Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Reminds Parents to Keep Children Safely Supervised this Summer

June 19th, 2017

The school year is over, and parents will be spending much more time with their kids than they do during the school year. When you are enjoying this summer with your kids, remember two key words – safety and supervision. When parents do not keep their children safe by providing adequate supervision, there is a risk that the children could be harmed, or even worse, killed.

A Texas mother faces child endangerment charges in connection with the deaths of her two young children. According to reports from officials, the woman initially claimed that the girls might have gotten sick after smelling and perhaps eating wildflowers at a local park. Upon further investigation, authorities found that the children had been left in a vehicle for fifteen hours with no water or food, in temperatures that could have been upwards of ninety degrees during some of that time.

Someone allegedly heard the girls, who were one and two years old, crying and asked whether they wanted to go inside. The children’s mother allegedly assured the person that the girls would cry themselves to sleep. A friend of the children’s mother may also have spent some time with them out in the car. The mother of the two little girls took them out of the vehicle around noon the next day and gave them baths before taking them to the hospital. The children may have been unresponsive but alive when they arrived at the hospital, but both girls later died in the hospital. The Bexar County Medical Examiner is investigating the deaths and report that no final determination of the manner and cause of death will be available for up to twelve weeks.

Children, especially very young children, require adult supervision to stay safe. Each child has supervision needs that grow and change as they become older and more mature. Some areas in which parents may have difficulty understanding or make inappropriate choices regarding their children’s supervision needs include leaving children alone in a car and leaving them at home alone. There is no “legal age” when it comes to staying home alone, but there are many factors to consider including the child or children’s ages, emotional maturity, nd overall capability as well as the location and design of the home. The number of children, the amount of time that they are alone, and the ability of the child to contact a responsible and available adult are also important things to consider.

Under Texas law, it is a crime to leave a child who is under seven years old in a vehicle for longer than five minutes if someone who is fourteen years of age or older is not in the vehicle with them. It is not recommended that anyone leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time because it is just too dangerous, especially in hot weather, and it can only take a few minutes for a child to develop heat stroke or heat exhaustion which could result in death or permanent disability.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Experienced Assistance for Texas Defendants

If you get charged with a crime in Texas, call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499 or connect with us through our online contact form.

Texas Family Law Attorney Says Parents Are Disappointed at Failure of Equal Custody Bill

June 15th, 2017

During the last legislative session, a bill that would have made 50/50 custody agreements automatic in most divorce cases failed. Disappointed parents rallied to express their disappointment in the failure of a bill that they feel would have protected the health and well-being of the children of divorced and divorcing parents.

House Bill 453 was authored by State Representative James White (R-Woodville), wrote the bill, which would have meant a departure from the traditional divorce custody model where the mother would be given full custody of the couple’s children to a model that would automatically give divorcing parents 50/50 custody. Many divorced parents whose children spend less than half of their time with them lament their current custody arrangements and feel that the lack of adequate time spent with their children negatively affects their children’s relationship with them. The bill was similar to proposals that are under consideration in at least four other states, and it is worth noting that in nearly twenty other states, shared custody is required or at the very least expected in the absence of a compelling reason for a different arrangement.

The parents at the rally felt that the value system that underlies the primary-custody-to-mother custody model has changed, which means that the courts should change their custody model to acknowledge the shift away from father-as-breadwinner/mother-as-homemaker families towards the more typical dual career family. In addition to and perhaps even more important than keeping with changing times, shared parenting is beneficial for both children and parents. It preserves the psychological role of each parent as equal to the other, which creates less distress for the children during and after the transition into two households. Parents who get equal parenting time are also less likely to have conflict. This is not to say that there’s a complete absence of conflict, only that the overall level of tension and conflict gets drastically reduced which benefits everyone. Shared parenting also allows for economic equality, and in situations where child support goes from one parent to the other, there is much less discussion of it or resentment of it when parents get to spend equal time with their kids.

