Author Archive


Houston Autism and Special Needs Defense in Texas Criminal and Juvenile Courts

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Autism Defense Lawyers | Special Needs Criminal Defense Attorneys

In Texas, the criminal justice system far too often involves itself and arrests adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including Asperger’s Syndrome which is now classified as part of ASD, and other special needs disabilities. Unfortunately, many police officers and teachers lack the training and education to understand and to handle individuals with special needs in a calm and peaceful manner. A special needs individual might behave in a certain way that they cannot control, however a police officer or witness may perceive that behavior as intentionally dangerous or aggressive.

The Texas criminal justice system is set into motion once someone calls the police, and friends and parents have minimal control. Law enforcement agencies investigate the incident and report their version of the facts to the District attorney who makes the decision whether to charge an individual with an offense, either misdemeanor or felony. Sadly, this happens frequently in Texas—autistic or otherwise special needs individuals are charged with a crime for behavior that was simply misunderstood and not criminal in nature at all. Even when the alleged victim (who is frequently a family member or parent) does not want to press charges, the District attorney may still go forward with the charges.

Houston Criminal Defense Lawyers with Firsthand Understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Asperger’s syndrome runs in the family of one of our attorneys. As a result, our defense firm has firsthand, special knowledge of how adults and children are impacted by autism and other special needs. Further, we have represented many autistic adults and children who have been charged with various offenses, including family violence and sexual offenses. On cases involving special needs clients, we have a high success rate in obtaining dismissals throughout southeast Texas.

The consequences of a charge or conviction in the criminal or juvenile justice systems can significantly impact an individual’s life and future. It is critical to have a defense lawyer with trial experience in the Texas criminal and juvenile justice systems and who also understands how disabilities affect a person’s behavior. Criminal and juvenile cases can be resolved in different ways, including pretrial diversion program, deferred adjudication, deferred prosecution, probation, jury trial and dismissal. In order to properly represent an adult or juvenile client, we spend time with him or her and even their family in order to understand their disability and how it affected their behavior in the matter at hand. We will then use that knowledge and understanding to aggressively defend them in court.

Free Consultation with a Harris County Special Needs Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, or another special needs disability, and have been charged with a crime or delinquency, contact Houston criminal defense attorney James Sullivan for a free consultation at (281) 546-6428. Our office is in northwest Houston near Jones Road and FM 1960, and we regularly defend criminal and juvenile clients throughout southeast Texas, including Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Waller, Brazoria and Galveston Counties.

Client Reviews

Our son has a history of well documented mental health issues from medical professionals. Sullivan is very familiar with the mental health issue [Asperger’s syndrome] and how it impacts our son. He thought outside the box and used that knowledge to our son’s advantage which seemed to be an impossible situation given the fact that my son had previously participated in a pretrial diversion program for a marijuana case.  ~Eugene, 03/15/2017 (Avvo)

Based on his intuition and observation, Mr. Sullivan suggested that our son exhibited characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism, and that could explain his inability to pass a polygraph. We were a little skeptical at first, but had him tested, and our son was indeed diagnosed with Asperger’s, a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.  ~Montgomery County Client, 06/06/2016 (Avvo)

In May 2013, we learned that our 16 year old son had been accused by his nephew of sexually assaulting him… Sullivan came out to our home and spent several hours getting to know us, our son and the details of the case. Our son is a gifted musician, has Asperger’s Syndrome, is kind and follows rules. There is no way our son would abuse his cousin or anyone else… Within three weeks, Sullivan called us with the news that the prosecutor had dismissed the charges.  ~Montgomery County Client, 11/26/2013 (Avvo)

First Time Arrests

Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Houston First Time Offenders

Your first time being arrested can be a scary experience. Whether you were arrested because of a misunderstanding or because of an impulsive act, the entire process is stressful, rushed and confusing. Since law enforcement in Texas is well known for cracking down on crime, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend you.

If you been arrested and charged with your first offense in Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Brazoria County or any of the surrounding areas, you should not go to court alone. Call an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney who will protect your legal rights and use your first time circumstances to mitigate the possible consequences in your case.

Harris County First Time Arrest Lawyer

The lawyers at James G. Sullivan and Associates have thousands of case successes, and they review each case on a personalized, result-oriented basis to determine the best approach for you. They will work hard to achieve a favorable result for you.

Call James G. Sullivan and Associates at (281) 546-6428 for a free phone consultation for your first time offender case in Houston, Hempstead, The Woodlands, Conroe, Cypress, Spring, Humble, Katy, Channelview, Pasadena, Sugar Land, Richmond, Pearland, Angleton, or the surrounding areas today.

Common First Time Offenses in Houston

Harris County has a large, multicultural population spread over a vast area. There are many different first time offenses for which people are frequently arrested. Whether you reside in the Greater Houston area or are visiting from the surrounding counties of Montgomery, Fort Bend, Waller or Brazoria, these are a few of the many first time offenses–

Texas prosecutors take all of these crimes very seriously, however Harris County has several different programs available to first time offenders. An experienced Houston criminal attorney can guide you through the defense process, apply the best legal defense or suggest the appropriate program for your case.

Options for First Time Offenders in Harris County

Since prosecutors and judges focus on putting dangerous criminals behind bars, an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer can use your lack of a prior record and any other mitigating facts to persuade for leniency. There are various possible options available for first time offenders, including–

  • Apply for Pre-Trial Diversion with the prosecution with or without the filing of criminal charges.
  • Programs, Services and Specialty Courts – these are designed to provide education, counseling and other services instead of or along with community supervision (probation) and jail time. Your defense lawyer can negotiate with the prosecutor on securing these options.
  • Fight the case at a jury trial or a suppression hearing if the facts and law support a good defense.
  • Plea bargaining – if all other options fail, a dedicated criminal defense attorney can usually use your status as a first offender and improbability to become a repeat offender to make a case for deferred adjudication or probation in exchange for a plea of guilty or no contest.

Once you complete the terms of your negotiated deal, you may be eligible to have your record expunged or sealed (non-disclosed to the public). This process is usually not automatic, so consult your attorney about the specific method for your case.

Harris County Specialized Diversion and Intervention Programs

As a first time offender and depending on the facts of your case, you may be eligible for the following specific diversion and intervention programs—

Misdemeanor

DWI Pre-Trial Intervention Program – if you are a first time offender charged with a Class B DWI or BWI, you may be eligible for this 12-month voluntary supervision program available through the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. If you successfully complete the program, your DWI case will be dismissed, you will avoid paying DPS surcharges and you can apply for an expunction 2 years after dismissal.

Retail Theft Pre-Trial Intervention Program – if you are a first time shoplifter (retail theft offender), this 90-day program offers the opportunity to get your case dismissed. If you are accepted, you will be required to pay a $130 fee, take an anti-theft class and stay out of trouble during those three months. If successful, you can then seek an expunction of your criminal case.

Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversion Program (MMDP) – this is a pre-charge diversion program offered by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office to offenders who would otherwise be arrested and charged with possession of misdemeanor marijuana, regardless of criminal history. If eligible and accepted into the program, you must pay a $150 program fee and complete a 4-hour “Cognitive Decision Making” class within 90 days. If successful, your record will remain clear of any arrest or charge for the offense.

