Archive for December, 2013

What is Required for a Public Lewdness Charge in Texas?

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

A charge of public lewdness in Texas is very serious.  One small sexual gesture with another could land you in jail for up to one year.  Public lewdness is often accompanied by individuals being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.  Being under the influence may cause certain individuals to behave in ways they would not behave while sober.  However, many people commit the same lewd acts while completely coherent and free from alcohol or drugs.

Under Texas law, public lewdness is defined as the following:

  • Sexual intercourse in a public place;
  • Deviate sexual intercourse in a public place;
  • Sexual contact in a public place; or
  • Conduct of a sexual nature involving an animal or fowl

The range of conduct that could fall into the definition of public lewdness ranges from minor to serious, yet the charge is the same regardless of the particular conduct.  The penalty for public lewdness is harsh.  The charge is considered a Class A misdemeanor in Texas.  A conviction can confine you to jail for up to one year, and you may have to pay a fine of up to $4,000.  Public lewdness may not seem as serious as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or possession of drugs, however, the state of Texas has determined that in order to deter, or discourage people from exhibiting sexual behaviors in public, the punishment needs to be quite strict.

Are There Defenses to a Public Lewdness Charge?

It is often difficult to get around the fact that you were engaged in sexual conduct in a public place.  However, if you were charged with public lewdness and believe the land you were on was private property, you may be able to use this to help either get your charge dismissed, or get your charge lowered to a less serious crime that does not carry the same penalties.

As with most misdemeanor crimes, the fight in court is not worth the risk of being convicted of the crime you have been charged with.  If you have retained an attorney experienced in all types of public lewdness charges, you will likely be able to avoid the maximum Class A misdemeanor penalties under Texas law.  For example, you may be able to plead to a lesser charge that would leave you with a fine and probation, or perhaps simply a fine.

Prevent the Conduct From Happening in the First Place

A charge of public lewdness is something that can easily be avoided.  Many people are not aware that Texas considers this charge to be the most serious of misdemeanors (even more serious than a first time DWI offender).  This may seem outrageous to some people, however, because the lewd conduct can be done in the privacy of one’s own home and not in public for fellow Texans to see, you should not put yourself at risk for serving jail time and paying up to $4,000 for conduct that simply did not have to occur in the public sphere.

Contact Our Office Today to Speak with Attorney Jack Pettit Regarding Your Public Lewdness Charge

If you have been charged with public lewdness, you need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney who is highly experienced in this area of criminal law.  This type of charge can be more serious than many people believe. Attorney Jack Pettit has helped thousands of clients with all types of criminal matters, including public lewdness and indecent behavior.  Allow Mr. Pettit to protect your rights and defend you against your public lewdness charge.  Mr. Pettit can be reached by calling 214-521-4567.  His office also provides legal services in both English and Spanish.  Mr. Pettit also accepts major credit cards.

Consequences of Driving Drunk with a Child Passenger in Texas

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Child safety should be the most important consideration when driving a car with a child passenger.  This is the case regardless of whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or is completely sober.  A child should be placed in a car seat properly (if the child is of a very young age), a child should always be wearing a seatbelt, and the driver should be following Texas driving laws at all times.  Therefore, when a driver chooses to drink and drive or take drugs when a child passenger is present, all consideration for child safety is gone.

Under Texas law, anyone convicted of a DWI with a child passenger younger than fifteen years of age faces a fine of up to $10,000, jail time of up to two years in a state penitentiary, and the loss of a driver’s license for 180 days.  These are serious consequences that can leave any convicted individual’s life in shambles.  Further, the regret of knowing a child’s life was put in danger is a form of punishment in itself.  Despite these strict measures under Texas law, it is important to understand that all people make mistakes.  The law applies equally regardless if you are an upstanding citizen who happened to have a few beers before picking up your child from a sporting event, or if you have a blemished criminal record.

Further, if a child is injured or killed as a result of a drunk driving accident, hefty jail time should be expected.  Even having one sip of alcohol and driving with a child passenger under fifteen years of age is too much of a risk to take.  You should assume that you could be pulled over at any time for any particular reason, as police often find ways to pull individuals over for very minor violations (such as not signaling when turning left or right, or not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, among others).

