Posts Tagged ‘Texas Criminal defense lawyer’

Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Reports: Texas Lawmakers Want to Ban “Affluenza” Defense

Monday, December 15th, 2014

In mid-December of 2013, a Fort Worth Juvenile Court Judge sentenced a 16-year old boy to 10 years probation for intoxication-induced manslaughter. According to testimony and surveillance video, the teen and his friends stole two cases of beer from a store. Later that day, the teen was speeding and slammed into four pedestrians, killing them all. At the time of accident, the teen’s blood alcohol level was found to be three times the legal limit. Two of the seven of passengers who were riding in the bed of the teen’s pickup were also seriously injured. One suffered a brain injury and today, cannot move or talk.

At the sentencing hearing, attorneys for the teen presented what is being referred to as the “affluenza” defense. The court heard testimony from a psychologist, serving as an expert witness for the teen, that the teen suffered from “affluenza” by being reared in a very wealthy household with two parents who were engrossed with arguments, which led to their eventual divorce. The psychologist described the teen’s father as not having relationships and his mother as being oerly indulgent. The two never set limits for their son. According to the attorneys for the teen, the Judge specifically stated that she did not base her sentencing decision on the “affluenza” defense. While that may be true, the victims’ families and the prosecutors were disappointed with the Judge’s sentence.

Prosecutors had asked the Judge to sentence the teen to twenty years behind bars. With the Judge’s current ruling the teen will not serve any time in jail. Rather he will attend a treatment facility, the cost of which will exceed $450,000 per year. The teen’s parents were ordered to pay for the cost of the treatment. It is uncertain how long the teen will have to stay at the treatment center. Some of the victims’ families expressed that they thought the teen’s family’s wealth helped him get out of serving jail time.

The victims’ families and the prosecutors are not the only people unhappy with the outcome of this case. Now, several Texas lawmakers want to ban the so called “affluenza” defense. In November, James White, a Southeast Texas state representative, presented a bill that would essentially prohibit an individual from discussing his or her “affluent circumstances” during sentencing. White proposed the bill because he thinks the affluenza defense has added to people’s lack of trust in the justice system. White points to the inherent unfairness in a judge or jury being able to take into consideration an individual’s affluent circumstances as the basis for committing a crime—a defense that would not be available to the less fortunate.

Critics of the defense also include an attorney who represented several defendants in civil cases against the teen. She opined that teen’s attorneys were creative with a made-up defense. She went on to say that the defense has no scientific backing and should not have been allowed to be presented at the sentence hearing.

Since White filed his bill, two other legislators have submitted their own similar bills. What will happen to the bills as of now remains unseen. The new session of the legislature begins in January 2015.

If you have been arrested and charged with drunk driving, the first thing you need to do is to make an appointment to meet with an experienced Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer. A skilled DWI Defense Attorney will explain your rights and review your legal options with you. Attorney Jack Pettit, has represented countless persons charged with DWI. As a former prosecutor, Jack Pettit knows what it takes to fight a charge of DWI and win. Call the Law Offices of Jack Pettit today at (214) 521-4567 to schedule a free and completely confidential consultation. Our office provides services to clients in both English and Spanish. Major credit cards are accepted as well.

Expunging Your Record Under Texas Law

Monday, May 13th, 2013

A record of an arrest, charge, or conviction can have a significant impact on your ability to attend school, obtain professional licenses, perform a successful job search, and maximize your employment advancement potential.  Under Article 55.01 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, an individual may obtain an expunction of his or her criminal record of an arrest or conviction under certain circumstances.  This can vastly improve your opportunities and future success.

What matters qualify for expunction?

  1. A person’s record of an arrest, charge, or conviction may be eligible for expunction if that person was acquitted of a misdemeanor or felony.  If the charge was for a felony, or a separate felony charge arose out of the same incident, then a period of three years needs to elapse between the date of the arrest and the filing of the petition for expunction.  Only certain felonies are eligible for expunction.
  2. A record may be expunged if the individual was convicted and subsequently pardoned.
  3. A record may be expunged if the arrest and charge never resulted in an actual conviction, the charge is no longer pending, and the statute of limitations has passed.  There are specific provisions with respect to whether the charge was a misdemeanor or felony that dictate eligibility for expunction.
  4. A record may be expunged if the individual completed an approved intervention program or the charge was dismissed because of the lack of probable cause, false information, or a void original indictment.
  5. A record may be expunged if the person is charged, convicted, and that conviction is subsequently overturned by the court of criminal appeals.
  6. A minor’s alcohol-related arrest or conviction may be expunged after the individual turns twenty-one.

There are limitations, including if there was a separate charge that resulted in a conviction that arose out of the same series of events making up one defined criminal episode. Bringing all the information related to the record in question will enable the criminal defense attorney to provide informed advice.

If a matter does qualify for expunction, what is the procedure to obtain the result?

In order to expunge a record, a petition seeking that relief must be filed with the district clerk for the judicial district in which the offense occurred.  There will a filing fee that has to be submitted with the petition.  All law enforcement agencies and departments that have information about the arrest and charge must be included in the petition.  A copy of the petition must be served on the relevant District Attorney’s office.  Frequently, as long as all of the criteria are met, the expunction can be accomplished with an agreed order.

For additional information, or if you were charged with a crime in Texas that you believe is eligible for expunction, it is important to work with an experienced Dallas criminal defense lawyer to help you enforce 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 214-521-4567.  We accept most major credit cards and provide bilingual services in Spanish.