Archive for November, 2013

Do Field Sobriety Tests Often do More Harm Than Good?

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

If a police officer has ever asked you to perform a field sobriety test, you probably felt like you had no choice but to get out of the car and do your best to walk in a perfectly straight line, or to point to your nose in just the right way. What many people do not know about field sobriety tests is that you do have a choice about whether or not you participate in them. Also, many people are unaware of all of the potential implications of engaging in field sobriety testing.

It is important that you become familiar with field sobriety testing, because you never know when your next traffic stop might be. Even if you do not consume alcohol, you should educate yourself about this issue because sober drivers are sometimes asked to perform field sobriety tests.  In fact, one of the most disturbing things about field sobriety testing is that some sober drivers fail the tests and are subsequently charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, while some drivers who are intoxicated pass the tests and get back behind the wheel.

Field sobriety tests are increasingly becoming regarded as inaccurate assessments of intoxication. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has not issued any standards for administering or scoring field sobriety tests. This leaves the decision about whether an individual passes or fails each test up to the subjective judgment of the law enforcement officer administering it. Studies have shown that police officers judge a driver’s level of intoxication incorrectly during one third of all field sobriety tests that they administer. This means that every time you choose to do a field sobriety test, there is a one in three chance that you will either be wrongly accused of driving under the influence or that you will be permitted to continue driving while intoxicated, depending upon your actual condition.

Not only are field sobriety tests inaccurate, they are also damaging. Whenever an officer asks you to step outside of your vehicle for a field sobriety test, they have already decided that they think that you have been drinking. Every single movement that you make once you decide to exit your vehicle becomes evidence that the law enforcement officer can use to build his or her case in support of a DWI conviction.

Engaging in a field sobriety test will not, contrary to popular belief, get you back on the road faster by “proving” that you are sober. Sober drivers often make the mistake of choosing to participate in field sobriety tests because they think that the officer will certainly be able to see that they are not intoxicated. Unfortunately, many people are not aware that they can easily fail a field sobriety test when they are completely sober. If you are nervous or tired, you could be a little shaky on your feet. The same goes for if you are wearing high heels, or if the road surface is wet, uneven, or slippery. Some tests require a fair amount of coordination, and some people will fail those tests when they are sober simply because they are not very coordinated.

If you have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, you need the help of an experienced Longview DWI defense attorney. To learn more about how we can help you to defend yourself against DWI charges, schedule a free consultation with East Texas DWI defense attorney Alex Tyra today. Call our office at (903) 753-7499, or visit our law firm website to submit an online contact form.


How to Start Building Your Criminal Defense Case Now

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

There are many stages that a criminal case passes through before it runs its course. From the arrest and booking to the arraignment, pre-trial hearings, and trial, there are many opportunities for a defendant to put his or her best foot forward and make a case for the reduction or dismissal of his or her charges.  Accordingly, if you are currently facing criminal charges in Texas, there are a few things that you can do that could improve the outcome of your case.

One essential ingredient for a successful criminal defense is information. Your Texas criminal defense lawyer needs information from you so that they can approach your defense from as many angles as possible. If your lawyer asks you for information, get it to them as quickly as you can so that they can decide how they will use it. The same is also true when you have questions about your case. Your attorney has a wealth of knowledge and information about criminal law, and you can access that knowledge by asking questions when you are confused, concerned, or simply want to know more about something. Statistics have shown that clients who are responsive to their attorneys’ requests for information and other communications, and who ask questions when they have a need for information, are more satisfied with the outcomes of their cases than clients who are not actively involved in communicating with their attorneys.

If drug or alcohol use is associated with the criminal charges that you are facing, then substance abuse counseling and/or treatment are likely to be required of you during probation. You can get a head start on addressing any substance abuse issues that you may have by finding an appropriate doctor, treatment facility or counseling provider and beginning to work on those issues now. When you go to court, there is a good chance that whatever program or treatment you are using can become part of your probation, if you can show that it is working for you. Choosing your own doctor, counselor or treatment program gives you the best chance at successfully addressing your substance abuse issues, instead of letting the court decide which programs you will attend.

A third thing that you can do which will both benefit you and help you to present a solid case in court is to continue doing those things that you were doing prior to your arrest which were good things. If you can keep working at your job, do it. If you were in school, stick with it. Some people let things fall to pieces after they have been arrested, and this often creates problems that extend beyond the consequences of the original arrest. Continuing on with your life’s positive endeavors is a great thing for both you and your criminal case because it can help you to remain confident that you will have a positive outcome, and because it creates an image of you as a generally law-abiding citizen who made a mistake.

An experienced Longview criminal defense attorney can help you to navigate your criminal case, from start to finish. Schedule a free consultation with East Texas criminal defense attorney Alex Tyra today, by calling (903) 753-7499, or visit our law firm website to submit an online contact form.


Property Division in Texas Divorce Cases

Friday, November 1st, 2013

If you are thinking about getting a divorce in Texas, or if you are already involved in a Texas divorce case, you may be wondering about how the court will divide your property in the event that you and your soon-to-be-former spouse are unable to reach a property settlement agreement. Texas is a community property state, and the guiding principle that Texas judges follow when dividing up the property in a couple’s community estate is that the distribution must be “just and right”.  As noble as that sounds, it is entirely possible that a “just and right” property distribution which is created by a judge, and not by the parties themselves, could leave one or both of the divorcing parties very dissatisfied with the outcome.

In a community property state like Texas, each of the debts or assets of a married couple can be placed into one of two categories, community property and separate property. Community property consists of all property that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage, as well as all debts that were incurred by either or both spouses during the marriage. Some assets or debts may be excluded from a couple’s community estate and regarded as separate property if they were received or incurred solely for the benefit of one spouse during the course of the marriage. Examples of situations in which property that appears to be a part of the community estate may instead be a part of one of the spouses’ separate estates are when one spouse inherits a sum of money from a family member, or when one spouse takes out a loan for equipment that they use for a business that they, alone, are involved in.

When a divorce case is decided by the court, the judge might order a ratio of distribution that is not a 50/50 split. Factors like disparate earning capacity or time spent at home caring for children can result in a property award that is 55/45 or even 60/40. Other factors that may weigh on the judge’s decision include the age and health of the parties, whether one party is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage, what kinds of assets comprise the community estate, the values of the separate estates, and child custody.

An East Texas divorce attorney can help you to get your divorce case moving in the direction of a property settlement by communicating with the other party’s attorney, if they have one.  Even if the other party does not have an attorney, your attorney can speak with them directly about how you would like to divide the marital property. This is often more effective than speaking with them yourself, because it creates distance between the two of you and makes for less of an emotionally-charged conversation than it would be if it were just the two of you. If your case goes to mediation, your attorney can represent you in that process as well.

An experienced Longview divorce attorney can also help you to understand and evaluate a property settlement offer which has been proposed by your soon-to-be-former spouse. Do not agree to any distribution of property until you are absolutely sure that it is in your best interest to do so. If you have any questions or concerns about how property will be divided in your divorce, or if you would like to learn more about property settlements in Texas divorce cases, schedule a free consultation with East Texas divorce attorney Alex Tyra. Call us today, at (903) 753-7499, or fill out the convenient online contact form which is located on our website.