How to Get Charges Dropped Before Court Date

Life rarely goes as planned. One second everything seems perfect but the very next, you may find yourself getting shoved inside a police van. This might look like a huge leap, but the truth is, this situation is not very rare. Especially because you don’t even have to actually commit a crime to experience this, but you could just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That one second holds the power to change your life forever. 

But wait, you don’t have to give in to fate completely and wait for the system to take its course in the way of long-running trials, jail time, and hefty fines. The Code of Criminal Procedure allows the Prosecutor to dismiss any charge levied against you before a trial can even begin. You can take advantage of this law and go on to live your life exactly how you want. 

How can charges be dropped at an arraignment hearing or before or after that? Here is your step-to-step guide to doing just that.

Why Should You Get Charges Dropped Before the Court Date?

If your charges get dropped before the Court Date, you can get out of this horrible situation without putting much dent in your finances, reputation, and criminal record. You will not have served any jail time or paid any fine. 

What happens if charges are dropped before court date? Basically, this is a way to completely distance yourself from your past mistakes. You will not have a criminal record lingering on your head punishing you your whole life for a mistake you may not even have committed. 

Because yes, a permanent criminal record of a felony and in some situations, even a misdemeanor can lead you to be openly discriminated against in almost all aspects of your life. Some of the most common consequences of having a permanent criminal record are –

  • You may lose your job if your employer runs a criminal background check on you.
  • You may have trouble finding new jobs and renting apartments.
  • You might lose your professional licenses and security clearances.
  • You may never be allowed to own a gun.
  • You may get refused a student loan. 

Why Would a Prosecutor Drop the Charges Before Court Date?

But why would a prosecutor drop the charges before court date? Well, there are several grounds why and signs your case will be dismissed, like –

  1. Insufficient evidence – The Prosecutor should have enough evidence against you to take the case forward. If they don’t have it, they will have no option but to get the charges dropped. If they go ahead with filing the charges without sufficient evidence, an experienced Austin Criminal Lawyer can get the Prosecutor to dismiss them. 
  2. Lack of witnesses – If there was no witness present at the crime scene to testify against you, it can contribute to a lack of evidence against you. In these cases, the prosecutor will not have any option but to get your charges dropped.
  3. Violation of constitutional rights – The 4th Amendment right protects all citizens from illegal searches and seizures by enforcement officers. So, if any of the evidence against you was not procured by proper procedure, it would not be admissible in court. It can lead to insufficient evidence against you and in turn, getting your charges dropped. 
  4. Faulty arrest – The enforcement officers are required to follow the laid down procedures for arrests, interrogations, and bail hearings. If they fail to follow any of them, your arrest will be considered illegal and your charges can be dropped.
  5. Etc. – There can be several other grounds for dropping your charges, like lack of cooperation from the victim, the discovery of fresh evidence in your favor, your cooperation in other criminal cases, insufficient resources to continue the investigation against you, error in complaints and prosecutor’s discretion.

The most important thing to remember here is that these grounds might not be apparently visible in your case. A criminal defense lawyer knows exactly where to look and what loopholes to find. Therefore, your first step should always be to hire an experienced Austin Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as you become aware of any charges filed against you.

How to Get Charges Dropped – 3 Methods

That brings us to the most critical question – how to get charges dropped before court date? It will largely depend on the charges levied against you, but broadly, there are three methods your lawyer can apply to stop your charges from proceeding further.  

1. Negotiating a Pretrial Diversion Program

The Texas Government Code provides an option for certain offenders to get their charges dropped in exchange for voluntarily complying with certain conditions set up by the court. You can only be eligible to negotiate a Pretrial Diversion Program if this was your first offense ever and it was categorized as a misdemeanor. 

You will generally be required to accept your offense in your written application and also write essays explaining the circumstances surrounding your charges and why you want your charges dropped. The reason can vary from family responsibilities to further studies.   

If your application is accepted, you will sit in on an interview with an officer who may ask you questions about your essays and written application. If you are granted the diversion, the court will lay down a set of rules that you must follow to avoid future trials for your charges. 

As a part of these rules, you may be required to do community service, take regular drug tests, report to your probation officer, and attend counseling. This is a great way to avoid jail time, a hefty fine, and a lifetime of discrimination. So, if you have been charged with an offense, reach out to an Austin Criminal lawyer today to check if you qualify for a Pretrial Diversion Program.

2. Cooperating With Another Case

This is not a very common method of getting charges dropped, but if you qualify, you can get your charges wiped clean, even a felony charge. And how do you qualify? You can either cooperate with the law enforcement authorities in another bigger case, testify in a different case or provide evidence against your co-defendants.

This means that to be able to utilize this method of keeping your record clean, you need to have something that the law enforcement authorities want. The Prosecutor will be quick to drop your charges and even provide you with appropriate protection if they can catch a ‘bigger fish’ with your help.

The best way to negotiate under this method is by letting an experienced Austin Criminal Defense Attorney help you, as they will understand the consequences of your testimony better and make sure all your bases are covered.

