What Happens When Police Have A Warrant in Your Name?

What Happens When Police Have A Warrant in Your Name?

Imagine you are going to celebrate your marriage next week. You are with your fiancée on a shopping spree. You got a call from home informing that two deputies approached your family seeking your custody. You are baffled to know that the police have a warrant issued in your name. What are your options? Should you ignore the warrant? Or contact the police and surrender? Can you seek a bail and avoid your arrest?

During my career as a Texas criminal attorney, I have often seen extremely frightening clients approaching me after coming to know about a warrant issued in their names. They not only look exceedingly concerned over their arrest, but also seem to be confused about their options. It may be due to their lack of understanding about a warrant and how it works or they are afraid that the police may show up at their place of job.

What is a warrant?

A warrant is an official document signed by a judge. It enables police to take one accused of a crime into their custody and present before a court. Chapter 15 of the Texas Criminal Procedure Code makes it mandatory that a warrant of arrest must spell out the name of the person to be arrested. If the name is not clear, there must be a definite description of him. It should also mention the offense he has been accused of. In many cases, a warrant specifies more details, such as when the suspect can be arrested and if he is eligible for bail or not.

Types of warrants

  • Arrest warrant

When the police have adequate evidence to believe that you are involved in a crime, they may approach the judge seeking issuance of an arrest warrant against you. This usually happens while the police are investigating a crime and need your custody. A police official files a sworn statement before the judge mentioning your name, crime, and involvement.  It may lead to your immediate arrest.

An arrest warrant may be issued if a grand jury indicts you when you are not in police custody.

  • Bench warrant

A judge may issue a bench warrant when the court requires you to be present before it. If you duck repeated court summons, fail to obey a court directive, ignores the court order to present as a witness, or engage in the contempt of court, a bench warrant is issued to bring you before the judge. You will be detained and presented before the court, which may free you or send to jail after your presence there. An unpaid traffic ticket may also lead to a warrant.

  • Search Warrant

If the police have reasonable evidence to suspect a criminal activity, it may get a warrant to search your home, office, car, and anything you own. It may lead to your arrest if they find any incriminatory evidence.

How is a warrant enforced?

Once a warrant is issued, police in Texas have the right to arrest you. Law enforcement officers may arrest you at any place, be it your home, office, hospital, or hotel. They may arrest at any public place, even after pulling you out of your car on the road.

However, at the time of your arrest, the officers must approach you, identify themselves, and show you the warrant. The document must clearly mention your name or description and the charges for which you are taken into custody.

There is no timeframe for the execution of a warrant. It remains valid as long as your custody is not secured by law-enforcement officers.

While executing a warrant, officers have the power to take any measure they feel appropriate. They may use force to overcome any resistance offered by you. You may be charged with third-degree felony assault if any officer is harmed by your action during the arrest.  

Does a warrant mean you will be jailed?

As soon as a warrant is issued, it is listed on the state database. This document visible to all law-enforcement officials across Texas, and they can arrest you anytime and anywhere.  However, often warrants for crimes not involved serious charges are not implemented right away. They remain as outstanding warrants. But the police can enforce them at any time and arrest you.

However, an arrest does not mean you are convicted. You may or may not be jailed. Police may detain you for investigation. In case of unpaid tickets or bench warrants, you may escape jail by paying for cash bonds, bails, or a surety bond.

Avoid Doing These Things

As soon as you come to know about a warrant, don’t ignore it. It is in force until you are arrested. It won’t stop if you overlook or hide from it. You will be subject to additional charges when you try you evade it by running away. When a warrant is there, don’t try to travel abroad, skirt any security check, or enter an unauthorized area, as it may be considered an attempt to flee the police.

Also, don’t surrender straight away.  It is not always right to accept the arrest to get rid of a warrant. Many prefer to serve jail term than paying their expensive tickets. However, it means you are pleading guilty and have to serve associated penalties, which can be a costly affair in case of some Class C convictions.

What should you do?

First of all, you need to be proactive and consult an expert Texas criminal attorney to explore your options. If you are charged with Class C misdemeanors, don’t go for surrender. Let your defense lawyer file a bond on your behalf and pay for the tickets/fines and get the warrant canceled.  

But if warrants include Class B misdemeanors and above, turning yourself in may show that you are not at the risk of absconding and this plays a part in seeking a reduced bail bond.  Talk to your lawyer and arrange a Bail Bondsman before you surrender to arrange for a bond in advance – known as “walk-through.” This will help you get out of the jail quickly.

