Is No Contest Better than Pleading Guilty?

Are you wondering whether to plea no contest or plead guilty to a DWI in Texas? Contact our law firm immediately. Our Houston DWI lawyers are here to help you understand and protect your rights. Schedule a free consultation today!

Whether or not entering a plea of “no contest” for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Texas depends on the circumstances of your case. The best way to determine your plea for a DWI case is to consult with a DWI defense attorney in Houston. When you present the circumstances of your arrest to our team, we provide guidance on how to pursue the best possible outcome. 

In certain situations, a “no contest” plea might benefit you. However, it’s not always an effective strategy. With a DWI lawyer on your side, you gain a stronger defense strategy and someone to provide advice about your case. 

No Contest Pleas and DWIs: They Help in Limited Situations 

When you enter a plea of no contest, the primary benefit is that you avoid admitting fault in the situation. If there is reason to be concerned that you might face a civil case in addition to your criminal charges, this can be quite important. 

For instance, perhaps you have a few beers on the patio of a Houston bar. On your way home, you make a turn too quickly and jump the curb, driving into someone’s fence. This can mount up to thousands of dollars in property damage. Next, the police show up and arrest you for a DWI. 

In this situation, admitting fault in your DWI case makes it more difficult to win your civil case. This is true even when you believe most of the damage existed before you hit the fence. With cases like these, your Houston DWI lawyer might suggest that you plead no contest. 

The Myths of No Contest and DWIs

There are other cases where pleading no contest won’t do much to help your case. Oftentimes, people associate myths with this sort of plea. In many of these cases, the court system looks at it as similar to a plea of guilty. 

For example, even if you plead guilty to a first-time DWI, you might qualify for expungement later. Additionally, the arrest and conviction still count against you should you be arrested for drunk driving again. 

In the worst-case scenario, deciding to enter a plea of no contest might prevent you from being able to gain a plea bargain that drastically reduces the penalties against you. When you work with a Houston DWI lawyer, they might negotiate an agreement that requires you to plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges and lighter penalties. 

Often, this is the most favorable outcome when there is strong evidence against you. 

Schedule a Free Consultation 

Before you decide how to plead in your DWI case, meet with a Houston DWI lawyer at The Martinez Law Firm. Our DWI defense team has decades of experience working in Houston and Harris County. Let us help you understand your rights as well as the Texas drunk driving laws. When you work with us, we provide guidance on what plea to enter, always pursuing your best interests. 

Let our team be your advocates and help you develop a defense strategy rooted in the facts and circumstances of your case. Call 713.242.1779 now to schedule your free consultation.

Recently Passed Laws Heighten Penalties for False Emergency Reports

false emergency reports

Sometimes, unruly teenagers or bored adults will make false emergency reports for their own entertainment. Other times, people may pretend that they are about to commit a serious crime in order to get attention and get peers talking. Situations of this nature waste hours of law enforcement officer’s time.

When law enforcement officers could be out fighting crime, they are instead responding to fictitious situations that were invented by individuals looking for a little entertainment. This can be extremely frustrating for the law enforcement, which is why the Texas state department has chosen to increase the penalties for this crime.

According to reports, the state of Texas has increased the penalties for the offense if initiating, communicating, or circulating a false report of an emergency that involves an institution of higher education. The crime of circulating a false report used to be considered a Class A misdemeanor.

Now, the offense of relaying false emergency reports is considered a state jail felony. Those that are found guilty may be required to serve time in prison and will have a felony posted on their record. It is important as a citizen of the United States to honor the state code in order to avoid serious penalties.

Many suspects arrested for this crime will need to spend time behind bars simply because they violated the law for their own amusement. Don’t hesitate to contact an attorney at The Martinez Law Firm if you need assistance in defending yourself against charges of intentional false report.

You will certainly want an attorney to represent you if you truly did believe that there was a threat and circulated the report out of a conviction that you needed to warn law enforcement. In this situation, you will want to prove that you truly were concerned and issued the threat out of a desire to help your fellow man. Talk with a Houston criminal defense attorney if you need help today!

Switchblade Knives now Legal in Texas

switchblade knives are legal in Texas

Switchblade knives are legal to carry, use, and manufacture in Texas as of Sept. 1, 2020.  Since the 1950s, it has been illegal to own or use a switchblade knife in the state of Texas. Carrying or using one of these knives has always been considered a Class A misdemeanor and individuals could be punished with a fine of up to $4,000 and confiscation of the weapon. They could also be given one year in county jail.

According to the new laws passed in Texas this past September, the knives are no longer illegal and individuals cannot be penalized for using them. Individuals also can’t be penalized for making a switchblade, repairing a switchblade, selling a switchblade, or repairing a switchblade. Previously all of these actions were illegal. This law is covered in HB 1862.

Other knives and weapons that are not switchblade knives are still banned in Texas.

The use of these illegal knives can result in serious penalties. Individuals are required to carry a permit in order to have a concealed handgun. It is also illegal to own explosives such as bombs, bombs, and rockets or to possess a machine gun.

People can also be penalized for carrying a zip gun, brass knuckles, shotguns with barrels that are less than 18 inches long, rifles or shotguns that are altered so that the weapon is less than 26 inches long, and more. With the exception of brass knuckles, possession of these weapons is considered a third-degree felony which means that you may get between two and ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Have you been arrested for possession of an illegal weapon?

