When Are DWI Penalties “Enhanced” Under Texas Law?

February 14th, 2020 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense, DWI

In a Texas DWI case, prosecutors may seek an “enhanced” sentence against a defendant under certain circumstances. For example, if the defendant has a prior criminal conviction, that could lead to additional jail time if they are subsequently convicted of drunk driving. But such an enhancement is only justified when there is evidence presented related […]

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Does Admitting to a Possible Crime at a Probation Hearing Prevent Me from Arguing Self-Defense at Trial?

February 4th, 2020 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense

Any criminal charge is a serious matter. But if you are already on probation–or community supervision, as it is known in Texas–for another offense, you are now facing a possible two-front battle. On the one hand, prosecutors can use the new charge as grounds to revoke your probation. On the other hand, you now face […]

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What Is a Prosecutor’s Obligation to Disclose Evidence to the Defense in a Criminal Trial?

January 6th, 2020 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense

There is a basic rule in criminal defense law that a defendant cannot advance a legal theory on appeal if they did not raise the same argument during the trial. The reason for this is simple: An appeals court is there to review possible legal errors made by the trial judge, not retry the entire […]

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What “Court Costs” Can a Judge Assess If I Am Convicted of a Crime?

December 4th, 2019 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense

You may not realize this, but the penalties for a criminal conviction in Texas are often not limited to jail time or probation. In many cases, the judge can assess “court costs” against a guilty defendant. These costs are supposed to help the state recoup some of the costs of its successful prosecution. But in […]

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What Is the Penalty for “Resisting Arrest” in Texas?

November 5th, 2019 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense

When a police officer detains you, it is important to remember that you have certain constitutional rights. For instance, you do not have to answer the officer’s questions or give your consent to a search of your vehicle. But it is critical to understand that under no circumstances should you physically resist or obstruct an […]

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When Can You Withdraw a Guilty Plea in Texas?

October 2nd, 2019 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense, Sex Crime

In many criminal cases, the defendant chooses to plead guilty to the alleged offense. But a defendant also has a constitutionally protected right to withdraw a guilty plea and seek a jury trial, provided they do so “in a timely manner.” So what is considered “timely”? According to a 2004 decision from the Texas Court […]

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Can a Jury Consider “Outside Evidence” in a Texas Criminal Case?

September 3rd, 2019 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense

One of the most important principles of criminal defense law in Texas is that every defendant has the right to trial by jury. The jury is expected to weigh the evidence presented and reach an impartial verdict according to the law. Among other things, this means the jury cannot consider any outside evidence–including their own […]

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When Is a Criminal Defendant Allowed to Seek Post-Conviction DNA Testing of Evidence?

August 1st, 2019 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense

You have probably heard about cases where a criminal defendant was exonerated because of DNA evidence. In some cases, this evidence is not discovered (or properly tested) until after the defendant’s original trial. It is therefore possible to file a post-conviction motion to obtain DNA testing in certain circumstances. Houston Court Rules Robbery Defendant May […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Texas Defendants’ Sentence Enhancements as “Unconstitutionally Vague”

July 8th, 2019 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense

A common problem faced by criminal defendants is the tendency of prosecutors to charge multiple offenses arising from the same acts. For instance, there are many criminal statutes that allow for “enhanced” penalties if prosecutors can prove certain elements, such as whether the defendant was in possession of a firearm at the time of the […]

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What Makes a Kidnapping “Aggravated” Kidnapping?

June 3rd, 2019 by Tad Nelson in Criminal Defense

In Texas criminal law, there is often a distinction between a regular offense and an “aggravated” offense. For example, kidnapping is normally a third-degree felony under the Texas Penal Code. But under certain circumstances, a defendant may be charged with “aggravated kidnapping,” which is a first-degree felony. Section 20.04 of the Penal Code lists six […]

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