Friday

Criminal Law FAQs

 

Do I really need a lawyer for my criminal case?

Yes. You really do. Simply by being accused of a crime places you at greater risk for spending time in prison or jail. And you do not want to find yourself lost and alone in the Texas criminal justice system. It can be just as cold, harsh, and unforgiving as for those lost in the wilderness. The old saying that one who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer is certainly true. It is risky to represent yourself. You place yourself at the mercy of prosecutors who can take advantage of you, even if you have no criminal record, and overburden you with a punishment much more harsh than usual.

What should I look for in hiring a criminal defense attorney?

Choosing a criminal defense attorney to represent you or a loved one is a huge decision. The outcome of your case can highly depend on the experience, expertise, and reputation of the criminal defense lawyer you hire. It is important you hire the right one.

Experience. You need a lawyer with significant experience in the area of law where your problem lies. If you or a loved one are charged with a crime, you need a lawyer experienced in criminal law.

Expertise. Criminal law is a specialized area of law that follows different procedures and rules. Few lawyers specialize in this area of law. Many lawyers are general practitioners, so-called “jacks of all trade,” that practice many different areas of law yet lack significant experience in any one area.

Reputation. Lawyers that have a reputation for winning cases at trial generally obtain better results for their clients than lawyers that do not fight cases at trial. Does the lawyer genuinely care for his clients? What do other lawyers think of him or her? Has the lawyer ever been sanctioned for misconduct? Answers to these questions can be found at www.avvo.com and www.texasbar.com.

At James G. Sullivan & Associates, our Houston trial lawyers are experienced in criminal law. Our lawyers have fought and won felony and misdemeanor jury trials in criminal court. They have handled thousands of criminal cases. James Sullivan has practiced criminal law since 1994, and Nancy Botts since 1988. Sullivan graduated from The Trial Lawyers College, the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America.

When should I hire an attorney?

It is smart to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Lawyers can take steps to put their clients in a better position to get a case dismissed or to negotiate a plea before trial begins. Seasoned criminal trial attorneys know how to conduct a thorough investigation of the criminal issue and can present evidence supporting your case.

When you retain our firm, we will start working on your legal matter promptly so that your legal concern can be resolved quickly.

How much does it cost to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Harris County?

Legal fees are also an important consideration in selecting a lawyer, but do you really want the cheapest criminal defense lawyer when your freedom and reputation are at stake? The old saying you get what you pay for is most certainly true when it comes to legal fees. Quality and effective representation is what you deserve and hope to find, and that representation ought to come at a fair price.

At James G. Sullivan & Associates, we aim to provide quality and effective representation at a reasonable cost.

Do I have to appear in court?

Yes. If you have an order to appear in court and you fail to make it, your bond could be revoked, and you could go to jail. It is wise to arrange for child care and time off from work for your court date so that you can appear.

Note: During the pandemic, you may have the option to appear in court remotely via Zoom. You should contact the court or your attorney in advance to find out.

Should I stop smoking marijuana after an arrest?

Yes. If you are released on bond, you should follow the court-ordered terms of your release. Engaging in unlawful activity, such as smoking marijuana or using other illegal narcotics, may violate these terms. You could go back to jail for committing a crime while awaiting your trial.

Isn’t it cheaper to pay the fine and accept the punishment than fight minor charges?

No, not in the long way. Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor shoplifting or an assault causing bodily injury, pleading guilty to these offenses and other misdemeanors can have expensive, long-term consequences. Misdemeanor theft or assault convictions are recorded on your permanent criminal record, which potential employers or landlords can access through background checks. Even a misdemeanor charge can cost you a potential job, career choice, or housing option. Over a lifetime, the potential loss of higher income for not being able to pursue a more lucrative career path or the cost of having to pay higher interest rates for auto and home loans can be staggering.

Contact James G. Sullivan & Associates to consult with experienced Houston Criminal Lawyers at (281) 546-6428.

