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What is Expunction?

By Peek & Toland on septiembre 3, 2018

Even if an individual is never convicted of a crime, criminal records remain. An individual’s arrest record, any criminal charges that were filed, and trial proceedings all will remain public records, even if a criminal case is ultimately dismissed or an individual is found not guilty. These records can have a negative effect on a person’s career, social life, and overall ability to function normally in society. Therefore, it is not uncommon for an individual in this situation to try and have those records removed from the public record.

What is Expunction?

The process of expunction, which is often referred to as expungement in other states, is available only in narrow circumstances under Texas law. This is the process that you must go through in order to get rid of criminal records. Essentially, expunction occurs when you file a lawsuit to clear your criminal record, or to have the records resulting from a criminal arrest destroyed. You may qualify for an expunction of your criminal records if you meet the following criteria:

  • You went to trial and were acquitted or found not guilty.
  • You were pardoned.
  • You completed pre-trial diversion or intervention.
  • Your criminal charges were dismissed due to fraud, a lack of probable cause, or a similar situation.
  • Your criminal charges were dismissed and unless it was a Class C misdemeanor, you had no court-ordered probation, and the statute of limitations has expired.

Additionally, many counties have their own policies and procedures regarding expunctions, so having an attorney who is accustomed to handling expunctions in the county at issue can be key to a quick and successful resolution of your case.

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 a result, 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.

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How to Get a Visa for Your Fiancé(e) to Come to the U.S.

By Peek & Toland on septiembre 2, 2018

If your fiancé(e) is not a U.S. citizen, you likely will want to bring him or her to the U.S. so that you can marry and live together. U.S. immigration law provides a means for you to do so, in the form of the K-1 visa. As you will see, there are several steps that you and your fiancé(e) must take in order to complete the K-1 visa process. Perhaps most importantly, once your fiancé(e) arrives in the U.S., you have 90 days in which to legally marry and apply for lawful permanent residency, or a green card. Otherwise, the visa expires and your fiancé(e) must return to his or her home country.

How to Get a Visa for Your Fiance(e) to Come to the U.S.

To qualify for a K-1 visa, you (the petitioner) must be a U.S. citizen and must intend to get married within 90 days of your fiancé(e)’s arrival in the U.S. Both you and your fiancé(e) must be legally free to marry, and you must have met one another in person at least once in the two years prior to filing the visa petition. You typically must submit evidence of your ongoing relationship to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with your visa evidence. Relevant evidence might include pictures of the two of you with family or friends, letters, cards, or email messages that you exchanged, and/or telephone records or logs.

USCIS normally approves or denies a K-1 visa petition within four to six months of its filing date. If the petition is approved, USCIS will notify the U.S. citizen petitioner and the National Visa Center. Your fiancé(e) then must submit an affidavit of support and any other necessary documentation. Thereafter, your fiancé(e) will be able to enter the U.S. on a K-1 visa.

While USCIS will approve most bona fide K-1 visa petitions, there are reasons that USCIS may deny a petition. For instance, USCIS might deny a K-1 visa petition due to a foreign national’s criminal background, insufficient financial or relationship documentation, medical problems, or a previous marriage of one of the parties that never has been terminated.

The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking a visa for you, a family member, or potential employee to enter the U.S. 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 situation. 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 with your legal immigration matter.

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When Can I Get My Weapon Back?

By Peek & Toland on septiembre 1, 2018

Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, if an individual is convicted of a criminal offense involving a weapon, he or she must forfeit the weapon at issue to the state. This is the case whether the weapon in question is a gun, knife, or another type of weapon. Once this forfeiture has occurred, the state can sell or destroy your weapon. However, there are some circumstances in which you may be able to get your weapon back from the state.

When Can I Get My Weapon Back?

An individual is entitled to get his or her weapon back after being convicted of a crime involving a weapon, unless one of the following circumstances is true:

  • The individual fails to request the weapon back prior to the 61st day following the date of conviction or order of deferred adjudication.
  • The individual has a prior conviction under Chapter 46 of the Texas Penal Code.
  • The weapon at issue is a weapon that Chapter 46 of the Penal Code prohibits, such as an explosive weapon, machine gun, chemical dispensing device, or armor-piercing ammunition, among others.
  • The criminal offense involving the weapon occurred at a playground, school, video arcade, or youth center.
  • The weapon at issue is considered to be stolen property, in which case the state will return it to its rightful owner.
  • The court determines that returning the weapon to the individual would pose a threat to the community.

