Posts Tagged ‘Harris County’


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.

 

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.

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.

Anatomy of a Win – a Juvenile Deadly Conduct Case in Harris County

Friday, July 29th, 2016

James Sullivan graduated from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America. Sullivan is board certified in juvenile law and has a proven record of defending children in courts throughout southeast Texas.  In this post, Sullivan describes a recent jury trial win in Harris County juvenile court–

On July 11, I tried a felony deadly conduct case to a jury in juvenile court. My 15 year old client was falsely charged and it was blatant. I was hired in late May to replace the court-appointed attorney. Within a two week period of time, I had 3 separate detention hearings before 3 separate judges, and they all refused to release my client from detention. I was outraged at the system that kept an innocent child locked up on a false charge while the actual adult perpetrator got off easy with only 3 days in jail for a misdemeanor. So, on June 21, immediately after that third denial, I asked for a speedy jury trial and was able to secure a trial date within 3 weeks.  In Harris County, this was probably the fastest juvenile case ever to get to a jury trial–only 7 weeks from the date of arrest.

There was also a surveillance video that recorded the actual shooting. It seemed clear that my client was not the shooter, but the prosecutor turned a blind eye to the obvious and chose to “believe” three biased witnesses, including the investigating officer, who claimed that they “positively identified” my client from the video as the shooter. The actual shooter was a 21 year old man who had befriended and badly influenced my client. That man was drunk and shot a stop sign twice with his .40 caliber handgun and there was an occupied house across the street behind it. That man was actually arrested that night with unlawfully carrying a weapon and only spent 3 days in jail. The only issue at trial was: who shot the stop sign?

The day after the shooting a homeowner discovered that his security camera actually captured the incident, and two other neighbors (who were on the board of the HOA) lied and claimed that it was my client on the video who did the shooting. I believe they were angry that my client was not also arrested the night before. When the police arrested my client that next night, he happened to be wearing the same colored clothing as in the video, but it was still obvious based on the body size, hair style and other characteristics that my client was not the shooter. My client is 5’5″ and 130 lbs and the shooter is 5’7″ and 160 lbs.

I told the prosecutor to dismiss the case on June 21 after viewing the videotape. By then my client had already spent over 4 weeks in juvenile detention. After he refused to dismiss it, I set it for a jury trial.

The week before trial I spent several days in that neighborhood meeting with and interviewing witnesses to what really happened that night and who could also identify the two parties.  In addition to those 8 witnesses, I also filed a subpoena for the officer who arrested the actual shooter that night. Based on the video alone, I fully expected the prosecutor to dismiss the case the morning of trial. The prosecutor might have chosen to “believe” the unbelievable, but I thought he was smart enough to realize that a jury of 12 rational people would not be so easily duped. Apparently, he thought otherwise, so I got to have a great day getting justice for my client.

During cross-examination, I was able to get the arresting police officer to concede that he could not describe the shooter’s face, clothing type nor even the shooter’s race or ethnicity from a photo I made from the video.  Another  State’s witness (the president of the HOA), as soon as he took the witness stand, actually revealed his prejudice for all to see by calling my client a “peckerwood”.  During cross-examination, I got him to even identify my client as the non-shooter in the video!

Through cross-examination of his witnesses, I showed how blatantly false his witness’ accusations were. The prosecutor actually subpoenaed the actual shooter to trial but did not call him as a witness.  After the prosecutor rested his case, I then put on my 9 witnesses to tell the real story of what happened that night. I also called the shooter to the stand and among other things he admitted that he had a gun that night, pleaded guilty to the carrying a weapon charge and only spent 3 days in jail.

Right after the not guilty verdict was announced, both prosecutors hurried straight out of the courtroom.

Based on the descriptions of the two males above, you can look at the image and judge for yourself.

