Archive for October, 2013

How a Criminal Conviction Can Affect Your Immigration Status

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Texas has a large immigrant population and the law is often more harsh on immigrants than on citizens.  While it certainly may not seem fair to treat immigrants differently when it comes to criminal charges and convictions, especially for lawful permanent residents, immigrants should be overly cautious of the consequences of being arrested, charged and possibly convicted of a crime.  You may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, or maybe you made one bad mistake.  You may otherwise be a law-abiding citizen, so any criminal charge is definitely a scary situation for immigrants.

In Texas, as in all other states, immigrants may be subject to possible removal from the United States for crimes they are convicted of, even if the immigrant has lawful permanent “green card” resident status.  Many lawful permanent residents do not realize that they may be exposed to the same types of penalties that illegal residents are exposed to.  This is a process that is unfortunately not explained well to the immigrant population.  While an immigration attorney can be of great assistance when it comes to immigration proceedings, a criminal defense attorney is extremely important in the process of defending you with the crime you have been charged with.

Most importantly, the more serious the crime is, the harsher the results may be on the immigrant.  For example, if you are charged with a serious drug crime such as possession and intent to distribute, you may very well be removed or “deported” to your home country.  If you have already been naturalized and granted United States citizenship status, this citizenship may be revoked.  However, if you are charged with possession of drugs alone, the consequences may not result in removal, but can certainly have an impact on your ability to obtain citizenship in the future.

Further, the immigration laws are just as or even more confusing than the criminal laws of Texas.  Strangely, if you are placed on probation for a drug crime, this can be just as detrimental to your immigrant status as if you plead guilty and been sentenced to the maximum jail time.  This seems very odd for many people, but probation is deemed to be a full conviction and often may not be the best option for immigrants when in the process of being charged with a crime.  Sometimes short jail time has less of an impact on your immigrant status, and may not result in a full conviction like probation.  Because the process is different for each case, it is extremely important that you have a criminal defense attorney on your side experienced in the crime you have been charged with.  You likely will need to seek advice from an immigration attorney as well, and both attorneys may be able to work together on your case.

If you have been charged with a crime and have immigrant status, whether you are an illegal resident, a permanent resident with a green card, or are a naturalized citizen, contact our firm as soon as possible to speak with Attorney Jack Pettit.  Mr. Pettit has over three decades of experience as a criminal defense attorney and will evaluate your case with great detail.  Mr. Pettit has successfully defended clients charged with DUI’s, traffic offenses, drug offenses as well as many other crimes.  Regardless of the crime you have been charged with, Mr. Pettit can give you the best advice on what steps to take.  While you still may need to seek advice from an immigration attorney, Mr. Pettit will be able to give you the best guidance possible on how to defend your criminal charge.  Call us today to schedule an appointment.  We can be reached at 214-521-4567.  Our firm offers services in both English and Spanish.  We accept most major credit cards.

Do Police Need a Warrant to Take Your Blood in a Suspected DUI or DWI Case in Texas?

Friday, October 11th, 2013

The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled in the case of Missouri v. McNeely that there are circumstances where police need a warrant to draw blood when police suspect someone has been driving under the influence of alcohol.  The decision was not clear enough to outlaw many state laws regarding warrantless blood testing.  As of right now, citizens suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs may refuse a breathalyzer test and sometimes a blood test as well.

Texas Law Regarding Warrantless Blood Testing

Under Texas law, there are circumstances where police may take blood without a warrant.  These situations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Where death or serious injury results from a suspected DUI accident
  • Where the DUI suspect has two or more DUI convictions
  • Where a child is a passenger in a drunken driving accident
  • Where the DUI suspect has been convicted of intoxication assault or manslaughter

Unfortunately, not all Texas police officers follow the law and obtain a warrant prior to getting a blood test from DUI suspects that do not fit into one of the state’s many exceptions to the warrant requirement.  The recent United States Supreme Court decision makes it even more difficult to determine if Texas law enforcement is respecting your constitutional rights.

Have You Had Your Blood Taken After Being Suspected of Driving Under the Influence?

Texas law enforcement may have not caught up with the law of the land.  Texas citizens should be aware of their rights and should voice them.  If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI and the police obtained your blood without first getting a warrant, you may be able to have the blood evidence suppressed if it turns out the blood alcohol content was above the legal limit in Texas.  It is quite possible you don’t even recall if your blood was taken.  For example, if you were involved in an auto accident and suspected of driving under the influence, and if you were unconscious and taken to the hospital, your blood may have been taken without you even realizing it.

In those situations where the law is unclear, a court may look more favorably on the defendant.  There are many ways to have evidence suppressed and warrantless blood tests are becoming a hot topic with the recent United States Supreme Court decision.  As a Texas citizen, you deserve to know what the law is and you cannot always count on the police to be clear on what your rights are – especially when the police themselves are unclear about the law.  As Texas catches up with the law of the land, you can be ahead of the game should you, or someone you know be subject to a warrantless blood test after being suspected of driving under the influence.

Contact An Experienced DUI/DWI Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI and have had, or suspected that you have had your blood taken without the police first obtaining a warrant, contact Attorney Jack Pettit as soon as possible to discuss your case.  Mr. Pettit is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has devoted a substantial part of his practice to representing clients charged with DUI’s and/or DWI’s.  Mr. Pettit will make sure the police have followed the law and not violated your constitutional rights.  If you would like a dedicated, hard-working criminal defense attorney on your side, contact Mr. Pettit today by calling 214-521-4567.  Our office offers services in both English and Spanish and also accepts major credit cards.