In any of these situations, the individual’s weapon is permanently forfeited, and he or she will never be able to get it back from the state. Additionally, you should keep in mind that Texas law prohibits individuals from carrying certain types of weapons out in public, although they are permissible in the owner’s home. These weapons include swords, tomahawks, and knives with blades longer than 5.5 inches. Although the state will confiscate these weapons if an individual is caught in possession of them, the state likely will return them to the individual upon request, unless one of the situations listed above applies.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing any type of criminal charges, whether at the state or federal level. 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 Texas criminal defense attorneys today.

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What is an E Treaty Visa?

By Peek & Toland on agosto 28, 2018

U.S. immigration law provides for two nonimmigrant visa categories for treaty traders (E-1) and treaty investors (E-2), who are citizens or nationals of countries who have a bilateral treaty of commerce and navigation with the U.S. If an individual receives a E-1 or E-2 visa, he or she can be accompanied by a spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21.


What is an E Treaty Visa?

An E-1 visa for a treaty trader allows him or her to carry on substantial trade in goods, service, and technology, principally between the U.S. and his or her country of citizenship or nationality. Substantial trade is sufficient trade to guarantee the continuous flow of trade between the U.S and the treaty country. There must be numerous transactions to constitute substantial trade; a single transaction, no matter how large an amount it involves, cannot qualify as substantial trade. More than 50 percent of the volume of trade conducted by the treaty trader must be between the U.S. and the treaty country.

An E-2 visa for a treaty investor is designed to allow him or her to direct the operations of an enterprise in which he or she has invested or is actively investing a substantial amount of capital in the U.S. The treaty investor’s investment must place lawfully acquired capital at commercial risk with the objective of earning profits, and that capital must be subject to loss if that investment fails. The investment must consist of the investor’s personal unsecured funds, not of loan proceeds or a secured financial instrument. The treaty investor must either control or own at least 50% of the enterprise or show operational control through a management position.

The skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you with all of your immigration law needs. We regularly handle many types of immigration; our attorneys have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome in your case. 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.


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Court Strikes Down Texas Revenge Porn Law

By Peek & Toland on agosto 25, 2018

The Texas 12th Court of Appeals has struck down the Relationship Privacy Act, the so-called Texas “revenge porn” law, which was passed 2015 to combat the growing trend of individuals posting nude or semi-nude pictures of their ex-partners on the internet without their permission. In fact, the law targeted not only the ex-partners who posted the photos, but also third parties who may have unwittingly shared the photos online, not knowing the circumstances of the photos’ creation. The law made it a misdemeanor to post private, intimate pictures, which carried penalties of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 file. Although dozens of other states have similar laws on the books, their consequences vary, and often include no jail sentence.

The appeal stemmed from the case of Jordan Bartlett Jones, who was charged under the Revenge Privacy Act after being accused of intentionally disclosing a photo of a semi-naked woman and revealing her identity, even though the woman had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private. The appellate court ordered that the charges against Jones be dismissed.


Court Strikes Down Texas Revenge Porn Law

The Court ruled that the law violated the First Amendment, due to its vague and overly broad content-based restrictions. Although the Court’s ruling currently only impacts the Northeast Texas counties that fall under the jurisdiction of the Court, other courts throughout the state likely would consider the ruling in relevant cases.

The Office of the State Prosecuting Attorney will pursue an appeal of the ruling. In the event that the appeal is unsuccessful, the Texas Attorney’s General Office ultimately may appeal the Court’s ruling to the Court of Criminal Appeals, which is the highest criminal court in the state of Texas. However, given the breadth of the Texas law, higher courts are likely to raise similar concerns.

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.

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What is a L-1 Visa and How Does It Work?

By Peek & Toland on agosto 23, 2018

An L-1 Visa allows a foreign company to expand its operations in the U.S. Under this type of visa, the company can transfer an employee in an executive or managerial capacity or who has specialized knowledge to work in or establish a location in the U.S. L-1A visas are for Executive or Manager Intracompany Transferees, and L-2A visas are for Specialized Knowledge Intracompany Transferees. These are temporary worker, nonimmigrant visas that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will scrutinize closely to make sure that the company actually places the employee in a position that requires executive or managerial skills or specialized knowledge. As a result, the company typically must provide extensive information about its business operations and practices, as well as the qualifications of its employees.


What is a L-1 Visa and How Does It Work?

