Posts Tagged ‘Dallas criminal defense lawyer’

Do Criminal Charges Stay on My Record in Texas?

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

A criminal charge can leave you feeling defeated, frightened, and uncertain of what your future holds.  It is not surprising to feel this way, as one of the worst consequences of a criminal charge or conviction is the negative impact this has on your ability to rent an apartment or home, obtain a job, or attend a college or university.  However, keep in mind that simply being charged with a crime does not necessarily mean a potential landlord, employer or school admissions department will have the ability to find this rather sensitive information out.

While some background checks do pull up pending criminal charges, and prior charges that have been dismissed, most of them only pull up prior convictions.  The information extracted from a background check is dependent upon what the potential landlord, employer and/or school admissions department is looking for.  Nevertheless, a simple criminal charge that has been dismissed, or that is pending, can prevent you from being able to rent a home, get a job, or attend school.

When you apply to rent an apartment or home, apply for a job, or apply for admission to a college or university and are required to complete background check forms, you will likely be asked if you have ever been charged with a crime, what the disposition was, as well as whether you have prior criminal convictions.  If you have been charged with a crime before and found to be innocent, or the charge was dismissed, this charge may show up on your background check as “dismissed.”

However, a potential landlord, employer, or admissions office department may still consider you an unfavorable applicant simply because you were charged with a crime.  An employer cannot reject your application for the simple fact that you were charged with a crime that was later dismissed, but the mere fact of potential criminal activity may still have a negative impact on your application.

This one characteristic may set you apart in a negative light from the other applicants, and unfortunately happens frequently.  It is sometimes difficult for landlords, employers and college or university admissions offices to set aside the fact that you were charged with a crime.  They may ask what lead you to being arrested in the first place.  This is an unfair consequence of being wrongfully charged with a crime.

A Dallas criminal defense attorney can provide you with the counsel and advice as to how to handle a prior criminal charge when applying to rent an apartment or home, applying for a job, or applying to attend a college or university.  A skilled Dallas criminal defense attorney can help you address your criminal charge and hopefully move on without a blemish on your record.  Fighting your criminal charge as early as possible will enable your attorney to communicate with the prosecutor to reach a quick resolution to get the charge dismissed.

Contact Dallas County Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

If you have been charged with a crime, your record is at stake even if you are innocent.  It is imperative that you speak with a Dallas County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to minimize the negative consequences of your criminal charge.  Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer Jack Pettit has focused the bulk of his more than thirty year career on defending the rights of his clients.  With his prior experience as a prosecutor, Attorney Jack Pettit thoroughly understands the Texas criminal justice system, and his experience as a former prosecutor has helped Jack Pettit provide superior representation to his clients as a criminal defense attorney.  To discuss your criminal matter with Attorney Jack Pettit, please call our office today at (214) 521-4567.  Our office conveniently provides bilingual services in English and Spanish.  We also accept major credit cards.


Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyer : Texas Lawmakers Push Legislation to Legalize Marijuana

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Last year was a great year for supporters of the legalization of marijuana, with both Colorado and Washington legalizing and planning to regulate the recreational use of marijuana.  Although Texas is considered to be one of the more conservative states in this country, two lawmakers are advocating for the legalization of marijuana.  These two Democratic state representatives are planning to re-introduce marijuana legislation that will mirror much of the same legislation that was passed in Colorado and Washington.  These Texas lawmakers plan to keep pushing even though their proposal will likely not be looked upon favorably by most Texas lawmakers.

The viewpoint of these Texas state representatives is also shared by a majority of Texas citizens, with 58 percent of the Texas population supporting the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana use for adults.  Further, 61 percent of Texas citizens support the decriminalization of marijuana.  It may take Texas quite a while to join the ranks of Colorado and Washington, however, Texans who support the legalization of marijuana feel confident that one day Texas will be another state that follows the trend that is expected to flock to many other states in the next few years.

While the legalization of marijuana might not be too far off for Texans, the law as it stands treats marijuana possession fairly seriously.  Texas citizens should not assume that law enforcement officials will be lenient when it comes to marijuana possession simply because the trend in other states has pushed for legalization.  Until Texas law changes, you are at risk for criminal penalties for even the smallest amount of marijuana.

With Colorado not being too far from Texas, the influx of marijuana into Texas territory may increase as access to marijuana is easier for many Texas marijuana users.  Law enforcement officials are well aware of this possibility and are likely to crack down on the import of marijuana from Colorado and other states.  Therefore, if you are a marijuana user, you should expect that Texas law may be enforced to the fullest extent for a marijuana charge.

