Archive for the ‘Criminal Defense’ Category

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Talks About Human Trafficking

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

The idea that people are being transported illegally into the United States for financial gain is something that stirs compassion in many people’s hearts. People want to come to America so badly that they endure dangerous traveling arrangements and risk falling prey to false promises of what they will have when they get here. Human trafficking also stirs up strong feelings against the people who exploit people that want to come to America, individuals who treat immigrants like things instead of people, and who subject them to danger and abuse. As if human trafficking isn’t bad enough on its own, sometimes immigrants die while they are being transported into the United States.

Recently, ten people died in a tractor trailer that was transporting people into the United States from Mexico illegally. The driver of the truck is charged with illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain resulting in death,  the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, illegally transporting immigrants resulting in serious bodily injury, and conspiracy to transport immigrants illegally, resulting in death. These charges can carry grave consequences for the driver if he is convicted. It is possible that he could even get sentenced to death.

The conditions that the people inside the trailer of that driver’s truck got subjected to were horrific. At least thirty-nine people got packed inside the trailer for the one hundred and fifty-mile journey from Laredo to San Antonio. The refrigeration system on the trailer was broken, so the temperature inside the trailer was dangerously high. Some of the people who were in the trailer who did not die had to be hospitalized for a while before they could be released

There are various reasons why human trafficking is such a big problem in Texas. Agricultural operations looking for low-cost labor sometimes get their workers through illegal smuggling operations. Illegal immigrants are also often employed as domestic servants, and some immigrants find their way into the United States through illegal smuggling operations. Also, Mexican drug cartels often engage in trafficking illegal immigrants, in addition to illegal drugs.

In addition to the dangers of being transported like cargo in tractor trailers, the victims of human trafficking often endure forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation in various forms.  Statistics from the United States Department of Health and Human Services estimate that over twelve thousand illegal immigrants get trafficked into the country through Texas. Since human trafficking is seldom a solo operation, conspiracy charges often accompany trafficking charges when truck drivers or other people transporting illegal immigrants get caught in the act.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Steadfast Assistance for Texas Defendants

The penalties for human trafficking can be severe, especially if the people that were getting transported got hurt or killed in transit. If you got charged with a  crime related to human trafficking, do not despair.You might be able to work with an attorney to find an outcome that meets your needs better than you might expect. To learn more, call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499 or connect with us through our online contact form.

 

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Says Recent Prison Closures Reflect Both a Decrease in Criminal Activity and Improved Outcomes for Individuals Who Get Charged With Crimes

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Texas will close more prisons in 2017 than it has in any other year in history. The prison closures are possible because of a decrease in crime as well as an increase in options for resolving criminal cases without resorting to incarceration. Four prisons will get closed this year, which brings the total amount of closures to eight facilities over a period of six years.

The decrease in crimes being committed in Texas has been taking place gradually over the past decade or so. During that same time frame, lawmakers have brought about changes that give some individuals who get charged with crimes other options besides going to prison. Programs like diversion not only help Texans stay out of prison, they help them address the underlying issues that landed them there in the first place and give them the support and skills that they can use to choose different paths for their lives. For individuals that get charged with criminal behavior that is likely the result of a mental illness, mental health services provide a chance for a better life, instead of just passing the time behind bars only to be troubled by the same issues while they get incarcerated and after they are released. Legislative changes also contributed to a reduction in criminal charges and therefore a reduction in the amount of prison beds that the state needs. Property crime laws got overhauled in 2015, relieving the state of laws that doled out felony punishments to people who stole items that were worth very little. Reforms in other areas of the law have gotten proposed, but they have yet to pass, so it is unclear which, if any initiatives like changes to drug crime laws and modifications to age requirements for incarceration, will eventually become law.

