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.
Criminal Trespassing Laws in USA Everyone Should Know
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS FIGHTING CRIMINAL TRESPASSING CHARGES THROUGHOUT THE USA
While the act of trespassing is easily understood, many people commit the crime without realizing it. The USA has several laws regarding criminal trespassing; therefore, it is important that you know what these laws entail, and how a trespassing charge could be added to a series of criminal law charges – all carrying significant penalties.
WHAT DOES THE USA CONSIDER CRIMINAL TRESPASSING?
In the USA, you are guilty of trespass if you enter or remain on a person’s property without authorization in criminal law.
There are numerous ways for a person to break this criminal law, including:
Remaining on private property. Being on private property without the owner’s permission is trespassing. If you stay on the private property after being asked to leave, that is also trespassing in criminal law.
Entering posted private property. If the property has a “private property” sign on the exterior or around the perimeter, and you enter that property anyway, you are trespassing in criminal law. The only exception to this rule is if you have written permission from the owner or the property is open for hunting.
Entering despite public notice. Private property with signs displayed for the public indicating private ownership is off limits. If you choose to get into that property, you are committing the act of trespass in criminal law.
State lands and entering without permission. State lands are protected. While they might not have fences around their entire perimeter if you knowingly enter or remain on state lands without permission, you are trespassing in criminal law.
IT IS A CRIME TO REMOVE THE “NO TRESPASS” SIGN TOO
You might be surprised to find that removing a “No Trespassing” sign on private property is also a crime. While it is a petty misdemeanor, you could still be forced to pay the damage of the sign, and you will be guilty of a misdemeanor. Also, you could go to jail for this “petty” crime, while it might be less than one year. Depending on the circumstances, the judge may impose the minimum or maximum in criminal law.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY FOR TRESPASSING?
Knowingly trespassing is a misdemeanor offense. If you violate the law in conjunction with fishing or hunting licenses, then you also forfeit your license, and you will not be permitted to receive another for up to three years by the state game commission in criminal law.
TRESPASSING CAN TIE TO OTHER SERIOUS CHARGES
Criminal trespassing is the least of your concerns. Sometimes you could be accused of other offenses in addition to the act of trespassing.
For example, if arrested for breaking and entering, you could also be accused of trespassing. Burglary or the intent to burglarize along with trespassing is another common combination of offenses. These offenses carry harsher punishments than the act of trespassing alone. You could face a third-degree felony if convicted of invasion burglary, while aggravated robbery charges involve a second-degree felony in criminal law.
SPEAK WITH A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR YOUR TRESPASS CHARGES
Whether you are accused of trespass or a combination of criminal offenses, it is in your best interest to speak with a criminal defense attorney.
Sealing a Criminal Record Versus Expunging the Record
SHOULD YOU SEEK EXPUNGING OR SEALING YOUR CRIMINAL RECORD? A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER EXPLAINS.
Often, sealing and expunction are confused for one another, but these are two very different processes with varying qualifications required under criminal law. If you seal a criminal record, you are engaging in judicial proceedings that will limit others’ access to the file. The record still exists, and certain parties could access it, but it is sealed from most individuals. An expunction (expungement), on the other hand, deletes the criminal record entirely under criminal law.
Only certain circumstances allow for a criminal record to be sealed, and if you do have a record sealed, it will not appear on a regular criminal background check.
The USA does not have a statute that applies to expunction; therefore, it is tough to perform a successful expunction of any criminal arrests. If you have been convicted of a crime, you cannot expunge your record in the state, regardless of the circumstances under criminal law.
CAN YOU SEAL A CRIMINAL RECORD?
Yes, you can. However, Statutes Section 32A-2-26 strictly governs it. A record can only be sealed if it is a juvenile criminal record under criminal law. Your criminal defense attorney must petition the court, and then your files can be sealed after the court determines that the juvenile is not a delinquent offender.
If you are an adjudicated delinquent, you can still seal your juvenile criminal record, but your defense attorney must file a motion. You are required to wait two years before the records are sealed. There must also be no further convictions of a felony or misdemeanor in that two-year waiting period to qualify under criminal law.
