Archive for July, 2014

Understanding Texas Drug Crimes and the Severity of the Consequences

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Most drug crimes are prosecuted at the state level, however, if a particular drug charge relates to drugs crossing state lines in any way, you could be facing federal drug charges as well.  As the severity of a drug crime increases, the severity of the potential consequences if convicted also increases.  Many people do not take all drug charges very seriously because many people are able to avoid jail time.  However, many people are able to avoid jail time for a variety of reasons that are unique to each individual’s circumstances.

More often than not, those who avoid jail time and undergo probation are individuals charged with drug possession, or a first time offense of delivering or selling a small amount of a controlled substance.  As the drug crime becomes more dangerous and more “big hitters” are involved, the consequences of being convicted of either Texas or federal drug crimes can mean life in prison if the drug crime involves an enormous amount of drugs and the trafficking or distribution of such drugs.  Drug trafficking, and large-scale distribution are drug crimes that involve a large number of people, as large quantities of drugs are being distributed amongst drug users throughout the entire country.  In addition to drug possession, delivery, distribution and trafficking, individuals may face drug manufacturing charges that can also result in very serious consequences.

Having Your Drug Charge Dismissed

As part of reviewing any client’s case, your attorney will evaluate every single fact that is available from the police report, the way in which you were arrested and charged with the crime, whether or not you were interrogated after being arrested, and whether or not such interrogation was conducted lawfully.  The initial arrest process leading up to being charged with a crime involves a series of steps where law enforcement officials must respect your constitutional rights.  If your attorney finds evidence that your constitutional rights have been violated, then your attorney will seek dismissal of your criminal charges, as constitutional violations may result in the suppression of key evidence that was unlawfully obtained.  Regardless of innocence or guilt, if your constitutional rights were violated, and law enforcement officials would not have obtained evidence without violating your constitutional rights, then the prosecution has no case against you.

If your attorney is not able to seek dismissal of your criminal charges based on constitutional grounds, then your attorney will look for other evidentiary issues and seek a resolution of your criminal matter with the goal of reaching a result that does not involve the imposition of jail time.

Contact Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

Any drug-related criminal charge in Texas (whether a state or federal charge) can prove to be devastating if you are convicted and required to serve jail time.  Even as the world view on drugs such as marijuana continues to change in favor of acceptance, Texas law enforcement officials and the federal government treat marijuana-related drug charges just as seriously as cocaine, heroin and other very dangerous drugs.  Whether you have been charged with simple drug possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance, or if you have been charged with drug trafficking, among other drug charges, you need to seek legal representation right away.  Dallas County Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit is a former prosecutor with more than three decades of experience both prosecuting and defending drug-related criminal charges.  With the help of Jack Pettit, you will be aware of what options you have for fighting the drug charges against you, and what the potential consequences are if you are convicted.  To speak with Jack Pettit, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation by calling (214) 521-4567.  Our office conveniently provides bilingual legal services in both English and Spanish, and we also accept major credit cards.

Photo-Enforced Red Light Tickets in Texas – What if Someone Else Was Driving My Car?

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Photo-enforced red light tickets are a hotly contested topic, as concerns have been raised about the constitutionality of cameras at intersections, and photo-enforced traffic tickets that you receive in the mail.  Most states do have laws authorizing the use of photo-enforced traffic tickets, however, some states are rethinking this as it is often difficult to prove that the registered owner or possessor of the vehicle was the person who allegedly ran a red light or violated some other traffic law that was caught on camera.

Dallas Red Light Camera Safety Program

Dallas uses cameras in order to catch drivers running red lights and/or violating other traffic laws.  While it is certainly important to take measures to prevent people from running red lights, the situation becomes tricky when the accusation of running a red light is discovered in the form of a ticket that comes in the mail.  Instead of an officer’s own visual account of a particular red light traffic stop, a camera is deemed to be sufficient to warrant the imposition of a red light or other traffic ticket. 

While most individuals who receive red light tickets were the same individuals driving the car at the time of the alleged incident, there are times when a friend or family member has borrowed your car.  In such cases, the ticket does not go to the person who borrowed your car – the ticket goes to you.  You can always try to have your friend or family member pay for the ticket, however, there is no guarantee that the responsible party will in fact pay for the ticket.  As such, it is important to immediately seek resolution of the photo-enforced red light or other traffic ticket you received in the mail.  Resolution could mean dismissal or it could mean agreeing to plead guilty to a non-moving violation that will not have a negative effect on your driving or your insurance rates.

The Dallas Red Light Camera Safety Program does allow a way for individuals to contest red light tickets that are issued after you have sold your car, but before the registration has been updated to reflect the new owner of the car.  However, there is no clear option for contesting the ticket for the reason that you were not the person behind the wheel.  Given that red light and other photo-enforced tickets are not very serious, it is best to get the ticket resolved in the most reasonable way possible despite the fact that you may not be guilty at all.

Contact Dallas Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

All Dallas County traffic tickets can be a hassle and quite frustrating especially in cases where you were not driving your car.  Whether a family member, friend, or other individual was driving your car, it isn’t fair that you should be held responsible, and having to pay for a photo-enforced ticket you received in the mail.  Individuals who receive photo-enforced tickets in the mail have the ability to fight the ticket, and they may have a good chance of succeeding, however, many people choose to pay the fine just to put the ticket behind them.  It is always a good idea to speak with a Dallas County Traffic Attorney who can help you fight the red light or other traffic ticket that you have received in the mail.  Dallas Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney Jack Pettit has more than thirty years of experience, both as a former prosecutor and as a current criminal and traffic defense attorney, and has been helping protect his clients’ constitutional rights for decades.  If you would like to speak with Jack Pettit about your traffic ticket, contact our office today by calling (214) 521-4567 to schedule an initial consultation.  Our office conveniently provides bilingual legal services in both English and Spanish, and we also accept major credit cards.

