Archive for January, 2015

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Explains the Crime of Money Laundering

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

The crime of money laundering is a serious offense, in Texas as in elsewhere. At its simplest, money laundering is a process by which criminals make money which was obtained illegally appear as though it was procured in a legitimate manner. No one wants to be caught holding onto “dirty” money, that is, money which was used in the commission of a crime or which was obtained through criminal means. While the idea of money laundering is simple, the ways in which the crime of money laundering is carried out can be rather complex.

Sometimes, money laundering schemes are conducted exclusively on American soil. In other situations, individuals and organizations use international banking as part of their plan to conceal the true origin of their funds. Money laundering begins when the cash that has been obtained illegally, through drug trafficking, theft, or some other corrupt means, is deposited into a bank. After the initial deposit, which is often referred to as placement, the money passes through a series of other transactions like bank transfers, wire transfers, and big-ticket purchases, which are collectively called the layering process, in order to make it difficult to trace where the money originally came from. After the money has gone through the layering process, it is then integrated into the mainstream economy through transactions such as the sale of any big-ticket items that were purchased during layering or “investments” in local businesses.

Money laundering is a serious offense, and if you are convicted you could face steep fines and jail time in addition to long-term consequences like difficulties in securing employment and housing that can result from having a conviction on your record. The crime of money laundering is described in § 34.02 of the Texas Statutes as knowingly acquiring, concealing, transporting, concealing, transferring, or maintaining an interest in any proceeds that were derived from criminal activity. It is important to understand that under Texas law, a person does not have to be aware of the type of criminal activity that produced the funds in question in order to be found guilty of money laundering. A person can also commit the offense of money laundering by facilitating, conducting, or supervising a transaction involving proceeds from criminal activity, or by spending, investing, or receiving such proceeds. Money laundering also prohibits individuals from investing or financing future crimes by making it illegal to invest or finance money which is intended to be used in the commission of a future crime.

Fortunately, there are defenses which may be available in certain situations where money laundering has been alleged. An experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney can assess your case and build a strong defense on your behalf based upon the unique circumstances of your situation. A skilled defense attorney can help you to increase your chances of having the best possible outcome in your case, whether by getting the charges dismissed or by mitigating some of the short or long term consequences that are associated with those charges. Attorney Alex Tyra knows how to present his clients’ cases to the court in a convincing way. To learn more, call (903) 753-7499 to set up an initial consultation or use the online contact form that is available on our website.


Texas Family Law Attorney Explains QDROs

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

As you work your way through your Texas divorce, you may sometimes feel as though you are learning to speak in a different language. While this is not entirely true, it is easy to understand how many people may feel that way because the divorce process does have its own language of sorts. The language of divorce includes all of the general legal terms that are not often used outside of a legal context, legal words that are unique to the practice of divorce law and many other words from a diverse collection of topics including psychology and finance.

One of the words that you may hear during your Texas divorce is QDRO, which is often pronounced “qua-dro”, but is sometimes pronounced “q-dro” or “Q.D.R.O.”. Whichever way you say it, the term refers to a document called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. The name of the document only goes so far in telling you want the document does, though. Because it is an Order, you can know that it is a document that is issued by the court. Since it is a Domestic Relations Order, that tells you that it is an Order related to a family law proceeding. Simply stated, a QDRO is an Order which is issued by the family court after a divorce proceeding for the purpose of dividing an employer-sponsored retirement account between spouses.

While the purpose of a QDRO is fairly simple, QDROs themselves can be complex. In order for a QDRO to fulfill its purpose, that is, to effectuate a division of all or part of an employee-sponsored retirement account between parties who have divorced, it must accomplish several things simultaneously. First, a QDRO must be appropriate for the type of retirement account that it seeks to divide. Retirement plans like 401ks and pensions have rules regarding QDROs, and if a QDRO is issued which does not comply with a plan’s rules, the plan administrator cannot make any distributions to any alternate payees, such as the non-employee former spouse. Also, a QDRO must comply with the divorce decree that has been issued by the court. For example, if the entire amount of money that was in one spouse’s 401k was determined by the court to be community property and the divorce decree specified that the 401k was to be split evenly between the divorced parties, the QDRO must also state that fifty percent of the 401k is to be attributed to the employee and fifty percent is to be attributed to their former spouse.

To make matters slightly more complicated, your QDRO may need to account for the fact that you or your spouse had been contributing to the retirement account before the marriage, in which case a portion of the account may not be community property. It is also possible that the division of the 401k may be something other than a fifty – fifty split because of the way that you and your soon to be former spouse choose to divide up all of your other assets. QDROS can address both of the above issues, as well as any others that are unique to your situation.

As with every other aspect of your divorce, the task of preparing your QDRO deserves the skill and attention of an experienced Texas Family Law Attorney. If you have a question about QDROs or any other aspect of your Texas divorce, please call Attorney Alex Tyra today, at (903) 753-7499.


Texas DUI Defense Attorney Discusses Possible Relief for Job Seekers with a DUI or Other Offense on Their Records

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

When you have a DUI on your record, you may be facing an uphill battle when it comes to pursuing a career or even just finding a job that will help you put food on the table and a roof over your head. Fortunately, one lawmaker from Dallas, Representative Eric Johnson, is trying to make obtaining certain jobs and professional licenses a little less difficult for individuals who have convictions for DUI or other offenses on their records.

Johnson has proposed legislation that would not completely remove inquiries about an individual’s criminal background from the state’s hiring processes, but would have that inquiry take place later on in the hiring process instead of on the initial job application. Johnson and others who support the proposed legislation feel that leaving the issue of an individual’s criminal background alone until later on in the hiring process enables prospective employers to place whatever answers job applicants provide to those inquiries in context with the other things that they have come to know about the applicant through the beginning stages of the hiring process. This would give job applicants with criminal backgrounds a better chance at obtaining employment, especially in situations where the offenses took place some time ago or are unrelated to the type of employment that they are pursuing.

State boards are responsible for granting many different kinds of professional licenses. Unfortunately, people with DUIs or other offenses that are not related to the licenses that they are seeking are often denied those licenses after they apply for them. Johnson feels that in situations where a state board denies an applicant a license, they must clearly disclose their reasons for refusing the license and also allow the applicant to make a case for themselves by testifying on their own behalf.

While the proposed legislation would only affect state jobs and the granting of professional licenses by state boards, people with a criminal history can take some comfort in the fact that many private-sector employers are removing questions regarding criminal history from their job applications, saving such inquiries for later on in the hiring process where they can consider that information in context with their impression of the person from their interview as well as their other credentials. The list of employers who are “banning the box” on their applications continues to grow, opening more and more doors to those with convictions on their records.

A DUI conviction can make it harder for you to get a job, among other things. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, you deserve the very best defense against those charges and the negative impacts that a conviction could have on your future. To learn how Texas DUI Defense Attorney Alex Tyra can help you, call our office today, at (903) 753-7499. You may also reach us by submitting a convenient contact form on our website.