Archive for January, 2014

Building Strong Relationships After Your Divorce, One Visit at a Time

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

When your first child was born, you probably realized that you were entering a new chapter of your life. That tiny baby that you held in your arms was in fact someone with whom you will have a bond for your entire life.  As your child or children grew, you built a relationship with them, one moment at a time. Now that you are divorcing, that does not have to change. Although the schedule of moments that you will share with your child or children may look different than it did when all of you lived in the same home, each moment presents the same opportunities as all of the moments prior to your divorce did. Even if your new schedule gives you less time with your child or children than you are accustomed to, your bond can remain strong both now, and for years to come.

If you are able to focus on making your kids’ transition from their other parent’s home to your home as smooth as possible, you will set yourself and your kids up for a great visit. Calm and civilized communication before, during, and after pick-ups and drop-offs will set your children at ease. Once the children are at your house, remember that children thrive when consistent rules and routines are a part of their day to day life. It is likely that your children follow rules and routines at their other parent’s home that the two of you decided upon together before your divorce. Incorporating the rules and routines that your children are accustomed to into life at your house will help the kids feel safe and secure, and can reduce the likelihood of the behavioral problems that can, for some children, accompany a change in routine.

You may wonder what kinds of things you should do with your kids when they visit you, because you have such limited time together and you want to make sure that it is enjoyable. Some parents feel like they have to amaze their kids with extravagant outings and gifts when they visit, in order to make the visits more memorable. Fortunately, this is not true. In fact, visits that are too jam-packed with activities and excitement can be overwhelming for some kids. If you take care to ensure that visits are not crammed too full of plans and activities, that can help to keep everyone’s focus on being together, instead of making it through an exhausting schedule of events.

When you are thinking about what you would like to do with the kids during your visits, remember which things you have already done with them have brought you the most joy. If you and your child or children still enjoy those same activities, make a plan to incorporate them into your time together. Since children are always growing and some of their interests change often, another way to make sure that your time with your child is meaningful for both of you is to set aside time for you to just be with them, in comfortable situations like enjoying a meal together or taking a walk. You may be surprised at how much you can learn about your child and their interests during these simple activities, as kids are often eager to share details about things that they enjoy. When they mention things that are also interesting to you, make a plan to do those things together at some point in the future.

If you are a parent who is considering divorce, it is to your advantage to work with a Texas divorce attorney. To learn more about how we can help you with your Texas divorce, schedule a free consultation with East Texas divorce attorney Alex Tyra today. Call our office at (903) 753-7499, on the web to submit an online contact form.


Five Things Every Texas DWI Defendant Should Know

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in Texas, there are a few things that you should know. From learning about the immediate and long term consequences of a DWI conviction, to learning about the variety of ways that an attorney can help you challenge some of the evidence in your DWI case, knowledge is a very powerful thing when it comes to making decisions regarding your Texas DWI case. Here are five things that can help every Texas DWI defendant understand their DWI case and make decisions that are truly in their best interest.

One of the first things that you should know about the drunk driving laws in Texas is that they are among the strictest in the nation. For your first DWI conviction, you could face fines of up to $2000.00, license suspension for up to a year, and up to one hundred and eighty days in jail. The penalties are even harsher for second-time offenders, and if you are convicted of DWI in Texas a third time, it is a felony. With penalties this severe, Texas DWI defendants have a lot to lose, if they do not take a proactive role in their defense.

A second important thing to know is that a DWI arrest in Texas gives rise to two different legal proceedings. As you might expect, one of the proceedings is a criminal case, and it is usually brought by a local district attorney. The other proceeding is of an administrative nature, and it involves the fate of your driver’s license. If you refused to submit to field sobriety tests or roadside breath testing, or if you took either or both of those tests and failed, your license will automatically be suspended, unless you file a request for a hearing on the matter within fifteen days of your arrest. It is essential that Texas DWI defendants remember to involve themselves in both proceedings, because each proceeding has something important at stake.