Sunday

Harris County Family Violence Charges

Family Violence

Family violence in Houston is a very serious matter that can result in severe consequences to alleged offenders. By the end of September, the Houston Police Department has received almost 24,000 reports of domestic violence so far in 2019. Since taking office in 2017, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg has increased the number of family violence cases that prosecutors file from about 9,000 a year to almost 12,000 cases a year—a 33 percent increase in charges against a family member or someone in a dating relationship!
Obviously, many accusations of family violence or domestic violence are not true. Alleged victims often will falsely accuse someone they are in a dating relationship with or a family member of domestic violence. These serious and false allegations frequently arise from anger, jealousy, divorce or child custody disputes.
If you have been accused of a domestic or family violence crime, it is important to consult an experienced and reputable criminal defense attorney in Houston to defend you.
Houston Family Violence Lawyer
If you have been accused of family violence or domestic violence in the Greater Houston area, including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Tomball, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, and many other nearby communities, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates.
Attorney James G. Sullivan will fight the allegations against you and strive to help you avoid serious consequences and punishments to your alleged offense. Call James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free consultation at (281) 546-6428 about your family violence charges.
Definitions of Family Violence in Harris County
Often, domestic violence or family violence cases involve legal terms that are unfamiliar to most people. These terms are defined in Chapter 71 of the Texas Family Code and are listed below.
  • Family Violence is often more commonly referred to as domestic violence, domestic abuse or dating violence, and is defined as an intentional act or threat by one family member against another that causes physical harm, bodily injury, assault or sexual assault.
  • Dating Violence is defined as an intentional act or threat by a person in a dating relationship against a person they are currently in a dating relationship with or were previously in a dating relationship with that causes physical or bodily harm.
  • Family Member is anyone who is related by blood, related by marriage, a former spouse, parent of the same child, step-parent or foster parent.
  • Household Member is anyone who resides or has previously resided in the same home, including individuals who are not in the same family such as roommates.
  • Protective Order is more commonly referred to as a restraining order, protection against family violence, or protection order, and is a court order issued by the judge if the judge determines family violence has occurred and is likely to occur again.
  • Protective Order Hearing is a hearing in which the judge determines whether or not family violence has occurred and is likely to occur in the future after both sides present evidence and any witnesses. If the judge determines family violence has occurred, the judge will issue a protective order
Family Violence Offenses in Houston
Some of the most commonly charged family violence offenses in Harris County can include, but are not limited to, the following—
According to Texas Penal Code § 22.01, an individual can be charged with domestic assault if they intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury; threaten; or, physically contact a family member, household member or person they are in a dating relationship with in a manner in which the other person would regard as offensive or provocative.
As defined in Texas Penal Code § 22.02, an individual can be charged with aggravated domestic assault if they commit assault with a deadly weapon against a family member or cause serious bodily injury to a family member, household member or person they are in a dating relationship with.
As defined in Texas Penal Code § 25.07, a violation of a protective order is cause by an individual knowingly or intentionally violating the terms of a protective order against them. This can include communicating with the family member who requested the protective order or going to their home or place of employment.
As defined by Texas Penal Code § 42.072, stalking is defined as repeatedly and knowingly engaging in conduct targeted at a specific person—
  • They will perceive as threatening,
  • that causes them to be afraid they will be seriously harmed, and
  • that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death to herself or her family members.
This offense can also include cyberstalking, which is defined as communicating with another person through e-mail or other electronic means strictly to harass that person.
According to Texas Penal Code § 22.04, an individual can be charged with injury to a child (child abuse) or injury to the elderly if they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence cause any type of bodily injury to a child or elderly adult.
Houston Punishment for Domestic Violence
Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code defines the general penalties to many family violence offenses in Houston. However, these penalties can vary, depending on whether the victim was elderly, disabled or a child, whether a weapon was used during the commission of the offense, the degree of domestic violence, whether bodily injury or death resulted from the offense, and whether the alleged offender has any previous criminal history.
  • An individual charged with a Class C misdemeanor domestic assault offense can result in a fine up to $500 (although we do not handle Class C misdemeanor offenses).
  • An individual convicted of a Class A misdemeanor domestic assault offense can receive a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000.
  • An individual charged with a Class A misdemeanor violation of a protection order can receive a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000.
  • A conviction for a felony of the third degree domestic assault, violation of a protective order, stalking, or child abuse offense can result in a prison sentence ranging from two to ten years and/or a fine not more than $10,000.
  • An individual charged with felony of the second degree domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, stalking or child abuse offense can receive a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and/or a fine up to $10,000.
  • An individual convicted of a first degree aggravated domestic assault or child abuse offense can receive a prison term from five to 99 years or life imprisonment and/or a fine not more than $10,000.
Additionally, anyone who commits Continuous Violence Against a Family or household member can be convicted of a third degree felony offense, according to Texas Penal Code § 25.11. Continuous violence is defined as committing a family violence offense two or more times within a 12 month period.
James G. Sullivan and Associates | Houston Domestic Violence Attorney
Contact James G. Sullivan and Associates today at (281) 546-6428 for a free consultation about your family violence charges throughout Harris County in Texas. James Sullivan is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston who will make every effort to help you achieve the best outcome for your case.

