Archive for April, 2014

What is Organized Crime?

Monday, April 28th, 2014

When it comes to criminal charges, there are some which can carry more substantial penalties than others. When a charge alleging organized criminal activity is added to another criminal charge, it increases the stakes substantially. It is important that people understand the difference between acts which are truly part of an organized crime scheme and those which are not.

Part of determining whether a crime is part of an organized crime scheme has to do with the people involved. At a minimum, there must be three people. However, a simple head count does not automatically place a crime into the realm of organized crime. The three or more people who were involved in the commission of the crime must be a “combination,” or a group of people who intended to work together to carry out a continuing course of criminal activity.

Sometimes, an individual participates in one of the crimes which are carried out by an organized crime operation without being aware of it. For example, if a person participates in a vehicle theft but does not know that it is part of a larger scheme to steal multiple cars over time, they may not have the requisite intent to be charged with organized crime because they did not intend to work with the group to carry out the other thefts or profit from them. However, it is possible for there to be a “combination” of individuals committing organized crime without knowing each other’s identities. Since organized crime occurs over a period of time, it is also possible that individuals may come into and go out of the “combination” during the course of its activity.

A scenario which is often mistaken for organized crime is that of a group of people who carry out a few crimes over the course of an evening. A burglary spree that happens one night is not necessarily organized crime because the people who worked together to steal things from various locations that evening may not have any sort of plan to work together on any other occasions to carry out any other crimes.

While many crimes that are not part of organized crime schemes are reported, a great deal of organized crime goes unreported. While theft and drug crimes are sometimes associated with organized crime, other crimes such as human trafficking, public corruption, and money laundering are also often organized crime activities. Reports from law enforcement indicate that a large amount of organized crime happens in Texas.

A few recent news stories involve Texas cases where the individuals involved have been charged with organized crime. On March 15, two men were arrested for stealing ATVs and a trailer in Tom Green County. Further investigation revealed evidence linking the two men to other thefts and a third person who was involved in at least some of the illegal activities. In an unrelated case, two people from Temple were arrested in March for mail theft. Investigation into their activities has connected them to numerous thefts of tools and equipment from fire departments and construction sites, and bank fraud. It will remain to be seen whether the organized crime portions of the charges will be upheld in either of these cases.

Any criminal charge can have a serious impact on your life, and organized crime charges can be even more devastating. If you have been charged with any form of organized crime, you need the assistance of an experienced East Texas Criminal Defense Attorney.  To learn more, call attorney Alex Tyra today, and schedule a free consultation. We can be reached at (903) 753-7499, or you may visit us online to submit a convenient contact form.


A Texas DUI – It All Starts With a Traffic Stop

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

If you feel as though your DUI investigation took you by surprise, you are not alone. After all, before you were stopped by the police, you were just driving around like everybody else on the road. Unfortunately, the moment that your vehicle caught the attention of a police officer, everything changed. The blue lights appeared in your rear view mirror and you made your way to the side of the road. You may have known why you were being pulled over, or you may have had no idea why you were being stopped. Either way, as the officer approached your vehicle, you were most likely wondering what the outcome of your traffic stop would be.

Perhaps you were optimistic. You may have thought that the officer would explain the reason for the stop, give you a verbal warning or maybe even a ticket, if you were speeding, and then let you go on your way. You might have imagined that the stop could take a while, because sometimes it seems to take officers a very long time to go back to their vehicle to check your license and registration or whatever else it is that they do while they are in there. It is even possible that you had a fear that your vehicle could be searched or you could be investigated for a DUI. If that was the case, you may have wondered what the officer would be looking for that could make the difference between an ordinary traffic stop and a lengthy investigation. Texas drivers should know that most of the things that trigger a DUI investigation come from an officer’s observations of and interactions with the driver of a vehicle.

