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9 Tips for Dealing with Police (COPS)

Tips for Dealing with the Police

Having a police officer or law enforcement official stop you is never a fun moment. Whether you are pulled over in your vehicle or stopped on the street, there are things to remember to protect your rights and make the situation as pleasant as possible.

Be Polite and remain calm

Police officers deal with a lot of stress and dangers in their day to day, which puts them on alert for difficult people. Even if an officer is rude, treat them with respect. This will be helpful if you need to face them later in court. Avoid escalating the situation with nasty or snarky comments.

Don’t agree to unlawful searches

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, giving you the right to refuse to be searched if you don’t feel the officer is justified. Most searches require an officer to have a warrant. However, there are exceptions for when a warrant is required. If an officer asks to have a look around your home or vehicle, you can say “no, I don’t agree to a search.”

Remain silent

The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination, meaning that you have no obligation to say anything to the officers. Even if you are innocent, anything you say to law enforcement can be used against you. It’s important to say as little as possible until you can speak to an attorney. You can answer standard questions for identification purposes like your name, but don’t make small talk or try to explain yourself because your words could be taken out of context.

Ask if you’re free to go

It is always okay to ask the officer if you are free to leave. If you are not being detained, then it is possible that the officer wants you to stick around for further questioning. Ask the officer, “Am I free to leave?” If they say yes, then you can politely exit the situation and carry on with your day. If they say no, then ask if you are under arrest. They may say that you are not under arrest but are required to stay for questioning.

Don’t flee the scene

It doesn’t matter if you’re on foot or in your car. If an officer asks you to stop, you should never use that as an opportunity to flee. Fleeing from law enforcement is a criminal act in itself and can also be used against you later as a “consciousness of guilt” in court.

Clarify the reasons for the encounter

There are many reasons you could be stopped or approached by a police officer. It is within your right to ask why you’ve been stopped. The three main types of police encounters include arrest based on probable cause, detention based on reasonable suspicion, and consensual contact, where you agree to answer an officer’s questions at your own free will.

Be assertive

Many people are taught to comply with law enforcement despite the scenario. Your right to remain silent and your right to refuse unlawful search and seizure are fundamental when dealing with law enforcement. As long as you are polite and calm, standing your ground on these rights will benefit you greatly in the long run. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied or persuaded by officers who are trying to convince you to give up your rights.

Wait for your day in court

If you feel like the officer has abused their power or violated your rights, still try to remain calm at the moment. If you’ve been unlawfully searched or detained, make a mental note of the events leading up to this moment. You can recount all of those things to your attorney later. Don’t try to fight or engage with the officer on the scene. This will only make matters worse, and if it feels like you are resisting or fighting against law enforcement, this could come back to haunt you later on.

Don’t replace internet advice for real legal advice

If you’ve been stopped by law enforcement and are concerned for your future, always consult an attorney for legal advice. Information on the internet can be useful and informative, but it is NOT an alternative to personalized legal advice. Every case is different and make sure to contact an experienced attorney to ensure that your questions are answered and you are on the right path moving forward.

If you are looking for a Houston criminal defense attorney, or advice on legal issues including DWIs, domestic violence, shoplifting, or other offenses, contact Christopher T. Gore for more info on how he can best represent your case.

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Don’t Drink and Drive This Summer

Summer Vacation Drive Safe

Summer is a time for road trips, fun days on the water, and endless cookouts. It’s also the season that experiences the highest number of alcohol-related crashes and DUIs. The increase in activities that involve drinking makes hitting the road more dangerous than ever.

Texas law defines drunk driving two ways:

  • Having a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher
  • Not having regular use of mental or physical faculties from consuming drugs or alcohol

Driving a boat under the influence is equally as dangerous as driving on the roadways, and it’s illegal in 50 states. When impaired on the water, a driver’s reaction time can slow down even more than driving on the road due to a phenomenon called “boater’s hypnosis.” When combined with the motion of the water, the vibrations of being on a boat and being out in the open air, the effects of alcohol can become exaggerated. You also face an increased risk of dehydration, which can heighten the effects of alcohol even more.  

Impaired Tubing and Boating

Drunk driving isn’t just limited to driving on cars. In Texas, tubing and boating are wildly popular summer activities that often involve drinking and leads to many drinking and driving incidents after a day on the late. In South Texas, summer’s are the season of tubing on the Guadalupe in San Marcos. Tubing on the river tends to involve a day of drinking and boating. While alcohol is allowed on the river, there are still serious consequences for drinking and boating, as well as driving home after a full day of consuming alcohol.

