Areas of Practice
Being exclusively criminal defense, gives me the opportunity to concentrate on the current case law coming out both on the federal and at the state level.
There is a lot of propaganda out there. You see the signs – "drink, drive, go to jail;" "buzzed driving is drunk driving;" "DWI: you can't afford it…" While this may be effective propaganda, it is actually NOT the law in Texas. In Texas it is legal to consume alcohol and then drive as long as you are at least 21 and not intoxicated. Intoxicated has a specific definition under the law. Intoxicated, under the law, means
Types of Intoxication Offenses
- ALR Hearings
- Occupational Driver's License
- Intoxication Assault
- Intoxication Manslaughter
The burden is on the prosecution to prove intoxication. This is where the standardized field sobriety tests (SFST's) come into play and it is important to have a lawyer who is well versed in these tests. People often ask if they should take a breath or a blood test. That's a pretty loaded question actually. A breath test machine is just that – a fallible, man-made machine. There are many variables that can affect or inflate the result. Blood tests are generally more reliable but human error can be a major factor in the results.
If you are 100% certain that you can take and pass a breath and/or blood test and are 100% confident in the machine and human operators then take the test. Otherwise, recognize that you have the right to politely decline the request. Texas law does not allow a person to receive deferred probation for intoxication offenses (with very limited exceptions for class C tickets). There are lots of rules and driver's license issues specific to intoxication offenses. Therefore, it is important to have a lawyer familiar with defending these types of cases. Talk to Sarah about your options.
Possession has a legal definition. It is not limited to ownership. Under the law, possession means care, custody, control, or management over a substance. That means multiple people can be charged with possessing the same substance. And that is what happens a lot of the time. The police arrest everyone in the area. However, just because you are in an area where drugs are found does not mean you are legally guilty of possession. There must be other additional evidence to affirmatively link you to the drugs.
Also, the "Tulia" law, article 38.141 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, is an evidentiary law that was enacted several years ago to prevent against wrongful convictions when a snitch is involved. This law was named after the infamous drug cases in Tulia, Texas. In 1999, 15 percent of Tulia's African American population was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to decades in prison based on the uncorroborated testimony of a federally funded undercover officer with a record of racial impropriety. The defendants have since been pardoned. And now we have the Tulia law which says that the testimony of a snitch working on behalf of the police isn't enough to convict a person. There must be additional evidence other than just to corroborate the testimony, and proof of the commission of the offense alone is insufficient.
Often, Sarah advocates a comprehensive approach to defending drug cases. After all, the goal is to have the best possible result and to prevent a second case from ever happening. Therefore, sometimes treatment is also a necessary part of a defense in addition to a legal defense. Talk to Sarah about the best strategy for your particular case.
Types of Drug Offenses
- Manufacture and delivery
- Prescription fraud
Don't ever take a plea deal without understanding your case and knowing all of your options, and do not talk to the police without your lawyer!
People get in arguments, and in the heat of the moment, rush to call the police without thinking sometimes. Then, when cooler heads prevail, they wish they could undo that call. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.
Like DWI, there are specific laws that deal with family violence cases. For instance, although deferred probation is sometimes a possibility, the case will always stay on your record and can be used for enhancement of future cases. That's why you always want to avoid a finding of "family violence" if at all possible. Also, do not talk about your case – even with your significant other. There is no legal privilege for family violence situations.
Like sexual offenses, family violence offenses also usually fall into the classic "he said/she said" category. It's important that you're not convicted on a lie. Sometimes people get in fights. Sometimes people really do get hurt. Sometimes it's justified. Sometimes it's sudden passion. Every case is different. Whatever your situation, talk to Sarah about how to best defendant and/or mitigate your case.
Types of Assaultive Offenses
- Assault / Domestic Violence
- Injury to a Child
Sexual accusations have to be defended zealously from the very beginning. Often times, these are the classic "he said/she said" cases. It is important to get out in front of these cases with your defense and prevent indictments if possible. It is equally as important to avoid sex offender registration and conditions when at all possible.
After all, do we really want to brand for life as criminals and pedophiles young adults who engage in age inappropriate consensual sexual relationships? Each time the legislature meets there are always additional law passed about sex offenses. These cases must be defended, and where that is not possible they must be mitigated.
Types of Sexual Offenses
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Indecency with a child
- Aggravated sexual assault of a child
- Possession and distribution of child pornography
- Criminal Trespass
- Criminal Mischief
- Hot Checks
- Conspiracy/Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity
Often times, individuals simply pay a traffic ticket thinking they are doing the "responsible thing." While paying the ticket provides the immediate relief of finishing the case, it is not always the best thing to do for your driving record. If a person has certain types of tickets or too many tickets, DPS could issue a driver's license suspension, require SR-22 insurance, or charge your record with a point. If you're thinking about just paying the ticket, talk to a lawyer first to make sure it's the best thing to do for your record.
Probation Revocations & Motions to Adjudicate
Just because the state has filed a motion to revoke or adjudicate your probation, does not mean that will be the end result or that you will be held without bond pending the final outcome of your case. You have the right to a hearing and in some cases, the right to have a bond set. Do not stop reporting to your probation officer even if the state has filed a motion. Call today to discuss your options.
Nondisclosures and Expunctions
In a world where everything is digital and jobs are highly competitive, it is important to clean up your record if at all possible. Just because your case has been dismissed, not filed, you have been found not guilty, or you have successfully completed deferred adjudication probation does not mean that you do not have a record. You don't want anything to show up on a background check! In Texas, there are two ways to clean up your record. The first, and best way, is to obtain an Order of expunction. The second best way to clean up your record is to obtain an Order of Nondislcosure or have your record sealed. To find out if your case can be expunged or sealed call today.
Early on, Roland has been successful at the appellate level obtaining reversals in her first two appeals. Roland has successfully argued before the Fort Worth Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas and has additional appeals pending.