Monday

Continuous Violence Against the Family | Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys

Continuous Violence Against the Family

Domestic assault is usually a misdemeanor offense in Texas, but alleged offenders who have been previously convicted of assault family violence can be charged with a felony family violence charge if accused of committing a new domestic assault.
The crime of continuous violence against the family is defined as committing two or more domestic assaults within a period of 12 months. According to the statute, members of the jury are not required to agree unanimously on the specific conduct in which the alleged offender engaged that constituted assault involving family violence. Instead, a jury only needs to unanimously agree that the alleged offender engaged in conduct that constituted assault family violence two or more times in a period of 12 months or less.
Lawyer for Continuous Violence Against the Family in Houston, TX
If you were arrested in the Houston area for continuous violence against the family, it is in your best interest to immediately retain experienced legal counsel. James G. Sullivan and Associates aggressively defends clients accused of domestic violence offenses all over the Greater Houston area, including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Tomball, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, and many other nearby communities.
Houston criminal defense attorneys James G. Sullivan and Associates can fight with the goal to get these criminal charges dismissed or reduced. Call (281) 546-6428 today to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation that will let our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case.
Continuous Violence Against the Family Charges in Harris County
Under Texas Penal Code § 25.11(a), a person can be charged with continuous violence against the family if he or she intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to any person or persons whose relationship to or association with the accused is described by the following statutes:
  • “Dating Relationship” (Texas Family Code § 71.0021) means a relationship between individuals who have or have had a continuing relationship of a romantic or intimate nature. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of the length of the relationship, the nature of the relationship, and the frequency and type of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
  • “Family” (Texas Family Code § 71.003) includes individuals related by consanguinity (one is a descendant of the other or they share a common ancestor) or affinity (they are married to each other or the spouse of one of the individuals is related by consanguinity to the other individual), individuals who are former spouses of each other, individuals who are the parents of the same child, without regard to marriage, and a foster child and foster parent, without regard to whether those individuals reside together.
  • “Household” (Texas Family Code § 71.005) means a unit composed of persons living together in the same dwelling, without regard to whether they are related to each other.
Continuous Violence Against the Family Punishment in Texas
Continuous violence against the family is classified as a third degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
James G. Sullivan & Associates | Houston Continuous Violence Against the Family Lawyer
Were you recently arrested for continuous violence against the family in southeast Texas? You should always consult with a lawyer before talking with the authorities. Contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free, confidential consultation.
James G. Sullivan and Associates are experienced criminal defense attorneys in Houston who represent clients in communities throughout Harris County, Fort Bend County and Montgomery County. They can review your case and explain your legal options. They have a proven history of fighting to get the best result for clients accused of family violence. Call (281) 546-6428 for a free consultation.

