The number of classic bar fight assaults has plummeted more than 60 percent since the early 1990s. But misdemeanor assault is still one of the most commonly-charged offenses in Parker County.
Driving While Intoxicated is, by far, the most commonly-charged alcohol-related offense in North Texas. But sometimes, all the elements are not present. Or, in a few cases, there is not enough evidence of intoxication to establish probable cause.
The jury system is the foundation of individual rights in criminal cases. This is a right few others enjoy. An estimated 90 percent of the word's jury trials occur in the United States. Rather ironically, that's also roughly the proportion of criminal plea bargains as opposed to trials in the United States.
The heel-to-toe walk test, which is also known as the, is the third field sobriety test in the three-test National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved three test battery. It's a divided attention test which measures both mental acuity and physical dexterity. Scientifically, intoxicated people are basically unable to multitask in this way.
Pretrial release is important for a number of reasons. Obviously, people who are incarcerated cannot work, go to school, or spend time with their families. Furthermore, these individuals cannot participate in their own defenses, at least in any meaningful way. Finally, many Tarrant County jurors presume that if the defendant is in jail, the defendant must have done something wrong. They are not supposed to think that way, but there it is.
Of the three standard field sobriety tests, the One Leg Stand test is perhaps the easiest one to challenge. At best, it is only about 65 percent accurate in determining alcohol intoxication. In most cases, such a low percentage can hardly be considered proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
In Texas, possession of even trace amounts of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor (6 months in jail and $2,000 fine). Possession of a weapon is a Class A misdemeanor (one year and $4,000 fine). IN some cases, a non-working firearm, a pocketknife, and a hammer could all be "weapons" under Texas Penal Code 46.02. These are just two examples of Texas' very stiff possession laws.
The Horizonal Gaze Nystagmus test is unique among the three approved Field Sobriety Tests. The other two FSTs are divided attention tests which measure both mental clarity and physical dexterity. The HGN test, on the other hand, has nothing to do with either of these things.
As far back as the 1960s, law enforcement agencies in Texas used random checkpoints to circumvent the reasonable suspicion rule. Sometimes, these DWI checkpoints consisted of little more than groups of officers who pulled over motorists if they "didn't look right." For that reason, these checkpoints were usually illegal.
Especially in felony cases, community supervision can be quite burdensome. The period of probation may be several years. During this time, there are travel restrictions and reporting requirements. There is also the constant threat of probation revocation.
In the 1971 movie Dirty Harry, antihero Harry Callaghan seizes a hunting rifle from a suspected serial killer's apartment. The San Francisco District Attorney, along with an appeals court judge, inform a clearly agitated Dirty Harry that the evidence is inadmissible in court and that "Scorpio" must go free.
The fines, probation, and other direct consequences of a DWI are bad enough. The collateral consequences, like license suspension and higher insurance rates, can be even worse. There's not much that a lawyer can do about the cost of auto insurance. But there is a lot an attorney can do to protect your license. Aggressive representation at the Administrative License Revocation hearing is part of that process.
Texas law divides criminal offenses into misdemeanors and felonies. Texas law also divides the criminal courts in different ways to handle these different cases. There is not much of a difference between county court and district court, but there is a huge difference between Justice of the Peace court and the other two.
In the seemingly endless "war against drugs," the number of successful prosecutions is basically the only yardstick of success. So, Texas prosecutors are very aggressive in these cases, at both the state and federal level.
Prosecutors are very aggressive when it comes to DWIs. In some jurisdictions, as many as half the probationers were convicted of misdemeanor DWI. Truth be told, many of these cases are difficult to defend.
During the period of probation, these two sentencing alternatives are the same. Both usually mean attending meetings with a probation officer, performing community service, attending drug education or other classes, and paying fines. Both usually have the same set of generic conditions, such as supporting dependents, avoiding bad habits, and staying away from disreputable people.
During their summer conventions, both Republicans and Democrats in the Lone Star State approved platforms which would do just that.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit revived a lawsuit which a Virginia district judge had dismissed due to a technicality. The lawsuit involves the practice of suspending drivers' licenses because of unpaid court fees.
Punishment for a criminal offense does not end once the cell doors open or the period of probation ends. In fact, sometimes the collateral consequences can be just as bad, or even worse, than the direct consequences. Even a minor criminal conviction often makes it hard to get a good job, find a nice place to love, get financial aid for school, or do other things that most people take for granted.
Most people whose licenses are suspended do nothing about the issue. 75 percent of these individuals simply keep driving. The "ignore a problem and hope it goes away" approach hardly ever works and almost always results in very bitter consequences.