Texas Criminal Law Attorney


What Are DWI Surcharges In Texas?

DWI

Texas DWI Surcharge

A common question I get as a Houston DWI Attorney is, what are surcharges and will I owe any? In Texas surcharges were established as part of the The Driver Responsibility Program which is governed by Texas Transportation Code, Chapter 708, which set up a system to assess surcharges based on certain traffic offenses that have occurred on or after September 1, 2003.

A surcharge is an administrative fee that is charged to a driver based on the convictions reported to the driver record. There are two criteria that determine if a surcharge will be assessed, they are the point system (bases on the number of traffic violations) and Conviction Based surcharges (which include DWI convictions.)

It is important to note that surcharges are in addition to all other reinstatement fees required for other administrative actions and do not replace any administrative suspension, revocation, disqualification or cancellation action that results from these same convictions. The bottom line is the State uses DWI to raise money and will get yours if you are convicted and care to ever get you license back.

Drivers convicted of DWI face the following surcharges.

  • For a first time DWI conviction the surcharge is $1,0000 for 3 years.
  • A subsequent conviction is $1,500 for 3 years.
  • A DWI with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.16 is $2,000 for 3 years.

An arrest for DWI is an expensive proposition. A conviction for a DWI is even more expensive. If you or someone you know is need of a Houston DWI Lawyer, call Texas Board Certified Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

Texas DWI Surcharge | Madrid Criminal Law

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?

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.

What Am I Facing If I Am Charged With Murder?

Murder

In Texas, Murder is one of the most serious criminal offenses an accused can face. In other states in the US, what is termed plainly as murder in Texas is often categorized as second degree murder.

Range of Punishment for Murder

In Texas, Murder is a first degree felony that has a range of punishment; from 5 to 99 years imprisonment in a state prison and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000. Anyone facing such a charge must hire a very good attorney who is experienced in the defense of such a serious charge.

Elements State Must Prove for Murder Conviction

For the prosecution to successfully convict a defendant of murder, it must be able to prove beyond any reasonable doubt several factors. The prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly and intentionally caused the death of another person. Alternatively the prosecution must also show that the defendant did intend to cause serious bodily harm or injury and proceeded to commit an act that was by and large clearly dangerous to human life and this particular act ultimately caused the death of an individual.

Another option for the prosecution is; to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant either committed or attempted to commit a felony other than manslaughter and while performing the said felony; the defendant committed an act that was without doubt dangerous to human life and this particular act caused the death of a person. It is worth noting that the prosecution needs only to prove one of the above options, but the key point in all the available options for the prosecution is that the murder has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.

Possible Defenses to Murder Charges in Texas

In Texas, just like in most states in the US, a defendant has a right to full representation by a qualified attorney. There are also a wide range of defenses he or she can pursue in an attempt to prove his or her innocence. An accused person can claim that the death of the person in question was not intended and was either accidental or caused by natural or unforeseen occurrences; lack of intent is an acceptable defense in Texas law.

One of the most utilized defenses is self defense; a defendant may be acquitted if he can prove that he had reason to believe his life was in danger and he thus needed to defend himself.

Another interesting defense may be the heat of passion argument. The defendant may claim that he was provoked to commit the said crime by some extreme emotion like terror, fear or rage arising from a valid cause. If it is found that the defendant was truly in the heat of passion, he may be charged with lesser included offenses like second degree felony which carries a sentence of between 2 and 20 years in a state prison and /or a fine of no more than $10,000.

It is worth noting also that the laws in Texas are constantly being changed and improved, it is important that you engage a licensed and practicing attorney to advise you accordingly.

Mario Madrid is a Texas Board Certified Attorney in Criminal Defense and has successfully defended individuals who have found themselves in the unfortunate situation of being charged with Murder. He practices in Harris County and counties throughout Texas.

Consequences of a Conviction for a Sex Crime in Texas

Sex Crimes | Sexual Assault

An individual is deemed a sex offender if they have been convicted of a “sex crime”. There are a host of offenses which fall into this category. Some of these are inclusive of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and indecency with a child.

All sex crimes are considered to be very severe and are awarded with harsh punishment in the State of Texas. Beyond the definite long prison term which will accompany a conviction, all sex offenders must face the rest of their lives registered in the public database as a sex offender.

Sexual assault involves any coerced or forced sexual activity upon another person. The general convictions for this particular area is for rape, or to a slightly lesser degree, touching or fondling of either a minor (an individual younger than 17 years) or an adult. Texas state law books have a whole chapter devoted to sexual assault. The offenses arise from causing the sexual organs of one person to have direct contact with the mouth, anus or sexual organs of another, whether through fondling or penetration.

Sexual assault is denoted as “aggravated” if force or violence is used in any of the following ways:

  • to inflict injury or attempt to take a life.
  • to induce fear in an individual by threatening to harm someone else
  • to threaten death, injury or a kidnapping.
  • to use or display a deadly weapon.
  • administers a drug to impair the judgement of the victim.
  • if the victim is either below 14 years old or is older than 65.

