Williamson County Pre-Trial Intervention Program

If you are facing your first misdemeanor offense and your case is in Williamson County, Texas, you should consider applying for the Pre-Trial Intervention Program if eligible, which results in the dismissal of the charge when successfully completed.

 

If you are eligible for the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, you must complete an application for the program with your attorney and attach clean drug test results to the application. An attorney’s help can ensure your application is the best it can be, before it is reviewed by the State. Then, the application must be submitted to the Williamson County Attorney’s Office within 90 days of your arrest.

 

Once the prosecuting attorney has reviewed your application for the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, he or she will contact your attorney to inform you whether or not you have been granted tentative approval into the program. If you are granted tentative approval into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, an assessment will be scheduled with Sharon Guzman. This assessment costs you $100.00.

 

After the assessment, as long as the results are satisfactory, your attorney will then receive the contract-signing date, which is the meeting you attend with your attorney to go over the requirements of the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, which lasts six months. These requirements typically include community service hours, an educational class relating to your particular charge, and the agreement to abstain from further illegal behavior. Depending on the case, some requirements will vary.

 

Once you have successfully completed the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, the case against you will be dismissed. In most cases you will be ultimately eligible to have even the arrest expunged from your record. However, the conditions of the program do not allow you to have a DWI charge expunged.

 

If you are ever arrested for a misdemeanor offense in Williamson County, Texas, be sure to look into the possibility of the Pre-Trial Intervention Program for your case. The requirements and cost of the program are worth it when considering the case against you will be dismissed!

 

 

 

Burglary vs. Criminal Trespass in Texas

In Texas, burglary and criminal trespass offenses are serious matters and should be treated as such. While offenses in these categories may be similar, there are different punishment ranges involved.

First, the Texas Penal Code states that a person commits the offense of criminal trespass if, “the person enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without effective consent…” This entails entering an area where a fence is clearly in place to exclude intruders, or simply ignoring signs or verbal communication indicating entry is prohibited. This offense can range from being a Class C misdemeanor up to a Class A misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. This means that the punishment range could potentially be up to 365 days in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.00.

Next, a person commits the offense of burglary of a vehicle “if, without the effective consent of the owner, he breaks into or enters a vehicle or any part of a vehicle with intent to commit any felony or theft.” This offense is typically a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a punishment range of up to 365 days in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.00.

The criminal offense of burglary is committed if, “without the effective consent of the owner, the person enters a habitation or building not open to the public intending to commit, attempting to commit, or committing a felony, an assault, or theft.”  It should be known that “entering” in this case includes any part of the body or any physical object connected to the body, so one could merely hold up a flashlight through an open window and be charged with burglary.

A charge under this section is a state jail felony if the building entered is not a habitation, meaning a potential punishment of 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine up to $10,000.00.

If the building entered is a habitation, then the offense committed is a second degree felony, which carries a potential punishment of imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a fine not exceeding $10,000.00.

Lastly, an offense under this section is a felony of the first degree if the building is a habitation and “any party to the offense entered the habitation with intent to commit a felony other than felony theft or committed or attempted to commit a felony other than felony theft.”  A first degree felony comes with a potential punishment of life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.00.

Although we have laid out the potential punishments one may face if charged with an offense under this section, it does not mean that you will necessarily endure such harsh penalties. It is important to have an effective attorney fight to minimize the consequences for you and your record.

Expunctions and Non-Disclosures

Do you have a criminal record that could be preventing you from achieving your goals? Too often I have heard from clients who were unable to gain employment in their desired field or even unable to rent an apartment because of a criminal record.

Texas law allows the expunction (removal) of criminal records in particular situations, typically when a case has been dismissed. The effect of an expunction is to remove the records of that charge from any law enforcement database. Additionally, an expunction allows the person granted an expunction to legally deny they were ever charged with that offense.

If your case was not outright dismissed, but you did successfully complete deferred adjudication on the charge, a different option to consider is a non-disclosure. A non-disclosure prohibits law enforcement agencies from disclosing to the public any criminal record information relating to that charge. However, a non-disclosure does not completely remove the charge from one’s record.

If you believe you may be eligible for an expunction or a non-disclosure on any charges, you should contact an attorney right away.  It is important that you have a clean criminal record to avoid missed opportunities that could affect you both professionally and personally.

