Category Archives: Criminal Attorney

What Happens if You Were Arrested, But Not Read Your Rights?

What happens if the police don’t read you your rights? Can charges against you be dropped? As experienced criminal defense attorneys, these are questions we hear from our clients fairly often. People hope they may be able to reduce the consequences they face because the police failed to follow procedure.

Know Your Miranda Rights

Before you understand what happens when your rights aren’t read, it’s important to know what your rights are. Commonly called your Miranda rights, these rights originate from a landmark 1966 Supreme Court case called Arizona v. Miranda. In the case, a suspect was held and questioned by the police for two hours before confessing to crimes he did not commit.

The case changed criminal procedure in the United States. The procedural changes were written down in the form of a Miranda Warning, which summarizes your Fifth and Sixth Amendment Constitutional rights. The warning has become familiar to almost everyone who has ever watched a detective show:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

Miranda Rights Are Only Required for Custodial Interrogation

Miranda v. Arizona changed criminal procedure by requiring the police to inform suspects of their rights. However, there are limits to this requirement. The police are only required to inform you of your rights “prior to interrogation” if your statement is to be used against you in court.

If the police were not interrogating you in custody—for example, if it was clear to you that you were free to go—then there was no requirement for them to read you your rights.

But even if you were not read your rights, those rights still exist. Even if the police don’t tell you that you can remain silent, it’s generally a good idea to exercise your right to remain silent other than to request an attorney.

A 2022 Ruling That Limits Miranda Lawsuits

Until fairly recently, some people who had their un-Mirandized statements used against them in court were able to file lawsuits under 42 U. S. C. §1983 for violation of their Constitutional rights.

In June 2022, the Supreme Court held that a violation of Miranda rights does not provide the basis for this kind of lawsuit. Still, whether you were read your rights can be an important factor in the outcome of your criminal matter. The best way to protect yourself is to talk with an attorney.

Talk With a Criminal Defense Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

If you think your rights were violated, talk to an attorney about your options. Call 817-678-6771 or send a message for a confidential consultation with the Fort Worth defense attorneys at Lee and Wood, LP. 

Is it Legal to Hunt and Kill Nuisance Animals in Texas?

For hunting enthusiasts, Texas is a great place to be, with several “no closed season” options for hunters. But does it include hunting and killing nuisance animals?

When owning land in Texas, it’s natural that you’ll come across nuisance animals. These are pesky critters and creatures that can wreak havoc on your land or are simply an irritation. So what can you legally do about the problem? Is killing or removing a nuisance animal a wildlife crime? Let’s find out what Texas law says in this helpful guide.

What Are “Nuisance Animals”?

Simply put, nuisance animals depredate or pose a threat to human health or safety. They may create a hazard for motorists or put housepets at risk. They may also trespass on property, make messes by tipping over garbage cans or destroy a lawn or garden.

There are many types of nuisance animals, including:

  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Coyotes
  • Bobcat
  • Otter
  • Skunks
  • Badgers
  • Beavers
  • Mink
  • Muskrat

Texas Law on Fur-Bearing Nuisance Animals

According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, landowners or their agents may take nuisance fur-bearing animals in any number by any means and at any time on that person’s land. There’s no need for a hunting or trapping license.

If you’d prefer to capture and relocate the animal instead of killing it, you can do so. To capture and relocate, you need to get authorization from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the owner of the property where the release will occur. 

You’ll also need to submit a monthly report on the number and kind of nuisance animals that you captured. Include the number, the location of the release site, and your name and address.

It’s important to know that no one except licensed trappers can take these animals or their pelts during their lawful open season and possession periods. It’s a crime (a Class C misdemeanor) to transport or sell live foxes, coyotes, or raccoons in Texas. It’s also a crime to take fur-bearing animals on land owned by someone else without that person’s consent. 

Why Is Knowing Texas Wildlife Law Important?

As a landowner, getting rid of nuisance animals is important. It will help keep your land pristine and help you avoid certain risks that these animals present. Knowing Texas wildlife law will help you do it safely and in the best interest of everyone. It will also protect you from potential legal issues.

