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What to Expect at Your First Meeting With Your Criminal Defense Attorney

Coffee Meeting with Criminal Defense Attorney

It’s common to feel a bit nervous or anxious before meeting with your attorney for the first time. You should know that your attorney is here for you, and wants you to feel comfortable talking to them about the sensitive information in your case. The more information they have, and the more comfortable you feel talking to them, the better they will be able to represent you. 

The first meeting is an opportunity for you to get to know each other and for you to tell your story. This is also when your attorney will ask f for the information they need to begin crafting your defense.

Regardless of why you’ve hired a criminal defense attorney, there are a few things you can anticipate will happen during this initial meeting. 

Come prepared with necessary information

During this meeting, your attorney will ask you for all of the essential information about yourself. This information can include, but is not limited to: 

  • Contact information including name, address, date of birth, email and social security number 
  • Your current Immigration status
  • Education history and status
  • Your arrest record including what happened with the case and if you served any jail time, probation, or fines you paid. 
  • Past and present employment status and work history
  • Marital status
  • If you have any illnesses or recent hospitalization 

Having this information ready for your attorney will save time during the meeting and allow you to spend more time discussing the case and asking questions. 

Come ready with specific questions 

To make the most out of your time on this first meeting, begin thinking of questions, you want to ask your attorney before you arrive at their office. Ask questions about how frequently you will meet with or hear from your attorney, and what you can expect moving forward. 

Listen to your lawyer and ask clarifying questions

It’s important to ask questions you have about your case and trial, but remember to listen to what your lawyer has to say. They will likely have done a bit of their own research. Now is the time to listen to their findings and ask any clarifying questions about things that may be confusing or new to you. Lastly, make a note of important dates or events you need to prepare for that will affect your trial. During this meeting, take note of the timeline of your case and any other proceedings. You will need this information to know how to prepare for what’s to come.  

Depending on your situation, what happens during your first meeting could vary. 

It’s smart to research what to expect, but always remember that what you read on the internet is not to be confused with actual legal advice. A qualified Houston criminal defense attorney knows the latest Texas state laws and is there to support you throughout your trial. 

If you are facing a criminal offense in Houston, call the offices of Christoper T. Gore and learn more about how he can represent your case. 

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How Your Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You

Criminal Defense Legal Team Can Help

Depending on your crime and charges, you may be facing severe consequences and penalties. Despite what you know about your case, you need a qualified attorney to put you in the best position to move forward. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands your state’s system and can speak the language of the prosecutors trying your case. An attorney who is familiar with your situation and has handled similar cases will help level the playing field and make a case for your defense.

Here are just some of the ways you will benefit from having a criminal defense attorney represent you. 

Analyze the charges against you 

Sometimes, it can be challenging to know how the charges against you were decided, and what those charges mean. Your lawyer will be able to look into your specific circumstances and make sure that the case against you aligns with what actually happened. They will be allowed to visit the scene of the crime and interview witnesses in your case. Your lawyer will also have access to official reports, documents, and physical evidence that the prosecution may use against you. They will be able to identify if there are any holes in the evidence or gaps in proof that could help prove reasonable doubt in your case. 

Investigate arresting officer’s conduct 

There are times when the offices involved in charges against you did not follow protocol when collecting evidence. This is a violation of your constitutional rights, and an attorney can help determine if this happened in your case and how unlawful evidence can be dropped from the case. 

Help you understand what is happening

The legal system contains many moving pieces and can seem complicated if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. Your attorney can help you understand what’s happening with your proceedings. Beyond that, they will protect you from being taken advantage of or being tricked or coerced into saying things you don’t want to say. 

Build a case for your defense

Perhaps you have an alibi for the crime or acted in self-defense before your arrest. Your lawyer will gather your case’s information to build your defense in a way that weakens the case against you. This could mean finding holes in the evidence or determining the reliability of the witnesses. 