There are some situations in which 50/50 parenting is not a beneficial situation for parents or children. Some examples include high levels of persistent and unresolved conflict, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Conditions that would make shared parenting physically or emotionally unsafe are not the only circumstances which would make 50/50 custody less than desirable. The careers and desired location of the parents can also be a reason for parents to choose a custody arrangement that does not provide for equal parenting time. The children’s’ ages and emotional needs are also essential considerations in any discussion and determination regarding custody.

In light of the failure of the bill that would mandate 50/50 custody in most divorces, it is critical that parents remember that they are free to design a custody arrangement that will work well for themselves and their children instead of having the court decide who gets how much parenting time. If you have custody questions related to your Texas divorce, call  (903) 753-7499 today to schedule an initial consultation with Texas Family Law Attorney Alex Tyra. Alternatively, you can visit us online anytime to submit an online contact form.

Texas Family Law Attorney Talks about the Problem of Child Marriages

May 13th, 2017

Did you know that Texas has the second highest child marriage rate in the country? Between 2000 and 2014, four thousand Texans got married before their eighteenth birthdays. In 2014 in Texas, 6.9 out of every 1000 people who were between the ages of 15 and 17 got married. Presently, approximately two thousand Texas youth get married every year. Under current law, individuals who are sixteen or seventeen years of age can legally marry if they have permission from one of their parents, and people who are under sixteen can also marry if a court gives them permission to do so. Fortunately, this could change soon if lawmakers decide to increase the minimum age for marriage to eighteen years of age by passing Senate Bill 1705.

When very young people marry, in Texas and elsewhere, it isn’t always about love. Some parents force their children to marry early, often to older spouses, so that the children will be “taken care of.” Unfortunately, far too many of these unions become abusive, and the younger spouse often feels completely powerless to stand up against the older spouse upon whom they may have become financially dependent.

Former child brides provided compelling testimony in support of raising the minimum age for marriage. One woman was only fourteen years old when she married someone who was twenty-six. She became a mother shortly after that. As she looks back on how her life unfolded, she realizes that she was not at all prepared, either physically or psychologically, for either of those major life changes, let alone both of them so close together. Her marriage lasted four years, and during that time the woman felt powerless because of her age, and she got abused emotionally, physically, verbally, and psychologically. During her marriage, she asked her mother if she could go back home, and she was told “no.” She had been permitted to enter a marriage that she was not legally old enough to make a decision to end. Fortunately, she did divorce her husband when she was able to do so – other child brides remain trapped in abusive marriages because of poverty or the effects of abuse on their psychological well-being that make them feel as though they are unable to leave their marriages.

If the age for marriage gets raised to eighteen, couples who want to marry can get emancipated and then they can marry, or they can wait until they are of age. The protective effects on Texas youth that could result from raising the minimum age for marriage far outweigh the effects of any additional efforts, such as waiting until age eighteen or getting emancipated before then, that couples who were determined to marry would endure on their way to the altar. Since minors would have to get emancipated before they could marry, they would be legally able to divorce if they ever needed to.

In Texas, marriage and divorce laws do occasionally change. If you have any questions about your Texas divorce, a family law attorney can help you find the answers that you need. Call our office at (903) 753-7499 today, to arrange a consultation with Texas Family Law Attorney Alex Tyra. You can also visit us online to complete a convenient online contact form.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Reports Expansion of Record Sealing Legislation Possible

May 5th, 2017

The Texas Senate recently approved legislation that would allow individuals who are convicted of single-offense, nonviolent misdemeanors to have a “second chance” by asking a court to seal their criminal records. The bill, House Bill 3016, returned to the House so that the House may consider some changes proposed by the Senate.

If House Bill 3016 passes, it applies retroactively, to any person who ever got convicted of any single-offense nonviolent misdemeanor. Sealed records are just that, records that are hidden from public view. When a person’s record gets sealed, doors are open to them that would have remained closed while their offense was publicly visible on their criminal record. Sealed records are visible to police, and to others who are involved in sensitive industries like education and banking. This legislation is important for Texans because criminal convictions hold people back in many areas of their lives, limiting employment opportunities, housing options, and more. If the legislation passes, it will clear the way for many people who made one-off mistakes to move forward in areas of their lives where the consequences of those mistakes have been holding them back.