If you kill and hunt nuisance animals incorrectly, you could run afoul of Texas hunting, fishing or wildlife laws. The consequences of a violation can be costly, including fines, loss of hunting licenses and even jail time.

Get Legal Assistance for Wildlife Crimes

Texas has an abundance of nuisance animals, and it can be difficult to know all the intricacies of wildlife law. The Fort Worth lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP. have extensive experience defending people against wildlife crimes, including those involving nuisance animals. If you have been accused of a wildlife crime or want to learn more, call us today at 817-678-6771  or send us a message for a confidential consultation.


Defending Yourself Against Assault Charges in Texas

Assault charges can feel overwhelming and confusing. The actions usually arise in the heat of the moment, often involving alcohol and adrenaline. But, it is possible to overcome assault charges, especially if you were acting to protect yourself or someone else.

Self-Defense As Your Defense

Acting in self-defense is the most common way to beat assault charges in Texas. Under Texas law, a person isn’t guilty of assault when he or she acted in self-protection that was reasonable at the time.

To prove to the court that you were acting in self-defense, you must show several things:

  • There was a threat of harm
  • You had a real fear of harm
  • You did not harm or provoke anyone before the threat occurred
  • There was no chance of avoiding the situation

To use self-defense as your defense, your lawyer must also show the court that the amount of force used was “reasonable.” That means that you used the minimum amount of force necessary to fend off the attack—not more.

Protecting Another Person or Property

Protecting another person or property is also a defense to assault charges in Texas. Just like the court understands why you would resort to violence to protect yourself, the court allows a defense for protecting someone you care about.

Further, Texas’s Castle Doctrine/Stand Your Ground law says that a person may use “reasonable force” when protecting their home or vehicle. The law gives you the right to stand your ground against a home invader instead of having to retreat.

Consent to the Assault

In certain situations, consent can also be used as a defense to assault charges. This is especially true in sexual assault cases where the court tries to discern he-said, she-said situations. The alleged victim may have consented or appeared to consent to the encounter, only to decide later that it was actually an assault. 

Can Assault Charges Be Dropped?

Assault charges can also be dropped if the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to pursue them. That’s one of the reasons that it’s important to hire a lawyer as quickly as possible, even before charges are formally filed. 

Your attorney can start advocating for you from day one. By acting early, they may even be able to get charges dropped or help the prosecutor see why charges should never be filed at all.

Get a Strong Defense to Assault Charges

If you have been accused of assault, call 817-678-6771  or send us a message for a confidential consultation with the Fort Worth lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP. It’s important to get legal help as soon as possible after an arrest so that your attorneys can take immediate action to protect your rights, reputation and freedom.


Texas Assault Charges: When Does an Assault Become a Hate Crime?

People get into fights. It happens every day. Most of the time those involved walk away from it and that’s the end. Sometimes one or both parties are charged with assault (misdemeanor or felony) or aggravated assault. 

Much less often, but much more serious, an assault charge can be accompanied by a charge of committing a hate crime. How does an assault become a hate crime? And what does that mean in terms of prosecution and punishment?

Texas Assault Law

The Texas Penal Code defines the crime of assault as:

  1. Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse,
  2. Intentionally or knowingly threatening another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse, or
  3. Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard that contact as offensive or provocative.

A charge of aggravated assault may be brought if serious injuries resulted from an assault or if a weapon was used. (Many things can be defined as a weapon.) 

Texas Hate Crime Law

The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act defines a hate crime as any crime motivated by “prejudice, hatred or advocacy of violence.” Hate crime charges can be added to criminal charges of arson, criminal mischief, graffiti, or (more often) crimes against a person. 

Hate crime charges may be brought if the crime was committed against the victim because of their:

  • Race, color, national origin 
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Gender identity 
  • Work as a judge or law enforcement officer

In high-profile cases, the FBI may investigate and federal criminal charges may be filed. 