The closure of Texas prisons started with the massive Central Unit in Sugar Land, followed by the Jesse R. Dawson State Jail and a pre-parole unit in Mineral Wells. Some of the facilities that got closed were state-run facilities and others, such as a privately operated intermediate sanctions facility in Houston that got closed last year. The decrease in the number of available prison beds had not created a shortage of beds, though, because the number of people who are getting sent to jail continues to drop. When prisons get closed, inmates get brought to other facilities and staff are also reassigned to other facilities, which has alleviated some of the problems that those facilities had been having with hiring and retaining good employees.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Strong and Confident Assistance for Texas Defendants

Texas defendants might not know just how many options they might have for resolving their criminal cases. If you got charged with a crime, you might be able to work with an attorney to find an outcome that meets your needs better than you might expect. To learn more, call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499 or connect with us through our online contact form.

 

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Reminds Parents to Keep Children Safely Supervised this Summer

Monday, June 19th, 2017

The school year is over, and parents will be spending much more time with their kids than they do during the school year. When you are enjoying this summer with your kids, remember two key words – safety and supervision. When parents do not keep their children safe by providing adequate supervision, there is a risk that the children could be harmed, or even worse, killed.

A Texas mother faces child endangerment charges in connection with the deaths of her two young children. According to reports from officials, the woman initially claimed that the girls might have gotten sick after smelling and perhaps eating wildflowers at a local park. Upon further investigation, authorities found that the children had been left in a vehicle for fifteen hours with no water or food, in temperatures that could have been upwards of ninety degrees during some of that time.

Someone allegedly heard the girls, who were one and two years old, crying and asked whether they wanted to go inside. The children’s mother allegedly assured the person that the girls would cry themselves to sleep. A friend of the children’s mother may also have spent some time with them out in the car. The mother of the two little girls took them out of the vehicle around noon the next day and gave them baths before taking them to the hospital. The children may have been unresponsive but alive when they arrived at the hospital, but both girls later died in the hospital. The Bexar County Medical Examiner is investigating the deaths and report that no final determination of the manner and cause of death will be available for up to twelve weeks.

Children, especially very young children, require adult supervision to stay safe. Each child has supervision needs that grow and change as they become older and more mature. Some areas in which parents may have difficulty understanding or make inappropriate choices regarding their children’s supervision needs include leaving children alone in a car and leaving them at home alone. There is no “legal age” when it comes to staying home alone, but there are many factors to consider including the child or children’s ages, emotional maturity, nd overall capability as well as the location and design of the home. The number of children, the amount of time that they are alone, and the ability of the child to contact a responsible and available adult are also important things to consider.

Under Texas law, it is a crime to leave a child who is under seven years old in a vehicle for longer than five minutes if someone who is fourteen years of age or older is not in the vehicle with them. It is not recommended that anyone leave a child unattended in a vehicle for any length of time because it is just too dangerous, especially in hot weather, and it can only take a few minutes for a child to develop heat stroke or heat exhaustion which could result in death or permanent disability.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Experienced Assistance for Texas Defendants

If you get charged with a crime in Texas, call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499 or connect with us through our online contact form.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Says Cattle Rustling Isn’t Just a Historical Crime

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Recently, a man got charged with a crime that many people think exists only in legends from days gone by. The man is charged with cattle rustling, stealing cattle. Since the animals that the man got charged with stealing belonged to his very elderly stepfather, it is possible that if the man is convicted, he will receive an enhanced penalty because his stepfather is ninety-seven years old. If the victim of a crime is sixty-five years old or older, any offense against them is a crime against the elderly and eligible for an enhanced penalty.

The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association is the agency that has authority to investigate cattle rustling cases. When the Special Ranger who was assigned to investigate the case looked into whast had happened, he found that the man took some of his stepfather’s cattle to be auctioned at a cattle market. He sold some of the cattle on behalf of his stepfather but he sold other cattle under his own name and profited more than seven thousand dollars from those sales.