If you are facing a warrant in Texas, contact a criminal defense attorney at Zavala Law (832) 819-3723 to know your best option, learn how to evade jail term, and take steps to effectively deal with the warrant.

 

Probation vs Deferred Adjudication: 5 Key Differences

Probation vs Deferred Adjudication: 5 Key Differences

As a criminal lawyer, I often find clients eager to know more about how probation works in Texas. It is always best to fight the prosecution and prove your innocence. But when there is indisputable evidence to establish your guilt, you may want to explore the option of probation, community supervision, as mentioned by Article 42.12 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, enables you to avoid jail time.

No doubt, it is better to plead guilty and be placed on probation than going to prison. However, probation is not the sole option. You may avoid prison and substitute the jail term with community supervision in two ways – probation and deferred adjudication. Let’s find out the similarities and major differences between the two.

  • Conviction and Sentence

Probation follows your conviction if you opt to plead guilty. The court determines that you are at fault and pronounces the sentence. However, in the interest of justice, public, or your favorable record, the judge may suspend the sentence and order you to remain under community supervision with certain conditions. Though listed as guilty, you can avoid incarceration if you can maintain a clean record during the period and adhere to set conditions.

However, with deferred adjudication, the court spares you by not convicting you. Deferred adjudication means the court is postponing your prosecution. Following your plea to no contest, the judge may find evidence sufficient to establish your liability. However, he puts the process on hold and orders community supervision for a period. After successful completion of deferred adjudication one can seek a way to have their records sealed.

In both instances, supervision conditions remain the same, but probation will show as a guilty and deferred adjudication can be sealed/hidden.

  • Eligibility and Charges

You may get a straight probation only after you are convicted by a jury verdict  or plea bargaining. The judge must approve the plea of probation negotiated between the prosecutor and the defense attorney. Since probation is a negotiated deal, repeat offenders or more serious crimes may not be eligible for probation.

In Texas, all charges in and above Class B misdemeanor are punishable with prison terms. Deferred Adjudication can apply to both misdemeanors and felony cases. However, as deferred adjudication is viewed as more lenient, it is less likely to be granted when you face serious charges depending on the facts.

  • Violation and Punishment

If you violate probation terms, you have to go through the original sentence. For example, you are found guilty of a charge that carries 2-10 years of jail. You got a 5-year sentence after pleading guilty and the court sends you on probation. You may end up in prison for 5 years if you infringe the probation.  

But if you are on a deferred adjudication, this violation may cause more trouble. The prosecution will restart and you may be awarded anywhere between 2 to 10 years sentence. The judge may not favor a regular probation and even announce the maximum punishment. However, if you have a competent criminal lawyer defending you, you have a chance of securing probation or lower the sentence.

  • Termination of Supervision

According to the Texas state law, no straight probation can be terminated before half the term. You can claim specific time credits for your good work and accelerate your reach to the half-way mark. However, their application may vary from one case to another.

In the case of deferred adjudication, your sentence is not fixed yet. So, you have a chance that the court may terminate your supervision at any time. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the local court system may help you reach these results.

  • Criminal Record

If you were on  probation that means you were convicted and the police have records of it. The probation period is equivalent to your sentence, though without any jail term. But with a deferred adjudication in Texas, you can potentially hide your criminal record from potential employers and the public.

However, it is a myth that the offense disappears once you complete the deferred adjudication. Once you complete deferred adjudication you can request what is called an Order of Non-Disclosure. This will allow you to seal your record so that the public cannot see it.

Even if you receive deferred adjudication, the federal laws consider deferred adjudication a conviction for the purposes of immigration. Therefore if someone is applying or in immigration proceedings, they should know that deferred is a conviction.

Contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney can be a big difference in your case. Call us at Zavala Texas Law (832) 819-3723.

 

Notice to Appear – Houston Immigration Court

What is a “Notice to Appear” in Immigration Court?

Immigration court proceeding is the name given to the process when the Department of Homeland Security is trying to remove someone from the USA. Under the Immigration and Nationality act, a person being removed from the country has the right to a court appearance.

To initiate court proceedings the DHS has to serve a Notice to Appear to the “respondent.” Respondent is the term given to the person who is in the process of deportation. DHS will serve upon the respondent a Notice to Appear, which notifies the respondent that they must present themselves at an immigration court on a certain date and time. Serving the Notice to Appear is the first step to start immigration removal proceedings. After the respondent has been given the notice, they should hire a experienced immigration attorney to help on their case.