Punishment Range for Sex Cases

The punishments for sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault differ in the severity of sentencing. The former receives a considerably shorter sentence than the latter. For sexual assault one may face between 2 and 20 years. On the other hand, aggravated sexual assault can incur a sentence of 5 to 99 years or life in prison. If the crime involved a minor then the punishment will be much harsher.

Child molestation is the more common terminology for indecency with a child. There are two categories of this offense: Indecency with a Child by Contact and Indecency with a Child by Exposure. Be reminded that a child refers to a person 17 years of age or younger. Indecency with a Child by Contact is the more serious and involves touching the child’s private body parts (breast, anus, genitals) either directly or through their clothing. Indecency with a Child by Exposure involves the person exposing their body parts to a child or causing the child to expose their body parts. The intent of the two types of exposure must have been done to induce sexual gratification and can involve victims of the same or opposite sex.

Sex Offender Registration

Once a convicted sex offender has been released from state supervision (whether it be incarceration, community service or parole) in Texas they must submit to sex offender registration with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Registration can be done for either 10 years for relatively minor offenses or for life for all other sex crimes. Information on the name and current address of the offender is posted on several public database for all residents to access

If you or someone you know is in need of the services of a Texas Board Certified Sexual Assault Attorney call Madrid Law at 713-877-9400.

House Arrest Laws: What You Need to Know About the Rules

Criminal Defense

Driving while intoxicated charges sometimes result in jail time for the offender. In an effort to alleviate overcrowding in jails, some individuals may be sentenced to home detention or house arrest instead. This allows the accused to work and become a productive member of society, while also being forced to pay for his actions.

How House Arrest Works

Individuals who are placed under house arrest will be given a strict schedule to adhere to. This schedule will primarily be based upon their normal work hours. In addition, offenders may be allowed a certain amount of time for attending worship services or going to medical appointments.

A probation officer will be assigned to that person’s case in order to keep close tabs on his comings and goings. One way of doing this is by calling a land line phone at certain hours in order to make sure that individual answers. Officers can also make random visits at a defendant’s residence or place of work. Some jurisdictions require people on house arrest to wear electronic monitoring devices that transmit a signal to police officers detailing their whereabouts.

Who is Eligible for House Arrest?

Not all DWI offenders are eligible to serve their sentences via house arrest. After a second or subsequent arrest, judges may be leery about sentencing an individual to home detention out of fear he might violate the terms.

A few instances where house arrest might be considered include:

  • First-time DWI offenders
  • Those with little or no prior criminal history
  • People who have already served a good portion of their jail sentence

Individuals who have been charged with an additional crime such as vehicular manslaughter are usually not eligible for home detention. Those who have ties to gangs, a lengthy criminal history or prior house arrest for a DWI could also be sentenced to time behind bars rather than house arrest.

House Arrest is Very Serious

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that home detention is not serious. It is indeed serious, and it could result in severe sanctions for those who violate its terms. Anyone caught tampering with an electronic monitoring device could also face judicial punishment. The amount of time spent on house arrest is usually much longer than a typical jail sentence. This helps compensate for the advantages one has of remaining in his own home and sleeping in his own bed.

Those who would like to know more about how house arrest works can contact Houston attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

What is ‘Petty’ Theft? Everything You Need to Know

Theft

Shoplifting is a term used to describe taking any type of merchandise without the intention to pay for it. Other descriptions of the same crime may include petty theft, fourth-degree theft or petty larceny. In Texas, charges for shoplifting can result in many harsh penalties regardless of a person’s age, especially if the accused has a previous criminal record.

Possible Petty Theft Penalties

The value of the stolen items plays a major role on imposed penalties in addition to the offender’s previous criminal history. The possible punishments are categorized into two groups.

  • Misdemeanor charges: For items valued up to $1,499, the penalties may include up to one year of incarceration, up to $4,000 in fees or the combination of both.
  • Felony charges: If the stolen merchandise has a value of $1,500 or more, the crime is charged as a felony, and the penalties may be as severe as 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fees.

The crime is typically treated as a misdemeanor if the value of the merchandise is low. Furthermore, the penalties may vary if the offender is a juvenile under 18 years of age. If the individual has no prior record, the punishment may consist of community service and a certain amount of time in counseling.

Reasons for False Accusations of Petty Theft

In many cases theft charges are dropped due to insufficient evidence or the accused being unfamiliar with the local rules and regulations. The following circumstances may result in faulty shoplifting accusations:

  • Failing to pay after dining with others because you think someone else paid for the meal
  • Trying on new clothing or shoes and forgetting to pay the bill
  • Being unaware that the price tag for a certain item is wrong

 

A defense lawyer will review all the facts and evidence of the case, including the footage from surveillance cameras and testimonies obtained from any possible witnesses. If it is determined that the accused individual took the merchandise by mistake, he or she may simply be asked to return the items in question without facing any criminal proceedings.

