Restitution and Criminal Punishment in Texas: How Do They Work?
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY EXPLAINS RESTITUTION FOR CRIMINAL LAW CASES
Many crimes carry financial losses. Victims are often the ones forced to endure these financial losses, including the loss of personal property, medical costs after an assault, or lost income. Under the Mandatory Restitution Act of 1996, the courts can determine whether restitution is warranted, and the amount of restitution the criminal defendant must pay to the victim or the victim’s family in criminal law in Texas.
WHAT DOES RESTITUTION CONSIST OF?
Restitution in the criminal justice system refers to the funds that the defendant must pay to the victim for any financial harm caused by their actions. The court has the discretion and authority to force a defendant to pay restitution as part of his or her criminal punishment under criminal law. Some crimes carry a mandatory restitution, but this depends on the state. The high courts have backed the decision to order defendants to pay restitution. In fact, a case in 2010, where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state correctly ordered restitution, proves such in criminal law.
Usually, violent felony offenses include restitution, but other cases can involve restitution if there are severe financial losses. Restitution might cover the out-of-pocket costs for the victim under criminal law, including:
Insurance deductibles and copays
Costs related to the criminal law case (e.g., travel, child care, etc.)
Lost or damaged property
Restitution is different from personal injury compensation. A victim will not receive pain and suffering or any form of compensation for his or her emotional distress. Instead, these damages only apply to what the victim physically paid for; usually, a receipt or bill is necessary to show the courts that the amounts are justified under criminal law in Texas.
WILL RESTITUTION BE ORDERED IN MY CRIMINAL LAW CASE?
It is hard to predict what the courts will do, but restitution is more likely in two situations:
The victim has substantial proof of financial losses. If the victim has evidence of financial losses, and he or she can justify every loss claimed, the courts might order restitution to recover those costs.
A violent crime has occurred, and the request for restitution ordered. Sometimes, the courts wait for the prosecution to issue a request for restitution. Other times, the courts offer mandatory restitution in extremely violent cases. For example, the brutal beating of a victim could result in restitution automatically – regardless of whether the prosecution submits a request under criminal law.
FULL VERSUS PARTIAL RESTITUTION
When restitution is ordered, the courts look at the defendant’s ability to pay. Obviously, if the accused has no way to pay the losses, it is hard to force them to do so. So, the court might reduce the amount until the offender can pay in full. Sometimes, the courts will still issue restitution in full but set monthly payments so the offender can pay off the balance in a specific amount of time under criminal law.
You should note that, if you are on probation or parole and have a restitution payment schedule, missing a payment could result in a revocation of your probation or parole. Typically, timely payments are part of your release conditions in criminal law.
CONSULT WITH A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY ABOUT POSSIBLE RESTITUTION
Restitution is ordered upon conviction, and is part of your criminal punishment. Therefore, you may have jail time and other penalties in addition to restitution. To avoid these harsh penalties, speak with a criminal defense attorney.
Offers of Leniency: Will a Confession Decrease Your Charges?
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY DISCUSSES CONFESSIONS AND THEIR EFFECT IN COURTS
During an interrogation, officers use one common tactic to elicit a confession: An offer of leniency. They might tell you that they can lower your charges if you confess. However, there is a kicker – your confession must be voluntary. So, it is important that you understand your rights, and what might happen if you do confess in hopes of lesser charges in criminal law.
PSYCHOLOGICAL PRESSURE EQUATES TO INVOLUNTARY CONFESSIONS
It is your right not to be pressured into a confession. Police officers using psychological persuasion – including an offer of lesser charges – is considered pressuring you. That is why statements produced through the promise of leniency are disregarded by the courts. So, your confession would likely be inadmissible in criminal law.
However, your statement must be the product of an offer of compromise, whether expressed or implied. Offers that could result in an inadmissible confession include:
The promise of immunity;
The guarantee of a reduced sentence; or
An offer to dismiss the charges upon confession.
THE FACTOR OF IMMUNITY IN EXCHANGE FOR TESTIMONY
Often, defendants confuse confessions in interrogations with the exchange of immunity or reduced charges to testify in criminal law. These are two different things. While you have the right to remain silent, if you choose to speak with a criminal defense attorney and answer his or her questions, that is your prerogative. A prosecutor can also override your Fifth Amendment rights by offering immunity from prosecution in exchange for your testimony in criminal law.
THE TWO TYPES OF IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION
Transactional Immunity – Transactional immunity is a very broad kind of immunity. It is so broad that it is referred to as “blanket” immunity. Any crime you confess to, including ones unrelated to the case, cannot be used against you in criminal law.
“Use and Derivative Use” Immunity – Most prosecutors opt for this form of immunity because it is narrower and does not let a defendant get away with anything. The prosecution cannot, however, use your statements or any evidence derived from those declarations in a prosecution against you. However, it does not prevent them from gathering additional evidence and using it against you later. So, theoretically, you could still face criminal charges in criminal law.
SPEAK WITH A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY BEFORE ACCEPTING ANY DEALS
Whether you are being interrogated, you’re offered a deal, or you are being presented with an offer of immunity, it is imperative that you speak with a criminal defense attorney.
5 DUI Myths that Could Put You in Jail
EXPERIENCED DEFENSE ATTORNEY FIGHTING DUI CHARGES IN THE USA
The Internet is a reliable resource for research, but one thing it should never be used for is legal research. While there are some helpful posts out there, most of the research you find on DUIs comes from forums and opinionated writings; not fact or criminal law.
