General Law


Attorney Madrid on Felony & Misdemeanor Drug Cases

Criminal Defense | Drugs | Search and Seizure | Video Q & A

Whether you’ve been charged with the possession of a small amount of marijuana or arrested for a major cocaine distribution conspiracy, it helps to have an experienced Houston drug crimes lawyer with a résumé including 1000’s of drug cases on your side.

Do you trust the government?

I didn’t think so.

This is why it’s very important that we have criminal defense attorneys otherwise everyone would be guilty at arrest, as charged. Police make mistakes all the time, and only a lawyer with 10’s of thousands of hours of experience dissecting arrest reports in contrast with witness testimony and evidence under the scope of a keen understanding of the law, could spot a seemingly minor detail that could lead to freeing a suspect accused of trafficking 1000’s of kilos of cocaine.

Minor details that could lead to a dismissed case could rise out of one of the situations listed below.

  • The lawyer knowing of alternative sentences that can keep you out of prison.
  • Did the police have the right to make that traffic stop?
  • Did the police lawfully search the vehicle or your person?
  • Were your Constitutional Rights violated?
  • Did law enforcement have probable cause to invade a residence?
  • Did the police make mistakes, or an unlawful arrest?

Are you looking for a qualified criminal defense attorney in Houston to discuss drug crime arrest details with at no charge? Call me to schedule a review of your case at 713-877-9400 today.

A Few Words on Sex Crimes

Criminal Defense | Sex Crimes | Sexual Assault | Video Q & A

It’s important to fight sex crime allegations hand, tooth, and nail, or be labelled a sex offender for the rest of your life if you’re convicted of such a crime in the Texas criminal justice system.

In Houston, keep in mind that Harris County has a high concentration of sex offenders, there’s an utter disregard for the presumption of innocence when a person is accused of such a crime which is why its more important than ever to have suitable legal counsel in your corner.

Even accepting probation for a sex crime can have adverse affects on the defendant for a lifetime.

If you’re looking for a Houston criminal defense attorney to help you fight a sex crime charge, contact me. We may be able to beat the charge, get the judge to throw out the case, or get the prosecutor to dismiss the case depending on the evidence. Was the arrest lawful?

Mario Madrid on Juvenile Crime

Criminal Defense | Drugs | DWI | Video Q & A

In this video presentation, Houston lawyer for criminal defense Mario Madrid, an attorney Board Certified to practice criminal law, sheds light on his passion for fighting on behalf of his clients and winning cases, in the court of law.

One of the more interesting facets of Mario Madrid’s oration is his pride in winning cases and relieving stress related to facing the State of Texas on criminal cases from the shoulders of his clients. Especially his younger clients, many of which would rightfully be concerned with the removal of criminal and arrest records from their background.

If you need to consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney in Houston about a criminal charge you have to address in Harris County, TX, call our criminal law firm by dialing 713-877-9400, or by simply pressing the number to call us if you are viewing this page from a cell phone.

Houston DWI Lawyer Mario Madrid on Drunk Driving Charges

DWI | Video Q & A

In this video, Houston criminal defense attorney Mario Madrid takes time to discuss the common circumstances related to criminal DWI charges. He also discusses his experience getting DWI cases dismissed in court, and some of the effects of DWI arrests on the accused, and society.

If you find yourself under the pressure of an upcoming court date related to a Houston DWI criminal charge, call defense lawyer Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400 to schedule an immediate meeting at his downtown Houston office to review your case.

Texas Extradition Laws: Everything You Need to Stay in Texas

General Law

Extradition pertains to bringing a suspected or convicted criminal back to the state or country where the crime was committed. It is often an international process, and within its complexity involves bi-national treaties, the federal government and the court system. This formal procedure typically starts when the offender is accused or convicted in one particular country and then flees to another. The penalties are severe, and the case has to be handled by an experienced attorney who is familiar with international law. Fugitives can be extradited to enforce a sentence, to impose a sentence or to prosecute.