Prosecuting a Crime as a Hate Crime

In order to be convicted of a hate crime, the prosecutor must convince a jury that the underlying crime occurred, and that it was motivated by prejudice or hate. 

“Hate speech” is not a crime, but statements of hate can be used as evidence of the motivation of the accused person. Often the prosecutor will present something the accused said to the victim. That speech was used as evidence in the 2019 case of a Dallas man who shot a transgender woman while shouting slurs at her. He was convicted of a hate crime. 

But a homophobic slur spoken before an assault on two gay men in Austin was not enough to support a hate crime charge. In that case, a plea deal resulted in misdemeanor assault charges.

What else might prosecutors use as evidence of motive for a hate crime?

  • Things the accused has written on social media, online, as graffiti, or tattoos they are wearing
  • The location of the incident (for example, a synagogue or mosque for a religiously motivated crime, or in the case of an Atlanta killer, at Asian-owned nail salons)
  • Possession of literature or membership in a group that espouses hatred toward a certain group of people 

Punishment for Hate Crimes

A conviction for a hate crime enhances the punishment applied to the original offense. It “bumps it up” one level. So, if a person was found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor, they would face punishments for a Class B misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor will not be sentenced as a felony but the amount of jail time could be increased to 180 days. 

The same applies to felony charges. The punishment is increased, except for a conviction of a 1st degree felony, which already has the potential for life in prison. 

If you could be facing criminal charges for a Texas hate crime, call the Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers at Lee and Wood. We have extensive experience defending people against misdemeanor and felony assault charges. Call our law office at 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Arrested? How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case Near Fort Worth

If you (or a loved one) have been arrested for the first time, how do you find the right criminal defense lawyer for your specific case? If you’ve never looked for a lawyer before, how do you pick one from the many lawyers available? 

This article looks at how to find the right lawyer for your kind of case, and how to find the right lawyer for you.

Where to Look for a Lawyer

Often people start their search for a lawyer by asking for a lawyer referral from friends and family. With a criminal case, that can feel awkward unless you’ve been arrested for something relatively common, like drunk driving. Even then, you may prefer the privacy of finding a lawyer online. 

How to Find a Lawyer Online

There are hundreds of lawyers in your area. To narrow your search, use several words in your online search query.  

Include the name of the town or the county where you have been arrested or where you will be going to court. It is usually helpful to work with a lawyer who has experience with local judges, prosecutors, and court personnel. They may have a better understanding of how a judge operates, how the prosecutor negotiates, and alternative sentencing options available in that jurisdiction.

That doesn’t mean the lawyer has to be officed in your exact town. Some people prefer to work with a criminal defense lawyer who doesn’t live in their town. Most criminal lawyers take cases in several nearby jurisdictions. They regularly work in several courts. 

Include the kind of lawyer you want. For most state-level criminal charges, you can just include the words criminal defense lawyer. If you are facing federal charges, search for a federal criminal defense attorney. If the accused is aged 17 or under, search for a juvenile defense lawyer. Fewer lawyers focus on juvenile crimes or federal crimes so this will narrow your search results. 

Include the type of criminal charge you need defense against. If you know the specific charge against you, type that in, but it’s usually sufficient to type in a general crime, like drug charges rather than possession of THC oil

Sometimes you do want to be very specific about the crime.

Find The Best Defense Attorney for You

Once you’ve found a few lawyers with experience in your kind of criminal case, now it’s time to determine if they are a good fit for you. You can do this in two ways:

On their website, review the About Us page to learn more about the law firm, and click on the specific attorney profiles. Their biography may tell you what courts they operate in. It will include additional certifications they have received, and honors and awards. You may find they are involved in the community in ways that connect with you. 

Some websites have testimonials, either on a page or other places on the website. Do you see anything about how they work with clients? 

Now you are ready to call and talk to one or more lawyers who seem like the best fit. You want to see if you feel comfortable with this person. You want a sense of how they handle a case like yours. 

