Facing Charges of Online Solicitation of a Minor? The Importance Of Hiring The Best Sex Crimes Lawyer

20 Nov

Best Houston Sex Crimes LawyerThe online solicitation of a minor is a significant crime that is vigorously prosecuted by law enforcement. These charges are pursued very seriously. Online solicitation that takes place in chat rooms and elsewhere on the Internet can bring about offenses with criminal penalties that include lengthy imprisonment and lifetime required registration on the sex offender registry. Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson has frequently represented individuals who have been accused of communicating with a minor using the computer.

Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is well-versed in the various defenses that must be explored in all cases of this kind. These defenses may include issues of entrapment, client knowledge, or jurisdictional questions.

Accusation of soliciting a minor online can often result from entrapment-type situations commonly depicted on televisions shows. However, soliciting a minor online can also be the result of a mistake or an accident. For example, an individual can be charged with soliciting a minor when they thought they were communicating with an adult on the computer, but may have actually been talking to an underage person. No matter the reason for the false claims against you, it is important to contact an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer who will make every effort to find defenses or other mitigating factors that will result in an acquittal of the charges against you.

An allegation of On-line Solicitation or Importuning calls for great effort and resources, as the stakes are high – one faces not only a potential prison term, but also the stigmatizing and debilitating effects of sex offender public registration, which makes it difficult if not impossible to obtain employment, and may even severely restrict one’s ability to reside in certain locations.

Jurors are often familiar with programs like “To Catch a Predator”, giving them preconceived notions which need to be addressed and diffused. Our lawyers know first-hand that with thoughtful and extensive examination of pertinent case law and pre-trial motions, a successful defense of On-line Solicitation and Importuning allegations can be achieved.

It is important to remember that if you have been accused of soliciting a minor online, the state prosecutor is required to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be a very difficult burden of proof to meet, and any doubt in the mind of the judge or jury can result in a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you. Therefore, it is essential to contact an experienced Child Sex Abuse lawyer to help you begin developing the best legal defense for your particular case. Contact Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson for a free consultation today at 713-222-7577 anytime, night or day if you have been falsely accused of soliciting a minor online.

Online Solicitation of a Minor Defined

Since the 1990’s, the internet has changed the way we communicate, do business, meet people, and almost all other aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, it has also led to new criminal charges, many of which carry steep penalties. The most severe online offenses are those related to the potential harm of an underage person, such as online solicitation of a minor.

Online solicitation of a minor is communication with a minor via the internet that aims to arouse, sexually gratify, harass, or arrange to meet a minor face-to-face in the real world. In Texas, a minor is any person who is 17 years of age or younger. Exchanging sexually oriented materials, conversations, or invitations with a minor is a serious legal offense in our state.

Sexual exploitation can result in numerous physical and psychological consequences for children that may be multiplied for victims of child pornography because they face a lifetime of possible revictimization through the continued distribution of videos, photographs, or computer images depicting their exploitation (Klain, 2001). The mass media continues to feed into the stereotype that all Internet offenders are “predators” or “pedophiles”. According to ABC World News Tonight in June 2006, there are approximately 563,000 registered sex offenders nationally. However, decades of research indicates that only ten percent (10%) of sex offenders are truly predatory in nature.

This is not to discount that Internet victimization is one of the most dangerous Internet threats, but society must be cautious in using such characteristics without empirical data to support such a homogenous label. In the National Juvenile Online Victimization (N-JOV) study, approximately seventy-eight percent (78%) of cases, the offender was one of the victim’s family members, second generation family member such as grandparents, uncle or aunt, or stepparents or parent’s intimate partner.

Children exploring the Internet for education and entertainment are at risk of encountering sexually explicit material, sexual exploitation, and Internet offenses while remaining undetected by parents. The Internet has become a conduit for sexually explicit material and offenses against children. Children are extremely vulnerable to victimization due to their curiosity, naiveté, and trusting nature. These crimes present law enforcement with many complex problems due to the fact that they transcend jurisdictional boundaries and often involve multiple victims in multiple states and countries. Internet crimes must be pursued vigorously by law enforcement.

The greatest obstacle facing law enforcement is that children and parents do not report the majority of Internet crimes. In situations where the abuse is a parent, a relative, or acquaintance, the abuse may be more likely to come to light inadvertently as a result of inquiries by social welfare and reports from neighbors, rather than as a result of police inquiries into online crime (Wolak, 2005, in press). Community involvement, parental supervision, and early intervention and prevention programs on Internet safety are essential in protecting children from online solicitation and exposure to pornography.

General Information

The computer age presents complex challenges for law enforcement, victim services, parents, legislators, and the community. The proliferation of computer technology obviously has enhanced our lives in many ways, such as enabling improved productivity and efficiency at work, school, and home (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001). Unfortunately, this technology is not without potential threats and harm for criminals to prey upon innocent victims. According to ABC World News Tonight in June 2006, there are approximately 563,000 registered sex offenders nationally. End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (EPCAT) International reports violence and harms against children and young people in cyberspace include: the production, distribution, and use of materials depicting child sexual abuse; online solicitation; exposure to materials that can cause psychological harm, lead to physical harm, or facilitate other detriments to a child; and harassment and intimidation.

Today the Internet has approximately two hundred (200) million users worldwide who can communicate with each other. Children of all ages are browsing the Internet. Forty-five (45%) of children in the United States, more than thirty (30) million of whom are younger than eighteen (18) use the Internet. By 2005, it was estimated that there are seventy-seven (77) million children online. Approximately one hundred three (103) million people use instant messaging (IM) programs such as AOL’s AIM, Microsoft’s MSN Messenger, and others. reports more than eighty-five (85) million members and the number of visitors to MySpace went from 4.9 million in 2005 to currently over sixty-seven (67) million. Like most new technological developments, this brings both positive and negative implications, especially for parents and their children.

Some children are especially at risk due to a range of vulnerability-enhancing factors common to all environments. They are in socially and economically difficult situations, have experienced sexual abuse and exploitation, are lonely, or feel alienated from their parents. Others have low self-esteem, feel awkward, are confused about their personal identity and sexuality, and lack confidence. Gender is also seen to be a risk factor, with seemingly more girls than boys appearing to be harmed through cyberspace interactions (although boys are increasingly featured in pornographic images circulating online).

Demographics of an Internet Offender

Sex offenders and child pornographers are a heterogeneous mixture. Before the advent of the Internet, between one-fifth and one-third of people arrested for possession of child pornography were also involved in actual abuse. The majority are male and come from all socio-economic and racial backgrounds. Many are skilled in technology. Not all fit the clinical classification of “pedophilia”. The mass media continues to feed into the stereotype that all Internet offenders are “predators” or “pedophiles”. This is not to discount that Internet victimization is one of the most dangerous Internet threats but society must be cautious in using such characteristics without empirical data to support such a homogenous label. We have to remember that in a previous generation, campaigns to prevent child molestation characterized the threat as “playground predator” or “stranger danger” so that for years the problem of youth, acquaintance, and intra-family perpetrators went unrecognized.

In an analysis of 600 cases of child sexual abuse in which the Internet played a role, either the offender- victim relationship was initiated or conducted online, the case involved the online sharing or distribution of child pornography, or the case involved child pornography stored on a computer or digital media. One hundred twenty six (126) cases involved a face-to-face relationship between the offender and the victim prior to any use of the Internet in committing abuse. N-JOV data indicated that the Internet was involved in eighteen percent (18%) of all sex crimes against minors and that nearly half of the eighteen percent (18%) were committed by acquaintances or family members, with a total of at least 460 arrests a year. This study found ninety-five percent (95%) were non-Hispanic Caucasians and forty-seven percent (47%) were twenty-six (26) or older. Thirty-five percent (35%) were married and over a third lived in small towns. Eighty percent (80%) were employed full time and fifty-one percent (51%) had incomes ranging from $20,000-$50,000 per year.

Identifying Internet Offenders

There is no one type of Internet child pornography user, and there is no easy way to recognize an offender. In the 2005 Wolak survey, solicitors did not match the stereotype of the older male “Internet predator”. Many were identified as other youth and some were female. Having a preconceived idea of a child sex offender can be unhelpful and prove a distraction for investigating police. Those convicted of sexually abusing children will not necessarily seek out or collect pornography, with one study putting the number of offenders who do so at around ten percent (10%).

This explosion of computer use, and the ease with which identities can be concealed on-line, has offered obvious opportunities to those who produce and consume pornography and those who seek to exploit vulnerable populations for sexual gratification. The Internet technology affords perpetrators a foundation for repeated, long-term victimization of a child. These crimes present law enforcement with many complex problems due to the fact that they transcend jurisdictional boundaries and often involve multiple victims in multiple states and countries.

N-JOV data reflected that the most common use of the Internet with family (70%) and acquaintance (65%) offenders was for seduction or grooming of victims either through online conversations or sharing of pornographic images. Forty-nine percent (49%) of family offenders and thirty-nine percent (39%) of acquaintance offenders produced pornographic images of their victims, which they stored or disseminated using the Internet. Forty-three percent (43%) used the Internet to arrange a face-to-face meeting. Relatively small numbers of offenders (2-4%) used the Internet as an inducement to enter the offender’s home and use it to advertise or sell victims online. Seventy-five percent (75%) of these cases involved some form of sexual contact and forty-five percent (45%) involved intercourse or other penetration. In a quarter of these cases, the sexual contact continued for over a year before being reported to the police.

How Sex Offenders Select Victims

A greater number of sex offenders are using the Internet searching for potential child victims through “kid only” or “kid friendly” chat rooms, online games, and instant messenger. The “set-up” for victimization requires long-term thought and planning. But a distinctive aspect of interaction in cyberspace that facilitates the grooming process is the rapid speed with which communication can become intimate. Chat rooms can be frequented by sex offenders that groom and manipulate their victims by playing on the emotional immaturity of children in virtual anonymity. The goal of the “set-up” is to gain control over the victim. The length of time spent during the “set-up” varies upon the vulnerability of the child. The longer an offender knows a child the better they are at “zeroing” in their grooming tactics and strategies.

Grooming is a term used to describe the process of desensitizing and manipulating the victim(s) and/or others for the purpose of gaining an opportunity to commit a sexually deviant act [Title 22, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 810.2(b)(15)]. Grooming inflicts psychological harm on the child. In teen chat rooms, the activities that precede the process of initiating direct contact with a child may simply involve the offender providing a description of themselves to all of the users of the public chat room so that the offender is masquerading as a particular kind of child, of a particular age, in the hope of attracting an equivalent age and the same or opposite sex child (i.e. 14/m/tx) (O’Connell, 2001). A sex offender may begin victim selection by observation in which an offender may “lurk” in chat rooms or massive multiplayer online games listening to conversations between children. An offender may search public profiles that include information such as name, age, location, hobbies, interests, and photographs. The offender will then wait for a child’s response and determine if they will initiate a conversation. After selecting a victim, the offender will introduce him or herself by instant message (IM) or by a private message to the child. Additionally, victim selection can involve viewing the child’s public profile. A victim’s information may be obtained through an Internet service provider request or a URL a child must provide in order to create their own website.

In the initial stages of grooming, the offender will suggest that the child move from a public domain to a private chat room or IM for an exclusive one-to-one conversation. The offender will engage in conversations related to school, home, hobbies, parental relationships, or interests of the child. The offender will gather information regarding the likelihood of activities being detected. The offender will manipulate the child to create an illusion of being the child’s best friend. The interactions take on the characteristics of a strong sense of mutuality (i.e. a mutual respect club comprised of two people that must ultimately remain a secret from all others). During these interactions, the child is praised, made to feel special, and very positive conversations are tailored to the age of the child. Gifts or money may be offered to the child. Sadly, sex offenders tend to target children who are neglected or come from dysfunctional homes. For these children, the sex offender offers an alternative relationship that makes the child feel special and loved.

The offender introduces the idea of trust, affection, and loyalty but it is based on deception and manipulation. This grooming tactic provides a forum to move into the next stage of victimization. The offender will begin to exploit social norms and test the child’s boundaries. The offender could ask the child “have you been kissed?”, “have you ever been skinny dipping?”, or “do you wear a bikini?” If the child does not respond negatively to the boundary violation, it is tantamount to accepting the behavior or language. During boundary violations, the offender has positioned the child into believing that they share a deep sense of mutual trust.

Offenders who intend to maintain a relationship with a child will progress carefully and methodically into sexually explicit language. The nature of the conversations will progress from mild conversations (i.e. “I love you” or “I want to kiss you”) to extremely explicit (i.e. masturbation or oral sex). The target child may be drawn into producing pornography by sending photos, using a web-cam or engaging in sexual discussions. To silence the child and ensure their continued compliance in sexual exploitation, the offender may use a variety of tactics including rewards, violence, threats, bribery, punishment, coercion, peer pressure, and fear (Klain, 2001). Research indicates that this pattern of conversations is characteristic of an online relationship that may progress to a request for a face-to-face meeting.

Child Pornography Under federal law, child pornography is defined as a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, photograph, film, video, or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where it

  • depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene, or
  • depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex, and such depiction lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value (18 U.S.C §1466A and 18 U.S.C. §2256)

Sexually explicit conduct includes various forms of sexual activity such as intercourse, bestiality, masturbation, sadistic or masochistic abuse, and lascivious exhibition of the genitals. It is illegal to possess, distribute, or manufacture these images.

Pornography and Child Pornography on the Internet

Both adult and child pornography has saturated the Internet due to the lack of censorship by the industry. The Internet provides the social, individual, and technological circumstances in which an interest in child pornography flourishes. Cyberspace is host to more than one (1) million images of tens of thousands of children subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation. Of the estimated 24.7 million Internet users between the ages of ten (10) and seventeen (17), approximately 8.4 million youths received unwanted exposure to sexual material.

Child pornography is the second highest category, after indecent exposure, of sexual re-offense behavior. The vast majority of children who appear in child pornography have not been abducted or physically forced to participate. In most cases the child knows the producer and it may even be their father who manipulates the child into taking part by more subtle means. Most children feel a pressure to cooperate with the offender and not to disclose the offense, both out of loyalty to the offender and a sense of shame about their own behavior.

Physical contact between a child and a perpetrator does not need to occur for a child to become a victim or for a crime to be committed. Innocent pictures or images of children can be digitally transformed into pornographic material and distributed across the Internet without the victim’s knowledge (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001). Digital graphic software (i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, Microsoft PhotoEditor) allow offenders to edit “innocent” pictures. After a picture is scanned into a computer, these image-editing programs can be used to put several photos together or to distort pictures and create a believable image of a reality that never existed. This process is called “morphing”. In some countries, morphed images or pictures are not illegal. Offenders may claim in court that a picture is morphed, no matter how disturbing, is not a picture of a real child or a situation which actually took place, and thus is not illegal.

In April 2002, the United States Supreme Court found that provisions of the Child Pornography Act (CPPA), which prohibited the depiction of virtual and simulated child pornography, were invalid under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Court found that in the absence of a “real” child, the Court could see no “direct link” between such images and the sexual abuse of children. The Court’s majority could not see a substantial risk of producers of child pornography using virtual images of children. Additionally, children can be exposed to “virtual” pornography. Virtual pornography is legal the United States and in some other countries.