Accused individuals sometimes choose to hide from punishment, especially if the charges are extensive and require hefty fees or prolonged prison time. Regardless of the charges, the process of extradition in Texas is the same in all cases and includes the following:

  • The alleged fugitive is arrested in another jurisdiction and brought back to the jurisdiction where the crime took place.
  • The crime was committed elsewhere, and the jurisdiction is asking for the accused to be sent back.
  • The arrested individual agrees to go back willingly.
  • A hearing is held to decide if the fugitive should be sent back.

Extradited to the U.S. Before Proceedings Begin

Over 100 governments around the globe have an agreement with the United Sates, and the extradition is controlled by treaties that operate under the international law and follow similar protocols. Federal prosecution can indict the criminals under the terms and regulations of the treaty. The accused may be confined to jail in any city, county or state he may be passing through and must be kept safe until he is transported to the proper jurisdiction.

Extradition Refusal by Other Countries

Several countries are not affiliated with the United States under the treaty, including North Korea and China. Criminal suspects can enter these countries and potentially remain in hiding forever. A country can refuse the request for extradition if the following conditions are present:

  • The possibility of the death penalty in the jurisdiction of the crime.
  • The accused is a citizen of the country he is presently hiding in.
  • For political crimes, further investigation may be needed to prove guilt.

For additional information about the process of extradition, talk to Houston criminal attorney Mario Madrid and the Madrid Law staff at 713-877-9400 to get a free case evaluation.

What is the Hearsay Rule?

Testimony

The hearsay rule is used by both the defense and the prosecution to exclude unfounded information from court proceedings. The general idea of the hearsay rule is fairly simple to understand. Hearsay, or testimony based on what others have said, is usually not admissible in court. This is to ensure the defendant receives a fair trial based on factual, truthful information.

What is Hearsay?

Hearsay is commonly known as gossip, rumors or unfounded information. It includes testimony or documents that quote people who are not available to speak to the court. Hearsay is usually inadmissible in court, unless the judge has already ruled that it can be accepted as verification of the topic in question.

Hearsay may be testimony by a police officer about what someone else said, even if that testimony was written in the original police report. For the statement to be used in court, it usually has to be uttered by the person who originally said it.

Rules About Hearsay

The hearsay rule may seem fairly straightforward, but in actuality, it holds many, many exceptions. It helps guarantee that only factual evidence is used to prove guilt or innocence.

Hearsay can be very damaging to a case, even after it has been ruled out by a judge and stricken from the record. If the jury members hear a statement during testimony, it is difficult for them to forget it. Therefore, if an attorney has reason to believe a witness may give hearsay testimony, he files an objection before the actual testimony is made.

The hearsay rule is based on the idea that if you cannot see the person making the statement, you cannot judge their character or weigh how the statement was said. In addition, the defense does not have the option to question the witness about the validity of the statement.

Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule

Although the basis for the hearsay rule is fairly simple, there are about 30 exceptions. Some of these exceptions include:

  • Public records and documents (certificates of marriage, birth and divorce)
  • Records of family history
  • Statements from authentic documents that are at least 20 years old
  • Official notarized documents (contracts and promissory notes)
  • Prior testimony of an unavailable witness
  • Income tax returns and employment information
  • Admissions and confessions
  • Recorded past recollections

 

If you have any questions about the hearsay rule or its exceptions, talk to Mario Madrid and his associates at 713-877-9400.

Unlawful Possession of Firearms – COA Affirms Conviction Based on Pieces of Shotgun

Forensics | General Law | Violent Crimes

On March 7, 2013, the Texas Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Emmitt Starling for the unlawful possession of a firearm. According to Marissa Martinez, an ex-lover of Emmitt, Emmitt broke his gun’s stock against her car on December 29, 2010 at around 11:30 PM.

On the same day evening, Marissa had rejected Emmitt’s advances. Emmitt appeared to be intoxicated and was drinking from a Hennessy bottle. At one time during the event, Emmitt pointed the gun toward Marissa’s face. Marissa called 911 and the police took Emmitt into custody.

Houston criminal defense attorney Mario Madrid.

The State introduced two pieces of evidence, one was the remaining majority of a .410 gauge shotgun with duct tape on its trigger and the other one was the butt of a shotgun. Marissa had identified the gun pieces as being the firearm that Emmitt brandished and beat against her car on December 29, 2010. She had also identified the duct tape on the gun’s trigger.

