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Grant M. Scheiner - Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

Tag Archives: Criminal Defense Attorney

Our Houston criminal defense attorneys provide information and news about criminal defense cases, law statutes, real life scenarios, and other important news for the public’s information. The lawyers of Scheiner Law Group, P.C., are dedicated to bringing your comprehensive news about criminal rights in Houston, TX.

Houston Lab Under Scrutiny After Last Week’s Hearing

The Houston Crime Lab faced increased scrutiny last week after a former lab supervisor testified that she quit because she could no longer trust the accuracy of breath test results from some HPD breath testing equipment in DWI cases. (Read the Houston Chronicle story here).

“We could no longer choose between a paycheck and our integrity,” said Amanda Culbertson at the hearing. Culbertson, who along with a another supervisor, Jorge Wong, abruptly left the HPD crime lab recently, said breath testing equipment in the department’s vans was prone to overheat and provide inaccurate readings.

What is truly frightening about this is that it took the departure of two analysts from the Houston Crime Lab before these allegations came to light. It is now up to the District Attorney’s Office to conduct a thorough investigation to determine how many Houston and Harris County DWI cases have been affected by faulty breath testing equipment. There is absolutely no excuse for flawed evidence to be used in court against anyone.

Voluntary encounters, temporary detentions, and arrests

Contacts between citizens and law enforcement generally fall into one of three categories: 1) voluntary encounters, 2) temporary detentions; and, 3) arrests. Whether you have been approached on suspicion of DWI, DUI, a drug charge, or some other criminal offense, your criminal defense attorney will want to investigate the nature of your encounter with the police to see if the police acted appropriately.

As the name implies, a voluntary encounter is simply a voluntary meeting with the police where a suspect is free to leave. The police do not need any sort of proof to conduct a voluntary encounter. However, in many cases, a voluntary encounter will turn into something else by a police officer’s show of authority that could make a suspect believe he is not free to leave. For example, if the Houston police are investigating a drug transaction, and approach an individual on the street for a friendly chat about what he may have seen, that will usually constitute a voluntary encounter. However, when the suspect attempts to leave and the police officer orders him to leave, then it ceases to become voluntary.

When a voluntary encounter becomes non-consensual, it can turn into a temporary detention.  To justify a temporary detention, a police officer needs reasonable suspicion to believe that an offense has been committed and that the person detained was involved. Reasonable suspicion can exist when an officer sees evidence that someone – like a driver in a DUI, DWI or drug case – is committing an offense but needs to observe the suspect more closely to verify his suspicion. The law allows the officer an opportunity to briefly detain a suspect for this purpose as long as he has reasonable suspicion. Far to often, when investigating DWI, DUI, drug crimes or other criminal offenses, police act on no more than a hunch.

If an officer chooses to arrest someone, he needs to meet the standard of probable cause. Although the definition of probable cause varies, it is essentially constitutes enough evidence to convince a reasonable person that a crime has been committed. The information has to be trustworthy. Far too often, police in DWI, DUI, drug cases, sexual assault cases, or other kinds of criminal offenses act with less than probable cause, and that can cause evidence to be excluded from court. This can often lead to a dismissal of a case.

Search and seizure law can be very complicated and an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney can help determine if your rights were violated by law enforcement. Far too often, law enforcement officers exceed the scope of what they are Constitutionally permitted to do, and an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer can use that to your advantage in a DUI, DWI, drug case, or any criminal offense. If you are arrested for DUI, DWI, a drug offense, a sexual offense or any criminal offense, the lawyers of the Houston, Texas office of Scheiner Law Group are highly experienced with search and seizure law and can help protect your rights.

Testifying at a DUI or DWI trial

Deciding whether or not to testify at your DWI or DUI trial is an important decision that you should make only after consulting with your Houston DWI or DUI lawyer about the pros and cons of testifying. Many people who have been arrested for drunk driving want to take the stand. Sometimes this is a good idea, but if a defendant testifies poorly, it could be damaging.