The case above is not a unique occurrence. Special Rangers who work for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association investigated over seven hundred agriculture-related cases last year, many of which involved the unauthorized sale of livestock. The incidence of livestock theft follows the price of meat – when the price of beef is up, more cattle get stolen. When prices fall, there is less incentive to steal cattle, so fewer people do it. Fortunately, unlike the people who were responsible for tracking down cattle rustlers in years past, the Special Rangers have modern tools and technologies to assist them in their quest to catch cattle crooks. Digital databases track every head of cattle sold in Texas. The ear tags that have been used to mark cattle for years have been updated to include tracking devices that are so sophisticated that they are capable of sending notifications to their owners’ smartphones or email addresses. DNA evidence helps prove whether cattle are stolen or not by providing information about their genealogy. Stealing cattle involves a high risk of getting caught, but, unfortunately, that does not deter all would-be cattle thieves. The Rangers report that the people who commit the crime of cattle rustling are often individuals who work on farms and ranches because handling cattle and getting them to market involves both access to cattle and skilled knowledge. Modern cattle thieves don’t operate in a standard manner, sometimes it is just a few head of cattle that get stolen, at other times, massive thefts occur.

The penalties for cattle theft vary, depending upon the amount of head of cattle that get stolen. For example, if fewer than ten head of cattle is involved, the person or people who took the cattle may be charged with a third-degree felony which carried a penalty of up to ten years in jail. If the victim or victims of the crime were over sixty-five years old, additional penalties might get imposed.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Strong Representation for Texas Defendants

If you get charged with any crime, it is essential that you talk with a Texas criminal defense attorney about what to do. The choices that you make now affect how your criminal case affects your life. If you’ve got a Texas criminal law question, call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499, or connect with us through the online contact form on our website.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Says Hate Crime Sentencing Enhancements Depend on Intent

Saturday, April 15th, 2017

In 2001, Texas enacted the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act in honor of a black man who was killed by white supremacists in 1998. This law lets prosecutors pursue sentencing enhancement when they prosecute cases that allege that the perpetrator of a crime committed that crime intentionally and out of a bias towards the victim’s perceived gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, disability, or religion. The law is intended to discourage hate crimes, but some say that the passage of the law has not resulted in many hate crime convictions despite the fact that many cases get reported as possible hate crimes.

Between 2010 and 2015, nine hundred and eighty-one cases were reported to police throughout the state of Texas as potential hate crimes. Only eight of those cases were successfully prosecuted as hate crimes. There are a few possible explanations for why the number of hate crime prosecutions is so low in comparison to the number of incidents that get reported as possible hate crimes. There are cases in which a crime is alleged, but there is insufficient evidence for any conviction, let alone an enhanced sentence based on the perpetrator’s intent. There are also cases in which the underlying crime is successfully prosecuted, but the sentencing enhancement is not successful because of a lack of evidence regarding the perpetrator’s intent. Sometimes, an incident gets reported as a possible hate crime and prosecutors choose not to allege a hate crime and thereby forego pursuing the sentencing enhancement. Sometimes, the problem is that an incident gets reported, such as vandalism, and no suspect is ever apprehended.

All of the reasons why many more possible hate crimes get reported than are successfully prosecuted reveals that the hate crime legislation may not be accomplishing its intended purpose of deterring hate crimes. The process for pursuing sentencing enhancement for possible hate crimes is simple and straightforward. When police officers file a crime report, they can check a box to indicate whether it is possible that the crime was motivated by bias. When the case gets referred to prosecutors, the prosecutors must first decide if a crime occurred. If a crime did occur, the prosecutors must then determine whether to attach a hate crime enhancement.

