Archive for the ‘Car Accidents’ Category

Defense of Houston Drug Charges a Matter of Substance and Law

24
Mar
By:

In January 2012, police arrested a man for aggravated trafficking of scheduled drugs. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to seven years of incarceration. This conviction has now been overturned. The reason a judge overturned it: the man did not actually have any scheduled drugs in his possession. 

The case is an important one because it shows that prosecutors sometimes stretch to make a case even when the drug law does not clearly make a certain behavior criminal. Because the consequences of a conviction for drug crimes are so severe, it is essential that defendants are represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston to protect against prosecutorial overreach and unjust convictions.

Drug Crime Case With No Drugs

The incident began when a neighbor made a call to police about suspicious activity upstairs. Police arrived at the scene to find a man with glass containers omitting fumes. Evacuation of the home was ordered and an investigation began.

The investigation revealed an illegal cookbook called “Uncle Fester’s Synthetic Manual,” which contains recipes for creating narcotic substances such as methamphetamine. Also found were the majority of ingredients necessary to produce meth.

Based on the fact that the evidence showed the defendant was in the process of creating methamphetamine, prosecutors charged the defendant with drug trafficking. This was instead of a more suitable criminal charge: attempted trafficking in scheduled drugs. The man may have been trying to make meth but he had not succeeded and thus had no controlled substance in his possession

Although the defendant’s argument was not initially successful, a judge overturned the man’s conviction because the judge believed a person could not prepare, process or traffic a scheduled drug unless that narcotic was ultimately present. Since no methamphetamine was actually produced, there could be no trafficking.

With the defendant’s conviction set aside, he was released from incarceration and is currently free to move on with life. However, prosecutors may now pursue a claim for “attempted trafficking in scheduled drugs.” This is a less serious crime but could still result in incarceration. There is no guarantee the prosecutor would win even on charges of attempted trafficking, since the man had some but not all of the ingredients that are necessary to produce meth. Without all of the ingredients, it could be argued that there was no serious attempt to produce the drug.

Drugs produced at home tend to complicate enforcement of drug laws since it may not be clear exactly what point basic ingredients actually cross the line and becomes illegal.  The new development of the drug culture has led to many grey areas. In addition to the issue of meth, for example, the federal government has also been having difficulty creating an effective bans on drugs like synthetic marijuana and bath salts where just one ingredient can be changed to make the product legal again without affecting the mind-altering impact of the substance.

Contact Joseph LaBella & Associates today at 800-395-5951 to speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Houston. 

Intoxicated Drivers Argue They Were Too Drunk to be Guilty of Second Degree Murder

21
Oct
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Three drivers who caused fatal accidents while intoxicated are currently pursuing a novel defense in an effort to have their second-degree murder convictions overturned. According to the New York Times, these drivers are claiming that they were too drunk to form intent to commit the crime. 

Any DUI defense lawyer in Houston knows that a conviction for manslaughter or second-degree murder carries much more serious penalties than a conviction for drunk driving. Past cases have given rise to the possibility that clients could use intoxication as a defense against certain criminal charges that require intent, but the viability of this defense for intoxicated motorists throughout the United States remains unclear.

Can a Driver Be Too Drunk to Commit a Crime?

The three defendants who argue they were too intoxicated to commit second-degree murder have all brought their cases to the highest court in New York.  All three were severely impaired when they became involved in an accident, as one had been drinking for 10 hours, another was high on ecstasy and another was described as drinking himself “into a stupor” before driving.

The three were convicted of second degree murder based on a jury’s decision that they’d showed a depraved indifference for human life. However, the opinion in a 2006 case, People v. Feingold, said that depraved indifference was a state of mind, which means that the prosecutor in New York needs to show that the defendant consciously and willingly expressed an “utter disregard for the value of human life,” in order for a defendant to be guilty of second-degree murder.

If the defendant was too drunk to be aware that he was putting others at risk with his actions, the defendant did not intentionally or knowingly show this disregard. The drunk driver didn’t make the choice to endanger other people’s lives because he didn’t realize he was doing it. The court in People v. Feingold established a precedent to potentially support this argument since the appeals court upheld the lower court decision that the driver was so drunk he was oblivious to the danger when entered a highway going the wrong way. If this reasoning is extended, this could potentially make extreme drinking a defense in cases arising from vehicular homicide, at least in New York.

While judges in Texas and other states do not have to follow the rulings of other state courts, a decision that the drivers could be too drunk to commit second-degree murder could be used as persuasive evidence in other courts to perhaps convince a judge or a jury to apply the same reasoning.  If the defendants in these cases are able to get their convictions overturned, the decision could potentially give rise to such debate and other state courts.

Drivers who have been charged with any criminal offenses for causing injury or death while intoxicated should consult with an attorney to explore all possible options for defending against these serious charges. A criminal defense firm that stays abreast of significant legal developments in other states will be best prepared to defend clients facing serious traffic charges.

You need an experienced, aggressive Houston DUI lawyer.  Call 1-800-989-6839 today for your free consultation. More than 20 years experience.

Social Media Can Affect Your Drunk Driving Case

19
Sep
By:

In early September, a three-minute video was posted on YouTube in which a 22-year-old young man confessed to driving drunk and killing a man. The video quickly went viral and has been viewed more than 1.9 million times according to NBC News. The NBC report on the video indicates that the man who posted it said he was aware it provided the prosecution with what it needs to convict and to put him in jail for “a long time.” 

This story is an unusual one because the video was a confession to the world and the driver allegedly made and posted it intentionally to apologize for his actions and to try to deter others from driving drunk. However, there are many other drunk driving cases where social media evidence unintentionally provides help to the prosecution. Because of the risk that social media evidence could be used against you in a drunk driving case, it is important to be careful about what you put online and to speak with your Houston DUI lawyer if you are charged with drunk driving and there are any potentially incriminating pictures or videos online.

Social Media Evidence in Drunk Driving Cases

Information posted on social media is rarely private, even if you believe that the pictures or comments being posted are only being shared with friends. Pictures that you or someone else you know posts may reveal a great deal about you, some of which can potentially incriminate you or be used as evidence to bolster a drunk driving case.

For example, if you were arrested for driving under the influence and there are pictures of you earlier that night drinking a beer or smoking a joint that your friend posts on Facebook, these pictures could potentially be used to show that you had consumed drugs or alcohol earlier in the evening before the accident.

Likewise, pictures can reveal that you were at a specific location at a given time if there are questions about your actions leading up to the DUI, and any comments that you make about the evening of your drunk driving charge or about the charges pending against you could also potentially be used by the prosecution in your case.

The drunk driver who posted the viral video confession of drunk driving has explained exactly what he did on the evening when he killed his victim, and his story provides the prosecutor with invaluable information that can be used to secure a conviction. Yet, NBC reports that, despite the video confession, he has currently entered a plea of not guilty to the charges.

The young man has indicated he plans to change his plea to guilty once the case has been assigned to a judge. A CBS News story reveals that some believe he may have made the confession to try to garner sympathy and thus get a lesser sentence when he goes to court. If this was his intention it was a risky gamble, so it is not surprising that it was reported he made the decision to post the video against the advice of his attorney.

You need an experienced, aggressive Houston DUI lawyer.  Call 1-800-989-6839 today for your free consultation. More than 20 years experience.