3. Presenting Exculpatory Evidence

The Prosecutor needs to believe that you committed the offense to be able to charge you. But if you can provide any evidence, in the form of witnesses or physical evidence, that proves you did not commit the offense, the Prosecutor will get your charges dropped.

Therefore, it becomes extremely important that you reach out to a lawyer as soon as you have been charged with a crime. Because they will know what can form a convincing alibi or evidence to convince the Prosecutor of your innocence. 

They will know exactly where to look and who to approach. They can prepare the arguments that will create enough doubt that the Prosecutor will have no choice but to let you walk away scot-free.

Your Best Approach Best on Crime Type

Whether you can get your charge dropped before the court date will first and foremost depend on your charge itself. Different crimes require different types of evidence, conditions, or witnesses that can help you walk away from your charges without damage. Let’s discuss the most common charges and how you can get them dropped without a trial.

How to Get Domestic Violence Charges Dismissed?

Acts of violence are always a tricky combination of circumstances and surroundings that lead to the action. But when family and people you love are involved, things escalate even quicker. The heavy flow of emotions and anger often leads to actions that you can regret for a long time. 

But your personal issues can become all the more complicated if the police get involved. Domestic violence is a sensitive issue and the law is laid in a way to protect the victim at all costs. However, things are not always black and white, so there are ways to get even domestic violence charges dropped. 

According to the Texas Penal Code, an act of family assault can lead to a misdemeanor or even a felony charge. So, how to get domestic violence charges dismissed? The best way to do that is by Presenting Exculpatory Evidence. Some other grounds that will lead the Prosecutor to drop your case are –

  • Insufficient corroborating evidence of violence at the scene.
  • Unlawfully obtained evidence.
  • Inconsistency between statements. 
  • Unreasonable claims in the victim’s statement or statements.
  • Lack of visible injuries.
  • Personal motives against the defendant.
  • Victim’s mental illness history.
  • Victim’s use of drugs or alcohol.
  • Victim’s lack of cooperation in building the case or testifying. 

Once you hire an experienced Austin criminal lawyer, they will try to obtain the Victim’s Affidavit of Non-Prosecution that will state that the victim is no longer willing to proceed with the case along with the reasons why they made this decision. 

The next step is for your lawyer to arrange a meeting with the prosecuting side where both the parties will review the affidavit or the evidence in hand. If the Prosecutor believes there is sufficient doubt against your charge, or there isn’t enough evidence to prove it in court, they might drop your charges with some conditions for you and the victim.

How to Get Reckless Driving Charges Dismissed?

There are many ways you can get the Prosecutor to dismiss your reckless driving charge before it reaches the courtroom. Some of the most common ways are –

  • Getting Additional Driver’s Classes: This will create the impression that you are really trying to do the right thing. It will even look good if your charge has already reached the trial stage, and will get your sentence and fines lowered.
  • Checking Car’s Speedometer: Your speeding charge might have been a result of a technical fault in your vehicle. You might have gotten some work done on your tires and it may have affected the calibration. If that’s the case, your lawyer can easily prove that the speeding wasn’t intentional or your fault at all.
  • Finding Witnesses: If you can get witnesses to testify of your innocence, the Prosecutor wouldn’t have any grounds to proceed with the case anymore.

How to Get Theft Charges Dismissed?

Theft is defined in the Texas Penal Code to mean intentionally taking someone’s property from their possession without their express permission. Since it can lead to serious consequences, depending upon the property in question, it becomes imperative to understand ways of getting charges dropped before court date.

You can present Exculpatory Evidence proving your innocence with the help of your lawyer. Some of the arguments your lawyer can use to get charges dropped before court date are –

  • You Are The Rightful Owner – If it can be proven that you owned the property in the first place, the prosecuting side wouldn’t have any need to proceed with the case. Your lawyer can find the correct evidence to establish your ownership over the property.
  • Lack Of Intention – If it can be proven that you were not aware that you were in possession of the stolen property, your charges may get dropped. Intention is very important to constitute theft, and if it is lacking, the case will not stand.
  • You Were Under Duress – If you were forced to commit the act of theft because of any threat to you or your family and it can be proven in front of the Prosecutor, they will get your charges dropped. 
  • Errors By The Enforcement Officers – If the search was conducted by the police without a proper warrant, or the arrest was not made following all the rules, the Prosecutor will have no choice but to get your charges dropped.

How to Get Charges Dropped Before Court Date in Texas?

It is a general misconception amongst people that once an arrest has been made, all there is to do is accept the charges and prepare for the trial. But that is not true, because you do have the option to intervene before the court date and get the charges dropped altogether, or at least changed to a lesser charge.

Once you are released on bail, you are given a date to appear before the court. While it is completely understandable to take some time to collect yourself and take in everything that is happening around you, it is also the time to act. The quicker, the better.

This is possibly your only chance to keep these charges from permanently getting prescribed on your record because once the trial begins, even if you win the case, it will appear in your background checks as a constant reminder of your worst life experience. Therefore, it is extremely pertinent to reach out to an Austin criminal defense attorney immediately after your release.

They will collect all the information surrounding your arrest and charges and will hit the ground running on the investigation. Police files are often unreliable and incomplete. Your lawyer can help you find more evidence and witnesses to convince the Prosecutor to drop your case before the trial begins.