In the 2005 Wolak study, almost all of the arrested child pornography possessors (91%) used home computers to access child pornography and almost one (1) in five (5) arrested (18%) used a home computer in more than one (1) location to access child pornography. Additionally, Wolak found that in fourteen percent (14%) of child pornography investigations, the offenders not only had possessed pornography but had sexually victimized children and two percent (2%) possessed pornography and attempted to sexually victimize children. Eighty-four percent (84%) of the investigations involving child pornography did not detect concurrent child sexual victimization or attempts at victimization (Wolak, 2005). According to the United States Postal Inspection Service, forty percent (40%) of child pornographers investigated have sexually molested children. From January 1997 through March 2004, 1,807 child pornographers were arrested and 620 (34%) of these offenders were confirmed child molesters (Kim, 2004).

Although most Internet pornography is created offline, technology has evolved to create “real” life pornography that can be viewed in real time, using web-cameras, phone cameras, digital cameras, and streaming video. A user can be notified of the date and time to log on the computer to view a child being sexually abused. The advent of mini-cameras has allowed for pictures and videos to be created without the subject’s knowledge. The user may pay money or exchange images with the direct abuser (Palmer, 2004).
These illegal images can be presented in various forms including print media, videotape, film, compact disc, read-only memory (CD-ROM), or digital versatile technology (DVD) (Klain, 2001) and can be transmitted through computer bulletin-board systems (BBS), USENET Newsgroups, Internet Relay Chat, web-based groups, peer-to-peer technology, and an array of constantly changing world wide web sites.

Using Child Pornography to Groom Children

Children can be exposed to pornography through spam or potential abusers. The accessibility of pornography online, the ease and perceived anonymity of transmission, and the environment of “virtuality” itself makes the use of pornography in online grooming easier for an abuser. Pornography is a tool for inducting and socializing a child into behaviors that reflect the content of the pornographic materials. Sex offenders frequently use pornography as a tool to assist them in the grooming process.

Children exploring the Internet for education and entertainment are at risk of encountering sexually explicit material, sexual exploitation, and offenses against children while remaining undetected by parents. Children are extremely vulnerable to victimization due to their curiosity, naiveté, and trusting nature. The Internet has become a conduit for sexually explicit material and offenses against children. In 2006, Wolak reported fifty-four percent (54%) of boys and forty-six percent (46%) of girls received unwanted exposure to sexual material. Ninety percent (90%) of all solicitations happened to teenagers (ages 13 to 17). Eighty-six percent (86%) received images of naked people and fifty-seven percent (57%) received pictures of people having sex and/or violent or deviant images. Lastly, eighty-three percent (83%) of unwanted exposures occurred when youth were surfing the web and eighty-nine percent (89%) of incidents the senders were unable to be identified.

Sex offenders use pornography to escalate the relationship with the child. According to the Klain study, the most common purposes for which offenders use child pornography are:

  • Pornography creates a permanent record for sexual arousal and gratification.
  • Pornography lowers the child’s inhibitions to engage in sexual behavior.
  • Pornography may be used to teach children how to behave, pose, or re-enact scenes.
  • Pornography may be used to blackmail child victims by threatening to show the photographs, videos, or other depictions to parents, friends, or teachers. The threat becomes more potent because the child may fear punishment by the criminal justice system.
  • Pornography created to sell for profit or trade between individuals. The Internet’s anonymity, enhanced by increasingly sophisticated encryption technology, facilitates the increasing demand for child pornography.

Repeated exposure to adult and child pornography is deliberately used to diminish the child’s inhibitions, break barriers to sexual arousal, desensitize the child that sex is normal, and arouse the victim. Children depicted in pictures are often smiling or have neutral expressions, a factor that appears to be designed to represent the children as willing participants in sexual or degrading acts. There is a recent trend for pictures to be taken in domestic settings such as a kitchen or bedroom, thus further “normalizing” the activity for children who view images.

Best Harris County Sex Crimes LawyerIt has been reported that children under ten (10) who have been exposed to sexually exploitative material have themselves become users of it. Eight percent (8%) of youths admitted to going voluntarily to X-rated sites. Children at most risk of being violated through pornography productions are within the home and family. The child knows their abuser as a parent, a relative, a guardian, or an acquaintance. In these situations, the abuse may be more likely to come to light inadvertently as a result of inquiries by social welfare and reports from neighbors, rather than as a result of police inquiries into online crime.

Reporting Internet Crimes

The impact of online child victimization (i.e. solicitation and harassment) is not completely understood. Family dynamics often play a significant role in children’s denial of a crime and their willingness to participate in the investigation and prosecution. A child’s ability to acknowledge and accept the crime can be linked to family values, peer pressure, and feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. Only three percent (3%) of all incidents of predators harassing children on the Internet is reported. The Crimes against Children Research Center found less than ten percent (10%) of sexual solicitations and only three percent (3%) of unwanted exposure episodes were reported to authorities such as a law-enforcement agency, an Internet service provider, or a hotline. In 2005, only one (1) incident out of more than 500 incidents of sexually explicit material was ever reported to an Internet service provider.

Online Language

Ninety-five percent (95%) of parents could not identify common chat room lingo that teenagers use to warn people they are chatting with that their parents were watching (NCMEC, 2005). Ninety-two percent (92%) of parents did not know the meaning of A/S/L (Age/Sex/Location) (NCMEC, 2005). Parents should watch for the following questionable abbreviations:

  • 53x means “sex”
  • 121 means “one to one”
  • A/S/L means age, sex, location. Watch for personal information being exchanged (i.e. 14/m/tx). This is a 14 year old male from Texas.
  • CYBER used as a verb and means “cybersex”
  • CONNECT means “to talk privately”
  • DIKU means “do I know you”
  • ESAD means “eat sh*t and die”
  • F2F, FTF means “face to face” or “let’s meet F2F”
  • FOAD means “f*ck off and die”
  • GP means “go private”
  • H4U means “hot for you”
  • H&K means “hugs and kisses”
  • ILU means “I love you”
  • IWALU means “I will always love you”
  • KOC means “kiss on the cheek”
  • KOL means “kiss on the lips”
  • LTR means “long term relationship”
  • LMIRL means “lets meet in real life”
  • LUWAMH means “love you with all my heart”
  • LU means “love you”
  • MOSS means “member of the same sex”
  • MOTOS means “member of the opposite sex”
  • MUSM means “miss you so much”
  • NIFOC means “naked in front of the computer”
  • OLL means “online love”
  • P2P means “person to person”
  • P911 means “my parents are coming”
  • PA means “parent alert”
  • PAL means “parents are listening”
  • PANB means “parents are near by”
  • PM means “private message or one on one chat”
  • POS means “parent over shoulder”
  • pr0n is an alternate spelling for porn or pornography
  • PDA means “public display of affection”
  • RL, IRL means “in real life as in “wants to see you IRL”
  • SWAK means “sealed with a kiss”
  • TOY means “thinking of you”
  • WIBNI means “wouldn’t it be nice if”
  • WTGP means “want to go private”
  • WUF means “where are you from”
  • WTF means “what the f*ck”

Acronyms and words used in daily IM or discussion boards

  • AFAIK means “as far as I know”
  • BTW means “by the way”
  • CUL means “see you later”
  • HHOK means “ha ha only kidding”
  • IANAL means “I am not a lawyer”
  • IIRC means “if I remember correctly”
  • IMHO means “in my humble opinion”
  • KEWL means “cool”
  • OMG means “oh my god”
  • OTOH means “on the other hand”
  • WUT^2 “what up with you too”

Characteristics of Youth Who Form Close Online Relationships

  • Sixteen percent (16%) of girls and twelve (12%) of boys have close online relationships.
  • Girls aged fourteen (14) to seventeen (17) were twice as likely as girls ten (10) to thirteen (13) to form close online relationships.
  • High parent-child conflict and being highly troubled were associated with close online relationships. Girls with high levels of parent-child conflict report yelling, nagging, and privileges by parents at higher levels than other girls. The highly troubled girls had levels of depression, victimization, and troubling life events at higher levels than other girls.
  • Boys who had low communications with their parents, and who also reported that their parents were less likely to know where and who they were with were the most strongly associated with close online relationships.
  • Girls and boys who reported high levels of Internet use and home Internet access were more likely to report close online relationships.
  • Youths with problems were most likely to attend a face-to-face meeting with people they first met online.

Warning Signs that a Child may be at Risk

  • Excessive use of online services especially during the late night hours
  • Unsupervised time in unmonitored chat rooms
  • Mood swings and withdraws
  • Greater desire to spend time with people online than with “real life” people
  • Unexplained files downloaded (i.e. .jpd, .gif, .bmp, .tif, .pcx, .mov, .avi, .wmv, or .mpg)

Defenses to Online Solicitation of a Minor

People are often arrested and charged with online solicitation when they meet the minor in question in person. However, it is important to note that a person can still be charged with this offense even if the meeting never occurs. Despite this, a person may be found innocent of online solicitation if one or both of the following apply:

  • He or she is legally married to the minor in question
  • He or she is less than three years older than the minor

Solicitation of a minor laws have frequently been challenged by defendants on the basis that they violate a defendant’s right to free speech, but have survived such claims. Viable defenses remaining will depend on a particular state’s laws. Some earlier laws required a defendant to actually communicate with a child and defendants could raise the defense of impossibility where prosecution involved communication with an officer who was merely posing as a child but who was in actuality an adult. In response to the success of the impossibility defense, many state statutes changed their laws to permit a conviction based on a defendant’s belief that they were talking to a minor. Other states have also built in “Romeo and Juliet” defenses for a defendant who is involved in a dating relationship with a child who was not more than three years younger than the defendant.

Although not an outright “defense,” another defensive angle is to prove that the defendant did not know that the person on the other end was a minor. Most states have strict liability laws — which means the state is not required to prove that a defendant knew how old the child was, only that the child was underage. However, some juries have engaged in “jury nullification,” by finding a defendant not guilty if they believed that the defendant did not have a reason to believe the child was underage. Showing that the conversation was just an online fantasy or proving that they never intended to actually meet the minor are generally not good defenses. Before a defendant decides to pursue a defensive theory, they should discuss the practicality of the defense with a criminal attorney in their area.
Top Houston Sex Crimes Lawyers

Solicitation of a Minor: Misdemeanor or Felony?

Online solicitation of a minor is usually classified as a felony level offense. As with most felonies, the range of punishment can include a deferred or suspended sentence, up to several years in prison. A defendant in Texas can receive anywhere from two to twenty years in prison. Although a deferred sentence can allow a defendant to remain free, the restrictions of probation tend to be more intense for online solicitation charges because they are considered sexually related offenses. The court can order a defendant to submit to maintenance polygraphs, complete individual or group sex offender counseling, to submit to a sex offender evaluation, and to refrain from being around any children while on probation. The court can also require a defendant to pay for these programs which can run up to $500.00 or more per month.

The long-term consequences can be even more severe. Because online solicitation of a minor is considered a sexually related offense, a defendant can be required to register as a sex offender. If a defendant fails to register, they can be charged with a new felony offense of failure to register as a sex offender. Once a defendant has a sexually related offense on their record, some states will significantly increase the punishment for a second offense if a defendant is ever charged with another sexually related offense. Beyond the court system, online solicitation will also affect employment opportunities. With more open access to the court systems, more employers are performing background checks and will not hire certain candidates. Applicants with sexually related offenses are generally the first to get cut.

Contact Us

When you have been charged with a severe legal offense, it is very important to understand your rights and defense options. An experienced Houston Criminal Lawyer can help you decide what steps you need to take next. The attorneys of the Charles Johnson Law Firm are aggressive child sex crime defense lawyers who will make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Contact us for a free consultation today at 713-222-7577 anytime, night or day if you have been falsely accused of soliciting a minor online.

Arrested For Online Solicitation of a Minor? The Right Houston Criminal Lawyer Can Make a Difference
by Charles Johnson

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Charged with a Federal Drug Crime? The Best Houston Criminal Attorney To Your Defense

13 Nov

The Best Houston Federal Drug Lawyer: Charles JohnsonHouston Lawyer Charles Johnson is one of the foremost Federal Drug Defense Attorneys in the country. He represents clients who have been charged or are about to be charged with drug charges in Federal Court. The Charles Johnson Law Firm has earned an international reputation as a Leading Federal Drug Law Firm.

Regardless of the federal or international drug charge, Federal Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson has the drug defense experience to handle your case. He has successfully handled sophisticated drug defense cases that included Trafficking, Importation, Distribution and many others. When faced with a federal drug crime there is absolutely no substitute for experience. If you have been charged with drug crime and need a Federal Drug Defense Attorney, contact Attorney Johnson directly anytime night or day at (713) 222-7577. In Federal and International Drug Defense, experience makes the difference.

Federal Drug Crimes Overview

The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, also known as the Controlled Substances Act, classifies narcotics, marijuana and other drugs into five categories, or Schedules. Besides establishing requirements relating to manufacture and distribution of drugs, the law also defines penalties for violations of the Act. Depending on the nature and quantity of the substance involved, as well as the presence of sentence-enhancing factors, the criminal penalties can be severe. If you are facing federal drug charges, call Federal Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson for advice on the law, your rights and how to proceed. He is available around the clock to take your call.

Offenses at the Federal Level

Federal drug offenses differ from those at the state level, even though the conduct in question might be the same. In defining crimes, Congress’ authority comes from its Constitutionally-granted powers over the areas of commerce, taxation and the postal service.

Some of the drug crimes under the Controlled Substances Act include:

  • Drug trafficking: manufacturing, distributing or possessing with the intent to distribute illicit drugs
  • Manufacturing: operating places for the purposes of manufacturing, distributing or using illicit drugs, or endangering human life while so doing
  • Continuing criminal enterprise crimes: trafficking in illicit drugs by a person in concert with five or more other persons
  • Conspiracy: involves attempts and the promoting and facilitating of manufacture, distribution or importation of illicit drugs
  • Protected location offenses: distributing illicit drugs to persons under age 21 or within a school or playground zone; employing persons under age 18 in drug operations
  • Simple possession: possessing controlled substances without a valid prescription from a licensed medical practitioner (unlike trafficking, simple possession does not involve intent to distribute the drugs)

Other drug offenses under the Act include investing illicit drug profits in businesses affecting interstate commerce and unauthorized importation of controlled substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces the federal controlled substances laws and regulations.

In addition, drug crimes at the federal level may include violations of tax law, such as tax evasion, or engaging in activities prohibited by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Federal drug laws specify minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment, based on the type and quantity of drug involved. Likewise, under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, these factors are taken into account, along with:

  • Whether the offense involved injury to another person
  • Whether a weapon was possessed or used
  • The defendant’s criminal history

While judges have discretion to depart from sentencing guidelines, they must still stay within the mandatory minimum and maximum terms specified by statute. Where the offense occurs in a school or other protected zone, penalties may be enhanced.

