Posts Tagged ‘Criminal Attorney’


Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student | Houston Criminal Attorney

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student

The Texas Penal Code statute of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student was recently changed. As of Sept. 1, 2017, it is now a felony for any employee of any school district to have sex with any student, regardless of whether they are in the same district–even if the student is 18 years of age or older. This statute also prohibits online solicitation of a minor between any employee of any school district with any student, regardless of the age of that student.

In this modern age of electronic communication and social media, students have far more access to teachers and school district employees than even before. As a result, online communications between educators and students are often misunderstood or misconstrued by concerned parents or even other students. This misunderstanding can lead to complaints and investigations into alleged improper relationship when there was no actual misconduct.

Harris County Lawyer for Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student

Are you a teacher in southeast Texas who was arrested or is under investigation for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student? You should have legal representation before speaking to the authorities. Contact the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free consultation.

James Sullivan is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston who represent clients accused of sex crimes in Houston, Spring, Cypress, Katy, Pasadena, Conroe, The Woodlands, Hempstead, Waller, Richmond, Sugar Land, Pearland and Angleton. Call (281) 546-6428 for a thorough and honest evaluation of your case.

What is the law of Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student?

According to Texas Penal Code § 21.12(a), an employee of a public or private primary or secondary school commits this crime if the employee:

  • Engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person who is enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school;
  • holds a position described by Section 21.003(a) or (b), Education Code, regardless of whether the employee holds the appropriate certificate, permit, license, or credential for the position, and engages in sexual contact, sexual intercourse, or deviate sexual intercourse with a person the employee knows is:
    1. enrolled in a public primary or secondary school; or
    2. a student participant in an educational activity that is sponsored by a school district or a public or private primary or secondary school, if students enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school are the primary participants in the activity; or
  • Engages in online solicitation of a minor with a person the employee knows is a student enrolled in a public primary or secondary school, or a student participant in an educational activity that is sponsored by a school district or a public or private primary or secondary school, if students enrolled in a public or private primary or secondary school are the primary participants in the activity and the employee provides education services to those participants, regardless of the age of that student.

Texas Penal Code § 21.01 provides the following definitions relating to this statute:

“Deviate sexual intercourse” means any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person; or, the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object.

“Sexual contact” means any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

“Sexual intercourse” means any penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.

Are there any Affirmative Defenses to this crime?

Yes. According to Texas Penal Code § 21.12(b-1), it is an affirmative defense to prosecution for improper relationship between educator and student if the employee:

  • was the spouse of the enrolled student at the time of the offense; or
  • was not more than three years older than the enrolled student and, at the time of the offense, the employee and the enrolled student were in a relationship that began before the employee was hired by the public or private primary or secondary school.

Punishment for Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student in Houston

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

Defending Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student cases

It is certainly true that some accusations of impropriety are exaggerated or completely false. An experienced criminal defense attorney should always look for inconsistencies in an alleged victim’s statements, biases or motives of an alleged victim or other evidentiary flaws that could result in criminal charges being minimized or dismissed.

Where can I learn more about these cases in Texas?

The Austin American-Statesman did a recent article about the rising number of these types of crimes. The journalists requested and received from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) the names of teachers who surrendered their teaching licenses or whose licenses were revoked after being investigated by the TEA for engaging in an improper relationship with a student. According to the TEA data, from January 2010 through December 2016, 686 teachers in Texas permanently lost their teaching licenses following allegations of impropriety with a student. 308 of these teachers, about half, were charged with a crime. The most common charge was the felony of improper relationship between educator and student.

In the one-year period that ended Sept. 1, 2017, the Texas Education Agency opened 302 cases against public teachers who have been accused of having improper relationships with students, a 36 percent increase from 2016.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Houston Improper Teacher Student Relationship Defense Lawyer

If you are teacher in southeast Texas who is under investigation or has already been arrested for an alleged improper relationship with a student, it is extremely important to retain legal counsel. The defense attorneys at James G. Sullivan and Associates defend individuals all over the greater Houston area, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Galveston County and Waller County.

Harris County criminal defense attorney James Sullivan will work to help you receive the most favorable outcome to your case. Call (281) 546-6428 for a  free confidential consultation to review your case and discuss your legal options.

Deadly Conduct | Fort Bend County Criminal Attorneys

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Deadly Conduct

Deadly conduct is a serious offense in Fort Bend county. 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 Richmond, Texas 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 Richmond who will fight for you.

