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.

 

Difference between THC and CBD in Marijuana

“Wax, Oil and Buds… Oh my!” Difference between THC and CBD in Marijuana

It is no surprise that marijuana laws are starting to relax in the United States. As of today 8 states allow legal recreational use with another 22 states who allow marijuana in some sense. Since marijuana is turning into a booming industry, many companies have started to find other marijuana products to sell such as oil and wax.

Marijuana 101

Originally, marijuana is a plant that is grown from a seed. People smoke the flower of the plant and it gives the “high” feeling. The active ingredient in marijuana that creates the high feeling is THC aka  tetrahydrocannabinol. It is ingested in the body most commonly by smoking. More recently however people have created ways to extract other ingredients from the marijuana plant such as CBD aka Cannabidiol. This CBD is collected and is sold in forms of wax or oil in states where recreational marijuana is legal.

CBD vs THC

Even though THC and CBD both come from the same plant the law views them differently and because of that they have different classifications. Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, the definition for marijuana is

“Marihuana” means the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not, the seeds of that plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of that plant or its seeds.The term does not include:

(A)  the resin extracted from a part of the plant or a compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the resin;

(B)  the mature stalks of the plant or fiber produced from the stalks;

(C)  oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant;

(D)  a compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, fiber, oil, or cake; or

(E)  the sterilized seeds of the plant that are incapable of beginning germination”

At the time there was not a definition for CBD because it was not a known substance to the general public. Technically it could not be called marijuana because it fell under the first exemption of the definition above. Therefore in 2015 Texas added a new definition to cover these new compounds.

THC – CBD – Marijuana Consequences

A big difference between THC and CBD is how Texas law punishes possession of the substance. Assuming you only have a small personal amount, marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor. CBD is however a State Jail Felony and can carry up to 2 year jail time. Many people think smoking wax or oil is the same as marijuana, unfortunately the law does not view it that way. The law classifies them differently and treats CBD harsher.

Conclusion

Even though marijuana is still illegal in Texas it can commonly be seen used by people. Things to remember next time you are with people consuming marijuana is whether they are smoking the plant or the oil/wax. It may be a good idea to minimize risk and stick to the plant to help protect yourself. If you find yourself in a tough situation and need legal help, feel free to contact us at Zavala Texas Law. We are here to help and have helped many Houstonians with their drug charges.

What happens during a criminal case?

Criminal Case Process

Ever wondered what happens in a criminal case after someone gets arrested? We decided to explain to you the steps and the outcomes of a criminal case. If you have any questions please feel free to ask or just check out the following info-graph.

Criminal Case Process
How a criminal case is handled

Avoiding a Traffic Ticket: LASIK

Over the 4th of July weekend, I took a trip to scenic Brenham, Texas to enjoy a relaxing weekend in a small Texas town. As anyone who has ever visited the area knows the landscape and scenic route is beautiful and it may cause ones foot to get pretty heavy on the accelerator. Long story short, I got pulled over for speeding and got a traffic ticket.

The state trooper was very courteous and we chatted for a little bit. As he was inspecting my driver’s license he saw that I had the “Corrective Lenses Restriction” on the back of my license. (Anyone who uses glasses or contacts should have this restriction on the back of their license).

He asked me about my corrective lenses and I proudly told him that I no longer use corrective lenses because I received LASIK surgery and no longer needed corrective lenses. He told me that was fantastic but my license still indicated that I needed corrective lenses.

At this point I wasn’t sure if he didn’t know what LASIK was, so I begin explaining the procedure and he cut me off stating that he knows. Unfortunately, when you get LASIK or any procedure to adjust your eyesight you must get the restriction lifted from your license.

Luckily at the end of my encounter with the officer, he just gave me a warning on the speeding but did give me a traffic ticket for my “Corrective Lenses Restriction.” He told me that if I got the restriction removed before the court date, they would dismiss it. To do this, just go to DPS and get the restriction removed. It was a very easy process to do.

Certainly I’m not the only person to have had vision adjustment. Check your Texas driver’s license and see if you have the Corrective Lenses Restriction. If you do, and you no longer require correction, be sure to update your license so that you don’t get a citation over something you probably never thought of.

Cheers