Unfortunately, the simplicity of the process for pursuing sentencing enhancement does not make obtaining sentencing enhancement any easier. Motivation is very tough to prove. Most crimes require only proof that the defendant was acting knowingly, recklessly, intentionally, or in a criminally negligent manner. Proving that the crime was motivated by hate requires evidence of motivation, which can be difficult to obtain. In the cases where hate crimes have been prosecuted successfully, circumstantial evidence often provides the necessary support for a conclusion that the crime was motivated by hate.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Defending the Accused in Texas

If you are charged with a crime, a Texas criminal defense attorney can help you know what your options are and decide what to do next. If you got arrested in Texas and you have a criminal law question, call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499. You can also connect with us through our convenient online contact form.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Discusses Proposed Legislation That Would Address Cyberbullying

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Cyberbullying is not that new of a concept, but more and more states are taking steps to address it more aggressively. Soon, Texas’s cyberbullying rules may also get an update, thanks to House Bill 306, which is likely to have a hearing in March. House Bill 306 would improve upon current cyberbullying rules by providing clearer definitions of what bullying and cyberbullying are and setting up a clear set of directions for how school systems and the courts can address them.

Many states have been strengthening their cyberbullying rules because the rules that they had in place were not addressing the problem as well as they had hoped that they would. Cyberbullying is still a major issue, and it is a dangerous problem because some of the people who are targets of cyberbullying commit suicide. The states are hoping to reduce the number of suicides related to cyberbullying by getting schools more involved in detecting and addressing cyberbullying regardless of when and where it occurs. For example, in Texas, the current laws do not allow schools to address bullying incidents that happen outside of school hours. The proposed legislation would allow schools to get involved in dealing with any bullying or cyberbullying that they become aware of, regardless of when and where it occurs.

The proposed legislation would also allow all types of schools to design policies to address bullying and cyberbullying. That would encourage each school to educate its students about cyberbullying and also assess the extent to which it is occurring within that school. In addition to whatever consequences the schools might choose to set for bullying or cyberbullying, the proposed legislation would make bullying anyone under the age of eighteen a Class A Misdemeanor. The legislation also contains a provision that would enable the family of a victim of bullying to pursue a civil action against the parents of the bully if the parents are aware of the behavior and are refusing to put a stop to it.

The proposed legislation also contains practical strategies for stopping bullying as soon as possible after it begins. For example, attorneys and investigators would have more authority to interact with the administrators of social media sites to determine the identities of bullies who attempt to avoid detection by using anonymous accounts and social media profiles. It is important that authorities be able to act quickly because critical evidence could get deleted if they do not get to it in time.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Preserving the Rights of Texas Defendants

Criminal law is in a state of constant change. Definitions of offenses are continually getting updated, and new offense categories are being added. Penalties also vary from time to time, so if you were charged with an offense in the past and you are charged with that same type of offense again, you may not be able to predict what the outcome will be based upon your experience. A seasoned Texas criminal defense attorney continually educates themselves about the changing landscape of Texas criminal law so that they are always ready to present the best defense on behalf of their clients. If you have a Texas criminal law question, please call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499, or connect with us through our convenient online contact form.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Talks about Legislation That Could Change the Minimum Age for Prosecution

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

Did you know that only seven states prosecute seventeen-year-olds as adults? Did you know that Texas is one of those states? It’s true. In Texas, a seventeen-year-old who gets charged with a crime can be prosecuted as an adult and sent to serve their sentence along with the adult population in the county jail. That could change soon, though, if two recently introduced bills pass. The bills would change the age of adulthood in Texas to eighteen, which is also the federally recognized age of adulthood, as set by a series of decisions by the United States Supreme Court.

Changing the age of adulthood to eighteen could impact a lot of lives. For example, over twenty thousand individuals who would have been considered juveniles got prosecuted as adults in Texas in 2015. Raising the age of adulthood would result in an increase in juvenile arrests that matches the decrease in adult arrests, which would in turn place a greater demand on the juvenile justice system while reducing the number of individuals in the adult prison system. Proponents of the bills say that the overall effect over time could be a reduction in the demand on both the juvenile justice system and the adult prison system due to the participation of juvenile offenders in rehabilitation programs which would reduce the likelihood that the will commit additional offenses as juveniles and as adults. If the bills pass, there would also be an immediate effect of relief on county jails throughout the state, because under current law seventeen-year-old inmates are not permitted to be housed with the general inmate population. The current situation puts a strain on available space, human resources, and financial resources, where changing the age of adulthood would provide those resources for seventeen-year-old offenders through the state’s juvenile facilities.