Fort Bend County Deadly Conduct Defense Lawyers

If you have been charged with committing the criminal offense of deadly conduct in Fort Bend 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 Fort Bend 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 Fort Bend 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 | Fort Bend 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.

Stalking | Fort Bend County Criminal Attorneys

Saturday, September 9th, 2017

Fort Bend County Stalking Defense

Stalking is a serious felony offense. Stalking allegations in Fort Bend county 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 Richmond, Texas 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 Richmond who will fight for you.

If you have been charged with the criminal offense of stalking in Fort Bend 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 Fort Bend County

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 Fort Bend County

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

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 | Fort Bend 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.

Unlawful Restraint | Fort Bend County Violent Crime Defense Attorneys

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Unlawful Restraint

Fort Bend County Violent Crime Lawyers

In the United States, people have the freedom to live and move about freely. Thus it is illegal to interfere with a person’s liberty against his or her will by restricting the person’s movements, by moving the person from one place to another or by confining the person. Because illegal restraint or confinement can leave long lasting psychological trauma on victims, the laws regarding unlawful restraint are strictly enforced by Texas law enforcement and prosecutors frequently seek severe punishment. If you have been charged with unlawful restraint, it is important that you contact an experienced violent crimes defense lawyer.

Fort Bend County Unlawful Restraint Attorneys

If you have been charged with unlawful restraint in the Greater Houston area, including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Bellaire, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, Channelview, Conroe, The Woodlands, Hempstead, Richmond, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Pearland, Angleton, Friendswood and Galveston, you can contact the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates at (281) 546-6428 for a free phone consultation and case evaluation. They are experienced criminal trial lawyers who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

What is Unlawful Restraint in Texas?

According to §20.02 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with unlawful restraint if he or she intentionally or knowingly restrains another person without consent by using force, intimidation, or deception. However, unlawful restraint can be done by any means, including acquiescence of the victim, if:

  • the victim is a child less than 14 years of age or an incompetent person and the parent, guardian, or person or institution acting in loco parentis has not acquiesced in the movement or confinement; or
  • the victim is a child between 14 years of age or older and younger than 17 years of age, the victim is taken outside of the state and outside a 120-mile radius from the victim’s residence, and the parent, guardian, or person or institution acting in loco parentis has not acquiesced in the movement.

In addition, there are affirmative defenses which might be used by the defense to get the charges dismissed.

Punishment for Unlawful Restraint in Fort Bend County

Unlawful restraint is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, however it can be enhanced to a State Jail Felony if the victim was a child less than 17 years of age.

It can also be enhanced to a Third Degree felony if the offender recklessly exposes the victim to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury, the offender knowingly restrains an on duty public servant, or the offender while in custody restrains any other person.

According to Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code, a person charged with unlawful restraint can receive any of the following punishment and consequences if they are convicted of the offense:

  • A person convicted of a Class A misdemeanor can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $4,000;
  • A person convicted of a State Jail felony can be sentenced between 180 days to 2 years in a state jail, and a fine of up to $10,000; and,
  • A person convicted of a Third Degree felony can be sentenced between 2 to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Although the punishment for unlawful restraint is less severe than that of kidnapping, it is still a serious offense. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will provide effective and aggressive representation.

Unlawful Restraint Defense in Richmond, Texas

If you have accused of unlawfully restraining someone in Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County or Brazoria County, contact the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates. We are experienced defense lawyers in northwest Houston who will make every effort to help you receive the best outcome for your particular case.  Call (281) 546-6428 for a free phone consultation and case evaluation, the first step in providing you a strong defense.

Indecency with a Child | Fort Bend County Sex Crimes Defense Attorneys

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Indecency with a Child

A conviction for indecency with a child throughout Fort Bend County and the surrounding counties can result in serious punishment and collateral consequences, such as:

  • a prison or jail sentence;
  • a criminal record;
  • an exclusion from certain jobs, occupations or professions;
  • an exclusion from admission into certain educational programs;
  • an inability to possess or own a firearm;
  • fines;
  • ineligible to vote or hold public office;
  • Public humiliation and scorn; and/or
  • a requirement to register as a sex offender for life.

The sex offense of indecency with a child can involve a number acts, including, but not limited to touching, fondling, exposure of genitals, child abuse, rape, sexual assault, molestation, child pornography and child prostitution.

