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5 Tips for Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney

Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Preparing a Case

When you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, choosing your criminal defense attorney is an important decision that can have a lasting impact on the outcome of your situation.

Regardless of how serious the offense, it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney. There are a lot of law firms and solo attorneys that handle cases like yours, so it’s essential to know how to choose the right one.

Here are five tips to navigating the process of choosing a criminal defense attorney to represent your case.

Book a Consultation to See if There’s a Good Fit

You always want to meet with lawyers in person before making a decision. This will help you determine whether or not you are a good fit for each other. It’s essential to establish a good personality fit on top of a professional fit because this person is going to get to know you very well, and you want to make sure that you both have a mutual understanding of what is to come. You also need to be able to trust your lawyer with very sensitive information, so booking an in-person meeting can help determine if it will be a good working relationship. Many law firms, including Christoper T. Gore – Attorney at Law, offer free consultations to get to know you and your unique situation.

Ask Important Questions

When choosing a criminal lawyer, you need to make sure the firm can meet all of your needs. Prepare yourself with questions ahead of time to ask the attorney or group of attorneys that you are meeting with. Include questions about what areas they frequently practice in, their experience level, and their experience handling cases that are similar to yours.

Make Sure They Have Knowledge of Local Laws

You may want to hire a lawyer from a big city or a lawyer that has a lot of experience, but if they don’t have experience dealing in your specific area, they might not have the most up to date knowledge on local codes and laws. Even small towns can have their own specific legalities, and it’s important for your attorney to be well-versed in the local information.

Confirm Who Will Handle Your Case

If you are working with an attorney who has a solo practice, then you know for sure who is going to be handling your case on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t the case if you hire a law firm with multiple attorneys or partners. When working with a firm, make sure you specifically ask which attorneys are going to be handling your case, and who will be your main point of contact. With larger firms, it’s not uncommon for your case to be worked on by multiple attorney’s or passed around a few times for varying opinions. It’s important to establish communication with your firm up front to avoid surprises of who will be handling the bulk of your case.

Act Quickly

Hiring your attorney should be one of the first things you do after being accused of a criminal offense. Even though your court date might seem a ways away, there is a lot that needs to be handled before you have your day in court. Make an appointment to talk to a criminal lawyer as soon after being arrested as possible.

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What to do if you’re accused of shoplifting or employee theft

Retail Store

Being charged with shoplifting or theft is a serious offense, that in the worst of cases, can even end in jail time. If you are an employee being accused of theft in your place of work, you may also face even harsher punishment. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between shoplifting and employee theft and prepare you for what to do should you find yourself facing either of these situations.

Shoplifting

If you are accused of shoplifting, it is likely that a security officer or loss prevention professional will detain you until the police arrive. However, you still don’t have to make a statement, even if you are being held. It is best to keep quiet and ask to call a lawyer before making any formal or casual statements.

In some situations, loss prevention officials might try to add, or mistake other items in your possession for other stolen goods. If you have purchased items during this trip, make sure to keep your receipt so that you can prove the actual amount of stolen items and are not accused of more than necessary. The cost of stolen goods is significant in this case because anything taken up to $100 is considered a Class B felony, but if the amount exceeds $100, then you will need to be arraigned on the charges, which is a much more serious matter to deal with.

Employee Theft

Employee theft, while also a more severe offense than shoplifting, can be more difficult to prove. Don’t say anything to security or officers until you have a lawyer present or you run the risk of incriminating yourself. That includes offering to return stolen items, paying for them, or replacing the stolen money. Always consult a lawyer before making any statements if you are being accused.

In the case of employee theft, is over $750 or goods valued at that amount or higher, you could be facing a class A misdemeanor. In these cases, items that you have already purchased or are on your person may be mistakenly classified as stolen goods as well, so it’s important not to sign anything or make any statements without consulting with a lawyer. You don’t want to sign paperwork accusing you of stealing $5,000, which would be considered a felony if you only took $1,000 worth of property.

In either of these situations, it is crucial to remain calm and not to panic. Making a scene or immediately accusing officials of lying will only make matters worse and draw further attention to the situation. If you are being charged with employee theft or shoplifting, calmly ask to speak to a lawyer before making any statements with the police, officials at the scene, or the shop owners. You may feel initial guilt and offer to pay the amount back immediately. However, it is in your best interest to remain quiet until you know precisely what the outcomes of the situation can be. These are not offenses to be taken lightly and many times shop owners will not offer forgiveness, no matter how apologetic you are following the incident.