In addition to boating while intoxicated, many tubers don’t realize they are still too drunk to drive home, which can result in severe injuries and fatalities. The 2016 death of Kristian Nicole Guerrero, who lost her life after a collision with a drunk driver, showcases the seriousness that can ensue. Guerrero was hit head-on by a drunk driver who had spent the day drinking and tubing. The 21-year old who hit her didn’t realize just how intoxicated he was before driving home.

Driving a boat under the influence is equally as dangerous as driving on the roadways, and it’s illegal in 50 states. When impaired on the water, a driver’s reaction time can slow down even more than driving on the road due to a phenomenon called “boater’s hypnosis.” When combined with the motion of the water, the vibrations of being on a boat and being out in the open air, the effects of alcohol can become exaggerated. You also face an increased risk of dehydration, which can heighten the effects of alcohol even more.  

Every year, hundreds of people lose their lives in drunk driving accidents, and that number steadily increases every year. Texas has the highest drunk driving rate reported in the country, making the roads especially dangerous for everyone involved.

Don’t let drunk driving ruin your summer fun. When out this summer having a good time, remember to coordinate a designated driver to get home from your destination safely. With apps like Uber and Lyft, it’s easier than ever to avoid driving drunk and finding a safe alternative without putting other motorists at risk.

If you have been charged with a DUI, DWI or other alcohol-related offense, you should contact legal counsel asap to see how these may affect your specific case. For a Houston DWI attorney or a criminal defense lawyer, contact Christopher T. Gore at (713) 223-1600 for more info on how his team can best represent your case.

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What to Do If You’re Pulled Over for a Suspected DWI

Drunk Driving

When someone is pulled over in Texas and is suspected to be intoxicated the police will ask that individual to step out of their car and take a Breathalyzer test by breathing into the device. The device will measure the amount of alcohol content in their system, and the officer will be able to determine if that driver is intoxicated.

If you’re pulled over for a suspected DWI, the first thing to remember is to be cooperative. It might be a scary situation to be in, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you don’t escalate the situation even further.

What to expect upon the stop

If you’re pulled over and suspected of drinking, it’s likely that you’ll be automatically arrested, even if you pass a field sobriety test. This is why you should never drink and drive, even if you feel fine or if you’ve only had one or two drinks. Remember that it is the police officer’s job to protect the public, so if they suspect that you’re intoxicated and a threat to the public, they can arrest you on the spot, with no tests required.

If you’ve been arrested for driving while drunk, there is very little you can do at that moment to make your case better or beat the charge. It’s important to be cooperative, do what the police tells you, and contact a Houston DWI attorney or criminal lawyer as soon as possible.

Depending on your history and if you have other charges prior to this one, you could face jail time, pay fees of up to $10,000, and will likely lose your license for a certain amount of time. In some cases, you’ll be required to use an ignition interlock on your vehicle until your probation is over.

Don’t voluntarily do a test on the spot

Texas has implied consent laws. These laws state that when you apply for a Texas driver’s license, you agree in advance to submit to a chemical test conducted in roadside sobriety exams. So the officer’s are correct in saying that you are breaking the law by not complying with the test. If you refuse, there is an immediate suspension of your license for 180. However, if you take the test and fail, then the consequences will be much worse further down the line.

The officers will threaten to take your license if you don’t comply with a field sobriety test or breathalyzer, but if you take the test and fail, your license will be taken anyways.

Taking a test on the spot and having that record of the account runs you the risk of being charged with a Class B Misdemeanor if your BAC is under .15. Beyond the legal fine, you also face increased insurance costs and a criminal record which can cause employment issues in the future.

If you are looking for a Houston DWI attorney, marijuana attorney or a criminal defense lawyer, contact Christopher T. Gore for more info on how he can best represent your case.

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What You Need to Know About Drunk Driving Laws in Houston, Texas

Drinking alcohol impairs driving

The penalties for drunk driving in Texas have become harsher over the years. This is because of the alarming rate of collisions, and deaths caused by drunk or drugged drivers in the state. According to the Houston Chronicle, in the last 16 years, there have been over 3,000 wrecks due to impaired driving which are the highest rate in the country.

