Archive for July, 2013

Attorney Writ Bonds in Texas: What You Should Know & Why You Need a Lawyer

Friday, July 26th, 2013

 If a person is arrested for committing a criminal offense in Dallas County, it is the purpose of its jail to hold him or her for a certainly period of time until the case is either resolved, or, until a bond is ultimately posted.  A bond, set by either a judge or magistrate, is a way in which the court is provided with reassurance that the alleged offender will show up for his or her scheduled court date.   However, normal jail bonds posted through the “default” process are associated with a number of drawbacks, such as (i) judges and magistrates typically apportion only 30 minutes or so of their time each weekday and one day on the weekend to set bonds; and (ii) being able to get before a magistrate or judge often requires the alleged offender to be transferred from the city to the county jail – meaning, a person may be forced to sit in jail for a couple of day before having the opportunity to post a bond and return home to their loved ones.  Accordingly, it is important to consider the alternative:  an attorney writ bond.

An attorney writ bond, unlike your average bond, cannot be filed by a bondsman (or bond issuing company), requires an attorney, and often results in the release of a person with in a few hours.   With this in mind, it is important to consider that in Texas, there are a number of bond companies that work in conjunction with lawyers and as such, advertise that they are authorized to issue attorney writ bonds.  Despite the questionable legality associated with this practice, the following are a number of key reasons why hiring a criminal defense attorney is important when seeking an attorney writ bond:

  • Hiring an attorney provides an accused with not just a bond, but also immediate legal services, counseling, and advise that a bondsman is not qualified to provide.
  • When a person is arrested, they may naturally ask a bondsman questions about their case.  Sometimes, the company representative will answer their questions, which is illegal and can lead to huge and highly detrimental legal mistakes.
  • Only an attorney has the complete authority to visit an incarcerated individual, and to provide legal guidance, support and advice.  A bondsman does not meet with a person who is in jail.
  • An attorney writ bond is only the beginning of the process. Meaning, once you receive a writ, it is crucial to consider the next steps, such as consulting with an attorney as to the scope of your rights and responsibilities.  When a bondsman issues a writ bond, their job is done, leaving an accused without further information as to where to turn next.
  • A bondsman simply writes a bond and is not concerned, nor legal authorized, to address the outcome of your case.
  • Bondsmen, unlike attorneys, are not required to put their client’s interests first.  As such, due to volume, they may treat people like numbers and are not in a position to sit down and listen to you.   Moreover, it is crucial to keep in mind that a bondsman has no obligation to help you.  Unlike an attorney, a bondsman has the right to request a judge to be discharged from a person’s case for whatever reason.
  • An attorney has a professional, ethical and fiduciary duty to his or her clients.   With that being said, an accused’s interests, pursuant to Texas law, are his or her number one priority.

If you are interested in learning more about the above, or are facing criminal charges in Texas, contact Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, today at 214-521-4567.  For over three decades, Dallas criminal defense attorney Jack Pettit has been successfully representing clients located throughout the City of Dallas and Dallas County.  We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.

What You Should know about Deferred Adjudications in Texas

Friday, July 19th, 2013

In Texas, many people have heard of a deferred adjudication yet, are unfamiliar with the specifics associated with this unique type of legal proceeding.  In short, a “deferred adjudication”, (the process of which is governed by Article 42.12, Section 5 within Chapter 42 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure), is a form of probation where the judge, after considering the evidence and ruling that it substantiates a person’s guilt, defers entering a guilty verdict.  Instead of the person being sent to prison, he or she is placed on “community supervision”, which is similar to probation in that it lasts for a certain period of time and carries with it a number of specific legal requirements.  Overall, if the person successfully completes all associated obligations, the judge will likely dismiss the underlying criminal charge and discharge the person from undergoing any further community supervision.

While deferred adjudication appears to be a worthwhile alternative for alleged criminal wrongdoers, especially first-time offenders, there still are a number of things to consider when pursuing this form of legal proceeding.  These are as follows:

  • As mentioned above, a deferred adjudication is a form of probation where the judge neither enters a guilty verdict nor criminally convicts an alleged offender.  However, if a person successfully completes all requirements associated therewith, he or she – without further action enumerated below – will still have a criminal record.  Meaning, if an employer conducts a background check on the individual, it will show that they have been arrested and also, entered a guilty plea with the court.  In Texas, it is a common misconception that once a person completes the deferred adjudication process and does so in full compliance with the law, that the court will automatically order the expunction of these records.  Unfortunately, this is not the case – the deferred adjudication proceeding, the underlying charges that brought about the case, and the arrest associated with those charges can still be discoverable.
  • A person can request that their criminal record be sealed through the filing a petition for nondisclosure.  As stated previously, the court does not automatically seal a person’s criminal records once they have completed the requirements associated with a deferred adjudication.  Also keep in mind that a nondisclosure is not equivalent to an expunction.  In an expunction, a person’s records are completely sealed and not subject to disclosure.   Also, this type of proceeding is extremely complicated and time-consuming.  As a result, many people fail to succeed in this regard.  However, a nondisclosure, while not as challenging as an expunction to obtain, prevents the general public and prospective employers from viewing your records.  Keep in mind that it does not shield a person from government review.
  • It is important to realize that there are a certain number of offenses that may qualify for deferred adjudication yet, are not subject to a nondisclosure order.  These offenses include, but are not limited to, the following: prohibited sexual assault (i.e. incest), murder, aggravated kidnapping, child endangerment/abandonment, sexual assault of a minor, and compelling prostitution.
  • There is no constitutional right to a deferred adjudication. This is something that results from a combination of deft negotiation, legal advocacy and a command of the criminal justice system.