Hire the Best Houston Criminal Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Drug crimes can be charged and prosecuted under federal law, state law or both. Because federal drug crimes can carry significantly harsher penalties, it is important to contact a knowledgeable lawyer who is familiar with both federal and state drug laws. If you are facing either federal or state drug charges, call Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson now at (713) 272-4586. He can explain the intricacies of both systems and vigorously represent your interests.

Charged with a Federal Crime? What To Expect

The following is a short summary of what you can expect if charged with a Federal Crime.


By the time you read this material, you or your loved one will have already entered the Federal Criminal Justice System. Whether you are in custody or in the “free world”, one firm rule applies: Do not discuss your case with anyone but your lawyer. Anything you say can and will be used against you. This is true whether you talk to a police officer, a person you just met in a holding cell, or a “friend”.


The first thing to worry about is whether you are going to be released while waiting for trial. There is no bond set automatically in federal court. Your family cannot simply pay a bondsman to get you out.

Court Appearance: If you were arrested and taken into custody, you will soon appear before a United States Magistrate Judge.  This is not the District Judge that will hear your trial.  This Magistrate Judge will decide if there are any conditions that would allow your release.

Pretrial Report: In order to assist the Magistrate Judge, a Pretrial Services Officer will interview you and give the Magistrate Judge a written report about your background and criminal history. The Officer will not ask you about the facts of your case and you should not volunteer any information. If you lie to the Officer, it will hurt you later on.

Chance for Release: You are most likely to be released if you have little or no criminal history, if you have solid employment and family ties in your community, if you are a United States Citizen, and if you are not charged with a serious drug trafficking offense or crime of violence. Even if you are not a good risk for release, the Magistrate Judge must still hold a hearing and find reasons to keep you in custody. The only time this hearing is unnecessary is when you are being held in custody for other reasons — such as a sentence in another case, a parole warrant, or a probation revocation warrant.


When you are facing criminal charges, your choice of legal representation is a critical issue. You must ensure that you have legal representation from a proven attorney with a record of successfully defending difficult cases.

In order to protect your rights and to fight a possible Federal drug conviction, it is very important to hire the Best Federal Lawyer you can find. Your future is at stake, and this is not a time to cut corners. A knowledgeable Drug Crime Defense Lawyer will be able to sort out the details of your drug crime charges and diligently work to provide evidence that will benefit you. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we have been successful at lowering or dismissing charges against our clients and will look to do the same for you. To counteract the aggressive investigation and prosecution from the federal government, you will need an equally aggressive criminal defense attorney. Federal Drug Crime Lawyer Charles Johnson understands federal drug crime cases inside and out and will provide an unmatched dedication, commitment and an aggressive approach when defending your case.

Honesty: Defendants often believe it is better not to tell their lawyers the truth about their case. This is not a good idea. Everything you tell your lawyer is privileged and cannot be told to others. The best defense is one that prepares for all the bad evidence the prosecutor may present against you at your trial. Your lawyer must know all the facts. It is foolish to ignore the dangers and simply hope everything will turn out all right. That is the sure way to be convicted.

Bad Advice: If you are in custody, you will probably get a lot of free advice from other inmates. Unfortunately, much of that advice will be wrong. Many of the other inmates are in state custody and know nothing about federal criminal law. Even the ones facing federal charges may give you bad advice; they may not know any better, or they want to mislead you.

Respect: Treat your lawyer with respect and that respect will be returned to you. Lawyers are human beings who tend to work harder for clients who do not mistreat them.


When people talk about “rights” in the federal criminal justice system, they are usually talking about the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution. These rights include freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to remain silent, the right to legal counsel, due process of law, equal protection under the law, protection from double jeopardy, a speedy and public trial, the ability to confront one’s accusers, subpoenas for witnesses, no excessive bail, and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment.

Caselaw: There are many books and thousands of cases that discuss what these rights mean. The law is always changing.  A court opinion written in 1934 by a Montana court of appeals is probably no help in your case. Your case will mostly be affected by recent published opinions of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.

Application: Not all of these rights apply in all cases.  If you never made a statement to the police, then it will not matter whether you were told of your right to remain silent. If you consented to a search of your car, then it will not make a difference whether the police had a search warrant.


There are no benefits to being locked up. Jail has many rules and regulations. Some of those rules are made by the jailers. Some of these rules are made by the United States Marshal.

Clothing: You can get clothing two ways. The way to get underwear, tennis shoes, socks, etc, is to buy them through the jail commissary. Despite what others tell you, your lawyer cannot simply bring you these items. In most instances, trial clothing can be brought to the U.S. Marshal’s office shortly before your court appearance. You will be allowed to change in the holding cell at the federal courthouse.

Other Possessions: Sometimes the jail may allow you to receive magazines by subscription or books mailed from a store. It depends on the jail’s rules. Most other items need to be purchased through the commissary. All jails prohibit your lawyer from bringing you any items, such as cigarettes. You may keep legal documents in your possession.

Visits: Your friends and relatives must follow the jail’s rules when making appointments to visit you. You must put the names of these persons on your visitation list.


At some point you will come to court for an arraignment. This is the time when you enter a plea of “Not Guilty”.

Indictment: Before the arraignment, you will have been indicted by a Grand Jury. Neither you, nor your attorney, has a right to be present at the Grand Jury session. A Grand Jury decides if there is enough evidence to have a trial in your case. If there is not, then the case is dismissed. If there is, the Grand Jury issues an Indictment. An Indictment is the document that states what the charges against you are. The Grand Jury sessions are rarely transcribed, so it is usually not possible to receive a transcript of their sessions.

Hearing: The arraignment takesplace before a Magistrate Judge,notthe DistrictJudge who will hear your case. The Magistrate Judge will ask you several questions:

  1. Do you understand what you are charged with?;
  2. Do you understand the potential penalties if you are convicted?; and
  3. How do you plead to the charges?

Since you will have discussed the case with your lawyer by this time, you will be able to answer the first two questions “Yes”. Your answer to the third question is “Not Guilty”. You cannot plead “Guilty” at an arraignment. Pleading “Not Guilty” will never be used against you.

Discovery: Federal law provides only limited access to the government’s evidence against you. Under local rules, you and your attorney are permitted to have copies of only certain types of documents in the government’s file. The rules of discovery must be strictly adhered to, and your attorney will discuss these rules with you more thoroughly as your case progresses.

Motions: Before or after investigating your case, your attorney may feel it appropriate to file a motion(s), which may be heard before or at trial. You should never file your own motions without fully discussing the proper procedures with your attorney. If you have ideas about specific motions that could be filed your case, you should discuss with your attorney whether those particular motions would be appropriate or beneficial to your defense.


Many defendants want a quick trial. This is usually for two reasons. First, defendants who are in custody want to get out of the county jail as soon as possible.  Second, defendants believe that if they are not tried within the Speedy Trial Act’s 70-day time limit, then their cases will be dismissed.

Pretrial Detention: There is no question that conditions in the county jail are not good. However, a defendant is rarely ever helped by going to trial as soon as possible. The prosecutor is prepared to try the case when it is filed. Your lawyer is only then beginning to investigate the case. Your lawyer does not have access to offense reports of the law enforcement officers that have already investigated the case. Also, “aging” a case has other benefits — the case becomes less important over time, witnesses’ memories fade, etc.

Dismissal: There are many exceptions to the Speedy Trial Act. Generally, a prosecutor can get a continuance of the trial whenever requested. The usual reason why a prosecutor requests a continuance is because there are co­defendants who have not been arrested yet.  The speedy trial deadlines do not begin to run until all charged defendants have appeared in court. Also, any time any of the defendants file motions, the time until those motions are decided is not counted toward the speedy trial deadline.


A felony trial in federal court is decided by twelve jurors. The jurors only decide if you are “Guilty” or “Not Guilty” of the charges in the Indictment. Jurors do not decide punishment. The District Judge decides punishment.

Jury Selection: The trial begins with the selection of the jury. A panel of potential jurors is called to court from voter registration lists. The District Judge, the prosecutor, and your lawyer talk to the panel and ask questions. The lawyers are allowed to keep certain members of the panel from sitting on the jury. The first twelve of the remaining panel members become jurors.

Opening Statements: Before the evidence is presented, the lawyers may make opening statements.  Opening statements are when the lawyers tell the jury what they believe the evidence will show.

Order of Proof: The prosecutor presents evidence first.  You are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You do not have to present any evidence or testify. If your lawyer does put on evidence, it will happen after the prosecutor has finished presenting evidence.

Rules: During the trial, the lawyers must follow the rules of evidence and procedure. These rules are complicated. The rules can both help and hurt you. For instance, the rule against hearsay evidence prohibits a prosecutor from calling a witness to testify how he heard about what you did. The same rule will stop your lawyer from introducing an affidavit made by some person who is unwilling to come to court and testify.

Prior Acts: Although you are only on trial for the charges in the Indictment, there are two ways the jury can learn about other accusations against you. First, if you testify then the prosecutor will be able to introduce your prior convictions. Second, the prosecutor can introduce your prior acts –even if they are not convictions — if they are similar to the crime you are charged with (for example, prior drug sales in a drug distribution case).

Final Arguments: After all the evidence has been presented, the lawyers argue the facts to the jury.

Jury Deliberations: Jurors are usually average working people from the community. They are not specially trained in law. They use their common sense when deciding the case. Although the District Judge will instruct them about “the presumption of innocence” and “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”, jurors rely on many things in coming to a decision in a case. Jurors often rely on things such as: the appearance of the defendant, the defendant’s character, and their own biases and prejudices. They cannot be questioned about how they reached their decision.

Verdict: If you are found “Not Guilty”, you will be released. If there is a “Guilty” verdict, then the District Judge will order the Probation Department to prepare a Presentence Investigation Report to assist the District Judge at sentencing. It takes approximately two months between a conviction and sentencing.

Release: If you were previously on pretrial release,the District Judge may continue thatrelease until sentencing, unless you were convicted of a crime of violence or a serious drug trafficking offense.


Statistics show that most defendants plead guilty. You make the decision to plead guilty. That decision is never simple. Some possible benefits of a guilty plea are that:

  1. the prosecutor may dismiss some charges;
  2. the prosecutor may not file new charges;
  3. the prosecutor may recommend a favorable sentence;
  4. you may get credit for accepting responsibility, etc.

Plea Agreement: Any promises the prosecutor makes for your guilty plea will be stated in a written plea agreement. That agreement is signed by you, your lawyer, and the prosecutor.

Plea Hearing: You must enter a guilty plea in court before the District Judge. The District Judge must ask you many questions so the record shows you understand what you are doing. During the hearing, the prosecutor will briefly tell the District Judge the facts of the case. You must agree to those facts for the District Judge to accept your guilty plea.

Effect of Plea: Once the District Judge accepts your guilty plea, you are just as guilty as if a jury returned that verdict. Once you are convicted of a felony, you lose certain civil rights, including the right to vote; the right to sit on a jury; and the right to possess firearms.

After Plea: The procedure after a guilty plea is the same as after a conviction at trial. A Presentence Investigation Report will be ordered and you will either be released or detained until sentencing (see “Trial” section).


Some defendants give prosecutors information against other persons for the possibility of a reduced sentence. There is no guarantee that a defendant will get a lower sentence for “giving people up”. Cooperation usually requires a defendant to testify in court or before a Grand Jury.


Many times, federal defendants are first arrested by state officers on state charges. Sometimes, even when federal charges are filed, the state charges are not dismissed. It is possible to be convicted of both state and federal charges for the exact same offense. This is not “double jeopardy”. It is also possible to receive “stacked time” (a consecutive sentence), by pleading guilty to an unrelated state or federal case before being convicted in your federal case. Be careful not to do anything about your other cases without telling your attorney. If you are summoned to “jail call”, do not agree to plead guilty to your state charge in exchange for “time served” without telling your lawyer. Despite what the state prosecutor may tell you, this conviction will affect your federal sentence.


Sentencing takes place approximately three (3) -six (6) months after you have been convicted by a jury or guilty plea. The District Judge decides the sentence. Unlike state court, you cannot simply agree with the prosecutor to serve a particular amount of time or probation.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines: The District Judge decides your sentence based upon a book called the “Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual”. That book works on a point system. You get points for the seriousness of the offense and your role in the offense. Points may be subtracted if you accept responsibility for the offense or if you were only a minor participant. The Manual also considers your criminal history.  Your criminal history is the record of your prior convictions in state and federal courts. A chart at the back of the Manual determines your sentencing guideline range, based upon your criminal history points and the points you received for the offense conduct.

Mandatory Minimum Punishments: Some drug and firearms cases have mandatory minimum punishments. These minimum punishments apply even if the Federal Sentencing Guidelines would otherwise give you a lower sentence. For instance, anyone possessing over 280 grams of crack cocaine after August 3 2010, with the intent to deliver it, must receive at least ten (10) years in prison; even if that person is a first offender.

Departures: If the District Judge sentences you to more or less time than your sentencing guideline range, it is called a “departure”. Departures are unusual. The District Judge must have a good legal reason for a departure. The District Judge cannot depart downward below a mandatory minimum punishment, unless the reason is that you have provided substantial assistance to the government in the prosecution of others or you qualify for the “safety valve” provision as a first offender. Only drug cases qualify for the “safety valve”.

Presentence Investigation Report: Before the sentencing hearing,the District Judge will review a Presentence Investigation Report prepared by a Probation Officer. That report summarizes the offense conduct, your criminal history, and other relevant background information about you. Most importantly, the report calculates a range of punishment for the District Judge to consider in your case. The Probation Officer creates the report based upon information from the prosecutor, independent investigation, and an interview with you in the presence of your lawyer.

Interview: It is important to be honest with the Probation Officer at the presentence interview. If you mislead the officer you may increase your sentence for “obstruction of justice”.  Also, you will not get credit for accepting responsibility unless you talk truthfully about your crime.  Do not talk about any other conduct for which you have not been convicted, unless your lawyer tells you to.

Objections: Before the District Judge gets the Presentence Investigation Report, it will be sent to your lawyer. The probation office will also mail a copy directly to you for your inspection. Review it carefully. If there is anything incorrect about the report, your lawyer can file objections. Some mistakes are more important than others. If the report says your car is red rather than blue, that is probably not important. If the report says you have five (5) prior felonies when you do not, that is important.

Sentencing Hearing: At the sentencing hearing, the District Judge will review your objections to the Presentence Investigation Report and make findings about any facts or legal issues that cannot be agreed upon. Your lawyer will address the legal issues and point out the facts in your favor. District Judges do not want to hear from witnesses who are just there to plead for a reduced sentence. Letters of recommendation and other helpful evidence should be provided to your lawyer well before sentencing so the District Judge can see them before the hearing. Before the District Judge pronounces sentence, you can make a statement.

Concurrent and Consecutive Sentences: No area of law is more confusing to defendants and lawyers than whether multiple sentences (more than one) may be served at the same time (concurrent) or one after another (consecutive).

Present Charges: If your federal Indictment has several related charges, and you are convicted of them, you probably will serve these sentences at the same time. However, it is possible for the District Judge to “stack” unrelated convictions so each must be served before another begins.

