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Possession of a Controlled Substance in Houston

Drug Possession

In Texas, the Texas Controlled Substances Act sets the different severities and punishments of being charged with possession of controlled drugs. 

In comparison to other states, Texas has some of the harshest drug possession laws and penalties in the country. 

What is a controlled substance in Houston

Texas law classifies five different categories of drugs. Each group has its own rules and penalties. It is also important to note that marijuana is classified independently from these four classes of drugs. 

The Texas Controlled Substances Act categorizes substances in five “schedules” based on their potential for abuse. Schedule 1 drugs are the most strictly regulated and subsequently punished for abuse or possession. The five schedules are classified as the following: 

Schedule 1: Includes LSD, heroin, and ecstasy.

Schedule 2: Induces Methamphetamine and Cocaine. 

Schedule 3: Includes anabolic steroids, ketamine, unprescribed testosterone.

Schedule 4: Includes Valium, Ambien, and Xanax.

Schedule 5: includes Lyrica and various cough suppressants.

Marijuana possession is classified as a “light” Class B misdemeanor. It can carry a sentence of a fine of no more than $10,000 or up to 180 days in jail for possession of two ounces or less. These penalties increase substantially if you are found with over 2,000 of marijuana. At this quantity, you can be hit with a fine of up to $50,000 and a life sentence in prison. 

Drug possession charges are also broken down into two additional categories: simple possession, which includes possession for personal use, and possession with intent to distribute. Possession with intent to distribute carries significantly higher penalties than simple possession charges. 

Penalties for possessing a controlled substance in Texas

To be found guilty, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant was knowingly and intentionally in possession of a controlled substance upon arrest. 

The penalties for drug possession in Texas will vary based on five factors: the type of drug, the quantity, how the drug was concealed, whether or not you had other drugs or paraphernalia, and if you have past drug convictions. 

Drugs that carry a Class B or Class A misdemeanor result in a penalty of a fine of no more than $4,000 and up to a year in county jail. The exact punishment will vary depending on the drug in question. Depending on how much of the drug is found, the penalty can change from a third-degree felony to a first-degree felony. The highest penalty given to a first-degree drug felony is 99 year to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. 

What to do if you’ve been found in possession of a controlled substance 

Remember to always speak to an attorney to get the most up to date legal information, and specific information regarding your case. Don’t rely on advice on the internet to give you information that applies to your case since every instance will be different. If you are in Houston facing a drug possession charge, call the offices of Christoper T. Gore for information on legal representation and what potential penalties you may be facing. 

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Court Appointed vs Pro Bono vs. Paid Attorney – What is the Difference?

Houston Criminal Lawyer

When facing criminal charges, there are a lot of decisions you need to make before your day in court. One of those decisions is choosing whether to hire a private attorney, use a court-appointed attorney, or accept help Pro Bono.  In this article, we are going to outline the differences between a court-appointed lawyer, a pro bono lawyer, and a lawyer you pay for out of pocket.

Court Appointed Attorney  

If you’re charged with a criminal offense and don’t have money or resources to find legal representation, the court can appoint a public defender that will handle your case at no cost to you. The Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution gives every citizen the right to an attorney for criminal proceedings. To qualify for a court-appointed attorney, you have to meet specific low-income criteria and prove you are unable to afford a lawyer on your own.

While court-appointed attorneys are more helpful than no representation at all, most public defenders handle many cases at a time. This means that they have limited resources to dedicate to each client. They may not have the time to dedicate substantial attention to your case depending on their existing workload.

To qualify for a court-appointed attorney, you may need to reference any current financial documents that prove to the court that you don’t have the funds to hire a private lawyer. Your financial situation can be calculated in different ways, including, your income to expense ratio, the state or county you live in, and the cost of private lawyers in your area.

Pro Bono Attorney

A Pro Bono Attorney agrees to take on your case, either the entire case or a significant portion, at no cost to you or any other third party. Compared to a court-appointed attorney who gets paid by the government or a legal aid organization, pro bono lawyers volunteer their own time with no expectation of repayment.

Sometimes attorney’s take Pro Bono cases for specific press or marketing opportunities, or if it is a case that has a significant personal meaning to them or their area of law.

While it may seem like a great idea to accept free council, it’s important to remember that the attorney is volunteering their time. It’s likely that they’ll set very definite boundaries of what they will do and when they will be available to you during the case. You may have limited access to them if they are handling other cases, and it may be more challenging to get exactly what you want out of the agreement.

Paid Attorney

If you can afford it, it is always recommended that you hire a private attorney to represent you. Many lawyers will give you options to make payments in installments, or pay off your balance over time.

Hiring and paying an attorney is the only way to guarantee that all of your specific needs are met and that the attorney will be working for you directly throughout the process. Especially in criminal proceedings, when the stakes are high, you want someone on your side that is working for you, without any other external agenda.

Every case is different. Be sure to contact an experienced attorney to guarantee that your questions are answered and you are on the right path moving forward.

This article is not intended to replace actual legal advice, specific to your situation. While information online is useful at helping you understand specific laws and manage your expectations, you should always consult an attorney in person before making any decisions regarding your case.

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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The Consequences of Embezzlement Offenses in Houston

Corporate White Collar

What is embezzlement?

