Wildlife Violations: Texas Teens Cited for Taking Alligator Out of Season

Recently, three Texas teenagers were given a citation by a game warden for “taking” a 7-foot alligator in closed season. They caught the wild alligator at a popular fishing spot in Orange County and, according to news reports, after catching the animal they tried to enlist the help of another person to kill it.

The animal wasn’t killed. Instead, it was taken into custody by a nuisance control hunter. 

It was probably the thrill of a lifetime for these youngsters to capture such a dangerous wild animal. While not an endangered species in Texas, an alligator isn’t the kind of critter you come across every day so it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that they didn’t know the regulations for hunting alligator in TX.  

They probably didn’t even think they were hunting an alligator – until they were cited for a Texas hunting violation. After all, the alligator was just there in the fishing spot being a nuisance. 

TX Hunting Violations for Alligators

Some people are specifically tasked with handled “nuisance” alligators. They have a nuisance alligator control permit issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. And alligator hunting regulations say that if a person doesn’t have such a permit they may not “take, kill, transport, sell, or release a nuisance alligator, or offer to take, kill, transport, sell, or release a nuisance alligator.”  

State regulations say no one can hunt an alligator in the State of Texas unless they have a valid hunting license and a valid, unused alligator hide tag in their possession. A lot of private homeowners may not know these alligator hunting regulations and could run into trouble if they believe they can take immediate action against alligators on their private property. 

There are a number of other ways one can run afoul of alligator hunting regulations, such as: 

  • “Taking” more alligators than are allowed,
  • “Hunting” alligators out of season (some counties allow hunting in spring, some in fall), or at the wrong time of day,
  • Using the wrong kind of snare or weapon, and 
  • Failing to file a report.

If you or your son or daughter has received a wildlife citation for intentionally or unintentionally killing or ensnaring an alligator, call the criminal defense attorneys at Lee and Wood, LP: 817-678-6771 or contact us online. We handle all types of hunting and fishing violations in communities all across the state of Texas.

Unlawful Possession of a Handgun on School Property

A 16-year-old boy was recently arrested at his school after a handgun was found in his backpack. The student, along with a group of boys, had left a school bathroom and a teacher smelled marijuana. All of the students were taken to the principal’s office where a search uncovered the handgun. The student is now being held in juvenile detention awaiting a hearing.

This incident raises several important issues that would be helpful for parents to understand about the unlawful possession of a handgun on school property. 

Student Privacy Rights

The Texas Constitution says that students have a right to be free from “unreasonable” searches while on school property or while attending school activities. There needs to be a justifiable reason to search a student’s person or property before the search begins. And the scope of the search (their person, their locker, their car) needs to be reasonable as well. 

Learn more about student’s rights in searches from the Texas Association of School Boards.

Guns on School Grounds

Two federal laws regulate the possession of firearms in or within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school. And Texas state law prohibits people (with some exceptions) from taking an open or concealed firearm into a school building or any building or grounds where a school-sponsored activity is being conducted, or on a passenger vehicle operated by a school. 

Texas does not allow the keeping of a firearm, unloaded and locked, in or on a vehicle in a K-12 parking lot. Texas also allows guns to be carried on campus by law enforcement, school marshals, volunteer emergency services staff, and school resource officers, or those with special authorization.

It is a 3rd degree felony to carry a firearm on school property if a person is not lawfully allowed to do so.

Age and Guns

Although Texas gun laws have recently change, but age is still a relevant factor. The new law allows anyone aged 21 and older to carry a handgun as long as they don’t have a prior violent crime conviction or some other prohibition on their record.  

Know Your Rights

Hearing from a police officer that your child has been arrested is every parent’s worst nightmare. What is going to happen next? What rights does your child have? What can you do to protect his future?

One of the most important things a Ft. Worth juvenile defense attorney will do for a young person and his/her family is educate them. Having the facts, understanding the juvenile system and the process, and developing a plan to move forward can help with the anxiety everyone is feeling in this situation.

If your son or daughter has been arrested for unlawful possession of a handgun in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, call the juvenile defense attorneys at Lee and Wood, LP: 817-678-6771 or contact us online. We will explain everything you need to know.

Tarrant County Domestic Violence Diversion Program

Domestic violence calls to the SafeHaven hotline increased by 50% in Tarrant County during the COVID pandemic as people in stressed and stressful life circumstances became even more isolated. 