If you are charged with marijuana possession and do not have adequate legal representation, you could be facing jail time, hefty fines, probation and a blemish on your criminal record.  You may have trouble getting a job or being admitted to a college or university.  The negative effects of a marijuana possession charge can last for years to come.  While many employers may not take a marijuana possession charge or conviction too seriously, it is still cumbersome and stressful to know that such a charge or conviction may pop up on any background check.  To increase your chances of being able to avoid a blemished criminal record, you should seek the advice of a highly experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney who specializes in drug possession charges.

Contact Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney Jack Pettit Today

If you have been charged with marijuana possession, or are facing any other drug possession charge, you need the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to fight to keep you out of jail.  While you may be able to avoid jail time and keep a marijuana charge off your record in the long run through a diversion or deferred adjudication program, you will need an attorney who has the ability to negotiate this type of arrangement.  Attorney Jack Pettit has been practicing law for over 30 years and has helped hundreds of clients avoid jail time and put drug possession charges behind them.  Mr. Pettit has the experienced required to fight your marijuana possession charge.  To speak with Mr. Pettit about your case, contact our office today at (214) 521-4567.  Mr. Pettit provides bilingual legal services in both English and Spanish.  We also accept major credit cards.

What Happens at an Arraignment in Texas after Being Charged with a Crime

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Being arrested and charged with a crime, whether minor or serious, is a frightening experience.  The criminal process can be very confusing, and many people don’t know what to expect after being charged with a crime.  After being charged with a crime, an arraignment will be scheduled for you to appear in court where you are formally charged and meet face to face with the prosecutor and a judge.

What is an arraignment?

In Texas, an arraignment is a brief hearing that is conducted after being arrested.  You will appear before a judge, and the prosecutor will read the charges that have been filed against you.  The most important aspect of this short hearing is that the judge will ask you whether you want to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.  You will be asked to acknowledge that you are in fact the person that has been charged.  The judge will tell you what the maximum penalty for your charge is.  This scares many people because the alleged crime may not be deserving of the maximum punishment.

How should I plead?

The most important thing to remember about an arraignment is that you do not have to plead guilty if you in fact committed the crime.  This is confusing because it seems logical to plead guilty if you committed the crime you are charged with.  However, most people plead not guilty because this gives your attorney and the prosecutor time to negotiate.  Oftentimes, crimes can be reduced and negotiated out of court.  If you do decide to plead guilty, the judge may enter a sentence at that time.

Why it is important to seek legal representation?

Because the process of pleading guilty, not guilty, or not contest to a crime you are charged with is extremely confusing and also very important to the outcome of your case, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel immediately.  An experienced attorney will ensure that the police followed all of the proper procedures, and can do so by looking at what is called “discovery.”  This typically consists of the complaint and the police report.

While you certainly can appear for the arraignment without an attorney, this often is not advisable because you are not giving yourself the opportunity to allow an attorney to look at your case and prepare you for what to expect.  Having an attorney stand by your side will provide you with comfort and confidence that you simply will not have by appearing alone.  It is also important not to wait until the last minute to hire an attorney.  If you miss your arraignment, this will result in a warrant being issued for your arrest.

If you have been charged with a crime, no matter how severe the charge is, and you have an upcoming arraignment hearing, contact our offices as soon as possible.  Attorney Jack Pettit is an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney who will defend your rights to the fullest.  Mr. Pettit will guide you through the arraignment process, advise you of your plea options, and will work diligently to achieve the best outcome possible in your case.  Don’t go through this process alone.  Allow Mr. Pettit to evaluate every single fact of your case, from the time leading up to arrest, to any potential searches.  Sometimes the police make mistakes.  Mr. Pettit will investigate to make sure the charge against you is legitimate.  If you would like to speak with Mr. Pettit to discuss your case, please contact his office at (214) 521-4567.  We offer services in both English and Spanish.  We also accept major credit cards.

Hiring a Dallas Criminal Defense Attorney for Charges of Electronic Solicitation

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

A man was recently sentenced to 176 months in prison after he pled guilty to the charges of electronic solicitation. The 44 year old male was arrested after a 37-year old man saw his ad on Craigslist which appeared to solicit teenage boys for sex.  The 37-year old responded to the ad, pretending to be a 13-year old teen.  A detective, posing as a high school freshman arranged to meet the ad poster in a park, where he was later arrested and charged with electronic solicitation.  In light of this story, what can we take away from it?

