Ceja Law Firm, PLLC discusses what you should do when you have an active warrant for your arrest and want to turn yourself in.

Warrant Out for Your Arrest? What to Know Before Turning Yourself In

Often times when we think about someone with an outstanding warrant, we picture old cowboy movies or dangerous fugitives on the run. Though sometimes that is the case, oftentimes it’s not quite like that. Those with an outstanding warrant often wonder as to whether or not they should turn themselves in or wait until the police catch them. 

As attorneys, we are obligated to tell you that you must turn yourself in immediately if you have an active warrant. Those who turn themselves in are usually entitled to receive a bond and may be out of custody while counsel is tending to the matter. 

Warrant Out for Your Arrest? Factors to Consider

If you decide to turn yourself in, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney. You or your family should make arrangements with a bail bondsman before turning yourself in. Although you are Constitutionally entitled to a bond in most cases, it is possible that you will not receive a bond. When this is the case it can take a few days for the attorney to be able to get on the court’s docket for a bond hearing. 

Fortunately, not receiving a bond is rarer these days. In Harris County and other counties, judges are more inclined to grant so-called “PR” bonds for many offenders, which makes it so the defendant does not actually have to post money to be let out of jail. 

If you are currently living in a state other than the state in which the warrant is issued, you may find yourself in jail for a longer period of time since you will be transported (also known as “extradited”) back to the state in question. This may take a bit – sometimes even weeks, and the process can be expedited if the defendant waives his right to contest extradition. Members of the U.S. military should immediately contact the individual who serves as their command in order for he or she to help you during the process of turning yourself in. 

Another factor to think about before turning yourself in is if it is the weekend or a holiday that occurs on either a Monday or Friday. If you turn yourself in at any of these times, and you do not receive a bond, you could be held until the following weekday when the court is once again open. 

Remember that choosing to ignore an outstanding warrant does not make it go away. Lawyers will not take your case until you have already turned yourself in on the warrant. The courts take into consideration whether you have taken the initiative to turn yourself in and take responsibility for your actions. This may even increase the likelihood of receiving bail prior to the trial. 

Ceja Law Firm PLLC Helps Those Who Have Outstanding Warrants in Texas

You can find out if you have a warrant out for your arrest by search the outstanding warrants lists provided by each city. If you or a loved one is facing an outstanding warrant, it is important that you know what is best to do. The experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC can help! To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Ceja Law Firm, PLLC discusses everything you should know about hate crimes.

What to Know About Hate Crimes

With one of the most divisive presidents in decades in office, it is not too surprising to understand the amount of division and the strong opinions that exist in our current political landscape. And while we are all entitled to our own thoughts and opinions, we should always think before we act. Unfortunately, sometimes people act before they think. If you have been charged with a crime that authorities have chosen to pursue as a hate crime, the stakes are even higher and the penalties even harsher. 

What Separates a Crime from a Hate Crime?

It is important for people to understand the difference between a crime and a hate crime. While a crime is a criminal act committed against another individual, a hate crime occurs when you carry out the same act based upon the personal bias of a perceived protected class. It does not matter whether or not the individual actually belongs to the protected class – just that the defendant believed them to. Protected classes under the law include race, religion, color, national origin, and sexual orientation.  

The following is an example of how a crime is raised to a hate crime. Let us imagine that you strike someone. This is considered the crime of assault and you can receive criminal charges for it. But if you struck the same person because of the fact that they are Muslim, you may be charged with a hate crime. 

Other Important Information on Hate Crimes

There are some other facts that each of us should understand about hate crimes.

  • Those who vandalize someone else’s property because of that person’s protected class may be charged with a hate crime.
  • It is not illegal to express hateful speech; it is illegal to express hateful speech along with threats or to also incite violence.  This may be considered a hate crime.
  • Terrorism that is carried out because of a bias against a group of people may be considered a hate crime 

The toughest part of charging – and convicting – someone with a hate crime is that hate crimes rest on intent. But since we are unable to be in anyone else’s head, it is difficult to know what drove someone else’s actions. Since there is a high interest in protecting the safety maintaining the peace of mind of communities, hate crimes carry much higher penalties than crimes. 

The Criminal Defense Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC Help Those Who Have Been Charged with a Hate Crime

If you or a loved one has been charged with a hate crime – regardless of a conviction – it can greatly impact your life. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Criminal Defense Attorney, At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we will fight to reduce or even eliminate your charges. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Ceja Law Firm PLLC discusses what you should know about cyberbullying.

What to Know About the Crime of Cyberbullying

Unfortunately, bullying has become commonplace for most children – and even some adults. But if that isn’t bad enough, the advent of new technology and an ever-changing online landscape, cyberbullying has also continued to see an increase.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is any bullying that occurs over digital devices such as tablets, cell phones, and computers. It includes everything from posting and sending, to sharing mean, false, or harmful content about someone else. The sharing of personal or private information about someone else that causes them embarrassment or humiliation can also constitute cyberbullying. 

Essentially, in Texas cyberbullying is defined as anyone using any electronic device to engage in bullying or intimidation. In Texas, some of these acts apply only to students, while others apply to everyone within the state. 