Prostitution Prevention Program – this program, known as called SAFE Court (Survivors Acquiring Freedom and Empowerment), targets young adults age 17-25 who are first time offenders, although some repeat prostitution offenders in that age group will also be eligible. Their goal is to provide these young people life skills needed to transition out of the prostitution lifestyle and to become a contributing member of society.

Misdemeanor Veterans’ Court – this specialty court program provides veterans who are honorably discharged from their military service, with treatment, and intense court supervision in lieu of a conviction and jail time. Defendants who qualify for the program are provided treatment and counseling for 6 months or more. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will be eligible for an expunction of their Class B or A misdemeanor offense.

Felony

Felony Mental Health Court (FMHC) – this is a voluntary specialty court program. If an offender meets the program requirements and is accepted, he receive pre-trial intervention, deferred adjudication or probation. He must be willing to undergo a clinical evaluation and agree to follow an individualized Re-Entry Plan. Individualized incentives and sanctions are applied in order to encourage following the Re-Entry Plan and to modify behavior leading to potential criminal activity. He must complete at least 18 months in the court; the judge will consider early termination of probation as allowed by law.

Harris County Veterans’ Court (HCVC) – this voluntary specialty court program aims to habilitate veterans and active service members that suffer from homelessness, mental illness, mental disorders, traumatic brain injury, and/or substance use disorder due to military service, which was a contributing factor in their felony criminal offense. The program accepts first time felony offenders and/or veterans who have served in combat or under hazardous conditions. The program excludes any offenders with a current charge or previous conviction for a violent crime (other than aggravated assault), sexual assault or delivery of a controlled substance. Those admitted to the court will receive pre-trial intervention, deferred adjudication or community supervision, and it will take a minimum of 18 months to complete the program followed by a 6 month aftercare phase.

STAR Drug Court Program – The STAR (Success Through Addiction Recovery) program treats non-violent, repeat drug offenders and consists of a three-phase intensive, highly structured treatment program, followed by a 12-month aftercare program. During all phases, participants attend 12-step programs or an approved alternative, participate in group and individual treatment and counseling programs, submit to frequent random drug testing and appear frequently before their judge. Graduates have their cases disposed of on a case-by-case basis by the STAR program judges.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Harris County First Time Offender Lawyer

Even if you are a first time offender, Texas punishment is harsh on offenders. The good news is that in Harris County and many other counties you have several options available.

If you are charged with a first time criminal offense in the Greater Houston area including Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Brazoria County or any of the surrounding areas, call James G. Sullivan and Associates today at (281) 546-6428.

 

Harris County Criminal Court Phone Numbers

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

CRIMINAL COUNTY COURTS

County Criminal Court No. 1          713-755-6180     Judge Paula Goodhart       8th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 2          713-755-6184     Judge William Harmon     8th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 3          713-755-6188     Judge Natalie Fleming       8th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 4          713-755-6192     Judge John Clinton             8th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 5          713-755-6196     Judge Margaret Harris       9th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 6          713-755-6200     Judge Larry Standley         9th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 7          713-755-6204     Judge Pam Derbyshire       9th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 8          713-755-6208     Judge Jay Karahan             9th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 9          713-755-6212     Judge Analia Wilkerson    10th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 10        713-755-6216     Judge Dan Spjut                  10th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 11        713-755-7780     Judge Diane Bull                  10th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 12        713-755-7738     Judge Robin Brown             10th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 13        713-755-7950     Judge Don Smyth                 11th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 14        713-755-5683     Judge Michael Fields           11th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 15        713-755-4760     Judge Jean Hughes              11th Floor

County Criminal Court No. 16        713-755-3575     Judge  Darrell Jordan          11th Floor

CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURTS

174th District Court           832-927-4200     Judge Hazel Jones                      19th Floor

176th District Court           832-927-4225     Judge Nikita Harmon                 19th Floor

177th District Court           832-927-4250     Judge Robert Johnson                19th Floor

178th District Court           832-927-4275     Judge Kelli Johnson                    19th Floor

179th District Court           832-927-4100     Judge Randy Roll                         18th Floor

180th District Court           832-927-4125     Judge Catherine Evans               18th Floor

182nd District Court          832-927-4150     Judge Jeannine Barr                   18th Floor

183rd District Court           832-927-4175     Judge Vanessa Velasquez           18th Floor

184th District Court           832-927-3900     Judge Jan Krocker                      17th Floor

185th District Court           832-927-3925     Judge Susan Brown                     17th Floor

208th District Court           832-927-3950     Judge Denise Collins                 17th Floor

209th District Court           832-927-3975     Judge Michael McSpadden       17th Floor

228th District Court           832-927-3800     Judge Marc Carter                      17th Floor

230th District Court           832-927-3825     Judge Bradley Hart                     17th Floor

232nd District Court          832-927-3850     Judge Presiding                           16th Floor

248th District Court           832-927-3875     Judge Katherine Cabiness         16th Floor

262nd District Court          832-927-3700     Judge Denise Bradley                 15th Floor

263rd District Court           832-927-3725     Judge Jim Wallace                       15th Floor

337th District Court           832-927-3750     Judge Herb Ritchie                      15th Floor

338th District Court           832-927-3775     Judge Ramona Franklin             15th Floor

339th District Court           832-927-3650     Judge Maria T. Jackson             14th Floor

351st District Court           832-927-3675     Judge George Powell                    14th Floor

(Updated in May 2017)

____________________________

James G. Sullivan & Associates

Call 281-546-6428 for a free phone consultation.

 

Case Results

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Since 1994, Attorney James G. Sullivan has represented more than 3,000 clients in criminal and juvenile courts in Harris and surrounding counties.  The following criminal and juvenile cases are exceptional and should not be considered as typical. Certainly, each case is different.  Similar results may not be obtained in your case and past performance is no guarantee of future results. Note that these are only examples of the cases Sullivan has handled.

The cases listed below that were no billed (dismissed) by the grand jury were based on a written defense packet prepared by Sullivan. When a case is thereby dismissed by the grand jury, that means that the grand jury voted there was no probable cause to believe that the accused committed the offense.