Get Help With Your Charges Before Court

Don’t settle for inexperienced lawyers because this decision can make or break your life. Austin Criminal lawyer, James Gill has years of experience helping his clients keep their records squeaky clean. Talk to him today to understand your options. 

Call to schedule a consultation at 512-448-4560. The Law Offices of James Gill, PLLC serves all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding TX communities.

How to Clear a Warrant

Having an active warrant against you can be a frightening experience. For a crime as minor as a class C misdemeanor, the law enforcement officer can arrest you on spot. 

If not dealt with properly, an active warrant can lead to a lot of embarrassing situations over and above the penalties of the underlying crime. But there are legal courses of action that can get you out of this situation with minimum consequences. 

This article will discuss everything there is to know about warrants, including how to clear a warrant in Texas.

How to Find Out if You Have a Warrant

Warrants can be issued by the city, county, state, and federal court judges depending upon the jurisdiction with regards to the underlying crime. Every state has databases of active warrants which are accessed by law enforcement to track the fugitives. Federal warrants are maintained in a separate DOJ Warrant Information System.

Here are a few ways you can find out if there is an active warrant against you:

5 Ways to Check if You Have a Warrant:

  1. Check Local Records Online for Free: You can access state, county, or court official websites that store warrants information to check open warrants against you. Most of these websites will end with .gov or .org. Be extremely cautious while using any other websites.
  2. Contact Your U.S. Circuit Court:  If you are having trouble getting information online, and you want to be absolutely sure whether there is an active warrant out for your arrest or not, you can call your U.S. Circuit Court and ask. But you do risk being taken into custody if you identify yourself on the call.
  3. Contact a Bail Bondsman: You can have a bail bondsman contact your local court or the federal court on your behalf. They can even visit the courthouse to access their computers and find the information if required.
  4. Hire an Experienced Attorney:  An experienced warrant lawyer can find out if you have an active warrant against you by visiting the courthouse themselves or calling the court clerk. If you hire a lawyer, they can post your bail bond in Austin, Tx, and even help you clear warrants as soon as possible. They will provide you with the best possible course of action to get out of this situation.
  5. Contact the Police Department:  This is the riskiest way to find out your warrant information in Texas. When you contact the police department for your warrant information, they will ask you to identify yourself. Since lying can get you into more trouble, you run a serious risk of getting arrested. They can sometimes even trace your location through the call.

Different Types of Arrest Warrants

Once a warrant is issued, you can be arrested on the spot by a law enforcement officer. Based on the underlying crime and the process of making the arrest, warrants in Texas can be classified into two types – Bench warrants and Arrest warrants. 

What is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is issued when a person violates the rules of the court. A few crimes that can lead to the issuance of a bench warrant in Texas are:

  • Failure to pay child support,
  • Failure to pay alimony,
  • Missing a court date,
  • Being in contempt of the court.

Once a bench warrant is issued, the defendant’s name is added to the statewide database used by law enforcement. The police don’t generally seek out the person in case of a bench warrant in Texas. But if they are otherwise stopped somewhere for other violations, they can be taken into custody and held in jail to appear in front of the court.  

What is an Arrest Warrant?

To issue an arrest warrant in Texas, the court requires a ‘probable cause’ for the arrest. The enforcement officer has to submit an affidavit with the reason to believe that the crime was committed by you. If the judge is convinced by the validity of the reason, they issue an arrest warrant in your name. This permits the enforcement officers to actively seek you out and arrest you on spot. 

Unlike a bench warrant, an arrest warrant is basically an immediate trigger for law enforcement to start looking for the perpetrator.

How to Clear a Warrant

Finding that you have an active warrant against you can be terrifying. While you may find yourself making hasty decisions to make this go away quicker, you have to realize your next steps can affect your whole life.

Don’t try to solve this on your own because you may end up choosing the wrong option that can cost you far more than the price of the actual ticket. So, how to clear a warrant in Texas? The best option is to work with a seasoned Austin criminal lawyer.

Here are all the ways you can deal with your warrant in Texas.

Jail Time

You always have the option of surrendering yourself at your own convenience and accepting the penalty. If you are short on money, this option will seem the most tempting. 

While it will end up helping with the warrant at the moment, serving a sentence would basically mean admitting guilt. This admission might lead to many hidden surcharges and suspensions that will make your life difficult even after you have served your sentence. 

For eg. serving time for certain types of misdemeanors would lead to a significant increase in your automobile insurance premium.

Pay the Ticket– But Risk Further Penalties

You can choose to pay the ticket (Class C matters only) amount to resolve a bench warrant for unpaid ticket quickly. This can be an effective method, except this would also mean admission to guilt. And that will result in a significant increase in your surcharges. If you don’t pay these surcharges on time, your license can get suspended.

Request a New Court Date and Pay a Cash Bond

You can instead request a new court date and choose to pay the cash bond. A cash bond is a security amount collected by the court as a guarantee for your appearance. These are mostly large sums of money collected upfront in full to ensure compliance. If you miss any of your future court dates, the court will forfeit the whole amount.