My client’s mother wrote a kind review on Avvo

In late May of 2016 my 15 year old son was arrested and taken to the juvenile detention center for a felony crime he did not commit, Deadly Conduct. After being falsely accused and wrongfully admitted to the Harris County Juvenile Detention Center, I met with and hired Mr. Sullivan. He walked us through the process and helped my family and son better understand what needed to be done. The day of the detention hearing in court, we had all of the proof and evidence to help get my son out of detention. The judge of the court was completely unjust. After refusing to consider the video evidence that proved my son’s innocence or to even hear from my family members who were willing to supervise my son at all times if released, the judge quickly ruled to keep my innocent son detained. Mr. Sullivan was furious at the system that caused my son to be arrested and held for a crime he did not commit while at the same time the adult who actually committed the crime was only charged with a misdemeanor and spent just a few days in jail. Mr. Sullivan immediately requested a trial by jury. We were able to get a trial setting in the next 3 weeks, which was amazing considering the fact that most cases take 3-6 months or longer to get to a trial. Mr. Sullivan explained that court-appointed attorneys such as the one first appointed to my son’s case never take cases to a jury trial, but instead only have bench trials where the judges make the final decision. If the court-appointed attorney had stayed on the case, my son would still be in detention and I believe he would probably have been found guilty by the judge. Instead, thanks to Mr. Sullivan my son was found innocent by a unanimous vote from the jury. Mr. Sullivan stopped at nothing to help our son and prove him innocent. My son walked out of detention 7 weeks later with no record. Mr. Sullivan’s knowledge of the criminal and juvenile justice systems helped in so many ways. Mr. Sullivan was not pushy, arrogant, or air-headed like most attorneys. Instead, he kept a down-to-earth low-profile, encouraged my son as if he were his own and won our case successfully and peacefully. Thank you so much Mr. Sullivan for helping my family and my son!

I was also interviewed by The Trial Lawyers College for their blog regarding the trial, my experiences learning their methods and my unique insight into juvenile defenses.

Firearm / Weapon Offenses

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Houston Firearm / Weapon Offenses Attorney

Individuals who are charged with a firearm or weapon offense in Houston frequently commit this criminal offense unknowingly.  Under Texas law, almost anyone can possess a firearm in an enclosed location in their vehicle or in their home.  However, an individual can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense if he carries his handgun in an unlawful place or is prohibited from carrying a weapon because he is a convicted felon.

The possible penalties for committing a gun or weapon crime in Houston are serious, including a permanent criminal record, high fines, inability to possess or own a firearm in the future and/or jail or prison time.

If you are charged with a firearm or weapon offense in Houston, it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.  The prosecutor has the burden to prove each element of the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt.   This means if the jury has a reasonable doubt in their mind, the jury should find you not guilty.

Houston Weapon Offenses Lawyer

If you are accused of committing a firearm or weapon offense in Harris County, or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, including Montgomery, Fort Bend, Waller, Liberty or Brazoria, call the Law Office of James G. Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428 about your firearm or weapon charges.  Sullivan knows the law and will make every effort to achieve a dismissal, a not guilty or a reduction in the charges against you.

Firearm and Weapon Examples

Section 46.01 of the Texas Penal Code lists the weapons, guns and firearms that may be prohibited and/or could result in a criminal offense:

    A knife,

    Armor-piercing ammunition,

    Blackjacks,

    Bowie knives,

    Chemical dispensing devices,

    Clubs,

    Daggers,

    Explosive weapons,

    Firearm silencers,

    Handguns,

    Illegal knives,

    Knuckles,

    Mace,

    Machine guns,

    Nightsticks,

    Short-barrel firearms,

    Spears,

    Switchblade knives,

    Swords,

    Tomahawks, and/or

    Zip gun.

Firearm and Weapon Offenses

Under Texas law, an individual who is charged with any of the following criminal weapon offenses could face severe penalties and consequences:

According to Texas Penal Code§ 46.02(a), an individual can be charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon if he intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carries a weapon on his body when not on his property or inside his vehicle.  This offense can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor or a felony of the third degree.

According to Tex. Penal Code § 46.02(a-1), an individual can be charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm if he intentionally, knowingly or recklessly carries a handgun on his person or in his vehicle:

    that is in plain view,

    when he is engaging in criminal activity,

    when he is prohibited from having a firearm in his possession, or

    if he is a member of a criminal street gang.

This charge can result in a conviction of a Class A misdemeanor or of a felony of the third degree.

According to Tex. Penal Code § 46.02, an individual can be charged with unlawful possession of a firearm if he possesses a firearm and:

    has been convicted of a felony and possesses the firearm before he has been released from confinement for five years;

    has been convicted of domestic assault and possesses the firearm before he has been released from confinement or community supervision for five years; or

    he is an employee of the State and possesses the firearm before the expiration of a protective or restraining order against him.

This offense is punishable as Class A misdemeanor or felony of the third degree.

