Criminal Defense Blog

Disorderly Conduct in Houston

Disorderly conduct [Texas Penal Code, Title 9, Chapter 42] charges in Texas are a kind of ‘catch-all’ charge that covers a lot of different situations, all primarily related to some act that would be considered ‘disturbing the peace’. In this blog post we will discuss the nature of disorderly conduct charges as well as their potential penalties.

Some examples of actions that would be considered disorderly conduct would be using vulgar or profane language in public, offensive gestures, making an unreasonable amount of noise, as well as more serious actions such as displaying a firearm in public. In attempting to prove a disorderly conduct charge, a prosecutor must prove that the act in question was done both intentionally and knowingly. Thus, the person must have done the action on purpose and with understanding that the action would be perceived as disturbing.

It should also be noted that funeral picketing, rioting, obstructing roads, as well as disrupting meetings are considered disorderly conduct. For example, displaying signs, posters, or blocking access within 1000 feet for a funeral service or within three hours of the start or finish of a funeral service can be charged as disorderly conduct. Blocking streets, sidewalks, or entrance and exits to public buildings are disorderly conduct as well. As well, probably most well known for disorderly conduct charges, public intoxication can be charged as such.

Consequences for Disturbing the Peace Charges

Penalties for disorderly conduct can vary greatly depending on the severity of the disturbance. Most disorderly conduct charges are Class C Misdemeanors that are punishable by a fine of up to $500. However, more serious disturbing the peace charges may be charged as Class B Misdemeanors, such as discharging a firearm in public. These offenses can eb punishable by up to 180 days in jail or up to $2000 fine (or both.) In the case of disorderly conduct the penalty is up to the decision of the judge (and sometimes with the prosecutor’s recommendation.) Even though most disorderly conduct charges are as misdemeanors, they are still serious offenses that can have long-lasting consequences and should also be fought by an experienced attorney.

Disorderly Conduct Attorney

If you or a loved one is charged with disorderly conduct it is important to hire a defense attorney with experience who can help you fight your case. Carl Haggard has over three decades helping the people of Houston and offers a Free Confidential Consultation about your case. After talking with Carl he will go to work fighting for you!

Disorderly Conduct Lawyer

Forgery in Houston

In this blog post we are going to discuss the law and some issues regarding criminal forgery [Texas Penal Code, Title 7, Chapter 32]. Forgery in Texas is a very serious offense – while knowing the law can help one avoid forgery charges, if you or a love one is charged with forgery it is very important to seek the advice of an experienced Houston Criminal Defense Attorney.

Forgery Laws in Texas

The general idea of forgery is that, through documents or other means, one has intentionally intended to defraud or harm someone. Most people are familiar with ‘check forgery’ – the attempt to sign and pass off a check that is not one’s own. Technically forgery laws are more broad, encompassing what are called ‘writings’. A writing can be:

  • Any form of print or recorded information [which includes signatures]
  • Money, stamps, credit cards, coins, and even trademarks
  • Symbols of value, privilege, right, or identification

Thus, intentionally attempting to sell a counterfeit copy of a rare stamp as genuine would be considered forgery. But also, entering false records, cashing a forged check, creating a false deed, and in general any attempt to defraud would be charged under law.

While there are surely situations in which persons attempt to forge documents, etc., there are also situations in which persons are mistakenly charged with forgery. A very important component of a forgery charge is that the attempt to defraud must be intentionally. When a person is charged with forgery it is very important to have a knowledgeable attorney examine all of the situations surrounding the case so as to provide the best defense possible relative to the circumstances of the charges.

Penalties for a Forgery Charge

Consequences for a forgery conviction can be quite steep. Forgery of government documents, money, stocks and bonds, and postage are considered 3rd degree felonies and carry two to ten years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Forgery of wills, deeds, mortgages, credit cards, and contracts are considered state jail felonies and carry 18 months to two years in jail and fines up to $10,000. Other types of forged documents may be classified as Class A misdemeanors with up to a year in jail and $4000 in fines. Also important to note that if the victim of the forgery charge is elderly then the crime is automatically increased to the next higher penalty category. As well, having a forgery charge on a person permanent record can result in life-long negative consequences.

If you or a loved one has been charged with forgery in Harris County, Houston, or surrounding areas contact Carl Haggard of The Haggard Law Firm for a Free Confidential Consultation. Carl has been helping the people of Houston defend against forgery charges for over 3 decades and has a verified winning record against forgery charges. When you contact Carl he will go to work fighting for you!

Forgery Attorney Harris County

Unlawful Carry of Weapon in Houston

In this criminal law blog post we will discuss some of the issues concerning unlawful carrying of weapon issues in Texas and in particular Houston and Harris County. Even though Texas is known for having favorable gun laws in general, unlawful carrying of a weapon is a serious offense with stiff penalties in Texas so it is important to understand the particulars of what the law consists in as well as potential consequences for a conviction.

Unlawful carry of a weapon is covered under Penal Code Title 10 Chapter 46. While the law includes weapons such as firearms, it also includes other legally prohibited weapons such as switchblades, explosives, and machine guns. One aspect that makes gun laws complicated is even with Texas’ favorable gun laws and even if the gun is licensed, it doesn’t follow that one may carry a gun anywhere. There are certain locations where by law a gun may not be carried, these include schools, any business that prohibits guns, bars, jails, churches, and hospitals. Also included is in vehicles if the gun is not concealed. There are also other places where guns are prohibited – it is also important to check to make sure prior to carrying.

