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.


Police are Getting Theft Warrants for Shoplifting During the COVID Pandemic

October 6, 2020

By Criminal Defense Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal

jeremy@texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

There are currently a glut of warrants for theft in Collin County from shoplifting cases.

Why?  Because during the beginning of the pandemic, police did not want to take folks to jail for shoplifting.  Police were under marching orders to keep the jail clear and police were like anyone else who didn’t want to ride with a stranger in a car for 20 minutes if they didn’t have to.

You can check Collin County Warrants here.  The warrant page says all warrants may not be visible to the public.  If a warrant is not visible it’s typically because of some organized crime ring where they round up the entire group at once.  Shoplifting theft cases don’t fit this profile.

Why Are They Getting Warrants Months and Months Later?

People are required to go to jail in most criminal cases – even if it’s just to book in then out.  The reason is simple — if criminal court were voluntary, no one would come.  The law doesn’t allow people to be prosecuted in absentia so that means the courts have to have some way to compel you to come.  They make you come to court by holding the threat of jail over your head.

Because they didn’t take someone to jail in the first place in March, April, or May – they now have to do it in September or October.

 

How are They Doing This?

Police are asking judges to sign arrest warrants based on probable cause affidavits.  All a probable cause affidavit lays out is the “probable cause” for the charge.  The judge then signs the warrant which allows police to arrest a person.  Criminal charges come later in this scenario.

Another way arrest warrants are triggered is where the District Attorney’s office files the actual criminal charges.

Are They Going to Come and Get Me if I Have a Shoplifting Warrant?

Legally they can but they might not.  They may not have the resources to resolve this glut of cases and they may just be satisfied for folks to either turn themselves in or for the warrant to sit dormant until someone gets pulled over at some point in the future.

A person with an active arrest warrant should always do their best to promptly resolve the warrant by turning themselves in, however.  Not only is it required by law but as I tell clients by turning yourself in with a plan to bond – you are in control and can minimize how long you’re in jail.  I tell clients an arrest will happen at the worst and most inconvenient time if they don’t resolve it promptly (like when you’re on a big date or on your way to your kids soccer game).

Most warrants like this already have a bond amount set in advance so you might not even have to wait for a judge.  Also, most shoplifting cases don’t particularly carry bond amounts which are extraordinarily high.  There is a good chance you are in and out of jail regardless of your financial condition.

Does This Make My Case Worse?

No.  The prosecutor will ultimately file charges and the vast majority of shoplifting cases are misdemeanors.  They carry a range of options which allow for expunctions or ways to get your record cleared.  I’ve handled so many theft cases I can’t count them all.  I can safely say how the person was apprehended never makes a difference in the case – unless, of course there was a fight or something like that.

There is an excellent chance of getting theft off your record depending on your personal history and the facts of the case through an expunction or non-disclosure.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is board certified in criminal law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  He is recognized as a Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.  Jeremy is a senior partner at Rosenthal, Kalabus & Therrian, PLLC.  www.texasdefensefirm.com.


The 5 Most Common Questions I get as a Criminal Defense Lawyer: #1 “Am I Going to Jail?”

March 12, 2020

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

texasdefensefirm.com

(972) 369-0577

Most people vastly over-estimate their jail possibilities.  I spend a good deal of time explaining why things are nearly as bad they may seem.

Our minds tend to link together what I call “the chain of terribles.”  That is we take one terrible result, and infer another logical awful result, and then another and another and another.  But this is almost never realistic.

Let me give you an example — at the time I write this blog, the Coronavirus is exploding across the world.  The NBA just suspended their regular season.  Part of my mind wants to suggest the world economy will crash (the dow is down 20% from a month ago), my law practice will go down the tubes with the economy, there will be widespread disease and then famine, the NBA will never play again, and the survivors of the virus will have to barricade themselves from zombies in makeshift houses.