Call 281-546-6428 for a free consultation

CaseFactsResult
Aggravated AssaultClient, an Iraq veteran, accused of pistol whipping one of two men who cornered him in the dark after he left a bar.Not guilty
Aggravated AssaultClient, a disabled veteran, shot a former friend who was high on drugs and broke in his house right after being ordered to leave the premises and attempted to attack him.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated AssaultClient shot a violent felon who was trying to steal his car outside of his apartment at nighttime.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated AssaultClient accused of shooting another guy's motorcycle twice while the guy was on it after the guy had broken the client's custom table, injured him and refused to leave his property at nighttime.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated AssaultJuvenile client ran over drug dealer to save friend's life. The complainant suffered a broken hip.Dismissed
Aggravated AssaultJuvenile client accused of attacking an older boy with a handmade weapon after the older boy came over to his house to kill him.Dismissed on day of Trial
Aggravated AssaultJuvenile client accused of threatening to stab a classmate with a pair of scissors.Dismissed
Aggravated AssaultClient hit a man in the head with a beer bottle outside a bar. Client claimed self-defense.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated AssaultClient accused of hitting another woman in the head with a metal pole.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated AssaultClient allegedly brandished a knift and threatened another guy who had stolen his propertyNo billed by grand jury
Aggravated Assault - Family ViolenceClient shot his brother in the side after his brother stabbed him in the arm. The client's brother was high on synthetic marihuana.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of slashing her ex-girlfriend's face. A witness corroborated client's version that her ex-girlfriend attacked her first with a broken wine bottle and cut her wrist and that her ex-girlfriend was accidentally injured in a struggle over the bottle.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of threatening his girlfriend with a knife and inflicting a serious wound on the back of her head.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated Assault - Family ViolenceClient with mental illness stabbed his girlfriend in the arm and upper back with a steak knife. State only offered prison time.Deferred Adjudication after PSI Hearing
Aggravated Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of trying to run her baby's daddy over with her Jeep and with their young son on the front passenger seat and in view of two nearby independent witnesses. In reality, he threw his bicycle in front of her Jeep to cause her to come to a screeching halt and then cursed at her. After she drove off, he lied to the witnesses about what happened.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of intentionally trying to drive into and strike his girlfriend.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of intentionally driving into and hitting the new girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated Assault - Family ViolenceJuvenile client accused of threatening her mother with a steak knife.Dismissed
Aggravated Assault on a Police OfficerPolice Officer shot at 4 unarmed teenagers in a truck leaving an underage drinking party and claimed that client was pointing a gun at him through the window.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated Assault on a Police OfficerClient tried to stab a Houston Police Department officer at an HEB store.Not guilty by reason of insanity
Aggravated RobberyClient accused of 2 separate armed robberies, including a home invasion across the street from South Houston PD. The chief of police and another officer testified that they positively identified client as one of the three armed robbers who fled on foot from the scene. Client's vehicle was left behind at the scene. After the jury returned a not guilty verdict, the prosecutor dismissed the other aggravated robbery charge. Client faced 25-99 years imprisonment.Not guilty
Aggravated RobberyClient accused of robbing a teenage girl in her home after they both skipped school.Dismissed on day of Trial
Aggravated RobberyClient accused of using a firearm to rob several restaurant patrons of their cell phones after firing a round into the ceiling.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated RobberyClient accused of being the driver in an aggravated robbery.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated RobberyClient accused of crime spree, robbing 12 drug stores over a 3 month period to support his drug habit.Reduced to robbery, 7 years TDC
Aggravated RobberyJuvenile client drove 2 guys on a crime spree--robbing several people at knifepoint in a short period of time. One guy got away and the other who was 17 received 3 years at TDC.3 years probation
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildJuvenile client accused of molesting his 2½ year old niece and his 4 year old nephew was an alleged witness. The niece did have injuries documented in a medical exam, but a thorough defense investigation uncovered severe credibility issues with the children and their mother, the outcry witness, and other reasonable explanations for the injuries were not investigated by law enforcement.Not guilty
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildClient was accused of molesting his 13 year old sister-in-law.No billed by grand jury
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildClient and her boyfriend were accused of molesting her 12 year old daughter.Dismissed on day of Trial
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildClient was accused of molesting his 14 year old half-sister over a two year period.Dismissed on day of Trial
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildClient accused of sexually abusing his adopted daughter.Dismissed on day of Trial
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildJuvenile client accused of raping his 14 year old male cousin during a sleepover. Law enforcement failed to interview the accused’s parents, failed to visit the alleged crime scene and failed to investigate the complainant’s father, a registered sex offender with a lengthy history of abusing children, as a possible perpetrator.Dismissed
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildJuvenile client was accused of having consensual sex with a 12 year old girl in her bedroom while two teenage friends allegedly listened in the adjoining room.Dismissed on day of Trial
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildJuvenile client was accused of fondling a 2 year old girl at his home.Dismissed
Aggravated Sexual Assault of a ChildClient, a 17 year old teen with autism, accused of forcing his younger special needs brother to give him oral sex.No billed by grand jury
ArsonClient accused of trying to destroy his ex-girlfriend's apartment by setting her bed on fire.Reduced to misdemeanor criminal mischief
ArsonJuvenile client accused of setting two porta potties on fire in his neighborhood.Dismissed
ArsonJuvenile client accused of setting fire to a house while using drugs.Dismissed
ArsonJuvenile client accused of setting his neighbor's fence on fire with fireworks.Dismissed
AssaultClients, husband and wife, were accused of attacking a man over a parking space in their apartment complex.Not guilty
AssaultJuvenile client was accused of participating in his parents' attack of a man over a parking space in their apartment complex.Dismissed on day of Trial
AssaultClient allegedly attacked another student at his high school and captured on video. Client claimed self-defense,Dismissed on day of Trial
AssaultClient accused of punching other driver in the face after a traffic accident.Not guilty
Assault on a Police OfficerJuvenile client accused of striking undercover officer with his vehicle while fleeing from a large brawl.Hung jury then dismissed
Assault on a Public ServantJuvenile client was accused of injuring his behavioral adjustment class teacher by slamming a door into her.Not guilty
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of his injuring his pregnant wife.Dismissed
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of hitting his adult son after his son stole his work truck to buy drugs.Dismissed
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of assault against his girlfriend.Dismissed on day of Trial
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of assault by his wife in order for her to justify an "emergency" job transfer back to her hometown.Dismissed on day of Trial
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of injuring his ex-wife after their divorce was final.Dismissed
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of striking his wife in the head with a wooden picture frame when they were both drunk and arguing.Dismissed
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of hitting his wife.Dismissed
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of hitting her husband.Dismissed on day of Trial
Assault - Family ViolenceClient accused of slapping his adult daughter after she cursed him.Dismissed on day of Trial
Assault - Family Violence enhanced to felonyClient accused of injuring his 15 year old daughter after he used reasonable discipline against her. She was being rebellious and he spanked her with a belt to discipline her.No billed by grand jury
Assault - Family Violence by Impeding BreathingClient accused of choking his wife during an argument.No billed by grand jury
Assault - Family Violence by Impeding BreathingClient accused of choking his wife during an argument and their 12 year old daughter was a witness.No billed by grand jury
Assault on a Family Member by Impeding BreathingClient accused of choking his girlfriend during an argument.No billed by grand jury