Laws on Drunk Driving in Texas

Texas laws on drunk driving are found in the Texas Penal Code Title 10, Chapter 49 which defines intoxication in two ways. The first definition asserts that intoxication occurs when a person does not have normal use of mental and physical faculties due to consuming drugs or alcohol. The second definition simply states that a person is labeled as intoxicated when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or higher.

Drunk Driving Penalties in Texas

Here’s what can be expected when facing your first, or subsequent, DWI charge:

1st charge – You’ll receive a fine up to $2,000 and could spend 3 to 180 days in jail in addition to mandatory attendance of a DUI education program.

2nd charge – You’ll pay a fine of up to $4,000 and serve a jail sentence of one month up to a year, as well as a license suspension of up to two years. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock (a device that prevents your vehicle from starting without a breathalyzer test) as well as attend DUI education classes.

3rd charge – This time you are facing a fine of up to $10,000 as well as a suspended driver’s license for up to two years. You could also have up to 10 years in state prison, as well as mandatory ignition interlock and DUI education classes.

How to know if you are intoxicated

If you are suspected of being drunk while driving, Texas law enforcement officials will use a few different methods to determine if you are impaired. These can include blood tests, breathalyzer tests or urine tests to determine your blood alcohol content. While these tests will be conducted somewhere in the process, officers do not need to have physical evidence to charge you with a DWI in Texas. Texas officers can use probable cause to determine if you are intoxicated enough to cause harm and place you under arrest without conducting a test first. Officers are trained to assess your physical appearance, behavior as well as a presence of alcohol to determine if you’re intoxicated. They may also perform field sobriety tests during the stop as well.

DWI crimes involving other people

In addition to being charged with a DWI, if the offense involves other people, then you may be facing a much more severe penalty. For instance, if you are in the car with a child under 15 years old, the incident involves an assault or manslaughter, or you cause harm to a police officer or firefighter, then you could face other charges in addition to your DWI.

If you are looking for a Houston DWI attorney, marijuana attorney or a criminal defense lawyer, contact Christopher T. Gore for more info on how he can best represent your case.

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Finding the Right Houston Criminal Lawyer

Finding the Right Attorney

Just like choosing any other service, choosing the right Houston criminal lawyer is a big decision to make. Before committing, it’s essential to do research and know what you’re looking for to make an informed decision. So how do you choose the best Houston lawyer for your needs?

It doesn’t matter if you need a criminal defense lawyer, DWI attorney, assault lawyer, marijuana attorney or another type of representation. There are a few things that you should keep in mind when choosing which lawyer will represent you during this time.

Open communication

One of the main things you need to pay attention to your relationship with your attorney is how the two of you communicate. Potential red flags to look out for is your lawyer telling you what you need, rather than asking you what it is that you want.

Not every lawyer is going to be a good candidate to represent you in the trial. Your attorney should also be transparent with you and let you know if they think you are a good fit for your case. Not everyone can handle the pressure of a trial. Lawyers are used to this type of stress, but they are not the ones that will have to live with the outcome, you are. That’s why it’s crucial for your lawyer to list to you and your needs.

Also, pay attention to the rapport you keep with the attorney. You should be able to speak to them comfortably and easily without feeling judged or attacked. Ultimately, you need to choose someone that you feel comfortable sharing sensitive information with order for them to help you as best they can. The more your lawyer knows, the more they can help you.

Communicate your needs

A lawyer should present you with all of the possible outcomes, and never make promises of guaranteed results that they cannot control. Your defense lawyer should lay out the pros and cons of each option for your case. Remember that you are their client. Therefore you should be the one setting the expectations of what you want. Be open with your lawyer and tell them your expected outcomes. They should respond with facts and advice based on what you’ve told them and what they anticipate might happen based on the details of the case.

An attorney who doesn’t listen to your needs doesn’t have your best interests in mind. You want to choose a lawyer that cares about you and is not only in it for the money.

Come prepared

The first conversation when meeting a new attorney can say a lot about your potential relationship. That first meeting should make you feel comfortable and answer questions that you have about the process. Come prepared with questions about their cost, and know what your budget is. This meeting is an excellent time to talk about payment options and make sure that you can both comfortably move forward on the same page.

In Houston, certain crimes carry much more weight than others. If you’re looking for a shoplifting attorney, marijuana attorney, sexual or aggravated assault lawyer or domestic violence attorney, you need to make sure that you find someone that has experience handling these specific cases.

If you find yourself in a situation such as this or have questions about white collar criminal defense in Houston, contact Christopher T. Gore for more info on how he can help you with your specific case.