An individual can also be charged with a weapons offense if he possesses a weapon during the commission of a serious criminal offense.  Commonly referred to as aggravated offenses, these offenses can include, but are not limited to, the following:

    Aggravated Assault,

    Aggravated Kidnapping,

    Aggravated Robbery, and/or

    Aggravated Sexual Assault.

Additionally, an individual who knowingly carries a weapon in a prohibited public place can be charged with a criminal offense.  These places can include, but are not limited to, the following:

    Schools,

    Polling places on election day,

    Racetracks,

    Courthouses, and/or

    Airports.

Texas Concealed Weapon Carry Laws

According to Chapter 411 Subchapter H of the Texas Government Code, individuals in Texas who have applied for and met the requirements for a license to carry a concealed handgun are permitted to carry a handgun in a public place that does not sell alcohol.

In order to meet these requirements, an individual must not have a felony conviction, must be in compliance with all state and federal laws and meet other listed criteria.

An individual may be disqualified from receiving a concealed handgun license if he:

    Has any currently pending criminal charges,

    Has any alcohol, drug, chemical or substance dependency,

    Has been diagnosed with certain types of psychological disorders,

    Has defaulted on state or city taxes, governmental fees or child support, and/or

    Has a protective or restraining order against him in place.

Firearm and Weapon Penalties

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the basic statutory penalties for firearm, weapon and gun crimes in Texas.  However, these penalties can increase depending on a variety of factors, including the type of offense the person allegedly committed, where the offense allegedly occurred, whether the alleged offense involved a minor, whether the person is considered a violent offender and whether the alleged offender has any criminal history.

    A conviction for a Class B misdemeanor weapons offense can result in a jail sentence up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000.

    A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor weapons offense can result in a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000.

    A conviction for a state jail felony weapons offense can result in a state jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years and/or a fine up to $10,000.

    A conviction for a felony of the third degree weapons offense can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and/or a fine up to $10,000.

    A conviction for a felony of the second degree weapons offense can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.

    A conviction for a felony of the first degree weapons offense can result in a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.

Firearm and Weapon Resources in Houston

Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) – Concealed Handgun Licensing Program – The Texas DPS website provides general information on concealed handguns in Texas, how to apply for a concealed handgun in the state, answers to frequently asked firearm and gun questions, and Texas laws regarding firearm and weapon laws.

National Rifle Association (NRA) – The NRA is a national organization that promotes the Second Amendment right to bear arms in the United States and encourages responsible firearm education for every citizen.

Texas Concealed Handgun Association (TCHA) – This Texas organization supports every responsible and law-abiding citizen in Texas to lawfully keep, own and carry firearms, in addition to seeking to improve handgun laws in Texas, promoting responsible firearm safety and use, and encouraging high standards for firearm instruction and safety.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – Houston Field Division – The ATF Houston Field Division is responsible for criminal enforcement and industry regulatory activities throughout north Texas.  The ATF is a national agency focused on reducing violent crime, including arson and explosive-related crime throughout the U.S.  The Houston Field Division is located at:

ATF Houston Field Division

5825 N. Sam Houston Pkwy, Suite 300
Houston, Texas 77086

Tel.: (281) 716-8200

The Law Offices of James G. Sullivan & Associates | Harris County Firearm Crime Lawyer

If you are accused of committing a firearm or weapon offense in Harris County, or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, including Montgomery, Fort Bend, Waller, Liberty or Brazoria, call the Law Office of James G. Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428 about your firearm or weapon charges.  Sullivan knows the law and will make every effort to achieve the best outcome for your situation.

Houston Juvenile Lawyer James Sullivan Defends Children with Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

Harris County Juvenile Defense of Teens with Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Houston Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan is very knowledgeable in various mental health and substance disorders and how they impact a juvenile. Behavior, mood, anxiety and substance disorders are common with children brought into the juvenile system. These children often have more than one disorder; substance abuse is the most common “co-occurence” with a mental illness. These disorders frequently put children at risk for risky behavior and delinquent acts.

If your child needs a juvenile defense lawyer, contact Houston Attorney James Sullivan at (281) 546-6428 for a free phone consultation.

Behavioral Disorders

Behavioral disorders are characterized by actions that harm or disturb others and that cause distress or disability. Typical behavioral disorders are ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and conduct disorders.

