What is a Plea Bargain?

In Texas criminal cases, plea bargains are often the best way to resolve criminal charges against you. While some criminal cases do proceed to trial, a large number of cases are resolved by plea bargain, which is a deal or contract that you and your criminal defense attorney work out with the prosecutor. The plea bargain generally sets forth the punishment that you have agreed to and helps you avoid the uncertain outcome of a trial. When you enter into a plea bargain, you are giving up certain constitutional rights, such as the right to a jury trial and the right to confront the witnesses against you. You ultimately plead guilty to one or more of the charges, or to a lesser charge. Once you have reached a plea bargain, it must go to the judge for approval. While in most cases the judge approves the plea bargain, the judge does have the discretion to reject the plea bargain.

                                                         What is a Plea Bargain?

In many cases, the punishment outlined in the plea bargain is more lenient than that you might receive if you took the case to trial. Your plea bargain may include a number of different penalties, including a jail sentence, a period of probation, and even deferred adjudication, which may involve terms and conditions such as community service, counseling, and random drug testing. While you are free to negotiate the terms of your plea bargain, the prosecutor will consider a number of different factors in determining what conditions to include in your plea bargain. For instance, the prosecutor is likely to consider factors such as the seriousness of the crime, any injuries that occurred, your previous criminal history, your psychiatric history, and home and work situations.

At Peek & Toland, we will explore all available alternatives to resolve your pending criminal case, including any plea bargains that are on the table. We are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you from any potential criminal charges, but we also can help you carefully consider any plea bargains and determine whether a plea would be in your best interest. 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; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense.

Posted in Criminal Defense

ICE Repeatedly Targets U.S. Citizens By Mistake

According to a recent Newsweek article, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been accused of wrongfully detaining hundreds of American citizens for days, months, or even years in some cases. Between 2008 and the beginning of 2018, immigration judges terminated or suspended deportation proceedings against 880 individuals whose claims of citizenship merited further investigation prior to deportation.

 

ICE Repeatedly Targets U.S. Citizen by Mistake

In one extreme case, ICE detained a U.S. citizen for nearly three-and-one-half years, simply due to an administrative error when looking for the man’s father in an immigration database. Even worse, after federal officials realized that the man had been wrongfully detained, they still refused to release him and attempted to deport him on the basis of a U.S. interpretation of a Jamaican law. An immigration judge ordered him deported, but a U.S. District Court finally ruled that the man should be freed from an Alabama immigration detention center. ICE ultimately released the man, leaving him stranded in Alabama in his prison clothes without any money to help him travel back to his New York residence. The man continues to seek compensation from the U.S. government after an appeals court denied a $82,500 award granted to him by a New York district judge.

Whether you are a green card holder, a U.S. citizen, or an undocumented immigrant, we are here to help prevent ICE from trampling on your rights. Whatever your situation may be, you need legal assistance to fight for your rights and work toward a resolution of your immigration law matter. We will put forth our full efforts to win your release from detention, defend you against deportation charges, and restore your family. There are a variety of defenses against deportation that may apply to your immigration case. The Texas deportation defense attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of deportation proceedings 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 at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

Posted in Immigration Reform

Making Terroristic Threats: What Does This Mean?

Texas Penal Code Section 22.07 defines the criminal offense of terroristic threats, which occurs when an individual threatens to commit an act of violence toward another person or property with the intent to:

·         Cause a reaction of any type by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies

·         Place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury

·         Prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place

·         Cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public, water, gas, or power supply or other public service

·         Place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury

·         Influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal, state, or local government

Making Terroristic Threats: What Does This Mean?

Making terroristic threats is generally a Class B misdemeanor. However, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it is committed against a member of the person’s family or household or otherwise constitutes family violence, if it is committed against a public servant, or if it prevents or interrupts the occupation or use of a public space. Additionally, the offense is a state jail felony if committed against a person whom the perpetrator knows to be a peace officer or a judge or causes a pecuniary loss of more than $1,500 to the owner of the public place affected. If the offense involves one of the final three situations listed above, the offense is a third degree felony.

