Criminal Defense Blog


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


Latest New Non-Disclosure Law – H.B. 3016

Latest New Non-Disclosure Law – H.B. 3016 – Simplified

Now You Can Seal DWI’s under H.B. 3016

As of September 1, 2017 the new non-disclosure laws enacted September 1, 2015 are retroactive. This means that the 2015 laws now apply to any offense date – not just offense dates of September 1, 2015 or after.

Additionally, the new 2017 non-disclosure law under H.B. 3016 allows you to seal some DWI’s – something the old 2015 law did not provide for.

Below is a basic summary of the new laws. Call our office at 832.328.0600 to discuss your particular case and determine eligibility, as the laws are complex.

The new laws are for first-time misdemeanor offenders only

  • The new categories of eligibility for sealing are for first-time offenders charged with certain misdemeanor offenses only
  • If this is not your first case or is your first case but is a felony you still may be eligible to seal it if you fall under the already-established categories of eligibility; call our office or use the contact form on this page for a free confidential discussion..

Automatic non-disclosures

  • For eligible misdemeanors only [misdemeanors which are not excluded or which do not carry a 2-year waiting period to seal]
  • For deferreds only
  • For first-time offenders only
  • Automatic does not mean it just happens – you still have to file a petition and have a hearing
  • The automatic part is that the judge does not have any discretion to deny it “in the best interests of justice” – it must be granted
  • 180 day waiting period from the start of your deferred adjudication
  • Other conditions of eligibility apply, the most important of which is that you must not have pleaded guilty to any case since pleading guilty to the case you are wanting to seal

Standard non-disclosures

  • At the discretion of the judge and can be denied “in the best interests of justice”, a very vague construct but one which we can do nothing about, unfortunately
  • All eligible misdemeanors that carry the 2-year waiting period to seal are standard; some misdemeanors are excluded
  • All eligible felonies are standard – they can all be denied “in the best interests of justice”; some felonies are excluded
  • All eligible felonies carry a 5-year waiting period to seal
  • [All other conditions of eligibility apply]

Non-Disclosures After Straight Probation

  • For eligible misdemeanors only
  • For first-time offenders – this must be the FIRST criminal case you have ever pleaded guilty to – a prior probation or deferred will disqualify you
  • You finished probation successfully – you were not revoked
  • You have paid all fines, costs and restitution
  • 2 year waiting period applies to some eligible misdemeanors
  • [All other conditions of eligibility apply]

Non-Disclosures After DWI Probation

  • For DWI 1st’s only with no accident involving another person including your passenger – so if you had no passenger and hit a tree or a parked car (with no one inside of it) you are eligible but if you had a passenger and hit a tree or a parked car you are not eligible
  • For first-time offenders only – if you have ever pleaded guilty to any criminal charge in the past you are not eligible to seal your DWI 1st
  • Must have successfully completed probation and paid all fines, costs and restitution
  • Waiting period of 2 years or 5 years from date of discharge from probation
  • 2 years if you had a breath interlock on for at least 6 months
  • 5 years if there was no interlock requirement
  • [All other eligibility requirements apply]

Non-Disclosures After Jail Time or Fine Only Convictions

  • For eligible misdemeanors only
  • For first time offenders only – you cannot have pleaded guilty to any criminal case in the past
  • Felony jail convictions still cannot be sealed
  • You must have completed all your jail time [if any] and be out of jail
  • You must have paid all fines, costs and restitution
  • If the judge determines the offense was violent or sexual in nature the judge can deny it
  • 2 year waiting period after release from confinement
  • [All other eligibility requirements apply]

Non-Disclosures After DWI Jail Time

  • For DWI 1st’s only with no accident involving another person including your passenger
  • For first-time offenders only – prior cases will disqualify you
  • You must have served all your time
  • You must have paid all fines, costs and restitution
  • Waiting period of 3 years or 5 years from date of release from jail
  • 3 years if you had a breath interlock requirement for at least 6 months
  • 5 years if there was no interlock requirement

When waiting periods begin

  • Except for automatic non-disclosures waiting periods begin from the date of discharge and dismissal from your deferred adjudication or from the date you are released from jail

Eligibility

  • If you pleaded guilty in the past to certain (not all) offenses (not the case you are wanting to seal) you are ineligible for standard non-disclosures
  • For everyone – If you have pleaded guilty to any charge during any applicable waiting period or after pleading guilty to the case you want to seal you become ineligible to seal that case
  • If you are not eligible your petition will definitely be denied and you are wasting your money
  • If you are eligible your petition may be granted, or it may be denied “in the best interests of justice”, unless it’s automatic – in which case it will definitely be granted

Offenses that are not eligible

Many categories of offenses are not eligible for sealing.

The main categories are:

  • Sexual offenses
  • Child-related offenses (injury, abandonment, endangerment)
  • Family violence

We have had great success helping the people of Houston seal their records so that they can pursue their lives and happiness. If you are interested in having your records sealed, even if you don’t meet any of the requirements above we may be able to to help. Call our office at 832.328.0600 or use the email form on this page for a free confidential consultation and we will put over 30 years of winning legal experience to work fighting for you.


Drug Trafficking in Texas | Houston Defense Attorney

Drug Trafficking in Texas

Though every state in the United States is at risk for the transportation and distribution of illegal drugs, Texas consistently ranks at or near the top for the amount of major drugs seized within its borders. This is in part due to Texas’ proximity to Mexico, a constant source of illegal drugs, but also because it stands as a major gateway to the rest of the country.

What is Drug Trafficking?

Simply put, drug trafficking [Title 6 Chapter 481] is the act of transporting illegal drugs from one spot another, including distribution and importation. The penalties for drug trafficking can be severe, including years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, loss of benefits and licenses, and difficulties finding employment.

Often, a charge of drug trafficking is applied to anyone found with illegal drugs in their possession. The difference trafficking and a drug possession charge can sometimes simple be the amount; if a person is found with drugs exceeding a certain weight, he or she will most likely be charged with drug trafficking as opposed to drug possession, which can carry much more severe consequences.

One example of this is a 2017 arrest of ten individuals charged with interstate drug trafficking. The Police Department conducted a seven-month investigation with police departments across Texas and eventually seized sixty-four pounds of marijuana, 230 prescription pills, six bottles of prescription syrup, 274 grams of cocaine, fourteen grams of psilocybin, three pistols, and seven assault rifles. The street value of these drugs was a quarter of a million dollars and partly based on the amount the individuals were charged with trafficking.

Every type of illegal drug, above a certain amount, can count as a drug trafficking charge, but some of the more common types include marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and prescription drugs like oxycodone. Alternatively, if someone is caught with measuring equipment or plastic bags (and especially large amounts of cash), a drug trafficking charge is usually levelled as well.

Penalties for Drug Trafficking?

If someone is convicted of drug trafficking, they can face a stiff punishment. In the case of heroin or methamphetamine, a person convicted could be sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. If a person is charged a second time the punishment can be multiplied exponentially with the accused facing anywhere from 10-99 years in prison and a fine not exceeding $10,000. Texas Law allows for any of these charges to be increased if further malfeasance can be proven, such as if a weapon is found.

If you or a loved one is charged with drug trafficking in Houston, TX or surrounding areas, it is very important to find an experienced criminal defense attorney who can competently defend you in court. Carl Haggard has over 30 years of experience defending the people of Texas against drug trafficking charges and has a verifiable winning court record. Call (832) 328-0600 or email The Haggard Law Firm today for a free confidential consultation about your case and we will go to work fighting for you!

Drug Trafficking Attorney Houston Texas