Emotional Disorders

Emotional disorders occur when a child’s ability to function is impaired by depression or anxiety. The occurrence of depression is significantly higher among juvenile offenders than among other young people.

Substance Abuse

Many juvenile offenders have a history of substance abuse. Studies also have shown that up two-thirds of juveniles in the justice system with a mental health diagnosis had dual disorders, most often including substance abuse.

According to the National Mental Health Association, between 30 and 50 percent of juvenile in the justice system have disruptive behavior disorders.

Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Asperger’s Sydrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder

Anxiety disorders and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) are also prevalent among juvenile offenders, especially girls. Asperger’s syndrome and higher levels of Autism spectrum disorder are less common in juvenile offenders. Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, however, are rare in juveniles in the justice system.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), children aged 3-17 years have:

  • ADHD (6.8%)
  • Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%)
  • Anxiety (3.0%)
  • Depression (2.1%)
  • Autism spectrum disorders (1.1%)
  • Tourette syndrome (0.2%) (among children aged 6–17 years)

Adolescents aged 12–17 years have:

  • Illicit drug use disorder in the past year (4.7%)
  • Alcohol use disorder in the past year (4.2%)

Approximately 65 to 70 percent of the 2 million children and adolescents arrested each year in the United States have a mental health disorder. Approximately one in four suffers from a mental illness so severe that it impairs his or her ability to function as a young person and grow into a responsible adult. Without treatment, the child may continue on a path of delinquency and eventually adult crime.

Childhood Trauma

There is a stronger link between childhood trauma and addiction that than there is between obesity and diabetes. Two thirds of addicts report being abused as children.

For a good understanding of childhood trauma and how it impacts the brain and behavior, read The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Dr. Bruce D. Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Dr. Perry treated the 21 children who were released from the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas prior to the horrific conflagration that killed 80 people (including 23 children) on April 19, 1993.

Contact Attorney James Sullivan

Harris County Juvenile Defense Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is a recognized expert in juvenile law and fights to defend children accused of delinquency offenses.  Since 1994, James Sullivan has fought to defend thousands of children accused of delinquency.  He has defended children in juvenile court on virtually every kind of delinquency case, ranging from misdemeanor cases such as possession of marihuana, theft and assault to felony cases such as aggravated sexual assault of a child, robbery and murder.  He provides a strong legal defense and is appreciative of the many reviews that parents of juvenile clients have written.

TBLS-Logo-tag-RAttorney James Sullivan has been Board Certified in Juvenile Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 2004.  Sullivan is a recognized expert in the highly specialized area of juvenile law.  In Texas, there are only 38 lawyers such certified lawyers in private practice.  Sullivan also graduated from the Trial Lawyers College founded by legendary lawyer Gerry Spence and was invited to join The National Trial Lawyers organization.

Contact Houston Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan at (281) 546-6428 for a free phone consultation.

 

Burglary

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Burglary of a Habitation, a Building, or a Vehicle

In Texas, a person commits burglary if, without the consent of the owner, he enters a habitation, building or vehicle with the intent to commit a felony, theft or an assault. According to Tex. Penal Code § 30.01, these three separate offenses have unique definitions:

  • A habitation is any structure or vehicle that is made for the overnight accommodation of a person, including each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and each structure connected or attached to the structure or vehicle.
  • A building is any enclosed structure intended to be used or occupied as a habitation or to be used for some purpose of trade or manufacture.
  • A vehicle is any device in, on or by which a person or property may be moved in the normal course of commerce or transportation.
    Depending on the degree of the offense, a burglary conviction can result in severe punishment. Therefore, it is important to hire a reputable and experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight for you.

Houston Burglary Lawyer

If you have been charged with a burglary offense in the Greater Houston area, contact James Sullivan and Associates at 281-546-6428 for a free confidential consultation.

Burglary Offenses in Harris County

Texas criminal law lists a variety of burglary crimes, ranging from misdemeanor to felony offenses. Burglary can include any of the crimes listed below.

According to Tex. Penal Code § 30.02, a person commits a burglary if, without the consent of the owner, he:

  • Enters a habitation or a building not then open to the public with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault; or
  • Remains hidden or concealed in a building or habitation with the intent to commit a felony, theft or assault in the building or habitation; or
  • Enters a habitation or building and commits or attempts to commit a felony, theft or assault.
  • For purposes of this section, “enter” means to intrude: any part of the body or any physical object connected to the body.