Help you make decisions

Once your attorney gathers all of the information they need on your case, they’ll be able to give you advice on which choices to make moving forward. They can foresee what may or may not happen at trial.  Your attorney will advise you on whether or not you should take a plea, whether you should testify, or any provide strategic solutions that could help the outcome of your case. 

Represent you at your trial 

Your attorney will work and speak on your behalf in front of the judge or jury. A seasoned criminal law attorney will know the right things to say to present your defense. 

At the time, it may seem like a good idea to get advice from the internet and attempt to represent yourself. However, online information should not take the place of real legal advice from a qualified attorney. Every case is different, and you need an attorney that can help you make the best choices to benefit your future. 

If you’re looking for a Houston criminal defense attorney, call the offices of Christopher T. Gore. Tell us about your case, and we will let you know how we can best represent you moving forward.

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Dealing with Felony Charges in Houston, Texas

Houston Texas Hearing Courtroom

Being convicted of a felony is a consequential event that should be taken seriously. A felony charge can come with severe consequences that can follow you for the rest of your life. In Texas, felonies can come with hefty punishments including prison time, costly fines, and in more severe cases, the death penalty. Felonies can also make it more challenging to secure employment and could affect your record for your entire life. 

In Texas, being charged with a felony usually comes after committing a crime that involves inflicting substantial or grave harm onto another person. Additionally, some white-collar crimes such as fraud or embezzlement are also classified as felonies. 

In Texas, felonies are classified into five categories: Capital Felony, First Degree Felony, Second Degree Felony, Third Degree Felony, and State Jail Felony.

Let’s go over how different crimes fall under each classification and the potential punishment for each. 

Capital Felonies

The most serious felonies are labeled as capital offenses, and they come with the most severe punishment, including life in prison without parole or possibly the death penalty. Murder of a public servant is one example of a capital felony offense. 

First Degree Felony

First Degree felony offenses are the next most serious classification following Capital Felonies. Examples of First Degree Felonies include aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, and murder. 

First Degree Felonies may be punished with Punishments for a first-degree felony may include life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. 

Second Degree Felony

Second Degree felonies include certain domestic violence offenses, including causing serious injury to a family member. Under Texas law, a second-degree felony could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000

Third Degree Felony

Third-degree felonies, while less grave than the first two, still carry serious punishment and can result in up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. A common third-degree felony is the possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in an amount of 5-50 pounds. 

State Jail Felony

State Jail Felonies don’t carry a particular designation or have specific sentences. They are often viewed on a case-by-case basis. State Jail Felonies can be punishable with 180 days to two years of jail time and a monetary fine of up to $10,000. 

What to do if you’re charged with a felony

If you’ve been charged with a felony, don’t take the situation lightly. It’s time to find an attorney who understands the severity of the situation and can help you know what it means for your life moving forward. 

Even though felony crimes carry serious weight, the right Houston felony attorney can help you manage the outcome of your situation and know what to expect moving forward. 

The right felony defense attorney will be able to understand your situation and offer you the best options available for your unique situation. 

Remember that the internet is not the right place to find legal advice specific to your case. Every case is different, and you need a personalized plan that will apply to your unique situation. If you are facing a misdemeanor offense in Houston, call  Christoper T. Gore. Learn more about how he can best represent your case and help you move forward. 

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What is considered a Misdemeanor in Texas

Houston Texas Misdemeanor Legal System

In Texas, crimes are categorized based on the seriousness of the offense. How aggressively you are punished for a crime defends on how that crime is classified under Texas law. While misdemeanors may be considered “lesser” criminal acts under some systems, the punishment for these crimes depends on how it is classified. Misdemeanors can fall under one of three categories: Class A misdemeanor, a Class B misdemeanor, or a Class C misdemeanor. 

Depending on the crime and how it is classified, you may be facing severe fines, jail time, or a combination of the two. 

What is a Class A misdemeanor?

A Class A misdemeanor is the most serious of the three classifications. Penalties for crimes that fall under Class A include a mandatory jail sentence of up to one year, and you may be required to pay a fine of up to $4,000. 

