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San Antonio Criminal Law Blog

Defining computer fraud

Fraud is an attempt to deceive others or gain information that may be used to harm them. When such activities are conducted through electronic means, it is generally referred to as computer fraud. Examples of computer fraud in Texas and around the country may include sending spam or hoax emails asking for individuals to send money or installing spyware on their devices. Those who use another person's computer without consent may also be engaging in this type of fraud.

Those who intentionally commit computer fraud may be subject to both civil and criminal penalties. For example, someone who creates a chain letter that contains a virus designed to harm another device may face both types of penalties. However, someone who accidentally forwards a message containing a virus is generally not guilty of fraud because there was no intent to harm another person or device.

ACLU report highlights the need for drug law reform

Drug possession is a common criminal charge in the U.S., and more than 1.25 million people are taken into custody for possession every year, a number that many civil rights organizations believe is far too high. An October 2016 report, released jointly by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, has sparked a new debate regarding the importance of drug law reform. The report focused on incarcerated individuals in four states, including Texas, who were serving lengthy sentences for simple drug possession.

In 2015, more people were incarcerated for marijuana possession than several violent offenses, including rape, murder, aggravated assault and robbery, combined, according to the report. This high number is costly both to states and to the individuals who have been convicted on drug charges. Individuals with a drug possession charge on their record, especially a felony, often lose employment and future work opportunities as well as eligibility for social programs such as student aid and public benefits like food stamps.

When a prosecutor must share exculpatory evidence

When an individual is charged with a crime in Texas, the prosecutor is obligated to share any exculpatory evidence uncovered during their investigation of the defense. Unfortunately, some prosecutors skirt this responsibility, which could lead to the conviction of an innocent person.

Exculpatory evidence is defined as something that may be favorable and material to the defense. It could be outright proof of innocence or simply be information that casts doubt on a portion of the prosecution's case. Prosecutors have been required to share such information since Brady v. Maryland in 1963. However, modern prosecutors still try to ignore this obligation by claiming they didn't know about such evidence or didn't realize the evidence was exculpatory.

Man pleads guilty to $2 million theft

In September, a man in Texas pleaded guilty to two counts of theft over $200,000. The 69-year-old Killeen man was accused of embezzling over $2 million from the 195 Lumber Co. while he was employed as the company's chief financial officer. A sentencing hearing for the man's case has been scheduled to take place on Nov. 4.

The man reportedly served as the lumber company's chief financial officer for 19 years before he was accused of theft. When the owner of the lumber company noticed discrepancies in the company's financial records, he called Killeen police to report the suspected theft. The accused man was taken into custody after investigators found evidence that he had stolen over $2 million since 2009.

Marijuana testing options on the road

While Texas residents may be accustomed to drug testing for jobs, the increasing access to marijuana across the country may increase the need for roadside testing of marijuana intoxication. Various methods have been evaluated, but there has not been much success in finding an efficient and minimally invasive solution. However, a method being developed by a Stanford University team takes only a few minutes to identify the amount of THC in the system through the collection of a saliva sample.

It is important to substantiate suspected DWI charges with objective evidence such as a chemical test. With alcohol, breath testing is a common standard. Saliva testing offers a comparable option as it only requires a small amount of time and can be completed at the scene. The sample is exposed to THC antibodies, and when these antibodies are activated, they provide a positive indication of the presence of the substance. Further, the number of antibodies acting upon THC can be computed to provide a numerical value for intoxication levels.

Process exists for sex offenders to request entry to public parks

Sex offenders in Texas have many limits imposed on where they can go. This includes entry into a public park. However, there is an exemption process that could allow an offender to gain approval to visit one or more parks. The application for an exemption on the restriction of park use can be obtained at the Sex Offender Registration Office in San Antonio.

The person can complete the paperwork at the office or take it home and return it later. Upon submission, the Office of the Chief will consider the application. Several weeks could pass before the request is approved or denied.

A comparison of misdemeanor and felony assault

When an attack or altercation breaks out in Texas and authorities file assault charges, the circumstances of the situation will determine the severity of the alleged offense. The extent of harm caused and the target of the violence or threat play significant roles in the application of the laws.

In general, an assault would be a Class A misdemeanor when a person "intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly" inflicts physical injury on a person or threatens to do it, according to the penal code. Additionally, physical contact that a reasonable person would consider upsetting or provocative counts as misdemeanor assault. Such actions committed against a public servant, like uniformed emergency services personnel, would escalate the charge to a third degree felony. The same level of felony occurs if the assault targets a family member or date and the accused person has been previously convicted of an assault or attempted to choke the person.

Texas Rangers pitcher faces DWI charges

On August 26, Texas Rangers player Jeremy Jeffress was taken into custody for DWI. According to police, he was stopped after he cut off a driver by changing lanes without a signal. The officer who pulled him over said that his eyes were bloodshot and he smelled of alcohol. Jeffress said that he had three or four drinks of cognac and Coke in a one-hour period.

Jeffress said he had to urinate prior to the field sobriety test, but the officer asked him to wait until the test was over. During the test, he was unable to maintain balance and also urinated on himself. He did so a second time while he was being searched, and police say they found a substance in the glove compartment that may have been either marijuana or its synthetic form. Jeffress and his passenger both denied that it was theirs, and neither were charged in connection although Jeffress was tested for the drug.

Elements of an accomplice

If a Texas resident is said to be complicit in a crime, it means that he or she helped or played a role in the commission of the felony or misdeameanor. In some cases, an accomplice may face the same penalties as the person who actually committed the crime. This is generally true if a person encouraged an illegal act to take place or didn't do anything to prevent it from happening.

There are three elements that a prosecutor must prove to show that an individual is liable as an accomplice to a crime. First, a crime must actually take place. This differs from a conspiracy charge in which penalties may be levied even if the crime was never carried out. Next, it must be shown that aid, counsel or encouragement was given to the person who then went through with a criminal act.

Kidnapping charges in Texas

Individuals in Texas and elsewhere across the nation who are finding themselves involved in a situation that could be interpreted as kidnapping may want to know more about the state and federal laws that might apply to their unique set of circumstances. Kidnapping is defined as the intentional or knowing abduction of another person. In some cases, the taking of a child by a non-custodial parent could result in the filing of kidnapping charges against that party.

The kidnapping of a child within the context of a divorced or separated family is the most commonly publicized type of kidnapping case. However, taking any person from one place to another against that individual's will or confining a person to a controlled space may also lead to kidnapping charges dependent upon the particular circumstances surrounding each individual situation.

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