The types of offenses that most seventeen-year-olds get arrested for in Texas are nonviolent crimes like possession of marijuana and misdemeanor theft. When juveniles who commit these offenses engage in rehabilitation programs that are made available to them through the juvenile justice system, they often become healthier and more successful overall, and more likely to avoid future offenses

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Working Hard to Protect the Rights of Texas Defendants

A change in the age of adulthood could result in a change in the way that your case gets handled if you are seventeen years old when you get arrested. Whatever your age, know that you do not have to navigate the juvenile justice system or the adult criminal justice system alone. If you have been arrested, it is likely that you have many questions and concerns. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights and understand the processes and procedures that apply to your case. To learn more, please call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499. Alternatively, you may contact us online through our convenient online contact form.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Talks about Inappropriate Relationships between Teachers and Students

Friday, January 6th, 2017

With any crime, the consequences that an individual may face if they are convicted can be far-reaching and can affect numerous areas of their life. One category of offenses that can dramatically affect a person’s career is sex offenses, especially if the individual has a job that involves working with children.

Some examples of situations in which prosecutions for sex offenses have affected careers are the cases involving inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. This category of cases is becoming more and more common in Texas, where some of the incidents that have occurred have made it to national news headlines.

There has been such a dramatic rise in allegations of inappropriate teacher-student relationships over the past few years that the Governor has called for new legislation to be passed sometime this year. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of prosecutions for inappropriate relationships between teachers and students increased by sixty percent.

Not all cases involving inappropriate relationships between teachers and students make the news, but one recent case has been receiving a large amount of national attention. In 2016, a former teacher was having a relationship with a thirteen-year-old student, and she became pregnant. The woman was charged with continuous sexual assault of a child; however, she reached a plea bargain by admitting to having committed the crime of aggravated sexual assault on a child. She could be sentenced to prison for up to thirty years for that lesser offense. If she had been convicted of continuous sexual assault of a child, she could have faced life in prison.

The Texas Education Agency wants lawmakers to pass legislation that will require school districts to revoke the teaching licenses of sex offenders, impose criminal penalties on superintendents who fail to report improper relationships, and compel witnesses to testify. The Agency would also like to receive funds to hire investigators to look into all allegations of inappropriate relationships between teachers and students. Currently, school districts can fire teachers who have had inappropriate relationships with students, but they are not yet able to revoke their licenses. The Agency hopes that stricter rules might encourage teachers to think more carefully before engaging in any conduct that could possibly be inappropriate because they would know that there is a lot at stake.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Helping Texans Fight for their Rights

Unfortunately, although some of the allegations of inappropriate teacher-student relationships have led to the prosecution of educators who have engaged in inappropriate conduct, there have also been some false accusations. Even though the contemplated legislation has not yet been passed, there is a lot at stake for any educator who is accused of having any sort of inappropriate relationship. If you are alleged to have any type of inappropriate relationship with a student, you are likely to have many questions and concerns. An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights. To learn more, please call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499. Alternatively, you may contact us online.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Talks about Organized Crime

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Two of the dozen or more individuals who are allegedly involved in an organized crime ring recently entered guilty pleas. One man received a fifteen-year prison sentence, and the other was sentenced to twenty-eight years in prison for his role in stealing approximately eighty thousand dollars’ worth of ATVs.  A third individual is alleged to have participated directly in the theft, and about ten other people were allegedly involved in indirect ways before, during, and after the theft took place.

The two men, along with a couple of accomplices, participated in a similar ATV theft one week after the first theft, this time in Louisiana. After an anonymous tip set into motion a chain of events that included gathering evidence and arresting accomplices, authorities were able to unravel the details of the ATV thefts and make connections between those crimes and other ATV thefts and rooftop burglaries which had occurred throughout several states.