If so, you need to talk to a Houston criminal defense attorney today to learn more. With the right attorney on your side, you may be able to prove that you are not guilty of a weapons crime or cite the recent laws regarding switchblade knives as a defense in your case. Hire the firm today to learn more!


Houston Police Department Implements ALPR Technology

advanced license plate readers - herman martinez - criminal defense attorney

The Houston Police Department is often looking for ways to improve safety amongst the individuals of the state and is constantly making the attempt to protect citizens from harm. Recently, they chose to implement advanced license plate readers (ALPR) to assist law enforcement in locating suspects.

The technology was revealed in June, and there are approximately 24 of the advanced license plate readers that are on their respective beats across six county patrol districts. Each district has three patrol cars that have the technology on board, except for in the Woodlands. In this county, there are four cars equipped with the recognition devices. The technology is mostly used to identify stolen vehicles. The ALPR system has already been credited with the recovery of six stolen vehicles. The Houston police have also used the machine to apprehend seven wanted individuals.

The advanced license plate readers cameras in the cars use infrared illumination to detect the characters off a license plate. The data is then cross-referenced digitally in the Texas Criminal Information Center and the National Crime Information Center. If there are any alerts, the police are informed and then they can pursue the vehicle that has been notified. The system also alerts individuals of any situations regarding sex offenders. For example, if a sex offender’s vehicle is located in a school zone, the system will notify the police so that they can take action.

The system can also be used in house, which allows a license plate number to be manually entered for detection purposes. If you have been arrested after you were detected by the new ALPR system you need to seek representation with a Houston criminal defense attorney promptly. A lawyer may be able to assist you in your case and prove that you are innocent of the crime that you have been charged with. At The Martinez Law Firm, there is a former U.S. Chief Prosecutor that can assist you with your case. Criminal Defense Attorney Herman Martinez understands criminal law from both sides, which can be very helpful when you are dealing with a complicated case.


I Have Been Accused of Violating My Probation: What’s Next?

Violating my Probation is considered to be an act determined by the court in which an individual accused of a crime receives a level of punishment while not being sent to jail or prison. Probation also may be the period after which an individual is released from prison, and the authorities are still close monitoring them. There is accountability with the government by which the person agrees that they will not violate the probation or they will face greater consequences for their actions.

The court allows the person to be under supervision while still maintaining
a certain level of freedom depending on the charges. When under probation, there is no room for mistakes, and if caught in any violation it is likely that the individual will face even harsher punishments. In the event that a person violates their probation or parole, they are in severe danger
and need to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. While
the consequences may be more severe, every person maintains the right
to have a hearing to defend their case; because of that, a lawyer is of
great importance to make sure that the case is properly handled.

At this time, a Houston criminal defense attorney will do one of two things: either file an adjunction or file a motion to revoke. These two different titles are based on the type of probation a person is under, though they both have the same end goal of having the probation revoked. Have you been accused of violating your parole or probation in any way?

Don’t wait another moment, contact the Martinez Law Firm today for the criminal defense representation that you deserve! Our firm
has years of experience in criminal court, and we are ready and willing
to do what is necessary to fight for your case.

Contact us today for more information!

Selective Probation in Harris County, Texas

New Probation Laws to Shock All: 

Selective probation in Harris County, Texas? I do not agree.  As a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney, I must admit that I was shocked when I heard a rumor regarding the Harris County District Attorney’s Office implementing a new policy whereby prosecutors would not offer probation to an accused unless the accused swore to be residing legally in the United States. One of my close friends, that is a prosecutor himself, confirmed not only that this is a fact, but there will be a document that a defendant will need to swear to before a plea agreement is finalized.

This new policy wrong on several levels.

It seems to be politically motivated. Pat Lykos, the District Attorney of Harris County, was elected to uphold the law of the state of Texas. The policy may seduce the most steadfast of conservative Republicans in Houston and beyond, but it is misplaced and a subtle form of racism. It is very easy for people to say “He is an illegal get him out of our country.”

However, the law states that anyone that is in this country is presumed to be here legally. Also, every person in this country has a 5th amendment privilege regardless of their status. On one hand, by requiring anyone undocumented to swear that they are here legally before receiving probation the District Attorney’s Office is encouraging them to commit perjury.

On the other hand, if the defendant tells the truth the consequences are twofold. They will not get probation and they have given the Government evidence to prove that they are committing a Federal Offense. What competent criminal defense attorney would advise their client to do anything other than to remain silent? Thus, the District Attorney’s office is punishing a defendant for exercising their right to remain silent and that is a clear constitutional violation.

Below is a copy of the 5th Amendment. Perhaps, the Lykos administration should give it a read if they have not done so in a while.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise, infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

With this new policy, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is disregarding Texas law. For example, the law in Texas clearly states that low-level felony drug possession for first-time offenders is mandatory probation. The law does not differentiate between those that are here legally and those that are undocumented. The Lykos administration is essentially stating that they will not follow Texas law. Correct me if I am wrong, but the last time I checked our District Attorney was elected to follow the laws of Texas.

More practically speaking, what defense attorney that has a client on a bond that is undocumented will enter into any type of plea bargaining when they know that a prosecutor’s hands are tied when it comes to getting probation for their client. A competent criminal defense attorney knows that a jury is not precluded from granting an undocumented person probation. Additionally, any potential juror that can not consider granting probation for someone undocumented should be exposed during voir dire and kept from serving on the jury.

I hope that Harris District Attorney’s Office reconsiders this policy and decides that despite being a hit politically, legally it is without merit.