The Texas “Value Ladder” for Punishment

November 20, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.texasdefensefirm.com

Many criminal offenses in Texas are based on a monetary amount of loss or amount in controversy.  The more money we are dealing with, the higher the charge.

All of these offenses contain the possibility of probation subject to a person’s previous criminal history.

The Value Ladder:

  • Less than $100 – Class C Misdemeanor
    • No Jail
    • Fine not to exceed $500
  • Between $100 and $750 – Class B Misdemeanor
    • Up to 180 days county jail
    • Fine not to exceed $4,000
  • Between $750 and $2,500 – Class A Misdemeanor
    • Up to 1 year county jail
    • Fine not to exceed $4,000
  • Between $2,500 and $30,000 – State Jail Felony
    • Between 180 days and 2 years in State Jail Facility
    • Fine not to exceed $10,000
  • Between $30,000 and $150,000 – 3rd Degree Felony
    • Between 2 years and 10 years prison
    • Fine not to exceed $10,000
  • Between $150,000 and $300,000 – 2nd Degree Felony
    • Between 2 years and 20 years prison
    • Fine not to exceed $10,000
  • Over $300,000 – 1st Degree Felony
    • Between 5 and 99 years or life in prison
    • Fine not to exceed $10,000

*Jeremy Rosenthal is certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.


Podcast: Mental Health

November 9, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

On my weekly podcast a few weeks ago the topic was mental health in criminal law.  My guest was Vanita Parker – one of the lawyers at our firm and the founder of the Mental Health Division of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

We discuss the impacts mental health on the courts – no easy or small topic!

*Jeremy Rosenthal is certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is designated as a Texas Super Lawyer by the Thomson Reuters.


When Police File a Case “At Large”

April 28, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

I’m writing this blog in the middle of the COVID-19 shutdown.  We’re seeing lots of cases handled “at large” these days.

What “At Large” Means in a Criminal Case

The Court has to have some way to make sure people come and face charges, win, lose or draw.  If criminal cases were voluntary, no one would come to court.  That way of securing attendance is the threat of jail.

An arrest is normally the very first legal action taken against a person.  A bond is set and if the bond is paid the person is released.  Formal charges come some time later – but prior to the running of the statute of limitations (2 years on a misdemeanor, 3 years on most felonies).

When a case is filed “at large” the arrest is skipped temporarily.  Once the formal charges are filed either in a misdemeanor or a felony an arrest warrant is triggered.

Why We’re Seeing So Many “At Large” Cases

Police and the Sheriff’s office want to keep the jail as unpopulated as possible during the COVID crisis.  It is law enforcement’s way of deferring an arrest and a jailing until later.

What Happens Next?

If someone has been told a case would be filed “at large,” then there is a good chance the police have or will forward a police report to the District Attorney’s Office.  The District Attorney’s office will review the report — and assuming they view the report as complete — they will typically file formal charges.  In a misdemeanor case it is called an “information” and in a felony the Grand Jury Meets and if they agree — the file what is called an indictment.  Both will trigger the arrest warrant.

If There is an Arrest Warrant Coming, What Do I Do?

It is always the better practice to be in control of the process by monitoring the active warrant filings and ultimately surrender yourself.  Prepare to post bond.  It’s also time to talk with a lawyer about your long term legal defense and how to best address the charges.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He was recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Texas Super Lawyer in 2019.


10 Principles of Defending People: (#5 All Eyes are Equal & #4 Know the Enemy)

June 6, 2018

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

I’m going over to me what are the top ten principles of defending people.  To recap the list so far:

#5 All Eyes are Equal:

People don’t trust themselves or their own judgment for some reason.  Lawyers included.

Maverick trusted himself.  He hit the brakes and the MIG flew right by.  He had cunning, creativity, and self-assurance to know the maneuver would work.  The fact it hadn’t been done before didn’t bother him.

What I like about Maverick is he didn’t ask anyone’s permission.  He just trusted himself and to a lesser degree wasn’t afraid to fail.  I’m a pretty far cry from Maverick, but I hope I think like he might every now and again.

When I say all eyes are equal what I mean is if a trial theory makes sense to me then chances are it makes sense to the jurors too.  If I think the police and prosecutors are reaching then I ask myself why?  Maybe they’ve been suckered by a doe-eyed accuser in a sexual assault case…  Maybe they’re blinded by my client’s appearance or problems they’ve had in the past… or maybe they’re so trapped in their own narrative, they can’t see they’re in an echo chamber as in some domestic violence cases.

Too often, lawyers will settle into a conventional defense.  They are afraid to think outside of the box.  But by thinking inside the box, they turn themselves into fish in a barrel waiting to be speared.  Remember all eyes — including the lawyers own — are equal.  The big picture makes sense.

Don’t be afraid to tell the jury about the big picture.  Don’t be afraid of hitting the brakes so the MIG can fly right by.

#4 Know the Enemy: 

The key to knowing your opponent in my book is experience, experience, experience.

I remember how I thought as a prosecutor.  It helps me today.  I was advocating for the opposite position which is something lawyers do.  I remember my thought process in trying to prove-up a case.  I remember my areas of emphasis to the jury, the assumptions I’d make in each case, and the points of emphasis to the jurors.  I also remember how effective defense lawyers would attack my case.

Defending cases are wonderful learning experiences too.

Cross examining hundreds of police officers teaches you how to control a sophisticated witness who is often trying intentionally to personally subvert you in front of a jury.  Mountains of experience teaches you how to strike the precise blows you need to inflict with your questioning without picking losing battles, having your message bogged down, or looking like a jerk.

Experience also teaches you the prosecutor’s playbook.  Prosecutors across the state share practices and training (as do defense lawyers) so it’s not uncommon to see the same techniques and arguments in different counties.  An experienced defense lawyer needs to know what is coming and how to neutralize, spoil, or blow-up certain tactics they ought to expect are coming.  It’s no different than a football team watching tape on their upcoming opponent and figuring out how to defend against certain plays or formations.

Knowing the enemy is important — but it can’t be confused with a winning strategy.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.

 

 

 


Top 5 Most Common Police Attitudes – #3

May 13, 2018

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

Today I’m continuing my series on the top 5 police officer attitudes I’ll see when defending cases.  These are police attitudes I see from police officers while on duty.

#3 — CYA

That’s right. Cover your a$$.

One of the psychological pressures on officers is maintaining their livelihood.  They don’t want to lose their job or their pension over any single case.

I see this one mostly in cases where there is an alleged victim involved such as domestic assault, sexual assault or complicated theft schemes to name a few.  A police officer knows an upset accuser (or the accusers parents) can cause them all sorts of headaches with his or her superiors at the station.

For assault/ family violence cases police are worried if they leave a couple warring in their home after a 911 call — one of them could be killed later in the evening.

On sexual abuse cases whether involving adults or children, a police officer is going to have to have a really good explanation to their superiors as to why they told an angry person claiming to be a victim, “no, we don’t believe you.”

Police will often file cases as “grand jury referrals” which is their way of filing a case with the District Attorney’s office while expressing an underlying doubt about the case.  It is a case where they don’t make an arrest prior to grand jury.  It can be seen as unwritten permission to dump a case.  Grand juries may still indict, though.

It sucks to be on the receiving end of a case where you suspect it was filed because the officer was doing CYA work.  It has to be dealt with like anything else.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas.