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The Five Types of Felony Charges in Texas and Their Penalties

Scales of Justice Felony Charges

Texas takes it’s felony charges very seriously. Nearly all felony crimes committed in Texas have punishments that require either state prison or jail time. They are offenses that you cannot take lightly given the severe penalties that come with them.

If you or a loved one is being charged with a felony offense, you may have questions about what will happen next. While each situation is unique, Texas has specific classifications that the courts must follow. Each felony designation carries its own potential punishments. The first step is understanding the different types of felonies in Texas and the punishments that come with those offenses.

Types of Felonies

In Texas, felonies fall under the category of capital felonies. A capital offense encompasses first, second and third-degree felonies, or state jail felonies.

State Jail Felonies

When the state considers a crime to be a felony but fails to designate it under one of the three felony categories, it is deemed a state jail felony. Some examples state jail felony crimes include theft of a firearm, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle or possessing less than one gram of a controlled substance. State jail felonies can be punishable by up to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Third Degree Felonies

The lowest designation of a felony is a third-degree felony, which is punishable by 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A few examples of crimes that are designated as third-degree felonies include promoting prostitution, indecent exposure to a child, and committing assault while intoxicated.

Second Degree Felonies

Second-degree felonies in Texas include crimes such as manslaughter, arson, and sexual assault. A second-degree felony conviction can result in up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up $10,000.

First Degree Felonies

Crimes, including sexual assault against a child, aggravated kidnapping, or armed robbery, are considered first degree felonies. First-degree felony convictions in texas come with a sentence of five years up to life in prison as well as a $10,000 fine.

Capital Felonies

In Texas, capital felonies include the murder of a public official, or when coupled with another felony such as sexual assault or armed robbery. Capitol felonies committed in texas are punishable by death or life in prison without parole.

There are laws in place about classifications and what constitutes different types of felonies. However, the severity of the punishment is still correlated to the crime. Judges often take into consideration the defendant’s record and circumstances under which the crime was committed when designating the overall charges and punishments.

If you’ve been charged with a felony offense, it’s vital to take these circumstances seriously. Don’t rely on internet advice to guide you into taking the next steps. It’s time to retain a Houston criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help secure the best possible outcome for your situation.

If you are facing felony charges, call the offices of Christopher T. Gore to find out how he can represent your case.

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What to Expect from a First Time DWI/DUI Offense

Fruity Cocktail Don't Drink and Drive

If it’s your first time experiencing a DWI charge in Houston, you’re probably wondering about what’s going to happen next. Once you’ve received your charge, you’ll likely have a lot of questions about potential consequences, penalties, and what to expect when you go to court. Let’s break down the penalties you’ll likely experience after a first-time DWI/DUI offense. 

DWI Laws in Texas 

In Texas, it is considered ‘driving under the influence’ if you are operating a motor vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher. If you are pulled over and suspected of being intoxicated, you will be asked to give a breathalyzer to determine your BAC. Even if you blow less than the legal limit, you may still be arrested if you are driving erratically, or breaking laws with any BAC above 0. In addition to alcohol, you can be arrested for driving under the influence of any drug or substance, including marijuana, cocaine, or prescription drugs such as Xanax that affect your ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Legal Penalties For a First Time DUI 

If it’s your first DWI offense, you will receive a fine of up to $2,000 and could receive a jail sentence of up to six months. You will also face suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months and will have to pay an annual fee of $2,000 per year for three years to keep an active driver’s license. 

As a first-time offender, you may be able to obtain an occupational driver’s license during your suspension, which will allow you to get to work, school, and to complete household duties. An occupational license will also require you to provide evidence that the places you are going to affect financial responsibility. You may also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicles that will test your BAC every time you attempt to start your car. 

Long-term Consequences of a DUI

In addition to the legal implications of a DWI, you may also experience a significant increase in your auto insurance costs. A DWI conviction can also affect your employment, housing opportunities as well as your privileges for carrying a firearm or holding proper licensure. If you are applying for college or jobs, a DWI conviction may show up on your background checks and may even affect your ability to apply for financial aid or scholarships. 

The penalties for a DWI can be severe and impact the rest of your life. It’s important to get official and specific legal information regarding your case and your circumstances. Reading about potential consequences online can be a helpful first step to know what yo expect, but contacting a DWI attorney will give you more detailed information about how to move forward. 

If you’ve been arrested on DUI/DWI charges in Houston, it’s time to contact a criminal defense attorney who is familiar and experienced in these specific types of cases. Contact Christopher T. Gore for a consultation to find out more about how he can represent you and help you move forward after these charges. 