Other Charges: Sometimes a defendant is already serving a sentence before being convicted in a federal court. Unless the District Judge specifically orders the new sentence to run at the same time as the previous sentence, they will be stacked and will run consecutively.  You would have to finish your other sentence before the new one begins.  Even if the District Judge runs the new sentence at the same time as your previous sentence, you will not get credit for the time you served prior to sentencing.


If you were on release until sentencing, you may be allowed voluntary surrender. This means about 45 days later you report directly to the federal prison designated for sentence. Otherwise, you would go directly into custody if you received a prison sentence.


An appeal is not a new trial. An appeal is a review of your case by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. You may only appeal after you have been sentenced. A notice of appeal must be filed within 10 days after judgment (your sentencing order) is entered, or you lose that right. Transcripts of all testimony, and all the legal documents in your case, are sent to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals decides whether the District Judge made any mistakes in ruling on the law in your case. If the Court of Appeals decides there were some important mistakes made by the District Judge in your case, the usual remedy is that you will be allowed to have a new trial or a new sentence. That is called a “reversal”. It does not happen often. It is nearly impossible to be released while your appeal is being decided. The decision to appeal should be made only after a careful discussion with your lawyer. The Fifth Circuit is strict about accepting cases that raise legitimate issues. A claim that you received “too much time” will not prevail in the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit will dismiss your appeal if you do not present an issue they consider meritorious. Also, you and your lawyer can be sanctioned (punished) if you present a “frivolous” issue on appeal.


Probation means your term of imprisonment is suspended, you must follow restrictive conditions, and report to a probation officer. Probation is not available for federal drug trafficking crimes. Except for minor fraud cases, most federal defendants do not get probation. “Shock Incarceration” or “Boot Camp” is not probation.  That is a military discipline program followed by time in a halfway house. It is available mostly to young, nonviolent, first-time offenders.


Most defendants who are sentenced to prison go directly into custody or continue to remain in custody. Where the sentence will be served depends on several factors.

State Custody: If the reason you first came into custody was a state charge, parole warrant, or probation revocation warrant, then you are in state custody, not federal custody. Neither the United States Marshal, nor the District Judge, has the authority to take you from state custody so that you may begin serving your sentence in a federal institution. This means you will remain in the county jail, or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, until your State of Texas (or whatever other jurisdiction you owe time) sentence is completely served. Even if you got a federal sentence that is to run at the same time as your previous sentences (see “Sentencing” section), you will do that time in the other jurisdiction’s prison.

Jail Credit: In the federal system, the district judge does not have the authority to award jail credit at your sentencing hearing. See United States v. Wilson , 112 S.Ct. 1351 (1992); 18 U.S.C. §3585(b). Under the statute giving a defendant convicted of federal crime the right to be credited for time spent in official detention before sentence begins, the Attorney General is required to compute credit after the defendant has begun to serve his sentence, rather than the district court at time of sentencing. Statute giving defendant convicted of federal crime right to receive credit for time spent in official detention before sentence begins does not authorize district court to award credit at sentencing.

Federal Custody: You are in federal custody if you  were brought in on a federal warrant. It does not matter that you are being held in the county jail or that state charges or revocations are later filed. It is always better to be in federal custody, because the State of Texas will give you credit for serving your state sentences no matter who has custody of you.

Designation: If you are in federal custody, then a federal institution must be designated for your sentence. This designation takes about one (1) month and is made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. During that month, you will probably remain in a county jail. The decision about where you will go depends upon the seriousness of the crime, your criminal history, the location of your family, among other things.  A recommendation by the District Judge to send you to a particular place is not binding on the Bureau of Prisons.

Good Time Credit: The Bureau of Prisons can give you up to 54 days a year of “Good Time Credit”.  This is time subtracted from your sentence. The credit is a privilege for good behavior, not a right. It does not begin to be counted until after your first year in prison.

Release: There is no parole in the federal criminal justice system. You will serve the majority of your sentence, minus Good Time Credit. You will receive a term of supervised release that begins after you are released. Like probation or parole, supervised release means you have to follow rules and report back to a probation officer. Violating supervised release can mean going back to prison.


You must use your own judgment about writing letters. You should not write about the facts of your case to anyone other than your lawyer. If you have any questions about your case or suggestions about it, you should contact your attorney immediately.

Federal Drug Charges in Houston, TX

Houston is in a unique position because of its convenient location. It is a criminal hotbed for illegal drug activity and because of its reputation, law enforcement; the FBI and the DEA are on high alert when it comes to detecting and convicting those guilty of trafficking or other federal drug crimes. Because drug activity is so rampant in Texas, the state has exceptionally harsh penalties for those who commit federal drug crimes. How one is prosecuted will depend on whether or not they have any priors on their record, the type of drug, and the quantity. A prison sentence for a federal drug crime can be as little as five years or it can be as long as life in prison.

The state of Texas has long been involved in a “war on drugs.” Federal prosecutors in the state of Texas come down hard on criminals involved in selling, distributing and trafficking large amounts of drugs. Not only do you face years in prison if convicted, non-citizens face deportation from the United States. At The Charles Johnson Law Firm, we are here to defend you against Federal Drug Charges.

Contact the Best International Federal Drug Crimes AttorneyHouston Federal Drug Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson comprehends the differential factor between State and Federal drug crimes. If in fact you or a loved one are under investigation for a drug crime, or if you have been apprehended for or charged with a drug crime in Texas or Houston, you could face harsher punishment than you expect. If you or a loved one’s alleged crime is based upon large amounts of illegal drugs, transporting or distributing drugs over state lines or over and across the border, or other specific details, you could face federal drug crime charges rather than state charges.

The significant thing to know pertaining federal drug crimes is that a conviction will carry a much harsher punishment, a longer mandatory at the very least sentence, and the possibility of no bond or bail. Attorney Johnson defends cases at the Federal Level that involve drug crimes such as:

  • Federal drug trafficking
  • Federal drug manufacturing
  • Federal drug sales and distribution
  • Internet drug distribution
  • Federal drug importation and transportation
  • Mailing drugs over and across state lines or national borders
  • Drug smuggling into or out of the United States
  • Other crimes related to drugs and money laundering

Contact Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson anytime night or day to discuss your case. You can speak with him directly by calling (713) 222-7577. If in fact you or a loved one think you are part of a federal drug investigation, don’t wait to contact a lawyer you can trust. Rest assured that The Charles Johnson Law Firm will zealously defend you against any type of Federal Drug Charge.

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Posted in Drug Offenses, Federal Drug Charges


Illegal Prescription Drug Charges: Hire the Right Houston Lawyer

25 Jul

Top Houston Drug Crimes LawyersSome people believe that crimes that involve prescription drugs are treated less seriously than crimes that involve marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs. This is not true, however, and the penalties for prescription drug crimes in Texas can be just as severe as penalties for illegal drug crimes. Depending on the type and amount of drug, the consequences could be significant.

If you have been charged with an offense involving illegal prescription medications, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can successfully represent you and protect your rights. I am Charles Johnson, an experienced Houston Drug Charges Lawyer who represents people charged with drug offenses in Harris County and surrounding areas.

Don’t hesitate to contact my firm for a free initial consultation where we can discuss your charges. Call my office anytime night or day at (713) 222-7577 or toll free at (877) 308-0100 to discuss your case.

The Charles Johnson Law Firm regularly assists clients with drug cases involving illegal prescription medications, such as:

  • Forging of prescriptions
  • Pharmacy fraud and prescription fraud
  • Illegal possession of prescription medications
  • Transportation of drugs
  • Distribution of drugs
  • Illegal buying prescription drugs online
  • Drug delivery, manufacturing and trafficking

If you have been charged with one or more of these offenses, you could be facing jail time and other significant consequences. It is important to know what to do in the days following an arrest and how an experienced attorney can build a vigorous defense for your charges. In many cases he will be able to have your case dismissed entirely. Call Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson at (713) 222-7577 to discuss your case. Attorney Johnson answers the phone 24 hours per day and offers you a free initial consultation.

Hire the Best Houston Drug Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise in Texas. There are many possible ways for someone to acquire prescription drugs for illegal use. Some people obtain the prescription drugs from a person who has a valid prescription. Others steal a doctor’s official prescription pad and forge the doctor’s signature for the medication, while some create a counterfeit prescription that resembles a doctor’s official prescription. There are some who do what is called “Doctor Shopping,” which entails going to many different doctors complaining about a medical condition to get prescriptions from each of them.

What is prescription drug abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is the use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, or for the experience or feelings elicited. According to several national surveys, prescription medications, such as those used to treat pain, attention deficit disorders, and anxiety, are being abused at a rate second only to marijuana among illicit drug users. The consequences of this abuse have been steadily worsening, reflected in increased treatment admissions, emergency room visits, and overdose deaths.

How many people abuse prescription drugs?

According to results from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 2.4 million Americans used prescription drugs nonmedically for the first time within the past year, which averages to approximately 6,600 initiates per day. More than one-half were females and about a third were aged 12 to 17. Although prescription drug abuse affects many Americans, certain populations, such as youth, older adults, and women, may be at particular risk.

Who abuses prescription drugs?

Individuals of all ages abuse prescription drugs — data reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicate that an estimated 36 million U.S. residents aged 12 and older abused prescription drugs at least once in their lifetime. The survey also revealed that millions of teenagers and young adults abuse prescription drugs — 2.7 million individuals aged 12 to 17 and 6.9 million individuals aged 18 to 25 abused prescription drugs at least once. Prescription drug abuse among high school students is a particular concern. According to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future Survey, more than 10 percent of high school seniors in the United States abused narcotics (other than heroin) at least once in their lifetime. Nearly 17 percent abused amphetamines (a type of stimulant), 10 percent abused barbiturates, and 11 percent abused tranquilizers at least once.

Adolescents and young adults

Abuse of prescription drugs is highest among young adults aged 18 to 25, with 5.9 percent reporting nonmedical use in the past month (NSDUH, 2010). Among youth aged 12 to 17, 3.0 percent reported past-month nonmedical use of prescription medications.

According to the 2010 MTF, prescription and OTC drugs are among the most commonly abused drugs by 12th graders, after alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco. While past-year nonmedical use of sedatives and tranquilizers decreased among 12th graders over the last 5 years, this is not the case for the nonmedical use of amphetamines or opioid pain relievers.

When asked how prescription opioids were obtained for nonmedical use, more than half of the 12th graders surveyed said they were given the drugs or bought them from a friend or relative. Interestingly, the number of students who purchased opioids over the Internet was negligible.

Youth who abuse prescription medications are also more likely to report use of other drugs. Multiple studies have revealed associations between prescription drug abuse and higher rates of cigarette smoking; heavy episodic drinking; and marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit drug use among adolescents, young adults, and college students in the United States.

Older adults

Persons aged 65 years and older comprise only 13 percent of the population, yet account for more than one-third of total outpatient spending on prescription medications in the United States. Older patients are more likely to be prescribed long-term and multiple prescriptions, and some experience cognitive decline, which could lead to improper use of medications. Alternatively, those on a fixed income may abuse another person’s remaining medication to save money.
Houston Drug Attorney
The high rates of comorbid illnesses in older populations, age-related changes in drug metabolism, and the potential for drug interactions may make any of these practices more dangerous than in younger populations. Further, a large percentage of older adults also use OTC medicines and dietary supplements, which (in addition to alcohol) could compound any adverse health consequences resulting from prescription drug abuse.

What prescription drugs are commonly abused?

The prescription drugs that are commonly abused in the United States fall into several broad categories: opioids/narcotics/pain relievers, CNS (Central Nervous System) depressants, and stimulants. Individuals abuse these drugs because they are an easily accessible and inexpensive means of altering a user’s mental and physical state; the effects vary depending upon the drugs they abuse.

What are some of the commonly abused prescription drugs?

Although many medications can be abused, the following three classes are most commonly abused:

Opioids—usually prescribed to treat pain;

Central nervous system (CNS) depressants—used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders; and

Stimulants—most often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What are opioids?

Opioids are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs. Hydrocodone products are the most commonly prescribed for a variety of painful conditions, including dental and injury-related pain. Morphine is often used before and after surgical procedures to alleviate severe pain. Codeine, on the other hand, is often prescribed for mild pain. In addition to their painrelieving properties, some of these drugs—codeine and diphenoxylate (Lomotil) for example—can be used to relieve coughs and severe diarrhea.

Drug Type:

Opioids/Narcotics/Pain Relievers

Common Brand Names:

  • Dilaudid (Dust, Juice, Smack, D, Footballs)
  • Lorcet (Pharmies, Beans, Hydro, Painkillers, Happy Pills)
  • Lortab (Tab, Hydro, Norco, Vikes, Viko)
  • Oxycontin (Hillbilly Heroin, Oxycet, Oxycotton)
  • Oxycodone which includes Percocet, Percodan & Tylox (Percs, Paulas, Roxicotten, Roxi’s, Blue Dynamite, 512s)
  • Vicodin (Happy Pills, Vikes)

What are CNS depressants?

CNS depressants, sometimes referred to as sedatives and tranquilizers, are substances that can slow brain activity. This property makes them useful for treating anxiety and sleep disorders. Among the medications commonly prescribed for these purposes are the following:

Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), are sometimes prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress reactions, and panic attacks. The more sedating benzodiazepines, such as triazolam (Halcion) and estazolam (ProSom) are prescribed for short-term treatment of sleep disorders. Usually, benzodiazepines are not prescribed for longterm use because of the risk for developing tolerance, dependence, or addiction.

Non-benzodiazepine sleep medications, such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zalepon (Sonata), have a different chemical structure, but act on some of the same brain receptors as benzodiazepines. They are thought to have fewer side effects and less risk of dependence than benzodiazepines.

Barbiturates, such as mephobarbital (Mebaral), phenobarbital (Luminal Sodium), and pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal), are used less frequently to reduce anxiety or to help with sleep problems because of their higher risk of overdose compared to benzodiazepines. However, they are still used in surgical procedures and for seizure disorders.

Drug Type:

  • CNS Depressants
  • Tranquilizers
  • Sedatives

Common Brand Names:

  • Barbiturates which include Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal And Phenobarbital (Barbs, Blue Birds, Phennies, Tooties, Yellows, Reds, Yellow Jackets, Amytal, Downers, Nembutal, Phenobarbital, Red Birds, Red Devils, Seconal, Tuninal)
  • Benzodiazepines which include Ativan, Halcion, Librium, Valium Or Xanax (Candy, Downers, Sleeping Pills, And Tranks)
  • Flunitrazepam which includes Rohypnol (Known as a leading ‘date-rape’ drug, Forget-Me Pill, Mexican Valium, R2, Roche, Roofies, Rope)
  • Ketamine which includes Ketalar (Kat, Valium K, Special K, Vitamin K)

What are stimulants?

As the name suggests, stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Stimulants historically were used to treat asthma and other respiratory problems, obesity, neurological disorders, and a variety of other ailments. But as their potential for abuse and addiction became apparent, the medical use of stimulants began to wane. Now, stimulants are prescribed to treat only a few health conditions, including ADHD, narcolepsy, and occasionally depression—in those who have not responded to other treatments.

