Criminal Defense

What is Statutory Rape?

By Peek & Toland on septiembre 10, 2018

In the state of Texas, individuals who are age 17 and younger do not have the legal ability to give consent to sexual relations with another individual. This means that if an individual who is over the age of 18 has sex with an individual who is 17 or younger, he or she can be charged with statutory rape, which is a crime under Texas law. This is the case even if the sex was consensual and involved no violence or force.

Texas law further divides statutory rape cases into three categories, which differ in severity. The most serious of these criminal offenses is aggravated sexual assault, which is a first-degree felony. Aggravated sexual assault occurs when an individual over the age of 18 sexually penetrates a minor who is under the age of 13. A conviction for aggravated sexual assault carries a penalty ranging between five and 99 years in prison.

 

What is Statutory Rape?

Sexual assault is a second-degree felony involving the sexual penetration of a minor who is age 17 or younger by an individual who is more than three years older than the minor. Indecency with a child is a second-degree felony and involves sexual contact and touching between a minor who is age 17 or younger and an individual who is more than three years older than the minor. The potential prison sentence for a second-degree felony conviction, whether for sexual assault or indecency with a child, ranges between two and 20 years in length.

 

There are some exceptions in these types of situations that will not lead to criminal charges. For instance, there is the so-called “Romeo and Juliet” exception, which is meant to prevent teenagers who have engaged in consensual sex from being prosecuted for a sex crime. This exception applies to a minor between the ages of 14 and 17 who has consensual sex with another individual who is less than three years older than him or her. Another exception involves consensual sex between a minor and his or her adult spouse; although their ages might result in criminal charges if the couple had sex outside of marriage, there are no criminal charges for consensual sex if the parties are married, despite an age difference.

The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here to assist you in building a strong defense against your criminal charges, no matter the circumstances. Trust us to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in defending your case. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your immigration matter.

 

Publicado en Criminal Defense

What is Deadly Conduct?

By Peek & Toland on septiembre 5, 2018

Texas law defines deadly conduct as occurring when an individual recklessly engages in conduct that that places another person in imminent danger of serious bodily injury. Any type of physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or results in death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ constitutes serious bodily injury.

 

What is Deadly Conduct?

Due to the broad definition of deadly conduct under Texas law, it also encompasses the discharge of a firearm in the direction of people or toward a home or vehicle with reckless disregard as to whether the home or vehicle is occupied by others. Even though it doesn’t technically involve a weapon, deadly conduct also may be charged in conjunction with DWI, based on the theory that the driver’s behavior was so reckless that it placed the public in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.

As a general rule, deadly conduct is a Class A misdemeanor, but it can be charged as a third degree felony if it involves recklessly discharging a firearm. For the purposes of deadly conduct, Texas law always treats firearms as if they loaded, no matter whether you know that they were loaded or not.

A Class A misdemeanor can result in up to one year in jail, along with a fine of up to $4,000. If charged as a third degree felony, however, a conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to ten years, with a minimum sentence of two years. You also may face a fine of up to $10,000. It is likely that a deadly conduct conviction also will result in a period of probation of at least one year. Probation will require you to meet certain conditions set by the court, such as mandatory searches of your home and vehicle to ensure that you do not possess any weapons.

 

At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you from any potential criminal charges. 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.

 

Publicado en Criminal Defense

Defining Reasonable Suspicion

By Peek & Toland on agosto 29, 2018

Texas law requires that the law enforcement officer who stops a driver have a reasonable suspicion to believe that the driver has committed a traffic offense, is driving while intoxicated (DWI), or is driving under the influence of narcotics (DUI). It is this reasonable suspicion that gives the officer the legal authority to pull over the driver. After the officer has stopped the vehicle, he or she can ask the driver to undergo a breath or blood test if he or she has reasonable suspicion that the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs. Absent reasonable suspicion, the law enforcement officer’s stop is likely illegal, and any evidence that comes out of the stop, such as breath or blood test results or statements by the driver, may not be admissible in court.

 

Defining Reasonable Suspicion

It is not enough for a police officer to have a hunch or merely suspect that a driver has committed a traffic offense or crime. Rather, the police must have concrete, specific facts to justify the traffic stop. If a police officer doesn’t have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop, then the stop is illegal under Texas law. Ultimately, it is up to a judge to determine whether a police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle.

Sobriety checkpoints, however, are an exception to the reasonable suspicion standard for a police officer to pull over a vehicle. Law enforcement in Texas and many other states can and often do set up these checkpoints during busy holiday weekends, such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. During these checkpoints, police officers will stop a random number of vehicles, such as every fifth or tenth vehicle that passes by the checkpoint.

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

 

Publicado en Criminal Defense, DWI

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Charges

By Peek & Toland on agosto 27, 2018

While Texas law has expansive laws concerning the ability to carry firearms, there are various circumstances in which carrying a firearm is illegal. If you are in one of the following situations, you could face charges for unlawful possession of a firearm. As a result, you can face significant penalties if convicted.

 

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm Charges

If you are a convicted felon, you cannot legally possess a firearm for five years following your release from incarceration, or, alternatively, your release from community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision. After that five-year period has elapsed, you can possess a firearm, but only when you are on your property. Texas law further restricts you from possessing a firearm if you have been convicted of a Class A misdemeanor for family violence, or violence against your family or household member, also for a five-year period following your release from confinement or community supervision, whichever is later. Likewise, if you are subject to a restraining order or protective order, you cannot possess a firearm so long as the order remains in effect.

In most cases, unlawful possession of a firearm is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. In other cases, however, unlawful possession of a firearm constitutes a felony of the third degree, which carries a sentence of up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Fortunately, there are some defenses to this crime. For instance, you may be able to argue that you did not knowingly or intentionally possess a firearm. You also can present evidence that you had a reasonable belief that your actions did not violate the law. Additionally, you may have a defense if you can prove that possession of a firearm was necessary, such as if you were a victim of a crime that placed you in serious danger.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, including unlawful possession of a firearm, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and provide you with the strongest defense possible. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

 

Publicado en Criminal Defense

What is a Pre-Sentence Investigation?

By Peek & Toland on agosto 26, 2018

Before a judge sentences a defendant for a crime, he or she normally must review a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) that a community supervision or probation officer has completed and submitted. A PSI contains information about the criminal offense with which the defendant has been charged, the amount of restitution that would compensate the victim of the crime, if any, and the criminal and social background of the defendant, along with any other information that the judge has requested.

There are some situations in which a PSI is not required before sentencing a defendant. In a misdemeanor case, a PSI is not required if:

  • The defendant asks to skip the PSI and the judge agrees;
  • The judge finds that there is enough evidence in the record to go ahead and sentence the defendant without the need for a PSI; AND
  • The judge explains his or her finding on the record.

What is a Pre-Sentence Investigation?

In a felony case, a PSI is not required if:

  • The jury will determine the defendant’s punishment;
  • The defendant is convicted of or pleads guilty to capital murder;
  • The only available punishment is imprisonment; OR
  • The defendant signed a plea agreement under which he or she agreed to imprisonment, and the judge intends to accept and follow the agreement.

To complete a PSI, the probation officer will contact the defendant to get information about his or her version of the events surrounding the crime, as well as law enforcement’s version of the events. The officer will contact any victims of the crime to allow them to submit victim impact statements. The PSI also will contain an exhaustive list of the defendant’s criminal history. Typically, the officer also will include information about the defendant’s family, finances, educational level, and mental and physical health.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help build a strong defense against criminal charges, regardless of the type of criminal offense involved. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the beginning of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case may be too far gone to fix. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

 

Publicado en Criminal Defense

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