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CBD Oil & the Texas Compassionate Use Act

There’s a lot of buzz around the growing CBD and cannabis industry, and the effects CBD oil can have on people dealing with various ailments. While the industry is growing and becoming more mainstream, there are still a lot of unanswered questions around it, which can cause quite a bit of confusion with consumers, especially in the state of Texas.

The Texas Compassionate Use Act, Explained

The Texas Compassionate Use Act, passed in 2015, established a registry of physicians use low-THC cannabis to treat patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. This legislation raised some questions about how this impacts residents and public safety.  As of this year, this law only covers the medical use of low-THC cannabis as prescribed by a physician and strictly excludes “smoking” as a form of consumption.

The Compassionate Use Act is limited and only applies to patients in the state of Texas with intractable epilepsy.

In 2017, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued licenses to three organizations that have the legal right to dispense low-THC products to qualified patients. The permits gave these specific organizations the authority to grow, process and distribute low-THC cannabis to patients with a valid prescription. Currently, these three organizations include Cansortium Texas, Compassionate Cultivation and, Surterra Texas.

If the state determines a greater need for access to more registered organizations, then they will begin the process of reviving and issuing additional licenses.

Once a physician issues a prescription, the organization then dispenses the product which includes a label with information that would assist law enforcement in confirming the legitimacy of the medicine and present proof of the patients legal right to possession of the product.

This Act does not give private citizens the right to grow their own cannabis, even if it is a low-THC strain. All patients are required to purchase their low-THC marijuana from a licensed dispensing organization.

Under the Texas Occupations Code, “Low-THC Cannabis” is defined as a Cannabis Sativa that does not contain more than 0.5 percent by weight of tetrahydrocannabinol and 10 percent by weight of cannabidiol.

On a related note, CBD is making it’s way into millions of households nationwide as a way to curb anxiety and treat another number of issues including headaches, acne and more. While CBD is a legal substance in the United States, it’s unregulated nature can make it difficult to understand the real effects of the product both physically and legally.

Things to Watch Out for with CBD Oil

The fact of the matter is that CBD oil is not approved or regulated by the FDA, so it can be difficult for consumers to know exactly what they’re getting. It’s possible that certain CBD products include traces of THC, which would make the product illegal in the state of Texas.

If you are found in possession of CBD oil or gummies that contain traces of THC, you could be charged with a felony due to the concentrated nature of the substance. Even though CBD is not an illegal substance is still is not protected or regulated nationally under the law, which means you will lose in court under the argument that you didn’t know it contained THC.

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What To Do When You’re Charged with Domestic Violence

wedding ring

If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense, it’s important to know what will happen next and how your behavior and reaction could affect your future.  In cases like these, there is a certain protocol that you should follow in order to not cause further damage or escalate the situation even more.

According to Texas Law, domestic violence is referred to as both “domestic violence” and “family violence.” Domestic violence, under these laws, means an assault took place against a member of the household, family member or current (or past) partner. In Texas, these laws not only apply to spouses, but to other people living in the same household as well as people you are related to through blood or affinity.  This includes foster and children, and unmarried couples in a “dating” relationship.

Under accordance of Texas law, you can be charged with domestic violence if you intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly, cause bodily injury to another person, threaten another person with an injury or create physical contact with another person that is seen as provocative or offensive.

There are a few things you need to keep in mind, after being charged with a domestic assault, that will alleviate additional trouble you could face in the future.

Here is what NOT to do when dealing with a domestic violence arrest.

Do not attempt to explain your side of the story without a lawyer present. You may feel compelled to explain the situation to the police, but this is against your best interests. A police officer might tell you that you can straighten this out together, but under no circumstances should you meet with the police without a lawyer present.

If asked to explain or describe the situation, simply say “No, I don’t have anything to share at this time,” and contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Avoid all communication with the person or people involved in the conflict since they, or the police, may be able to use anything you say at this time against you in court. It is definitely not the time to make threatening or harassing comments. Your best course of action is to remain quiet until you have a chance to speak with a lawyer.

If the incident involved a person or people that you live with, be prepared to find a new place to stay at least for the duration of the case.

Don’t talk to witnesses or anyone else involved in the incident. Despite your intentions, this can be seen as witness tampering or harassment and will escalate the situation further in the eyes of the law. Don’t ask witnesses to talk to the police for you. The best thing to do is to talk candidly with your lawyer about the best course of action moving forward.

Avoid making excuses or creating a “yeah, but…” defense. For example, saying “yeah but she hit me first” is not in your best interest in this situation.

Domestic violence charges are very serious in the eyes of Texas law and can have a big impact on your life. It’s important not to take these charges lightly, or assume that if you ignore them they will just go away. Get in touch with an attorney as soon as you can to learn about your options and to inform yourself of how to proceed on moving forward with the case and with your life.