You can only apply for a record sealing if you are 18 years of age, or if there is just cause for sealing the record before reaching 18. Your sealed record is treated as if it were never there.
EXPUNGING CRIMINAL ARREST RECORDS
While you cannot expunge a criminal conviction or seal an adult criminal conviction, you may be able to expunge a criminal arrest record. You can petition the department to expunge the arrest information, but only if it was a misdemeanor offense that did not involve moral turpitude under criminal law.
While there is no statute in place for record expunction, there are several questions in front of the Supreme Court regarding the matter. Hopefully, an ordinance will be created that specifically addresses record expunction under criminal law.
In conclusion, sealing is only available for a juvenile criminal record, and only after the waiting period has been completed with no further crimes committed by that juvenile. A record expunction is available for an adult, but only for arrest records and minor crimes. An adult must prove that he or she was innocent at the time of the arrest to qualify for record expunction.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO CLEAR UP A CRIMINAL RECORD?
If you have a juvenile criminal record that is affecting your life, you may qualify for a record seal under criminal law.
Are Ponzi Schemes Illegal?
CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS DEFENDING WHITE COLLAR CRIME CHARGES
Criminal law made headlines a few years ago when the Vaughan Ponzi scheme was revealed. The plan resulted in millions of settlements for restitution and 278 victims of the real estate scheme. Vaughn received 12 years in prison for his scam, and while his sentence occurred years ago, the fallout is still being handled in the state in criminal law.
Ponzi schemes are widely misunderstood. Some refer to them as pyramid scams, while others consider any investment-like strategy a “Ponzi” scheme.
However, it is important to know the legal differences and what constitutes a Ponzi scheme. After all, a real Ponzi scheme is illegal. But, it is not a state crime. Instead, you are more likely to face federal charges if you were involved in a Ponzi scheme knowingly in criminal law.
WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A PONZI SCHEME?
A Ponzi scheme is an illegal business where new investors fund payments to earlier investors. It features a trickle-down effect like other businesses, but there are fundamental differences with a Ponzi scheme to note.
New Money Funds Old Money – Ponzi schemes do not have real investments or real income. Instead, they use the money of new investors to pay old investors. However, the funds are never invested themselves. These schemes require constant investments from new participants to thrive. Once the new investors run out, the system collapses.
Offer Little or No Risk Investments – Ponzi schemes typically say there are little to no risk for investing. However, these require high investment amounts and promise outrageous returns that are improbable in even the best markets in criminal law.
Consistent Returns – All investments have odd returns, and they fluctuate with the market. A Ponzi scheme offers their investors consistently high-value and positive returns, regardless of the market, because they are not investing in the real market. Instead, they only take the investments of new participants and pay the old in criminal law.
Not Registered with the SEC – Companies that encourage new investors must be registered with the SEC and state regulatory agencies. A Ponzi scheme is illegal; therefore, it is not registered with the SEC or any governing agency. Most of these businesses have no valid license to operate either in criminal law.
ARE PYRAMID AND PONZI SCHEMES THE SAME?
No. While they are closely related, these two are different in the ways they require payments and how the structure of the scheme works. They both trickle down funds from the top of the investor chain to the bottom but are slightly different.
Note, a multi-level marketing program is not a pyramid scheme or Ponzi scheme. While they act similar, these are typically legitimate. However, there are multi-level marketing frauds out there which are pyramid schemes and not real businesses in criminal law.
BE CAREFUL ABOUT STARTING AN MLM ILLEGALLY
If you plan to start a multi-level marketing program (MLM), you must avoid the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme or pyramid scheme. Certain actions you take could constitute illegal acts, and you could face state or federal level charges in criminal law.
Some methods to avoid include:
Promising easy money, passive income, or high returns regardless of market conditions.
Not offering a real product or service with the investment.
Not documenting revenue from retail sales.
Requiring buy-in to participate. While you can buy products to resell, buying into the company specifically borders on a pyramid scheme and criminal law.
Requiring your investors and participants to recruit more than sell products or services.
We handle white collar crimes and state or federal level offenses. If you have been arrested for a pyramid scheme or another white-collar crime act, speak with one of our criminal defense attorneys today in criminal law.