The “second-chance” provisions of House Bill 3016 apply to class C misdemeanors, and to DWI convictions where the driver’s blood alcohol level was under 0.15. If the bill becomes law, qualifying DWI defendants could ask a court for an order of nondisclosure after only six months of compliant usage of an ignition interlock device. Alternatively, an order of nondisclosure would be available to qualifying defendants after five years has passed since the time that they completed whatever sentence they got for their DWI. The opportunity for record sealing is not available to defendants that get convicted of crimes that the judge has determined to be sexual or violent in nature, even if it is their first offense. House Bill 3016 is not unique in its purpose. It is designed to build on to legislation that got passed in 2015, which applies to Class A and Class B misdemeanors that are nonsexual in nature and which do not involve family violence.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Standing Up for the Rights of Texans Accused of Driving While Intoxicated

If House Bill 3016 passes, it could help you recover from the adverse effects that your DWI conviction has had on your life. If you face DWI charges in Texas, the best thing that you can do is get help from a Texas DWI defense attorney. Your attorney can help you find the answers to the questions that you have about how to proceed with your case, how to minimize the impact of your DWI case on your life, and help you find any other information that you seek.  Arrange for a consultation with Texas DWI Defense Attorney Alex Tyra today, by calling or office at (903) 753-7499. Alternatively, you can set up an initial consultation by submitting an online contact form through our website.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Says Cattle Rustling Isn’t Just a Historical Crime

May 1st, 2017

Recently, a man got charged with a crime that many people think exists only in legends from days gone by. The man is charged with cattle rustling, stealing cattle. Since the animals that the man got charged with stealing belonged to his very elderly stepfather, it is possible that if the man is convicted, he will receive an enhanced penalty because his stepfather is ninety-seven years old. If the victim of a crime is sixty-five years old or older, any offense against them is a crime against the elderly and eligible for an enhanced penalty.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is the agency that has authority to investigate cattle rustling cases. When the Special Ranger who was assigned to investigate the case looked into whast had happened, he found that the man took some of his stepfather’s cattle to be auctioned at a cattle market. He sold some of the cattle on behalf of his stepfather but he sold other cattle under his own name and profited more than seven thousand dollars from those sales.

The case above is not a unique occurrence. Special Rangers who work for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association investigated over seven hundred agriculture-related cases last year, many of which involved the unauthorized sale of livestock. The incidence of livestock theft follows the price of meat – when the price of beef is up, more cattle get stolen. When prices fall, there is less incentive to steal cattle, so fewer people do it. Fortunately, unlike the people who were responsible for tracking down cattle rustlers in years past, the Special Rangers have modern tools and technologies to assist them in their quest to catch cattle crooks. Digital databases track every head of cattle sold in Texas. The ear tags that have been used to mark cattle for years have been updated to include tracking devices that are so sophisticated that they are capable of sending notifications to their owners’ smartphones or email addresses. DNA evidence helps prove whether cattle are stolen or not by providing information about their genealogy. Stealing cattle involves a high risk of getting caught, but, unfortunately, that does not deter all would-be cattle thieves. The Rangers report that the people who commit the crime of cattle rustling are often individuals who work on farms and ranches because handling cattle and getting them to market involves both access to cattle and skilled knowledge. Modern cattle thieves don’t operate in a standard manner, sometimes it is just a few head of cattle that get stolen, at other times, massive thefts occur.

The penalties for cattle theft vary, depending upon the amount of head of cattle that get stolen. For example, if fewer than ten head of cattle is involved, the person or people who took the cattle may be charged with a third-degree felony which carried a penalty of up to ten years in jail. If the victim or victims of the crime were over sixty-five years old, additional penalties might get imposed.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Strong Representation for Texas Defendants

If you get charged with any crime, it is essential that you talk with a Texas criminal defense attorney about what to do. The choices that you make now affect how your criminal case affects your life. If you’ve got a Texas criminal law question, call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499, or connect with us through the online contact form on our website.