Assault on a Family Member by Impeding BreathingClient accused of choking his wife after returning from Iraq.Dismissed on day of Trial
Assault - Family Violence by Impeding BreathingClient accused of choking his wife on their bed during an argument.No billed by grand jury
Attempted MurderClient accused of shooting a fellow gang member.Dismissed
Burglary of a BuildingJuvenile client accused of breaking into the detached garage of a residence.Dismissed
Burglary of a HabitationJuvenile client accused of breaking into a home and stealing a safe containing about $15,000 in cash. A police officer coerced a false confession from the client at the police station.Not guilty
Burglary of a HabitationClient accused breaking into home while homeowner was home, however client had credible alibi witnesses at the time of the alleged burglary.No billed by grand jury
Burglary of a HabitationJuvenile client was accused of being the lookout on a burglary of a habitation.Dismissed
Burglary of a HabitationJuvenile client was accused of helping a co-actor to break into a neighbor's house.Dismissed
Burglary of a HabitationClient was accused of breaking into a house and later pawning the stolen property.Dismissed
Burglary of a Habitation with Intent to Commit AssaultClient was accused of breaking into an apartment and attacking the occupants after a drug deal went bad.No billed by grand jury
Continuous Assault - Family ViolenceClient was accused of causing bodily injury to his girlfriend twice within a one week period.Reduced to misdemeanor
Criminal MischiefJuvenile client accused of damaging an empty apartment next to their school.Dismissed
Criminal MischiefClient accused of keying her ex-boyfriend's vehicle.Dismissed
Credit Card AbuseClient accused of using a stolen credit card to buy gas.Dismissed
Deadly ConductJuvenile client accused of shooting in the direction of an occupied house at nighttime.Not guilty
DWIClient arrested by Houston Police Department and failed all field sobriety tests.Dismissed on day of Trial
DWIClient arrested by Harris County Sheriff's Department and failed all field sobriety tests.Dismissed on day of Trial
Evading Arrest by Motor VehicleClient accused of evading police in her vehicle when she drove about ½  mile after the officer switched on his strobe lights.No billed by grand jury
Evading Arrest by Motor VehicleClient was driving intoxicated (.182), struck the rear of a police car and then kept driving, turned right at the next street and finally pulled over before the next block. Client also had a firearm in his vehicle. Client was also charged with DWI and Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon. Client received probation on the DWI and the Evading and Weapon charges were dismissed.Dismissed
Evading Arrest by Motor VehicleClient, a disabled Army veteran, accused of fleeing police after an alleged shoplifting.Dismissed
Evading DetentionClient was accused of running from police.Dismissed
Failure to Stop and Give InformationClient accused of fleeing from an auto accident.Dismissed
Filing False ReportClient accused of giving the wrong name of her baby's daddy who fled the scene of a drug investigation.Dismissed
ForgeryClient accused of forging and cashing a company check at a bank.Dismissed
Forgery of Financial InstrumentClient accused of knowingly passing a counterfeit $100 bill at a liquor store.No billed by grand jury
Graffiti at SchoolJuvenile client accused of spray painting messages on a bathroom stall at his high school.Dismissed
Harboring a RunawayClient accused of allowing a teenage runaway to live in her garage.Dismissed
Indecency with a ChildClient accused of sexually abusing his 16 year old nephew.No billed by grand jury
Indecency with a ChildClient, mentally ill, accused of exposing himself to an underage girl.Dismissed on day of Trial
Indecency with a ChildJuvenile client accused of inappropriately touching a girl while riding home on the school bus.Dismissed
Indecency with a ChildJuvenile client accused of touching his 5 year old niece in his bedroom. Dismissed
Indecency with a ChildJuvenile client accused of abusing a female student at his high school.Dismissed
Injury to a ChildClient accused of causing bodily injury to her 9 year old daughter when she spanked her with an umbrella. The grand jury agreed that her daughter's injury was the result of being reasonably disciplined.No billed by grand jury
Injury to a ChildClient, an officer in law enforcement, used reasonable discipline against his teenage daughter and was accused of abusing her when he slapped her.No billed by grand jury
Injury to a ChildClient used reasonable discipline against her 10 year son and was accused of abusing him after she accidentally slapped him on his side when he was resisting the hand spanking.No billed by grand jury
Injury to a ChildClient accused of breaking his infant son’s leg and 3 ribs. The hospital ER physician did not consider other medical disorders as a causeNo billed by grand jury
ManslaughterJuvenile client drove his father's vehicle recklessly, went off the road and hit a tree. Four passengers died in the accident. Client suffered a traumatic brain injury and was ruled unfit to proceed. The four cases were dismissed on his 18th birthday.Dismissed
MurderClient fired a handgun to scare off 7 thugs who crashed a college going away party and accidentally killed an acquaintance in the darkness.15 years TDC on day of Trial
MurderClient killed a neighborhood menace with a shotgun in self defense, but then denied knowledge of the killing to the police.16 years TDC at trial
Negligent HomicideClient accused of killing a young man in a head-on car accident in northwest Houston. The accused allegedly had traces of cocaine in his system, was driving over the speed limit in the rain, on the wrong side of the road, and with "bald" tires. Not guilty
Online Solicitation of a MinorClient accused of discussing sex with a 12 year old girl online in a gaming chat room.Dismissed
Online Solicitation of a MinorClient accused of discussing a sex hook up with a 15 year old girl online.Dismissed
Possession of Child PornographyJuvenile client accused of possessing child pornography on his school's laptop. After completing sex offender counseling, Sullivan persuaded the judge to grant his client a six month deferred prosecution.Dismissed
Possession of Child Pornography17 year old client accused of possessing child pornography on his home computer. Sullivan persuaded prosecutor to grant a deferred adjudication on a reduced felony of obscenity without sex offender registration.5 years deferred adjudication on Obscenity
Possession of Prohibited WeaponClient accused of possessing a switchblade knife.Dismissed
Possession of a Prohibited WeaponJuvenile client accused of possessing brass knuckles at school.Dismissed
ProstitutionClient accused of soliciting a prostitute for sex for a fee.Dismissed
Possession of a Controlled SubstanceJuvenile client accused of having cocaine in her pants while at an underage party.Dismissed at suppression hearing
Possession of a Controlled SubstanceJuvenile client accused of having cocaine in her cigarette pack at school.Dismissed on day of Trial
Possession of a Controlled SubstanceClient accused of possessing cocaine while riding his bicycle on the sidewalk.Dismissed
Possession of a Controlled SubstanceClient accused of possessing cocaine while walking down the street instead of on the sidewalk.Dismissed
Possession of MarihuanaClient was pulled over by DPS trooper and found 25 pounds of marihuana in his trunk.Dismissed on day of Trial
Resisting ArrestJuvenile client arrested at school for resisting arrest.Dismissed on day of Trial
RetaliationJuvenile client accused of threatening the mother of an assault victim, a boy at the same school. The boy had been attacked by the client's then boyfriend.Dismissed on day of Trial
Sexual AssaultClient, an elected official, was accused of sexual assault by his girlfriend.No billed by grand jury
Sexual AssaultClients, a juvenile and his 17 year old friend, accused of raping a 17 year old mutual friend after all three were drinking.Dismissed
Sexual AssaultJuvenile client accused of raping an 18 year old woman at an underage drinking party.Dismissed
Sexual Assault of a ChildClient accused of having sex with 16 year old girl who falsely claimed she was 18.No billed by grand jury
Sexual Assault of a ChildClient accused of consensual sex with 16 year old girl.No billed by grand jury
Sexual Assault of a ChildClient accused of consensual sex with 15 year old girl.No billed by grand jury
Sexual Assault of a ChildClient accused of consensual sex with underage femaleNo billed by grand jury
TheftClient accused of stealing over $10,000 in cash from his employer, an auto paint shop.Reduced to a misdemeanor
TheftClient accused of shoplifting, stealing items from a grocery store.Dismissed
TheftClient accused of stealing over $100,000 in medical equipment from his employer, a refurbishing company.Reduced to a misdemeanor
TheftClient accused of selling over $150,000 in stolen steel strapping.Reduced to a misdemeanor
TheftClient accused of stealing an I-Pad from a restaurant.Dismissed
Theft by CheckClient accused of writing a check on a closed account.Dismissed
Terroristic ThreatClient accused of threatening to shoot a Conroe Police Department officer after being arrested for refusing to sign a speeding ticket.Dismissed
Unauthorized Use of a Motor VehicleClient accused of driving a stolen car.Dismissed
Unlawfully Carrying a WeaponClient accused of unlawfully carrying a firearm outside of a restaurant.Not guilty
Unlawfully Carrying a WeaponClient accused of carrying a firearm in his carry on bag through a security checkpoint at Bush Intercontinental Airport.Dismissed on day of Trial
Violation of ProbationClient accused of violating his felony probation by testing positive for marihuana and being behind on community service.Probation reinstated

