Case Results for June 16th, 2016
The two main cases I handled today were a prostitution case and an assault-family member case. I had an interesting, and I would say successful day in the criminal courthouse.
The prostitution case was a tough one to defend. It involved a sting in the community where undercover officers posed as prostitutes and lured individuals in. My client unfortunately made a bad decision and went down to the hotel where a bunch of officers were eagerly waiting to arrest him.
I was very fortunate to have a DA in this particular court that took a step back, looked at the entire situation, and made a judgement call that not only benefited the community in the short term, but also benefited my client in the long term. Today we were able to walk out of the court with a dismissal. My client took an aids awareness class, did community service, and the case was dismissed. He was very, very pleased with the outcome. The last step will to be to get this case expunged. Prostitution can be a very embarrassing charge to have on your background check when you are applying for jobs! So even though this prostitution case was dismissed, the arrest record will still show up. So our work is not done, but we will hopefully clear everything up for him in the near future with the expunction.
Assault / Family Member Case
My other case today was a bit different. The assault-family member case absolutely did not make any sense. There was zero evidence to arrest my client and there was actually even more evidence to show that he was the victim. I had a talk with the DA who agreed there were problems with the case and agreed on a dismissal with conditions. This should have been an immediate dismissal, however, the DA asked for him to take an anger management class before he dismissed it. Now in certain situations we would reject that offer, but in this situation it made more sense for my client to just suck it up and do the class, in order to get it dismissed faster (which reduced the amount of days my client has to miss work).
The District Attorney
Sometimes DA’s do the right thing and work with us like they did in the prostitution case where the defense might be more difficult, and sometimes defense attorneys agree to mitigation classes on cases that should be straight dismissals (also for the greater good). You have to take the good with the bad, it evens out. At the end of the day, the outcome (preferably a dismissal!) is the most important part.
2 cases, 2 dismissals, I got to say it was a good day.
- Misdemeanor Prostitution – Dismissed
- Misdemeanor Assault-Family Member – Set for Dismissal
Assault-Family Member is a unique charge. You definitely need a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney to help you. What makes it so unique is the person really doesn’t even need to be a family member. It can be a roommate, a girlfriend, or even someone that you used to live with. Of course it also applies to other family members such as children, wives, brothers/sisters, etc.
One thing that usually accompanies a charge of Assault of a Family Member is a Magistrates Order of Emergency Protection (a restraining/no-contact order). Typically (in Harris County) they are 61 days for a misdemeanor and 91 days for a felony. However, if someone goes through a civil court to get the order, it can be up to 2 years. The ones that are given in court can be signed by the judge even if the family members are no longer mad at one another. It is very difficult for a lawyer to remove this order within the 2 or 3 months that it is intact.
For this particular type of crime the elements are…
- Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to someone else
- Intentionally or knowingly threatening someone else with imminent bodily injury
- Intentionally or knowingly causing physical contact with another when the person knows or should reasonably believe that the other will regard the contact as offensive or provocative
Assault – family member is a Class A Misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor carries a range of punishment of up to one year in jail and up to a $4000 fine. If found guilty, you will get what the state likes to call “an affirmative finding of family violence” on your record. That will be on your record for the rest of your life. Basically what that means is if you ever pick up a Class A Assault-FM in the future it will be enhanced to a felony.
But, if during the alleged assault you cause serious bodily injury or use a weapon against the “victim” you could be charged with Aggravated Assault on a family member which is a 2nd degree felony. A 2nd degree felony carries a range of punishment of 2 to 20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. More commonly in Harris county, we see Aggravated Assault-FM by impeding breath. This is the typical charge you will see when there is an allegation of “choking”.
It is very important to have a competent Criminal Lawyer in Houston when handling one of these cases. They are defendable, and there are many potential avenues to keep this from going on your record. A Houston Criminal Defense Attorney that has seem multiple Assault-FM cases should have no problem explaining what possible defenses and outcomes they see in your particular case.