Archive for March, 2013

Top Myths Associated with Traffic Tickets in Texas

Friday, March 29th, 2013

There are many myths associated with being issued a traffic ticket in Texas, which often leaves people misinformed and prone to making costly mistakes when pulled over.  Accordingly, the following are a list of myths and the reality behind them in order to help you know what to expect should you be issued a traffic citation and also, to avoid getting pulled over in the first place:

  1. 1.      Red cars are more likely to be pulled over that other vehicles.

False.  No study has ever proven that red cars are pulled over more frequently than others.  Accordingly, it is highly recommended that you follow the speed limit, regardless of the color of your car.

  1. 2.      Every county in Texas charges the same amount for a traffic violation.

This is certainly not true.  Each county in Texas may charge slightly different fines.  Therefore, it is important for you to check with your own county to be sure that you pay the exact amount owed on your ticket.

  1. 3.      If the police officer makes an error on my ticket, it will automatically be thrown out.

Not true.  If a police officer makes a slight error on your ticket such as writing down that you have green eyes when your eyes are in fact blue, this will likely not convince a judge to dismiss your charges.  While small clerical errors are likely of no consequence to a judge, larger errors may be pointed out for his or her consideration.  Meaning, a judge may dismiss your case if the mistake is so egregious such that without the error, you would not have been found guilty in the first place.

  1. 4.      If the police officer that issued my ticket fails to show up in court, the judge must throw out my case.

This is not necessarily true.  Although it is unconstitutional for a police officer to fail to appear in court (an accused has the right to question his or her accuser), a judge may not automatically dismiss your case.  Most often, the judge will reschedule the case to allow for the police officer to make his or her appearance rather than throwing it out altogether.

  1. 5.      If I am issued a ticket in another state such as Louisiana or Mississippi, the State of Texas will not find out.

This is absolutely false.  According to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, 45 participating states in the U.S., including the ones mentioned above, must exchange information with the other regarding traffic violations committed by non-residents with the defendant’s home state.

If you have been charged with a traffic violation in Texas, it is essential to work with an experienced attorney that knows the nuances and complexities associated with these types of cases.  Attorney Jack Pettit will take the time to evaluate your case and develop a strategic legal defense on your behalf.  If you wish to discuss your case with Mr. Pettit, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.

 

Top Myths Associated with Facing Criminal Charges in Texas

Friday, March 8th, 2013

When arrested, it isn’t uncommon to be misinformed about the various aspects associated with facing criminal charges.  As a practicing Texas criminal attorney with many years of experience, I feel that it is important to provide people with the reality behind the many myths of being charged with a crime in Texas.  Not only do these myths create unnecessary fear, but they may also influence people to make poor choices that could cost them a significant amount of money and quite possibly, their freedom.  A list of the most popular myths is as follows:

  • If I tell the police that I do not want to answer their questions, they must immediately stop their interrogation.

This is absolutely false.  In order to assert your constitutional rights during a police interrogation, it is not enough to simply state that you do not want to answer any more questions.  Specifically, you must invoke your right to counsel in order to stop all line of questioning.  In the event that police continue to interrogate you once you have invoked this right, any evidence obtained in violation of this well established rule will be suppressed.

  • If I choose not to testify, the jury will automatically assume that I am guilty.

While not testifying may make anyone wonder whether you have something to hide, this is not necessarily true in all cases.  Moreover, it is far better to have the jury suspect that you are guilty than to have you be cross examined and inadvertently confirm their suspicions.

  • If I lose my case, I can always win on appeal.

Although every defendant has the right to appeal a criminal conviction in Texas, only a small percentage of cases are reversed on appeal.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that your focus be on winning your case when it first goes to trial rather than assuming you have a better shot later on of prevailing.

  • I was not read my rights so therefore, my case must be dismissed.

Despite what some televisions programs may make us think, not having been read your Miranda rights does not warrant the automatic dismissal of your case.  Only statements made in response to police questioning can be suppressed when a defendant has not been read their rights.

If you are facing criminal charges in Texas, it is essential to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney that knows the nuances and complexities associated with these types of cases.  Attorney Jack Pettit will take the time to evaluate your case and develop a strategic legal defense on your behalf.  If you wish to discuss your case with Mr. Pettit, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.

 

The Reality Behind Field Sobriety Tests in Texas

Friday, March 1st, 2013

The reality is that most people who are asked to submit to a field sobriety test often do so in less than ideal conditions and also, under a significant amount of stress.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, slight variations in conditions, such as an uneven road surface and other factors, may have an effect on the evidentiary weight given to field sobriety test results.   Although the government has not clarified what it means in this regard, police officers continue to testify that adverse weather conditions and uneven road surfaces do not negatively affect the outcome of field sobriety tests.

Overall, it is important to consider that when police officers pull over a driver suspected of driving under the influence, they already assume that the person is intoxicated, sometimes influencing them to act in a biased and potentially unfair manner.  In fact, studies conducted at police training facilities shed significant light on this issue.  Specifically, volunteer test subjects are asked to consume alcohol and then get behind the wheel.  When they are “pulled over” by a police officer during the exercise, they tended to act calmly since they were in a controlled environment (which is usually well lit and contains even road surfaces) and not in danger of actually being arrested for a DUI.  However, in reality, when people are pulled over and then asked to submit to a field sobriety test, they often tend to become extremely anxious, sometimes skewing the results.  Moreover, they may also be asked to undergo a test in less than ideal conditions, which may also contribute to an inaccurate outcome.

Generally speaking, ideal conditions for conducting a field sobriety test require a flat surface, proper lighting, and not overly tired and anxious test subjects.   However, most people are asked to undergo a field sobriety test in the following set of circumstances:

  • Early in the morning
  • When anxious in anticipation of being arrested
  • While overtired from work
  • In bad weather or while dark out
  • While standing on uneven or cracked road surfaces
  • While in the shoulder lane of a highway or road
  • With traffic whizzing by, often leading to distraction and embarrassment
  • With police lights flashing, adversely affecting a person’s vision
  • With a police officer putting a flash light up to one’s eyes, blurring their vision

With the above in mind, it is important to realize that you may be able to challenge the results of your field sobriety test if it was administered under less than ideal conditions.  For more information, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced Texas DUI attorney to find out more about your rights and responsibilities in this regard.  Experienced criminal defense attorney Jack Pettit will take the time necessary to investigate the facts of your case and mount a strong legal defense on your behalf.  If you wish to discuss your case with Mr. Pettit, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.