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San Antonio Criminal Law Blog

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.

Yes, your first drug arrest could send you to prison

You ended up in the county jail after being arrested for drug possession at a party on Saturday night. Your friends had handed you their stashes to hold and then vanished. Now, the detective said something about you holding enough drugs to be facing a felony charge.

No way, you think. It should be simple possession. And you're still in high school, so they'll just call your parents and you'll be home by noon. Right? Wrong.

Uber ineffective against drunk driving

Texas residents should know that the popular ride-sharing services offered by companies like Uber have no effect on drunken driving fatality reductions, a claim Uber uses to encourage use of its service. This rebuttal is supported by a study conducted by the University of Southern California and Oxford University.

There are multiple examples in which Uber has used a reduction in drunken driving claim as a reason to use its riding services. A blog post added to its website in 2015 detailed a survey it conducted jointly with Mothers Against Drunk Driving that claimed people were not as inclined to drive while drunk since the availability of the Uber service.

Alleged hitman could face life in prison

A Texas resident who authorities say worked as a hitman for the Mexican Mafia could face life behind bars for several murders. On July 28, the 38-year-old man pleaded guilty to five counts of murder in the aid of racketeering and five counts of firing a gun in retaliation for a violent crime.

Prosecutors say that the accused man was only charged for the murders that could be proven, though he admitted that he had killed 11 other people. Four of the federal crime charges were for incidents where the man had allegedly killed gang members, and one of the charges was for an incident where the man had allegedly ordered other gang members to kill a crooked police officer.

Testimony from a competent layperson

A person who has been charged with committing a crime in Texas may present witness testimony and other evidence to uphold their defense. Witnesses are people who answer questions during a trial but who typically do not express their opinions.

The Federal Rules of Evidence allows some individuals to express their opinions about aspects of a criminal case. Courtroom testimony from a non-expert witness expressing an opinion is referred to as a lay opinion. A court will only allow a layperson to express their opinion on certain subject matters, and a layperson is only allowed to testify in court if they are competent.

Cocaine roadside test gave false positives for 298 suspects

On July 20, it was reported that a roadside test used in a Texas county provided false positives that led to nearly 300 convictions on drug-related charges over a period of approximately 10 years. Many of the defendants reportedly pleaded guilty so that they would be released from custody faster.

The test that was used in these cases uses a chemical called cobalt thiocyanate. When it is exposed to cocaine, it turns blue. However, the chemicals also turn blue when they are exposed to other compounds, which may include certain acne medications and even household cleaners. The creator of the test defended it by arguing that those who were not dealing drugs or using drugs would plead not guilty. This particular test is also used in other states.

The fault in the field test: unreliability of drug testing

You're having a great time. Out with friends for some innocent fun, maybe dinner and a movie before wrapping up the evening with drinks at a local pub. You're feeling pretty satisfied on your drive home until you see the red and blue flashing lights. Suddenly, your perfect night devolves into a nightmare ending with you behind bars. The worst part? You're not even sure how you got there.

Sounds impossible right? Maybe a scene from the newest box office thriller but certainly not a real-life possibility. Tell that to Justin, James and the Jones family (names changed to protect their privacy). Faulty assumptions and drug testing led to legal nightmares for these people whose stories should serve as a cautionary tale.

Texas police say drunk firefighter pretended to be an officer

Police detained a volunteer firefighter June 29 for allegedly being drunk when he pulled over another driver in a restaurant parking lot. The incident reportedly happened at Rudy's BBQ in Waco at about 9 p.m.

Waco police say that the 31-year-old firefighter was driving his personal Chevrolet Tahoe and used its white and red emergency lights to pull over the other driver. It is common for volunteer firefighters to have these lights installed on their personal vehicles in case they are called in for a fire emergency.

Texas DWI law: 3 Things to know

DWI/DUI is a common criminal offense in the United States. However, not every state treats drunk driving arrests the exact same way. Here in Texas, we have a unique process that many motorists are not familiar with. Most people don't know how DWIs are prosecuted and don't realize the following three things until it's too late:

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