If you are going to testify at your trial, it is important that you go in knowing what to expect. A good Houston DWI or DUI attorney won’t coach you about what to say, but will give you advance notice of the questions you are likely to be asked by him and by the prosecutor.

Your Houston DWI or DUI attorney will ask you about many other subjects, including where you were, how much you had been drinking, how and why you were pulled over, what field sobriety tests were conducted, etc. You can discuss these subjects with your lawyer.

If you have been arrested for drunk driving and are not already represented by a Houston DWI or DUI lawyer, contact the Houston, Texas office of Scheiner Law Group, P.C. at (713) 783-8998(713) 783-8998 for a free case consultation.

How Your DWI Attorney Will Defend Your Case

After hiring the Scheiner Law Group to defend your DWI case, the firm’s investigation begins. Your DWI attorney will closely examine the details of your case in order to prepare for trial or a possible dismissal of your case. Your DWI attorney will work to anticipate the State’s case against you and analyze whether it will be able to prove every element of its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes examining the arresting police officer’s report, the results of any field sobriety tests, chemical evidence of your blood-alcohol level, the State’s witnesses against you, and your criminal record.

In addition to examining the State’s DWI case against you, your Houston DWI attorney will look at the strengths and weaknesses of your own case, including an anticipation of how lay and expert witnesses will testify, the defenses that may available to you, the potential penalties you face, and relevant case laws and statutes.

In order to get a conviction, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each and every element of its case. Additionally, it is also the State’s burden to prove the officer had a right to stop and arrest you.

If you’ve been arrested for a DWI, do not hesitate to contact the criminal defense lawyers at Scheiner Law Group. The DWI attorneys of the Houston, Texas, office of Scheiner Law Group are experienced in defending DWI cases and will help maximize your chances at obtaining the best result in your case.

Facebook Pages Now Publishing DWI Checkpoint Information

Recently, this blog reported that after receiving pressure from several United States Senators, Apple announced that it was amending its App Store rules to prohibit Apps which “facilitate” driving under the influence of alcohol. Apps such as Trapster drew the ire of Senators for publishing real-time information on the location of DWI checkpoints.

Despite this small victory, the battle between law enforcement and technology is starting to look like a game of whac-a-mole: Late last week – and just days after  Apple’s announcement – a television stations in New Orleans (the story is available here), announced that a Facebook page with over 7,000 members in the New Orleans area was publishing user-generated locations of DWI checkpoints. Proponents of the page say it makes members aware of the dangers of driving under the influence, while critics say it puts the public at risk by facilitating drunk driving. In any event, one thing is certain: this technology will proliferate in some form as long as the demand is there.

If you or a loved one is arrested for DWI, DUI or any criminal offense, the attorneys at Scheiner Law Group are a top choice. The firm’s lawyers have the experience to defend any criminal defense case in the Houston, Texas (TX) area to help maximize your chances at obtaining the best result in your case.

Dallas Mavericks Guard Arrested for Public Intoxication

Looks like celebrations may have gotten out of hand for at least one member of the Dallas Mavericks. Deshawn Stevenson, shooting guard for the newly crowned NBA Champs, was arrested Tuesday night – two days after the Mavericks upset the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA finals. The ESPN story is available here and the Dallas Morning News story is available here.

In Texas, public intoxication is a Class “C” misdemeanor, which is punishable by a $500 fine. Any top Texas criminal defense attorney will know how to best defend a charge of public intoxication. Most Texas attorneys and DUI lawyers know that proving public intoxication is difficult because more often than not, police officers do not administer Standardized Field Sobriety Tests to people arrested for that offense.

If you are arrested for DUI, DWI or any alcohol or drug related offense in Houston, TX or anywhere in Texas, the attorneys at Scheiner Law Group are an excellent choice and can help you get the best result in your case. Please call (713) 783-8998(713) 783-8998 for a free consultation with one of the firm’s lawyers to begin developing the best strategy to defend your case.

