Archive for December, 2012

Arrests for Marijuana Possession are Increasing in Texas

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

Despite the recent legislative push in the United States to legalize marijuana, it seems like everywhere you turn, people are being arrested for the possession of this popular drug.  In fact, the number of people arrested for possession of marijuana in Texas and across the nation is being tracked by the FBI, who has released some startling statistics in this regard.  According to a report issued by the FBI, there were 1.5 million arrests for drug possession in the United States in 2011 with about 750,000 of them involving the possession of marijuana.  Upon further review of these numbers, this amounts to approximately one arrest per every 42 seconds in the U.S.

If you believe that these numbers are alarming, you are certainly not alone.  Critics of the nation’s war against drugs say that the large proportion of marijuana related arrests evince the failure of our current drug policies and laws.  Additionally, advocates for legalizing marijuana in the U.S., including former drug enforcement officers, feel that taxpayers are being unfairly stuck with fronting the bill to lock up low level drug offenders.  Such offenders include those that are caught with and arrested for having minimal amounts of marijuana in their possession.

Although some states have proposed legalizing marijuana, Texas maintains a strong stance against those that use, possess or distribute the drug.   Under Texas law, those arrested for marijuana possession could face harsh monetary fines, the suspension of their driver’s license, and even jail time, depending upon the amount of drugs uncovered.  Moreover, having drug related charges on your record can cause other serious consequences, such as difficulty finding gainful employment, being barred from attending reputable educational institutions and more.  Additionally, Marijuana possession in Texas is at least a misdemeanor criminal charge under the law. Although many minor possession charges can be addressed with minimal consequences, more serious felony level charges that include large quantities of marijuana can be much more severe.

If you are facing drug possession charges in Texas, it is important to work with an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney to help you fight for your rights.  Drug charges are no laughing matter and require the most skilled and sophisticated legal representation available.  For over three decades, attorney Jack Pettit has successfully defended thousands of individuals dealing with all types of drug related charges.

If you would like to speak to Mr. Pettit about your felony or misdemeanor charges, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.

Potential Wrongful Convictions Could Spur Review of Additional Cases in Texas

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

In 1994, four Texas women were charged and ultimately convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls, aged 7 and 9.  At the conclusion of their trial, three of the women received 15-year prison sentences, based primarily on the testimony of a physician who examined the girls and claimed that she noticed signs of abuse.  However, during a separate trial, the girls’ aunt and alleged “ringleader” of the crime, Elizabeth Ramirez, was sentenced to 40 years in prison, sparking cries from family members and advocates alike for her timely release.

Specifically, said individuals are pushing for the exoneration of these four women due to the fact that one of the alleged victims eventually recanted her allegations.  Moreover, criminal justice advocates and the women’s criminal defense attorneys both disagree with the medical testimony provided by the girls’ examining physician.  During the trial, said doctor asserted that both of the young girls evinced signs of “healed trauma”, which is often indicative of sexual abuse.  However, when cross-examined by defense attorneys, the physician could not substantiate how long the scars were there and whether the original wounds were accidentally inflicted.

Given the above, advocates for the women’s release from prison are pushing to obtain pictures from the girls’ physical examinations in order to determine whether the doctor’s conclusions were based upon credible evidence.  While the four women, including Ms. Ramirez, remain in prison, their family, friends and defense attorneys continue to work tirelessly to get them out of jail.

Overall, this case has generated a significant amount of attention in Texas and across the country.  According to the Innocent Project of Texas, this case should have a significant impact on other sexual assault cases in the event that these women are freed.  In other words, not only could trigger the review of these types of cases, it could result in some of them getting overturned.  They also note that Ms. Ramirez’s case represents several others where insufficient and erroneous evidence led to wrongful convictions.   Notwithstanding, the harsh reality is that only twenty sexual assault cases in Texas have been overturned in the past, demonstrating that getting convicted sex offenders exonerated is a challenging process.

If you are facing a wrongful conviction, it is important to understand that you have legal rights.  The first step that you should take in this regard is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney that knows how to handle the complexities of these types of cases.  Attorney Jack Pettit will take the time to investigate your case and develop a strategic defense to fight for the dismissal of your charges.  For over thirty years, attorney Jack Pettit has successfully defended thousands of individuals dealing with all types of criminal charges.

If you would like to speak to Mr. Pettit about appealing your case, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567. We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.

An Overview of Texas “No Refusal” Laws

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Thirty states in the U.S., including Texas, have enacted what are known as “no refusal” DUI enforcement laws in order to deter drivers from drinking and getting behind the wheel.  Under these aggressive enforcement measures, the consequences may be severe if you are pulled over under the suspicion of a DUI.  However, being familiar with Texas’ “no refusal” laws is the first step in protecting yourself from being pulled over for and ultimately convicted of a DUI in Texas.  Accordingly, the following are some facts of which you should be aware:

First, law enforcement personnel across the State of Texas are firmly demanding that drunk drivers take an on-site blood test if they refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test at a sobriety checkpoint.  Texas law enforcement has adopted this approach given that blood tests generally have a higher degree of accuracy than breath tests.  Ultimately, the results of these tests can serve as powerful weapons for prosecutors given that they lend evidentiary support for a DUI conviction.

Despite the fact that warrants are required in order to perform such invasive types of tests, police officers have been successfully getting around having to obtain them.  Specifically, technological advances in the criminal justice system have allowed for electronic warrants to be issued to police, whether to their cell phone or computer.  Moreover, judges may be present at DUI checkpoints or the closest police station in order to provide the warrants necessary to support the State during “no refusal” enforcement initiative periods.

Many protests have been raised by the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming that “no refusal” laws violate the rights of drivers against unconstitutional Fourth Amendment search and seizures.  Notwithstanding, Texas courts have consistently upheld the constitutionality of mandatory on-site blood tests.  As a result, you have no legal rights to refuse to submit to a blood test once a judicial warrant has been issued.  Texas police are even given the green light to use physical means to force people to undergo blood testing.

Overall, having an awareness of your rights when you are pulled over under the suspicion of a DUI is important no matter what the situation presents.   When “no refusal” DUI enforcement initiatives are in effect, typically during holidays and weekends when drunk driving is more prevalent, knowing your rights can make a big difference.

If you are facing DUI charges in Texas, it is crucial to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney that knows how to handle the complexities of these types of cases.  Attorney Jack Pettit will take the time to investigate your case and develop a strategic defense to fight for the dismissal of your charges.  For over thirty years, attorney Jack Pettit has successfully defended thousands of individuals dealing with all types of DUI related charges.

If you would like to speak to Mr. Pettit about your case, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567. We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.