The third thing that Texas DWI defendants should know is that they have options. While a dismissal of your case or a reduction of the charges and penalties would be nice, these options are rarely available. If your case is one of the few that could qualify for one of these options, a knowledgeable Texas DWI defense attorney could help you pursue that outcome. Plea bargaining is also an option, and it involves a tradeoff of a conviction in exchange for more lenient consequences. Again, your attorney can help you weigh the positives and negatives of deciding to take your DWI case in this direction. You may also plead not guilty, and require the state to prove at a trial that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are considering this option, it is essential that you seek the assistance of an expert Texas DWI defense attorney.

A fourth thing that you must know, if you are a Texas DWI defendant, is that your attorney needs as much information about your DWI arrest as you can provide, in order to present your best possible defense. It can be difficult to remember the events leading up to such a traumatic event, but if you can remember things like how much you ate and drank at what times that day, which kinds of things you ate and drank, why you were pulled over, and whether you were advised of your right to remain silent, your attorney can figure out the best strategies for your defense.

The fifth and final thing that anyone accused of driving under the influence in Texas should know is that you don’t have to do this on your own. East Texas DWI defense attorney Alex Tyra is here to help you. To learn more, call our office at (903) 753-7499 to schedule a free consultation, or visit our law firm website to submit an online contact form.


When it Comes to Drugs, The Nose Does Not Always Know

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

If you are facing drug charges in a case where a drug sniffing dog or a police officer’s assertion that he or she smelled marijuana was the reason that you, your vehicle, or your property was searched, refuting the reliability of drug dogs and officer smell tests may play an important role in your defense. Even though both drug dogs and an officer’s sense of smell are permitted to serve as the basis for a search under Texas law, numerous studies have found both methods to be unreliable predictors of the presence of drugs.

For example, a pair of studies suggests that there are two fundamental flaws with relying on trained dogs to detect drugs. Both a study which was conducted by the Chicago Tribune and a study which was published in the Journal of Animal Cognition by Researchers from the University of California at Davis suggest that drug dogs often alert in areas where drugs are not present and have not been present. The frequency of false alerts is so high that the dogs are actually wrong more often than they are right.

The same two studies also pointed to something even more disturbing regarding drug dogs’ abilities to sniff out illegal substances. We all know that dogs are incredibly sensitive to even the most subtle feelings of the people that they have close relationships with. Drug dogs have strong bonds with their handlers, and when those handlers believe that drugs are present in a situation, the dogs are likely to alert even if there are no drugs in the area. Also, if a dog’s handler has any racial bias, the dog that they are handling will often alert on people of the race that the handler is biased against, whether or not drugs are present.

Police officers are allowed to stop or arrest and search people if they believe that they smell marijuana. As you can imagine, this results in quite a few searches. Two studies that were published in Law and Human Behavior examined the reliability of the officer smell test. One study found that officers who stand at a driver’s window and assert that they can smell marijuana that is supposedly in the trunk of the vehicle are not actually able to detect that odor from that position, because of other smells that are normally present during a roadside traffic stop, such as diesel fuel. The second study examined an even more improbable situation, where officers assert that they can smell marijuana in the chimney fumes from a marijuana growing facility. As one might expect, the study found that this simply does not happen.

Fortunately, Texas courts are becoming increasingly aware of the problems associated with relying on drug sniffing dogs and police officers’ noses to detect the presence of controlled substances. In 2010, the highest criminal court in Texas overturned a conviction based on identification of the suspect by a drug sniffing dog. Winfrey v. State, 323 S.W. 3rd 875 (2010)

If the search that led to your drug charges occurred because a drug sniffing dog alerted near you or a police officer believed that they smelled marijuana near you, that search may have been invalid. A knowledgeable East Texas defense attorney can help you to present your best possible case to the court and help you to achieve the best possible results under the circumstances. To learn more, call Longview criminal defense attorney Alex Tyra today to schedule your free consultation. We can be reached at (903) 753-7499, or you may visit website to submit a convenient online contact form.