Archive for May, 2014

Your Guide to Texas ALR Hearings

Friday, May 30th, 2014

As if mounting a defense to the criminal charges in your Texas DWI case was not enough, there is something that you must do very shortly after your DWI arrest which could have a major impact on your life if you do not attend to it promptly. You have just fifteen days from the date of your DWI arrest to preserve your chance at saving your driver’s license by requesting an ALR hearing.

An Administrative Law Review hearing, or ALR hearing as it is commonly called, is a civil proceeding which is brought against a driver who either refused a blood or breath test after they were arrested under suspicion of DWI, or a driver who has taken a blood or breath test and has failed it. Texas state law contains a provision which says that drivers who operate their vehicles on public roadways within the state give their implied consent to submit to breath or blood testing upon being arrested for DWI and being advised of the consequences of refusing to participate in testing.

The consequence, of course, is the possibility of suspension of your driver’s license. Sometimes, the way in which law enforcement officers describe the license suspension process can make it difficult to understand when and how a license suspension would take effect. For example, it is common for officers to tell a person whom they have arrested that their driver’s license will be automatically suspended, effective immediately upon their refusal to participate in blood or breath testing. This is not an accurate description of the process by which drivers’ licenses are suspended following a refusal to submit to testing.

While it is true that the arresting officer must take your license into his or her possession, you should also be given a temporary driver’s permit, which is only valid for forty days. After forty days has passed, your license will be suspended automatically unless you requested an ALR hearing within fifteen days of your arrest. Requesting a hearing enables you to contest the proposed suspension of your driver’s license and delays the imposition of any ALR sanctions until the hearing takes place. Instructions for requesting a hearing may be found at the bottom of your Notice of Suspension.

At your ALR hearing, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will attempt to prove that your license should be suspended for one of two reasons. The first reason that your license could be suspended is if you took a breath or blood test which resulted in a reading of .08 or greater. Suspension for the reason of refusing to submit to testing requires that the DPS provide proof of four different elements, including reasonable suspicion for the vehicle stop or probable cause for the arrest, probable cause that the driver was in control of a vehicle on a public place while intoxicated, opportunity for the driver to voluntarily participate in testing and provision of both oral and written notice of the consequences of refusal, and refusal to participate in testing following a request by the officer to do so. If the DPS fails to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence, then a license suspension may not be issued, and your license must be returned to you.

Requesting an ALR hearing is a step in the right direction, a chance at protecting your right to drive. With something so important at stake, it is a good idea not to go it alone. Texas DUI Defense Attorneys are well versed in the ALR process, and an experienced attorney can help you to present your best case against the proposed license suspension. 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.



Could You Benefit From a Search and Seizure Defense?

Saturday, May 10th, 2014

One topic upon which many criminal drug cases are successfully defended is the area of searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures. Despite our right to be free from searches and seizures which are not conducted for valid reasons, they happen every day across the U.S.  With this in mind, if you have been charged with a drug crime, whether at a misdemeanor or a felony level, it is possible that a Fourth Amendment Defense could be helpful to your case.

Fortunately, criminal charges can be contested, and skilled Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys know how to spot invalid searches and seizures. In cases where criminal charges are based upon evidence which was obtained during an illegal search and seizure, an attorney can use the Fourth Amendment to keep that evidence out of the prosecution’s case. Sometimes, the evidence which is able to be excluded is so central to the prosecution’s case that charges against a defendant may be dropped.

If a search warrant was issued prior to the search and seizure, the warrant may be defective if it is not based on probable cause, or if it does not describe the place to be searched and the person or items to be seized. Probable cause is only present if the officer presents facts that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime has been committed, or that a crime is in progress. If a search is conducted pursuant to a warrant which is valid, the search itself may be defective. One situation in which a search based on a warrant can be improper is when the officers go beyond the scope of the warrant, that is, they search in places that are not described in the warrant.

In some cases, searches may be made without a warrant when there are circumstances which would make getting a warrant difficult or even impossible. There are a few different circumstances under which warrantless searches are performed, including the search incident to arrest, consensual searches, searches made in an emergency situation where life is at risk (exigent circumstances), searches of items that are in plain view of an officer who has a right to be in the location from which they are viewing them, and automobiles because contraband that is stashed inside could be removed before a warrant could be obtained. As with searches that are conducted after a warrant has been issued, some warrantless searches are valid and some are not. Warrantless searches must be based on probable cause in order to be valid, so if the officer is not able to demonstrate that probable cause existed at the time that the search was performed, the search and any subsequent seizure may be deemed invalid.

Law enforcement officers must respect the constitutional rights of individuals, including the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Many criminal drug cases can benefit from a careful analysis of the searches and seizures which led to the charges against the defendant. An East Texas Criminal Defense Attorney can help you to determine whether a Fourth Amendment Defense could be pursued in your case. The consequences of a conviction could be far-reaching, and could affect many areas of your life for years to come. With so much at stake, it is important that you seek the aid of an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who can help you to pursue the best possible outcome in your case. To learn more, call East Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra today, to schedule a free consultation. We can be reached at (903) 753-7499, or submit a convenient online contact form.



Texas Family Law Attorney Explains What To Do If The Child Support Payments Stop Coming

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

When the court issued an interim or final child support order as part of your divorce, you may have felt a sense of relief. Prior to the issuance of that order, it is possible that you were receiving very little money, infrequent payments, or even no payments at all from your child(ren)’s other parent. For many people, a court order requiring them to pay child support does make them take the obligation seriously, and they make their payments as required by the order. Unfortunately, even something as serious as a court order does not ensure that all parents who have been ordered to pay child support will make their payments.

Post-judgment issues regarding child support are, unfortunately, fairly common. All across America, parents are struggling to make ends meet when they do not receive the child support payments that they are owed. Sometimes, parents are unable to get by with the financial resources that they have available, and they turn to public assistance in order to provide their children with food, health insurance, and other things that they need. In 2009, an estimate by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement indicated that American parents have failed to pay over one hundred million dollars of child support. Half of the money was owed directly to parents who should have been receiving payments, and the other half was owed to the government to pay for the public assistance which had to be given to parents who were not receiving child support that they were due.

If you are supposed to be receiving child support and you children’s other parent is not making the payments that they were ordered to make, you may wonder whether applying for public assistance is your only option. Some parents do find that they have no other option, even after making drastic changes to their family’s budget. Other parents find that they are able to get by after making some changes to their household finances. For example, some parents have found it useful to create their monthly budget using only income that they earn themselves, or with a new partner or spouse.

One thing that parents must understand regarding child support is that it is not connected to possession and access. If your children’s other parent fails to pay child support, you may be tempted to prevent them from seeing or talking to your kids. Don’t do it. The consequences for both you and your children are simply not worth it. Failing to abide by orders related to possession and access will get you into trouble with the court. Even more importantly, children have a natural desire to have strong relationships with both of their parents. Interfering with your children’s relationship with their other parent in this way, or in any other way, can complicate your relationship with them, as well as the way that they feel about themselves.

There are legal options available when parents fail to pay child support as ordered. A Texas Family Law Attorney can help you in this regard, as can the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Some of the legal avenues which are used to collect child support include placing liens on property, garnishing wages, suspending driver’s licenses and professional licenses, taking tax refunds, and even jail time. If you have questions about child support, or any other issues related to your divorce or family law case, contact 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.