According to Tex. Penal Code § 30.03, a person commits a burglary of a coin-operated or coin collection machine if, without the consent of the owner, he breaks into or enters any coin-operated machine, coin collection machine or other coin-operated or coin collection equipment with the intent to obtain property or services.

According to Tex. Penal Code § 30.04, a person commits burglary of a vehicle if, without the consent of the owner, he breaks into or enters any vehicle, including a motor vehicle or a rail car (including a container or trailer carried on it), with the intent to commit a felony or theft.

Punishment for Burglary Crimes in Harris County

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the penalties for misdemeanor and felony burglary offenses. These penalties vary based on the burglary offense and the degree of the burglary. A burglary conviction carries the following punishment:

If the burglary was committed in any building other than a habitation, criminal charges can result in a state jail felony conviction, which carries a punishment ranging from 180 days to two years confinement in a state jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.

If the burglary was committed in a habitation, criminal charges can result in a second degree felony conviction, which carries a punishment ranging from two to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.

If the burglary was committed in a habitation and the offender entered the habitation with the intent to commit, committed or attempted to commit any other felony besides felony theft, criminal charges can result in a first degree felony conviction, which carries a punishment ranging from five to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000.

If the burglary was of a coin-operated or coin collection machine, criminal charges can result in a class A misdemeanor conviction, which carries a punishment ranging up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000.

If the burglary was of a vehicle, criminal charges can result in a class A misdemeanor conviction, which carries a punishment ranging up to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000. If the offender has previously been convicted of another burglary of a vehicle offense, criminal charges can result in a class A misdemeanor conviction with punishment ranging from a minimum term of six months to one year in jail and/or a fine up to $4,000.

If the offender has previously been convicted of two or more burglary of a vehicle offenses or the vehicle broken into was a rail car, criminal charges for burglary of a vehicle can result in a state jail felony conviction, which carries a punishment ranging from 180 days to two years confinement in a state jail and/or a fine up to $10,000.

James Sullivan and Associates | Houston Burglary Attorneys

Contact James Sullivan and Associates at 281-546-6428 for a free phone consultation about your burglary crime charges. James Sullivan is an experienced Houston criminal attorney with a proven record of defending fellow Texans accused of burglary offenses in criminal and juvenile courts throughout Harris County Texas and the surrounding counties of Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, Brazoria County, Galveston County and Liberty County.

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

CRIMINAL OFFENSEACTUAL RESULTSCT#
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)JURY TRIAL: NOT GUILTY (Client accused of breaking into a home with 6 other juveniles and stealing over $25,000 in cash from a safe)313th
Burglary of a Habitation with intent to commit aggravated assault (1° Felony)CASE REDUCED TO BURGLARY OF HABITATION WITH INTENT TO COMMIT MISDEMEANOR ASSAULT (2° Felony) when Sullivan was setting the case for trial (Client was accused of breaking into a neighbor’s downstairs apartment through the air vent and then threatening a 17 year old girl who was home alone. Client was originally offered 12 years on the aggravated felony through his court-appointed attorney) , Case # 1370138228th
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)CASE DISMISSED BY GRAND JURY (Client accused breaking into home while homeowner was home, however client had credible alibi witnesses at the time of the alleged burglary), Case # 1321679184th
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)CASE REDUCED TO BURGLARY OF A BUILDING (State Jail Felony), Case # 1245594232nd
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR TRESPASS, Case # 1298554232nd
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)CASE DISMISSED (Client was accused of being the lookout on a burglary of a habitation)315th
Attempted Burglary of a Habitation (3° Felony)CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR TRESPASS OF A HABITATION (Client was accused of trying to break into an apartment. The tenant was inside and observed window screens being removed from the side of the apartment) , Case # 1289876232nd
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)CASE DISMISSED , Case # 1268926339th
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)CASE DISMISSED, Case # 1277540232nd
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR TRESPASS and client received deferred prosecution313th
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)CASE DISMISSED315th
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR TRESPASS TO HABITATION prior to jury trial setting, Case # 1200321337th
Burglary of a Habitation (2° Felony)CASE REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR THEFT, Case # 1185149232nd
Burglary of a Habitation with Intent to Commit Assault (2° Felony)CASE DISMISSED BY GRAND JURY (Client accused of breaking into house after a drug deal went bad) , Case # 1182231179th