I have seen some sad patterns in my years of being a defense attorney, both for “victims” and for “defendants”, and all of the problems and drama could be avoided. It goes back to what they tell you when you are young, “Be careful who you hang out with”, “You are no better than those you surround yourself with”, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”.
I have a couple of stories of clients I have had that are true victims of the people they associate with. One recent client is a young female who had never been in trouble in her entire life. She started seeing the wrong person and the drama culminated with her boyfriend beating her in a park. He punched her in face, leaving her with a black eye. A witness saw everything and called the police. When the police showed up he was arrested. But when they went through her car, they found marijuana and arrested her for that (which wasn’t hers). Then to make it worse, they found counterfeit bills (which she didn’t know were fake). So now this young girl who had never been in trouble before was looking at a misdemeanor and a felony charge (both have been dismissed, but that’s besides the point).
When I first talked to her I told her she needed to make better choices and surround herself with better people. She assured me she would. But not 2 weeks pass by until I get another call from her that she picked up another felony because she was in a car that was stolen (again nothing she knew about). So now instead of living with a clean record, this young girl was facing 2 felonies and a misdemeanor that could have been avoided by avoiding the wrong crowd.
Another client I helped in the past was accused of beating his girlfriend. He was charged with a felony because he was accused of choking her. We were eventually able to prove it was all a lie with recorded phone calls and letters that the “victim” sent to my client in jail. I told him he needed to stay away from her, and he assured me he would never talk to that crazy girl again.
Fast forward 3 months and I get another call from the jail. He is in there again, for the same thing, accused by the same girl. Again, we eventually get the case dismissed again by using proof from a surveillance camera at the bar they were at, and getting letters from the bartenders who witnesses her hit him, not the other way around. This time he told me how stupid he was, and how he should of listened to me, and how he was completely done with her. Fast forward 6 more months, and yup, you guessed it, felony charge number 3. Same accusation, same girl. This time unfortunately there were no witnesses, and even though we probably would have won the case, he was tired of sitting in jail after 3 months and took an offer of time served on a misdemeanor conviction against my recommendation.
Almost every person who gets charged with a crime is in that position because of a bad decision, and that’s understandable as everybody makes mistakes. But when the same thing happens over and over and over, there is nobody to blame but the person in the mirror.
Immigration Holds in Harris County Jail
If you are undocumented in the United States and you get arrested in Harris County, there is a good possibility that an Immigration “ICE” Hold will be placed on you once you get to the county jail. From speaking to many of our clients, what usually happens is the intake officers ask you if you are a citizen or legal permanent resident. If you answer “no”, then they put you in a different holding cell so that you can be interviewed by immigration. If immigration determines that you should be placed into deportation proceedings, then an ICE hold will be placed, and you will not be able to bond out.
Sometimes, even if you have an ICE hold, you can still pay the bond, but it is generally not a good idea. What ends up happening is, you pay the bond, and when you are getting released from jail immigration is waiting for you to send you to the immigration detention center. The problem is you never finish your criminal case. Once immigration finds out that you have a pending criminal case, they will usually send you right back to the county jail pursuant to a bench warrant from the criminal court. What tends to happen is the person in custody misses their criminal court date because they are with immigration. Missing criminal court can cause your bond to be forfeited, and that means you (or your bonding company) lose the money from the bond, causing more problems.
It is typically better to finish the criminal case first, and then work on the immigration case. In our office we always sit down with our client and their family and advise them what is the best option for them. Sometimes the best option is to plea guilty quickly to get the individual over to immigration where we can request a bond. Other times, the best thing to do is stay at the county jail and fight the criminal case, because some criminal convictions can essentially be automatic deportations. Either way, when the case is over the person in custody gets transferred to immigration.
There are some exceptions, we have had clients with ICE holds who were not taken to Immigration, and we have had undocumented clients who were not given ICE holds at all. There is no firm system in place, it seems to be a case by case evaluation that immigration makes. Every situation is different, if you find yourself having questions about this issue please feel free to contact us at our office number 713-222-2828 and we will be more than happy to evaluate your case.
Good Lawyers Come in all Shapes and Sizes, Bad Lawyers do too
When looking for a criminal attorney it is very important to do your research, ask the appropriate questions, and be comfortable with the attorney who is representing you.
I became a lawyer when I was 25 years old, and I have been blessed to have enough work to have been in the courtroom almost every work day since I started practicing. Now, as a lawyer in my 30’s, I still sometimes get the “looks” and the questions asking if I am even old enough to be a lawyer. I have heard multiple times that “older is better”, “older equals more experience”, etc…and while it pertains to some attorneys, that could not be further than the truth.
There are many outstanding attorneys who have over 20 years of experience. Attorneys that I would be willing to place my life in their hands if I ever had any legal trouble. But there are also attorneys that have been licensed many years that I would NOT pay $1 to if they were the only attorney available.
On the flip side, there are many young attorneys who are wonderful. Who fight day in and day out, who surround themselves with good mentors, who I would trust if I was a client. And then of course, there are young attorneys who are just starting and simply don’t have a clue what is going on.
It’s tough when you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know who to hire. The best bet is to ask a bunch of question to perspective attorneys, and go with someone who you will feel comfortable with.
Even as a somewhat young attorney, I am always honest about what my strategy would be, my experience on a particular type of case, etc. I have hired co-counsels in past to help me on difficult cases, even if it means some of the money isn’t coming my way. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about me, it’s about the person whose life is on the line.
Recently I was fired on a case where my client was facing a range of punishment of 25 years to life in prison. The facts were not great, I did my research, worked the case, and was finally given an offer well under the minimum of 25 years. The client fired me on good terms, stating that he appreciated everything I have done, but that, “he needed an old lawyer on his case, someone with more experience.”
His family told me the same thing and later I saw the name of the attorney who took the case over. I had never heard of him so I looked him up and I saw that he was an older gentleman in his late 50s, but I also noticed that he went to law school and graduated in 2011. So he has only been an attorney for 2 years, with much less experience than I have.
Now this attorney might be one of the wonderful recent graduates who surrounds himself with the right mentors, and does an excellent job for his clients….or he might be horrible. Of course I don’t know for sure, but I am assuming that this client hired him simply because of his age, because that is what he told me. But the point is, you should not judge a book by its cover. Do your research, ask your questions, and make sure you are properly represented.