REMEMBER, you haven’t hired this person yet so don’t share specifics of your case. 

You can ask questions like: 

  • Have you taken cases to trial in this county or city court?
  • Have you handled similar cases to mine? 
  • What do you consider a successful outcome?
  • What has been your success rate? 
  • How do you work with clients? 
  • Would you handle my case personally? 
  • What are your fees?

Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

At Lee and Wood, LP, we understand the fears and uncertainty of being arrested for the first time. We explain the criminal justice process, what you can expect, and how we can help. We represent clients in Weatherford, Fort Worth, Burleson, and Cleburne. Call our Fort Worth law office at 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Felony Vehicular Manslaughter Charges After Tesla Autopilot Car Crash

People make mistakes. And sometimes machines do, too.

Prosecutors in California have filed criminal charges of vehicular manslaughter against the driver of a Tesla Model S. In this first-of-its-kind criminal case, the driver was using the autopilot feature of the car when it ran a red light and collided with another vehicle. Both people in the other vehicle died in the crash. 

While the criminal complaint does not mention the autopilot feature specifically, it’s known that it was in use at the time of the crash. Whether prosecutors will claim criminal negligence as a result of autopilot use remains to be seen. The driver’s first hearing in criminal court is scheduled for Feb. 23.

In the U.S., 765,000 Tesla cars are equipped with driver-assist features. This 2019 crash wasn’t the first collision to involve the use of autopilot. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated at least 26 Tesla autopilot crashes in the last five years. Almost a dozen people have died as a result. 

Proving Negligence or Recklessness

Is it the fault of the driver? Or the fault of the technology?

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has created a term for what they consider to be human misuse of technology. They call it automation complacency. The NTSB says people rely too much on technology and become inattentive and disengaged. 

The laws in every state hold the human driver responsible in case of a crash. Drivers may not know this. And they may not understand when and how to use this old technology in a new way. After all, autopilot technology has been in use in planes for a long time. 

Tesla has said that the autopilot feature and its “full self-driving” system cannot drive themselves, despite their name. Human drivers need to be ready to react. But is Tesla immune from responsibility for the use of its technology? 

Have they created a dangerous technology that could leave drivers’ criminally liable?

The families of the crash victims are suing the driver for negligence and Tesla for selling a defective vehicle. They say the vehicle could accelerate suddenly and that it lacked an effective automatic braking system. These civil cases go to trial next year. 

The family also says the driver was an unsafe driver, with moving violations on his driving record. Evidence of past driving violations could be damaging. 

If you have been charged with a vehicle-related crime – reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter – you need a strong defense. Call the Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys at Lee and Wood, LP: 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Knowledge of Drug Sales Gets Nightclub Owner Convicted of Drug Premises Conspiracy

In November 2021, Dallas nightclub owner, Alfredo Hinojosa, and two of his nightclub managers were found guilty of allowing cocaine sales at his nightclubs in Fort Worth and Dallas.

An investigation that began in 2012, ended with 30 people convicted of a variety of drug crimes

Knowledge of a Crime is Enough For Charges

According to a Dallas Morning News article, the owner and managers were not themselves selling drugs or accepting money from drug sales. Their defense attorney said they did not know who was selling drugs; federal authorities said they did and allowed the drug sales to continue because it attracted customers. 

Wiretaps, Bugs and Cameras

In 2015, the FBI received court approval to install bugs and a camera in the office of the nightclub owner. They also conducted wiretaps. This FBI evidence was key in getting the conviction. The owner was recorded saying that he really couldn’t clean up the drug sales “because we lose business.” 

Because that demonstrated knowledge of drug activities on the property, they were found guilty of managing a drug premises, conspiracy to manage drug premises, and conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.

Informants and Witnesses

Security guards testified against the owner and managers as well as drug traffickers themselves who sold out of the clubs. While it’s unknown what happened behind the scenes in this case, it’s not unusual for prosecutors to cut a plea deal with some parties in order to get evidence against other parties. The owner and the managers were the last people to go to trial. 

