Posts Tagged ‘Criminal defense attorney in Dallas’

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.

The Consequences of Leaving Your Child Unattended in a Vehicle in Texas

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

We live in a very busy world today where we look to the quickest possible way to take care of something.  If you are running some errands and only want to go into a store for a few minutes, you may decide to leave your car with the flasher lights on at the front curb of the store to avoid a long walk from the main parking lot.  What you may not know is that if you have a child that you leave in your car unattended, you may be subject to criminal penalties.

Under Texas law, if you are aware that your child is in the car and leave your child in the car for even just five minutes, you may be charged with a crime that is considered a class C misdemeanor.  The law states that the child must be less than seven years old and left alone.  If there is another child in the car who is at least fourteen years old, then this older child may lawfully supervise the younger child.  The crime of leaving your young child unattended in a vehicle is part of the least severe class of misdemeanors, but it is still a charge that you may have to face.  Along with a criminal charge comes fines and possibly appearing in court.

We all know how hot Texas summers can be.  There are many safety concerns with leaving your child unattended in your car.  You may only intend to be in a store for a few minutes, but that few minutes could turn into ten, twenty or even thirty minutes if there are long lines in the store or if there’s something else holding you up in the store that is out of your control.  Not only is your child’s health at risk, but your child could be abducted or injured.  Your child may find a way to release the brake on the car or roll the windows up so that there is no ventilation on a hot day.

Even though the law states that your child must be under the age of seven and unattended, don’t read this to mean that it is okay to leave your child unattended if he or she is seven years of age or older.  You still may be charged with a crime if a police officer is unsure of the child’s age and you will have to plead your case in court.  Further, it is still in both you and your child’s best interest to avoid leaving your child unattended, regardless of your child’s age.

Contact an Attorney Who Specializes in Class C Misdemeanor Defense

If you have been charged with leaving your child unattended in a motor vehicle, whether it be a car, van or trailer, and that child is under the age of seven, you should contact an attorney experienced in the area of class C misdemeanor defense.  Attorney Jack Pettit has over thirty years of experience as a criminal defense attorney.  Mr. Pettit has represented thousands of clients in a variety of criminal cases, but he is especially skilled in the area of defending clients charged with class C misdemeanors.  Going to court alone without the comfort and advice of a seasoned attorney may leave you with a criminal record that could have been avoided.  Allow Mr. Pettit to investigate your situation.  No matter how small a criminal charge may be, it could come back to haunt you later on in life.  Please call 214-521-4567 to speak with Mr. Pettit about your case.  We conveniently offer bilingual services in English and Spanish.  We also accept major credit cards.

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.

What You Should Know About the Texas Warrant Roundup

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

The phrase “Texas Warrant Roundup” may bring to mind images of a fictional event that was pulled straight from the pages of a Texas-sized tall tale. As fictional as the name may seem, though, the Texas Warrant Roundup is a real occurrence that happens every year. It is a serious event that should not be taken lightly, especially by people for whom a warrant has been issued.

If you do not know just how serious the Texas Warrant Roundup is, take note. If there is a warrant for your arrest which is outstanding at the time of the Roundup, police or U.S. Marshals can arrest you anytime, anywhere – including at your home or place of employment. During the Texas Warrant Roundup, the police go out in force, looking for people who have outstanding warrants. They even have special equipment for scanning license plates, which helps them identify drivers for whom warrants are outstanding.

Overall, it is important to know that the Texas Warrant Roundup happens usually in February or March. In order to encourage people to settle their outstanding warrants before the annual Texas Warrant Roundup occurs, the State of Texas offers a grace period prior to the start of the Warrant Roundup. The grace period offers anyone with an outstanding warrant to come forward and pay their fine without incurring any further fees or penalties, and spares them from the possibility of being arrested during the Warrant Roundup.

In addition to the annual Texas Warrant Roundup, some cities and towns conduct smaller, localized Warrant Roundups a few times a year. Also, an outstanding warrant can place you at risk for more than being arrested. Outstanding warrants can cause the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to place a hold on renewal of your vehicle registration and on renewal of your driver’s license. Because Warrant Roundup events create a high risk for arrest as well as restrictions on your driver’s license and vehicle registration, it is a good idea to deal with a warrant as soon as you learn that one has been issued.

When you take prompt action to deal with a warrant, you have more options available to you than you would if you were arrested and brought to jail. If you want to clear your warrant but you are unsure how to go about doing so, many city and county websites have information about how to clear outstanding warrants. If you think that there may be an outstanding warrant in your name because you have forgotten to pay a traffic ticket or attend a hearing, or for some other reason, there are resources on the internet which enable you to check whether such a warrant exists. While you may be able to clear your outstanding warrant on your own, there can be advantages to contacting an attorney.

If you have an outstanding warrant at the time when the Texas Warrant Roundup is approaching, you may be able to reduce your costs and maybe even get that warrant suspended by enlisting the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has been providing exceptional criminal defense to clients in the Dallas area for over thirty years. Call Attorney Jack Pettit today at (214) 521-4567, to learn more about the Texas Warrant Roundup, or other concerns related to traffic violations or criminal defense.

