group based on each drug’s risk of abuse and any accepted medical use. Penalty Group 1 drugs are considered to be the most dangerous drugs with the highest risk of misuse and no accepted medical usage. As a result, possession or trafficking in these drugs carry far greater penalties than those that are classified in Penalty Groups 3 and 4.

 

Defining Drug Trafficking

For example, trafficking in a Penalty Group 1 controlled substance, such as cocaine, meth, and heroin, is a state jail felony if the amount of the controlled substances found is one gram or less. The charges and penalties increase as the weight of the drug, including any dilutants or adulterants, increases. Trafficking in more than 400 grams of a Penalty Group 1 controlled substance is a felony offense that can result in life in prison or a sentence ranging from 15 to 99 years, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.

In contrast, Texas Health and Safety Code § 481.114 provides that individuals who commit drug trafficking of a controlled substance in Penalty Groups 3 or 4 face state jail felony charges if they are found with less than 28 grams of the drug. Accordingly, as the weight of the drug increases, so do the charges and the potential penalties.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges, as well as educate you about your rights and responsibilities before the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and 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.

Getting a License to Carry a Handgun in Texas

By Peek & Toland on January 4, 2019

You must have a license to carry a handgun under Texas law. You also must meet certain eligibility requirements in order to qualify for a handgun license. More specifically, you generally must:

·         Be a resident of the state of Texas for six months prior to the date of the license application

·         Be at least 21 years of age

·         Have no felony convictions, no pending charges for a felony, Class A or B misdemeanor, or disorderly conduct

·         Have no convictions for disorderly conduct as a Class A or B misdemeanor in the past five years

·         Not be a fugitive from justice for a felony or Class A or B misdemeanor, or equivalent crimes

·         Not chemically dependent and capable of exercising sound judgment to the usage and storage of a handgun

 

Getting a License to Carry a Handgun in Texas

There are many other requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible for a handgun license, including not being delinquent in the payment of child support or state taxes. Additionally, you must meet all federal eligibility requirements to carry a handgun, including having no convictions for domestic violence crimes, whether they are felonies or misdemeanors. While there are some exceptions to these rules, you generally must meet these eligibility requirements in order to carry a handgun in the state of Texas.

When you apply for a handgun license, you will need to have a valid driver’s license or identification card, current demographic, address, and employment information, and the same information for the last five years, and information regarding any psychiatric, drug, alcohol, or criminal history. You also must submit a photograph and fingerprints to the Texas Department of Public Safety (TPS) in order to apply for a handgun license.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including gun law violations and similar 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.

Trump Administration Requests US Supreme Court to End DACA

By Peek & Toland on January 3, 2019

Immediately prior to Election Day 2018, the Trump administration attempted to challenge the rulings of three federal district courts nationwide by asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a ruling that would allow it to immediately end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The existing rulings, which blocked the administration from ending the program, came from federal courts in California, New York, and the District of Columbia.

In directly approaching the high Court, the administration took the relatively unusual step of bypassing the usual route of waiting for a decision by the intermediate appellate courts before seeking intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, insisting that it needed a final ruling on the issue. The Trump administration claimed that the DACA issue is sure to come before the Supreme Court eventually, and that if the program is not addressed now, it could be as long as a year before the high Court would hear the case. Furthermore, the administration claimed that leaving DACA in place forces them to continue to operate a program that they believe to be illegal under federal law.

 

Trump Administration Requests US Supreme Court to End DACA

Only a few days later, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision on DACA by agreeing that the Trump administration does not have the authority to immediately end the DACA program. The Court stated that although it might be possible for the administration to DACA as an exercise of the discretion belonging to the Executive, the administration did not do so, instead issuing an arbitrary and capricious rescission of DACA.

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.

DWI with a High BAC

By Peek & Toland on January 2, 2019

Although any conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) will result in criminal penalties and civil fines, being convicted of DWI with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or a BAC of 0.15% or more, can result in more severe penalties. Pursuant to Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04, DWI with a high BAC is a Class A misdemeanor, rather than the Class B misdemeanor charge that normally would result from DWI charges.

Having a 0.15% BAC or more is easier for some individuals than others. Various factors can impact BAC, including the presence of other medications in a person’s body, gender, body weight, the amount of food that the person has eaten, the rate at which the person consumed the drinks, the strength of the alcohol in the drinks consumed, and the number of drinks. Typically, when an individual has a BAC of 0.15% or more, his or her gross motor skills are significantly impaired. Driving with a BAC of 0.15% or more definitely can be dangerous, both to the individual and to others.

DWI with a High BAC

According to Tex. Pen. Code § 12.21, a conviction on a Class A misdemeanor charge is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, a jail sentence not to exceed one year, or both. A driver’s license suspension is also a probable outcome of any DWI conviction, along with the costs involved in increased insurance premiums, perhaps for several years. Depending on your prior history of criminal convictions and other circumstances, you may have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in all vehicles that you drive. There are installation fees and monthly maintenance fees for keeping an IID in place.

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. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the outset of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case has progressed. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

What Does the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Do?

By Peek & Toland on January 1, 2019

The role of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles is to decide which eligible offenders should be released from prison to parole or another type of mandatory supervision. They use a set of guidelines to evaluate each offender’s likelihood of success if granted parole and weigh that likelihood to the risk to society if the offender is released.

If an offender who has been released violates the terms of his or her parole, the Board decides what measures to take. These measures may include revoking the offender’s parole and sending him or her back to prison, imposing more or different conditions on the offender’s parole, placing the offender in a different type of facility

What Does the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Do?


The Board also makes recommendations on clemency matters to the Governor. This includes making recommendations about requests for pardons. The Governor can issue a pardon with the written recommendation of a majority of the Board. Options can include full pardons following a conviction or completion of a deferred adjudication community supervision program, conditional pardons, and commutation of sentences. In death penalty cases, the Governor can grant one 30-day reprieve to the individual without the recommendations of the Board. If the Board and Governor wish to grant clemency in a death penalty case, then the sentence of the offender will be commuted from death to life in prison.

A pardon restores some, but not all, citizenship rights to the individual. Specifically, following a pardon issued by the Governor, the individual can hold public office, serve on a jury, and serve as the executor or administrator of an estate. However, a pardon will not allow the individual to become eligible to serve as a peace officer, and the individual still may be barred from certain types of professional licenses. State licensing boards for each profession determine the suitability and eligibility of individuals who apply for licenses and it is up to their discretion whether to grant the application for licensing.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges, as well as educate you about your rights and responsibilities before the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and 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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