Wednesday

Houston Indecent Exposure Charge Lawyer | Defense Attorney

Indecent Exposure

A conviction for indecent exposure in Houston can lead to serious consequences and repercussions. Under Texas laws, an indecent exposure offense is generally considered a misdemeanor offense which can result in a criminal record. If that happens, it will appear on background checks for jobs, educational opportunities and even housing applications. Furthermore, this crime can lead to jail time, fines, and a possible requirement to register as a sex offender.
Keep in mind that indecent exposure charges do not necessarily have to result in a conviction. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed every element of the offense. With reputable criminal trial attorneys, this can be a very difficult burden to meet, and if the jury has any doubt, you could be found not guilty at trial, or the prosecutor could dismiss the charges prior to trial. Therefore, it is in your best interest to consult with reputable Houston criminal defense attorneys to assist you to develop your best legal strategy for your particular situation.

Houston Indecent Exposure Attorney

If you have been charged with indecent exposure in Houston, or any of the surrounding areas in Texas, including Spring, Cypress, Jersey Village, Humble, Katy, Sugar Land, Pasadena or Deer Park, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates.
James Sullivan is knowledgeable in all areas of Texas’ sex crime laws and will make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Call James Sullivan at (281) 546-6428 about your alleged indecent exposure offense.

Indecent Exposure in Harris County

According to Texas Penal Code § 21.08, a person can be charged with indecent exposure if they expose any part of their genitals or anus with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person, and are reckless about whether another person is present who would be offended or alarmed by the act.
According to Texas law, a person acts recklessly if they commit some act, and they are aware the conduct can cause the result of their actions or conduct, but consciously disregard the possibility the result will occur.
Some of the most common examples of indecent exposure in Houston include:
  • Urinating in public,
  • Mooning, or exposing your buttocks to someone else in public,
  • Flashing, or exposing any sexual organ to someone else in public, or
  • Sunbathing topless and/or exposing female breasts.
However, a mother breastfeeding her child or baby in public is not considered indecent exposure for criminal purposes.

Offenses Similar to Indecent Exposure in Houston

According to Texas Penal Code § 21.07, a person can be charged with public lewdness if they knowingly engage in any of the following acts while in a public place:
  • Sexual intercourse, which is defined as the penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.
  • Deviate sexual intercourse, which is defined as any contact between any part of the genitals, or sex organs, of one person and the mouth or anus of another person, or the penetration of the genitals or anus of another person with an object.
  • An act of sexual conduct, which is defined as any touching of the anus, breast or genitals of another person with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desires of any person.
  • An act involving contact between the alleged offender’s mouth or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal.
Under Texas law, a person acts knowingly if they commit some type of conduct and they are aware their conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result of the conduct or the act.
Furthermore, a person can be charged with public lewdness if they engage in any of the following acts, and is reckless about whether another person who is present would be offended or alarmed by the act:
  • Sexual intercourse,
  • Deviate sexual intercourse,
  • An act of sexual conduct, or
  • An act involving contact between the alleged offender’s mouth or genitals and the anus or genitals of an animal.

Houston Indecent Exposure Punishment

The penalties for Houston indecent exposure offenses are defined in Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code. Many nudity offenses in Houston can result in a misdemeanor conviction. The penalties for nudity offenses, such as indecent exposure in Houston, are as follows:
  • Criminal charges for an indecent exposure offense can result in Class B misdemeanor conviction, which is punishable by a jail sentence up to 180 days and/or a fine up to $2,000.
  • Criminal charges for a public lewdness offense can result in Class A misdemeanor conviction, which is punishable by a jail sentence up to one year and/or a fine up to $4,000.
  • Under Chapter 62 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a person convicted of a second indecent exposure offense is required to register as a sex offender with a local law enforcement authority of the county where they reside for a period of ten years.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Harris County Indecent Exposure Lawyer

