Archive for July, 2014

East Texas DUI Defense Attorney Explains the Role of Science in DUI Defenses

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Texas DUI defense attorneys use a variety of tools to build successful arguments in defense of their clients. A thorough knowledge of Texas DUI laws is one tool that Texas DUI defense attorneys use to spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that can be challenged with arguments based upon the law. Challenges to field sobriety tests and the traffic stop itself are other tools that DUI defense attorneys can use to help their clients. However, one of the most important aspects of DUI defense is science. DUI cases involve scientific evidence, and DUI defense attorneys who understand the scientific aspects of DUI cases can often bring evidentiary challenges against DUI charges.

There are a great deal of things which can happen in a DUI case that involve the evidence upon which the DUI charges are based. Blood and breath samples can be collected incorrectly. Equipment used either at the scene or in a laboratory to test the samples can give incorrect results if it is not calibrated properly and used correctly. There are a number of devices which are used to test breath samples, and there are many ways in which the results of breathalyzer test results can be challenged. The samples of blood which are tested are tiny, and must be handled and tested with the utmost of care. The slightest bit of mishandling or contamination can affect the accuracy of the test result, so these matters must be examined thoroughly by DUI defense attorneys. A knowledgeable Texas DUI defense attorney can look for sampling and testing errors in your DUI case, and, if errors are present, they can include them in your DUI defense.

Medications and even certain types of food and drink can interfere with the accuracy of blood and breath test results, as well as with the effect of alcohol consumption on the individual. Law enforcement officers or others who conduct the tests may not make the appropriate inquiries of test subjects to determine whether this is a factor in any given case. Also, weight, gender, and body structure all play a role in how alcohol affects people. Factors like when you consumed the alcohol and whether you ate anything while you were drinking alcohol are also important, because they affect the timing of when you will be affected by the alcohol as well as the way in which alcohol is absorbed into your system. These are all things which an experienced Texas DUI defense attorney can assess as possible elements of your DUI defense.

There are many different ways in which Texas DUI defense attorneys can challenge the charges which have been brought against them. A skilled East Texas DUI Defense Attorney can build an aggressive defense based upon their knowledge of the law, science, and the facts of your case. If you have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, you need the assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced Texas DUI Defense Attorney. 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.



Understanding Your Right to Have a Translator Present at Your Criminal Trial

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Last month Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Elsa Alcala issued a dissenting opinion which accused the majority of failing to protect the constitutional right of a Hispanic defendant to have a translator present at his criminal trial. In her dissent, Judge Alcala, who was joined by Judge Cathy Cochran and Judge Cheryl Johnson says that the majority opinion does not even address the sole question that had been presented to the Appeals Court for its consideration, namely, the issue of whether the defendant made a knowing, voluntary, and intelligent waiver of his right to have a translator or interpreter present at his criminal trial.

Under the United States Constitution, criminal defendants are guaranteed the rights of equal protection, due process, and confrontation. When a criminal defendant does not speak English, those rights are protected by having a translator present during the defendant’s criminal trial. The presence of a translator ensures that the defendant can hear the information which is being presented at trial in his or her native language and understand the nature of the proceedings which they are involved in. If a defendant does not wish to be provided with the services of a translator, they must knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waive their right to have a translator or interpreter present.

In the case before the Appeals Court, the defendant, Irving Magana Garcia, had been convicted of murder by the Hidalgo County Court. Garcia appealed that decision to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, but he lost the case on appeal. Garcia asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reconsider its decision, but again, he was denied.

When the case was originally tried, Garcia’s lawyer declined the services of an interpreter. However, the attorney’s statement declining the services of an interpreter was not a part of the trial court record; because the court reporter was not taking notes at the time that the attorney informed the judge that his client was waiving the right to a translator.

In their motion for rehearing, Garcia’s lawyers argued that no one, not even Garcia’s attorney during his criminal case, had informed Garcia that he had state and federal constitutional rights which would have to be knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived in order for an interpreter to be absent from the trial proceedings. They also argued that if there had been any waiver by Garcia, it had not been voluntary, knowing, and intelligent, but that it had more likely than not been coerced by his attorney, who felt that a translator would distract him while he was presenting Garcia’s defense. Interestingly enough, although they ruled against Garcia, the majority opinion did recognize that Garcia had not waived his rights on the record, and also that judges have an independent duty to ensure that criminal cases are interpreted for defendants absent their knowing, intelligent, and voluntary waiver.

If you have been accused of a crime and you do not speak English, you have a right to have a translator present during your criminal trial. Your translator can help you to understand the criminal proceedings, as you will be able to hear them in your native language. While a translator can help you to understand the court proceedings, they cannot present your defense to the court for you. At Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer can help you to present your very best defense against the crime or crimes which you have been accused of committing. To learn more, call 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 Dividing Debts During Divorce

Friday, July 11th, 2014

While you may be thinking about the property settlement in your divorce in terms of which items and assets you would like to walk away from the marriage with, there is another side to the property settlement which deserves equal consideration. The debts that you and your spouse incurred during your marriage must also be divvied up, and the division of debts in a divorce is a matter which must be taken seriously because it can have an impact on your financial future.

Texas is a community property state, which means that anything which is acquired during a marriage belongs to both spouses equally. This principle applies to both assets and debts, and while both your assets and debts will be divided as part of your divorce, your property settlement is an agreement between you and your spouse. Unfortunately, that agreement between the two of you has no bearing on the interests of your creditors. Your property settlement will specify which of you is responsible for paying each debt, but it does not prevent creditors from pursuing payment from the other party, if the party who has been assigned responsibility for paying the debt dies or fails to make the payments.

There are a few strategies that divorcing parties can take regarding their debts, and how they will divide them in their divorce. One strategy is to pay off as many debts as they can before they divorce, so that there are fewer debts to divide in the property settlement. This strategy works well for couples who, while incompatible as a whole, are able to see eye to eye on financial matters or, at the very least, agree that it paying off debts instead of dividing them is a fair way to give both of them a lighter burden as they move forward into their new lives.

Of course, not all debts can be easily dispensed with before a divorce becomes final. Some big debts, like mortgages, must be dealt with, as well as some smaller debts, in cases where the parties do not want to pay them off prior to divorce or cannot afford to do so. In these cases, the party who is not responsible for paying a specific debt under the property settlement could contact the creditor to inquire about possible options for limiting or eliminating their liability for that debt. One option for removing one spouse’s name from a debt is a novation. With a novation, the spouse who will be keeping the debt submits application materials to the creditor to see whether they would qualify for the debt on their own. As you might imagine, novations are often hard to get because it is hard to qualify for mortgages and other loans with one income. Depending upon your financial situation, you and your spouse may have other options available to you regarding the debts that you currently hold.

The division of debts is an important element of the property distribution in any Texas divorce. Your Texas Family Law Attorney can help you to understand what your options are regarding the division of your debts, and help you to pursue a property distribution that will meet your current and future financial needs. If you have questions about the effect of divorce on your finances, or any other issues related to your divorce or family law case, please 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.