Crimes that fall under Class A misdemeanors in Texas include: 

  • Assault with bodily injury
  • Perjury
  • Carrying a weapon unlawfully 
  • Second offense DWI (driving while intoxicated) 
  • Possession of 2-4 ounces of marijuana

What is a Class B misdemeanor?

Class B misdemeanors are less severe than Class A offenses but still, carry significant consequences. If found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, you could face a mandatory sentence of 180 days in jail and pay up to $2,000 in fines. 

Common class B misdemeanors include:

  • Prostitution
  • Failure to pay child support
  • Possession of certain drugs 
  • First offense DWI
  • Indecent exposure 

What is a Class C misdemeanor?

Class C misdemeanors carry the least significant punishment, but the consequences can still bring long-term effects. With crimes that fall under class C, there aren’t specific overarching punishments for the entire classification. Each crime has an appropriate punishment, and the classification does not carry any mandatory jail time for offenses. However, under Texas law, you will be required to pay a fine of up to $500. 

Class C misdemeanors in Texas include:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol as a minor 
  • Petty theft 
  • DIsorderly conduct 
  • Possession of tobacco or alcohol as a minor
  • Simple assault 

What to do if you’re charged with a misdemeanor

Have you been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Houston? Having a misdemeanor on your record can make things more difficult for you in the future when it comes to finding a job and in other areas of your life. 

After the arrest, remember to stay calm and take the necessary steps to find an attorney who can help. Regardless of the crime, it’s vital to hire a trusted Houston Misdemeanor attorney to represent your case. The right attorney will understand the most up to date state laws and can provide advice that keeps your best interests in mind. 

Remember that the internet is not the right place to find legal advice specific to your case. Every case is different, and you need a personalized plan that will apply to your unique situation. If you are facing a misdemeanor offense in Houston, call  Christoper T. Gore. Learn more about how he can best represent your case and help you move forward. 

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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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Understand the Logistics of a Jail Visit

Jail Wall

The visit will likely be conducted either via a telephone and closed circuit tv screen or through a dividing glass wall. Prepare yourself for the fact that you might not be allowed to make any physical contact with your loved one during the visit. You may not pass them any notes, money or personal items. Visitation rooms tend to get crowded and hectic during open hours. People from all walks of life will surround you. Be respectful of them and their right to visit their loved ones but don’t be afraid to ask that others are respectful of your visit as well. If someone is interfering with your right to have a meaningful visit with your loved one, notify a corrections officer.

Prepare what you want to talk about

Plan ahead regarding what you want to discuss with your loved one during the visit. Time will be limited to about 15-30 minutes, and extensions are not likely to be granted. To avoid running out of time, make a list of the things that need to be addressed. Important talking points include:

  • Does your loved one require you to bring prescription medication to the jail?
  • Is there housing or employment issues that need o to be taken care of for your or your loved one while they’re incarcerated?
  • Does your loved one need help retaining an attorney?

As a general matter, county jails will not allow inmates to release items in their personal property to civilians; however, most prisons make exceptions for crucial things like house keys and government benefit cards. If you need to retrieve something from your loved one’s belongings, you will have to fill out the proper documentation first.

Never discuss the facts of a pending criminal case when visiting. While most jail visits are not recorded (unlike inmate phone calls), you never know who is listening. If you have relevant, confidential information regarding the case, its best to go through an attorney rather than tell them in person.

Though it may be difficult, try to keep the conversation as positive as possible. Remind your loved one that you support them and encourage them to take part in any programming provided at the jail such as anger management classes or AA meetings.

Expect a request for money

Prepare yourself for the fact that your loved one will likely ask you to give them some money for phone calls and commissary. Commissary is similar to a general store that operates within the jail. Inmates can buy snacks, toiletries, and other personal items to help make their stay more tolerable. You will not be allowed to hand over cash during your visit, but you may be able to transfer money to your loved one using a kiosk in the lobby. The officials at the jail will have information about transferring money.