 

Consequences of a DWI conviction in Texas

Driving While Intoxicated is a serious offense.   In Texas, a first DWI conviction is a Class B misdemeanor, with a jail sentence between 72 hours and six months and a fine of $2,000.00.  Community service can also be ordered between 24 hours and 100 hours for a first offense with a suspended driving license up to one year. A second DWI conviction is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable with a 30 day to one-year confinement and a $4,000.00 fine.  For a second offense, community service cannot exceed 200 hours and driving privileges suspended for up to two years.  A third DWI conviction indicates a serious alcohol problem, is a third degree felony, punishable between 2 years to 10 years jail sentence and a fine not to exceed $10,000.00.  Community service can be ordered up to 600 hours for a third offense.  A person convicted may also have their driving privileges suspended up to two years.  Driving while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15 is a state jail felony.

A first-time DWI results in a $1,000 surcharge, paid annually for three years. A second-time DWI results in a $1,500 surcharge, paid annually for three years. The charges are cumulative. For example, a driver could pay $1,000 as a result of their first DWI and an additional $1,500 for their second DWI, paying a total of $2,500 annually.

You have fifteen days after you are arrested for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in which to request an Administrative License Revocation Hearing (ALR) from the Texas DPS to attempt to preserve your driving privileges.  If you fail to request the hearing in fifteen days, the suspension will automatically go into effect on the 40th day after notice was served.

This could be your first encounter with the legal system that could have long-term consequences.  The experience can be frightening and confusing as well as the social stigma and the effect it may have on your career.  Although attorney’s fees can be expensive, a DWI conviction will cost you a lot of money and will be on your permanent record forever!

 

 

 

What are the penalties for possessing marijuana in Texas?

In Texas, someone commits the criminal offense of Possession of Marijuana if he or she knowingly or intentionally possesses a usable amount of marijuana. The penalty for possessing two ounces or less of marijuana is a Class B Misdemeanor. This means the potential punishment could be up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2000.00 fine. The level of charge and potential punishment will increase as the quantity of marijuana in possession increases. If someone possesses four ounces or less but more than two ounces of marijuana, the charge will be a Class A Misdemeanor which means the penalties are up to 365 days in jail and up to a $4000.00 fine.

If the amount of marijuana is five pounds or less but more than four ounces, the charge would be a state jail felony with a potential punishment of 180 days to 2 years in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine. Next, if the amount is fifty pounds or less but more than five pounds, the offense is a third degree felony which involves the potential penalties of two to ten years in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine. If the amount of marijuana possessed is more than fifty pounds and up to 2000 pounds, the charge is a second degree felony meaning the potential penalties of two to twenty years in prison and up to a $10,000.00 fine. Finally, if the quantity of marijuana is more than 2000 pounds, the penalties faced are five to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.00.

In addition to jail and costly fines, DPS will also suspend a person’s license for 180 days if convicted of Possession of Marijuana and require a drug education class to be completed.

What can someone expect when charged with a DUI?

Texas law states that a person under the age of 21 commits an offense of DUI (a Class C misdemeanor) if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.  This is a much lower standard than is required to arrest a person for a DWI.  A detectable amount means that a minor does not have to have a Blood Alcohol Content level of .08 or higher like with a DWI but can be arrested for simply the smell of alcohol on his or her breath.

When charged with a DUI, that person will be facing a suspension of their driver’s license. The suspension is the same administrative license revocation (ALR) process that is used in DWI cases.  There is a 15 day period to request a hearing after being issued a citation or being arrested for a DUI to contest the license suspension.

If this the first offense of this type, the judge may order a 60 day driver’s license suspension; up to a $500 fine; 20 to 40 hours of community service; and/or mandatory attendance of alcohol-awareness classes.  If a person does not complete the conditions set out by the judge within the agreed upon time, then his or her driver’s license may be suspended up to six months. If this is not the first time being convicted of a DUI, then the judge may order a fine between $500 and $2,000; 40 to 60 hours of community service, and can be sentenced to up to 180 days in jail.

If the person charged is under the age of 18, the court may require a parent/guardian be present at every court appearance. However, the court may allow an attorney to appear on the minor’s behalf at the court appearances.

Just because a person is under the age of 21 does not mean he or she will automatically be charged with a DUI rather than a DWI. An officer may arrest a minor for the more serious offense of DWI if the circumstances warrant such a charge.  If he had a BAC of .08 or greater he could be punished with the same penalties that apply to a DWI: a $2,000 fine, 72 hours to 180 days in jail, and a driver’s license suspension of 90 days to one year.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, you should contact an attorney right away.