That call to a domestic violence hotline can get someone out of the house and into a living situation that they find safer. A call to the police will get someone out of the house and into the courtroom, charged with a domestic violence crime that could put them in jail. And that leads to a lifetime of negative consequences that seldom help the victim, the accused, ortheir family work through their problems. 

The truth is, many people in troubled relationships do love one another and would want to stay together if they could be sure that family violence would not be a part of their life in future. 

Thanks to a grant from the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor’s office, Tarrant County offers has a pre-trial Domestic Violence Diversion Program to help people accused of domestic assault to change their lives. 

Participants must undergo screening and assessment in order to be selected to participate in this rehabilitation program. In order to qualify you must admit to the fact that you committed the crime by entering a guilty plea to assault (family violence) before a judge. You must be willing to fully participate in the program and make life changes. And the victim must sign a consent form for you to participate. 

Other criteria include:

  • The offense you are charged with must be a misdemeanor partner-on-partner crime
  • You cannot have any current or prior violations of a protective order
  • You cannot be accused of stalking
  • You cannot have any active warrants out for your arrest or other pending criminal charges against you
  • You cannot have participated in a diversion program before

After you enter your guilty plea, the judge will recess your hearing for one year, during which time you will participate in an intensive court supervised program that includes:

  • Reporting in to a case manager
  • Completing all recommended treatment and counseling
  • Attending a progress review with the court
  • Paying a supervision fee ($60/month)

If you violate any of the conditions of the program, you are discharged and brought back in court for criminal sentencing. 

If you successfully complete the program, you will appear before the judge again and can withdraw your prior guilty plea. The judge will dismiss your case. 

A domestic violence arrest will still be on your criminal record, but it may be possible to have your record sealed or expunged. Talk with a Fort Worth family violence attorney at Lee and Wood, LP about whether you qualify for this pretrial diversion program or to have your criminal record sealed. Call 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Teen Drug Crimes: Fentanyl-Laced Drugs Increasing Concern in Tarrant County

The Fort Worth Weekly reported in May that ambulance services have seen an increase in drug overdoses and emergency calls from teens who have taken pills containing fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin.

Where MedStar used to get 8-10 calls a month for drug overdoses, they have been fielding as many as 26 calls a month since January. Emergency responders say that young people think they are buying Xanax or Percocet or Oxycodone, but instead they are getting a pill with caffeine and fentanyl, which is cheaper for drug manufacturers to produce and sell. 

That’s what happened with two 16-year-old boys in Venus, Texas, who died of overdoses in April. They thought they were taking Oxycodone. Two other teens now face drug crimes charges for providing the pills. 

It’s easy for teens to get their hands on – and to share – these counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl. Drug dealers are selling them for as little as $5 a pill, according to the paper. 

A teen who has experience using Xanax or Oxycodone legally for anxiety or pain could easily find themselves in deep trouble buying a few pills from “a friend” or through a social media contact. 

A Fort Worth police officer who works in the schools said it’s not unusual for students to be offered the drug as a “sample” at teen parties. Some teen drug dealers who usually sell marijuana have added pills to their inventory.   

Young people selling fentanyl in Tarrant County are the “little guys” taking the fall for drug manufacturers and drug trafficking rings in Mexico and China. These Texas teens face the consequences while drug cartels make millions of dollars trafficking in deadly pills. 

Everyone accused of a crime deserves a strong defense. If your teen has been arrested for selling drugs, possession of fentanyl, or giving fentanyl to a friend (drug distribution), talk with a Fort Worth juvenile defense lawyer at Lee and Wood, LP. Call 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Texas’ “Constitutional Carry” Law and Domestic Violence

Texas gun laws recently became even more lenient, as Governor Greg Abbott signed the Constitutional Carry bill (HB 1927) into law. As of September 1, 2021, Texans aged 21 and over can legally carry a handgun without getting a state license – unless they can’t possess a firearm because they are disqualified by state or federal law. 

Why might you be disqualified? 

One reason why you might not be able to possess a gun is because you have previously been convicted of a domestic violence crime. And the new Constitutional Carry law increased criminal penalties for family violence crimes. 

  • A Class A misdemeanor for family violence was increased to a 3rddegree felony.
  • If a temporary emergency order, a final family violence protective order, or a marriage dissolution protective order has been issued against you, and you are in possession of a firearm, the penalty increases from a Class A misdemeanor to a 3rddegree felony.

(It’s not just family violence crimes that the new law effects. The bill also prohibits a person from permitless carry for five years if they were previously convicted of assault with bodily injury, deadly conduct, terroristic threats, or disorderly conduct with a firearm.)