Hire an Attorney to Post a Surety Bond on Your Behalf

You can hire an Austin criminal lawyer to post a surety bond on your behalf. This will reinstate your case on record and your warrant will be removed. This way, you will have an experienced warrant lawyer representing you in the court and preparing the defense for you right from the get-go. 

Need Help Clearing a Warrant in Your Name? Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

The best way of dealing with an active warrant in Texas is to hire an experienced lawyer who can visit the court on your behalf while you continue living your life as it was. If you or your loved ones are facing any criminal charges and have a warrant out, contact Austin criminal lawyer James Gill immediately. 

You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where a law enforcement officer arrests you in front of your family, friends, or even colleagues. 

Take control of the situation and find out the best option for your case by scheduling a consultation at 512-448-4560. The Law Offices of James Gill, PLLC serves all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding TX communities.

How to Get Your Record Expunged in Texas

A permanent criminal record can have serious consequences on your life even after you have served the sentence. You may have trouble getting new jobs, good apartments and you may never be eligible for student loans, mortgage loans, housing rentals, education programs, and certain professional licenses. Basically, your life will never go back to normal.

However, the law recognizes that this is not entirely fair. Therefore, for certain crimes, it is allowed to get your criminal record expunged or sealed. After that, your past criminal records will either cease to exist or will become inaccessible. But how to get your record expunged? This article will explain exactly that in detail.

Sealing Your Records vs Clearing Your Records

You can either petition to have your records completely erased from the government system or have them sealed. The former is called expungement and the latter is known as a non-disclosure order.

Expungement can only be requested for very few qualified convictions. But if your charges never led to a conviction, you can mostly expunge them from your criminal record. In the event you are found not guilty by a judge or jury you are automatically eligible to expunge your arrest/record.  

Most types of pretrial diversion are also eligible.   Expungement requires a petition to be filed in the court with reasons as to why you are qualified to get your record expunged.

If your criminal case is not qualified for expungement in Texas, you can still get almost the same result by getting your court records sealed. To do this, you need the court to pass a non-disclosure order. If you get the non-disclosure order, the court records of your crime will not be accessible to anyone except for the law enforcement government agencies. 

This means your charges and arresting information will not be available to the general public and will not appear in your background checks.

What Crimes Can Be Expunged in Texas?

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.01 provides that Texas expungement eligibility for felony, Class A and Class B misdemeanor charges exists if a person:

  • was acquitted of their crimes,
  • was convicted but was later found to be innocent,
  • was pardoned after the conviction,
  • was formally charged, but the case against them was later dismissed, and the statute of limitations has now expired, or
  • was arrested without being formally charged. In this case, you can apply for a criminal expungement after satisfying the waiting period described for the underlying crime.

For a Class C misdemeanor, a person is eligible for an expungement in Texas once they have successfully completed deferred disposition, if they were not convicted of a felony in the 5 years before the date of arresting.

Further, the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 55.011 provides that you can seek expungement for the crimes of your deceased close relative too, considering their case is otherwise eligible for expungement in Texas.

Texas Government Code § 411.074 states that certain crimes in Texas cannot be expunged or even be sealed. These crimes include kidnapping, murder, sex or family violence crimes, and stalking. 

The decision to allow expungement or a non-disclosure order is subject to the judge’s discretion. They will determine your verdict after considering whether the expungement or sealing is in the interest of society, the severity of the crime, and your age when the crime was committed.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to Get Your Record Expunged?

If you were acquitted by the jury or the appellate court or were pardoned, you will be eligible to file for expungement almost immediately. There is no reason for you to live with an arresting record for a crime that you didn’t even commit. In fact, the state of Texas will waive your filing fees and expedite the expungement process for you if you were cleared by a jury.

But if you were never formally charged following your arresting, the waiting period is as follows:

  • 180 days from the arrest for a Class C misdemeanor,
  • 1 -2 years from the arrest for a Class B or A misdemeanor, and
  • 3 -5 years from the arrest for a felony expungement.* some exceptions apply

How the Expungement Process Works in Texas

How to get your record expunged? The first step towards obtaining expungement in Texas is filing a written request. Thereafter, you will receive a hearing date to justify your request for expungement. 

All the parties listed in your original petition will receive a notice of your hearing. If any of the parties have an issue with the expungement of your court records, they might appear at the hearing and inform the judge. 

In case, the request is rejected, an Austin criminal lawyer can file an appeal in certain cases, or file a fresh request to obtain a non-disclosure order instead. If the expungement order has been granted, you can send the order to the Foundation for Continuing Justice that will, in turn, send it to private companies that may have copies of your court records.

After expunging your criminal records in Texas, you will be legally allowed to deny that you were ever arrested in your future employment applications or background checks.

How Much Does it Cost to Get Your Record Expunged in Texas?

The cost of getting your records expunged will largely depend upon the complexity of your case. But roughly, filing and service charges of an expungement request can be around $600 in Texas. The best part is you can expunge your criminal records of multiple arrests with just one petition. 

The cost of hiring an Austin criminal lawyer can be about $3000. But the expenditure is worth all the freedom and opportunities that will open up for you when you are no longer held back by your past.