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What to look for in a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Legal Services

When you’re facing criminal charges, one of the most important decisions you make is who you choose to represent you in court. With all of the options for legal representation out there, it can be overwhelming knowing what to look for and how to choose an attorney you trust. A criminal defense attorney is a lawyer who handles criminal cases, usually in a specific geographic area and works on their own or in a smaller firm or partnership. 

Choosing the right attorney can make a huge difference in your experience during the trial and the outcome of your case. Here are a few things to consider when deciding on the right criminal defense attorney to handle your situation. 

Factors to consider when hiring a criminal defense attorney 

Knowledge of local laws

Every state has its own laws and legal processes. This makes it extremely important to hire an attorney who is familiar with the proceedings and legal structure in your area. In some states, laws even vary from one courthouse to another. So hiring a local attorney will give you an advantage at navigating the specific requirements of your county. Each district also has its own District Attorney. A criminal defense attorney who is familiar with your area may have familiarity and rapport with the D.A. and can work with them to negotiate plea deals in advance. They will also be more familiar with local law enforcement and will be able to give you more local insight into how cases like yours are typically handled in your areas. 

Areas of expertise 

IN addition to finding an attorney who is familiar with local laws, choose an attorney with experience representing people with charges similar to yours. Different attorneys have varying expertise in different offenses, and the more experienced an attorney has represented defendants with your specific charges, the more knowledge they’ll have on the complexities of those particular cases. When meeting with an attorney for the first time, make sure to ask them specifically what kind of cases they have worked in the past to make sure they have experience that aligns with the type of representation you are looking for. 

Trust and Rapport 

You will have to work closely with your attorney as they sort through the specific details of your case to give you the most favorable outcome possible. You need to build and maintain strong communication during this process which requires a great deal of trust between the two of you. In the initial meeting with a potential criminal defense attorney, pay attention to the general vibe you are feeling when talking to the attorney. Be wary of a lawyer who is feeding you blanked assurances or promising too much or asking you to sign any contracts or documents before giving you time to review them. You need to be able to have a transparent and trusting relationship with your attorney so that you both remain on the same page. A trustworthy attorney will be honest with you about the probable outcomes of the cases and will work with you to make sure you get the best possible outcome for your unique situation. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to get to know a potential attorney before making a final decision. 

Finding the right criminal defense attorney can change your entire experience during your trial. Make sure to do your research and speak to attorneys in person. What you read online isn’t always the best representation of the information you need to know to make an informed decision. Make in-person consultations with possible attorneys to find the right fit and get your questions answered in regards to your specific case. 

If you’ve been arrested on criminal charges and are looking for an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney, call Christopher T. Gore to find out more about how he can help represent your case.

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Why NOT Hiring a Lawyer Will Cost You

Meeting with your Houston Lawyer

It’s not a secret that lawyers can be expensive. Attorneys have to navigate the very complicated world of the legal system. Since no two cases are the same, it extremely important to hire an attorney that knows how to handle your unique situation.

When you’re facing criminal charges, there are a lot of important decisions ahead of you. One of those decisions is choosing representation for your day in court. You have the option of hiring a paid attorney or being assigned a public defender.

A public defender is a court-appointed lawyer that will handle your case at no direct cost to you. Court-appointed lawyers are better than no attorney at all, but they still come at a cost. It might be tempting to choose a court-appointed attorney to avoid paying high legal fees. But the truth is, even if you go the court-appointed route, you will still end up paying in one way or another.

The cost of not hiring a qualified attorney can result in more significant consequences down the line. So what is the cost of NOT hiring a lawyer?

The real cost of choosing a public defender

When you choose a public defender over hiring a paid lawyer, even if you enter a plea, you will still end up paying for a lawyer. The cost will come in the form of additional fees included in your court costs. Many states, including Texas, make defendants repay a portion or all of the fees for their court-appointment attorney through a process called recoupment. In 2016, the state collected more than 11 million dollars from defendants who were represented by court-appointed attorneys.

In addition to the monetary amount you may pay for a court-appointed attorney, you will spend much more of your time and wellbeing when you opt-out of paid legal representation. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know the inner workings of the justice system surrounding your crime. They will have connections and know how to communicate with the prosecution to get you the best deal.

When you choose a court-appointed lawyer, you will not be able to select the attorney you are paired with. They might not have experience dealing with cases like yours. They also have a much more significant caseload. Because of the high volume of cases they represent, their primary motivation is to move cases through the system as quickly as possible. They are less likely to take cases to trial than a hired attorney. When you work with a court-appointed attorney, you will have much less input into how your case is handled than you would with an attorney you hire.

The best course of action is to hire a lawyer that has experience handling complex cases like yours and will have your best interests in mind. It’s tempting to try and learn the logistics of your case yourself online, but online advice is no replacement for an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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