Contact Attorney James Sullivan today for a consultation about your indecent exposure charges in Harris County, Texas. James Sullivan is an aggressive Houston criminal defense attorney who will make every effort to get you the best result in your case.
Contact James G. Sullivan and Associates at (281) 546-6428 for a free and confidential consultation about your alleged indecent exposure charge throughout Harris County and the surrounding counties of Montgomery County and Fort Bend County.
James Sullivan graduated from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout Texas. This is one of his many client reviews on AVVO:
I hired James Sullivan to represent my 17 year old grandson who was charged with public lewdness after he and his girlfriend were caught fooling around at their high school. I could not be happier with the result. Sullivan persuaded the prosecutor to dismiss the case in exchange for my grandson taking a decision making class and performing 6 hours of community service. Sullivan is extremely efficient and professional. We only had to go to court twice. Sullivan was responsive to my phone calls and emails and always available to answer questions. I would recommend him to any of my family or friends that might need the services of a criminal or juvenile defense attorney.
~Posted by Debbie on May 24, 2018

Thursday

Shoplifting | Houston Retail Theft Defense Lawyer

Shoplifting / Retail Theft

Harris  County Shoplifting Lawyer
Shoplifting is a serious crime. Many teens and young adults may think that shoplifting is a small matter, but shoplifting is a theft crime and a theft conviction can have serious and lifelong consequences. It only takes one brief, impulsive and poor decision to shoplift to ruin your future. In addition to the embarrassment and possible stigma of a theft conviction, other consequences could include:
  • Cannot Get a Job. Most employers will not hire you if you have a theft conviction on your record. If you lie on your job application to obtain employment, you will be fired a short time later. Criminal records can easily be checked by employers online at the website of the Harris County District Clerk. When there is already widespread unemployment due to a slow economy, a theft conviction could make you unemployable.
  • Cannot Return to the Store. If you were caught shoplifting, the store owner may permanently ban you from returning. If the store is the only nearby grocery, then that could be a big inconvenience or worse.
  • A 3rd Shoplifting Conviction Is a Felony. If you get caught shoplifting after having been previously convicted two or more times of theft, you will be charged with a state jail felony.
Houston Retail Theft Offenses
According to Texas Penal Code §31.03, a person can be charged with retail theft or shoplifting if he intentionally and unlawfully takes property from a store, retailer or merchant, with the intent to deprive the store or retailer of the property without their consent.
Houston Shoplifting Penalties
Retail theft penalties vary depending on the value of the property stolen, whether the alleged offender has previous convictions, the kind of property stolen and how the alleged offender committed the act. The basic statutory penalties for shoplifting offenses are as follows:
  1. If the value of the property stolen is less than $100, a class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $500.
  2. If the value of the property stolen is $100 or more but less than $750, a person charged with theft can be convicted of a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,000, a  jail sentence of up to 180 days, or both.
  3. If the value of the property stolen is $750 or more but less than $2,500, a person charged with theft can be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000, a  jail sentence of up to one year, or both.
  4. If the value of the property stolen is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000, a person charged with theft can be convicted of a state jail felony, which is punishable by a state jail sentence ranging from 180 days to two years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  5. If the value of the property stolen is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000, a person charged with theft can be convicted of a felony of the third degree, which is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  6. If the value of the property stolen is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000, a person charged with theft can be convicted of a felony of the second degree, which is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
  7. If the value of the property stolen is $300,000 or more, a person charged with theft can be convicted of a felony of the first degree, which is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 5 to 99 years or life and a fine up to $10,000.
Harris County Retail Theft Defense Attorney
At the Law Office of James Sullivan & Associates, we know what is at risk when our clients face shoplifting charges. Our job is to fight for your rights, freedom and future. Attorney James Sullivan has been fighting misdemeanor and felony charges at trial since 1994, and we will use our extensive experience to get you the best possible result.
Since 1994, James Sullivan has worked to get hundreds of serious criminal and juvenile cases dismissed, including many shoplifting cases.
James Sullivan graduated from Baylor University in 1990 with a degree in Journalism, the ideal degree for investigating, discovering and telling winning stories in court. In 1993, Sullivan graduated from South Texas College of Law, which is nationally recognized as the top law school for trial advocacy.
James Sullivan later graduated from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming. Founded in 1994, it is the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America. The methods taught at TLC are not taught anywhere else. The 1,150 graduates form an extremely unique community of the most accomplished trial lawyers in the United States.
Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free initial consultation at (281) 546-6428 about your theft charges in Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County and Waller County and throughout Texas.