Waco Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Ninth DUI

A Waco man, Russell Don Sneed, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this week after being convicted of his ninth DUI (The Houston Chronicle story is available here). Because he had previously been convicted of at least two felonies, he was facing a minimum of 25 years in the case. According to the man’s defense attorney, Sneed suffers from alcoholism (surely an understatement), and the accident did not result in any injuries.

Beyond the fact that no one was seriously injured, it is hard to find a silver lining here. Surely, Sneed bears responsibility for his actions, and he should not be permitted to further endanger the public. But how does an individual get to his ninth DUI? Rather than sending Sneed to prison for the rest of his life, would it not be more appropriate to have involuntarily committed Sneed to a State hospital to receive treatment for his alcoholism? Wouldn’t this be a more cost-effective and humane approach in cases like these?

There’s No Longer an App for That

After receiving criticism from four United States Senators – Tom Udall of New Mexico, Charles Schumer of New York, Harry Reid of Nevada and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey – Apple announced last week that it will no longer permit apps for its products that “contain DUI checkpoints that are not published by law enforcement agencies, or encourage and enable drunk driving.” The Los Angeles Times story is available here.

Blood Test Results Suppressed in Michigan

In criminal cases, there is a natural tendency for jurors to overvalue scientific evidence. In many ways, that is understandable. After all, much of the evidence jurors hear is based on the memory of witnesses, which experience tells us is imperfect and prone to error. At first glance, scientific evidence – like blood or breath test evidence in DWI cases – seems so much more precise. But in too many cases, confidence in the reliability of scientific evidence is misplaced and could lead to wrongful convictions.

One way to lessen this danger is by forcing labs to publish data regarding their accuracy rate. That way, results of scientific tests are not presented to jurors in a vacuum – they can weigh the results with an understanding of how often the State gets it wrong. Recently, a judge in Michigan came to a similar conclusion and refused to admit blood evidence after the lab could not produce statistics regarding its error rate (read the story here).  “Without an error rate, the lab leaves an inference that the test result is an absolute or true result,” the judge, Peter Wadel, said in an opinion. No doubt, science has a place in the courtroom, but caution has to be taken to minimize the danger that jurors will treat scientific evidence as infallible. Judge Wadel has the right approach.

Cases involving scientific evidence like breath and blood tests present unique challenges to defense attorneys, and that is why it is important to retain a lawyer experienced in challenging the science behind DWI or DUI cases. If you or a loved one is arrested for any offenses, including DUI or DWI, in Houston, TX, or the surrounding areas, the attorneys at Scheiner Law Group are an excellent choice.

Another Good Result for Our Clients – Criminal Trespass Dismissed!

This morning, we were pleased at the dismissal of another one of our cases. Our client – I’ll call him John – was charged with criminal trespass after being involved in an altercation with bouncers at a night club. From the start, the case had its problems: John was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time, and was tackled and Tased by security guards before being forcefully escorted from the property. It was unlikely that any jury would convict him of trespass under the facts of the case.

However, what may have made the difference in this case was our criminal defense attorneys’ investigation of the case. Soon after being hired, the criminal defense lawyers started their own investigation, which included going to the nightclub and speaking with the owner. The owner agreed that the case wasn’t a case at all, and allowed us to take a videotaped statement where he said that he did not want to press charges and that he did not feel that John had any intent to break the law. This video was shown to prosecutors minutes before the case was dismissed.

In many cases, speaking with witnesses soon after an event is essential to building a successful defense. Often, a witness is eager to tell his or her side of the story. This can often lead to a good result, as in John’s case. The best criminal defense attorneys – in Houston and everywhere – know that good results and thorough investigations go hand and had. At Scheiner Law Group, we do not rely on the police’s investigation to defend a criminal case – we conduct our own.

If you or a loved one is charged with any criminal offense in Houston or anywhere in Texas, the lawyers at Scheiner Law Group are a top choice.