How Long Does it Take to Get Your Record Expunged?

Once you have filed the petition, it may take about 30 days to get a court hearing date. And after the expungement order has been passed, the government agencies can take up to 6- 12 months to clear out all their court records. 

Getting an expungement in Texas can be a confusing and tricky process, and it can take way longer if you try to do it on your own. To make the process easier, and to ensure your petition does not get rejected, you must hire an experienced county lawyer. 

Contact an Experienced Texas Criminal Expunction Attorney

Getting an expungement will make your life easier. You can even deny ever being convicted in the first place after the order has been passed. Call today at 512-448-4560 to schedule a consultation with Austin criminal lawyer James Gill to check if your case qualifies for an expungement or a non-disclosure order. 

The Law Offices of James Gill, PLLC serves all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding TX communities.

15 of the Most Interesting Facts About Marijuana

In this post, we’ve gathered 15 of the most interesting facts about marijuana. Enjoy this article while you also learn something new about the most common illegal drug in the United States!

Interesting Facts About Marijuana

Marijuana Statistics and Fast Facts

Recent Gallup poll numbers show that Americans are more likely now, than at any point in the past five decades, to support the legalization of marijuana in the U.S! 68% of American adults who currently back the measure is not statistically different from last year’s 66%; however, it’s Gallup’s highest reading, surpassing the 64% to 66% range seen between 2017 and 2019.

Marijuana is the most common illegal drug used in the United States. Approximately 100 million Americans have tried marijuana at least once, and more than 25 million have smoked it in the last year.

According to one national survey on drug use, each day approximately 6,000 Americans try marijuana for the first time.

Worldwide, it is estimated that about 162 million adults use marijuana at least once per year, and 22.5 million use the drug daily.

After alcohol, marijuana is the most popular recreational or mood-altering drug used worldwide.

There are over 200 slang terms for marijuana in the popular vernacular. Some of the more common nicknames include pot, grass, weed, hash, and ganja.

The first recorded use of marijuana as a medicinal drug occurred in 2737 B.C. by Chinese emperor Shen Nung. The emperor documented the drug’s effectiveness in treating the pains of rheumatism and gout.

The first law in the American colonies regarding marijuana was a 1619 law that actually required farmers to grow the hemp plant.

During the temperance movement of the 1890s, marijuana was commonly recommended as a substitute for alcohol.

Prior to its ban, hemp was a staple cash crop of the family farm in early America. The first two drafts of the United States Declaration of Independence were written on paper made from hemp.

The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 made it illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana in the United States. The law classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no acceptable medical use.

In 2007, nearly 900,000 arrests for marijuana violations were made in the United States. 

From 1850 to 1942, marijuana was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia as a useful medicine for nausea, rheumatism, and labor pains and was easily obtained at the local general store or pharmacy.

In 2003, Canada became the first country in the world to offer medical marijuana to pain-suffering patients.

In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to legally allow medical marijuana for patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation.

While marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law, 13 U.S. states currently have compassionate use laws in place, which allow for regulated medical marijuana use: AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MI, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, and WA. An additional 17 states and the District of Columbia have legislated to recognize the value of medical marijuana but do not protect users from federal prosecution.

Need Further Marijuana Advice?

If you need advice on marijuana possession charges or issues, schedule a call with a trusted marijuana lawyer. Contact Austin, Tx criminal defense lawyer James Gill to get informed and protect your legal rights.

Why is Marijuana Illegal?

There are many reasons why marijuana is still illegal. Here are the five biggest reasons why.

1. It is Seen as an Addictive Substance

Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug on the basis that it has “a high potential for abuse.”

It means that the perception is that people who choose to use marijuana, are likely to become addicted and may let the drug take over their lives.

2. The Notion that Marijuana has “no Accepted Medical Use.”

Marijuana seems to yield considerable medical benefits for many Americans with ailments ranging from glaucoma to cancer, but these benefits have not been accepted well enough, on a national level. As marijuana remains illegal, it’s health benefits remain a serious national controversy.

3. It Has Been Historically Linked with Narcotics, Such as Heroin.

Early anti-drug laws were written to regulate narcotics–opium and its derivatives, such as heroin and morphine. Marijuana, though not a narcotic, was described as such–along with cocaine.

The association stuck, and there is now a vast gulf in the American consciousness between “normal” recreational drugs, such as alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, and “abnormal” recreational drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Marijuana is generally associated with the latter category, which is why it can be convincingly portrayed as a“gateway drug.”

4. Inertia is a Powerful Force in Public Policy.

If something has been banned for only a short period of time, then the ban is seen as unstable. If something has been banned for a long time, however, then the ban–no matter how ill-conceived it might be–tends to go unenforced long before it is actually taken off the books.

5. Historic Racism Allowed Politicians to Demonize Marijuana.

Harry Anslinger, the father of the war on weed, fully embraced racism as a tool to demonize marijuana. As the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Anslinger institutionalized his belief that pot’s “effect on the degenerate races” made its prohibition a top priority. Here are just a few of his most famous (and most racist) quotes:

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

It was “more dangerous than heroin or cocaine” and “leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing,’’ he claimed.

