A lesser included offense is lesser crime whose elements are encompassed by a greater crime. A lesser included offense shares some, but not all, of the elements of a greater criminal offense. Therefore, the greater offense cannot be committed without also committing the lesser offense. For example, Aggravated Assault is a lesser included offense of Murder.

The level of offense for a theft case is determined by the value of the property stolen. Anything above $50 but less than $1,500 will land a defendant in County Court with either a Class A or Class B Misdemeanor. Most of these cases are shoplifting cases which often times committed by teenagers or young adults. Anything under $50 is a Class C Theft filed in either a Municipal Court or Justice of the Peace Court.

Often times shoplifting cases involve property whose value is not much more than fifty dollars. In such cases it is typical for a prosecutor to offer a reduction to the lesser included theft, a Class C. The thinking is that a Class C offense is better because it is a lower level of crime than a Class B.

I would strongly disagree with this assessment. A theft is a theft. It is a crime of moral turpitude and can prevent you from many opportunities including employment and the ability to get an apartment.

If the case cannot be dismissed and you do not desire a trial, the best alternative would be to attempt to negotiate a Pretrial Diversion which can later be expunged. If you are not successful the least you should be willing to accept is a Deferred Adjudication so that you can have the opportunity to file a Petition for Nondisclosure upon completion of the Community Supervision. Don’t let a youthful mistake follow you around for the rest of your life.

One of the biggest misconceptions I see in the Harris County Criminal Courthouse is when judges think that a soft spoken person is being disrespectful. I imagine it is because it is difficult to find a criminal trial lawyer that is soft spoken, therefore judges incorrectly assumes that everyone is going to be as vociferous. I must admit that I am one of the loudest talkers at the courthouse. Nevertheless, I do not assume that everyone is going to be as comfortable talking loudly in a court of law like I do. That is why I tell all my clients especially those that are soft spoken that they need to really speak up when they address the court. Otherwise, the court will interpret that as being disrepectul or disinterested in what is going on with their case. It must seem strange to talk loudly in a courtroom for some people, but it becomes necessary because of the acoustics, the chatter that is going on throughout the courtroom, and the fact that some judges have difficulty hearing.

I totally understand that for most people the only contact they have with a criminal court is what they see on television shows like “Law and Order.” In most of these shows they make a production of the defendant standing up in open court and stating his innocence. It is quite dramatic what with the background music reaching a crescendo, a courtroom full of reporters, and all parties sweating the next step.

In reality, a defendant never has to announce his plea in open court at their first appearance, even when it is a highly publicized case there are only at most, a handful of reporters and one camera crew, and I have yet to hear any music at the criminal courthouse. On the first court date the criminal attorney quietly lets the court know that they will be representing you, will be reviewing the offense report, and will be starting the process of representing you. Most clients are relieved to know that it is highly unlikely they will be speaking to anyone on their first court date, let alone the open court or Judge.

Esto es una pregrunta que siempre me hacen. Honestamente yo no se la respuesta correcta, porque yo solamente voy a la corte para representar a mi clientes en Houston. Pero hoy yo estaba presente en la corte y vi lo peor que puede pasar cuando una persona va a corte sin un abogado. Cuando el señor se presento sin abogado el juez en la corte numero 13 de Harris County, Texas le pregunto que era su estado immigratorio en los Estados Unidos. Si el señor hubiera ido con un abogado el no tenia que hablar con el Juez ni responder a la pregrunta sobre su estado legal en este pais. Pero como estaba sin un abogado el respondio que era indocumentado. Lo que paso despues me dio pena, pues el juez decidio subirle la fianza y lo arrestaro. Esto no hubiera pasado si hubiera estado representado por un abogado. Por esta razon y otras mas es muy importante que tenga representacion legal en un caso criminal.

Por favor llamame (713) 225-1038 antes hir ha corte sin un abogado.

Yo soy unos de los unicos abogados que ser dedica ha casos de DWI en Houston. En Houston, Texas temenos dos nuevos juezes que hablan Espanol. Natalie Fleming y Paula Goodhart son juezes que hablan Espanol en Harris County, Texas. La juez Fleming va empenzar una corte en Espanol para personas que son convictado de DWI por las segunda vez.

I received the most interesting phone call from a person that hired me recently.  It seems that this person really went the extra step to check out the lawyers he wanted to hire.  Not only did he do his due diligence via the internet on the attorneys he was looking to employ, but somehow he was able to observe three of them in court without them knowing it.  I would never think to do something as clever as that.  Apparently, he based his final decision on the rapport that each attorney had with the court staff and prosecutors.  This takes a lot of time to be able to do such a thing because I am sure he never knew at what time the lawyer was scheduled to appear in the courts.  He may have even had to go to the courthouse several times to see each of the attorneys since he may have missed one while waiting for another.  Nevertheless, I think it is a fabulous idea to “shadow” a lawyer without them knowing it in order to secure the best possible fit for you.

I know it is part of sharing an office with other people in a building that has over 60 floors, but I find it annoying when someone gets on the elevator to only go up or down one floor.  I understand when it is the UPS driver that has a cart full of packages, but a healthy person should not be taking an elevator in lieu of walking one flight of stairs unless they are disabled.  I am sure it would do us all some good to walk whenever possible during the day.  There should be a rule installed that prohibits a healthy person from taking an elevator ride for one floor. One other rule that I would like to propose pertains to elevator conversation.  People should be prohibited or least stop their personal conversations once they enter an elevator where there are other people present, similar to having a cell phone conversation in a crowded room. 