Embezzlement is a type of property theft that occurs when someone who is entrusted to handle or manage that property steals all or part of it. This can include material items of monetary value, or no monetary value, as well as money itself. Theft is considered embezzlement when the defendant had legal access and responsibility for someone else’s property when it was stolen.

For example, when you take money from someone, it is considered stealing. However, a bank teller keeps money that they were in charge of depositing on behalf of a customer, is embezzlement.

The bank teller had legal access to that money and was entrusted with making sure it was handled safely.

Embezzlement takes place in many industries, not just banking. For instance, funeral home operators taking items that were intended to be buried with the deceased is also considered embezzlement. Investors who take investment money and use it for any purpose other than the intended investment are also guilty of embezzlement.

Examples of embezzlement in Houston

Houston is not immune to embezzlement cases in the community.

In November 2017 it was discovered that a minister of Houston’s First Baptist Church had stolen over $800,000 from the church over six years. Jerrel Altic took money by forging payments from the church to fund his family trips as well as his doctorate. In June 2019 he was sentenced to ten years in prison for his crimes.

In April 2019, the president of Klein Soccer Club, a Houston kids soccer league, was accused of stealing $204 thousand from the kids club. The club’s Board of Directors filed a lawsuit against their then-president Troy Brooks after they discovered he had been allegedly siphoning money from their organizational funds into his own accounts for years.

Board members say he siphoned money for about three years. He changed the configuration of the club’s third-party payment system to go directly into his accounts when parents made payments for their children’s soccer fees.

While an indictment for Brooks is coming later this year, Texas law states that embezzlement cases involving more than $200,000 in stolen money or property is considered a 1st-degree felony. Brooks could face 5 to 99 years in state prison.

Penalties for Embezzlement

In Texas, there are several penalties for embezzlement, depending on the circumstances of the case. The value of the goods or cash stolen is what determines the severity of the punishment under Texas law. Additionally, if you are a public servant and commit embezzlement, you may face a more severe penalty.

Here is a brief overview of the punishments allocated based on the value of goods stolen.

  • Up to $1,500 is a misdemeanor and could result in up to one year in jail
  • $1,500 to $20,000 is considered a state jail felony, and penalties include up to two years in state jail
  • $20,000 to $100,000 is a 3rd-degree felony with punishment ranging from 2 to 10 years in prison
  • $100,000 to $200,000 is a 2nd-degree felony, and the accused could face 2 to 20 years in state prison
  • More than $200,000 is 1st-degree felony with a punishment of 5 to 99 years in state prison.

If you are in Houston looking for a criminal defense attorney, or advice on legal issues including embezzlement or other white collar crimes, contact Christopher T. Gore for more info on how he can represent your case.

Before making any legal decisions, always consult a licensed attorney in your area. While this article might be useful in helping you understand the laws and penalties around embezzlement, it’s not intended to be a replacement for actual legal advice. Every situation is unique, and you need to find legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.

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What is White Collar Crime?

Business Conference Room Scene for Some White Collar Crime

The term “white collar crime” describes a category of crimes, typically ones that carried out for financial gain. The most common white collar crimes tend to be crimes involving embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.

Types of White Collar Crime

Other crimes that fall under the “white collar’ umbrella include securities fraud, insider trading, insurance fraud, and Ponzi schemes.

Securities Fraud

There are a few different specific crimes that are classified as securities fraud. One, in particular, known as ‘insider training’ describes someone who has private information about the state of a company and violates their duty or obligation by trading based on that information. Another instance of securities fraud is when a company or individual seeks investment money by giving investors false information about the financial state of the company.

Embezzlement

Embezzlement describes taking money from someone of which you owe a duty or service to, without acting on that duty or service. For example, service providers who improperly use their client’s payments to fund their lifestyle, rather than using the money for it’s intended or agreed upon purpose. Another example of embezzlement could be a bank teller who keeps some cash from customer deposits for themselves.

Money Laundering

Obtaining illegally earned money and funneling those funds through another business to make them appear legitimate is known as money laundering. Money laundering often involves several different steps to distance the funds from their original, illegal source. However, a lot of times, it is much easier to trace dirty money back to its source than it may seem.

For example, someone who earns money by selling products illegally might start an official “business” unrelated to the money they earn but claim the income is from their registered “business.” This frequently happens with people who make money selling drugs or gambling.

Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is a criminal offense where the offender attempts to avoid paying owed taxes. This can include providing false information on your tax forms or transferring property to avoid owing additional fees. A few other examples of tax evasion include underreporting income, claiming fake business expense or purposely underpaying your taxes.

Penalties for White Collar Crime

Punishment for committing a white collar crime varies depending on state law, federal law, and the nature of the offense. In Texas, a white collar misdemeanor can have a penalty of a fee from $500 up to $4,000, and you could face possible prison time up to one year. If you are being suspected or accused of committing a white collar crime, it is best to seek an experienced white collar defense attorney to help you deal with the potential outcomes of the crime in question.

Please note that this article is not meant to be a substitute for actual legal advice. While it is a good idea to do independent research, it is crucial to speak to a qualified attorney in your area. Plan a meeting with a local white-collar defense attorney to discuss your options and help you plan a course of action.

If you need a white-collar criminal defense attorney in Houston, reach out to Christopher T. Gore to learn more about how he can help represent you.