Drug Type:


Common Brand Names:

  • Amphetamines which include Adderall, Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Desoxyn, ProCentra, Vyvanse and Biphetamine (Bennies, Black Beauties, Crosses, Hearts, LA Turnaround, Speed, Truck Drivers, Uppers)
  • Methylphenidate which includes Ritalin (Jif, Mph, R-Ball, Skippy, The Smart Drug, Vitamin R, Kiddy Cocaine, West Coast)

How are prescription drugs abused?

Prescription drugs are abused in a variety of ways. Many of the prescription drugs that are commonly abused are available as tablets. Typically abusers either consume the tablets orally or crush them into a powder, which they then snort. In some instances, abusers dissolve crushed tablets in water and then inject the solution.

How many people suffer adverse health consequences from abusing prescription drugs?

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), which monitors emergency department (ED) visits in selected areas across the Nation, reported that approximately 1 million ED visits in 2009 could be attributed to prescription drug abuse. Roughly 343,000 involved prescription opioid pain relievers, a rate more than double that of 5 years prior. ED visits also more than doubled for CNS stimulants, involved in nearly 22,000 visits in 2009, as well as CNS depressants (anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics), involved in 363,000 visits. Of the latter, benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax) comprised the vast majority. Rates for a popular prescribed nonbenzodiazepine sleep aid, zolpidem (Ambien), rose from roughly 13,000 in 2004 to 29,000 in 2009. More than half of ED visits for prescription drug abuse involved multiple drugs.

One in five teens nationwide were reported abusing a prescription pain medication and one in ten reported abuse of a prescription stimulant. (The Partnership for a Drug-Free America)

More teens abuse prescription drugs than any other illicit drug, except marijuana—more than cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined. (The Partnership for a Drug-Free America)

Local school officials privately express concern about the selling and easy access of prescription drugs in their schools. School administrators, however, are reluctant to speak publicly about the problem.

Experts don’t know exactly why this type of drug abuse is increasing. The availability of drugs is probably one reason. Doctors are prescribing more drugs for more health problems than ever before. Online pharmacies make it easy to get prescription drugs without a prescription, even for youngsters.

Houston Drug Attorney

How are they obtained?

Prescription drugs are obtained in various ways. In some cases, unscrupulous pharmacists or other medical professionals either steal the drugs or sell fraudulent prescriptions. In a process known as doctor shopping, abusers visit several doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions. Individuals also call pharmacies with fraudulent prescription refills, or they alter prescriptions. Prescription drugs occasionally are stolen from pharmacies. Young people typically obtain prescription drugs from peers, friends, or family members. Some individuals who have legitimate prescriptions sell or give away their drugs. Young people also acquire prescription drugs by stealing them from relatives and other individuals with legitimate prescriptions or from school medicine dispensaries.

Is abusing prescription drugs illegal?

Yes, it is illegal to use prescription drugs without a valid prescription or to distribute them. The penalties associated with the abuse or illegal distribution of prescription drugs vary depending upon the drug type.

What are the penalties for possessing illegal prescription drugs in Texas?

Prescription drugs are offered legally through a prescription, however, possession of prescription pills without a legal prescription can land you in jail in Texas.

Sec. 481.115. OFFENSE: POSSESSION OF SUBSTANCE IN PENALTY GROUP 1. (a) Except as authorized by this chapter, a person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 1, unless the person obtained the substance directly from or under a valid prescription or order of a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice.

Sec. 481.117. OFFENSE: POSSESSION OF SUBSTANCE IN PENALTY GROUP 3. (a) Except as authorized by this chapter, a person commits an offense if the person knowingly or intentionally possesses a controlled substance listed in Penalty Group 3, unless the person obtains the substance directly from or under a valid prescription or order of a practitioner acting in the course of professional practice.

Group 1: Includes Opium, Oxycodone and some Prescription Pills
Weight of Drug
Type of Offense
Less than one gram
State jail felony
180 days to 2 yearsin a state jail
1 gram or more, less than 4 grams
Third-degree felony
2 to 10 yearsin a state prison
4 grams or more, but less than 200 grams
Second-degree felony
2 to 20 yearsin a state prison
200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams
First-degree felony
5 to 99 yearsin a state prison
400 grams or more
Enhanced first-degree felony
10 to 99 yearsin a state prison
Group 3 & 4: Many Prescription Pills like Xanax, Valium, Ritalin, & Drug Compounds
Weight of Drug
Type of Offense
Less than 28 grams
Class A misdemeanor
Not more than 1 year in a county jail
28 grams or more, but less than 200 grams
Third-degree felony
2 to 10 yearsin a state prison
200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams
Second-degree felony
2 to 20 yearsin a state prison
400 grams or more
EnhancedFirst-degree felony
5 to 99 yearsin a state prison

Possession With Intent to Distribute

Some states have laws making it illegal to be in possession of your own prescription drugs under certain circumstances. Most states have laws that make it illegal to carry around pills that are not in their labeled prescription bottle.

In other words, if you are carrying around pills that your doctor prescribed to you, but have them loose in your pocket or purse, that is illegal. The presumption is that you are carrying them in that manner so that you can distribute them.

Purchasing Prescription Drugs over the Internet

Federal law prohibits buying controlled substances such as narcotic pain relievers (e.g., OxyContin®, Vicodin®), sedatives (e.g., Valium®, Xanax®, Ambien®), stimulants (e.g., phentermine, phendimetrazine, Adderall®, Ritalin®) and anabolic steroids (e.g., Winstrol®, Equipoise®) without a valid prescription from your doctor. This means there must be a real doctor-patient relationship, which by most state laws requires a physical examination. Prescriptions written by “cyber doctors” relying on online questionnaires are not legitimate under the law.

Buying controlled substances online without a valid prescription may be punishable by imprisonment under Federal law. Often drugs ordered from rogue websites come from foreign countries. It is a felony to import drugs into the United States and ship to a non-DEA registrant.

Buying drugs online may not be only illegal, but dangerous. The American Medical Association and state boards of medicine and pharmacy have all condemned the practice of cyber doctors issuing online prescriptions as unacceptable medical care. Drugs delivered by rogue websites may be the wrong drugs, adulterated or expired, the wrong dosage strength, or have no dosage directions or warnings.

Hire the Best Houston Prescription Drugs Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Some people believe that crimes that involve prescription drugs are treated less seriously than crimes that involve marijuana, cocaine and other illegal drugs. This is not true, however, and the penalties for prescription drug crimes in Houston can be just as severe as penalties for illegal drug crimes. Depending on the type and amount of drug, the consequences could be significant.

If you have been charged with an offense involving illegal prescription medications, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney who can successfully represent you and protect your rights. Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson has expertly defended prescription drug charges for many years. In many cases he will be able to have your case dismissed entirely. Contact him now for your free consultation.

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Posted in Illegal Prescription Drugs


Charged with Marijuana Possession or Sales in Houston? Hire The Best Houston Lawyer

12 Jun

Best Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is one of the foremost criminal defense attorney in Houston in defending people from drug convictions, including the possession and sale of marijuana. His unique strategy gives his clients the best opportunity to avoid criminal penalties, and his criminal defense law firm’s familiarity with drug laws, both felonies and misdemeanors, is unrivaled. He provides each client a high-quality legal defense that is superior. Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson can defend against any criminal drug charge in both federal and state courts, and his firm’s track record of success continues to grow.

Hire the Best Houston Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Criminal Marijuana Penalties

Marijuana possession and sale charges can be either misdemeanors or felonies, but both carry serious penalties. Jail time, heavy fines, probation, mandatory rehab programs and more are all possible penalties for drug charges. Attorney Johnson’s finely tuned defense techniques have evolved from years of experience, and he brings that knowledge and experience to those facing marijuana-related criminal charges.

Marijuana Possession

Of all the marijuana laws in Texas, possession of marijuana may be the most unfair. It punishes otherwise responsible citizens merely for keeping some pot for personal use and who have no intention of ever doing anything hurtful with it or profiting from it. Nonetheless, it is an offense to possess, distribute or cultivate marijuana in Texas. Depending on the quantity, possession of marijuana can be charged as a misdemeanor of felony in both state and federal court.

The prosecution may argue that you’re “in possession” of marijuana in Houston, TX, if you’re found smoking marijuana or if you knowingly “exercised control” over the marijuana. Therefore, the location of the marijuana is very important:

  • If the marijuana is found on your person, in your car, in or around your home, in a storage unit belonging to you, or in any other place that you have some authority over, the prosecution will argue that you were in possession of the marijuana since you had some control over the location.
  • Furthermore, if marijuana is found in your system during a drug test or you were caught driving under the influence of marijuana in Texas, the prosecution may try to use that to prove you’ve been in possession of marijuana since you presumably “exercise control” over your body.

Marijuana Possession Penalties in Texas

  • Two ounces or less include a fine up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail or both
  • More than two ounces, but less than four ounces. Penalties include a fine of up to $4,000, up to one year in jail, or both.
  • Four ounces or more, up to and including five pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, between 180 days and two years in prison, or both.
  • More than five pounds, up to and including 50 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, between two and ten years in prison, or both.
  • More than 50 pounds, up to and including 2,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, between two and 20 years in prison, or both.
  • More than 2,000 pounds. Penalties include a fine of up to $50,000, between five and 99 years in prison, or both.

Sale of Marijuana

Various states have different marijuana laws, and Texas is no different. Texas treats marijuana sales as a much more serious crime than possession, which is reflected in the penalties. The sale of any amount of marijuana can lead to prison time, even for small amounts.

Sale of Marijuana Penalties in Texas

  • 1/4 oz – 5 lbs: 6 months – 2 years, $10,000 fine
  • 5 lbs – 50 lbs: 2 – 20 years, $10,000 fine
  • 50 lbs – 1 ton: 5 – 99 years, $10,000 fine
  • 1 ton or more: Mandatory minimum of 10 – 99 years, with a $100,000 fine

These are for either the sale OR delivery, meaning it is irrelevant whether or not you are actually paid or just just giving it to someone. On top of that, if the delivery or sale is to a minor (in ANY amount), that is punishable by an additional 2 – 20 years in prison. Also, sale within 1,000 feet of a school or within 300 feet of a youth center, public pool or video arcade increases the penalty classification to the next highest level (which in some cases is a difference of many years).

The Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson understands the unique nature of Texas marijuana laws, and can provide a skilled defense. His unparalleled knowledge of state and federal drug laws gives him a unique ability to provide excellent legal services for you and your loved ones. If you are in need of criminal defense legal representation in the Houston area, contact Attorney Johnson anytime day or night at (713) 222-7577 to discuss your situation.

What Is Marijuana?

Cannabis sativa: There are two species of Cannabis. One species is Cannabis sativa, originally cultivated to make hemp. The stalks of the plant contain fibers that are woven to make rope, cloth, and paper. The other species is Cannabis indica, known for its psychoactive properties. Hashish is derived from Cannabis indica. In Africa, cannabis is know as “dagga,” in China as “ma,” and in India as “ganga” or “bhang”. Marijuana is the Mexican colloquial name for Cannabis sativa. Marijuana is a greenish-gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds, and flowers of the hemp plant.

THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol is found in the plant’s resin. The amount of THC determines the potency of the marijuana. The resin is mostly concentrated in the flowers of the plant. Because of various cultivation techniques the amount of THC varies considerably in the flowers of individual plants.

Other Chemicals: Marijuana is a complex drug and is made up of 420 chemical components. Sixty-one of these chemicals are called cannabinoids and are unique to marijuana. Many scientific studies focus on the primary psychoactive chemical, THC but don’t know how these other cannabinoids affect the various organs, brain, and behavior.

Grades of Marijuana

  • Low-grade marijuana is made from leaves of both sexes of the plant.
  • Medium-grade marijuana is made of the flowering tops of female plants fertilized by male plants.
  • High-grade marijuana is made of the flowering tops of female plants raised in isolation to male plants. This marijuana is called sinsemilla because it does not produce a seed.
  • Hashish is produced when resin is collected from the Cannabis indica plant. The THC-rich resin is dried and then compressed into a variety of forms, such as balls, cakes, or cookie-like sheets. Pieces are then broken off, placed in pipes, and smoked or rolled into a cigarette along with tobacco or low-grade marijuana. The Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are the main sources of hashish. THC content of hashish can vary from 8% to 20%.

What are the Physical Effects of Marijuana usage?

When marijuana is smoked, the affects are felt in minutes. The high usually peaks within a couple of hours. Marijuana affects users differently. The “high” can include a feeling of relaxation, improved sense perception, and emotional well-being. Music and visual images may seem more vibrant and intense. Time seems to slow down. Some people experience physical hunger and a range of emotion from laughter to introspection. Marijuana does not always produce pleasant feelings and may cause paranoia and hallucinations. Emergency room visits have increased because some people feel anxious or fearful after smoking high-grade marijuana. Whether the marijuana is smoked or eaten, THC can remain in the body for days. About half the THC is in the blood 20 hours after smoking. Although the initial high has disappeared, physical and mental functions may be affected for days.

The physical effects of marijuana depend on many individual factors such as personal health, the time of day that marijuana is used, the problems it causes, and how well a person is able to control his or her use. Research studies have shown that one of the primary concerns for those who use marijuana is cardiovascular damage. Marijuana causes damage to lungs that is similar to that caused by cigarettes. For people who inhale deeply or hold the smoke in their lungs longer, the risk can be greater. One study that compared cigarette and marijuana smokers found that marijuana smokers absorbed five times the amount of carbon monoxide, and had five times the tar in their lungs, as compared to cigarette smokers. For those who smoke both marijuana and cigarettes, the damage can be exponentially greater than that caused by marijuana or cigarettes alone.

Research shows that people who use marijuana more than one time during the day tend to have more social and physical problems than those who only use in the evenings. Those who use at multiple times may also be more likely to be smoking to avoid problems they feel unable to confront. A person who uses marijuana in addition to alcohol or other drugs can be at additional risk. The effects of some drugs become exponentially greater when taken together. In addition, the physical tolerance that one drug produces can sometimes affect another drug, and lead to dependence on multiple substances.

Is Marijuana Addictive?

While marijuana is not in the same addictive league as cocaine, heroin, and even alcohol, recent studies raise the possibility that THC affects the level of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that affects the pleasure circuits. Many addictive drugs cause the release of dopamine from the neurons. One report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse states that long-term marijuana use can lead to addiction for some people. This report concludes that along with craving, withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for long-term marijuana smokers to stop using the drug. People trying to quit report irritability, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety.

Drug Paraphernalia

Texas does not prosecute possession of drugs only. In fact, Texas will prosecute a person for possession of drug paraphernalia. Thus, it is a separate criminal charge classified as a Class C Misdemeanor and typically carries a penalty of $500. Normally, if one is charged with a possession of controlled substance, then a possession of drug paraphernalia will be charged against the person, as well.