Terroristic threats don’t always involve terrorism; rather, the offense focuses on situations in which an individual creates a fear of violence causing serious bodily harm in another. For instance, a terroristic threat could occur if a high school student calls in a false bomb threat to his school. A terroristic threat might occur if a driver who has been pulled over by a police officer threatens to shoot him or her. Even a library customer who threatens to beat up a worker because he or she is being charged a fine can constitute a terroristic threat.

If you find yourself charged with making terroristic threats or any type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced criminal defense attorneys can offer you. The consequences of a criminal conviction can be serious, no matter what type of criminal charges you may be facing. 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 adults 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.

Posted in Criminal Defense

What Does It Mean to Be a Habitual Offender?

Texas law designates certain individuals as habitual offenders if they are facing felony charges after two prior felony convictions. In order to qualify as a habitual offender, you must meet the following criteria:

·         You must be on trial for a felony other than a state jail felony under Texas Penal Code section 12.35(a).

·         Your first felony conviction must have occurred before you were convicted of a second felony. In other words, your conviction for the first felony must be final, with any trial and plea bargains completely over with, before you are convicted of a second felony.

·         Your second conviction also must have occurred before you were convicted of a third felony.

What Does It Mean to Be a Habitual Offender?

Like many states, Texas has a “three strikes” law. Some states only consider very serious or violent felonies in enforcing their three strikes laws; Texas law, however, focuses on the classification of each felony in the Texas Penal Code, which means that the penalties received depend on the degree of severity of each of the prior two felonies, as well as the third felony. For instance, if you are convicted of two first-degree felonies, then the penalty for the third felony will take the severity of those prior convictions into account. As a result, if you are charged as a habitual offender, then you can face much more severe consequences if convicted. The potential sentence that you will receive as a habitual offender can be much longer, even as much as 15 or 25 years to life.

As you can see, the potential consequences of being charged as a habitual offender are severe. We are here to ensure that your rights are not violated and minimize any negative consequences that may face. 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.

Posted in Criminal Defense

DHS Announces Termination of TPS for Honduran Immigrants

The Trump administration recently announced that it would be terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the roughly 57,000 Honduran immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for years. Many Honduran immigrants entered the U.S. following a 1999 hurricane that wreaked havoc on the country; the U.S. granted these immigrants TPS, which allowed them to legally live and work in the country on at least a temporary basis. According to the Trump administration, conditions have sufficiently improved in the Hondurans since that time for the immigrants to return to their native countries. Honduran officials, however, have objected, claiming that conditions in the country have not improved sufficiently to repatriate some 50,000 people, particularly after almost half of them have lived in the U.S. for almost 20 years; many of these immigrants also have had U.S. citizen children during their residence in the U.S. Other advocates claim that the current conditions in Honduras are actually worse than when the immigrants left in 1999.

DHS Announces Termination of TPS for Honduran Immigrants

The Honduran immigrants have until January 5, 2020, to leave the U.S., or they become subject to deportation. The decision to end TPS for these immigrants is only the latest in a string of announcements cancelling TPS for various immigrants displaced from their native countries due to natural disasters or violent conflicts. These decisions involve immigrants from Nepal, Haiti, and El Salvador. Meanwhile, Honduras remains as one of the violent and dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere, and recently has experiences significant unrest in the wake of a contested presidential election. The state of Texas undoubtedly will feel the impact of these decisions, as it is the state with the second highest number of residents from Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti who have had the benefit of TPS until recently.

If you or your family is facing the termination of TPS or deportation for any reason, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas immigration attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through the often-complex process of immigration court proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our deportation defense lawyers, and learn how we can assist you.