How a DWI Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

If you seek the advice of an experienced attorney as soon as possible after being charged with a DWI accompanied by traveling with a child passenger, you may be able to minimize the punishment imposed on you.  It is key to remember that the punishment terms listed above are maximum punishments for the crime, so just because you committed the crime does not mean you will be subject to the maximum penalties.

Depending on whether or not you have a criminal record, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor to ensure the charge does not haunt you for years to come.  If you plead guilty to the charge at hand without the assistance of an attorney, you are leaving the decision up to the judge, and oftentimes a judge’s decision is much stricter than a prosecutor would have agreed to.  Therefore, it is essential that you do whatever you can to get your DWI matter taken care of with an experienced attorney by your side.

 Contact Our Office Today to Meet With Jack Pettit To Discuss Your DWI Charge

If you have been charged with driving under the influence while having a child in your car, it is imperative that you speak with a highly experienced Dallas DUI/DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.  Attorney Jack Pettit has devoted a large percentage of his practice to handling all types of DUI and DWI charges, and has the knowledge and skill necessary to handle your case. All drinking-related charges in Texas are very serious, but when a child is involved, the consequences can be even more severe.  To learn more about your legal options, contact Attorney Jack Pettit by calling 214-521-4567.  Mr. Pettit conveniently provides services in both English and Spanish.  His office also accepts major credit cards.

Reckless Driving in Texas – What You May be Facing

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Speeding tickets are always frustrating to deal with.  You have to pay a fine, and sometimes the ticket stays on your record, raising your insurance rates, and alerting police the next time you are pulled over.  Reckless driving is substantially more burdensome to deal with, as it involves potential penalties beyond a simple fine and points on your driver’s license.

Under Texas law, reckless driving is broadly defined as “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”  This charge applies to drivers on public roads, parking lots, garages, and other areas that are open to public traffic.  With such an open definition, a variety of conduct could fit into what Texas considers to be reckless driving, and this makes it difficult to distinguish between minor and serious episodes of reckless driving.

For example, on the minor end of reckless driving, perhaps you cut a driver off without signaling, or maybe you were driving too close to the person in front of you, creating the risk of a potential car accident.  On the more severe episode of reckless driving, maybe you were driving more than thirty miles over the speed limit and nearly barely missed slamming into a car that pulled out in front of you.  Whatever the conduct may have been, Texas law treats the charge very seriously and considers it a misdemeanor.  This misdemeanor carries a punishment of up to thirty days in jail and a fine of up to $200.

If you have been charged with reckless driving, and you do not believe you are guilty, you can fight the charge and work with your attorney to argue that your conduct does not fit within the definition of reckless driving under Texas law.  However, it is often better to simply negotiate with the prosecutor to find a much quicker result so that you don’t have to be in court multiple times and leave the disposition of your case in the judge’s hands.

Avoiding the Reckless Driving Charge

Because Texas defines reckless driving so broadly, it is important to make sure you are following the state’s driving laws as closely as possible.  If you speed a little bit (such as five to ten miles over the speed limit), you are not likely at risk for a reckless driving charge.  However, if you are in a hurry and turn too quickly in front of another driver according to what a police officer witnesses, that police officer may consider your conduct as being reckless, even if the average person may not agree.  Police discretion is a huge determining factor with a reckless driving charge.  Therefore, to avoid the charge, always signal, don’t follow the car in front of you too closely, don’t excessively speed, and always come to a complete stop.  These small steps will save you hassle in the long run and you won’t be subject to a hefty fine and potential jail time.

Contact Attorney Jack Pettit Today to Discuss Your Reckless Driving Charge

If you have been charged with reckless driving, you need to consult with a Dallas traffic ticket attorney to resolve your matter as early as possible after you have been charged.  Reckless driving is a little more serious than a simple speeding ticket, therefore, it is recommended that you allow an attorney to handle your matter, instead of going before a judge, paying a fine, and being subject to potential jail time.  Attorney Jack Pettit has the experience necessary to handle your reckless driving matter quickly to enable you to put the charge behind you.  Call 214-521-4567 today to meet with Mr. Pettit.  Mr. Pettit offers legal services in both English and Spanish, and also accepts major credit cards.