Arrested for Spanking Your Child? Houston Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan Can Defend You

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Spanking Your Children is Legal in Texas

Spanking as a form of corporal punishment to discipline children has been used since ancient times and continues to be used as an effective method by parents to raise children into healthy, productive adults.

Texas is among the Bible Belt states of the American South, so it is no wonder then that most people continue to live by the well-known saying “spare the rod or spoil the child” based on Proverbs 13:24 – Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Corporal punishment is also still legal in Texas schools. In fact, parents must sign forms at the beginning of each school year if they don’t want their kids to be paddled. According to the most recent records available, in 2011-2012, more than 4 out of 10 Texas school districts struck unruly students, often with a wooden paddle.

Texas law even gives the parent the duty of reasonable discipline of their child.  The spanking of children as a form of reasonable discipline is legal, but there are limits.

Punishment for Child Abuse

When corporal punishment crosses the line, CPS considers it to be child abuse. If the child is under the age of 15, the alleged abuser can be charged with Injury to a Child, a Third Degree Felony, which carries a range of punishment from 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  If the child is 16 or 17, the alleged abuser can be charged with Assault on a Family Member, a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries a range of punishment of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

When does corporal punishment cross the line? The brief answer is when it causes a physical injury that results in substantial harm but before we address this issue of substantial harm let’s first review the relevant law.

Texas Law on Reasonable Discipline of the Child

The Texas Family Code (TFC) in Section 151 states that a parent has the duty of reasonable discipline of the child.

Furthermore, TFC Section 151.003 states that “a state agency [such as CPS] may not adopt rules or policies or take any other action that violates the fundamental right and duty of a parent to direct the upbringing of the parent’s child.”

So, does spanking a child fall under a parent’s duty of “reasonable discipline”? Of course, it does. The law explicitly allows for corporal punishment (such as spanking) and only limits the people who can administer it.

TFC Section 151.001(e) states that corporal punishment for the reasonable discipline of a child may be used but only by a parent or grandparent of the child; a stepparent of the child who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child; and an individual who is a guardian of the child and who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child.

TFC Section 261.001 defines abuse of a child, in part, as physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, excluding reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm.

The Texas Penal Code may also provide a legal defense if you are charged with Injury to a Child or Assault on a Family Member. Specifically, Section 9.61 states that the use of force, but not deadly force, against a child younger than 18 is justified:

  • if the actor is the child’s parent or stepparent or is acting in loco parentis to the child; and
  • when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare.
  • For purposes of this section, “in loco parentis” includes grandparent and guardian, any person acting by, through, or under the direction of a court with jurisdiction over the child, and anyone who has express or implied consent of the parent or parents.

These two codes both address reasonable discipline but in different ways.  The Family Code allows corporal punishment (such as spanking) that does not cause substantial harm.  The Penal Code allows force, but not deadly force.  The meaning of deadly force is obvious, the meaning of force that is not deadly is vague, so what about substantial harm?

According to Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Rule Section 700.455, substantial harm, in part, means real and significant physical injury or damage to a child that includes but is not limited to any of the following:

  • substantial or frequent skin bruising;
  • substantial cuts, welts, lacerations, or pinch marks;
  • skull or other bone fractures;
  • damage to cartilage;
  • brain damage;
  • subdural hematoma;
  • soft tissue swelling;
  • impairment of or injury to any bodily organ or function;
  • any other internal injury otherwise not specified;
  • permanent or temporary disfigurement;
  • burns;
  • scalds;
  • wounds, including puncture wounds;
  • bite marks;
  • poisoning;
  • concussions;
  • dislocations;
  • sprains;
  • or any other cruel act that causes pain or suffering to the child.

The same TAC section defines “reasonable discipline” as:

discipline that is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree; does not constitute cruelty, reckless behavior, or grossly negligent behavior; and is administered for purposes of restraining or correcting the child. It shall not include an act that is likely to cause or causes injury more serious than transient pain or minor temporary marks. The age, size, and condition of the child; the location of the injury; and the frequency or recurrence of injuries shall be considered when determining whether the discipline is reasonable and moderate.

This issue of spanking children, using corporal punishment and the exercising of a parent’s duty of reasonable discipline of the child is controversial among many far left liberals, but is considered part of the cultural norm in Texas.  Unfortunately, CPS is known to make referrals to law enforcement for a minimal injury (such as a slight bruise) that a child may sustain when he or she is spanked or paddled by a loving parent who cares about their character development and future. And, worse, many CPS agents and judges share the opinion that a single bruise anywhere on the child’s body constitutes child abuse. And, because this is an opinion crime in which reasonable minds may disagree, it is important to find an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Houston Injury to a Child Defense

James Sullivan graduated from the Trial Lawyers College founded by legendary lawyer Gerry Spence and was invited to join The National Trial Lawyers organization. Sullivan has a proven record of defending parents accused of Injury to a Child or Assault of a Family Member because they used corporal punishment as a means of reasonable discipline of their children.  Sullivan has worked to get four such cases dismissed by the grand jury.

Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at (281) 546-6428 about your allegations of child abuse in the areas of Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond), Brazoria County (Angleton), Matagorda County (Bay City),  Waller County (Hempstead), Washington County (Brenham), Liberty County (Liberty), and Chambers County (Anahuac).

Certainly each case is different.  Similar results may not be obtained in your case and past performance is no guarantee of future results.

CRIMINAL OFFENSERESULTCASE #
ALL CASES DISMISSED BY GRAND JURY OR THE STATE WERE BASED ON DEFENSE PACKETS
INJURY TO A CHILD (3° Felony)NO BILLED BY GRAND JURY (Client used reasonable discipline against her 9 year old daughter and was accused of abusing her)1522880
ASSAULT FAMILY MEMBER enhanced with a prior Assault FM case (3° Felony)NO BILLED BY GRAND JURY (Client used reasonable discipline against his 15 year old daughter and was accused of abusing her. She was being rebellious and he spanked her with a belt to discipline her)1459744
INJURY TO A CHILD (3° Felony)NO BILLED BY GRAND JURY (Client, an officer in law enforcement, used reasonable discipline against his teenage daughter and was accused of abusing her)CASE NOT YET FILED
INJURY TO A CHILD (3° Felony) IN MATAGORDA COUNTYNO BILLED BY GRAND JURY (Client used reasonable discipline against her 10 year son and was accused of abusing him. She accidentally slapped him on his side when he was resisting the hand spanking)CASE NOT YET FILED

This is one of Sullivan’s many reviews on AVVO:

Excellent Attorney with proven results

Being arrested for the first time, I wasn’t sure who to turn to for help. Long story short, I did something that I shouldn’t have, spanked me daughter with an umbrella. I was under a lot of stress and it didn’t help that her behavior was drastically changing for the worst. The next day I was questioned by the police. I waived my rights and told the police of the incident. Consequently, I was charged with a felony, Injury to a child.

