The Top 5 Things You Should Tell Your Lawyer

December 5, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.thecollincountylawyer.com

(972) 369-0577

It’s common for people who’ve never been in trouble before to assume everyone knows (or will know) all the details of their case… this includes their attorney.  Try as I might, I’m just not a psychic.  There aren’t many types of cases I haven’t seen… but each case I handle is truly it’s own snowflake.

Not only is each case it’s own snowflake, but everyone has different motivating factors in decision making.  Often how we treat a case depends more on a collateral issue (such as professional licensing, a medical condition, or immigration status) as it does the actual underlying facts.  It’s too important to assume your attorney understands what truly keeps you up at night about the case.

I hope my client knows I’m not the high school principal, a policeman, or a judge.  Nothing they tell me is going cause me to treat their case anything other than professionally.

As such, today we’re discussing the 5 things you should tell your lawyer:

5.  All the facts about the case you think are important.

I want my clients to feel comfortable.  They can tell me every detail about their case or none of the details because we don’t live in a country where we must prove our own innocence. One of the problems I have in evaluating a case through only a police report, though, is police reports tend read like a soviet history book with white-washed and self-serving facts and conclusions.  Often I find a police report doesn’t support nor contradict my client’s version of events.  This shows the importance of my client’s own account to the over-all evaluation of the case.

4.  If You’ve Been in Trouble Before.

Most people have only 1 or 2 run-ins with the law during their lifetime.  If you’ve been in trouble in the past, it’s important your lawyer know this because it could dramatically effect plea negotiations and even the Prosecutor’s ability to enhance the charges against you.

3.  If You’re Citizenship Status is Anything Less than A Full Citizen.

Immigration is a hot topic in Washington.  Criminal actions can have extremely complicated and far-reaching implications for people seeking naturalization or people who may seek to apply for citizenship in the future.  Immigration issues often put people in “must-win” situations in Court.

2.  If You Have Special or Professional Licensing.

Criminal charges and professional licenses don’t mix well.  If you’ve got any type of special licensing required by your job it’s important your lawyer know so they can do everything possible to protect that licensing.  It ranges from a license to practice law, medical licensing and even commercial driver’s licenses.  Again, we’re not psychic and a criminal conviction can might only result in probation — but a loss of licensing could cause permanent damage to your livelihood.

1.  The Truth.

Having criminal charges pending against you isn’t much different from being on an operating table.  You wouldn’t lie or even shade the truth to your Doctor about where they need to cut to save your life.  Telling your lawyer something which misleads them only hurts you in the long-run.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice on any situation you should contact an attorney directly. 


Is My Driver’s License Valid Immediately After a DWI Arrest in Texas?

October 2, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

Yes.  Here is a link to the State’s DIC-25 warning which you should have been given prior to having taken or refused the breath test.

Even though your physical drivers license was probably taken by the officer if you refused the test or blew over 0.08, this warning states in bold letters your license isn’t actually suspended for 40 days.  The document itself actually serves as your temporary driving permit for the 40 days.

Additionally, your license isn’t even automatically suspended after the 40 days if you appeal the suspension. In that case, your license wouldn’t be suspended until after the administrative judge rules on your appeal (and even then — only your appeal is denied).

If you voluntarily submit to a blood specimen, that specimen obviously needs to be analyzed.  It’s typically shipped to a Department of Public Safety Lab where there is a wait to have it analyzed.  In those cases where the blood comes back over 0.08, DPS should send you a notice giving you 20 days to appeal the suspension.  But even then, the suspension is not immediate upon the arrest.

It’s a common mis-impression that you’re not even allowed to drive the very next day after an arrest which law enforcement is happy not to clear-up.  This is part of the pressure tactic to attempt to persuade people to submit to breath or blood tests.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any matter you should consult an attorney directly.  Contacting the author through this forum does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Communications through this forum are not confidential nor privileged.

It’s a common mis-impression


The Top 6 Things You Should Know Before Pleading Guilty

September 7, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

Pleading guilty may be the best option in a case – but it should never be the first option.  The decision to plead guilty is often not much different than the decision to get a permanent tattoo everyone can see.  You should fully know and understand the consequences and alternatives before making this choice.

1.  What does it mean if I Plead Not Guilty?

It means you are exercising your right to a trial by judge or jury.  Every person has the right to a trial and every person has the right to plead “Not Guilty” to a criminal charge regardless of whether they committed the crime alleged.  There is nothing dishonest or immoral about pleading “Not Guilty” because your claim is essentially the state or government is unable to prove your case beyond all reasonable doubt.  Some backwards countries require you to prove your innocence — but the U.S. isn’t one of them.  By asking the State to bring it’s proof against you — you are keeping your government accountable to the people.

2.  What Rights am I Giving Up?

The framer’s of our constitution really knew what they were doing.  They gave us several extremely powerful rights — which in and of themselves could actually prevent you from being convicted regardless if you are “guilty as sin” or are completely innocent.  My list is only partial, but here are some of the rights you’ll waive in a guilty plea:

  • The right to a jury trial, the value of which speaks for itself;
  • The right to testify in your own defense and be heard — or the opposite — to remain silent so you don’t have to be exposed to harassing or abusive questions (known in the legal profession as “do you still beat your wife” questions) from the prosecutor.
  • You’re waiving arguably your most important right — the right to cross examine a witness.  Cross examination is a powerful way to break down the State’s case and show the jury or judge the full truth of an accuser’s account.
  • You’d typically (but not always) waive your right to appeal which means barring some remarkable unknown circumstances — the case will be final once the judge accepts the plea.