One Police Officer, Brent Mills has testified that he found the pieces of a firearm in some bushes at the base of the staircase of Marissa’s apartment where other officers apprehended Emmitt.

He also identified that the gun pieces introduced by the State are the same pieces that he found. The jury found Emmitt guilty and assessed punishment at thirty-five years’ confinement.

In the appeal, Emmitt challenged the evidence submitted by the State to get the conviction. He argued that the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce the items as the State failed to lay a proper foundation by showing chain of custody of the items.

The COA found based on the testimony of Marissa and various other police officers that the items introduced by the State were easily identifiable by their unique and distinct characteristic and are substantially unchanged normally and hence they do not require the introduction of a chain of custody.

Emmitt’s second argument was that the evidence was legally insufficient to prove that he possessed the firearm. The Court rejected Emmitt’s argument based on the testimony of Marissa and other police officers. Marissa had clearly described the gun in detail and identified it at the trial.

She had also testified to having seen Emmitt brandish the gun and smash it on her car. The firearm need not be in Defendant’s exclusive care, custody, control or management for the conviction of unlawful possession of firearm. The conviction can also be based on additional, independent facts and circumstances that link the Defendant to the firearm.

In this case, circumstantial evidence also linked Emmitt to the shotgun. Multiple police officers testified to having found the shotgun matching Marissa’s description near the bottom of a stairwell where Emmitt was apprehended.

There was also testimony linking together the shotgun and a specific brand of alcohol found near the shotgun with Emmitt. Therefore, the Court of Appeals confirmed the judgment of the trial court. (Starling v. State (March 2013).

If you have been charged with a gun or weapon crime in Texas, contact Madrid Law today for a free case evaluation.

What is Retributive Justice?

Criminal Defense | General Law

Most cultures across the world subscribe to the theory of retributive justice that maintains a punishment should fit the crime. This ancient aphorism is evident in the primitive records of man where the retribution for wrongdoings translates into “an eye for an eye.” While this concept is easily understood, ensuring that the sentence fits the crime is a difficult theory when applied to modern-day legal issues. Because there are few laws in existence that guarantee the proportionality of criminal penalties, the reality of the death penalty raises questions regarding the proportionality of American crimes to their punishments.justice

The Case of Capital Punishment

Capital punishment, or a sentence of death for a defendant, is considered to be proportional to certain crimes under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Capital punishment is only considered as punishment for crimes that are so severe, death for the defendant is the only fitting consequence. In order for a court to consider capital punishment in a criminal case, the judge and jury must take aggravating factors into account. These factors are details about the defendant’s actions that demonstrate that the defendant acted in a horrifying manner during the commission of a crime. Such factors can include:

  • A murder was cruel and involved torture
  • A capital offense was committed during a felony act, such as killing a victim during a robbery
  • A murder occurred during a terrorist act such as a planned bombing
  • A defendant used an assault weapon during the crime

Most states require the presence of one or more aggravating factors in a case before the death penalty can be considered as punishment. If a murder case lacks aggravating factors, life in prison may be a more fitting punishment for anyone who is convicted of murder.

Proportional Punishments for Non-Capital Cases

In non-capital cases, the death penalty is not a consideration for punishment. According to the U.S. Constitution, punishments for non-capital crimes must not allow excessive bail or fines nor render a cruel or unusual punishment. However, it does not establish guidelines for disproportionate punishment.

Each non-capital case is evaluated for an appropriate punishment. While it is rare for a sentence to be lessened after a ruling, a court will consider the following factors to determine if a punishment does not fit the crime:

  • The amount of harm caused to the victim in relation to the defendant’s actions
  • Whether the defendant intended to cause harm
  • The defendant’s motive for committing the crime
  • A comparison of the defendant’s punishment against punishments for similar crimes in the jurisdiction

For more information regarding proportional punishments for crimes, please call Mario Madrid and his associates at 713-877-9400.

Eyewitness Identification Laws and Polices in Texas

Criminal Defense | Testimony

In 2011, the Texas legislature took a special interest in reducing wrongful convictions that stem from mistaken eyewitness identifications. The law, HB 215, which stemmed from this interest, is now codified in 38.20 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP).