If you are under investigation for or are accused of indecency with a child, it is important to hire legal counsel before discussing the allegations with a CPS caseworker or a law enforcement investigator. Having legal representation could mean the difference between criminal charges being filed, a case dismissal or even a conviction.

In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must first prove you committed every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This burden of proof is difficult to establish. If the judge or jury has any doubt you committed every element of the offense, the charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed altogether. Therefore, it is imperative to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to help you begin developing the best defense for your specific situation.

Fort Bend County Indecency with a Child Attorney

If you have been charged with indecency with a child in the Greater Houston area, including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Bellaire, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, Channelview, Conroe, The Woodlands, Hempstead, Richmond, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Pearland, Angleton, Friendswood and Galveston, you can call (281) 546-6428 for a free consultation and case evaluation. Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is an experienced criminal trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

What is Indecency with a Child in Texas?

According to Texas Penal Code § 21.11(a)(1), a person can be charged with indecency with a child by contact if they participate in any sexual contact with a child under the age of 17, whether the child is of the same or opposite sex. A person can also be charged with this offense if they cause a child under the age of 17 to engage in sexual contact.

According to Texas Penal Code § 21.11(c), sexual contact is defined as engaging in any of the following forms of conduct with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desires of any person:

  • any touching by a person, including touching through clothing, of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a child; or,
  • any touching of any part of the body of a child, including touching through clothing, with the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of a person.

According to the Texas Penal Code § 21.11(a)(2), a person can be charged with indecency with a child by exposure if they commit any of the following acts with a child under the age of 17 with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person:

  • exposes the person’s anus or any part of the person’s genitals, knowing the child is present; or
  • causes the child to expose the child’s anus or any part of their anus or genitals.

Punishment for Indecency with a Child in Fort Bend County

According to Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code, a person charged with indecency with a child can receive any of the following punishment and consequences if they are convicted of the offense:

  • A person charged with indecency with a child involving sexual contact can be convicted of a felony of the second degree, which is generally punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years.
  • A person charged with indecency with a child involving exposure can be convicted of a felony of the third degree, which is generally punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence ranging from two to 10 years.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Richmond, Texas Indecency with a Child Lawyers

If you or your loved one are being investigated or were already arrested for allegedly committing indecency with a child in the Greater Houston area, you should immediately retain experienced legal counsel. James G. Sullivan and Associates can help determine your best possible defense and fight to obtain the most favorable result.

Our Fort Bend County criminal defense lawyers represent clients accused of sex crimes all over Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Brazoria County and Galveston County. Call (281) 546-6428 for a free and confidential consultation.

Terroristic Threat

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017

Fort Bend County Terroristic Threat Defense

For most people the word terroristic conjures up images of vicious threats or horrific attacks by ISIS against innocent people. However, the term terroristic threat has a broader meaning and is generally understood as a threat of violence to a person in order to place that person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. In Texas, law enforcement takes terroristic threats very seriously. Both adults and juveniles can be arrested and charged with making terroristic threats.

Terroristic threats are used for purposes of intimidation or coercion, but sometimes a person is accused of making such a threat based on statements that were taken mostly out of context. While Americans have a right to free speech, the First Amendment does not protect all types of speech, such as language that is meant to incite the masses toward lawless action. In order to be convicted of making a terroristic threat, the prosecutor has the burden to prove that the person had the necessary criminal intent and that burden can sometimes be difficult to make.

Defense Attorneys for Terroristic Threat charges in Richmond, Texas

If you or your loved one was arrested in southeast Texas for allegedly making terroristic threats, you should have legal representation before speaking with the authorities. The defense attorneys of James G. Sullivan and Associates can fight for you with the goal to get these charges dismissed, reduced or won at trial.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys represent clients in all the Greater Houston area, including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Bellaire, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, Channelview, Conroe, The Woodlands, Hempstead, Richmond, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Pearland, Angleton, Friendswood and Galveston.  You can call (281) 546-6428 for a free consultation and case evaluation.

What is a Terroristic Threat in Texas? 

According to Texas Penal Code § 22.07, a person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:

  1. cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;
  2. place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  3. prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;
  4. cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;
  5. place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
  6. influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.

Punishment for Terroristic Threat in Texas

Depending on the specific types of alleged activity involved, a terroristic threat charge can be filed as a:

  • Class B Misdemeanor (punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000);
  • Class A Misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000);
  • State Jail Felony (punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000); or
  • Third Degree Felony (punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000).