Being Charged with Unlawful Carry

A person may be charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon if he or she has a weapon and is a convited felon as well as if if a weapon is used in committing a crime. Because of the nature of these situations, consequences will be very heavy and negative life-changing consequences under a conviction. A charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon is typically a Class A misdemeanor but certain situations such as unlawful carrying of a weapon in a bar or prohibited facility such as a jail may be enhanced to a Third-Degree Felony. This can result in 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

At The Haggard Law Firm our criminal defense lawyers have over 30 years of experience defending the people of Houston against unlawful carry charges and have a verifiable winning record. View our recent case results for dismissals against unlawful carry charges:

Unlawful Carry of Weapons Dismissed in Houston

If you or a loved one is charged in Harris County or surrounding areas, call us today at (832) 328-0600 or email us for a free confidential consultation about your case – Carl Haggard will go to work to Fight For You!

Defense against unlawful carry in Houston

Houston Failure to Identify

The following blog post conerns only failure to identify in Texas. Failure to identify laws vary state to state.

While it is unfortunately too common for persons to be arrested for failure to identity in Texas, there is a lot of misunderstanding regarding failure to identity and specifically when a person is required to provide identification to a law enforcement officer. These misunderstandings range from: persons are always under any condition required to identify themselves to an officer (sometimes the view held by officers themselves) to the other extreme in which a person may believe he or she is never required to identify themselves, e.g. a right to remain silent also means remaining silent regarding one’s identity. In this blog post, we will clear up what failure to identify means and when a person is legally required to provide identification to an officer.

What is Failure to Identify?

Failure to identify is covered under [Texas Penal Code 38.02.] A direct quote of the law from 38.02 is as follows:

(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally refuses to give his name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information.

(b) A person commits an offense if he intentionally gives a false or fictitious name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has:
(1) lawfully arrested the person;
(2) lawfully detained the person; or
(3) requested the information from a person that the peace officer has good cause to believe is a witness to a criminal offense.

There are two aspects to the above definition regarding when an offense has taken place. The first concerns when a person has been arrested and refuses to provide identification. The second concerns when a person has been arrested or detained or is believed to be a witness to a crime and provides false information.

If a person has been lawfully arrested they must provide identification to law enforcement officers [or will be charged with failure to identify.] This aspect corrects both extremes regarding misunderstanding of failure to identify, namely: persons are not always obligated to provide identification to law inforcement officers — only upon being lawfully arrested. However, once arrested, in regards to self-identification there is no ‘right to remain silent’ as this only concerns self-incrimimination in which it’s been ruled merely identifying oneself does not classify as self-incrimination.

However, there is a caveat – if a driver of a motor vehicle is stopped on suspicision of a crime or traffic violation, they must show their drivers license. The reason is because legally driving requires a legally validated driver’s license (as well as insurance.)

The other aspect of failure to identify concerns intentionally providing false information regarding identity. One can be charged with failure to identify even if they have not been arrested if they intentionally provide false identification when detained or when an officer has good cause to believe they have been witness to a crime. What constitutes ‘good cause’ is a complex issue and in most cases it is likely best to assume the officer has good cause to ask for identification – however if you believe the officer does not have good cause and refused to provide identification it is important to contact an experienced Houston defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your situation.

Consequences for Failure to Identify

Like most offenses, the consequence of a failure to identify conviction will vary based on the circumstances of the crime. A conviction for failure to identify after a person has been arrested is considered a Class C misdemeanor in Texas and carries a punishment of up to a $500 fine. Providing intentionally false identification after arrest, detainment, or when there is good cause of being witness to a crime is considered a Class C misdemeanor and carries up to 6 months in jail and up to a $2000 fine. If a person is a fugitive then failure to identify is increased, so the Class C becomes a Class B and the Class B intentional falsification becomes a Class A misdemeanor.

Even though these are misdemeanors they are serious offenses that can carry life long consequences on a person’s record. As such, if you or a loved one is charged with failure to identify in Harris County or surrounding areas you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Carl Haggard of The Haggard Law Firm has been fighting for the people of Houston for over 30 years against failure to identify charges and has a verifiable winning record. Call (832) 328-0600 or email today for a free confidential consultation regarding your case and Carl Haggard will go to work fighting for you.

Failure to Identify Attorney Houston

Domestic Violence Houston and Harris County

While most people have an idea of what ‘domestic violence’ means, it may come as a surprise that the legal concept is much more expansive than our general idea of the concept.

First – if you are a victim of domestic violence, get help immediately by moving to a safe location and calling the National Hotline: 1-800-787-7234.

Domestic Violence: Legal Definition

Domestic violence in Texas [Texas Penal Code 22.01] includes not only assault against family members (current or past) but intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person, threatening another person, and physical contact that one shoudl reasonably now will be provocative or offensive. This also includes children, foster children, and any member of a household.

This means one can potentially be charged with domenstic violence even if one does not think they are being violent, does not intent to be violent, or even if one does not physically cause injury.

A common scenario is that a couple gets into a fairly mundane argument (no one is perfect, arguments happen.) No one is physically assaulted. A neighbor calls the police and someone is charged and / taken to jail for assault. Often it is the case that no one even intends to press any charges.

Consequence of Domestic Violence Conviction

Penalties for domestic violence, even misdemeanors, are very stiff – they can include a year in jail and thousands of dollars in fines. In some cases domestic violence can even be charged as a felony offense. As well, these charges tend to haunt people throughout their lives regarding employment, education, and more.

If you or a loved one is charged with domestic violence and you want to fight these charges, it is essentially to hire a caring and understanding attorney with experience in this area who will fight for you. Houston Defense Lawyer Carl Haggard has over 30 years of experience fighting domestic violence charges in Houston and Harris County and has a verifiable winning record. Call or email today for a Free Confidential Consultation regarding your case and he will immediately go to work to provide the best legal defense possible.

Recent Winning Cases against Domestic Violence

domestic violence attorney houston harris county