Under CCP 38.20, law enforcement agencies are required to have a written policy regarding eyewitness identifications, which include the administration of photograph and live lineups.

Although the agencies may adopt either the policy set out by the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas or write one of their own, there is a standard defined in CCP 38.20 that must be met.

These standards pertain to the basis and theory behind the policy, the possible suspects that are used in a lineup and photo identifications, and the administration and documentation of the identification procedure.

As set out in 38.20 Sec. 3 (c), the policy must:

1.  Be based on:

(a) credible filed, academic, or laboratory research on eyewitness memory;

(b) relevant policies, guidelines, and best practices designed to reduce erroneous eyewitness identifications and to   enhance the reliability and objectivity of eyewitness identifications; and

(c) other relevant information as appropriate 

2. Address the following topics:

(a) the selection of filler photographs or participants;

(b) instructions given to a witness before conducting a lineup identification procedure;

(c) documentation and preservation of results of a photograph or live lineup identification procedure, including the documentation of witness statements, regardless of the outcome of the procedure;

(d) procedures for administering the identification procedure to an illiterate person or a person with limited English language proficiency;

(e) for a live lineup, if practicable, procedures for assigning an administrator who is unaware of which member of the live lineup is the suspect in the case or alternative procedures designed to prevent opportunities to influence the witness;

(f) for a photograph identification procedure, procedures for assigning an administrator who is capable of administering a photograph array in a blind manner or in a manner consistent with other proven or supported best practices designed to prevent opportunities to influence the witness; and

(g) any other procedures or best practices supported by credible research or commonly accepted as a means to reduce erroneous eyewitness identifications and to enhance the objectivity and reliability of eyewitness.

A policy that meets this standard is the policy set out by the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. Key aspects to this policy are blind or blinded administration, as explained in (F) and (E) above; showing photographs sequentially, one after another, rather than showing all photos at the same time; not allowing the witness to view more than one photo at one time; preferring documentation by video; avoiding show-ups whenever possible; bringing the witness to the suspect in a show-up; using a show-up with only one witness; and having a show-up only within 2 hours of the crime.

It should be noted that although this policy does meet the standard laid out in CCP 38.20, other law enforcement agencies can deviate from this policy and still be in compliance with the standard.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in the Houston area, contact the Texas Board Certified criminal justice lawyers of Madrid Law, PLLC as soon as possible for the best chance to obtain favorable results from the court of law as it relates to your particular situation.

Do depositions have a role in criminal law in Texas?

Criminal Defense | General Law

A deposition is the sworn testimony of a witness that is taken out-of-court. This testimony is reduced to writing and may be used in a trial. Although depositions are a common occurrence in civil cases, they are rarely used in criminal cases in Texas. Although this is true, depositions do have a role in criminal law in Texas.

The Law

Chapter 39 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure (TCCP) outlines when and how a deposition may be used in a criminal case.

The Code of Criminal Procedure 39.01 lists the situations in which taking a deposition is allowed. In Texas, a deposition may be taken by either the state or the defendant. A deposition may be taken in a criminal case in Texas when the witness resides outside the state, the witness cannot attend trial by reason of age or bodily infirmity, or the witness is a Medicaid or Medicare recipient or caregiver or guardian of the recipient and the recipient’s account was charged for a product or service that was not provided to the recipient.

The process for seeking a deposition in a criminal case is explained in TCCP 39.02. A deposition may be sought by filing an affidavit with the clerk of the court stating the facts necessary to constitute a good reason for the deposition and an application to take the deposition. In addition, notice of the deposition must be given to the opposing party.

If the court determines good reason for the deposition, the testimony of a deposition must be subject to all legal objections. In addition, both the defendant and defendant’s attorney must be present and given the opportunity to examine the witness.

In Practice

I recently had the pleasure to take part in the use of a deposition in a capital murder trial. Before the trial, the witness’ testimony was sworn, taken in front of a notary public, and reduced to writing. The witness was subject to both direct and cross-examination. At trial, the entire testimony was put in front of the jury via a role-playing.

Charged with a crime in Texas? Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Madrid Law, PLLC as soon as possible.

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