Archive for March, 2014

What’s the Difference Between Robbery and Burglary in Texas?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Theft, burglary and robbery are very serious crimes in Texas.  Some of these crimes carry with them penalties that could result in significant fines and imprisonment.  It is important that individuals facing theft-related charges understand the difference between each of the crimes and realize that the consequences of being convicted of one crime could be more serious than being convicted of another crime.  Many people do not fully understand the difference between robbery and burglary.  Both involve theft, but the crimes are different in terms of their location and whether or not people were harmed or at risk for being harmed as a result of the crime. 

Robbery Under Texas Law

In Texas, robbery is a second degree felony that carries with it the potential for jail time between two and twenty years, and a fine of not more than $10,000.  An individual commits robbery in Texas when he or she steals or attempts to steal property from another person, and in doing so, he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused bodily injury to another person, or places this person in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.  It does not matter if the person committing robbery intends to harm the person being robbed or not.  It is how the robbery affects the innocent person and what that person felt and perceived from the robbery.

Aggravated robbery involves the additional act of causing serious bodily injury to the person being robbed, using or exhibiting a deadly weapon during the robbery, causing bodily injury or threatening or placing another person in fear of imminent harm or death, and the person is 65 years of age or older, or to a disabled individual.  Aggravated robbery is a first degree felony, carrying with it jail time between five years and life in prison (not more than 99 years), and a fine of not more than $10,000.

Burglary Under Texas Law

In Texas, burglary is a felony, and the degree of felony depends upon the location of the alleged crime.  Burglary is considered a state jail felony if it is committed in a building other than a habitation (i.e., other than a building or structure that can be used for overnight occupation), and this crime carries with it jail time between 180 days and two years, and a fine of not more than $10,000. 

If the burglary is committed in a habitation, the charge is a second degree felony, carrying with it jail time between two and twenty years, and a fine of up to $10,000.  If the burglary involves entry into a habitation, and the accused is committing or attempting to commit a felony other than a theft-related felony, the charge is a first degree felony, carrying with it jail time between five years and life in prison (not more than 99 years), and a fine of not more than $10,000.

The serious consequences of any theft-related charge can be devastating, and as you can see from the information above, there are varying degrees within each general crime.  Because there is so much at stake, it is essential that you seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case in detail, and defend your rights to the fullest.

Contact Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

If you have been charged with theft, burglary, robbery or any other crime, you need a Dallas criminal defense attorney standing by to advocate on your behalf.  Theft-related crimes are charges that could leave you with a permanent criminal record as a convicted felon.  In order to ensure you are doing everything you can to fight a criminal charge, it is essential that you speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit has been helping people like you overcome the challenge and potential consequences of a criminal conviction, no matter how minor or severe the crime is.  As a former prosecutor with more than three decades of experience, Jack Pettit has the skill and dedication necessary to look out for your best interests.  Call our office today at (214) 521-4567 to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your criminal matter.  Our office provides bilingual services in both English and Spanish, and we accept major credit cards.

Sex Crimes and the Texas Sex Offender List

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

In today’s technological age, any given person can search sex registries online to find out if “sex offenders” live nearby.  While there are certainly individuals out there who have committed horrific sex crimes, and are rightfully placed on the Texas sex offender lists, there are many individuals who are placed on the sex offender list for very minor crimes that fall into the “sex crimes” category.  The consequences of being convicted of the most minor sex crime can leave you with a criminal record and on a list that gives the public the wrong impression of who you really are.

 What Crimes Can Put You on the Sex Offender List in Texas?

Under Texas law, you may be required to register with local law enforcement as a sex offender if you have been convicted of crimes including, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Sexual abuse of a young child;
  • Indecency with a child;
  • Sexual assault;
  • Aggravated sexual assault;
  • Prohibited sexual conduct;
  • Compelling prostitution;
  • Involvement in the sexual performance of a child;
  • Possession or promotion of child pornography;
  • Aggravated kidnapping if the accused had the intent to violate or abuse the victim sexually; and
  • Burglary with the added element of committing or having the intent to commit any of the crimes listed above

 Some of these crimes don’t actually involve the forceful act of sexual abuse.  For example, if you have consensual sex with someone who is 17 years old, and you are 18 years old, you may be deemed a sex offender, and you may be placed on the sex offender list.  Depending on the circumstances of your prior conviction, and whether or not you meet certain requirements, you may be able to “deregister” as a sex offender.  This is something that should be discussed with an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney to determine if you may be eligible.

What Information is Available on the Sex Offender List?

If you are charged with a sex crime and required to register with local law enforcement, the following information may be available to the public:

  • Your name and home address;
  • A color photograph of you; and
  • The crime you were convicted of.

 Even though the public can clearly see what “sex crime” you were convicted of, people may not pay attention to the details of the crime, and will lump you along with other sex offenders who have committed much more serious crimes.  Further, you are required to update your information with local law enforcement periodically, so the public will be aware of your precise location for the entire period of time that you are required to be on the sex offender list.

In order to avoid being required to register as a sex offender, you should seek the advice of experienced legal counsel as soon as you are charged with what is deemed to be a “sex crime.”  The sooner you are able to act and fight the criminal charge, the more likely you will be able to either have the charge dismissed, or attempt to reduce the punishment so that you will not be required to register as a sex offender.

Contact Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

Being charged with a sex crime is a serious and sensitive matter that requires the gentle, yet dedicated service of a criminal defense attorney with significant experience handling public lewdness charges and other sex crimes.  You deserve to have legal representation that focuses on your rights and reaching the best resolution possible.  Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit is a former prosecutor with more than three decades of experience working in the criminal justice system.  To discuss your criminal charges with Mr. Pettit, contact our office today at (214) 521-4567 to schedule an initial consultation.  Our office conveniently provides bilingual legal services in both English and Spanish, and our office also accepts major credit cards.