What is in a Notice to Appear?

A Notice to Appear will contain a lot of useful information about your immigration case. Your immigration lawyer will need to see a copy of the Notice to Appear so that they can see the formal charges the government is bringing against you.

Information within the Notice to Appear

-Respondent’s name

-Alien Number

-Designation of Immigrant Class

-The facts against you

-The reason they are trying to deport you from the USA.

-Location and Time of Immigration Court

 

What happens after you have been served a Notice to Appear ?

After you have received your Notice to Appear, the Department of Homeland Security can now start its case against you. If you or someone you know received a Notice to Appear, it is extremely important you consult an immigration lawyer. Under no circumstance should you ignore the date and location given on the Notice to Appear. If you do not present yourself to court as indicated on the NTA, the judge will automatically grant you an order of deportation in absentia. Just by not showing up, you lose your case and have now been ordered deported from the USA.

 

USCIS Travel Document (I-131)

The importance and understanding of a USCIS Travel Document (Form I-131)

What is a Travel Document? (I-131)

Depending on what your immigration status in the USA a form I-131 Travel Document may or may not apply to you. However, for certain immigrants who are in this country under certain status such as DACA or a Temporary Protected Stay (TPS), a travel Document is extremely important if you intend to leave the country and return. The way the law is written right now, people with DACA or TPS are not allowed to reenter the country if they leave. So, let’s pretend you have DACA or TPS and you leave the USA to go on vacation. Upon your entry back into the USA it’s very possible that the Department of Homeland Security does not let you enter the country. That is why you need to apply for a Travel Document before you leave.

Applying for a Travel Document (I-131)

To apply for a travel document, you must fill out application with USCIS on form I-131. The purpose of the document is to acquire USCIS approval so that you can leave and then return into the country. You can only get a travel document for the reasons listed by law. The most common one is for humanitarian reasons such as a sick family member or a special event that USCIS deems worthy. Once your travel permit is granted you can leave the country and then upon entry show them your travel permit and they will let you back into the country. If you leave the country without it, you risk not being allowed to enter the country again.

Using the Travel Document as a Legal Entry

However, the travel document also has another function. People who are here under DACA or TPS and have an immediate relative who can petition for their green card, the travel document can be a game changer. Currently the rules state that if you entered the USA legally you can apply to get your green card while being in the USA. However, in the 5th Circuit (Houston), the law doesn’t recognize DACA or TPS as a legal entry. Therefore, if they want to get a green card they must leave the USA. However, now that we know about the travel document it is possible to apply for one and if granted use it as your legal entry. Let’s pretend someone gets a travel document, leaves to Japan and comes back in. The government will allow them entry because of their travel document and now they have a LEGAL entry into the country and can now apply for their green card in the USA.

Therefore, applying for a travel Document for people who have DACA or TPS can be a game-changer when it comes to getting a green card.

Contact Zavala Texas Law

Feel free to contact us to discuss whether you’re eligible for a travel permit and how it can help you get your green card.

Criminal Convictions and Green Cards aka Legal Permanent Residents

Criminal Convictions and Green Cards aka Legal Permanent Residents

Even if you have a green card aka Legal Permanent Residence, the US government can still deny you the residence in the USA if you have certain criminal convictions. There are two sets of rules that apply when it comes to criminal convictions and legal permanent residents. One is called inadmissibility and the other deportation/removability.

Inadmissibility

Admissibility only comes into play if a permanent resident left the USA for whatever reason and upon entry back into the USA was stopped by immigration services. At this point the government will determine if you deserve to be admitted into the United States. They will ask you for your immigrant visa and will look at any criminal convictions you have. The reason they will look at your criminal history is to determine if you have been convicted of any crimes that make you inadmissible. If you are found to have a crime that makes you inadmissible, the immigration officer has the discretion to not let you into the country and will place you in court proceedings.

Deportation or Removability

Now let’s pretend the green card holder never left the USA but instead got arrested and convicted here in the USA. Depending on what the crime was he may or may not have immigration consequences. Let’s assume it’s a crime that carries immigration consequences and the green card holder is placed in immigration proceedings. At this point Immigration Judge has the right to remove his green card and deport them from the country.

Relief for Green Card Holders (Cancellation of Removal)

If a green card holder finds themselves inadmissible at an airport or deportable inside the USA, there is still something that maybe done. Depending on the certain facts of the green card holder, they may be eligible for Cancellation of Removal 42A. If the green card holder can prove everything needed by law the judge could grant their application and they would be allowed to remain within the country.