Sadly, because of the internet’s popularity, many DUI defendants turn to their trusted website or forum for advice when they should consult with a criminal defense attorney. The myths and incorrect facts online lead to confusion and could result in you going to jail when you could have walked away free.
The DUI laws are complicated, and the consequences of a DUI conviction is dire. Therefore, know the facts before you decide where you want to go with your case in criminal law.
REFUSING A BREATHALYZER MEANS YOU CANNOT BE CHARGED WITH A DUI
Refusing to take a breathalyzer might mean that your BAC is not measured, but that is not to say you will be free from a DUI or related charges. First, you have the implied consent law. Therefore, if you have a driver’s license and operate a vehicle in the state, you are required to comply with a breathalyzer test. Refusal means an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.
Also, you can still be charged with a DUI and convicted regardless if you have a BAC level on file. Refusing to could justify as evidence against you and considered an admission of guilt in criminal law.
A DUI IS NOT A SERIOUS CHARGE
A DUI charge is extremely dangerous. Do not let the fact that it is a misdemeanor fool you. While you might only face a misdemeanor, that is a serious criminal law charge that will affect you for the rest of your life. A DUI will not only result in a license suspension, but you may lose your job, serve time in jail, and must attend court ordered classes until you can get your driver’s license back.
A DUI DOES NOT REQUIRE AN ATTORNEY
While the internet offers a surprising amount of information about how to avoid a DUI and why you do not need an attorney, the reality is that without a criminal defense lawyer, you are more likely to face a harsher charge than if you have a lawyer defending your case in criminal law.
YOU MUST BE DRIVING TO BE CHARGED WITH A DUI
Even if you are sitting in a parked car with the engine running or you have exited your vehicle after driving drunk, you could be arrested and charged with a DUI. The statute states in control or operation of a motor vehicle; therefore, the officer does not have to find you driving or in the act to arrest you in criminal law.
A PERSON CAN BEAT A BREATHALYZER TEST
It is a common misconception that a person can beat a breathalyzer test by various methods like drinking mouthwash, chewing gum, and surprisingly putting a penny in the mouth. None of these methods work because a breathalyzer not only registers breath alcohol but assesses the amount of alcohol in the blood based on the breath.
Furthermore, a positive breathalyzer could result in an order for blood or urine test, which would further prove that you have alcohol in your system for criminal law.
WANT TO PREVENT A DUI FROM RUINING YOUR LIFE? YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY
If you have been arrested for a DUI, the best thing you can do is speak with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help assess your case and defend you in court. Do not assume that a DUI is not a serious conviction in criminal law.
Requirements that Police Must Follow to Execute a Search Warrant
SEARCH WARRANT REQUIREMENTS IN THE USA AND HOW THEY CAN AFFECT YOUR CRIMINAL LAW CASE
Even with a search warrant, law enforcement still has limitations. To understand those limitations, you must first know what a search warrant is, how law enforcement obtains one, and what it allows them to do in criminal law.
WHAT IS A SEARCH WARRANT?
A search warrant is a legal authorization issued by an authority (a judge) that allows police officers to search a particular place for evidence – without the owner or occupant’s consent. To not violate a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, police must obtain a search warrant in criminal law.
HOW DO POLICE OBTAIN A SEARCH WARRANT?
To get a search warrant, police officers must petition a judge, and the judge must issue the warrant. Law enforcement must show that they have probable cause, which justifies the issuance of a search warrant in criminal law. Sometimes, this means providing evidence or an affidavit to the judge. They must also state where they will search and the items that they seek. This information is then relayed in the search warrant text. If the order lacks specific evidence or areas, then it is not valid.
REQUIREMENTS WHEN EXECUTING A SEARCH WARRANT
Even when law enforcement has the search warrant in hand, and signed by a judge, there are protocols that they must follow. First, there is the knock-and-announce rule. This means that the officers executing the search warrant cannot force their way inside or immediately enter a private residence. Instead, the first officers must knock and announce their identities, as well as their intent. Then, they must wait for a reasonable amount of time for the occupant to answer in criminal law.
EXCEPTIONS TO THE KNOCK AND ANNOUNCE RULE
While officers are required to knock and announce, there are exceptions to this rule. Sometimes, officers will have a no-knock warrant, which means that they can enter the property without announcing intent or presence. These are only issued when there is reasonable suspicion that evidence might be destroyed if the police officers were to announce their identity to the occupants in criminal law.
TIMING OF SEARCHES
Officers are required to time their searches during the day. However, the definition of night can easily be stretched. Typically, states follow the federal rules of criminal law procedure, which means that searches can run from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
EXTENT OF THE SEARCH
With the warrant, police officers only have the authority to search the places and individuals listed in the order. They may only find the evidence sought after, and they can only search in areas where they would reasonably find the evidence. For example, an officer looking for a large rifle cannot justify searching a small jewelry box in criminal law.
While they have limitations on their searches, officers can detain people who they find at the site during the search. If they locate sufficient evidence while searching, they can arrest and search the people who they find – even if those people are not named in the warrant in criminal law.
PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS FROM UNLAWFUL SEARCHES – CONTACT A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY TODAY
If the police have searched your home and seized evidence, you have rights. Often, protocols are ignored, but police assume that defendants do not know criminal procedure. To ensure that your rights were not violated, and to receive expert-level defense, contact a criminal defense attorney.