Expert Witnesses in DUIs

Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in Crime | 0 comments

If you watch any of the television shows that center around law and justice, chances are you have come across cases where the trial became a battleground for “expert witnesses.” Often one side would claim one thing and provide supporting evidence while the other side would claim the exact opposite and provide equally valid supporting evidence.

The reality is there are instances when the facts of a case are open to interpretation, even when it gets down to numbers and figures. Expert witnesses are qualified to give opinions that may be considered facts because they have the training and knowledge to deliver such opinions from a professional perspective. And yet, there may be more than one conclusion to be arrived at given a set of circumstances.

In a DUI (driving under the influence) case, for example, the prosecutor will routinely send test results to a Forensic Toxicologist employed by the Department of Justice to interpret as evidence for trial that is also prepared to get on the stand and explain what the results mean to the jury in terms they can understand as laypeople. However, the expert witness may not know all the facts that may impact on the test results, such as the machine used was defective, the samples had been tainted, or the defendant has a medical condition that resulted in a false positive.

The defendant in such cases has the right to challenge the prosecutor’s expert witness but it has to be substantiated by an expert witness as well to objectively provide an alternative explanation for the results that may exonerate the defendant or at least ameliorate the offense. An experienced criminal defense lawyer would know if an expert witness is appropriate under the circumstances (they can be expensive) and if so, what kind of expert witness may be needed to rebut the claims of the prosecution. Furthermore, defense lawyers often have expert witnesses for all types of cases in their roster that they know are qualified, credible, and reliable for the best possible shot of helping a defendant beat the charges.

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Domestic Violence Laws in Texas

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014 in Crime | 0 comments

Domestic violence is considered a crime in the state of Texas and it is applicable to any acts of violence committed against any member of a family, a household, or someone who the offender is dating or have dated in the past. These include:

  • Current or past spouse
  • A person with whom the offender lives with
  • A member of the family, whether by blood, adoption, or marriage
  • A child of a past or current partner
  • Someone whom the offender has a child (or children)
  • The offender’s foster parent or foster child
  • Anyone with whom the offender has a present romantic relationship or is currently dating

The state of Texas recognizes three types of domestic violence: domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, and continuous violence against the family. According to the Texas Penal Code § 22.01., anyone can be guilty of domestic assault when they (1) threatening another person with impending physical harm intentionally or knowingly, (2) knowingly or intentionally committing physical contact a person with whom the offender reasonably is aware that the victim would find offensive or provocative, and (3) causing physical injury to a person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly.

Mark Lassiter, Attorney at Law explains on its website that a person can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for domestic assault if he or she does not have any prior domestic assault convictions, and they can be charged with a third degree felony when they have been convicted of domestic assault in the past.

Reckless acts account for accounts for anything that is not intended to cause harm but was done without regard of the other person’s safety. Likewise, a provocative or offensive physical contact constitute to an act that does not necessarily cause physical pain or injury to the victim but has upset or left caused a feeling of being violated.

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Miranda Rights Explained

Posted by on Aug 7, 2014 in Crime | 0 comments

You hear it often in cop shows when a person is about to be arrested: “You have the right to remain silent…” This is the Miranda warning, and it is designed to explain to a person their rights when they are in police custody. However, it is important to understand that just because you have not yet been arrested and Mirandized that what you say can’t be held against you in a trial.

The Miranda warning first came about after a 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona when the court ruled that the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated upon interrogation because he was not aware of these rights. After that, law enforcement officers were required to explain these rights to a person during their arrest and before an interrogation can take place in order for the statements to be admissible.

However, when a person is just being interviewed and is not yet under formal arrest, the police can elicit information that may be consequently incriminating. They delay making an arrest declaration because they want to keep you talking and not ask for a criminal defense lawyer, who will definitely throw a spanner in the works. Most people want to explain themselves, thinking that the police will see it their way. They will not think about calling a lawyer until it is brought to their attention.

The police know that no verbal statement is admissible in court unless it is captured on video or other recording device, which is why police cars are now equipped with dash cams and interrogation rooms are wired for sound and video. Even if you are just being interviewed, whatever you say that is recorded can be used against you.

For example, if you are detained for whatever reason in Dallas, the only thing you are required to do is to provide identification and proof of insurance if you are driving. Your right to remain silent is always in force; you don’t have to wait to be Mirandized to “activate” it. A Dallas criminal defense lawyer will thank you kindly if you say nothing prior to legal consultation.

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