Archive for October, 2013

Sex, Drugs, and the Entrapment Defense in Texas

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

The defense of entrapment is something that many people have heard about, yet few people fully understand. Typically, people think about entrapment when someone is arrested for committing a drug or sex crime, especially during law enforcement “sting” operations.  Some people mistakenly believe that any time a police officer or other government official “sets up” a situation in which a person commits a crime, (such as soliciting a prostitute or selling drugs), there automatically is a case of entrapment. This is simply not true, and, unfortunately, this mistaken belief may provide some criminal defendants with the false hope of getting their charges reduced or dismissed.

In reality, true cases of entrapment are actually quite rare.  Law enforcement officials are well aware that if they cross the line between merely providing an individual with an opportunity to engage in criminal activity and convincing an individual to commit a crime through the use of persuasion, then their case will not succeed. Texas uses an objective standard to determine whether entrapment has occurred in any particular case.  In applying the objective standard, the courts look at the actions of the police officers and any individuals that were working under the officers’ direction in carrying out the scenario that led to the purported entrapment. If the court determines that the actions of the officers and/or the individuals assisting them were calculated to induce, seduce, coerce, or otherwise cause someone to commit a crime, then a defense of entrapment may be successful.

Examples of inappropriate action by law enforcement include sexual favors, excessive financial incentives, and repeated requests combined with emotionally charged stories. Perhaps the best way to explain entrapment is to distinguish situations where entrapment actually occurs from situations in which a person is merely afforded an opportunity to commit a crime and freely chooses to do so. For example, if an undercover police officer asks a person multiple times over the course of a few weeks if he can buy drugs from them, and eventually asserts that he wants to buy the drugs so that he can give them to his mother, who has only days to live and is in extreme pain, than an entrapment defense may succeed because of the officer’s over-the-top behavior. On the other hand, if an undercover police officer dresses like a prostitute and stands near the street, and a someone drives over to where she is standing and asks her how much money it would cost for him to have sex with her, that individual will probably not be successful in asserting an entrapment defense because the undercover officer merely provided an opportunity for the crime of soliciting prostitution to occur.

If you have been charged with a drug crime or a sex crime and you feel as though you were coerced, bullied, badgered, or otherwise strong-armed into committing an unlawful act, you may be able to use the defense of entrapment. A knowledgeable Longview criminal defense attorney like Alex Tyra can help you to determine whether the defense of entrapment is available to your particular case. Call our Longview office for a free consultation, at (903) 753-7499, or submit a case contact form via our law firm website.

What is a No Refusal Weekend in Texas?

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

If you plan on attending a Halloween party in Texas later this month, there is something that you definitely should know.  Holiday weekends, including the weekend of Halloween, are considered to be “No Refusal” weekends in many cities and counties throughout Texas.  During a No Refusal weekend, individuals who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol will be told by police that they must submit to roadside breath or blood alcohol testing. Any driver who refuses to submit to roadside breath or blood alcohol testing during a No Refusal weekend will automatically be arrested, and a blood sample will be obtained from them while they are in police custody.

The procedure for obtaining blood samples from drivers who refuse roadside testing during No Refusal weekends may vary slightly from location to location.  In most places, the procedure begins when a driver suspected of DWI refuses to submit to roadside breath or blood testing. The police take the driver into custody and transport them to a location that has been designated as the central processing facility for all DWI suspects. The facility may be a jail, but in some places, a mobile blood draw van or a hospital is used instead. While the driver is in custody, the officer applies for a blood draw warrant from a night judge. If the warrant is issued, a nurse or other medical professional obtains the blood sample from the suspect.

When the No Refusal rule is not in effect, Texas drivers who are suspected of DWI may refuse to submit to roadside breath or blood testing, with the only consequence being license suspension.  According to state-wide statistics, the rate of refusal is about 50%, with repeat DWI offenders refusing breath testing about 70% of the time. The threat of arrest and involuntary blood alcohol testing during No Refusal weekends drastically lowers the refusal rate to about 25%.

The important thing to remember about No Refusal weekends is that traffic stops during those weekends are no different than traffic stops at any other time. If a police officer has pulled you over to investigate the possibility that you are driving under the influence of alcohol, the officer has already made up his or her mind that you are impaired.  Do your best to remain calm, and treat the officer with respect as you politely say as little as possible except to identify yourself and provide proof of insurance.  The less information you provide to the officer, the less information the officer has to put in the application for a blood draw warrant, and the less likely it is that the warrant will be issued.

Even if you are calm and respectful during the traffic stop, and you do not provide the police officer with much information, the officer may still obtain a blood draw warrant and take you into custody. If you are taken into custody, continue to remain silent and ask to speak with an attorney. A knowledgeable Texas DWI defense attorney can scrutinize the blood draw warrant, the handling of the blood sample, the accuracy of the blood test results and the integrity of the procedure for taking and handling the blood sample, among other things.

If you are charged with DWI during a No Refusal weekend or at any other time, it is important that you get help from an experienced Longview DWI attorney.  Attorney Alex Tyra has been providing top quality legal defense services to East Texas clients since 1998. For a free consultation, call our Longview office at (903) 753-7499 or submit a case contact form via our law firm website.

Addressing Your Children’s Needs During Your Texas Divorce

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Going through a divorce is difficult for anyone, but for parents with a divorce case underway, it is even tougher.  Specifically, parents have to attend to their own feelings about the divorce as well as the feelings of their children.  In fact, not only do they have to figure out how they will manage the day-to-day details of their own lives, they also need to do so for their children as well.

If you are a parent and you are involved in divorce proceedings, you may have questions about how to handle some of the emotional and practical effects that your divorce will have on your children. Throughout the course of your divorce, two questions are likely to remain at the forefront of your mind – what do your children need from you, and how you can ensure that they get it?  The good news is that if you have already asked yourself these questions, you are probably providing your children with all of the support that they need during this very challenging time. Notwithstanding, there still are some specific things, described more fully below, that you can do to reduce the impact that your divorce will have on your children.

The most important need that all children have during a divorce is to feel loved and accepted by each of their parents, and to feel as if they are just as valued and important as they were before the divorce.  Keeping intense discussions, arguments, and other negative interactions out of the earshot of your children can prevent unnecessary feelings of guilt, or of having to choose a side. Children should not have to take on any parental roles or duties, or make any decisions, such as the decision about which parent they will live with.

Another very important thing that you and your soon-to-be-former spouse can do for your children during your divorce is to keep your daily and weekly routines as close as possible to the way that they were during your marriage. From a child’s perspective, routines and familiarity create a feeling of safety and security at a time when they need it the most. Temporary orders from the court can help you to preserve your family’s routines and schedule during your divorce.

When you are involved in a divorce, strong emotions may make it difficult for you to “keep it together” and to effectively move forward.  However, your children need you to be brave and strong, and to keep on conducting business as usual. In order for you to do so, you must take care of your own emotional needs. Talking with friends and family, going to therapy, exercising, writing in a journal, or spending time outdoors can all help you to work through the tangled web of emotions that you are currently feeling. Taking care of your emotional needs will help you to be able to be calm, present, and seemingly unruffled when your children are in your care.  It will also help you to work through the practical details of your divorce so that you can make important decisions with a clear mind and vision for your future.

If you are going through a divorce, let an experienced Longview divorce attorney take care of all of the details so that you can focus on taking care of yourself and your family. Schedule a free consultation with East Texas divorce attorney Alex Tyra today. Call our Longview office at (903) 753-7499, or submit an online contact form through our law firm website.