I was proud to see that our stand alone blog was recognized by the Texas Bar Journal in their March issue. It is not very often that the Texas Bar Journal recognizes a small law firm especially one that practices Criminal defense work. It is satisfying that my work over the years does not go unnoticed. I truly feel that by writing consistently about criminal law issues in Texas I have become a better lawyer and most importantly a better communicator. I also enjoyed that several of my fellow criminal lawyers in Harris County, Texas acknowledged seeing the piece. The lawyers in my fantasy baseball league may know now where I get a lot of my information after reading the piece. I even had some of my civil friends call me that I have not spoken to in years after they saw the piece. I should have known better that despite talking to the Journal for close to a hour they will print so little about me and my law firm. Nevertheless, I am grateful for the recognition.

One of the main complaints that my clients have is that they must enter our parking garage if they need to visit our office.  Most people want to find a spot and come right up.  I feel the same way when I visit the Houston Medical Center to see a physician.  It does not matter who I am seeing the huge parking garage is annoying not to mention the ten dollars I have to pay for parking for just a couple of hours.  In order to alleviate our clients concerns we have always validated their parking so they do not have to pay to visit our office in the Galleria.  For the past several years I have been requesting Hines, our building management to provide short term parking during working hours so people can avoid the garage.  Recently, Hines did decide to provide a few 20 minute spots outside offices for people that have some quick business.  Hopefully, my visitors will be less intimidated when coming to our offices.

I know it has been a while since I attended law school, but I do not remember any class that deal with bedside manor for attorneys.  The only class that discussed how a lawyer and a client should interact was my professional responsibility class that talked about the different ways a lawyer can lose their license.  None of the legal jobs that I had after law school had any training in this area either.  As a prosecutor for Harris County I was not given much instruction when talking to victims of a case.  There are standard questions that a prosecutor must ask a victim like if there is any restitution, injuries, and what punishment they are seeking, but for the most part we were left to own devices. 

A criminal case involves many intimate personal issues. The whole criminal justice process makes a person feel bad just by being charged.  That last thing you want is a lawyer who is judgmental, makes you feel stupid or lowly because of your arrest.  Most of us forget the “counselor” portion in our titles. I have come to realize that a compassionate attorney is better suited to understand their client’s needs. Lawyers have been taught to know the law, be prepared, and most of all win since law school.  The either legal field could use an education in bedside manor.

Update February 4, 2011:  It took ice to close down most of the Harris County Courthouse.  The only court that I know of that did not close for today is the 230th District Court.  All Harris County Misdemeanor Courts are closed on February 4, 2011 for people on bond.

Update February 3, 1:30 pm:  I have received a phone call from two courts changing the court dates for my clients that are scheduled for tomorrow, February 4, 2010 for a future date.  While the courthouse is not closing they are reducing the docket for an early exit.  I imagine that every Harris County, Texas Attorney will be contacted by the respective
courts.

Yes, I was really asked that question today.  I want to be clear when I say that your Criminal Judge expects you to be in court unless you or someone that you care for are hospitalized.  There may be exceptions to that statement, but very rarely does a judge in Harris County, Texas excuse someone for not attending their court date without a valid reason.  The fact that it may be below freezing is not one of them.  If you are truly unable to make your court date for any reason you should contact your lawyer, contact the court coordinator, and contact your bonding company asap!  Calling these people when docket is being called is not a good idea.  The courts position is that staying out of jail or prison should be one of your top priorities.  If you have a valid reason for missing your court date the courts are understanding.  A valid reason is one that can be documented and verified.  This will save you from getting your bond revoked, going to jail, and having to spend more money making a new bond.

I remember in law school during my professional responsibility course that the main reason that lawyers get reprimanded by the bar is for failing to keep in contact with their clients.  Thus, I am very diligent about returning phone calls.  In addition to giving them my office number, and email I provide them with my mobile phone number.  I am also available via text messaging, gmail or google talk.

For some reason however, there are still some people that still refuse to leave a voice mail or use one of the other methods mentioned above.  My assistants are taught to encourage my clients to leave a voice mail or they make sure that my client has my cell phone so they can reach me if they do not want to leave a voice mail.  Of course, if the client refuses to leave a voice mail they will take down their information.  The problem arises when it is a time sensitive message that needs immediate action.  There are other times that I am in trial or out of the office and do not receive the message until I return to the office. 

The bottom line is if you really want to get a hold of me leave me a voice mail.  I promise that I will return your phone call promptly!

I remember in law school during my professional responsibility course that the main reason that lawyers get reprimanded by the bar is for failing to keep in contact with their clients.  Thus, I am very diligent about returning phone calls.  In addition to giving them my office number, and email I provide them with my mobile phone number.  I am also available via text messaging, gmail or google talk.

For some reason however, there are still some people that still refuse to leave a voice mail or use one of the other methods mentioned above.  My assistants are taught to encourage my clients to leave a voice mail or they make sure that my client has my cell phone so they can reach me if they do not want to leave a voice mail.  Of course, if the client refuses to leave a voice mail they will take down their information.  The problem arises when it is a time sensitive message that needs immediate action.  There are other times that I am in trial or out of the office and do not receive the message until I return to the office. 

The bottom line is if you really want to get a hold of me leave me a voice mail.  I promise that I will return your phone call promptly!