But drug historian David Courtwright, through a Freedom of Information Act request, got his hands on the actual surveys and found the data to have been fabricated. He also found a private memo from Anslinger admitting the numbers were made up. Nevertheless, Anslinger used that success to argue for an expansion of the drug war to weed in 1937.

When Did Marijuana Become Illegal?

To understand why marijuana is still illegal, we have to first go back to when it first became illegal. Though there had been some regulations on cannabis and therefore marijuana, there continued to be criticisms about the availability of narcotics and around 1910 there was a wave of legislation aimed to strengthen requirements for their sale. 

The new revisions aimed to restrict all narcotics, including cannabis, as poisons, limit their sale to pharmacies, and require doctor’s prescriptions. The first instance was in the District of Columbia in 1906. The Pure Food and Drug Act was then passed in 1906.

Further regulation of cannabis followed in Massachusetts (1911), New York (1914), and Maine (1914). In New York, reform legislation began, which targeted all “habit-forming drugs”, that restricted marijuana even further.[13] 

In the West, the first state to include cannabis as a poison was California.

Other states followed with marijuana laws including: Wyoming (1915); Texas (1919); Iowa (1923); Nevada (1923); Oregon (1923); Washington (1923); Arkansas (1923); and Nebraska (1927).[16]

Can a DWI Be Dismissed in Texas?

If you recently received a DWI charge, the following information may end up saving your job, your career, and even your housing. It is essential first to understand the distinction between DWI (also known as driving while intoxicated) and DUI, which the state defines as driving under the influence. 

getting domestic violence charges dismissed

Understanding DWI and DUI Charges in Texas

It’s important to understand the difference between a DUI vs DWI in Texas. Texas charges anyone over the age of 21 arrested for impaired driving with DWI. If you’re a minor and have any detectable amount of alcohol in your system, you can be charged with a DUI. The penalties for minors charged with DUI are much less harsh than being accused of a DWI. 

What is the Penalty of a DWI in Texas

It’s important to note that a minor can be charged with either a DUI or DWI, but only an adult can be charged with a DWI in the state of Texas. Other states like Arizona have DUIs for adults, which corresponds to a BAC level greater than zero but below 0.08.

The attitude towards DWIs in the state of Texas has changed dramatically since the mid-80s and with the advent of MADD: Mothers Against Drunk Driving. In response to public pressure, the legislature enacted changes roughly three decades ago that increased penalties and employed harsher penalties on criminal defendants charged with DWI. 

The thought process was that stricter penalties and harsher punishments would reduce drinking and driving in Texas. Since then, however, the state of Texas has arrested hundreds of thousands of people and convicted them of driving while intoxicated, so it seems the harsher penalties have done little concerning reducing the number of people drinking and driving in Texas. 

For a first offense DWI in Texas, you may be sentenced up to six months in jail and fined up to $2,000. You may also lose your driver’s license for up to 180 days and be subject to additional fines and court costs, commonly around $10,000. 

Many factors go into the punishment of a DWI charge if you are convicted. These factors can include:

  • Your age
  • Your physical health
  • Your employment background
  • Professional licenses that you may hold
  • Prior criminal history
  • Whether or not an accident was involved
  • Whether or not the charge involved dangerous driving
  • Whether or not you injured anyone as a result of your driving

With so many factors to consider, the range of punishments upon conviction is vast, almost by default. 

The purpose of this article is to teach you ways in which you can avoid a conviction for driving while intoxicated. The state of Texas must bring charges against you for driving while intoxicated within two years of the date of the offense. If you are not charged by an information within two years, the case is barred from proceeding under the statute of limitations.  This is an important factor and one frequently overlooked by defense attorneys who are not experts in the area of DWI law. 

In today’s world, especially in big cities, most DWI arrests result in either giving a breath test specimen or applying a warrant to draw your blood. Due to the sheer number of arrests where police officers request warrant blood-draws, the volume of testing at accredited labs has become very backlogged. In instances where the state fails to bring charges within a timely fashion, an experienced DWI lawyer will file a motion to have the charges rejected due to the state’s failure to file within the statute of limitations.

Possible consequences of a DWI include:

  1. A jail sentence for up to 180 days. 
  2. A fine up to $2,000. 
  3. Being placed on community supervision for a term up to two years. 

Standard terms of community supervision include performing community service hours, attending classes on alcohol and intoxication, and/or having some form of alcohol monitoring device either equipped on your vehicle or person. Additionally, the state can restrict your freedom to travel, and you are subject to random drug and alcohol testing throughout the term of your probation (which, of course, you get to pay for!).

How Long Does a DWI Stay On Your Record?

Not only are the penalties for DWI in Texas some of the harshest in the country, if you’re convicted of a DWI in Texas, it’s a permanent conviction on your record. That means it stays on there forever. To remove a DWI charge from your record, you should hire an experienced DWI attorney who is familiar with the laws in the state of Texas and all the possible ways to prevent a DWI conviction.

Getting DWI Charges Reduced Or Dismissed

However, all hope is not lost, as there are four specific ways in which a DWI charge can be expunged from your record.