Prescription Drug DWI Charge in Texas

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Most DWI and DUI charges in Texas are the result of driving under the influence of alcohol.  Many people do not realize that they could be charged with a DWI for being under the influence of their prescription medication.  The most common prescription medications that result in DWI charges are painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, among others.

In Texas, individuals may be charged with a DWI for being under the influence of mind-altering prescription drugs.  While pain medication is the common culprit, other medications may equally impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle.  Sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication can impair your abilities just like painkillers, and even medication prescribed to treat depression or epilepsy.  You may be subject to the same or similar consequences as someone who is charged with a DWI who was under the influence of alcohol.

It is a common misconception that if something is technically legal, such as taking medication that is prescribed to you, then you are immune from prosecution for anything related to your taking that medication.  But the consumption of alcohol is technically legal as well for individuals 21 years of age and older.  It is only where alcohol is combined with driving that potential DUI or DWI charges result.  Think of prescription medication like alcohol.  The practice itself is okay as long as it is not combined with operating a motor vehicle.  You should assume that any prescription medication you have may have impairing effects.

There are always defenses to any criminal charge.  If you have a prescription medication that you know impairs your ability to function, then you are aware that you should not operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of that medication.  However, if you have a medication and know that this particular medication does not impair your ability to drive, yet you are charged with a DWI, you may have defenses available to you.  Many prescription medications will be identified in blood tests and the police may try and link any particular medication to your driving.

With the prevalent use of prescription medication today, the law is not crystal clear as to what particular medications can result in a DWI charge.  Without a doubt, pain medication can result in such a charge.  But other medications may not.  For example, you may have a prescription medication that has never impaired your ability, but has impaired the ability of many other people.  When a medication treats different people in different ways, law enforcement should not look at all cases in the same way.  When the law cannot be applied the same way for everyone, you can fight your charge, but you should do so with the help of an attorney.

If you have been charged with a DWI for being under the influence of prescription medication while driving, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  Regardless of what medication you were taking at the time you were pulled over, you need an attorney to evaluate all aspects of your case.  Attorney Jack Pettit has years of experience in DUI and DWI defense.  He can review the charges against you and challenge anything that does not comply with the law.  Don’t go to court alone and plead your case without an attorney like Mr. Pettit on your side.  You deserve the best representation possible and something that seems so small as taking a prescription medication while driving can result in serious long-lasting consequences for years to come.  Contact our office today by calling 214-521-4567 to speak with Mr. Pettit.  We accept major credit cards and offer services in both English and Spanish.

Underage Drinking in Texas – DUI v. DWI

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Underage drinking is prevalent in Texas.  A charge of underage drinking can be serious enough on its own, but when it is combined with driving under the influence, the consequences can be severe for a young adult looking to go to college and obtain employment.  Not all Texas citizens are aware of the differences between the offense of driving under the influence (DUI) and the offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI).

A DUI charge in Texas occurs when an individual under the age of 21 is driving while under the influence of alcohol.  What’s significant about this charge is that Texas is stricter for minors in this regard.  The legal limit in Texas is .08, but if you are a minor and driving under the influence of alcohol, you can be charged with a DUI for having even a slight detectable amount of alcohol in your system.  This is a zero-tolerance policy to deter minors from drinking and driving.

A DWI charge in Texas applies to both minors and individuals 21 years of age and older.  With a DWI, your blood alcohol content (BAC) must be above the legal limit of .08.  Therefore, regardless of your age, if you are legally intoxicated by having a BAC beyond the legal limit, or are under the influence of drugs, you are subject to the same consequences, which are more severe than those for a DUI charge.  Minors should be especially mindful of the severity of DUI DWI charges.

The Consequences of Being Convicted of a DUI and/or DWI Offense

If you are convicted of a DUI or DWI, you are certainly at risk for having your driver’s license suspended.  For a DUI, the suspension period is typically shorter than for a DWI, however, if you have had more than one offense, the suspension period may be substantially longer and you may lose your driver’s license for up to one year or even longer.  Further, a DWI conviction carries with it large fines and jail time.  The minimum jail sentence for a DWI offense is 72 hours.

Both DUI and DWI offenses carry with them consequences that can impede your ability to be in the military, obtains student loans or gain employment.  Especially in the case of minors and underage drinking, one small offense of having even a sip of alcohol that is detectable in the blood can ruin your chances of being a prosperous young adult.  Maybe you are a student athlete and have a scholarship to a college or university.  You are at risk for losing your scholarship for even one mishap.  Don’t take the risk of jeopardizing your future by drinking and driving.  You could be paying the consequences well into adulthood.

Contact a DUI/DWI Defense Attorney Today

Whether you have been charged with a DUI, DWI, or if you are simply curious about the potential consequences of either offense, contact an attorney experienced in the area of DUI/DWI defense.  There are many experienced criminal defense attorneys in Texas, but an attorney who has special knowledge of DUI/DWI law can help you fight the charges and get your life back on track.  Attorney Jack Pettit has represented thousands of clients charged with DUI’s and DWI’s.  Mr. Pettit will ensure that you are defended in the best way possible to minimize potential long-lasting consequences.  Contact Mr. Pettit today by calling 214-521-4567 to discuss your case.  Mr. Pettit can negotiate with the prosecutor to possibly get your charge reduced to prevent an uncertain future.  We offer bilingual services in English and Spanish.  We also accept major credit cards.