Grounds for Losing Your Commercial Driver License (CDL) in Texas

Friday, July 4th, 2014

There are a variety of ways in which a Texas commercial driver can have his or her CDL disqualified for a certain period of time.  However, many commercial drivers are not fully aware of what the rules are, and they are caught off guard when they learn that they have been stripped of their CDL.  Without a CDL, such drivers are not able to continue the same employment for the disqualification period.  Certain criminal conduct ranging from minor traffic offenses to serious felonies can have a significant impact on the status of your CDL.  Depending on the nature and severity of the criminal conduct, the disqualification period could range from a couple of months to indefinitely.

Overview of CDL Disqualification Periods

If you are a commercial driver and you have been issued two serious traffic offenses (such as excessive speeding, reckless driving and following too closely, among others), your CDL may be suspended for at least 60 days.  If you have been cited for railroad-highway grade crossing violations, you face a disqualification period of 60 days for the first offense, 120 days for the second offense within three years of the first offense, and at least one year for a third offense within three years of the first offense. 

If a commercial driver has been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, has left the scene of an accident, or committed a felony, the driver faces at least a one year disqualification period, and this could be three years if the vehicle involved was marked as containing hazardous materials.  If there is a second offense, the commercial driver could lose his or her CDL forever.  If a commercial driver uses a motor vehicle in the commission of a felony, then the driver loses his or her CDL forever.

CDL tickets should be taken much more seriously than standard traffic tickets because the stakes are so high and the consequences are so much more important.  Most commercial drivers are generally aware that all traffic laws apply to them in the same way they do for other drivers, and that commercial drivers are actually held to a higher standard as commercial drivers.  Therefore, the consequences for committing certain traffic offenses and other crimes can be much more severe than it is for non-commercial drivers.  Given that your career is at risk, it is crucial to take all steps necessary to keep your CDL.

Contact Dallas Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

Losing your CDL can be detrimental to your career, having a significant impact on all aspects of your life.  As such, it is very important to have an understanding of what conduct can result in the loss of your CDL and what steps commercial drivers should take in order to avoid the loss of their CDLs.  If you are facing the loss of your CDL, you should act quickly and consider speaking with a Dallas County Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney who has handled a large number of CDL tickets and licensing issues for his or her clients.  Jack Pettit is a Dallas County Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney and former prosecutor with more than three decades of experience.  If you have a CDL traffic ticket or are facing the potential loss of your CDL, contact Jack Pettit as soon as possible to discuss your case and explore what options you have for either keeping or reinstating your CDL.  To schedule an initial consultation with Jack Pettit, contact our office by calling (214) 521-4567.  Our office conveniently provides bilingual legal services in both English and Spanish, and we also accept major credit cards.

What You Should Know About Field Sobriety Tests in Texas

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Texas law enforcement officials administer field sobriety tests when they suspect that an individual may be driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), depending on the age of the driver.  The purpose of a field sobriety test is to evaluate and test the individual’s sensory abilities, balance, coordination and cognitive ability.  During a field sobriety test, the police officer will do the following:

  • Ask that the driver stand and balance on one leg;
  • Ask that the driver walk in a straight line, turning around and walking back;
  • Ask that the driver move his or her eyes back and forth, following the police officer’s pen or small flashlight;
  • Ask that the driver touch his or her finger to the nose; and
  • Ask that the driver recite the alphabet (sometimes from z to a, but other times only a small segment of the alphabet, such as from b to q).

Depending on the results of the field sobriety test, a driver may be asked to submit to a breathalyzer test and/or may be immediately arrested if there are clear signs that the driver is intoxicated.  Such signs include, but are not limited to, slurred speech, the inability to balance or walk, and bloodshot eyes.  However, field sobriety tests do not always demonstrate accurate results.  It may be that a particular individual is clumsy and has trouble balancing on one foot or walking in a straight line.  Walking without the ability to evenly put weight on both feet can be difficult for many individuals, especially those with physical disabilities.  Further, reciting the alphabet from z to a is quite challenging for most people, regardless of whether they are intoxicated or not.

The subjective nature of field sobriety tests calls into question a police officer’s judgment and use of discretion and whether or not there were valid grounds to believe the driver was under the influence of alcohol.  Because field sobriety tests raise constitutional issues, you should be aware of what to expect and know that you can refuse to submit to the test.  But, if you refuse to submit to a field sobriety test, you will likely be arrested and a further investigation will be conducted to determine if there are grounds to charge you with a DUI or DWI.  Most officers will not make it clear to you that you have the power to refuse to submit to a field sobriety test, so many individuals believe they are obligated to submit to the test.  Whether or not you would choose to submit to a field sobriety test is a judgment call, and this should be discussed with an attorney so that you understand what your rights and responsibilities are the next time you are pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Contact Dallas DUI/DWI Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

If you or someone you know has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI), it is imperative that you seek the advice of a qualified Dallas County DUI and DWI Defense Attorney as soon as possible.  Field sobriety tests are a crucial part of any DUI or DWI case, as individuals often face constitutional violations that they are not even aware of.  The sooner you speak with an attorney, the better off you will be in fighting your DUI or DWI charge.  Dallas County DUI Defense Attorney Jack Pettit is a former prosecutor with more than three decades of experience working with the Texas criminal justice system.  If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated, there may be grounds for having your DUI or DWI charge dismissed.  To discuss your criminal case in detail, contact Jack Pettit today to schedule an initial consultation by calling (214) 521-4567.  Our office conveniently provides bilingual legal services in both English and Spanish, and we also accept major credit cards.