Changes in State and Federal Laws

In recent years, the federal government has encouraged local law enforcement personnel to set up online sting operations such as this one as a means of cracking down on Internet solicitation.  Electronic solicitation can consist of contact via cell phone, Facebook, Twitter or other cell phone text messages and can be prosecuted in cases of suggestive communications between two teenagers who are only a couple of years apart in age. In other cases, “evidence” can easily be blown out of proportion or even misunderstood completely.

Further, under the provisions of Jessica’s Law, law enforcement is actively seeking to make as many arrests for sex crimes regarding teens or children as possible. State and federal laws have been tightened up in order to invalidate previously successful defenses to Internet solicitation; under these new laws a simple transcript of a chat room conversation could result in a conviction of electronic solicitation. Prior to the advent of these new laws when the state prosecutor charged the alleged perpetrator with attempted indecency with a minor the defense could raise a number of legitimate defenses. Some of those defenses included:

  • Whether the Defendant made an apparent step toward completing the underlying offense.
  • Whether the Defendant actually traveled to the meeting location agreed upon in chat room or email conversations.
  • Whether the Defendant actually had the intent of completing a sexual act.
  • Whether a minor was actually ever involved.

Since most states have recently made amendments to electronic solicitation laws, the appearance of soliciting sexual activity through Internet channels from a child the solicitor believes to be under the age of 16 may be sufficient for charges and even a conviction.  In many cases, the nature of the charges coupled with a Defendant’s computer hard drive may mean that the state has hard evidence which can be difficult to defend. Even so, Internet solicitation cases resulting from police sting operations bring into question the issue of entrapment, particularly when the police officer was only posing as a teenager or child. An experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney with a solid background in defending those charged with electronic solicitation may also be able to argue such issues as:

  • Were “lines crossed” with regard to the police officers’ chat dialogue which could lead to a reasonable conclusion of entrapment?
  • Was the Defendant under significant mental or emotional stressors at the time which were exacerbated under the police sting operation?
  • In the transcripts of chats or emails between the Defendant and the alleged victim, was sexual activity clearly proposed or was the language vague enough that a statute was not violated?
  • Did officers purposely choose an age for their “victim” which would increase the penalties for the Defendant in the event of a conviction?

Obviously no reasonable adult condones true electronic solicitation of teens or children, however there are many cases in which mistaken identity or entrapment may come into play. In other cases, maybe one bad decision led to the charges of electronic solicitation. Whether you are absolutely innocent of the charges of electronic solicitation or you made a mistake you now greatly regret, you need to ensure you have an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney by your side from the very beginning.

Jack Pettit is a Dallas criminal defense attorney who has substantial experience defending those charged with sex crimes. Mr. Pettit understands what is at stake in your case; aside from being sentenced to jail or prison, you could end up having to register as a sex offender for the remainder of your life. Whether your specific situation warrants working to get the charges dropped altogether or negotiating a lighter sentence, Jack Petitt truly cares about your future and will provide zealous representation on your behalf. Call (214) 521-4567 today for a confidential free consultation.

Five Reasons Why You Need a Dallas Defense Attorney for Your Misdemeanor Charge

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Don’t let the fact that a misdemeanor is different from a felony fool you, as a misdemeanor does not mean that it is a “minor” crime. As with all crimes, there are punishments for those who are convicted of misdemeanors, and they can be quite serious.  However, a seasoned criminal defense attorney can help to minimize the impact of misdemeanor charges on your life. Here are five reasons why you should seek the assistance of a Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as you are charged with a misdemeanor:

  1. Class A and Class B misdemeanors have long term consequences that can impact more areas of your life than you might imagine. From limitations on your future employment, housing options, and even your immigration status, to interference with your family life in the form of losing custody of your children, these consequences can be harsh and far – reaching. It is no exaggeration to say that a misdemeanor conviction in Texas can mess your life up for quite some time.
  2. Probation is not always a simple and straightforward option for dealing with a misdemeanor charge. A Texas criminal defense attorney can help you to decide whether probation is in fact your best available option. If it is, your Texas defense attorney can help to ensure that the conditions of your probation are fair, so that your chances of successfully completing your probation are good.
  3. You have rights that you may not even be aware of. For example, there are rules and procedures that law enforcement, prosecutors, and other people involved in your situation must follow. If any one of those people fails to follow the rules, they could be violating your rights, which could affect the outcome of your case. A knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney can help you to understand what your rights are, and ensure that they are protected.
  4. Certain types of misdemeanors can be expunged if certain criteria are met. An expunction can limit the circumstances under which you must disclose information about your misdemeanor conviction. An expunction can also, in many cases, restore your right to bear arms. Your Texas criminal defense attorney can help you to understand expunction as it pertains to your particular misdemeanor charge, and can help you pursue expunction if it is available in your case.
  5. A Texas criminal defense attorney can help you to determine what your options are when you are faced with a misdemeanor charge. More importantly, a Texas criminal defense attorney can help you decide which option is best for you based upon your needs and your priorities. Every client facing a misdemeanor charge is unique, and your attorney will work hard to pursue a course of action that is designed with your needs in mind.