Under federal law the term drug paraphernalia means “any equipment, product or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”

Drug paraphernalia is any legitimate equipment, product, or material that is modified for making, using, or concealing illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine. Drug paraphernalia generally falls into two categories:

User-specific products

User-specific products are marketed to drug users to assist them in taking or concealing illegal drugs. These products include certain pipes, smoking masks, bongs, cocaine freebase kits, marijuana grow kits, roach clips, and items such as hollowed out cosmetic cases or fake pagers used to conceal illegal drugs.

Dealer-specific products

Dealer-specific products are used by drug traffickers for preparing illegal drugs for distribution at the street level. Items such as scales, vials, and baggies fall into this category. Drug paraphernalia does not include any items traditionally used with tobacco, like pipes and rolling papers.

With the rise of the drug culture in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, the country began to see the appearance of “head shops,” which were stores that sold a wide range of drug paraphernalia. While some of the paraphernalia was crude and home-made, much was being commercially manufactured to cater to a fast-growing market. Enterprising individuals even sold items openly in the street, until anti-paraphernalia laws in the 1980s eventually ended such blatant sales. Today, law enforcement faces another challenge. With the advent of the Internet, criminals have greatly expanded their illicit sales to a worldwide market for drug paraphernalia. For example, in a recent law enforcement effort, Operation Pipedreams, the 18 companies targeted accounted for more than a quarter of a billion dollars in retail drug paraphernalia sales annually. Typically, such illicit businesses operate retail stores as well as websites posing as retailers of legitimate tobacco accessories when in reality the products are intended for the illegal drug trade.

Identifying drug paraphernalia can be challenging because products often are marketed as though they were designed for legitimate purposes. Marijuana pipes and bongs, for example, frequently carry a misleading disclaimer indicating that they are intended to be used only with tobacco products. Recognizing drug paraphernalia often involves considering other factors such as the manner in which items are displayed for sale, descriptive materials or instructions accompanying the items, and the type of business selling the items.

Marijuana-Related Crimes

The Charles Johnson Law Firm is experienced in marijuana-related matters involving:

  • Possession
  • Cultivation
  • Distribution
  • Paraphernalia
  • Search and seizure laws
  • Asset seizure
  • Search warrants, wiretapping and surveillance

Contact the Best Houston Marijuana Possession Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Before someone can be convicted of marijuana possession in Houston, the state must prove that the accused actually had possession or took action to control the drug. Drug possession cases are complicated and depend the police’s adherence to strict guidelines concerning search and seizure of the drug.

As you could be facing fines, probation, drug classes, community service, and jail, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced Houston criminal attorney if you have been accused of this crime. Our team at the Charles Johnson Law Firm is well-equipped to handle any type of drug crime, including those involving possession of marijuana and/or drug paraphernalia. We understand that mistakes can happen and not everyone who has been accused of a crime is guilty. No matter how serious you may believe your case to be, contact the Best Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson directly by calling (713) 222-7577 anytime, day or night to discuss your case.

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Houston DWI Lawyer » Arrested for DWI in Houston? Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

07 May

Finest Houston DWI Attorney

Houston DWI Lawyer Charles Johnson is dedicated to protecting the rights of those accused of the following intoxication related criminal offenses:

  • Public Intoxication
  • Consumption or Possession of Alcoholic Beverage in Motor Vehicle
  • Driving While Intoxicated
  • Flying While Intoxicated
  • Boating While Intoxicated
  • Intoxication Assault
  • Intoxication Manslaughter
    Some people simply cannot have a Texas DWI conviction on their record. The Houston salesperson. Sugar Land Surgeon. University of Houston full-time student. Pearland small business owner. Or the Conroe professional driver. There are other members of our community that also must have a valid driver’s license… and a clean criminal record. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson expertly defends DWI and other serious related offenses. The Best Houston DWI Lawyer represents clients across the state, from those charged with drunk driving in North Texas cities such as Lubbock and Amarillo, to those arrested in the West Texas cities of El Paso and Midland… all the way down to Corpus Christi and Harlingen. Our clients come to us because we provide the absolute most vigorous defense available to those facing DWI charges in Texas. And in the majority of cases, we are able to protect their freedom, ability to drive, and criminal record.

    Too many people think they don’t have a defense, especially if they are facing a drunk-driving charge. That may not be true! Pleading guilty or no contest to a criminal charge or a DWI will seriously impact your life. If you have already plead guilty or no contest, call us to see if we can help. When the odds seem to be against you, put experience on your side. Call Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson at any hour, seven days a week at (713) 222-7577.

    The following are the answers to some questions you may have:

    What is the definition of intoxication in Texas?

    “Intoxication” under Texas law means:

    (A) not having the normal use of [one’s] mental faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or (B) not having the normal use of [one’s] physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or

    (C) [a person] having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. It should be noted, that theoretically the prosecutor only needs to prove one of the three ways in order to obtain a conviction. For example, if the jury believes the person has lost their physical faculties, although they have not lost their mental faculties and there is no blood or breath test, theoretically that person could be found guilty. That is not always the case, generally, if the evidence only shows the loss of either the mental or physical faculties, and not both, there is usually a logical explanation for that loss and the result should be they are not intoxicated.

    What is a .08 alcohol concentration?

    Under Texas law “Alcohol concentration” means the number of grams of alcohol per:

    (A) 210 liters of breath;

    (B) 100 milliliters of blood; or

    (C) 67 milliliters of urine. Unless you are a engineer, chemist, toxicologist or an expert on alcohol and have a calculator, you will not be able to determine whether or not you have an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. The amount of alcohol in each of the above definitions is not equal. Consequently, depending on the test, one test could confirm your innocence while another insinuate your guilt with a .08 or more. A general rule of thumb is that you may have “one beer (12 oz.),” “one glass of wine (4 oz.),” or “one shot of whiskey (1.5 oz.)” per hour. These facts alone should prove the importance of hiring an experienced DWI lawyer who understands the differences.

    How can I calculate my alcohol concentration?


    A general rule of thumb is that you may have “one beer (12 oz.),” “one glass of wine (4 oz.),” or “one shot of whiskey (1.5 oz)” per hour. Also refer to the answer in question number two.

    What is the difference between DWI and DUI in Texas?

    Under Texas law intoxication includes the introduction of alcohol, or a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, or any combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body. In other words, Driving While Intoxicated includes all substances including alcohol. While “Driving Under the Influence” or DUI in Texas is an offense that involves minors. To be arrested in Texas for DUI, the person arrested must be a minor (anyone under the age of twenty-one) who operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system. The key words are, “any detectable amount of alcohol.” Generally, an offense under this section is a Class C Misdemeanor. That is the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas. However, there are other states that use these terms differently than we do.

    What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers on the highways of Texas?

    Police officers are trained to look for the following factors when searching for drunk drivers on the highways in Texas. This list is based on research conducted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration? (NHTSA)

    • Turning with wide radius
    • Straddling center of lane marker
    • Appearing to be “drunk”
    • Almost striking object or vehicle
    • Weaving
    • Driving on other than designated roadway
    • Swerving
    • Speed more than “10” miles below speed limit
    • Stopping without cause in Traffic lane
    • Following too closely
    • Drifting
    • Tires on Center or Lane marker
    • Braking Erratically
    • Driving into Opposing or Crossing Traffic
    • Signaling Inconsistent with driving actions
    • Slow response to traffic signals
    • Stopping inappropriately (other than in a lane)
    • Turning abruptly or illegally
    • Accelerating or Decelerating Rapidly
    • Headlights off

    Although police officers tend to believe speeding is a factor, speeding is not a recognized sign of Intoxication. The faster you drive, the quicker your reactions and reflexes must be as well as your judgment. Therefore, if you are speeding and appear to be driving normally, that would be indicators of sobriety rather than intoxication.

    If I’m stopped by the police, should I answer any questions regarding drinking?

    You are not required to answer questions that are designed to be incriminating. In a police encounter, a simple request to speak to your attorney before answering questions, would be an appropriate response. However, informing the officer that you had one or two alcoholic beverages should not be harmful since it usually would not cause a person to be impaired. This response may explain away the odor of alcohol on your breath. Always remain calm, and be courteous and respectful at all times. Always remember that after stopping you and approaching your vehicle, the officer is probably already recording your discussion and actions on video without your knowledge.

    Houston DWI Attorney

    What signs of intoxication do police officers look for after stopping someone on the roadside?

    Police officers are taught to look for the following symptoms of impairment. This list is based on research conducted by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    • Flushed face
    • Red, watery, glassy or bloodshot eyes
    • Odor of alcohol on breath
    • Slurred Speech
    • Fumbling with wallet while trying to get license
    • Failure to comprehend officer’s questions
    • Unsteady of feet while exiting vehicle
    • Swaying while standing
    • Leaning on car for support
    • Being combative, argumentative or jovial while talking with officer
    • Disheveled clothing
    • Lack of awareness in regards to time and place
    • Unable to follow police instructions


    What can affect my performance on field sobriety tests?

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has admitted that even SOBER people can have difficulty with these tests! One’s ability to perform the Field Sobriety Tests can be affected by many factors other than alcohol, including;

    •    Nervousness
    •    Fear
    •    Fatigue
    •    Illness / Allergies
    •    Traffic
    •    Wind
    •    Dust in your eyes
    •    Head lights
    •    The police officers strobe lights
    •    Weather conditions
    •    Back problems
    •    Leg and/or Knee injuries
    •    Inner ear disorders
    •    Ankle and/or Foot problems
    •    Road or sidewalk conditions
    •    Weight
    •    Age
    •    Footwear
    •    Lack of coordination

    Do I have a right to an attorney when I am stopped for a DWI investigation?

    The law in Texas provides that persons stopped for DWI initially do not have the right to an attorney. In fact, you do not have a right to speak to a lawyer until after the initial investigation on the street is complete and you have been taken to jail. Most citizens do not understand that after their arrest, they are not entitled to speak to a lawyer when confronted with the decision of taking or refusing a blood, breath or urine test. Keep in mind, that it is still a good idea to request a lawyer when you are first stopped by the police and you want to continue requesting to talk with your attorney before continuing further with any of the police officers other requests.

    What should I do if the police ask me to take “Field Sobriety Tests”?

    Understand the police want you to help them make their case against you stronger. By performing field sobriety tests, you are simply helping the police manufacture evidence against you. Be aware that they fully intend on using this evidence against you in court . Therefore, taking an Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test (the pen test), the Walk and Turn (walk the straight line), the One Leg Stand test, or any other evaluation test on the street is usually not a good idea. Most experts agree that police officers are not trained well enough to accurately interpret the symptoms observed while administering these street evaluations. This doesn’t mean that you need to be rude or nasty to an officer if he asks you to do some Field Sobriety Tests. Again, it is much better that you be courteous, respectful and “respectfully decline” all tests.

    Should I take a blood, breath or urine test?

    Most of us who are experienced DWI Attorneys agree that the above tests are not completely accurate and therefore should not be taken. According to most experts of the three tests, the blood test is the most accurate, but it is too time consuming for police officers to use. The Breath test is the easiest for the officer, because the machine is available and already housed at the police station. The urine sample is the least accurate by all accounts. However, if you agree to take one of these chemical tests for the police, remember that you are then entitled to request your own independent test, so you need to request a blood test also. Most police officers will not provide you with that information. Therefore, calling an experienced DWI lawyer immediately after your arrest is important!

    What happens if I refuse or fail to take one of these chemical tests?

    Basically, If a person refuses or fails a blood or breath test following an arrest for driving while intoxicated, the person may receive a license suspension of 90 days up to 2 years, depending on the number of alcohol related contacts the person has had in the past. More importantly, whether you take a test, or you refuse one that the police offer, you only have 15 days after your arrest to request a hearing to fight to keep your license from being suspended. This is one of the reasons it is important to request a hearing before the State Office of Administrative Hearings to stop the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) from attempting to administratively (civilly) suspend your license. Again, calling an experienced DWI lawyer immediately after your arrest is important!

    Can my drivers license also be suspended if I am convicted of Driving While Intoxicated?

    Yes, if a person receives a final conviction that person’s license may be suspended. The license suspension period ranges from 90 days up to 2 years. A conviction for driving while intoxicated under the age of 21 will result in an automatic suspension for one year, unless the person is on probation and required to have an Ignition Interlock Device.. Note: Generally speaking, in Harris County, if you are a first offender, and you represent yourself and plead guilty to Driving While Intoxicated you will more than likely receive a final conviction and lose your license for one year. Remember, the Assistant District Attorney and the Judge do not represent you, one is there to prosecute you; the other is there to preside over the case. The Judge cannot and will not give you legal advice. Again, having an experienced DWI lawyer represent you is very important to your case!

    How long will a DWI arrest stay on my record?

    If you are convicted for the DWI, even if you receive probation, it will remain on your record “FOREVER.” If you are found “Not Guilty” at your trial, you can have the arrest and the DWI charge “expunged” from your record.

    Is it legal to drink alcohol while driving an automobile? What about having an open container in the vehicle?

    No, it is a Class C Misdemeanor for a driver to have an open container of alcohol in his or her personal possession while operating a motor vehicle. It is also illegal for any passenger to have an open container of alcohol in their possession. However, if you are the passenger in a taxicab, limousine, bus, or in the living quarters of a mobile home, you can legally consume alcohol while being driven around. If you go to a party and take a bottle of wine, beer or liquor, and leave the party with them you can be ticketed for possessing an open container of alcohol. In order to legitimately carry a bottle of wine, beer or liquor, the seal must not be broken. If the seal is broken, the only other legitimate way to carry the bottle is put in the trunk of your car, or if you are in a truck or SUV, then it must go behind the last row of seats. However, my advice is to leave the alcohol at the party when you leave.

    Will I have to have an Ignition Interlock Device put in my car as a condition of bond?

    For a first offense, conditions of bond are a matter of discretion with the Court. Generally, most judges will not make a an Ignition Interlock Device as a condition of bond for a first offense DWI. However, if you are charged with a subsequent DWI (no matter how long ago your first DWI was), with Intoxication Assault, or with Intoxication Manslaughter you are required by law to install an Ignition Interlock Device on you automobile. In fact, you will not be able to drive any vehicle that is not equipped with an Interlock Device. If the device determines a certain level of alcohol on your breath, it will temporarily disable your vehicle. When driving, you have to continuously blow into the device about every twenty (20) minutes. Please note, that the alcohol in some mouthwashes can even be enough to cause the Ignition Interlock Device to disable the vehicle if you do not wait a certain period of time after its use.

    What is an occupational or restricted license?

    An occupational or restricted license is a special restricted license authorized by a Court, and issued to persons whose license has been suspended or revoked for certain offenses. This restricted or occupational license authorizes the operation of a non-commercial motor vehicle in connection with a person’s occupation, for educational purposes or in the performance of essential household duties.

    Is the Order from the court the actual occupational or restricted license?

    No, this is the order granting the occupational license. The court order and all other required items need to be submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) so an occupational or restricted license can be issued. The court order may be used as a temporary restricted license for 30 days from the date of the judge’s signature while DPS processes the occupational license, and is to be kept in the glove box of the motor vehicle you operate.