Know the rules and follow them

Don’t ask for special treatment from the jail officials or corrections officers. Respect the rules and follow them at all times while at the jail. It’s important to be polite to the corrections officers. Although the officers may not always show you the same courtesy, try to remember that they have a very stressful and challenging job. If you think you are being treated poorly, explain how you called ahead to learn the rules, what you were told, and what you need. Then politely ask to speak to a supervisor.

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4 Ways To Prepare To Visit Your Loved One In Jail

Someone in Jail

Visiting your loved one in county jail can be a stressful and emotionally trying experience. It’s important to plan ahead so that you have a clear idea of what to expect during the visit. This will help to keep your nerves calm and have a successful visit.

Have the most up to date information on hand

The best way to get up to date and accurate information regarding visitation is to contact the sheriff’s office in the county where your loved is incarcerated. Local sheriffs departments operate most jails in the US, so they’ll likely have the most recent information and rules of the jail. Many jails also have easy to navigate websites which makes it easy to publically access the vital information about things like visitation and other regulations.

Schedule your visit ahead of time

Before making arrangements to visit your loved one, you need to check the inmate visitation schedule. The schedule is usually arranged by the last name, inmate number or where they’re housed within the facility. Inmates typically get at least one social visit per week, and sometimes they may be responsible for setting up the session in advance themselves.

Your loved one can schedule a visitation from a kiosk within their cell block or by submitting a form to the jail administration. Make sure your loved one has requested and been approved for your visit at least 24 hours ahead of your planned visit to be sure.

Keep in mind that the jail limits inmates to a certain number of visits per week and usually no more than one visit per day so you may want to coordinate a schedule with other potential visitors. Visitation is generally done during the evenings and on the weekend. Inmates segregated for health reasons, security concerns or rule violations may have significantly reduced visitation opportunities.

While visits are generally limited to just one adult per session, many jails allow you to bring a child as well. Just make sure the child is well behaved and mature enough to handle the adult atmosphere of a jail visit.

Arrive at least 15 minutes early for the visit

Most county jails are overcrowded, so it’s likely that you’ll experience extended wait lines for visitations.

Be smart about what you bring with you

Make sure you have a valid state ID when you check in. Also, keep in mind that many local jails don’t allow cell phones the building. The safest thing to do is to leave your technology at home or in the car. Some prisons have lockers for you to store your stuff in, but they might cost money so bring coins if you plan to use one.

Security is tight for all visitors entering the jail. Expect to pass through a metal detector and be searched by armed guards. Be cautious of wearing jewelry, underwire bras or body piercings. Also carefully check what you are carrying with you into the jail.

Make sure you don’t have any knives, razors, or anything that could be used a weapon. If you have a handbag, check the contents of the bag ahead of time or leave it in the car to be sage. Do not try to bring things for your loved without asking the jail for permission ahead of time.

Prepare yourself mentally

You can prepare as much as possible, but remember to stay calm during the visit and not let the stress of the surrounding situation get to you.

What to Expect When a Visiting Loved One in County Jail

Visiting a loved one in jail can be a stressful event; however, there are things you can do to prepare for the visit (link here to the previous article) to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. It’s important to understand how the visitation process works and what you might encounter during the visit, to make it a seamless experience.

We want you to be prepared, so we’ve outlined four things to keep in mind before visiting your loved one in the county jail.

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Dealing with Bond Issues When Your Loved One is Arrested

Male in Handcuffs

When you find out that your loved one is arrested, you might feel the urge instantly enter problem-solving mode. Parts of the situation are out of your hands, but helping your loved one post bond is one of the most helpful things you can do to help get them temporarily out of jail.

Collect information

Find out the name of the arresting agency and the name of arresting officer(s) to have for future reference. Ask the officer where your loved one is being booked and where you can bond them out. In some cases, your loved one may qualify for recognizance or signature bond. This means they will be referred from jail after they go through booking procedures without having to post the bond.

Determine the charge

Ask the arresting officer or the jail what the specific charge was. You can also ask to see a document called the charging instrument which lists the exact name of the alleged crime and the particular code section.

