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Grant M. Scheiner - Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

Tag Archives: Houston, TX

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.

Don’t Believe Everything in the Press

I had the privilege of teaching at this year’s Texas Trial Lawyers College in Huntsville, Texas. The Texas Trial Lawyers College is a one-week, intensive school for young lawyers who want to improve their trial skills. A student in one of our break-out sessions this week gave a rather uneven performance. The assignment was to deliver an opening statement in a sexual assault case. I was surprised, frankly, because the student is talented and the assignment should have been her opportunity to shine.

The following day I spoke with the student and she explained why she might have been distracted during her opening statement. Apparently the student just learned that she was one of a group of criminal defense lawyers in Lubbock, Texas, which a local television station erroneously reported on the internet had been charged with a misdemeanor crime. The television station — KCBD-TV in Lubbock — apparently confused the lawyers with the defendants they represented. KCBD apparently never bothered to check the local county records, which correctly listed the defendants and their charges, as well as the names of their attorneys.

KCBD removed the erroneous information from its website. Unfortunately, as the slandered Lubbock lawyers have quickly discovered, even deleted information can exist in perpetuity on the internet. A person who Googles the slandered lawyers’ names might mistakenly conclude that the lawyers were charged with various misdemeanor crimes.

Although a person accused of a crime is presumed innocent in a court of law, what about the court of public opinion? Where — to paraphrase former United States Labor Secretary Ray Donovan, who himself was acquitted of a crime — does a person go to get his reputation back, after he has been slandered on the internet? The answer in this case is not so easy. Arguably, the slandered lawyers have no adequate or available remedy. Here’s to hoping KCBD has access to some very good lawyers of its own. If the press sometimes wonder why people no longer believe everything in the press, the case of the slandered Lubbock lawyers is Exhibit “A.”

— Grant Scheiner

Rick Perry, Stranger to Justice and Common Sense

Rick Perry refuses to help wrongfully accused Texans.  That alone should be troubling enough, but what is even more bothersome  is the hugely misguided logic Perry used to carry out the injustice.

The Texas Legislature attempted to remedy an incorrect decision made by the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Beam v. State.  The Defendant in Beam was charged with a misdemeanor offense punishable by county jail time.  Obviously the case had very little merit, because Beam took a deferred adjudication on a Class C disorderly Conduct, which resulted in a dismissal.  This means the State could not prove what it had charged Beam.  Beam filed for an expunction.  The Supreme Court held that Beam had to wait until the Statue of Limitations expired (2 years) before Beam could clear her record.

Although exp-unctions deal with criminal subject matter, exp-unctions are filed in civil district court.  This means the Supreme Court of Texas, a civil law court, heard the case instead of the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Supreme Court’s Criminal counterpart.  The Supreme Court goofed because jeopardy had attached.  The DA could not refile the case because it was barred by double jeopardy.

I applaud the Texas Legislature for noticing the injustice and trying to do the right thing.  HB 3481 was passed by the Texas House after it was amended by the Senate by a vote of 137-0.  Perry, we have all learned that you struggle with simple concepts like riding a bike, but that means that EVERYONE thought it was the right thing to do.

HB 3481 would give Texans the right to  exp-unction of criminal records, including law enforcement case files, 180 days after an arrest if no formal misdemeanor or felony charges have been filed and/or if the charges were dismissed.

Perry vetoed the bill on June 19, 2009.  Perry displayed how completely ignorant and confused he and whatever staff person who authored the veto are, by stating ridiculous logic to justify his injustice.

Perry states, “Expunction statutes should not be used as a means of discovery or as a means to force a prosecutor to rush to file formal charges prematurely. Allowing a person to know the identities of witnesses or the nature of their evidence.”

NOTICE TO GOVERNOR PERRY:  Criminal lawyers in the State of Texas already have a means of discovery after arrest.  These discovery means are found in the United States and Texas Constitutions and in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.  I am not naive enough to believe Perry would ever read or have the ability to understand such literature, but I will break it down for him.

When an American/Texan is arrested, the Prosecutor does have an obligation to file charges quickly,  Right to a Speedy Trial.  Perry’s logic is so out of bounds because we are talking about a person who is already arrested.   Perry is worried the Expunction process will force Prosecutors to file charges prematurely.  Prosecutors, Police, or other Government Agencies should not arrest citizens if they are not ready to file charges.

Allowing an arrested person to know the identities of the witnessess and nature of the evidence is something Rick Perry is not comfortable with.  That means he is not comfortable with the 6th Amdendment.  How Un-American is that?  As a criminal lawyer, I have no idea how to confront and cross-examine witnesses without knowing who they are.  The arrested person’s right to know the  “nature of the evidence” is found in Art. 39.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.  Thank heavens Perry was not around to screw that Statute up.

Here is the real tragedy of Perry’s folly:  This veto prevents the wrongfully accused and prosecuted Texans whose cases are DISMISSED because there is not sufficient evidence to immediately clear their records.  Let’s face it, potential employers and apartment c0mplexes who issue a lease are just as concerned about an arrest as they are about a conviction.  So Perry’s actions will punish wrongfully accused Texans from obtaining gainful employment and providing for their families.

Perry, next time the ENTIRE legislature, bipartisanly and unanimously puts legislation in front of you, don’t veto it because you hate America, your vicodin has you really trippin’ out, or because you are angry everyone is talking about something you just don’t understand.  Instead, just take a bike ride, close your eyes, pedal hard, pedal fast, and PLEASE do not wear a helmet on top of your perfect hair.

DWI v. DUI

The terms DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) are usually used interchangeably in every day conversation. In Texas, the legal meaning of the terms DWI and DUI are very different. A criminal defense attorney in Houston is the best person to call if you have questions about the legal meanings of DWI or DUI. DUI is often used to describe any person who has been arrested for drinking and driving. But in Texas, DUI is when a person under the age of 21 drives a car with any detectable alcohol on his breath. A person may be completely sober and show zero signs of intoxication and still be arrested for DUI. A DUI is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of up to $500, but there are possible driver’s license suspension problems.

DWI is more serious than DUI in Houston Texas. A citizen of any age can be arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. The first conviction for DWI is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. On top of that range of punishment, a person arrested for DWI is also facing driver’s license suspensions, surcharges, and an increase in insurance premiums. Unlike DUI, a DWI requires proof that a person has lost “the normal use of his mental or physical faculties.”