Two former Dallas police officers who worked at the clubs were also charged and convicted. One received three years’ probation; the other – the supervisor of nightclub security – faces a possible prison sentence. 

Indictment in 2017; Court Case in 2021

The nightclub owner was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2017. When he appeared before a judge, he initially pled guilty. He later changed his plea to not guilty. Hinajosa’s case was originally intended to go to trial in March of 2020 but was delayed until September 2021 due to COVID. COVID safety precautions have led to many long delays in the justice system.

He made statements to federal authorities after his arrest that were recorded and played to the jury at his trial. 

Talk to a Defense Lawyer If You Are Facing Drug Charges

Before you make any statement to law enforcement, talk to a lawyer. The drug crimes defense attorneys at Lee and Wood have extensive experience defending people against all types of drug crime charges.  Call our Fort Worth law office at 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Arrested? How to Find the Best Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case

If you (or a loved one) have been arrested for the first time, how do you find the right criminal defense lawyer for your specific case? If you’ve never looked for a lawyer before, how do you pick one from the many lawyers available? 

This article looks at how to find the right lawyer for your kind of case, and how to find the right lawyer for you.

Where to Look for a Lawyer

Often people start their search for a lawyer by asking for a lawyer referral from friends and family. With a criminal case, that can feel awkward unless you’ve been arrested for something relatively common, like drunk driving. Even then, you may prefer the privacy of finding a lawyer online. 

How to Find a Lawyer Online

There are hundreds of lawyers in your area. To narrow your search, use several words in your online search query.  

Include the name of the town or the county where you have been arrested or where you will be going to court. It is usually helpful to work with a lawyer who has experience with local judges, prosecutors, and court personnel. They may have a better understanding of how a judge operates, how the prosecutor negotiates, and alternative sentencing options available in that jurisdiction.

That doesn’t mean the lawyer has to be officed in your exact town. Some people prefer to work with a criminal defense lawyer doesn’t live in their town. Most criminal lawyers take cases in several nearby jurisdictions. They regularly work in several courts. 

Include the kind of lawyer you want. For most state-level criminal charges, you can just include the words criminal defense lawyer. If you are facing federal charges, search for a federal criminal defense attorney. If the accused is aged 17 or under, search for a juvenile defense lawyer. Fewer lawyers focus on juvenile crimes or federal crimes so this will narrow your search results. 

Include the type of criminal charge you need defense against. If you know the specific charge against you, type that in, but it’s usually sufficient to type in a general crime, like drug charges rather than possession of THC oil

Sometimes you do want to be very specific about the crime.

Find The Best Defense Attorney for You

Once you’ve found a few lawyers with experience in your kind of criminal case, now it’s time to determine if they are a good fit for you. You can do this in two ways:

On their website, review the About Us page to learn more about the law firm, and click on the specific attorney profiles. Their biography may tell you what courts they operate in. It will include additional certifications they have received, and honors and awards. You may find they are involved in the community in ways that connect with you. 

Some websites have testimonials, either on a page or other places on the website. Do you see anything about how they work with clients? 

Now you are ready to call and talk to one or more lawyers who seem like the best fit. You want to see if you feel comfortable with this person. You want a sense of how they handle a case like yours. 

REMEMBER, you haven’t hired this person yet so don’t share specifics of your case. 

You can ask questions like: 

  • Have you taken cases to trial in this county or city court?
  • Have you handled similar cases to mine? 
  • What do you consider a successful outcome?
  • What has been your success rate? 
  • How do you work with clients? 
  • Would you handle my case personally? 
  • What are your fees?

Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

At Lee and Wood, LP, we understand the fears and uncertainty of being arrested for the first time. We explain the criminal justice process, what you can expect, and how we can help. We represent clients in Weatherford, Fort Worth, Burleson, and Cleburne. Call our Fort Worth law office at 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Bail Reform Bill Now in Effect, Limiting Who Can Be Released

Last year the Texas Senate and House decided to take a look at how bail works in Texas. The new bail reform law they passed may have some positive effects. It requires that the court look at a person’s criminal history before setting bail, and it requires more training for judges. 