Police officers often ask drivers where they are going, where they have been, and if they have been drinking. These questions are not small talk; they are attempts to gather information from you which could support further investigation of your person or your vehicle. What you may not know is that you do not have to answer these questions, especially if doing so will provide the officer with information that could get you into trouble. It is possible to be respectful and provide the officer with the things that they need without saying much at all. If the officer attempts to pressure you into talking more than you would like to, you may politely state that you wish to speak with your attorney before saying anything more.

Unfortunately, even if you say very little, things that an officer can see or smell, such as an open beer in the cup holder or liquor on your breath, may lead them to believe that you are driving while intoxicated. Sometimes, though, things that an officer believes are signs of intoxication may be present in cases where little to no alcohol has been consumed. Someone who has just received terrible news or as just had an argument may have been crying heavily for a long time, causing them to be red in the face, with red, puffy, watery eyes. Allergies and lack of sleep can also cause puffy, red eyes. If things like these that you cannot control get you on the wrong side of a DUI investigation, do not hesitate to challenge it.

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, don’t go through the legal process alone. An East Texas DUI Defense Attorney can help you to put up your best defense against DUI charges. To learn more, call attorney Alex Tyra today, and schedule a free consultation. We can be reached at (903) 753-7499, or submit a convenient online contact form.


Your Guide to Texas Prenuptial Agreements

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

People have a lot of different ideas about what prenuptial agreements are all about. Some people think that they are only ever used by very rich or famous people. Others find them to be unromantic or, a bad omen. However, many people are unaware of what, exactly, prenuptial agreements are and how they can effectively be used. Before you get married in Texas, it is worth your while to at the very least educate yourself about prenuptial agreements so that you can know for sure whether or not one would be useful for you and your bride or groom to be.

Texas courts recognize prenuptial agreements and partition agreements which are created by couples who are already married. A partition agreement accomplishes the same thing as a prenuptial agreement by partitioning a married couple’s community estate into two separate estates which would be considered as separate property in a Texas divorce. An agreement of either type must meet certain criteria before it will be recognized by the courts. The first of these criteria is that each spouse must have entered into the agreement voluntarily. Also, each spouse must have adequate awareness of the finances of the other. There are a few ways that this can be accomplished. The spouses may exchange financial statements which provide complete disclosure of their assets, or they may sign waivers of disclosure. The third and final criteria is that a prenuptial agreement or partition agreement must not be unconscionable, if it is to be upheld as valid.

A prenuptial agreement may contain provisions for almost any assets or responsibilities that the couple wishes to include. Provisions regarding children may not be included, because decisions involving children of a marriage cannot be made in advance. Texas family courts make decisions based upon the best interest of the children at the time that any such decisions must be made.

One example of how a prenuptial agreement can be used involves protecting a business owner’s interest in the business that they have built. If a family has passed real estate on for several generations, the current owner may want to ensure that it will remain in the family in the future. A prenuptial agreement can be used to enable the current owner to keep the property in the event of a divorce, instead of dividing their interest in it with their spouse. Prenuptial agreements may also be used to protect important personal property, such as family heirlooms, from being included in the tug-of-war that often ensues during property division in divorce cases.

Since prenuptial agreements and partition agreements are legally binding documents, it is essential that you review any agreement that you are contemplating with a Texas family law attorney. Your prospective spouse should seek their own counsel in regards to a prenuptial agreement, as a single attorney cannot represent both of you. Also, be sure allow yourself and your prospective spouse plenty of time to work through the process of creating a prenuptial agreement well before your wedding so that it does not interfere with the planning or preparation for the festivities.

A premarital agreement or partition agreement is not the exclusive province of the rich and famous, nor does it automatically mean that you will eventually get a divorce. Prenuptial agreements and partition agreements can be useful tools for relieving some of the stress which comes with being financially involved with the one that you love. If you have questions about whether a premarital agreement or partition agreement is right for you, contact Texas Family Law Attorney Alex Tyra today to schedule your free consultation. We can be reached at (903) 753-7499, or you may visit us online to submit a convenient online contact form.