If you or someone you love has been arrested and would like to learn more about deferred adjudication in Texas, contact Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, today at 214-521-4567.  For more than thirty years, criminal defense attorney Jack Pettit has been successfully representing clients located throughout the City of Dallas and the entire County of Dallas.  We look forward to providing you with superior criminal defense representation.

Top Ten Things to Consider Before Drinking & Driving in Texas

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Being charged in Texas with a DUI is a very serious matter and as such, should never be taken lightly.  For instance, those who are ultimately convicted may face devastating legal consequences, including jail time, harsh monetary fines and penalties, community service, alcohol counseling and a permanent – and easily discoverable – criminal record.   Accordingly, it is important to consider the following tips before drinking and getting behind the wheel in Texas:

 1.  If you plan on drinking heavily, arrange for transportation ahead of time.  The main reason why people are arrested for a DUI is that they decided to drive rather than arranging for someone to pick them up.  If you cannot find a friend or family member to get you, call a taxi company and make sure they are available to pick you up when you are ready to return home.

2.  Even if you drink “responsibly”, you may still face a DUI-related arrest.  There is a difference between what you feel and what your blood alcohol content (BAC) reads.  Meaning, you could feel perfectly fine to drive yet your BAC may be above the legal limit (0.08% or greater).

3.  You could lose your license.  Even if you are deemed a “first-time offender”, you could face losing your driver’s license.  While this is not typically the most severe punishment associated with a DUI-related offense in Texas, it is still very serious and associated with a number of legal repercussions and challenges.

4.  You can still face arrest even if you are under the legal limit.  If a police officer pulls you over after observing “intoxicated-like” driving, he or she can still arrest you even if you blow less than a 0.08% BAC on your breathalyzer test.  The reason being is that the officer has the right to deem you unfit, or too impaired to drive, despite your legal BAC reading.

5.  You are being recorded at all times.  From the time when you are pulled over to when you are processed in jail, you are being recorded.  It is important to realize that in Texas, police officers’ vehicles are equipped with dashboard cameras – meaning, be as police and conciliatory as possible when you are dealing with your arresting police officer.

6.  Be mindful of what you have in your car.  At the time of your arrest, a Texas police offer is authorized to conduct a full search and inventory of your vehicle.  As such, forgetting to get rid of that marijuana cigarette in your glove compartment or an empty bottle of wine in the back seat of your car could result in even harsher fines and punishment.

7.  Everything you say will be used against you.  Before being arrested, a Texas police officer can question you without providing you with Miranda warnings.  These questions (i.e. where and how much were you drinking, how drunk you think you are, etc.) are designed to assess your level of intoxication.  That is why it is important to invoke your right to remain silent should you be asked these types of incriminating questions.

If you are interested in learning more about the above, or are facing DUI-related charges in Texas, contact Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, today at 214-521-4567.  For over three decades, Dallas criminal defense attorney Jack Pettit has successfully defended individuals facing DUI charges located throughout the City of Dallas and Dallas County.  Don’t wait to obtain the representation you deserve – call our office today for help!

The Hidden Legal Repercussions Associated with Facing Marijuana Charges in Texas

Friday, July 5th, 2013

Nowadays, the usage of marijuana and its associated stigma in the United States are certainly fading.  Many people find that marijuana usage should be legalized, or least, the punishments associated therewith to focus on larger-scale offenders such as marijuana farmers.   In fact, there are certain places in the United States where people who are caught with marijuana either receive a slap on the wrist or sometimes, no punishment whatsoever.  In Texas however, while some would argue that our lawmakers have “loosened up” a bit in terms of prosecuting and punishing those arrested for marijuana use, there are a number of hidden legal repercussions associated with the drug that should not be ignored.   Unfortunately, many criminal defense attorneys forget to inform their clients of this fact simply because they are outside of the scope of normal plea negotiations and typically occur months down the road.  With this in mind, it is important to consider the following before accepting a plea offer involving a conviction for marijuana possession in Texas:

  • Pursuant to the Texas Transportation Code, a personal can face an automatic license suspension or flat-out license denial with just one marijuana conviction.  While the length of time of the suspension often depends upon the circumstances, the minimum period in Texas is 180 days.   Keep in mind that Texas law further permits the Department of Public Safety to suspend a person’s license indefinitely until the person has completed a drug offender counseling and education program.
  • Being convicted of marijuana possession may affect one’s eligibility to continue to receive financial aid for school.  Back in the 1990s, Congress aimed to crack down on drug use among loan-borrowing students by prohibiting or restricting those eligible to apply who were convicted of marijuana possession.  However, the government loosened its heavy-handed approach in this regard, which at the time, prevented many qualified students from attending college.  Now, if a person is actually enrolled in school and receiving financial aid to support their education, they could face losing this funding, even with a single drug conviction.
  • When facing a marijuana possession conviction, it can be discoverable by an employer, institution of higher education, or a professional licensing board.  Over the years, I have heard of numerous people who were either denied, or their license was subject to certain probationary requirements, when trying to obtain a law or other type of professional license due to a  previous drug conviction – even one that is 20 or plus years old!  Moreover, it is important to also consider that some jobs and institutions of higher learning (such as law school, medical school, numerous undergraduate schools, etc.) take drug possession convictions more seriously than others.

If you are interested in learning more about the above, or are facing marijuana possession charges in Texas, contact Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, today at 214-521-4567.  For over three decades, Dallas criminal defense attorney Jack Pettit has successfully defended thousands of individuals throughout the City and County of Dallas facing all types of drug-related offenses – no matter how challenging or complex.  Don’t wait to obtain the representation you deserve – call our office today for the legal help you need!