Posted in Immigration, Uncategorized

Violation of a Protective Order

Texas law provides that if you violate the terms of a protective order issued on the basis of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, you commit the crime of Violation of a Protective Order. Protective orders typically contain standard provisions related to the safety of the victim. If you are accused of violating any of these provisions, then you could face charges for violating a protective order. Some of the standard provisions that may result in violations of a protective order include the following:

·         Committing family violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, or stalking

·         Communicating in a threatening or harassing manner, whether directly to the person or indirectly through another person

·         Communicating with the victim in any manner (if the order prohibits all forms of communication)

·         Going to or near the home, workplace, childcare facility, or school of a protected person or a member of his or her household

·         Possessing a firearm

·         Interfering with an animal in the possession of a protected person

·         Tampering with a global positioning monitoring system

Violation of a Protective Order

The violation of most protective order provisions are Class A misdemeanor crimes, which can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.  However, if you commit a new assault or stalking offense while a protective order is already in place, you could be charged with a third degree felony, which can result in two to ten years of incarceration in a state penitentiary and a fine of up to $10,000. Repeated protective order violations also are felonies under Texas law; two or more violations of a protective order in a 12-month period can result in a third degree felony charge, or Repeated Violation of a Protective Order.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Tolandhave handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges of violating a protective order. 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.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Delays in Green Card Processing Continue to Increase

Since 2011, the processing of green card applications by the federal government has moved more and more slowly. Although the goal of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) is to process green card applications within 120 days, USCIS simply is not meeting this goal. The delays caused Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to request the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review and report on green card processing timelines.

In March, 2018, OIG issued a report with important findings related to the processing of green card applications. The OIG found that the average processing time for a green card application is 240 days, and that the USCIS goal of 120 days for processing is unrealistic. Furthermore, the OIG found that the information posted on the USCIS website about processing times was unclear and unhelpful for individuals who had submitted green card applications. For instance, the dates listed as “Processing Cases as of Date” do not refer to the date that USCIS received a green card application, which is confusing for most readers attempting to check the status of their applications.

Delays in Green Card Processing Continue to Increase

For its part, USCIS agreed with OIG that its processing times were unrealistic, due to factors such as lack of experienced staff, lack of funding for more overtime, delays in the processing of security and background checks by outside agencies, and delays in a more thorough vetting process. USCIS has agreed to redesign its website, work on posting status updates for applications in one to two weeks, as opposed to six weeks, and analyze processing times in order to establish new processing time goals.

No matter what your immigration may be, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to help. We handle many different types of immigration cases on a daily basis and have invaluable knowledge about how to best achieve your goals, based on your individual circumstances. By contacting our office right away, you will place yourself in the most advantageous position to successfully resolve your legal matter.

Posted in Immigration

Aggravated Assault Charges: What You Need to Know

Assault occurs under Texas law if an individual recklessly or intentionally causes bodily injury or physical harm to another person, an individual intentionally threatens physical harm to another person, or an individual has intentionally used provocative or offensive physical contact against another person.

Aggravated assault is a more serious type of assault charge in the state of Texas, in that it involves some type of aggravating circumstance as set forth under Texas law. More specifically, an assault becomes aggravated assault if it results in serious bodily injury to another person, or if the perpetrator of the assault uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the assault.

Serious bodily injury is more than the physical pain or ailment, or threat of physical harm, that is necessary for an assault to occur. Rather, it is an actual physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death, causes death, causes serious, permanent disfigurement, causes protracted loss, or causes impairment of the function of a bodily part or function.

Aggravated Assault Charges: What You Need to Know

An aggravated assault is a second degree felony under Texas law, except that it is a first degree felony in the following circumstances:

·         The perpetrator uses a deadly weapon during the assault and causes serious bodily injury to a person who has a certain relationship with him or her as defined by law.

·         The offense is committed by a public servant acting within the scope of his or her employment, knowingly committed against a public servant while performing or in retaliation for performing an official duty, against a person in retaliation for service as a witness, informant, or reporter of a crime, or knowingly committed against a security officer.

·         The perpetrator is in a motor vehicle and knowingly discharges a firearm in a reckless manner and causes serious bodily injury to another person.

When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, you need an experienced criminal defense attorneyto 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.

Posted in Criminal Defense

What is a Bail Bond and How Does It Work?