A Class B Misdemeanor charge can be filed against an alleged offender who threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

A Class A Misdemeanor charge can be filed against an alleged offender who threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to place in fear of imminent serious bodily injury a member of the alleged offender’s family or household (or otherwise constitutes family or dating violence) or a public servant, or prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place.

A State Jail Felony charge can be filed against an alleged offender who threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place causing pecuniary loss of $1,500 or more to the owner of the building, room, place, or conveyance.

A Third Degree Felony charge can be filed against an alleged offender who threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service; place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.

Contact James G. Sullivan and Associates | Fort Bend County Terroristic Threat Lawyers

If you or your loved one are being investigated or were already arrested for allegedly making a terroristic threat in Fort Bend County, you should immediately retain legal counsel. James G. Sullivan and Associates can help determine your best possible defense and fight to obtain the most favorable result.

Our Fort Bend County criminal defense lawyers represent clients all over Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Brazoria County and Galveston County. Call (281) 546-6428 for a free and confidential consultation.

Terroristic Threat

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Houston Terroristic Threat Defense

For most people the word terroristic conjures up images of vicious threats or horrific attacks by ISIS against innocent people. However, the term terroristic threat has a broader meaning and is generally understood as a threat of violence to a person in order to place that person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. In Texas, law enforcement takes terroristic threats very seriously. Both adults and juveniles can be arrested and charged with making terroristic threats.

Terroristic threats are used for purposes of intimidation or coercion, but sometimes a person is accused of making such a threat based on statements that were taken mostly out of context. While Americans have a right to free speech, the First Amendment does not protect all types of speech, such as language that is meant to incite the masses toward lawless action. In order to be convicted of making a terroristic threat, the prosecutor has the burden to prove that the person had the necessary criminal intent and that burden can sometimes be difficult to make.

Defense Attorneys for Terroristic Threat charges in Harris County

If you or your loved one was arrested in southeast Texas for allegedly making terroristic threats, you should have legal representation before speaking with the authorities. The defense attorneys of James G. Sullivan and Associates can fight for you with the goal to get these charges dismissed, reduced or won at trial.

Our experienced criminal defense attorneys represent clients in all the Greater Houston area, including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Bellaire, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, Channelview, Conroe, The Woodlands, Hempstead, Richmond, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Pearland, Angleton, Friendswood and Galveston.  You can call (281) 546-6428 for a free consultation and case evaluation.

What is a terroristic threat in Texas? 

According to Texas Penal Code § 22.07, a person commits an offense if he threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to:

  1. cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies;
  2. place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury;
  3. prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place;
  4. cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service;
  5. place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or
  6. influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.

Punishment for Terroristic Threat in Texas

Depending on the specific types of alleged activity involved, a terroristic threat charge can be filed as a:

  • Class B Misdemeanor (punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,000);
  • Class A Misdemeanor (punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000);
  • State Jail Felony (punishable by up to two years in jail and/or a fine up to $10,000); or
  • Third Degree Felony (punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000).

A Class B Misdemeanor charge can be filed against an alleged offender who threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to place any person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury; or cause a reaction of any type to his threat by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.

A Class A Misdemeanor charge can be filed against an alleged offender who threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to place in fear of imminent serious bodily injury a member of the alleged offender’s family or household (or otherwise constitutes family or dating violence) or a public servant, or prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place.

A State Jail Felony charge can be filed against an alleged offender who threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to prevent or interrupt the occupation or use of a building, room, place of assembly, place to which the public has access, place of employment or occupation, aircraft, automobile, or other form of conveyance, or other public place causing pecuniary loss of $1,500 or more to the owner of the building, room, place, or conveyance.

A Third Degree Felony charge can be filed against an alleged offender who threatens to commit any offense involving violence to any person or property with intent to cause impairment or interruption of public communications, public transportation, public water, gas, or power supply or other public service; place the public or a substantial group of the public in fear of serious bodily injury; or influence the conduct or activities of a branch or agency of the federal government, the state, or a political subdivision of the state.

Contact James G. Sullivan and Associates | Houston Terroristic Threat Lawyers

If you or your loved one are being investigated or were already arrested for allegedly making a terroristic threat in the Greater Houston area, you should immediately retain legal counsel. James G. Sullivan and Associates can help determine your best possible defense and fight to obtain the most favorable result.

Our Houston criminal defense lawyers represent clients all over Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Brazoria County and Galveston County. Call (281) 546-6428 for a free and confidential consultation.

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.