Texas Family Law Attorney Says Women in India are Asking for Greater Court Oversight of Divorces

April 30th, 2017

The rules of divorce are not uniform throughout the world. In many countries like the United States, divorce is a legal process that must be done through the court system to be valid. In some places, though, divorce does not always have to pass through the court system. For example, in India, a man may declare a divorce from his wife, irrevocable and effective immediately, simply by saying or writing the word “talaq” three times.

The idea of an instant and irrevocable divorce may seem strange enough because no such provision exists here in the United States, but the rules for divorce in India are even more unlike American divorce rules in that they do not apply equally to men and women. A wife may not declare “talaq” against her husband. If a woman in India would like to divorce her husband, she must consult with a cleric first, and there is a formal process that she must follow if she would like to receive financial support from him.

Women in India are becoming increasingly frustrated with the problems that come from having unequal divorce rules for men and women. One out of every eleven Indian women who have married has had one or more marriages that ended with “talaq” divorce. When women are divorced by “talaq,” it is tough for them to get financial support from their former husbands, so the divorced women and their children are at a high risk for poverty. It is evident from the accounts of many Indian women that “talaq” divorce creates a permissive environment for physical and emotional abuse. Many women remain in physically and emotionally abusive relationships because they have no way of supporting themselves and their children economically and they fear that if they stand up to their husbands and ask them to stop the abuse, then their husbands will get angry and divorce them by “talaq.” Some of the women who have experienced “talaq” divorce have petitioned the Supreme Court of India, seeking a ban on instant divorce. Lest we think that such a ban is unlikely, it is important to remember that some nations like Pakistan, Egypt, and Tunisia that once allowed “talaq” divorces have banned the practice and have given responsibility for overseeing divorces to their judicial systems.

Opposition to a ban on “talaq” divorce comes from some members of the Muslim community who feel that it is an integral practice within the religion of Islam. However, not all Muslims agree. Some Muslims say that the provisions for divorce that are in the Quran not only apply equally to men and women, they also require a couple to think things through and try to reconcile before they may divorce. The Supreme Court of India will examine the issue and determine whether a ban on “talaq” divorce would be constitutional.

In Texas, the laws of the State of Texas govern all divorce proceedings. If you have questions about your Texas divorce, a family law attorney can help you find the answers that you need. Call  (903) 753-7499 today to schedule a consultation with Texas Family Law Attorney Alex Tyra. You may also visit us online and submit a convenient online contact form.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Says State Testing New DWI Blood Test Warrant System

April 30th, 2017

If you have experienced a DWI traffic stop in Texas before, you may have a different experience the next time that you get pulled over. The state of Texas is currently testing a new system that could make it quicker for law enforcement officers to obtain blood draw warrants. The testing is taking place in Leander and Liberty Hill. The technology lets officers in the field send DWI blood search warrants directly to a judge, which reduces the amount of time that passes between the traffic stop and the blood draw.

With the traffic stop procedures that are in place right now, a DWI stop in some locations can take between four and six hours from start to finish. The current method also involves locating a judge and meeting with them in person to obtain their signature on the search warrant. Depending upon where the traffic stop occurs, it may also involve placing the suspect in jail for some time, as well as transporting them to a hospital for a blood alcohol test.

If the testing goes well and the state decides to adopt the new system, officers will be able to get more accurate blood alcohol test results because the sample will get taken closer to the time of driving. DWI suspects will benefit because they will be detained for far less time unless, of course, their test results reveal a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit.

Some DWI defense attorneys are concerned that the new system may not give defendants enough protection. For example, electronic documents do not enable a judge to look at the warrant with the officer right there next to them and available to answer questions that the judge may have. There is also the possibility that judges may be quick to approve electronic warrants and not give them a thorough read-through before indicating their approval.