  1. If you are eligible and the county where you were arrested offers it, a pre-trial diversion program is an option. If completed, the pre-trial diversion would allow the DWI to be dismissed, and you would be eligible at that point to expunge it off of your record. Diversion programs do not exist in every county, nor is every person arrested for a first-offense DWI eligible. You should always speak with an experienced DWI attorney before making an election to pursue a pre-trial diversion program. 
  2. If negotiations between your lawyer and the state result in a dismissal of DWI charges, you would be eligible to expunge the charge from your record after waiting a predetermined time of two years (the statute of limitations regarding expunging the case).
  3. An experienced DWI attorney knows to look at all the case facts and evaluate whether the officer legally stopped and arrested an individual. Experienced DWI attorneys know the law. If they believe an instance has occurred where a police officer did not observe a traffic law to stop a vehicle, they will file a motion to suppress with the court. Suppose the judge agrees with the defense counsel‘s motion to suppress evidence based upon the officer not having a valid legal reason for the stop. In that case, the judge can order all evidence to be excluded, and thus the state would have no choice but to dismiss the case.
  4. If you’re found not guilty by a jury or judge in the driving while intoxicated case, your case is eligible for expungement. An additional benefit being that the filing fees associated with an expungement are waived if filed within the first 30 days after a not-guilty verdict.

Getting DWI charges dismissed or reduced is the primary goal of an experienced DWI attorney. Knowing the right questions to ask, the correct law on the subject, and the way to properly evaluate the evidence against an individual is crucial in determining whether or not you’ll be able to get a DWI charge off of your record. 

If you’re looking to beat a DWI charge in the state of Texas, be prepared to…

Wait! The process can take a very long time. Typical cases average a year in length or longer. While patiently waiting isn’t always comfortable, we can’t rush the courts. It’ll take time.

Listen to what your attorney says. Follow their instructions and heed any advice that they may give you for the duration of your case. While they should evaluate each case explicitly before determining the correct course of action, your attorney may ask you to take alcohol classes, have an alcohol monitoring device, or provide employment verification. 

Experienced Austin DWI lawyers know what the state is looking for and, just as necessary, what the state is not looking for with regard to mitigating factors that can help in defense of your DWI case. 

Always be truthful in talking with your attorney. If they do not know the correct facts on the case, you’ll put them in a detrimental situation when defending and arguing on your behalf.

What Can Negatively Affect Chances of a DWI Dismissal?

Several specific things can negatively affect the chances of getting your DWI dismissed. These factors include: 

  • Getting re-arrested for an alcohol-related offense while your DWI case is pending.
  • Driving with a suspended license.
  • Having alcohol-related violations on an alcohol monitoring device, including IID, PAM, and/or SCRAM.
  • Failing to show up for court settings properly.
  • Testing positive for drugs or alcohol while you’re out on bond.

Naming the cost of having a DWI charge dismissed in Texas is as complicated or as simple as saying what a house costs. Everyone knows houses can cost only a few thousand dollars, or beyond $100 million. The details of each case, the judge’s requirements, the prosecution’s requests, required classes/devices, the county… all of these details can contribute to the cost of completing the case.

Rate of DWI Charges Dismissed in Texas 

The dismissal rates also vary widely depending upon the county of arrest. In Travis County, for example, DWI conviction rates were approximately 25% (75% dismissal) until police and law-enforcement moved to mandatory blood testing about ten years ago.  Conviction rates have skyrocketed since the advent of compulsory blood testing, thus resulting in a much lower dismissal rate for DWIs as a whole. It’s more important than ever to hire an experienced DWI attorney to have the best possible chance of receiving a DWI dismissal.

Hire an Expert Texas Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, don’t hesitate to contact experienced criminal defense attorney James Gill today for DWI help. Defending citizens accused of driving while intoxicated or controlled substance charges has been James Gill’s primary practice since 2005.

Call 512-448-4560 today to schedule a consultation. Austin Criminal Lawyer James Gill serves all of Austin, Westlake, Kyle, Buda, San Marcos, and the surrounding Texas communities.

Police Brutality Protests in Downtown Austin

Since the recent death of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis, Austin, Texas has seen day after day of protests resembling those of the Black Lives Matter marches across the U.S. and across the world.

Black lives matters protesters

While at times anti-police brutality marches have turned violent themselves, the issue of which the Black Lives Matter movement represents should not be misunderstood. This is not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue. At its core, the movement is centered on the fact that blacks receive unequal and unfair treatment from the police.

It’s no secret that blacks are subjected to more police brutality than any other race, and it is often an unspoken or taboo subject. It has rarely—if ever—received the type of public notoriety it receives today. The hope and a dream of the Black Lives Matter movement is essentially the same thing that was written in our declaration of independence: all people are created equal and deserve equal treatment in the eyes of the law.

The Anti-Police Brutality Protests Has Led to Increased Force by Police

Besides peaceful marches, incidents in Austin have ranged from fires of all kinds (dumpsters, trash, cars)  to vandalism of neighborhood businesses. The ironic part of the movement is that anti-police brutality protests have actually led to increased force being used by police. When protesters marched and took over I-35 in Austin, Texas in early June 2020, they were met with rubber bullets, bean bags, and tear gas being fired at them by Austin police officers. 