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.

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!

What to Do if You are Facing False Criminal Accusations in Texas

Friday, June 28th, 2013

No matter what, it is true that sometimes people can certainly be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Nowadays, we often hear on the news about an unlucky person who spent years in jail but through DNA evidence, ultimately received an acquittal.  Moreover, it is also possible to face false criminal charges, especially when someone is using them to gain an advantage over another person in a civil case.  This sometimes occurs when a couple is facing a contentious divorce where through retribution, one person files a protective order against the other.  However, whatever the situation presents, it is important to realize that while untrue, these charges can have serious consequences if not handled properly.  That is why it is crucial to consider the following steps should you be forced to have to defend against false criminal accusations:

  1. Understand the severity of the charges that were lodged against you.  Many times, people think that since they are innocent, that the charges are “no big deal”.  However, a jury can convict people of a crime even if they are completely without fault.  This often results when a prosecutor is highly skilled at proving cases, even those that lack truth.  Since a criminal conviction can have serious repercussions, do not ignore your charges. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to advise you of your legal options and to fight for your rights.
  2. Prepare to pay for your defense.  Being falsely accused is simply devastating and no matter what, will end up costing you money.  Depending upon the type of criminal charge, some have a higher rate of conviction than others (i.e. rape, sexual abuse and domestic violence).  Meaning, it is crucial for you to hire an attorney immediately to represent you and your legal interests.  Without effective representation, you could end up losing a whole lot more than a few thousand dollars.  With that being said, saving as much money as you can (and as quickly as possible) to afford all of your defense-related expenses is highly recommended.
  3. Write everything down.  Be sure to document all of the details pertaining to your case.  This includes keeping track of the events leading up to the false accusations.  No matter what, this can help support your case and assist your attorney in developing a highly aggressive defense strategy on your behalf.
  4. Know your rights and do your homework.   Be sure to know that you have the right to remain silent and also, to have an attorney present during questioning (and various other stages of the criminal process) should you invoke your right to an attorney.  Also, educate yourself as to the nature of the charges brought against you and also, the potential penalties/punishment that you are facing.  This can help you know what to expect and to launch the strongest defense tactics in your favor.
  5. Compile a list of witnesses.  As a criminal defendant, you have the right to gather witnesses together to help your case.  Therefore, it is highly important that you compile a list of those who can serve as credible witnesses and as such, aid in your defense.

For additional information, or if you are facing any type of criminal charge in Texas, it is important to work with a qualified criminal defense lawyer to help you fight for your rights.  If you would like to speak to Mr. Pettit about your case, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.

What To Do if You are Arrested for Solicitation in Texas

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Getting arrested for solicitation is one of those situations where you react out of embarrassment rather than careful forethought.  However, taking the time to consider the long-term ramifications that a conviction for solicitation of prostitution will have on your personal and professional life should have you contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you through the process.

There are two different scenarios that can result in arrest for solicitation of prostitution under the Texas Penal Code:

  • Section 43.02 states that a person may be charged with prostitution if he solicits another to engage in sexual conduct for hire in a public place.  The critical component of this provision is that the solicitation must be done in a public setting.  This section of the code also defines prostitution rather than just the solicitation component, which includes an offer to engage, agreeing to engage in, or actually engaging in sexual conduct for a fee.
  • The second charge that one could face surrounding solicitation of prostitution arises under Section 43.03 of Texas Penal Code, which sets forth the provisions of promotion of prostitution.  A person can be charged with solicitation of prostitution if he solicits someone to engage in sexual conduct with another person for financial compensation.  A key factor of which to be aware is that this provision will apply to someone who solicits someone for paid sexual conduct on behalf of another.  This is a penalty for the “John” and not the prostitute.

There are facts that you need to know if you face a charge of solicitation of prostitution.  Specifically, if you are facing a charge under Section 43.03, the location of the solicitation becomes critical.  The following locations may be considered a public place under Texas law:

  • Streets and highways;
  • Hotels;
  • Schools (specifically including colleges);
  • Apartment buildings or complexes;
  • Retail establishments;
  • Hospitals;
  • Office buildings; and
  • Airports, train and bus stations.

It is important to remember that the prosecutor has the burden of proof and must prove every element of the charge of solicitation of prostitution beyond a reasonable doubt.  The difficulty of meeting the burden of proof may result in a reduction of the charge, or an outright dismissal.  Experienced criminal attorneys can help you obtain the best possible result.

An individual facing a first-time charge of solicitation of prostitution faces a Class B misdemeanor charge, which can result in a fine of up to $2,000.00 and/or a possible jail term up to 180 days.  If this is not the first time you have been charged, the analysis becomes more complex, with the possibility of being charged with a state jail felony, larger fines, and increased jail time.  Of course, there are many other considerations and if the individual being solicited is under the age of eighteen then there are far more factors and complexities.

For additional information, or if you are facing a charge of solicitation of prostitution, it is important to work with an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer to help you fight for your rights.  For more than thirty years, our office has successfully defended thousands of individuals dealing with all types of criminal related offenses.   If you would like to speak to Mr. Pettit about your case, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.