Whether the new blood test warrant technology gets implemented or not, the strategies for getting through a traffic stop with the least amount of damage remain the same. Be as calm and respectful as you can. Say as little as possible while complying with the officer’s reasonable requests for information like your registration, license, and proof of car insurance. Remember that it is possible to be polite and respectful while declining to answer questions regarding where you were and what you did – you can just say that you want to talk to a lawyer. Also, be aware that the officer is looking for any and all evidence that they can use to support the conclusion that they had already arrived at when they decided to pull you over – the conclusion that you are driving under the influence of alcohol. Actions can speak louder than words, so in addition to saying as little as you can, move as little as you can. In other words, do not get out of the car to perform field sobriety tests because even sober people can wobble or falter, especially when they are under pressure.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Protecting the Rights of DWI Defendants

If you are facing Texas DWI charges and you have questions, a Texas DWI Defense Attorney can help you find the information that you’re seeking.  Call Texas DWI Defense Attorney Alex Tyra today at (903) 753-7499 to schedule a consultation or submit an online contact form through our website.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Says Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancements Depend on Intent

April 15th, 2017

In 2001, Texas enacted the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act in honor of a black man who was killed by white supremacists in 1998. This law lets prosecutors pursue sentencing enhancement when they prosecute cases that allege that the perpetrator of a crime committed that crime intentionally and out of a bias towards the victim’s perceived gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, disability, or religion. The law is intended to discourage hate crimes, but some say that the passage of the law has not resulted in many hate crime convictions despite the fact that many cases get reported as possible hate crimes.

Between 2010 and 2015, nine hundred and eighty-one cases were reported to police throughout the state of Texas as potential hate crimes. Only eight of those cases were successfully prosecuted as hate crimes. There are a few possible explanations for why the number of hate crime prosecutions is so low in comparison to the number of incidents that get reported as possible hate crimes. There are cases in which a crime is alleged, but there is insufficient evidence for any conviction, let alone an enhanced sentence based on the perpetrator’s intent. There are also cases in which the underlying crime is successfully prosecuted, but the sentencing enhancement is not successful because of a lack of evidence regarding the perpetrator’s intent. Sometimes, an incident gets reported as a possible hate crime and prosecutors choose not to allege a hate crime and thereby forego pursuing the sentencing enhancement. Sometimes, the problem is that an incident gets reported, such as vandalism, and no suspect is ever apprehended.

All of the reasons why many more possible hate crimes get reported than are successfully prosecuted reveals that the hate crime legislation may not be accomplishing its intended purpose of deterring hate crimes. The process for pursuing sentencing enhancement for possible hate crimes is simple and straightforward. When police officers file a crime report, they can check a box to indicate whether it is possible that the crime was motivated by bias. When the case gets referred to prosecutors, the prosecutors must first decide if a crime occurred. If a crime did occur, the prosecutors must then determine whether to attach a hate crime enhancement.

Unfortunately, the simplicity of the process for pursuing sentencing enhancement does not make obtaining sentencing enhancement any easier. Motivation is very tough to prove. Most crimes require only proof that the defendant was acting knowingly, recklessly, intentionally, or in a criminally negligent manner. Proving that the crime was motivated by hate requires evidence of motivation, which can be difficult to obtain. In the cases where hate crimes have been prosecuted successfully, circumstantial evidence often provides the necessary support for a conclusion that the crime was motivated by hate.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Defending the Accused in Texas

If you are charged with a crime, a Texas criminal defense attorney can help you know what your options are and decide what to do next. If you got arrested in Texas and you have a criminal law question, call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499. You can also connect with us through our convenient online contact form.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Talks About No Refusal Periods

March 28th, 2017

If you think that “no refusal” periods are limited to holiday weekends, it’s time that you take another look at Texas DWI policy, including the provisions for “no refusal” periods. Some areas have lengthy “no refusal” periods in March, not because St. Patrick’s Day celebrations last for weeks, but because other events like Spring Break and the South by Southwest music festival bring people from all kinds of places to Texas to have a good time. It is true that many “no refusal” periods cover holiday weekends like the Super Bowl and the Fourth of July, but there are some longer periods as well, such as the current one that lasts for a significant part of the month of March, that motorists should know about.

