The Top 5 Things You Should Tell Your Lawyer

December 5, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(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

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

Simple Thoughts on the Reliability of the Breath Test

September 12, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

Texas uses the Intoxylizer 5000 as its breath test machine.  Rather than discuss it in confusing and lengthy scientific concepts (which we’re happy to do in person), let’s discuss in general terms some if the problems associated with the machine.

Think of it as a scale in your bathroom that says you weigh anywhere from 50 to 170 lbs.  Not very helpful, is it?  This is for several compounding reasons.  First is the machine’s technology was created when the Atari video games were popular and Texas simply hasn’t found it cost-effective to upgrade.  Second is the machine piles assumption after assumption about the test-taker which may or may-not be true.

Also the machine – like any other mousetrap — can completely whiff on occasion.  The amount of ethyl alcohol it would take to score a false positive could fit on the tip of a pen as just one example.  The machine can be set off by GERD or gastro-intestinal reflux disease, can respond to environmental products used in the workplace, and has problems distinguishing diabetic shock from intoxication.

Again, we’re happy to discuss the science behind the Breath test in person… but understand just because the machine said it doesn’t mean it’s accurate!  It never hurts to scrutinize any test result.

What I Like About Defending DWI Cases Collin County

July 9, 2012

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(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.

Are There Depositions in a Criminal Case in Texas?

August 5, 2010

By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy F. Rosenthal

(972) 562-7549

Knowledge is power.  A good criminal defense lawyer will want to know as much of the State’s case as conceivably possible.  Most of the time that will probably only be through the police reports, an independent investigation, or what witnesses will tell you voluntarily.  Depositions in civil cases are common but depositions in criminal cases in Texas courts are extremely rare.

Depositions serve two main functions; (1) discovery — or learning the facts of the case; and (2) to nail down a witness’ version of events for later impeachment.  Insurance companies and civil lawyers know all to well that not many people give identical versions of events on multiple occasions.  They get as many witness statements from the same witness as possible to exploit inconsistencies or weaknesses.

Texas Code of Criminal Procedure 39.02 allows a defendant to petition the Court for a deposition if the defendant can show “good reason” for needing the deposition.  It is such a rarity that most trial judges probably won’t see the utility in allowing a deposition of a police officer though.  In all likelihood, depositions in criminal cases are reserved for instances where a witness may not be available later for trial.  If anything, the law allows the prosecution just as much or more leeway with deposing a witness or an alleged victim.  Section 39.025 requires that if the alleged victim is over 60 years old or disabled then the deposition must be taken by the prosecution no later than 60 days after the deposition is requested.

All is not lost for the accused though.  There are a few different mechanisms that allow deposition-like examinations of a police officer prior to trial. An example is an Administrative Law Review (“ALR”) in a DWI case to determine whether a driver’s license should be suspended or denied.  Another example is what is known as an “examining trial” in felony cases to determine if the State has probable cause to hold someone in jail accused of a Felony prior to presentment to the Grand Jury.  These are both instances where an officer can be sworn-in under oath with a record that can be used later.  A good criminal defense lawyer knows how to seize these opportunities for discovery.

*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 you should consult an attorney directly.