Sadly, some officers began using excessive force with regard to peaceful protesters, including shooting a 16-year-old in the face with a “bean bag” who was 100 yards away from the scene of people blocking I-35. This officer is currently under investigation as it appears he deliberately attempted to injure an innocent child. People also have a misconception about non-lethal rounds. They may not kill you, but you may have enduring detrimental physical effects as evidenced by the fact that over 10% of people shot with rubber bullets have lifelong repercussions from them.

How Austin Citizens Are Calling for Change in the City of Austin

Police departments, including the Austin Police Department, have come under public fire for using what is deemed non-lethal force, and citizens across the country (again, including Austin) are demanding change. They want the police to receive additional training and education about how to use less lethal mechanisms in their law enforcement procedures.

These demands by the public have not gone unheard. The City of Austin has acted and called for the city to review its police protocols, while also looking at potentially defunding parts of the police department.

How These Protests Are Different From Past Marches

Protests are a vital part of the American way of life and one of our individual freedoms. They haven’t changed much in the many years they’ve been held, but one of the main differences in today’s protests is that nearly everyone has a smartphone and can record video. 

With the presence of social media, thousands of images and angles of police brutality are caught on camera and uploaded to the Internet for everyone’s viewing and sharing pleasure. More people are seeing what the people on the front line have always seen.

Charged With A Crime at the Downtown Austin Protests? Contact Criminal Defense Attorney James Gill

If you or anyone you know has been injured by the police during a protest, they should contact Austin criminal defense attorney James Gill to find out what can be done. Contact us online today.

Police Brutality Protests in Downtown Austin

Since the recent death of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis, Austin, Texas has seen day after day of protests resembling those of the Black Lives Matter marches across the U.S. and across the world.

Black lives matters protesters

While at times anti-police brutality marches have turned violent themselves, the issue of which the Black Lives Matter movement represents should not be misunderstood. This is not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue. At its core, the movement is centered on the fact that blacks receive unequal and unfair treatment from the police.

It’s no secret that blacks are subjected to more police brutality than any other race, and it is often an unspoken or taboo subject. It has rarely—if ever—received the type of public notoriety it receives today. The hope and a dream of the Black Lives Matter movement is essentially the same thing that was written in our declaration of independence: all people are created equal and deserve equal treatment in the eyes of the law.

The Anti-Police Brutality Protests Has Led to Increased Force by Police

Besides peaceful marches, incidents in Austin have ranged from fires of all kinds (dumpsters, trash, cars)  to vandalism of neighborhood businesses. The ironic part of the movement is that anti-police brutality protests have actually led to increased force being used by police. When protesters marched and took over I-35 in Austin, Texas in early June 2020, they were met with rubber bullets, bean bags, and tear gas being fired at them by Austin police officers. 

Sadly, some officers began using excessive force with regard to peaceful protesters, including shooting a 16-year-old in the face with a “bean bag” who was 100 yards away from the scene of people blocking I-35. This officer is currently under investigation as it appears he deliberately attempted to injure an innocent child. People also have a misconception about non-lethal rounds. They may not kill you, but you may have enduring detrimental physical effects as evidenced by the fact that over 10% of people shot with rubber bullets have lifelong repercussions from them.

How Austin Citizens Are Calling for Change in the City of Austin

Police departments, including the Austin Police Department, have come under public fire for using what is deemed non-lethal force, and citizens across the country (again, including Austin) are demanding change. They want the police to receive additional training and education about how to use less lethal mechanisms in their law enforcement procedures.

These demands by the public have not gone unheard. The City of Austin has acted and called for the city to review its police protocols, while also looking at potentially defunding parts of the police department.

How These Protests Are Different From Past Marches

Protests are a vital part of the American way of life and one of our individual freedoms. They haven’t changed much in the many years they’ve been held, but one of the main differences in today’s protests is that nearly everyone has a smartphone and can record video. 

With the presence of social media, thousands of images and angles of police brutality are caught on camera and uploaded to the Internet for everyone’s viewing and sharing pleasure. More people are seeing what the people on the front line have always seen.

Charged With A Crime at the Downtown Austin Protests? Contact Criminal Defense Attorney James Gill

If you or anyone you know has been injured by the police during a protest, they should contact Austin criminal defense attorney James Gill to find out what can be done. Contact us online today.

How To Deal with Stress and Anger to Prevent Domestic Violence During the Coronavirus Quarantine

James Gill has over 15 years of experience handling criminal matters and is an expert in family violence cases and their defense.

Stressed man in isolationIn our day-to-day lives, most of us aren’t used to being at home for long periods of time, or life simply dictates that we spend a majority of our time away from our family. Being asked to stay home as much as possible for the foreseeable future, no matter how much you love your spouse and your children, being mandated to spend nearly all of your time with them will bring with it some unexpected challenges…

Continue reading “How To Deal with Stress and Anger to Prevent Domestic Violence During the Coronavirus Quarantine”