The two men were apprehended earlier this year, and at the time of their arrest, authorities seized cell phones which provided multiple types of evidence that implicated them in the organized crime activities for which they recently entered guilty pleas.

Some crimes are isolated incidents, but other crimes are part of something more complicated. When people work together to plan and carry out a series of crimes, they are subject to organized crime charges in addition to charges for whatever criminal activities they have allegedly participated in. Chapter 71 of the Texas Penal Code describes organized crime and sets out the penalty scheme for various activities that fall into the category of organized crime. Basically, a defendant who is accused of any crime or any combination of crimes can also be accused of being a part of organized criminal activity if it can be shown that they committed the crime or combination of crimes “with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination or as a member of a criminal street gang”. (Texas Penal Code Section 71.02)

It is important that people understand that actual participation in the crimes is not a prerequisite for organized crime charges. In addition to direct involvement or indirect involvement, an individual may be charged with conspiring to commit organized crime.

Sometimes, one or more of the people who are participating in an organized crime scheme withdraw fully from it before it is completed. Some of these people may even go so far as to renounce their involvement in it, and they might even inform authorities of the plans that had been made. Renunciation is a defense to organized crime charges, but just like any other defense to any crime, its effectiveness is directly tied to the facts of the situation.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Defending Texans against Criminal Charges

If you have been charged with organized crime, you need someone in your corner who can safeguard your rights and build the best possible case on your behalf. If you have been charged with organized crime and you have questions, please call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499. Alternatively, you may contact us online.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Explains the Rules for Keeping Exotic Pets in Texas

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

If you like wild animals like exotic cats, bears, or primates, you may have wondered whether you can keep one as a pet. In Texas, people may keep some dangerous wild animals like tigers, jaguars, lynx, coyotes, monkeys, and other similar animals as pets provided that the individual who is keeping the animal applies for a permit to do so and renews that permit annually.

A woman was recently arrested and charged with theft and child endangerment after it was discovered that she was keeping dangerous animals in her home. She had sold one of the animals, a Savannah kitten, to a man in California, but he never received the kitten because she claimed that it was sick. The woman fled to Nevada with her daughter and the animals, presumably because she feared that she would be found out. She was located in Nevada; the animals were confiscated, and authorities took her into custody.

Since it is illegal to keep dangerous wild animals as pets without registering them, it is important for would-be exotic pet owners to know about the requirements for registration. The rules appear in the Texas Health and Safety Code, and the registration requirement appears in § 822.103, which specifies, among other things that a person may not keep a dangerous wild animal unless they obtain a certificate of registration from the applicable animal registration agency. Registration certificates are not transferable, applicants may have to pay a fee, and certificates must be renewed annually.

When someone wants to apply for permission to keep a dangerous wild animal, they must provide information about themselves, information about the animal that they wish to own, information about where the animal will live and its enclosure, and give permission for the agency that would issue the application to inspect the animal and its home to ensure that it is being kept safe and taken care of. If the person gets permission to keep the animal and the animal attacks someone, the owner must notify the agency that issued the registration certificate right away.

Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra – Defending Texans against Criminal Charges

Texas has more permissive rules for keeping dangerous wild animals as pets than many other states do. However, there are laws that govern the keeping of these animals, and they must be followed to protect the health and safety of the animals and other humans. Failing to register your exotic pet could not only cost you your pet, but it could also carry financial and other penalties that you can avoid by following the registration and renewal requirements. If you make a mistake and fail to register your animal or to renew your registration, speak with an attorney right away. Your Texas criminal defense attorney has a working understanding of the law, and they will use that knowledge to build a strong case on your behalf. If you have been charged with keeping a dangerous wild animal in violation of the law or with some other crime related to animals and you have questions, please call Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Alex Tyra, at (903) 753-7499. Alternatively, you may contact us online.