But the new law also took away a judge’s discretion to decide on bail in some cases.

It prohibits a person charged with a violent crime from being released on their own recognizance. (This is when a person signs an agreement with the court and does not have to pay money in order to be released).  

What About the Presumption of Innocence?

In the USA, if you have been charged with a crime you are INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. That’s one of the most important foundations of our legal system. And yet a Texas Observer article from 2018 found that ¾ of county jail inmates in Texas had not been convicted of a crime! They were incarcerated because they couldn’t pay bail (or a hold had been put on them). 

That’s a lot of people doing time who may be innocent. Unfortunately, the new bail reform law won’t improve that situation for some of those people. 

What Is a Violent Crime in Texas?

The most commonly charged violent crime in Texas is aggravated assault. That is:

  • An assault with a weapon (or anything that could be used as a weapon that could cause injury or death) or 
  • An assault that caused serious injury (disfigurement or impairment of function for a period of time or risk of death). 

Robbery is the next most common violent crime. Robbery is intentionally, knowingly or recklessly threatening someone or causing bodily injury during the commission of a theft. 

Rape and murder are also violent crimes.

The Importance of Negotiating Charges

It’s not uncommon for criminal charges to be adjusted downward. A prosecutor often starts with many criminal charges, or the highest charge they think they can get. Then, as the case is prepared for court or through the plea-bargaining process between the prosecutor and defense attorney, the charges are reduced or dropped altogether.

If you are facing serious criminal charges, don’t talk to the police or submit a plea until you’ve talked to a lawyer of your own. Someone who will protect your interests and provide a strong defense. Call the Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers at Lee and Wood, LP. at 817-678-6771 or contact us online

Texas Businesses | Customers Surprised to Learn They’ve Been Selling and Buying Illegal THC

The Dallas Morning News carried a news story that may have come as a surprise to producers, resellers and users of some hemp/THC products. The Texas Department of State Health Services updated its website in October to clarify that delta-8 cannabis extract and delta-9 products over .3% THC were still Schedule 1 controlled substances. 

Meaning, you can still be arrested for possessing them. And according to the news story, at least six Texans were charged with felony possession of delta-8 THC products in the prior three months.

Why would resellers and legal buyers be confused? 

The 2018 federal Farm Bill made delta-8, a cannabinoid, legal at the federal level. And in 2019, Gov. Abbott signed House Bill 1325 legalizing hemp products with less than 0.3% THC in them. These two actions caused CBD shop owners and customers to think delta-8 THC products were legal. They come in the form of edible candy, oil tinctures, and even vape cartridges. 

But Texas doesn’t have to agree with the federal government. 

And it didn’t. Dr. John Hellerstedt, Commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services, objected to the federal drug schedule. Texas state law on hemp didn’t specifically discuss delta-8 so the agency’s interpretation is that it is not allowed for manufacture or sale. In May 2021, the Texas Health Department issued a clarification stating that delta-8 THC and “other THC isomers” remain on the list of Schedule 1 drugs. 

So, what was legal in the rest of the country became, or remained, illegal in Texas … until November. 

That’s when a Travis County judge blocked the state from adding delta-8 to the list of Schedule 1 drugs, according to a Texas Tribune article. THC retailers said they were not given adequate notice of the classification change. The judge agreed that the DSHS didn’t comply with the state’s rule-making requirements. 

It’s too soon to say what will happen with this ruling. In the meantime, enforcement of the state’s marijuana/THC possession laws are up to local and state law enforcement. Texas residents who face felony drug charges for possession of a Class I controlled substance (delta-8) could be sentenced to up to 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

If you are facing criminal charges for possession of marijuana, a THC extract, cannabis oil, or a vape pen with THC residue, you need a strong defense. Call the Weatherford drug crimes defense attorneys at Lee and Wood, LP. at 817-678-6771 or contact us online