I was new to Houston and I had no family or close friends. Not knowing any better I first hired the worst attorney in Houston. It was the worst experience EVER. The first meeting went well. He said that he had worked with the prosecutor, he knew the judge personally and that he has dealt with similar cases recently. I paid him the full retainer fee. I felt that I was in good hands until we spoke the next day. His tone, demeanor and attitude had changed. I believe his intentions were to have me indicted then charge me thousands of dollars to attempt to get me probation. He didn’t even consider presenting the case to the Grand Jury. I felt frustrated, hopeless and stuck.

After speaking to my husband we decided to hire another lawyer. After doing hours of research we agreed to speak to attorney Jim Sullivan, and boy we are glad we did! He was very knowledgeable, straightforward and caring. He offers free consultations and his charges are reasonable. Our first 2 conversations lasted about 30-45 mins. I explained everything that happened in detail, he helped me understand the law and spoke about his previous cases. I felt a sense of relief when we ended our conversations. Unlike the previous attorney we had hired, Mr. Sullivan knew what he was doing. Mr. Sullivan told us that we would need to prepare a Grand Jury packet, he explained the process and told me exactly what he needed. Two weeks after submitting the packet to the Grand Jury, my case was dismissed!!!!!!!

There are MANY things that I liked about Mr. Sullivan; he’s the person who picks up when you call (not a receptionist), he is flexible, he accepts payments plans, he is honest, he responds to calls/text within hours, he listens without interrupting, he works outside regular business hours (weekends, after 6p), he treats you like you are his priority and he is very caring. The only thing that I didn’t like about this experience was the fact that I didn’t find him sooner. I would definitely recommend Mr. Sullivan to family and friends.

–Posted by Abbie on December 19, 2016

White Collar Crime

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

White Collar Crime

If you have been charged in Houston with theft, writing bad checks, fraud, identity theft, money laundering, bribery, illegal gambling, embezzlement or any other kind of white collar crime, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. White collar crimes usually involve criminal activities committed by people in the regular course of their business. While these crimes may seem less serious than violent criminal offenses and their respective punishment less severe, do not take the criminal charges lightly. The district attorney’s office will work just as hard to prosecute you for a white collar offense.

If you are facing charges in Harris County for a white collar crime, your future depends on the decisions you make today. If convicted, you could face severe punishments and penalties for both felony and misdemeanor white collar crimes, including a criminal record, prison or jail sentence and large fines.

Whether you are charged with a white collar crime in Harris County or a surrounding county, the prosecutor still has the burden to prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the criminal defense attorney’s job to craft your best defense and work hard to prevent the prosecution from meeting their burden of proof.

Houston White Collar Crime Lawyer

If you have been charged with a white collar crime in Harris County or the surrounding counties of Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Brazoria County and Waller County, contact the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free consultation at (281) 546-6428.

White Collar Criminal Offenses in Texas

White collar crime refers to financially motivated nonviolent crime usually committed by business and government professionals. These crimes involve deception, manipulation, concealment or breach of trust. The victims of white collar crimes frequently do not realize a crime has been committed against them until months and sometimes even years later.

White collar crimes are usually considered nonviolent and illegal activities that involve deceit, manipulation, breach of trust or concealment. Often the victims of white collar crimes have been so minimally affected they don’t even realize a crime has been committed against them. The following are some of the more common white collar crimes–

FORGERY – a person can be charged with forgery under Texas Penal Code § 32.21 if he alters, makes, completes, executes or authenticates a writing with the intent to defraud or harm another person. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, this offense is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, state jail felony or felony of the third degree.

CREDIT CARD ABUSE – a person can be charged with credit card abuse under Texas Penal Code § 32.31 if he:

  • Presents a credit or debit card with the intent to obtain some benefit fraudulently, knowing the card was not his and without the consent of the owner,
  • Presents a credit or debit card with the intent to obtain some benefit knowing the card was expired or had been revoked or cancelled,
  • Uses a fake credit or debit card or fake credit or debit card number with the intent to obtain a benefit,
  • Receives a benefit he knows was from credit card fraud,
  • Steals a credit or debit card,
  • Receives knowingly a stolen credit or debit card with the intent to use it, sell it, or give it to another person who is not the actual owner,
  • Buys a credit or debit card from a person he knows is not the issuer of the card,
  • Sells a credit or debit card and is not the issuer of the card,Uses or induces the cardholder to use the cardholder’s credit or debit card to obtain property or service for his own benefit which the cardholder is financially unable to pay,
  • Possesses a credit or debit card with the intent to use it when he is not the owner and does not have the owner’s consent, and/or
  • Possesses two or more incomplete credit or debit cards that have not been issued to him with the intent to complete the cards without the issuer’s consent.

This offense is usually punishable as a state jail felony; however, it is punishable as a third degree felony when it is committed against an elderly individual.

IDENTITY THEFT – a person can be charged with identity theft under Texas Penal Code § 32.51 if he obtains, possesses, transfers or uses an item of the following with the intent to harm or defraud another person–

  • Identifying information of another person without the other person’s consent,
  • A deceased person’s information that would be identifying information if that person were alive, and/or
  • Identifying information of a child younger than 18 years of age.

Based on the items of information obtained, possessed, transferred or used, this offense ranges from a state jail felony to a first degree felony.

MONEY LAUNDERING — A person can be charged with money laundering under Texas Penal Code § 34.02 if he knowingly:

  • Acquires or maintains an interest in, conceals, possesses, transfers or transports the proceeds of criminal activity;
  • Conducts, supervises or facilitates a transaction involving the proceeds of criminal activity;
  • Invests, expends, receives, or offers to invest, expend or receive the proceeds of criminal activity or funds the person believes are the proceeds of criminal activity; or
  • Finances or invests, or intends to finance or invest funds the person believes are intended to further the commission of criminal activity.

Based on the value of the funds, this offense ranges from a state jail felony to a first degree felony.

INSURANCE FRAUD – a person can be charged with insurance fraud under Texas Penal Code § 35.02 if he commits an act in support of a claim for payment under an insurance policy with the intent to defraud or deceive an insurer.  Depending on the value of the claim, the punishment range for this offense is from a Class C misdemeanor to a felony of the first degree.

BRIBERY – a person can be charged with bribery under Texas Penal Code § 36.02 if he offers, gives, or agrees to give to another, or requests, accepts, or agrees to accept from another:

  • Any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a public servant, party official, or voter;
  • Any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, vote, recommendation, or other exercise of official discretion in a judicial or administrative proceeding;
  • Any benefit as consideration for a violation of a duty imposed by law on a public servant or party official; or
  • Any benefit that is a political contribution or expenditure if the benefit was offered, given, requested, accepted, or agreed to pursuant to an express agreement to take or withhold a specific exercise of official discretion if such exercise of official discretion would not have been taken or withheld but for the benefit.

The offense is punishable as a second degree felony.

Punishment for White Collar Crime in Texas

The punishments and penalties associated with white collar crimes are listed in Texas Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code. However, a person may receive a more severe punishment depending on the type of white collar crime he committed and whether he has a criminal record.

A class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $500.

A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000, a  jail sentence of up to 180 days, or both.

A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, a  jail sentence of up to one year, or both.