It is very important to consult with an experienced immigration and criminal attorney to see if they are eligible for Cancellation of Removal. This is a very important application that if granted by the judge can only be done once in a lifetime. Therefore, it’s very important you put a very strong case together and make sure that you will be able to win the case in front of the immigration judge.

Importance of Contracts for a Small Business Owner

 The importance of a contract for a small business owner

In any ordinary course of business, contracts are what keeps the business together. A contract is formal agreement between parties agreeing to certain terms. A contract can present itself in many forms ranging from employment offers, purchase orders, settlements, etc.

Why do I have to use contracts?

You may ask yourself “why do I need a formal contract? Why not just an agreement between two friends?” In a perfect world, an oral agreement would be sufficient. However, what if one of the parties goes back on their word and claims that’s not what was originally negotiated. Therefore, having a contract on paper can protect you.

Let’s take an easy example, let’s say Bob wants to buy five shipping containers from Gary at 5$ each and to be delivered in 3 days. Let’s Pretend the Bob and Gary are lifelong buddies and they don’t form a written contract and they just orally agree and shake on it. So now let’s fast-forward a week and the shipping containers still haven’t arrived for Bob, the buyer. Bob is going to be mad because he lost business because the product was never delivered as it was agreed upon by Gary. Now Bob calls Gary and says, “hey buddy I thought we had an agreement you were going to send me the shipping containers in 3 days.” Gary says, “we didn’t say 3 days we said 30 days, so I’ll send it to you within 30 days.” They only had a handshake and no formal contract with the terms written down, therefore it would be very difficult for Bob to sue Gary for breach of contract.

Breach of Contract

The benefit of having a contract is if there’s ever a dispute you can just look at the contract and see what the terms are. The party that has violated the contract can be liable for breach of contract. Breach of contract is a simple claim where the person who feels the other person violated the terms of the contract, can sue the other party. In the example above had Bob and Gary signed a contract with delivery in 3 days, Bob could sue Gary for breach of contract.

That is why we recommend all small businesses no matter how small the purchase is to get it in writing so that you could protect yourself and your business. I have dealt with previous people in the past who the moment I say let’s sign a contract they either get scared or suddenly they don’t want to go through on the contract. They may respond with “oh why don’t we just agree upon it without a contract.” This should raise a flag to you because a contract is there to protect both parties. In law school they called it a meeting of the minds which essentially means two parties are coming together to meet, agree on something and sign on it. If someone does not want to be bound by a contract they may not be someone you want to do business with and you should proceed with caution.

Contact a Small Business Attorney to help you with your current situation. We can walk you through and make sure you are doing what is best for your company.

 

Advantages and disadvantages of forming an LLC, limited liability company, in Texas

Advantages and Disadvantages of an LLC

Whenever someone’s decides to form a business, one of the very critical decisions will be what business entity to form. There are many entities ranging from a Corporation, S Corp, LLC, general partnership, limited partnership and others. However, being a business owner and knowing which business entity to form could be a very confusing question. This blog is going to tell you the advantages and disadvantages of an LLC here in Texas.

 

Advantages of an LLC

 

Liability protection

One of the biggest perks of having an LLC is that you are protected from liability if something were to happen. Only the LLC is liable for debts and liabilities. When you form an LLC, the LLC essentially becomes its own person therefor if somebody wants to sue you, they must sue the company instead. So, let’s assume an LLC accumulates debt and the creditor wants to sue you. They cannot sue the business owner, only the LLC itself. This protects your personal assets from being at risk.

Flow through taxation

With tax laws changing very often one of the perks of having an LLC is you deal with what’s called pass through taxation. What this means is that the LLC itself will not be taxed, it’ll essentially flow right through the business to the individuals who will be taxed at their normal personal income level. Let’s pretend I own and am the only employee of company ABC LLC. ABC LLC, makes $100 a year but because of pass through taxation the company won’t get taxed on those hundred dollars. Instead it will flow through to me, its only employee, and I will be taxed on those 100$ at my personal income level. This is beneficial to the business owner because the owner only must pay taxes on the profit he makes from the business. If he pays employee salaries, the employees pay their own tax, not the business.

 

Disadvantages of an LLC

 

Self-Employment Taxes

When you are an LLC, because of the flow through taxation, the individual is responsible for paying the self-employment taxes. Regularly when one works for a corporation, the business withholds your Medicare and social security tax from your paycheck. With an LLC, none is withheld which usually leaves you having to pay the self-employment taxes at the end of the year. It is very important to plan for this so that you don’t get stuck with a large tax bill at the end of the year you didn’t expect.