That is the chain of terribles.  But I’m guessing if you read this even 6 months from now, you’ll see how ridiculous my conclusions were.

The same thing happens when people consider jail.  They’ve typically already been arrested and have bonded out — and they want to know “will it happen again?”  A perfectly understandable and valid question.  Those fears are often fueled by lawyers and their webpages trying to scare you into hiring them.

Jail exposure is obviously on a case-by-case basis which includes tons of variables such as the nature of the charge, mitigating factors, what county is prosecuting the charge, criminal history, the specific prosecutor, judge, etcetera, etcetera, etc…

Understand a handful of factors which, in general, reduce inmate population.

  • Running a jail is money-losing proposition.  It is a hotel where no one pays.  Most counties don’t want to feed you and house you if they don’t have to.
  • Most judges and prosectors believe in rehabilitation.  Very few will stop someone from getting help they need to manage substance issues which frequently contribute.
  • There is a much better understanding of anxiety, depression, and other maladies which can contribute to someone’s predicament.
  • Finally — it’s your lawyers job to effectively tell your story — and everyone typically has a good one.

Bottom line: If you’re like everyone else – then you’ve probably exaggerated your own jail chances.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  He is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Criminal law.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.


Why Does My Lawyer Keep Continuing My Case?

November 12, 2019

By Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

texasdefensefirm.com

It could be taking extra time to prepare.  It could be strategy.  It could be a red flag.

Taking Extra Time to Prepare

Your Lawyer should always obey “the carpenter’s rule.”  Measure twice, cut once.

Some cases are just harder and more complex than others.

A sexual assault at a party with 8 witnesses (each with different accounts) takes some time to prepare.  The prosecutor may be extremely dug in and there could be some complex legal issues as well.

A white-collar securities scheme with 3,400 documents to pour through can be tough too.  Federal drug conspiracies where the lawyer gets a few hundred hours of wire-tap phone calls obviously take a while too.

These are all really valid reasons for delay.

Delay for Strategy

I’ve delayed cases for strategical reasons.  It could be because my client has other pending legal matters which I’d like to get resolved first.  It might be because I’m trying to expunge records in one county and I have to do so before my client’s case goes to trial in another county.  A lawyer could even have a case delayed so their client can stay in the local jail with air conditioning during the summer knowing when the case was over they still had to go back to their prison unit without AC (I’m not saying I’ve done this and I’m not saying I haven’t, either!)

Sometimes it’s the Prosecution’s Fault

Sometimes the State isn’t ready.  They need to do more investigation and/or preparation for their case to go to trial as well and the Judge allows them leeway the same way they allow us leeway.  Lab testing blood in DWI cases and drugs can take months and months.  It’s the speed of government.

When are Repeated Continuances a Red Flag?

Every case is it’s own snowflake.  That said, if you have a relatively common  case such as a DWI, assault, or drug charge and your lawyer is delaying, delaying, and delaying and the reasons don’t make sense — it could be something to become concerned about.

DWI, assault, drug and theft charges are extremely common and we handle lots of them.  We know what we’re looking for to defend the cases and we’re quick to find and ferret-out the important issues.  There are very few legal issues in Driving While Intoxicated cases, for instance, we haven’t seen before or know exactly where to look for the answer.

Many lawyers are simply over-worked.  They use time poorly and “borrow from peter to pay paul” with their time.  They are used to putting out the hottest fire every day — and when that case isn’t your case — you get to wait.  Also many lawyers can get “paralysis by analysis.”  That is they just can’t make a decision and they use delay because they can’t figure things out.

Bottom Line

I should add many clients are okay with a slow pace in which case we accommodate this.  It makes me think of when I was waiting for my bar results.  I had a great time not knowing one way or another for 3 months.  I just don’t like going to court and not accomplishing anything.  I do see lawyers who just pass, and pass, and pass their cases over and over and I don’t get it.  The courts do push lawyers to get cases through… but rarely should it get to that point.

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