    What are the requirements for obtaining the restricted license in a DWI or ALR suspension case?

    You must mail into the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a certified copy of the court order granting the occupational license. Also enclose the following:

    1. An original pink SR-22 certificate of insurance. This is the only proof of insurance acceptable.
    2. A $10 license fee for a one-year license or less. The maximum length of issuance is a 2-year license for $20, provided that the court order grants this length of time.
    3. A $125 statutory reinstatement fee for the Administrative License Revocation (ALR), if required; and
    4. A completed SR-37 form to type the occupational license.

    Caveat: The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) requires all reinstatement fee(s) be paid prior to the issuance of the occupational or restricted license.

    What is an SR-22 and how can I obtain an SR-22?

    An SR-22 insurance policy is a certificate of insurance that shows the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) proof of insurance for the future, as required by law. SR-22 insurance is not necessarily “high risk” insurance. It is motor vehicle liability insurance which requires the insurance company to certify coverage to DPS, and the insurance company must notify DPS anytime the policy is cancelled, terminated or lapses. You may contact an insurance agent/company of your choice who is authorized to write liability insurance for the State of Texas.

    If I do not own a car, can an SR-22 be obtained?

    You do not need to own a car to buy this kind of insurance. If you do not own a car, please contact an insurance agent/company of your choice and talk to them about a non-owner SR-22.

    Can an insurance card or insurance policy be accepted toward the requirement of filing the SR-22?

    No, when proof of financial responsibility is required, form SR-22 must be filed to meet the compliance requirements with the DPS.

    What happens if my SR-22 is cancelled?

    Once the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) receives notification from the insurance company that the policy is cancelled, terminated, or lapses appropriate enforcement action may be taken. If the SR-22 is still required and there is not a valid SR-22 on file, you again face the possibility that your driving privilege and vehicle registration will be suspended. Additionally, the Court may withdraw its original court order granting you the restricted license.

    Can you drive a commercial motor vehicle with an occupational or restricted license?

    No, if a person’s driver license or the privilege to drive is suspended, revoked, cancelled, or denied under any law in this state, the person may not be granted an occupational, restricted or “essential need” license to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

    Someone said I could get ” Deferred Adjudication” if I am charged with a DWI is that correct?

    No. DWI is one of a few of crimes in Texas where Deferred Adjudication is not available under the law as a punishment option.

    Could I receive a probation if I am convicted of DWI?

    Yes, depending on your prior criminal history, the facts surrounding your case, etc. and whether you meet the minimum requirements under Texas law — for “community service” or “probation:” Those minimum requirements are: 1) That you have never been convicted of a felony offense in this State, another state or the United States; and you have never been given adult “community service” or “probation” for a felony offense in this State, another state or the United States.

    What is the difference between deferred adjudication and Probation?

    First, Texas classifies both of these punishments as “community service,” — one is called “Deferred Adjudication Community Service” and the other is called just “Community Service” or what we used to call “probation.” Second, Deferred Adjudication is a punishment that an individual can only receive from the Judge and never a jury, whereas probation can be received from either a Judge or a Jury. Third, in a Deferred Adjudication situation, the Judge defers a finding of guilty against an individual and places that person on community service without entering judgment of guilty. On the other hand, under the punishment known as “probation”, the person is found or judged “guilty” and sentenced, but the sentence is then probated. With probation the individual is actually convicted, but the sentence is probated, whereas with the “Deferred Adjudication” the person is not convicted, but is placed on community service. However, as stated in Question 24, Deferred Adjudication is not a punishment option in a DWI case in Texas. If some attorney mentions to you that it might be available or tells you that it is, then you are not talking with a DWI Attorney.

    Someone mentioned to me that Texas has increased its fines for DWI or that it passed a “Surcharge” for individuals convicted of DWI? Is this some sort of a fine and how does it work?

    Contrary to media reports, the 78TH Texas Legislature did not increase fines. However, the Legislature did pass a “Surcharge” or an administrative fee under a law known as the “Driver Responsibility Act,” that took effect on September 1, 2003. The fees under this law are strictly administrative in nature, and are above and beyond, any fines, court costs, probation fees or filing fees that the State already receives in a DWI case. The law basically requires any person convicted after September 1, 2003 of a first offense DWI to pay the State of Texas a “surcharge” in the amount of $1,000.00 per year for three years to keep their drivers license; or any person convicted of a second offense DWI to pay the State of Texas a “surcharge” of $1,500.00 per year for three years to keep their drivers license; or any person convicted of an offense of DWI, that has a test result of .16 or higher with a breath or blood test, to pay $2,000.00 per year for three years to keep their drivers license. These fees are paid to the Department of Public Safety and if not paid within the designated time allowed, the person will automatically lose their driver’s license or the privilege to obtain a driver’s license until the money is paid.

    Can a person be charged with a felony DWI if there is child in the vehicle when they are arrested by the police?

    Yes. Effective September 1, 2003, the 78TH Texas Legislature passed a law that makes a DWI punishable as a felony, if there is a child younger than fourteen (14) years old in the vehicle when a person is stopped and arrested.

    Hire the Best Houston DWI Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

    Regardless of what you have heard, drunk driving and related offenses are not impossible to win if you have a good case and the right DWI attorney to help you. Your DWI attorney must be experienced with all facets of the Texas DWI arrest process and must understand and be ready to cross-examine the state’s expert about the science of field sobriety testing, laws of arrest and probable cause, and blood, breath, and urine testing.

    Houston DWI Lawyer Charles Johnson understands that people are arrested for intoxication related offenses at all hours and simply cannot wait for solid legal advice. When you need effective, strategic defense, contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (713) 222-7577. We are ready and waiting for your call.

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    Posted in DWI, Free Criminal Defense Info


    Best Houston Lawyer: Need Assistance with an Expungement?

    16 Nov

    Recommended Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

    A criminal conviction can certainly change your life. Even after you’ve paid your debt to society, your criminal history can certainly make it difficult to get your life back. Luckily for us, the majority of states provide a way to set the record straight: Expungement.

    Houston Record Expungement Defense: Hire the Best Houston Lawyer

    Expungement is defined as a legal process through which a charge or conviction may possibly be erased from a person’s criminal record. Below you will discover links to in-depth knowledge on expungement, and state-specific resources on expungement and criminal records.

    • Expungement Basics – Introductory knowledge on expungement and its legal consequences.
    • Eligibility for Expungement – A charge or conviction normally has to meet certain standards in order to be eligible for expungement.
    • The Expungement Process – A number of steps should be taken before an expungement is granted.
    • Expungement isn’t really Always an Option – Expungement isn’t obtainable in all jurisdictions, and may perhaps not be an option for some arrests or convictions.

    Expungement Basics

    Expungement (also designated “expunction”) is defined as a court-ordered process in which the legal record of a charge or a criminal conviction is “sealed,” or erased within the eyes of the law. When a conviction is expunged, the process may possibly also be generally known as “setting aside a criminal conviction.” The availability of expungement, and the procedure for getting a charge or conviction expunged, will vary according to the state or county in that the charge or conviction happened.

    Legal Effect of an Expungement

    An expungement commonly indicates that a charge or conviction is “sealed,” or erased from a person’s criminal record for most purposes. After the expungement process is finished, a charge or a criminal conviction ordinarily doesn’t have to be disclosed by the individual who had been arrested or found guilty. By way of example, when completing an application for a job or apartment, an applicant whose charge or conviction has been expunged doesn’t have to reveal that charge or conviction.

    In a good number of cases, no record of the expunged charge or conviction will show up in cases where a potential employer, educational institution, or various other company conducts a public records inspection or background search of an individual’s criminal history.

    An expunged charge or conviction isn’t really necessarily completely erased, within the literal sense of the word. An expungement will ordinarily be an accessible part of a person’s criminal history, viewable by certain government agencies, which includes police officers and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is in some cases called a criminal record being “under seal.” In certain legal proceedings, including during sentencing for any type of offenses committed following an expungement, or in immigration / deportation proceedings, an expunged conviction that’s “under seal” may perhaps still be regarded as as proof of a previous conviction.

    Expungement Eligibility

    When expungement of a charge or conviction is an option in a state or county, most of the time a person’s criminal record has to meet certain standards in order to qualify for the process.

    Whether or not an individual is eligible for expungement will generally depend on a quantity of factors, such as:

    • The amount of time which has passed since the charge or conviction
    • The severity and nature of the event for that expungement is sought (i.e. a conviction for a sex criminal offense will likely bring about a denial of expungement)
    • Events within the applicant’s criminal record (this includes arrests or convictions in virtually all jurisdictions, not only the offender’s state/county)
    • The severity and nature of some other events within the applicant’s criminal record

    Special eligibility rules might exist for expungement of arrests or convictions that happened when the offender was a juvenile, and arrests or convictions for sex crimes. Remember to speak to the Most Respected #links# to go over your accessible choices.

    The Expungement Process

    Where available to persons who’ve been arrested or found guilty, expungement doesn’t take place automatically, and is never guaranteed. A individual wanting to have a charge or criminal conviction expunged from their record needs to generally fill out an application or request, and submit the paperwork to the appropriate criminal court for a judge’s evaluation and judgment. In a good number of jurisdictions, a fee has to be paid along with the filing of the application.

    The expungement process can certainly be challenging. For instance, several jurisdictions require an applicant to deliver (or “serve”) papers on district attorneys, although others require the applicant to put together the legal document (or “Order of Expungement”) that is going to be signed by the judge. In many cases, a court hearing is required, after which a judge will decide whether or not to grant the expungement.

    The Top Houston Criminal Defense Attorney can certainly advise you regarding this complex process.

    Expungement is not really Always an Option

    It is critical to understand that expungement of a charge and/or a criminal conviction isn’t really an option in virtually all states and counties ( designated “jurisdictions”). Dependent upon the jurisdiction in that the charge or conviction happened:

    • Expungement may very well not be available at all
    • Expungement could very well be an option for arrests, however not for convictions
    • Expungement may very well be an option only for certain criminal convictions
    • Expungement could very well be an option only for arrests and/or convictions that transpired when the offender was a juvenile
    • Expungement may possibly be attainable only after an individual is acquitted (cleared) of an criminal offense (i.e. criminal charges are dismissed)
    • Expungement may very well be attainable only when a criminal conviction is reversed (i.e. subsequent to a winning appeal of the conviction).

    Hire The Most Qualified Best Houston Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

    In Texas, criminal record expunction or an action to seal your criminal record might help you move on with your life. There are many benefits that flow from misdemeanor or felony expunction or record sealing, such as no longer needing to list a previous conviction on a job application or worrying about the potential consequences of an employer’s discovery of your criminal record.

    A skilled and experienced attorney from the Charles Johnson Law Office in Houston, Texas will help you plan your next move and expertly guide you through this challenging ordeal.

    Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
    Major Credit Cards Accepted.

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    Posted in Expungement, Free Criminal Defense Info


    Best Houston Lawyer: Arrested for Distribution Of Crack?

    13 Oct

    Best Houston Lawyer

    Felony charges for drug distribution or possession are the most typical felonies in criminal law.

    If you’ve been charged with possession or distribution of Crack cocaine, the Best Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson can help you to clear your record. The federal court system is renowned for the extremely tough penalties for crack distribution cases. Most cases are prosecuted as conspiracies and, with the way sentences are calculated on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, lower-level dealers can have their sentences increased significantly based on the quantity of illegal drugs being dealt by their supposed associates. The federal system is very different in comparison to the state court structure in these criminal matters. These cases demand legal counsel who is experienced and knowledgeable about the different trial rules and sentencing guidelines. This expertise gives him an exceptional edge over those attorneys who don’t practice on a frequent basis in federal court. The Charles Johnson Law Firm has successfully represented numerous customers facing illegal drug charges in both the State and Federal courts, and he will do the same for you.

    Crack Distribution in Houston

    Houston, Texas is one of the most significant illegal drugs distribution centers in the U. S. It is a distribution center used by many traffickers to supply unlawful drugs to main market locations all through the United States as well as to supply dealers within the Houston HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) region. Cocaine, Crack, marijuana and, to a lesser extent, heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA (3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, also recognized as Ecstacy) are shipped from Houston to major market locations such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis, and Philadelphia. Once drug shipments are delivered to Houston, they’re frequently stored at nearby stash locations awaiting further distribution to illegal drug markets. Drug trafficking operations are extremely vulnerable at these stash locations; seizures of unlawful drugs from places where substantial amounts are stashed typically result in a much larger loss for DTOs (Drug Trafficking Organizations).

    Houston’s well-developed freeway system, established financial structure, racial and ethnic diversity, and significant level of international trade contribute to the area’s role as a main shipment point for illegal drugs destined for American drug markets and drug profits headed for Mexico. The substantial number of drug-related investigations connected to the city exemplifies Houston’s role as an integral national drug distribution and cash laundering center.

    Definition: Drug Trafficking Organizations, Criminal Groups, and Gangs

    Drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are complex organizations with highly defined command-and-control structures that transport, distribute, and/or produce large quantities of one or more illegal drugs.

    Criminal groups operating in the United States are numerous and range from limited to moderately sized, loosely knit groups that disperse one or more drugs at the retail level .

    Gangs are defined by the National Alliance of Gang Investigators’ Associations as groups or associations of three or more persons with a common identifying sign, symbol, or name, whose members on their own or jointly practice criminal activity that produces an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.

    Mexican DTOs are the most pervasive organizational threat to the Houston region. The proximity to the U.S.- Mexico border along with their access to main drug market areas all through the U.S. have made it possible for Mexican DTOs to emerge as the predominate traffickers within the region, in most locations along the U.S.- Mexico border, and in numerous areas of the United States.

    Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs), Street gangs, and Prison gangs distribute illegal drugs at both the retail and wholesale levels in the Houston area. Virtually all gangs in the region use drug trafficking as their primary revenue stream. Although most gangs distribute drugs on the retail level, a few have developed relationships with Mexican DTOs that permit them to acquire wholesale quantities of drugs directly from Mexico. These gangs are most prevalent in urban locations, which include Houston, Corpus Christi, and Beaumont, where violence related to their drug and gang- related behaviors is often a considerable threat to general public and law enforcement safety.

    As a direct result Hurricane Katrina, associations between Houston and New Orleans illegal drug traffickers are reportedly growing. Roughly 150,000 Katrina evacuees relocated in the Houston region due to the hurricane. Some of these evacuees were drug traffickers from high-crime locations of New Orleans and, upon relocating to Houston, developed associations with drug dealers and gang members. Quite a few of these traffickers have returned home to New Orleans, and the relationships they built with these Houston-based drug dealers have given them the ability to acquire substantial quantities of unlawful drugs from associations in Houston.

    The distribution and exploitation of unlawful drugs in the Houston area places substantial societal and financial burdens on communities and local, state, and federal agencies. Cocaine in the form of Crack is the primary drug of use for many illegal drug abusers in metropolitan locations of Houston; the drug has experienced a significant impact on the degree of violent and property crime occurring in many communities. Nevertheless, the quantity of marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine seized within the region has lessened in recent years. This decrease can be credited, in part, to an increase in seizures made prior to the drugs being smuggled across the Border, increased seizures in South Texas counties that border Mexico, and traffickers’ use of alternate routes to smuggle illegal drugs across the Southwest Border.