Misdemeanor charges in Texas are serious business and can have serious legal consequences if not legally addressed. In order to obtain the best possible outcome in your misdemeanor case, you need superior criminal defense representation from someone who has plenty of experience. Jack Pettit, Attorney at Law, has been providing exceptional lega representation to clients in the Dallas area for over thirty years.

Call Attorney Jack Pettit today at (214) 521-4567, to learn more about how a skilled Texas criminal defense attorney can minimize the impact of a misdemeanor charge on your life.

What Does a Violation of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Mean for You?

Monday, June 17th, 2013

The Alcoholic Beverage Code (ABC) of Texas DUI enforcement is implemented and managed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC).  The TABC also regulates all business involving the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages.  The commission issues and regulates permits and licenses for bars, restaurants, pubs, wholesalers, and distributors.  Violations of the Texas Alcoholic Beverages Code can result in the loss of your license and your livelihood.  In addition to the administrative enforcement actions that the TABC brings before a special adjudicatory body, the commission also can bring criminal charges in Texas criminal courts.  Part of its duties includes investigation into an establishment that has served alcohol to an individual who has then received a DUI violation or has gotten into an accident.  Experienced Texas criminal attorneys can help you understand the unique provisions of the code, navigate the various legal avenues, and preserve your business.

There are many different code violations that can impact a bar or restaurant owner.  These include:

  • Serving or selling alcohol to minors;
  • Serving an intoxicated individual;
  • Failing to report a breach of the peace;
  • Subterfuge;
  • Unlawful marketing practices; and
  • Lying or engaging in illegal actions on the premises.

These violations can result in complete loss of a license to operate the facility, loss of a permit to operate late-night, loss of the right to cart alcoholic beverages, suspension of permits or licenses, or fines.  The procedure for adjudicating violations of the TABC is different than typical court actions as the case is heard before the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) – this is different than criminal actions brought by the TABC.  These hearings follow different procedural rules and an experienced attorney is critical to protecting your rights.  An appeal of an adverse decision must be filed within a very limited period of time.

Possible penalties include:

  • A misdemeanor charge and a $100 to $500 fine for serving alcohol to an intoxicated individual;
  • A license holder can have his permit suspended or revoked; and
  • Criminal charges.

Another liability that a bar, restaurant, or other establishment that serves alcohol faces is the Dram Shop Act.  This Act codifies the situations in which a drinking establishment can be responsible for the actions of one its patrons.  This Act does establish that an establishment only can be responsible in the event of a serious violation of ABC provisions.

There are defenses that an establishment licensed by the TABC can assert to avoid or mitigate liability.  The Trained Server (Safe Harbor) Defense is one of these.  In order to assert this defense, the licensed facility must prove:

  • The establishment must have TABC certification;
  • Employees must have attended and passed TABC training classes; and
  • The bar cannot establish any rules or policies that encourage employees to violate the rules of the TABC.

If the establishment can show these elements, it can move for summary judgment in order to obtain a dismissal of the charges.  This is an incredibly valuable tool for bars and restaurants.  Consulting experienced attorneys before a violation of the Texas ABC has occurred can help create and maintain an environment where the Safe Harbor defense remains an effective mechanism to protect permits, licenses, and livelihoods.

For additional information, or if you are the owner of a drinking establishment facing a charge for a violation of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, it is important to work with an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer to help you enforce your rights.  For more than three decades, 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 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.

