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Increased Penalties During a State of Emergency

Texas Penal Code section 12.50 provides that penalties increase for certain offenses when committed during a state of emergency. When the President of the United States or the Governor declares a state of emergency, this provision goes into effect.  Texas Governor Abbott declared the Coronavirus a state of emergency on March 13, 2020 (https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-declares-state-of-disaster-in-texas-due-to-covid-19). President Donald Trump declared a national state of emergency for the same on March 13, 2020, (https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-declaring-national-emergency-concerning-novel-coronavirus-disease-covid-19-outbreak/).  Specifically, the following crimes under the Texas Penal Code jump a penalty grade:   22.01 Assault 28.02 Arson 29.02 Robbery 30.02 Burglary 30.04 Burglary of a Vehicle 30.05 Criminal Trespass 31.03...

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Practical Advice for Going Through the DWI Process

If you are reading this, it is probable that you or a loved one is going through the horrible experience of the DWI Process. Please know that we all make mistakes. We are human. DWI is a unique offense in that no one goes out with the intention of getting arrested. Please know you have our greatest sympathies. What you are experiencing is very common. Many people, approximately 1.4 million, have gone through exactly what you are experiencing. We have had at least four lawyers at the Coffey Firm who have had an arrest for a DWI or a related...

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Texas DWI: Private Security Registration License Notice

If you are the holder of a private security registration license, be aware that certain offenses can suspend your license. Most serious offenses, such as murder, assault, and burglary, can result in suspension. Driving while intoxicated, by itself, may not lead to suspension. However, if you commit a Texas DWI in your capacity under the registration, then a DWI may still result in suspension. Any offense that may deem you 'unfit' can also result in suspension. https://texreg.sos.state.tx.us/public/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=37&pt=1&ch=35&rl=4 See also: Texas Occupations Code § 53.021 Further, you are not eligible to become an armed security officer if, at the time of your application, you are...

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The Perfect Pretext for Illegally Stopping People: Unconfirmed Insurance

A traffic stop based only on unconfirmed insurance lacks the reasonable suspicion required for a search and seizure. The 4th amendment of the Constitution protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure. This protection comes to life in Texas under the Texas Constitution, Article 1, section 9.  This is a wide net.  This means that the “ends do not justify the means.”  The police cannot break the law to enforce the law. For example, they can’t illegally enter into a house to search for illegal drugs. They must follow due process. They must have a warrant. For people who are driving,...

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Give Me a Break, “Passing Judgment”

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." The Dalai Lama "When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That's my religion." Abraham Lincoln "Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy." Albert Schweitzer "God has no religions." Mahatma Ghandi "Be kind to all creatures. This is the true religion." Buddha   I can't understand why a church would fire a minister if they get arrested for a DWI (had a client recently fired and a chaplain put on leave). People make mistakes. A church who is living what they preach...

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The Biggest Misconception in DWI

The biggest misconception in a DWI is to correlate a single bad driving behavior with guilt in a DWI. For example, a jerk, accident, or stopping too long at a stop light. These may very well be evidence of driver inattention unrelated to intoxication. I analyzed thousands of DWI cases and tried over 300 during my career. What I find are prosecutors who argue that the inattentive driving behavior is clear evidence of intoxication. This is not fact. The facts are that every day drivers commit these violations due to distraction, inattention, fatigue or a host of factors. Accidents are...

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Educating the Public About Lawyer Selection

The State Bar of Texas regulates all lawyer advertising. For a lawyer to advertise a flyer, billboard, website, or other solicitation, they must pay a fee to the State Bar of Texas and adhere to the advertising and ethics rules that bind Texas lawyers. The State Bar of Texas will review the advertisement and either approve or disprove of its use. The rules are in place to protect the public from false advertising. But, the State Bar is having a hard time keeping up with cunning new ways for marketers to profit from lawyers and trick the public.   The above letter...

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Shocking Legal Truths on DWI

The way our government is created is simple. The legislature passes the laws and the judicial branch enforces it. That is the way it is designed. This is not the way it works. The Constitution is the framework that guarantees all rights and sets the parameters for all the state legislatures to follow when passing laws. Simple? It should be. Who on earth would dare defy the Constitution? Judges do it every day. Not just in Texas, but everywhere. Examples: In the State of New Jersey, you can't have a jury trial for a DWI. Yes, the United States Constitution entitles you...

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Police say people who smoke weed have ‘green tongues,’ though there’s no scientific evidence

c Police say people who smoke weed have 'green tongues,' though there's no scientific evidence. From USA TODAY: Police say people who smoke weed have 'green tongues,' though there's no scientific evidence. Police officers across the USA have used the observation as one of several signs to justify probable cause and make arrests in criminal cases, specifically in DUI cases. Police officers across the USA alleged in some DUI cases that people who recently smoked marijuana had green tongues. One specialized training program taught all around the world has law enforcement look for a "possible green coating". However, police point to no scientific studies...

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Forensic Problems in the Criminal Courts

  There is a big difference between civil courts and criminal courts. The obvious fact is one deals with money and the other, the loss of liberty: jail or prison. The rules of evidence that govern both systems are essentially the same. . . or so one would think. The reality is that criminal courts have come under large scrutiny for not following the rules of evidence when it comes to the forensic problem of bogus science. The National Academy of Science and The National Institute of Justice were both contracted to perform a comprehensive study on the state of modern...

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