When law enforcement authorities arrest you or a loved one, they will place you in jail in most circumstances. In this case, release from jail should be your first priority. Despite your circumstances, we know that you need to get back to your family and your job as your case winds its way through the criminal justice system. While release from jail following an arrest can be a relatively efficient process, there are procedures that you must follow in order to be released or obtain a loved one’s release. Depending on your situation, posting a bail bond may be an option for getting released from jail.

After you are arrested, a judge will set a bond for you to be released from jail. The amount of the bond will depend upon the type of criminal charges you are facing, along with your criminal history. There are different methods of posting bond, which usually depend upon your individual circumstances and the amount of the bond set in your case. For instance, if you qualify for a personal bond, which typically is the case if you are charged with a relatively minor offense, you might only have to pay $20 in order to get released from jail. If you can afford to post the bond that the judge sets, you can be released once you deposit a cash bond, or the entire amount in a cashier’s check or money order.

What is a Bail Bond and How Does It Work?

If you do not have the money to post the bail bond set in your case, your only option may be to post a surety bond. You may be able to enter into an agreement with a bail bondsman to post the bail bond. In very simple terms, you pay the bail bondsman a certain amount of money, which usually ranges from 10 – 25% of the bond set by the court and agree to show up as ordered by the court. In exchange, the bail bondsman promises the court that you will show up to court when ordered, and if you don’t show up, he or she will be responsible for paying the entire bond to the court. In essence, the bail bondsman is taking the financial risk that you will show up in court, so he or she is likely to also require that you check in with him or her at least once each week, that you co-sign the bond, which means that you also are responsible for the entire bond if you fail to show up to court, and that you agree to let him or her place liens on your home and vehicle. This means that you won’t be able to sell your home or car until the bondsman is paid off first. You also will not get the percentage of the bail bond back that you paid to the bondsman.

Contacting an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible can be essential to building a strong defense against the criminal charges that you are facing, but also to getting out of jail as quickly as possible. Taking steps to fight criminal charges from the outset is often much simpler than waiting until the last minute and attempting to remedy the situation. Call Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today, and learn what we can do to help you with your legal matter.

Posted in Criminal Defense

Immigrant Workers Plentiful in Healthcare, Education Fields

With all of the recent focus on U.S. immigration in recent months, statistics show that immigrants make up significant portions of workers in both the healthcare and education fields. From educated professionals to relatively unskilled workers, immigrants fill many roles in these sectors that Americans may be unwilling or unable to fill.

The Pew Research Center found that following the retail sector, educational services was the biggest employer of lawful immigrants (8%). The positions occupied by immigrants include service positions, such as dining hall workers and janitors, as well as more skilled positions, such as professors.

Similarly, in 2015, almost 17%, or 2.1 million, of the 12.4 million people working in the U.S. healthcare field were immigrants. The market for healthcare workers is steadily growing, due in large part to the overall aging of our country. As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the healthcare sector will add 2.3 million jobs by 2024. Immigrants working in the healthcare sector are overrepresented, relative to their share of the total workforce, in highly skilled medical positions (28%), such as nurses and doctors, and in low-skilled healthcare workers (24%), of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides.

Immigrant workers plentiful in healthcare education fields

Foreign-born healthcare workers come to the U.S. under many different temporary and permanent visa categories. These visa categories include H-1B (specialty occupations), H-2B (nonagricultural workers), H-3 (trainees), TN (Mexican and Canadian professionals under NAFTA), J-1 (exchange visitors), and O-1 (individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement). Of course, immigrant healthcare workers also can enter the U.S. through family or employer connections, or through humanitarian protections.

The Peek & Toland immigration attorneys are here to assist you with coming to and remaining in the U.S., whether you are a worker in the healthcare or education sector or another industry altogether. We are here to represent your interests and provide you with the legal help you need in this type of this situation. Our experienced and skilled immigration lawyers know how to gather documentary evidence in support of your case and guide you through the complex U.S. immigration system. Schedule an appointment to meet with us today and learn how we can help you with your immigration matter.

Posted in Uncategorized

Translate »