While the length of specific “no refusal” periods varies from place to place, the timing of patrols is often predictable. In many locations, patrols operate between the hours of nine in the evening and five in the morning. If a driver gets pulled over and asked to submit to roadside blood or breath testing at any time during a “no refusal” period, the officer who pulled them over may apply for a blood search warrant if they do not voluntarily participate in roadside testing.

Law enforcement officials say that they would rather see people plan ahead and arrange for safe transportation than arrest many drivers whom they suspect of driving while intoxicated. There are often multiple options for safe transportation available, including some transportation options that may be available specifically for attendees of individual events, like Spring Break or music festival shuttle services. Ride sharing services are also popular right now, and there may be many options to choose from in your local area. Whenever you and your friends make plans to go to an event, why not spend a little extra time making sure that you know how you will get around before, during, and after the event. Taking the time to arrange safe transportation for yourself and your friends can go a long way towards avoiding DWI charges and, even more importantly, reduce the risk of harm to yourself and others.

Whether you are visiting Texas or you are an experienced Texas driver who does not know the penalties for a Texas DWI, please know that a first offense DWI can carry a fine of up to two thousand dollars. It can also get you a sentence of three to one hundred and eighty days in jail in addition to license suspension. If you get convicted of a second DWI offense, you could be fined up to two thousand dollars and spend between one month and one year in jail in addition to license suspension. The penalties continue to increase for each subsequent offense, and of aggravating factors like a crash or a child passenger are present, additional penalties may be imposed.

Texas DWI Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Helping Drivers Who Have Been Charged With DWI

If you are currently facing DWI charges in Texas, you may have a few questions on your mind. Call experienced Texas DWI Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499, or fill out our online contact form to learn more about how we might be able to help you.

Texas Family Law Attorney Talks about Pets and Your Divorce

March 16th, 2017

Most couples and families regard their pets as members of the family. We take them with us on adventures, we curl up with them on the couch, we play with them, and we love them in so many ways. In return, they love us faithfully and bring so much joy into our lives. When a couple who has pets divorces, they will need to decide how they will handle the care and company of their pets.

A recent change to the divorce laws in Alaska requires courts to consider the “well-being of the animal” in divorce cases where custody of a pet is contested. The change went into effect this past January, and it makes Alaska the first state to require that courts address the needs of an animal when they make decisions about how they will assign ownership of that animal in a divorce case. The law permits courts to assign ownership of an animal to one party or the other or to order joint custody in situations where the well-being of the animal would be served best by that arrangement.

Most states, including Texas, treat animals as personal property. When a couple divorces, the issue of who will get to keep which animals gets addressed in the property settlement portion of the divorce proceedings. Even though animals are considered property under the law, divorcing couples who have pets are free to make agreements about how they want to handle issues associated with pet care and ownership.

If you have pets and you are divorcing, you might already be aware that your pets will experience your divorce on both a physical level and an emotional level. You and your pet may both already be experiencing feelings associated with the change in the amount of time that you spend together if that has already changed for you. These feelings, along with the fact that pets who spend time with each of their “people” adjust more easily to their new lifestyle, are good reasons to do your best to work things out with your spouse as far as agreeing to a schedule for pet care and making an agreement about pet-related expenses. Any agreement that the two of you create on your own will serve your needs and the needs of your pets much better than a judge-designed court order can because the court will simply consider the pets as property and distribute them as part of your property agreement.

If you have pets and you are getting divorced, be sure to take the time to talk about your pets with your spouse. Pets can be treated more like family members and less like property when a divorcing couple makes an agreement regarding their care and custody instead of leaving the matter of their disposition to a judge. If you have questions about how to address the needs of your pets in your Texas divorce, please contact Texas Family Law Attorney Alex Tyra at (903) 753-7499 to schedule a consultation. Alternatively, you may visit us online and submit a convenient online contact form.