There are additional requirements that a company must satisfy to obtain an L-1 visa for a worker, which includes the following:

·         The U.S. company petitioning for the visa must be a parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate of the foreign company.

·         The U.S. company and the foreign company must be doing business as an employer in the U.S. and at least one foreign country for the duration of employee’s stay in the U.S.; if the U.S. company has been doing business in the U.S. for less than one year, then USCIS considers it to be a “new office” L-1 petition.

·         The employee must be of executive or managerial capacity, meaning that he or she must supervise and control the work of professional employees and make decisions on behalf of the company with no oversight.

·         The employee must have been employed as a manager, executive, or employee with specialized knowledge for at least one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the visa petition.

An L-1 visa petition either can be an individual L-1 petition or a blanket L-1 petition. The individual L-1 visa is valid for three years and can be renewed for a total of up to seven years. USCIS processes individual L-1 petitions, whereas the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which the employee is located.

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have the experience and knowledge that are necessary to represent your interests when you are facing any type of immigration law issue. We are here to gather evidence on your behalf, build a strong case, and develop the best strategy for achieving your goals. Take the first step by contacting us today and learning what we can to help.

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Will I Lose My Immigration Status if I Get a DWI?

By Peek & Toland on agosto 22, 2018

Any type of arrest potentially can trigger deportation for an immigrant who is present in the U.S. Whether you are an undocumented immigrant or a legal immigration status, you could face deportation for an arrest, even if you never are convicted of the underlying crime. DWI charges are no exception. While no individual wants a DWI conviction on his or her record, the repercussions of a DWI potentially are much more severe for an immigrant, even if he or she is legally in this country.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) evaluates any criminal offense committed based on whether it is an aggravated felony or exhibits poor moral character. In some cases, the DWI is charged as a felony, which, in the state of Texas, can occur if it is your third or subsequent DWI arrest, if you had a child in the vehicle with you, if you were driving without a valid driver’s license, or if you were involved in a car accident at the time of the DWI that resulted in death, serious bodily injury, or property damage. If you are an immigrant facing felony DWI charges, you have a much greater chance of deportation than if you are facing a first-time misdemeanor DWI charge. Immigration authorities rarely will take action on your first misdemeanor DWI arrest.


Will I Lose My Immigration Status if I Get a DWI?

The repercussions of a DWI arrest for an immigrant also depend upon his or her immigration status and where he or she is in the immigration process. For example, if you are in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, the U.S. Department of State may automatically revoke your visa if you are arrested for DWI, which makes you ineligible for travel in the U.S. This is the case whether you have been convicted of DWI or not and definitely poses a problem if you wish to travel abroad and then reenter the U.S. If you do travel abroad, you generally must appear before an approved physician for an evaluation of alcohol and drug dependency in order to determine whether there is a health-based reason for inadmissibility to the U.S.

At Peek & Toland, we care about keeping your family together, whether that involves defending against deportation or another immigration-related matter. We will focus all of our efforts on standing up for your rights and representing your interests as you seek to remain in the U.S. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering evidence to support your case and navigating the complex rules of the U.S. immigration system. Allow us to handle your immigration case by sitting down with us today and discussing your case.

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Trump Aide Announces Potential for More Temporary Immigrant Workers

By Peek & Toland on agosto 21, 2018

A recent Reuters article quotes White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow as saying that the Trump administration is looking at ways to hire more temporary immigrant workers, at least in certain industries. This is largely because U.S. unemployment is at an 18-year low. For May, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that unemployment was at 3.8%. Due to these strong employment rates, it is likely that some U.S. employers are struggling to find qualified workers. This tight labor market can have the effect of slowing growth and lifting wages.

Just recently, the federal government made an additional 15,000 H-2B visas available for temporary non-agricultural workers to help with seasonal jobs related to summer tourism. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more visa petitions than were available in the first five business days of filing under the FY 2018 supplemental cap. Although USCIS continues to process petitions on behalf of workers exempt from the cap, it rejected any other petitions. The only American businesses that were eligible for these additional H-2B visas were those attesting that they likely would suffer irreparable harm without the ability to hire all of the H-2B workers requested in their petition.


Trump Aide Announces Potential for More Temporary Immigrant Workers

Many employers are complaining of an inability to fill jobs with domestic workers, including those in the trucking, sales, carpentry, and technology industries. This is partially because the visa process operated as a lottery this year, rather than first-come, first-serve, as it had in the past. This resulted in some employers being shut out of the visa process altogether. 

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.

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