A state jail felony is punishable by a state jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years and a fine of up to $10,000.

A felony of the third degree is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

A felony of the second degree is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

A felony of the first degree is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 5 to 99 years or life and a fine up to $10,000.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Houston White Collar Offense Attorney

Contact the law office of James G. Sullivan and Associates at (281) 546-6428 for a free phone consultation about your white collar crime charges in the Greater Houston area.  James Sullivan is an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer who will work hard and strive to get you the best result.

James Sullivan graduated from the Trial Lawyers College founded by legendary lawyer Gerry Spence and was invited to join The National Trial Lawyers, an organization composed of reputable trial lawyers. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout Texas.

Contact Attorney James Sullivan if you have been charged with a white collar crime in Houston, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas, including Cypress, Katy, Spring, Pasadena, Conroe, The Woodlands, Richmond, Sugar Land, Hempstead, Liberty, Pearland or Angleton.

Houston Juvenile Lawyer Defends Victims of Bullying Arrested for Assault

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Houston Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan strongly believes that child and young adult victims that stand up to a bully, especially in school, should be applauded, not arrested.

Bullies generally target children they view as being weaker, smaller or socially awkward. Children with mental health disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder, are especially vulnerable to being bullied.

Effects of Being Bullied

According to Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed journal of the National Institute of Health,

In the aftermath of being bullied, victims may develop a variety of psychological as well as somatic symptoms, some of which may persist into adulthood. Psychological symptoms may include social difficulties, internalizing symptoms, anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and eating disorders (i.e., anorexia or bulimia nervosa).  Somatic symptoms may include poor appetite, headaches, sleep disturbances, abdominal pain, and fatigue.

For many victims, the bullying lasts for weeks, months and even years before the victim finally has enough and musters up the courage to fight back.  And then, instead of being commended for standing up to the bully, the victim is often victimized again by the school district police department which labels him the aggressor and arrests and charges him with Assault causing bodily injury.

The parents and grandparents of today’s youth grew up in simpler times when fighting in school was handled by the school, usually by paddling. School principals understood that when victims finally stood up to bullies and fought back it is was huge for their self-esteem and the bullies stopped picking on them.

Zero Tolerance Policies Should be Reformed

Texas’ “zero tolerance” policies should be changed so that the victims of bullying who fight back or lash out are not arrested and charged in court. Even psychology experts agree that reforms need to be made. According to the American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force,

Zero tolerance policies as applied appear to run counter to our best knowledge of child development. By changing the relationship between education and juvenile justice, zero tolerance may shift the locus of discipline from relatively inexpensive actions in the school setting to the highly costly processes of arrest and incarceration. In so doing, zero tolerance policies have created unintended consequences for students, families, and communities.

Effect of Current Laws

Unfortunately, until these zero tolerance policies are changed, victims of bullying continue to get into serious trouble for fighting back or lashing out.  In addition to in or out of school suspension or placement at an alternative school, these victims frequently get charged with Assault and wind up in juvenile district court.

A juvenile delinquency charge puts the student at risk of a permanent juvenile record that could negatively impact his future, such as acceptance into top universities or enlistment in the military.

Attorney James Sullivan fights for these students so that their future is not ruined by a juvenile or criminal record.  Sullivan defends children and young adults facing Assault charges from all of the school districts in Harris County.

If your son or daughter is facing Assault charges in the 313th, 314th or 315th District Courts of Harris County, it is important to hire an experienced juvenile defense attorney.

James G. Sullivan and Associates

Attorney James Sullivan has been defending children and adults accused of Assault in juvenile and criminal courts since 1994. Sullivan is also an expert in juvenile law, having been Certified in Juvenile law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2004.

To discuss your child’s case, call James Sullivan at 281-546-6428 for a free phone consultation.

Texas Should Treat 17-Year-Old Offenders as Juveniles, Not Adults

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

Today, a 17-year-old who commits a crime in 41 states plus the District of Columbia is prosecuted in the juvenile justice system, yet Texas remains one of nine states that charges 17-year-old offenders as adults based on an antiquated Texas law that dates back to 1918.  North Carolina and New York are even more backwards—they also charge 16-year-olds as adults.

Since 2009, five states have changed the law to prosecute all ages under 18 in the juvenile justice system.  Beginning in 2009 with Connecticut, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Illinois, and New Hampshire continued this trend in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively.

In Texas, even though 17-year-olds cannot vote or buy cigarettes, they are considered adults for the criminal justice system.  Modern science has shown that the brain of a 17-year-old is still developing and continues to develop well into the 20s.  In fact, the auto insurance industry understands that teenage drivers are more impulsive and that is why rates are lower for 16 to 25-year-old drivers.  Furthermore, in adult prisons, these youth are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse.

As the Campaign for Youth Justice asserts, raising the age to be prosecuted in the criminal justice system to 18 will

limit children’s needless exposure to trauma, abuse, and criminality in adult prisons and jails. The juvenile justice system offers youth the resources needed to overcome traumatic experiences and rehabilitate after committing an offense. 

Children have a particularly strong psychological capacity to learn from past decisions, if the opportunity is allowed. Creating more childhood trauma in a prison setting will do the opposite. Raise the Age legislation is therefore common sense: children cannot be funneled into the adult criminal justice system without long-term consequences to the youth, their communities, and to public safety.

In 2015, a bill in Texas to raise the age of majority to 18 had broad support but was not passed mainly because of budgetary reasons. Opponents of raising the age point out that

It is more expensive to house juveniles in facilities or handle their probation since they are legally entitled to education, treatment, and other programming that is not required for adults. A report commissioned by the Texas Legislature last year found that it costs $366.88 per day to house a youth in a juvenile facility and $50.04 to house an adult prisoner. Adult probation is $2.99 per day, and juvenile probation is $22.42.

However, supporters of the measure contend the economic long-term benefits are far greater.  According to UT professor Michele Deitch, current data based on state laws suggests that most 17-year-olds sent to the juvenile system will receive probation.  A sexual abuse scandal at TYC units in 2007 rocked Texas’ juvenile justice system and led to more juveniles being sent to community-based programs.  Within five years, the number of youth incarcerated in the state’s juvenile facilities fell from 4,700 to less than 1,500.  All over the country, juvenile delinquency rates have been falling.  If this downward trend continues, juvenile facilities will have sufficient beds for the few 17-year-olds who are not put on probation.

Furthermore, there are other cost-saving benefits.  In the juvenile system, 17-year-olds will receive more programming and are more likely to rehabilitate and become productive taxpaying members of society rather than burdens on taxpayers.  A Texas legislative report estimates that “each youth who is rehabilitated can save taxpayers between $1.7 million harris-county-juvenile-justice-centerand $2.3 million in future criminal justice costs.”  In other words, an investment in our troubled youth today will save money.

Finally, in addition to the stigma and shame, a public criminal record impacts a juvenile’s access to education, employment and housing. By treating 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal system, we are giving up on children by saying that there is no hope for rehabilitation and that punishment is the only option.  As a result, many young lives are ruined in the process.

In 2017, Texas should change the law and treat 17-year-olds as juveniles.  It is the right thing to do.

Stalking | Houston Criminal Attorney James Sullivan Fights for his Clients

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Harris County Stalking Defense

Stalking is a serious felony offense. Stalking allegations in Houston can arise from different situations, such as from a failed relationship where one partner still wants to maintain contact with the other partner.  And, stalking charges are often filed based solely on the accusations of the alleged victim.