Rules to Follow if You are Facing Domestic Violence Charges in Texas

Friday, June 14th, 2013

Being convicted of domestic abuse in Texas can have serious repercussions, including damage to your personal and professional reputations, facing a permanent criminal record, experiencing difficulty finding a job, and, being subjected to potential jail time and harsh monetary fines and penalties.  With this in mind, it is important to speak with a qualified domestic abuse attorney to help you.  Only an attorney who knows the judges, prosecuting attorneys and the applicable court system is in the best position to fight for your rights and potentially have your case lowered (if not dismissed).   During the time that you are trying to find the right attorney, it is important to consider some helpful rules when facing domestic abuse charges.  Following these rules can help avoid further complication and also, potential legal mistakes that can ultimately cost you your freedom.  These are:

  • Rule #1.  Realize that no matter what you say, there is likely nothing you can do to convince the prosecutor that the alleged abuse did not occur.  With this in mind, it is important to consult with an experienced domestic abuse attorney to review your case and advise you of your legal options.
  • Rule #2.   Do not expect your case to be dismissed, even if your accuser has a change of heart.  Due to strict Texas public policy laws against domestic violence, a prosecutor will likely not drop your case even if the alleged victim recants his or her story.  For example, Texas’ “no drop” policy as well as a prosecutor’s need to meet certain case quotas, receiving an outright dismissal of your case is highly unlikely.  It is critical that you speak with an attorney who can review your case and review the scope of defense strategies that effectively address your charges.
  • Rule #3.  Do not talk to your prosecutor without having your attorney present.  Everything you say and do can be used against you when speaking with a prosecutor.  That is why it is important to remain silent and to have your attorney by your side when speaking with anyone who can use information to potentially incriminate you.
  • Rule #4.  Never try to reason with a prosecutor.  This also includes making sure that your loved ones avoid doing so on your behalf.  Unknowingly, things people say, even in your defense, can not only be used against you in court, they may also be recorded.  Only an attorney who knows the criminal system both inside and out can put you (and your witnesses) in the best position to cooperate with the prosecution without incriminating yourself.
  • Rule #5.  Do not represent yourself.  Understandably, legal fees can be expensive. However, a domestic abuse case, without effective representation, can cost you a lot more than just money.  You could face a litany of serious consequences, including extended jail time and the inability to see your children.  Don’t take unnecessary chances.  Even if you have to borrow money from friends or family, it is always a good idea to have a qualified criminal defense attorney to ensure that your rights are protected from day one.

If you are currently facing domestic violence charges in Texas, it is important to work with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer to represent you.  For more than three decades, our office has successfully defended thousands of people located throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area in all types of criminal matters – regardless of how challenging or complex.  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.

Fighting Against Domestic Abuse Charges in Texas

Monday, April 15th, 2013

For over three decades, I have represented thousands of clients in Texas who have faced domestic abuse charges.  As such, I know first-hand that people file these types of charges for several different reasons – whether legitimate or not.  Many times, individuals accuse boyfriends or girlfriends of domestic abuse following a contentious breakup.  Countless other cases involve accusations of domestic abuse when one party is trying to retaliate against the other spouse in a divorce case to or gain an advantage in a custody dispute.  There are also plenty of cases where people are charged with domestic abuse despite the fact that they acted in self-defense or pursuant to other extenuating circumstances.  No matter what the circumstances present, it is important to understand that domestic abuse charges in Texas are serious, which requires highly experienced counsel to handle the complexities associated with these types of case.

Unfortunately, domestic abuse cases not always as “black and white” as they are depicted on television, as they often involve no third party witnesses and little to no evidence.  In other words, these cases are typically based upon statements made by one person and ultimately end up in a he said/she said type situation.  Not to mention that domestic abuse cases are highly charged, leaving it to the trier of fact to sift through the emotions of the parties in order to determine the truth of the matter.

Generally speaking, if a police officer has probable cause to believe that a domestic situation occurred, he or she can arrest you even if you are innocent or the other person had a part to play in starting or escalating the matter.  Otherwise stated, a police officer in Texas does not have to witness the event in order to provide him or her with the authority necessary to place you under arrest.  Regardless of the circumstances, being charged with a domestic abuse offense in Texas can have devastating legal consequences, such as a protective order, community supervision, prison time, monetary fines, anger management counseling and can permanently affect your personal and professional reputation.

Fighting against domestic abuse cases – especially those that often involve a lack of corroborating evidence – takes a significant amount of skill and careful negotiation with the prosecuting attorney.  Whether a person is truly innocent or not, domestic charges are highly complex, requiring an experienced lawyer possible to take the case.  Overall, it is important to have a defense lawyer by your side who can expose the truth of your situation or at least minimize the effects of the charges being brought against you.  If you have been charged with domestic abuse or are being investigated for such an offense, don’t attempt to resolve your case on your own.  You need to contact a skilled Texas domestic abuse defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of these types of cases and who can fight for your fights throughout the entire process.

If you would like to speak to Mr. Pettit about your domestic abuse charges, contact our firm today by calling 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.  We look forward to helping you fight for your freedom, your rights and your reputation.