Filing with the Secretary of State

This isn’t a disadvantage but is required to form an LLC. You must register the business entity with the Secretary of State and make sure all your filings and documents are in order and valid.

 

If you are considering opening a business in Texas, feel free to reach out to Zavala Texas Law to speak with one of our small business attorneys. They can help you get started and make sure you run your business effective and within the rules.

Factors to consider before applying with Immigration

Applying for a Green Card or Visa

If you’re trying to obtain a non-immigrant Visa or legal permanent resident status AKA green card, there are two major things you should consider before applying for your visa.

Eligibility

The first step to come to United States is to see if you are eligible for an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. There are multiple visas one can apply for ranging from tourism all the way to employment-based. Each type of visa has eligibility standards and if you don’t qualify they will deny your application. Let’s take a very common B2 Visa, this also known as a tourism Visa. Let’s pretend foreign national wants to apply for a B2 tourist visa. However, at his interview, he claims that he wants to go to USA so that he can work and make money. This would be a violation of the visa guidelines because you are not allowed to work on a tourist visa. Therefore, if he intends to work, he will not be eligible for a tourist visa because he has an ulterior motive. On the employment side there are other visas such as an E2 investor visa which requires a foreign national to open and operate a business in the United States. You must prove your eligibility through business plans and documents. It’s important to determine your eligibility for the intended visa you are applying for. Consult with us at Zavala Texas Law, to help you determine your eligibility.

Inadmissibility

When the United States reviews your current visa or green card application, they will also decide whether you are inadmissible.  The term inadmissible means based on the rules of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you are a person who the USA cannot admit into the country. In my experience most all inadmissibility ground usually come from criminal backgrounds, prior illegal entries, being associated with a criminal organization.

A common example would be if you entered the country illegally or if you overstayed a visa. Both of those examples could find you inadmissible. Depending on the inadmissibility reason, you may be eligible for a discretionary waiver. A waiver is essentially a pardon by immigration. Therefore, if you get your waiver approved cancels out your inadmissibility and you are now admissible into the country.

If you have more questions regarding obtaining a Visa or green card, please feel free to contact us we are here at your disposal.

USCIS: I-797C Explained

What is an I-797C Receipt?

Anytime you file applications with USCIS they will send you what’s called an I-797C receipt. This is a confirmation that USCIS received your application and it is currently being processed . I-797C  receipt is called that because on the upper right hand corner it says I-797C. No matter what application you submitted you will receive an I-797C receipt once USCIS receives your application.

Receiving a receipt does not mean that your application has been approved nor has been denied, all it means is that USCIS has received it and it’s currently processing. Each I-797C document will give you current case updates or will notify you if you were approved or denied.

On the  I-797C receipt it is customary to have a receipt number so that you can track your case with USCIS. When you hire an experienced immigration lawyer, they will receive the majority of the paperwork USCIS sends you. They will keep you informed on your case status and let you know of anything that is needed.

Travel Considerations for Immigrants

Travel considerations for immigrants

If you are here on an immigrant visa or green card, there are a few things you should consider before traveling out of the United States. If you plan on entering the USA again you will be inspected by Department of Homeland Security upon your entrance. They will check if you have a valid immigrant visa and if you have a criminal record that would make you inadmissible.

Valid Immigrant Visa

Make sure you have a valid immigrant visa that will not expire while you are out of the country. When you enter the country, DHS will look to make sure you have a valid visa that allows you to be in the country and hasn’t expired.

If you have an immigrant visa that will it be expiring soon please consult with an immigration lawyer to make sure there will be no complications upon your arrival back into the country.

Criminal Background

If you have been convicted of a crime or have pending criminal charges, it is very important you consult with an immigration lawyer before you travel outside the country. The reason why is because when you try to enter USA they will look at your criminal background. If you have a criminal record they may not let you back in the country. There are many crimes that can make you inadmissible and ultimately will result in your denial into the country.

The criminal consequences vary depending whether you have a green card or an immigrant visa.

Pending USCIS application

If you are currently in the process of getting an immigrant visa or getting your green card, you should speak with an immigration attorney before you leave the country. The reason why is you don’t want to cause any delays in your green card or visa if you leave the country. They may also schedule interviews while you are out of the country. There are some instances where if you leave the country during your application they will deem it abandoned. Therefore you may have to ask for a travel document to let you leave the country and come back in.