Think twice before contacting a bondsman

If your loved one is held to a high money bond, then you may want to consider contacting a bail bondsman. These are individuals and businesses who lend money to people to post bond. It might seem like a good idea under pressure, but there are grave risks associated with bail bond agencies. Talk to your lawyer first to come up with other options before resorting to a bondsman.

Post bond

When posting bond, you might be required to pay an additional $50 fee. Most county jails have a bond out window somewhere in the administrative section of the building. You should think of the bond as a gift to your friend or loved one. Don’t plan on getting the money back. Bond may be forfeited for failure to appear at future court dates; it may be assigned your loved one’s attorney, or it may be used to pay your loved one’s fines and court costs. If there is any bond left over after the resolution of the case, it will be refunded to the person who posted the bond minus an administrative fee of usually about 10% of the bond amount.

Arrange a ride

Don’t forget to arrange a ride for your loved one upon their release on bond. Some police stations and county jails are not in the safest neighborhoods, so you don’t want your loved one stranded there without a ride.

Take care of day to day needs

If your loved one can’t post bond, they may need your help with other things until their release. For example, you might need to provide the jail with your loved one’s prescriptions. You also may want to contact their school, job or other obligations and inform them of their absence. Also, keep in mind things like rent and bills that need to be paid while you’re loved one is incarcerated.

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What To Do When Your Loved One is Arrested

Handcuffs When Arrested

It’s never a fun day when a loved gets arrested. You want to help, but if you’ve never been in this situation, you won’t know what to do or who to call.

We’re here to help. In this article, you’ll learn what steps to take to assist and comfort your loved one during the aftermath of the arrest. Depending on where you are at the time of the arrest, there are different ways to react to ensure the best possible outcome.

If you are present at the time of the arrest

Gather information

At the moment, it’s important to keep calm and not panic. You will want to be level-headed and calm when approaching the situation. First, ask the officers if your loved one is free to go or if they’re being detained. If they’ve been arrested, you are allowed to ask why. If the arrest happened under a warrant, ask which jurisdiction issued the order and how much to expect to pay for the bond.

Always be respectful

It is okay to ask the police questions, but be respectful when talking to law enforcement. As long as you are not getting in the way of them doing their jobs, and ask politely, they will provide with the necessary information you need.

Be reassuring and available

If you can speak to your loved one before they’re taken to the station, tell them not to answer any questions beyond the standard booking questions. Tell them that you will do your best to bond them out of as fast as possible. It’s also comforting to let them know that you will contact an attorney for them.

If your loved one calls from jail

Don’t ask for details

Remember that virtually all police stations record phone calls and the prosecution will obtain a copy of the recording, so don’t ask for more information over the phone. Don’t ask about the circumstances leading up to the event surrounding your loved one’s arrest. Instead, ask what facility they are.

Urge them to remain silent

Tell your loved one not to discuss the case with anyone until they meet with a lawyer. Help them get through police interrogations by telling them exactly what to say which is “I don’t want to answer questions. I want to talk to a lawyer.”

Contact a criminal defense lawyer

There is a lot at stake immediately after the arrest, so don’t delay hiring a lawyer as soon as possible. You will need a criminal defense lawyer on your side. Inform your loved one’s attorney of exactly where they are being held and urge them to get down there as soon as possible to speak to their client.

If you hear about the arrest from a third party

Find your loved one

You may be able to find your loved one using your local government’s website, but don’t waste time or money on a commercial inmate locator. Note that it will take some time for your loved one to show up on the computer. You can also call your local non-emergency line for help. When calling, have as much information as possible, including their full name and date of birth. You can also look up the number for your country jail and call there to speak with the booking department directly. If your loved one is being housed a local precinct, it is helpful if you know where the arrest took place when it occurred, and your loved one’s current address.

Remain calm

Your loved one will be scared and desperate to get out of custody, so you need to reflect calm and reassurance. Remind them that they are not alone and you will work to get them out of custody as soon as possible.