Although petty theft crimes are generally less serious than other criminal offenses, they may leave a permanent mark on a defender’s record. It is imperative to contact a criminal attorney to have the charges dismissed or lessened if possible.

For a free evaluation of your theft case, call Mario Madrid and the Madrid Law Firm at 713-877-9400.

Juvenile Crimes: The Facts Behind a Juvenile Offense

Juvenile Crimes

Juvenile crimes are illegal acts performed by a minor who is typically under the age of 18. These crimes are also called juvenile delinquency, youth crimes or juvenile offenses. Depending on the type and the severity of an occurrence, a minor may be tried as an adult. The penalties can be extensive and may leave a permanent record.

Possible Juvenile Crime Penalties

The penalties for a youth crime in Texas greatly depends on the age of the child, the type of crime and any previous criminal record. First-time offenders are often referred to residential placement or probation combined with counseling. However, the court can also waive the jurisdiction and transfer the case to the adult criminal system as needed. If the child enters the juvenile legal system, the options for defense become limited and should be handled by an experienced attorney. The possible consequences can include the following:

  • Confinement in juvenile detention
  • Reimbursement to the victim (restitution)
  • Prolonged probationary period
  • Inclusion of information about the crime in one’s permanent record
  • Diagnostic testing and psychological evaluations
  • Drug or alcohol counseling

The Juvenile Offense Process

If the arrest takes place, the offender will be most likely transported to the police station for booking. The process begins with recording the personal information such as the name and address. It is then followed by fingerprinting and photographs. Any statements obtained during the booking are documented. The child has the right to refuse to answer any questions until he or she can retain the help of a lawyer.

The minor cannot be held in an adult jail for longer than six hours and must be transferred to a juvenile facility or released into the custody of the minor’s parents or guardians. In some instances, the case may be diverted, allowing the child to enter a rehabilitation program, social services organizations or counseling without the necessity of dealing with the judicial system.

If the juvenile probation department decides on formal intervention by the juvenile court, the defendant’s attorney fights the prosecution to have the case dismissed and the charges lessened. During the hearing, the prosecution may also request for the case to be referred to an adult criminal court if the previous methods of intervention have not been successful. Every effort is implemented to use the most aggressive methods to protect the child’s rights and offer alternate venues of rehabilitation.

For more information about juvenile offenses, call 713-877-9400 to speak to an attorney at Madrid Law.

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.

Facing DUI Charges? Avoid these Common Mistakes

Guest Posts

CONTRIBUTED BY:  David Haenel, Esq.

David Haenel, Esq. of Finebloom & Haenel has extensive experience litigating DUI cases and defending the rights of clients involved in cases dealing with license suspension, DUI, criminal traffic offenses and more.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended as legal advice and does not reflect the opinions of Madrid Law. 

A DUI arrest is an undesirable situation for any person. However, the outcome of a DUI arrest can be largely dependent on how a person handles the particular situation. There are a number of ways that a case can become worse through a wrong move or a mistake. People facing a DUI arrest should avoid the following actions whenever possible in order to prevent a bad situation from becoming worse.

Taking the arrest or charge lightly

A DUI charge may come with serious consequences such as losing a driver’s license or even receiving jail time. Some people believe that in cases where no one was injured and no property was damaged, the case was not a big deal and they’ll be able to talk their way out of the situation. This is never a good strategy.

Not hiring the proper DUI attorney

The layman will struggle to understand the law behind a DUI charge in the short amount of time that takes place in between the offense and the court date. People may be tempted to hire an attorney because of his low fees. However, there are a number of factors that they should take into consideration before thinking about the fees involved, including accessibility, competence, rapport, experience, and general interest in the case at hand.

Not hiring an attorney in a timely manner

Waiting to hire an attorney at the last minute can be just as detrimental to the outcome of a DUI arrest as not hiring the right attorney. Many people put off this task with the assumption that they’ll be able to hire someone at the last minute. It is important for a person to hire a good attorney right away in order to assure that the attorney is thoroughly prepared for the case.

Driving with a suspended license

One of the most immediate consequences that can come with a DUI arrest is a driver’s license suspension. Typically a person has 15 days following an arrest to initiate a hearing to contest the automatic suspension.

Not maximizing constitutional rights

This situation most often occurs when people do not hire a lawyer. Most people are familiar with some of their constitutional rights, but do not have all of the details they need to handle a DUI arrest properly. A lawyer is able to investigate any serious violation of rights that may have taken place during, and immediately following, an arrest.

Not showing up in court

When a person does not show up in court after a DUI charge, the court may decide to revoke their bond and put out a warrant for their arrest.

Sharing details with family and friends not involved in the case

As other people may be asked to be witnesses against someone in court, it is important that anyone facing charges should not share any information with anyone but their lawyer.

Following these tips can help a person with a DUI arrest keep a bad situation from becoming even worse.

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