If a law enforcement officer in Texas has probable cause that an accused committed the offense, the officer has authority to immediately arrest that person without a warrant. Even if a proper investigation did not take place, an immediate arrest for stalking could still occur based on the accusations.

Stalking charges can result in serious punishment and consequences, including lengthy prison time and a large fine.  Such a conviction can also adversely impact your future, such as by losing many educational, employment, housing and public assistance opportunities. However, if you have been charged with a stalking offense, it is important to know that you do not necessarily have to face a criminal conviction.

It is important to hire an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for stalking do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences. In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a very difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury.  Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Houston who will fight for you.

If you have been charged with the criminal offense of stalking in Harris county or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428.  Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

Stalking in Houston

According to section 42.072 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with stalking if the person, on more than one occasion and in the same course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that:

  • the person knows or reasonably should know will be regarded as threatening bodily injury or death to the alleged victim, a family member or household member of the alleged victim, or another person the alleged victim is dating;
  • the person knows or reasonably should know will be regarded as threatening damage to the alleged victim’s property;
  • causes the alleged victim, a family member or household member, or person they are dating to be fearful of death, serious bodily injury or property damage;
  • would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death to themselves, a family or household member, or person they are dating; and/or
  • would cause a reasonable person to fear their property will be damaged.

Punishment for Stalking in Houston

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the felony punishment for stalking in Houston.

A first stalking offense is charged as a third degree felony.  A conviction for such a felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.

A second stalking offense is charged as a second degree felony. A conviction for such a felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000.

In addition to the punishment described above, a person that has been convicted of a stalking offense may suffer any of the following penalties and consequences:

  • A criminal record;
  • Unable to apply for certain jobs, professions or occupations;
  • Unable to be admitted into certain educational programs;
  • Ineligible to own or possess a gun or firearm;
  • Ineligible to receive certain kinds of governmental assistance;
  • Ineligible to vote or hold public office;
  • Loss of certain professional licenses; and/or
  • Public humiliation and embarrassment.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Harris County Stalking Lawyer

James Sullivan graduated from the Trial Lawyers College founded by legendary lawyer Gerry Spence and was invited to join The National Trial Lawyers organization. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout Texas.

Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428 about your stalking charges in Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond), Brazoria County (Angleton), Galveston County (Galveston), Matagorda County (Bay City), Waller County (Hempstead), Washington County (Brenham), Liberty County (Liberty), Chambers County (Anahuac), Jefferson County (Beaumont) and throughout Texas.

Deadly Conduct | Houston Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan Fights for his Clients

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Deadly Conduct

Deadly conduct is a serious offense in Houston.  Whether or not a weapon is involved, Texas takes these cases very seriously.  Deadly conduct can be charged as a Class A Misdemeanor or a Third Degree Felony depending on the circumstances.  A conviction for a felony deadly conduct can result in severe penalties, including lengthy prison time and a large fine.  Such a conviction can also adversely impact your future, such as by losing many educational, employment, housing and public assistance opportunities. Because your future is at stake, a plea bargain may not be the best choice for you.

It is important to hire an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for deadly conduct do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences.  In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the misdemeanor or felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a very difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury.  Also, depending on the circumstances of your case, there may be more effective options than going to trial such as a pretrial intervention agreement or deferred adjudication probation.  Either way, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Houston who will fight for you.

Houston Deadly Conduct Defense Lawyers

If you have been charged with committing the criminal offense of deadly conduct in Harris County or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, contact the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates.  With over 20 years of defense trial experience, Sullivan’s legal team will fight for you and use every legal strategy possible to get the best result.  Call 281-546-6428 for a free phone consultation.

Deadly Conduct

According to Section 22.05 of the Texas Penal Code, there are several ways to commit deadly conduct.  The conduct charged is essentially recklessness and with a primary focus on firearms.   Deadly conduct is committed by:

  • Recklessly engages in conduct that places another person in imminent danger of serious bodily injury
  • Knowingly discharges a firearm at or in the direction of:
    • one or more individuals, or
    • a house, building or car and is reckless as to whether or not it is occupied.

Recklessness and danger are presumed if the person knowingly pointed a firearm at or in the direction of another whether or not the person believed the firearm to be loaded.

Some road rage behavior could be charged as deadly misconduct.  For example, if a driver speeds through rush hour traffic, quickly changing lanes, cutting off other drivers or maneuvering on and off the emergency lane, he places other drivers in danger of serious bodily injury because his reckless actions could cause a motor vehicle accident or collision.

Serious Bodily Injury

According to Section 1.07 of the Texas Penal Code, serious bodily injury means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Recklessness

According to Section 6.03 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits a reckless act, not necessarily intending to harm another, but without regard for the result.  If a person is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a likely result will occur, he or she acts recklessly.

For example, discharging a firearm at a street sign when there is a house directly behind it and in the line of fire, without intending to injure anyone, is reckless because the person is disregarding the risk that the house is occupied and a person inside could be seriously injured.  In fact, Sullivan successfully defended a juvenile at a jury trial charged with deadly conduct under these circumstances.

Punishment for Deadly Conduct Charges in Harris County

The punishment for this offense varies depending on whether a firearm was involved.  Deadly conduct is charged as a Third Degree Felony when a firearm is involved and as a Class A Misdemeanor when a firearm is not involved.

Deadly conduct conviction as a Class A Misdemeanor could result in:

  • a fine up to $4,000
  • confinement in jail for up to one year and/or probation
  • a criminal record available to the public
  • a driver’s license suspension
  • prevented from pursuing certain careers
  • participation in a pre-trial diversion program
  • restitution, reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime

Deadly conduct conviction as a Third-Degree Felony could result in:

  • a fine up $10,000
  • imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or probation
  • a felony criminal record available to the public
  • prevented from pursuing certain careers
  • prevented from receiving certain kinds of governmental assistance
  • prevented from owning or possessing a firearm
  • prevented from voting or holding public office
  • participation in a pre-trial diversion program
  • restitution, reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime

In addition to this punishment, the stigma of a conviction or subsequent jail or prison time for deadly conduct carries negative social consequences.  However, a conviction may not have to happen and that is why it is important to discuss your options with an experienced Harris County deadly conduct lawyer.

You can be charged by the state with deadly conduct for any action that could imminently cause serious harm to another person.  Because the kinds of actions and circumstances are so broad, there are just as many possible defenses.  If you have been charged with deadly conduct in Harris County, or the surrounding areas, protect your rights, freedom and future.

Trust your case to an experienced Houston firm that is dedicated to fighting for the best outcome. Call the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates at 281-546-6428 for a free phone consultation.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Harris County Deadly Conduct Attorneys

James Sullivan graduated from the Trial Lawyers College founded by legendary lawyer Gerry Spence and was invited to join The National Trial Lawyers organization. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout Texas.

Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free initial phone consultation at 281-546-6428 about your aggravated assault charges in Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond), Brazoria County (Angleton), Galveston County (Galveston), Matagorda County (Bay City), Waller County (Hempstead), Washington County (Brenham), Liberty County (Liberty), Chambers County (Anahuac), Jefferson County (Beaumont) and throughout Texas.