The Consequences of Serving Alcohol to a Texas Minor

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Drinking-related charges in Texas range in severity, but each and every charge that results in a conviction can leave you with a criminal record that will follow you for years.  Most Texans are aware of the seriousness of DWI and DUI charges, but many people are not aware of what happens if they are charged with serving alcohol to a minor.

 Under Texas law, serving alcohol to a minor is a Class A misdemeanor, which is the most serious of all misdemeanors.  If you are convicted of serving alcohol to a minor, at most you face a fine of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year, or both.  Further, if convicted, you will have your driver’s license suspended for 180 days, even if no motor vehicle was involved in your alleged crime.

 If you are 21 years of age or older, and you are not a parent or guardian of the minor who is provided with alcohol, you may be held responsible for any harm the minor has caused while being intoxicated if you knowingly provide alcohol to the minor or knowingly allow the minor to be served alcohol on property that you own or lease.  Therefore, not only are there criminal consequences to serving alcohol to a minor, but there are consequences that could leave you facing a civil lawsuit.

If you have an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney by your side, you may be able to avoid or limit the punishment that you are facing when charged with serving alcohol to a minor.  Further, an attorney may be able to get the charge dismissed for various reasons.  An attorney will thoroughly review your charge, including all of the available evidence, to determine if there are viable grounds for having your charge dismissed.  Therefore, the best way to protect your rights is to consult with, and allow an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf to ensure you are resolving the criminal matter in a way that avoids a blemish on your criminal record.

While an attorney can certainly help to dismiss or reduce the charge of serving alcohol to a minor, it is important to understand that multiple convictions of the same or similar crimes may make it difficult for your attorney to have your current charge lowered or dismissed.  This is why it is especially important to address a first-time charge with the assistance of qualified legal counsel.  Many individuals don’t fully understand the consequences of a criminal conviction, and believe they can defend themselves in court.  More often than not, the results of a criminal charge are much worse for those who do not retain legal counsel, and your chances of overcoming the challenge of facing a criminal conviction are much better if you have an attorney standing by your side.

Contact Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

If you or someone you know has been charged with serving alcohol to a minor, you should speak with a Dallas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  This criminal charge may not seem as serious as other alcohol-related crimes, but the consequences could be more severe than you think.  With the help of a seasoned Dallas criminal defense attorney, you may be able to avoid the permanent negative consequences of being convicted of serving alcohol to a minor.  Dallas DUI Attorney Jack Pettit has more than three decades of experience, both as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, giving him a unique ability to help his clients reach the best result possible to their unfortunate circumstances.  To speak with Mr. Pettit about your case, contact our office today at (214) 521-4567 to schedule an initial consultation.  Jack Pettit conveniently provides legal services in both English and Spanish.  Our office also accepts major credit cards.

Texas Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and Being Charged With a DWI or DUI

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

Being charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol results in potential devastating consequences that can leave you without the ability to drive legally, and leaving you with a criminal record.  DWI or DUI charges are especially troublesome for commercial drivers who rely on their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) as a means of employment.  For the reasons described below, you may be facing the suspension or revocation of your CDL, effectively limiting or eliminating your ability to work in the same career field.  With the assistance of a seasoned Dallas criminal defense attorney, you may be able to avoid the suspension or revocation of your CDL.

What You Need to Know If You Are Suspected of DWI or DUI

Under Texas law, commercial drivers give implied consent to undergo blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) testing by breathalyzer, by blood, or by urine if they are suspected of DWI or DUI while operating their commercial vehicles.  Many commercial drivers may not be aware of this requirement, leaving them surprised when they are asked to submit to BAC testing.  If you are pulled over while operating your commercial vehicle, and are pulled over on suspicion of DWI or DUI and you refuse to undergo BAC testing, your CDL will be suspended for at least one year, even if you are never charged with or convicted of DWI or DUI.

As a commercial driver, you should also know that your CDL may be suspended for one year if you have a BAC of .04 while operating a commercial vehicle in a public place, and .08 while operating a non-commercial vehicle in a public place.  Your CDL is suspended even if you are not later charged with or convicted of DWI or DUI.  Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard in terms of safety requirements, therefore, the consequences of violating Texas law by refusing a BAC test, failing a BAC test, being charged with DWI or DUI, and/or being convicted of DWI or DUI are much more serious than they are for any ordinary non-commercial driver.

Why You Need a Highly Experienced Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney

 If you are a commercial driver and have been charged with DWI or DUI, the sooner you act to fight the charge, the sooner an attorney will be able to resolve the matter in the most feasible way possible in order to limit the negative impact a conviction will have on your employment and your criminal record.  With the help of a devoted and skilled criminal defense attorney, you may be able to avoid the permanent revocation of your CDL. 

 It is important to understand, however, that your CDL is at risk even if you are not formally charged with DWI or DUI.  Your license may not be permanently revoked, but it may be suspended for quite a long period of time, leaving you with the inability to work as a commercial driver.  Therefore, it is essential that you do everything you can to avoid the suspension or revocation of your CDL.

Contact Dallas County Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

The suspension or revocation of your CDL can leave you unemployed and with a criminal record that will make it very difficult to obtain employment as a commercial driver in the future.  If you have been charged with DWI or DUI, you should contact an experienced Dallas County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  Dallas DUI Attorney Jack Pettit is a former prosecutor with more than three decades of experience in the criminal justice system.  Mr. Pettit dedicates his practice to defending his clients’ rights to the fullest, helping them keep their CDLs and helping them avoid a serious criminal conviction.  To schedule a consultation with Mr. Pettit, contact our office today by calling (214) 521-4567.  We offer bilingual services in both English and Spanish, and accept major credit cards.