Fighting Domestic Violence Charges

This change in Texas gun law makes it even more important to aggressively fight protective orders and family violence charges. 

Most people don’t know when a temporary emergency order is being heard against them in court. The “victim” and their lawyer are the only people to appear before the judge and only their side of the story is heard. 

Your right to possess a firearm is restricted when that initial temporary restraining order is granted. But you have a second chance to fight both the protective order and the firearm restrictions when a final protective order hearing takes place. 

One of the biggest challenges to defending a case of false domestic violence allegations is the “he said-she said” nature of the crime. Someone can make a charge of domestic violence based on a perceived threat or emotional abuse, without any physical attack having taken place. 

Putting together a strong defense can be like putting together the pieces of a puzzle – piece by piece a true picture begins to form. Character witnesses may be critical to proving what kind of person the “victim” is, and what kind of person the “perpetrator” is. A timeline of events may be needed to prove that some things didn’t happen when or as they were described. Medical records may be needed to prove that “injuries” were exaggerated. 

A lot is on the line when facing down a charge of domestic violence – including your right to carry a firearm. Talk with the Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys and Lee and Wood, LP about the steps you can take today to defend yourself in court. Call 817-678-6771 or contact us online

How Does a DWI Affect My Right to Own and Carry a Gun in Texas?

The State of Texas has extremely lenient gun laws, compared to other states, but that leniency only extends to law-abiding citizens. If you’ve been pulled over for a DWI or DUI and there is a gun in your vehicle, you are in for trouble. 

It’s lawful to have a gun in your car, truck, or boat UNLESSyou are breaking the law, and if you are driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, you are breaking the law.  

  • DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) is a criminal charge brought against drivers under the age of 21 who have been pulled over for operating a vehicle in a public place “with any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.”
  • DWI (driving while intoxicated) is a criminal charge brought against people 21 and older who are operating a motor vehicle in a public place “while lacking normal physical and mental faculties” due to alcohol consumption, with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more. You could also be charged if the police suspect you of using a controlled substance (drugs). 

If you’ve been pulled over for any traffic violation more serious than a Class C misdemeanor (such as a moving violation), and the police find a gun in your car, you can be charged with the separate crime of Unlawful Carry of a Weapon (UCW)(Texas Code §46.03). 

Every DUI/DWI charge in Texas is at least a Class B misdemeanor so it’s almost certain you will face that additional charge. 

The penalties for Unlawful Carry of a Weapon can be up to 1 year in a county jail, and a fine of up to $4,000. If you have a gun in your car and you take it out in a prohibited area (like near a bar, a school, a courthouse, or a polling place), you could face 3rddegree felony charges for Unlawful Carry of a Weapon. 

What Happens When You Are Pulled Over for DWI with a Gun? 

If you have a license to carry (LTC) you must tell the officer that pulls you over that you have a firearm if there is one in the vehicle.  You can still be arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon but the law requires this disclosure.

If the officer suspects that you are impaired, you will be asked to exit your vehicle and to submit to a breathalyzer and field sobriety test. If you fail either of those tests or show other signs of intoxication or impairment, you will likely be arrested, and your vehicle impounded. 

If the officer asks for your gun during the stop, surrender your gun. Whether you surrender it, or it’s found when your vehicle is impounded, it will be confiscated but will be returned to you. 

However, you will not be able to carry it while your DWI case is pending or if you are convicted of DWI/DUI. 

Will a DWI Conviction Affect Your Right to Carry?

Yes, if you are convicted of a (Class A or Class B misdemeanor) DWI or DUI you lose your right to carry a gun outside of your home, car or office for five years (Texas Code §411.172). However, you retain your right to own your gun. 

Even if you qualified for deferred adjudication (pled no contest to avoid a conviction), you are still disqualified from carrying a gun for five years. 

A third or subsequent DWI conviction is a felony, and you lose your right to buy, own or possess a firearm, indefinitely. 

Can You Buy a Gun If You’ve Had a DWI in the Past?

You can still buy a gun in Texas if you have not had a felony conviction and are not currently charged with a Class B or Class A misdemeanor, or any criminal charge that could result in jail time of more than a year. 

To learn more about Texas DWI and the charge of Unlawful Carry of a Weapon, talk with the Fort Worth DWI attorneys and Lee and Wood, LP. Call 817-678-6771 or contact us online