3.  What Are the Consequences of My Guilty Plea?

Know what you’re signing up for.  Understand the differences between deferred adjudication and a conviction and ask your lawyer about how it impacts your ability to expunge (clear) or hide (non-disclose) your record.  Understand the requirements you’re agreeing to if you’re accepting probation — and the punishments if you fall short.  Ask about other collateral consequences particular to the type of charge you’re pleading guilty to… will it affect your right to vote?  To own a firearm?  Could it cost you your job, a professional license or the ability to get a professional license?  If you’re agreeing to go to jail or prison, know the parole guidelines first.

4.  Can I Actually be Acquitted at Trial?

I tell juries all the time the truth that, “people are acquitted in courthouses all around America every single day.”  Your lawyer should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each case with you.  Again, the prosecution bears the burden of proof beyond all reasonable doubt which never shifts back to you.  Not only that, but you are presumed innocent.   Just because some facts may look bad in your case doesn’t mean you’ll lose.  Before you make the decision to plead guilty, you should know what may or may not happen at trial.

5.  Will the Punishment be Worse if I Take the Case to Trial?

People often assume the prosecutor’s plea offer is a better shake than the judge or jury will give in the event you’re convicted after a trial.  Often prosecutors, in making plea offers, simply don’t have their fingers on the pulse of the community.  Merely because the individual prosecutor may be judgmental doesn’t mean a judge or jury will agree with them.  A prosecutor asking to jail a 42 year homemaker with 3 kids for a DWI after a night of drinks with girlfriends may find the jury is angry with him for what could be seen as a mean suggestion.

6.  Won’t Fighting the Case Make the Prosecutor or Judge Mad?

Maybe.  But so what?

If you’re charged with a crime, you have to be far more concerned with how the case will impact you 10, 20, or 30 years down the road… long after both the judge or prosecutor have forgotten your name.  Besides, the vast majority of judges I’ve been around actually appreciate strong advocacy from defense lawyers and few judges (or juries) give in to a frustrated prosecutor upset about having to prove a case.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice and for legal advice about any situation you should consult with an attorney directly.  Contacting the attorney through this forum does not create an attorney-client relationship an communications sent through this forum are not privileged nor confidential.


What I Like About Defending DWI Cases Collin County

July 9, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.thecollincountylawyer.com

(972) 369-0577

Defending driving while intoxicated case presents a unique challenge to lawyers.  This is because long before entering the courtroom, you can detect a stiff headwind of resistance working against you which lasts the entire case.

You get the sense the legislature, lobbyists and victim advocacy groups, and even many jurors don’t stop to consider whether the police are right when they make an arrest.  Even the news media runs article after article about how if the courts and police were just meaner and tougher on these cases — they would somehow go away.  There is an unmistakable and heavy bias which reaches far beyond whether drunk driving is a problem — and assumes everyone suspected of DWI is guilty.

No one wants drunk drivers on the road.  Everyone’s heart breaks for victims of drunk drivers.  The vast majority of people respect and trust police which is one of the things that makes Collin County a great place to be.  But legislators, activist groups, and police are human.  By their very nature, groups with this degree of moral authority tend to make up the rules as they go along — and therein lies the potential for them to badly hurt innocent people in the name of the public good.

I enjoy the challenge of showing jurors that not everyone caught in the wide-cast-net of DWI is a drunk driver.  I enjoy showing the jury how the framers of the constitution knew the timeless attitudes of accusers, authority figures, and even society’s tendency to rush to judgment.  Most of all, I enjoy the challenge of winning cases where there is a steep up-hill climb with skeptical jurors, difficult police officers, and strict rules limiting our ability to defend the case.

Though I’m probably biased in favor of Collin County jurors, I enjoy trying cases in front of people that live in places like Allen, Plano, Frisco, McKinney and Richardson for the reason they are intelligent and open minded.  Without people even willing to listen — having a fair trial anywhere would be impossible.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any situation you should contact an attorney directly.  Contacting the attorney through this forum does not create an attorney-client relationship nor are any communications confidential or privileged.


How Double Jeopardy Works

March 4, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

Double jeopardy comes from the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which holds in part, “…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb…”

Double jeopardy can be an extremely complex topic.  The easiest way to think about it is once you are acquitted of a charge, you can’t be prosecuted for the same charge again. The prosecutors who represent the government are like anyone else before the Judge.  They get their day in court — but they don’t get it again and again and again until they win.

What makes the issue so confusing at times are the different concepts behind what constitutes an acquittal for example.  The prosecution may dismiss a case but if they do so before jeopardy is said to “attach” in a particular case (typically when a jury is sworn — or in a trial before a judge — when the trial begins), the prosecution can simply refile the case if they are within their limitations period.

Also many factual circumstances could lend themselves to prosecutions of different offenses.  Crimes have statutory elements which must be proven by the prosecution.  The elements for one crime might be completely different from another crime which arose from the same situation.  Merely because someone was prosecuted and acquitted of one charge doesn’t mean the other charge can’t then be pursued by the state.  Whether subsequent prosecution is precluded by double jeopardy might depend on the over-lapping nature of the elements of given charges.

The vast majority of times double jeopardy issues are simple.  If someone is found not guilty for driving while intoxicated, marijuana possession or assault then virtually always the case is closed.  On occasion double jeopardy issues can arise, though.  When they do it’s best to speak with a lawyer about what the State may or may no do to pursue a particular case.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice on any issue you should contact an attorney directly.  Contacting the attorney through this blog does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Communications sent through this blog are not considered privileged or confidential.