    Crack Distribution Defense: Employ the Best Houston Lawyer Attorney Charles Johnson

    In Texas, Cocaine distribution charges are 1st degree crimes, and carry the toughest penalties. Possession of the Cocaine or possession with the intent to distribute , is usually a 2nd degree crime, and can lead to steep penalties, probation and/or imprisonment. Drug distribution is an extremely serious offense. However, like all drug crimes, drug distribution should be placed into the proper context in order to make sure that charges aren’t excessive. What may appear to be drug distribution may actually not be, and a skilled lawyer will see to it that you are furnished a powerful defense all through your arrest.

    The quantity of drugs in your possession, how the drugs are packaged, which drugs are discovered to be on your person, and how many different types of drugs you have are typical elements that will be considered during a drug distribution case. For example, if a variety of packaged drugs are discovered in your possession, then it might be assumed that you, much like a shop, have a multitude of new items ready to sell. Also, your previous criminal record will play a factor, as will the area that you had been arrested. Being busted in an area known to be visited by drug distributors, for instance, won’t assist your case.

    If an individual is found to be in possession of illicit drugs, doesn’t seem to be using the drugs himself, and is also behaving in a manner that is an indication of drug distribution, then law enforcement might place that person under arrest on suspicion of drug distribution. Although other drug charges like possession for sale require that some kind of monetary transaction take place, drug distribution only requires that illegal drugs are transferred from a single individual to another person. As such, protection against these charges may be complicated, especially within the state of Texas. Because of the complexities of Texas law, the most effective strategy taken by an individual charged with drug distribution is retaining the services of a seasoned Houston Lawyer .

    Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson will investigate the circumstances surrounding your case, and he will build you the most powerful defense possible given the circumstances. If you need expert legal assistance now, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Best Houston Lawyer At Any Hour, 7 Days A Week to discuss the specifics of your case.

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    Posted in Drug Offenses, Free Criminal Defense Info


    Best Houston Lawyer: Arrested for Possession of Cocaine?

    29 Sep

    Leading Houston Drug Crimes Attorney

    Cocaine possession charges may harm your reputation. Don’t take chances. A Cocaine charge won’t merely disappear. It is very important to get a highly skilled lawyer who has an in-depth expertise in what the law states, dedication to you, as well as a familiarity with the policies of the county prosecutor. If you have been charged with a drug related criminal offense, contact The Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson right now for aggressive, experienced help. He is available around the clock to answer any questions you may have.

    What Is Cocaine?

    Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca bush. Both Cocaine and Crack Cocaine are powerful and particularly addictive illegal drugs. Cocaine is primarily grown in Columbia, Peru and Bolivia South America and is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means it has an incredibly high potential for misuse and addiction. There are two primary forms of Cocaine. The first is the powdery type. It’s used for snorting up the nose. Second is freebase, also known as Crack Cocaine, used for smoking. A smaller portion of Cocaine addiction is carried out intravenously. When Cocaine is snorted, the Cocaine powder gets inhaled into the nasal area where it’s immediately absorbed into the bloodstream. As soon as Cocaine reaches the brain, dopamine gets released, stirring pleasant feelings. Due to the fact that it is a stimulant, Cocaine has always been a major party drug. Cocaine is easily dealt on the streets because it’s sold in small packets.

    What is Crack Cocaine?

    Crack Cocaine, recognized as Crack, is a term for the smokable form of Cocaine. Crack is a street name given to the form of Cocaine that has been processed into a smokable substance. Smoking Crack Cocaine delivers significant quantities of the substance into the lungs, creating an immediate and intense euphoric feeling. The rush, or high, is ordinarily very intense, but doesn’t necessarily last very long. The rocks of Crack Cocaine are ignited in a Crack pipe and the ensuing vapors get deeply inhaled. Crack Cocaine has emerged as a major drug of misuse in the last twenty to twenty-five years. The term Crack refers to the popping sound heard when it’s heated.

    Hire The Top Houston Drug Crimes Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

    What are the Effects of Cocaine Abuse?

    Cocaine addiction or Crack Cocaine addiction is in most cases identified with a person who’s compulsively looking for and utilizing Cocaine or Crack Cocaine, despite the negative consequences. The physical signs of Cocaine misuse can differ, dependent upon the person. For one, Cocaine acts as an appetite suppressant so Cocaine abusers quite often are not hungry and wind up losing considerable amounts of weight. Cocaine addicts quite often go on binges, in some instances for several days. The road to Cocaine addiction can begin with occasional use only at parties. Over time, a person’s ability to choose not to take the drug gradually erodes. Cocaine or Crack Cocaine addiction becomes compulsive and addictive mainly because of the ensuing enjoyable feelings.

    The effects of Cocaine use consist of heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, and seizures. Large amounts can cause bizarre and violent behavior. In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the initial use of Cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. The short-term physiological consequences of Cocaine include constricted blood vessels; dilated pupils; and elevated temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Large amounts (several hundred milligrams or more) intensify the user’s high, but could possibly also result in bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. These users may perhaps experience tremors, vertigo, muscle twitches, paranoia, or, with repeated doses, a toxic reaction closely similar to amphetamine poisoning. Several users of Cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest. Use of Cocaine in a binge, during that the drug is taken repeatedly and at increasingly higher doses, results in a state of increasing irritability, restlessness, and paranoia. This may possibly result in a full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and encounters auditory hallucinations.

    Street Names

    Cocaine goes by the street names of coke, snow, flake, blow and numerous others. Cocaine slang words are in no short supply, no matter where you go. Considering that police officers agencies work as hard as they do to stop the sale and distribution of Cocaine, users and dealers have incorporated tag words to identify the drug or the utilization of the drug without having to mention it by name.


    Being charged with Cocaine offenses are particularly serious in Texas and carry federal and state mandatory minimum sentences, in some instances. There has been a great deal of debate surrounding this law, that makes it far worse to be found guilty of criminal charges related to Crack Cocaine than standard Cocaine. The controversy lies within the reality that both drugs contain the exact same active ingredient and many say the sentencing disparity is unjust.

    Twenty-five years ago Congress enacted serious mandatory minimum sentences, condemning thousands of mostly low-level, mostly nonviolent drug offenders to years, in some instances decades in prison. In part because of these and similar “sentencing guideline” penalties, the U.S. now is experiencing an incarceration rate unprecedented in the history of our own country or any other.

    While Congress last year voted to substantially decrease — but not eliminate — the disparity in sentencing between Crack and powder Cocaine, Crack still earns substantially more time than powder. And this verdict clarifies that those stiffer penalties apply to freebase and coca paste, as well as Crack.

    In many places, prosecutors don’t file criminal charges for a modest quantity of Cocaine, but not in Houston. Every narcotics possession, even a tiny quantity of Cocaine, can mean a charge and conviction – and that means a criminal background. Because it’s classified as a narcotic drug under Texas law, the charges filed by the prosecution in a Crack Cocaine or Cocaine base offense will likely consist of possession of a narcotic drug, sale of a narcotic drug, transportation of a narcotic drug and possession for sale of a narcotic drug.

    Defense for a Cocaine Arrest

    The sooner you contact The Leading #links#, the more chances there will likely be to minimize the consequences. The consultation is no cost and the Leading Houston Lawyer will be available 24/7 to answer your questions.

    Texas faces higher risks of Crack Cocaine along with other drug importation due to its close proximity to the southern international border. For this reason, law makers and officials impose significantly harsh laws and penalties on those charged and convicted throughout the state. The Top Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson will offer legal counsel throughout Texas to clients facing Crack Cocaine criminal charges of possession, sales, trafficking, importation, manufacturing and transportation.

    Attorney Johnson will immediately start to look for the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. In the majority of situations, when contacted at an early stage, they will likely be able to explain those problems to the authorities and the criminal charges will be dropped or never filed. Cocaine is regarded as an addictive drug, nevertheless one that is simpler to quit than others (notably meth). There could very well be a chance for diversion, a solution that opens the chance of no criminal charges.

    Whatever Cocaine criminal charges you are defending, it’s of the utmost necessity for you to hire The Finest Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Charles Johnson who will battle to prevent the severe penalties that are the result of a Cocaine conviction. Even if it’s your initial criminal offense, you could have to deal with a mandatory jail sentence, as well as sizeable fines and a felony against your record. In the event you or a loved one has been charged with a narcotic drug offense in Houston, you ought to as soon as possible obtain the guidance of The Charles Johnson Law Firm.

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    Best Houston Lawyer: What Are Some Effective Defenses For Drug Violations?

    25 Sep

    The Best Houston Lawyer at the Charles Johnson Law Firm can decide which defenses might pertain to your case should you be arrested for possession of illegal drugs, either for individual use or with intent to sell, in the event you plead not guilty. Various states deal with the issue of unlawful drugs in various ways, while the federal government has a tendency to have the most stringent drug sentencing regulations. However drug possession defenses are rather standard across state lines. Several defenses challenge the stated basic facts, testimony or evidence within the case, whilst others focus on procedural mistakes , frequently search and seizure infractions.
    Finest Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

    The following are a few defenses to drug possession criminal charges, a few much more typical than others:

    Illegal Search and Seizure

    The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the privilege to due process of law, such as legal search and seizure methods before a charge. Search and seizure challenges are very typical in drug possession cases. Unlawful drugs discovered in “plain view,” including a auto’s dash panel following a legal traffic stop, might be seized and utilized as evidence. Nevertheless illegal drugs discovered within the trunk of an automobile after prying it open with a crowbar, presuming the suspect didn’t provide authorization, can’t be put into evidence. In the event the accused’s 4th Amendment rights had been breached, then the illegal drugs can’t be utilized at trial and the criminal charges usually are dismissed.

    Illegal Drugs Belong to Somebody Else

    A typical defense to any sort of criminal offense arrest would be to merely proclaim that you did not do it. The drug possession equivalent would be to assert that the illegal drugs are not yours or that you simply had no idea they had been inside your apartment, for instance. The Best Houston Lawyer will compel prosecutors to demonstrate that the marijuana cigarette discovered within the automobile really belonged to their client rather than another individual within the automobile.

    Crime Lab Investigation

    Simply because it appears to be crack or Ecstasy does not necessarily mean that it is. The prosecution needs to demonstrate that a seized material is actually the illegal drug it claims it is by submitting the evidence for crime lab analysis. The crime lab analyst then needs to testify at trial in order for the prosecution to prove its case.

    Missing Illegal Drugs

    Attorney Johnson will make certain prosecutors have the ability to deliver the actual illegal drugs for which their client has been arrested. Comparable to the requirement for analysis by a crime lab, prosecutors who misplace or otherwise don’t have the actual drugs risk getting their case dismissed. Seized drugs frequently are transferred a number of times prior to ending up within the evidence locker, therefore it should by no means be presumed that the evidence continues to exists throughout the trial.

    Illegal Drugs Had Been Planted

    This might be challenging to establish, because a law enforcement officer’s sworn testimony carries a great deal of weight within the courtroom. Moreover, other police officers might hesitate to blow the whistle on a fellow police officer. However, The Recommended Houston Criminal Defense Attorney might file a motion that, if authorized by the judge, demands the department to produce the complaint file of the given police officer. This file references the names and contact details of those that produced the complaints, who might then be interviewed by the lawyer or his private detective.


    While police are free to put together sting operations, entrapment happens when police officers or informants cause a suspect to commit a criminal offense this individual otherwise might not have committed. If the informant pressures a suspect into giving illegal drugs to a 3rd party, for instance, then this might be regarded as entrapment. Generally, entrapment happens when the state offers the illegal drugs involved.

    Do I Need An Attorney?

    If you’re arrested for any type of of these or some other drug related criminal offense you should get in touch with The Leading Houston Criminal Attorney at the Charles Johnson Law Firm as soon as you possibly can. The consequences of carrying out a drug offense may be very serious, such as actual jail time, in some cases for several years in significant high profile drug cases. Being found guilty for a drug-related crime could not just harm your personal and professional stature, but may lead to actual termination from a good job or even the suspension or revocation of one’s professional licenses. It is not whether or not you’ll acquire an experienced attorney, rather, it is who you’ll find to handle your case at your most susceptible time.

    Do not let drug charges damage your future. The Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson will expertly defend drug charges in the courtroom. If you’re struggling with misdemeanor or felony drug possession charges after having a drug arrest in Texas, safeguard your legal rights and future. Contact him 24/7 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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    Posted in Drug Offenses


    Best Houston Lawyer » Arrested for Conspiracy?

    20 Sep

    Recommended Houston Criminal Lawyers

    Best Houston Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

    Criminal conspiracy cases are understood to be cases in which two or more individuals agree to commit a crime in order to perpetrate an illegal act.

    The conclusion may be legal, but the designed means are illegal. For instance, two persons making a attempt to steal bread from a grocery store (illegal) to donate to a nearby food bank (legal) could be guilty of conspiracy. While intention is key in a federal conspiracy court case, only “general intent” to breach the law is necessary; proof of this defendants’ specific intent to breach the law is not required, just an agreement to engage in an unlawful act. U.S.C. Title 18, Chapter Nineteen forbids conspiracies to defraud the US, conspiracies in order to impede or injure a police officer, and conspiracies to commit brutal criminal offenses. Even so, conspiracy is certainly forbidden in several other federal laws. You should note that an actual criminal offense is not necessary to prosecute the conspiracy case – just the stated intent to break what the law states. This means that even if the ultimate criminal offense was not committed, the conspirators could be prosecuted under federal legislation. Having said that, most states possess laws that prevent conspiracy criminal charges to be pressed in the event that no actions were used to in fact carry out the conspiracy. This prevents people from essentially being charged for having thoughts of disobeying the law. Although this caveat does prevent a few conspiracy criminal cases from going to trial, it doesn’t reduce the seriousness of the conspiracy claim. Oftentimes, conspiracy to commit a crime like murder is undoubtedly a crime as severe as murder alone.

    Conspiracy criminal offenses include conspiracy to take part in criminal activity like money laundering, conspiracy in order to violate federal laws, or even conspiracy to manufacture drugs or perhaps weapons. The federal maximum punishment for conspiracy is 5 years in prison; however, this can be compounded by other state as well as federal violations. Depending on the type of the conspiracy, it may be punished by different entities such as the FBI, Department of Justice, or state and local regulation agencies.

    Conspiracy charges are incredibly serious and, in many cases, might result in a person facing exactly the same penalties for the underlying criminal offense itself – even if he/she didn’t actually carry out the criminal offense. Additionally, conspiracy might be charged as a federal crime, which might result in harsher penalties along with a more aggressive investigation as well as prosecution by federal law enforcement agencies.

    Houston Conspiracy Defense Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

    Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson may be able to assist if you have been accused of or faced with conspiracy. From his office in Houston, attorney Johnson handles cases throughout all the greater Texas area. His experience in State and Federal Court has given Lawyer Johnson the ability to provide aggressive and effective defense representation to his clients.

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    Posted in Conspiracy