Cyberbullying can occur in many places, such as over:

  • Email
  • Text Messages
  • Instant Messages
  • Social Media

With school now back in session, the safety of our children is still at the forefront of our minds. Though we strive to protect our children in every way possible, it can be very difficult to protect our kids from cyberbullying. Should you discover that your child’s behavior or attitude seems to have changed in a negative manner, this could be an indication that they are experiencing cyberbullying. 

Talk to Your Kids

It may not be the most enjoyable conversation, but it is of great importance that you discuss the issue of cyberbullying with your children and to check in with them on a somewhat regular basis. They should know and feel that they can come to you should they find anything upsetting or should anything dangerous or inappropriate transpire. Always enforce online safety rules with your kids and inform them that they should never respond to cyberbullying, but instead preserve the messages for an adult to see. It is also very important that you contact law enforcement should the cyberbullying increase or should there be any threats of physical violence. 

Penalties

Those who commit cyberbullying can be found guilty of other criminal charges:

  • Harassment – This occurs when someone:
    • Intentionally communicates an obscene proposal
    • Threatens
    • Coveys a false report, or
    • Makes a call or sends a message designed to harass, annoy, alarm, embarrass, or torment.

Harassment is either a Class A or B misdemeanor dependent upon the circumstances.

  • Online Impersonation – This occurs when someone:
    • Acts with the intent to harm, defraud, or intimidate and:
      • Creates a page on a website, or
      • Sends messages in the guise of someone else without that person’s permission

Online impersonation is either a felony or a misdemeanor depending upon the circumstances.

  • Disruptive Activities – This occurs when someone uses force or threats of force to:
    • Obstruct people from moving through a school
    • Prevent or attempt to prevent others from participating in school assemblies, or
    • Obstruct or restrain a person from entering or leaving a school. 

Disruptive activities are considered to be a Class B misdemeanor.

Ceja Law Firm PLLC Helps Those in Texas Who Have Been Charged with Cyberbullying

If you or a loved one has been accused of cyberbullying, it is a serious offense not to be taken lightly. The experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC can help! To learn more about cyberbullying or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Ceja Law Firm, PLLC discusses the ways a blood alcohol content test can be inaccurate.

DUI Defense: Inaccurate Blood Alcohol Content Test

When you are pulled over and suspected of being under the influence, you will likely be given a blood test in order to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is also known as the blood alcohol content test. In the state of Texas, an individual must be at least 21 years of age in order to legally consume an alcoholic beverage. 

It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. One is considered under the influence if they have a BAC of 0.08% or higher and they will be charged with a DUI. For those under the age of 21, a driver must not test positive for any BAC – even if that amount is under the legal limit of 0.08%. Should this be the case, you may be charged with a DWI. Unfortunately, there are very few forms of objective evidence able to be admitted in a DUI or DWI trial. Because of this, these tests are commonly used as evidence, leaving the defendant to question their validity as a defense. 

It should be known that despite their pervasiveness, these tests are not always conclusive. An individual’s BAC results from numerous factors including gender, size, and medication. 

Invalidating a BAC Test

There are five different ways in which the blood alcohol content test can be invalidated. These include the following:

1. Blood Collection Issues

Technicians, who are responsible for prepping the site and drawing the blood are commonly provided minimal training and may, therefore, make a mistake that can have a serious effect. These mistakes include taking too big or too small of a sample, failing to properly clean the site of injection, and failing to prep the area with alcohol swabs.

2. Chain of Custody Issues

Any criminal case that involves tangible evidence must establish and always maintain a chain of custody. The prosecution has the burden of proof. The whereabouts of a blood sample must be known at all times, including whenever the sample changes hands. When this occurs it must be recorded down to the time and date of the transfer.

3. Storage Issues

How blood samples are stored can have an effect on the results. Blood samples are kept in vacuum-sealed tubes containing certain chemicals that help to prevent contamination as well as preserve the authenticity of the sample.  Mistakes such as using tubes past their expiration date can have an effect on the results.

4. Hospital Lab Testing Issues

Hospital labs utilize different techniques from forensic labs. Hospitals generally only test blood plasma, which is more concentrated than testing the whole sample. Additionally, certain injuries may cause lactic acid, which hospital tests generally are unable to distinguish from ethyl alcohol. 

5. Lab and Equipment Issues

Forensic labs commonly lack funding and enough staff. Therefore it is not surprising that equipment is often not maintained, which can result in an inaccurate reading and perhaps even a higher BAC. Additionally, since these labs are often related to law enforcement, technicians sometimes choose to shape results to help them achieve a conviction. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with a DUI

Once you have been charged with driving under the influence, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced DUI attorney, who can help to challenge the validity of your results. 

Invalidating a BAC test can be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, fill out a contact form or call us at 713-987-3425 today!

Ceja Law Firm, PLLC gives an overview of what you should know about your Miranda Rights.

What to Know About Your Miranda Rights

If you have ever sat through an episode of “Cops” or “Law and Order,” you have probably heard the arresting officer speaking to the accused and saying something like “You have the right to remain silent.” This sentence marks the beginning of what is known as a Miranda Warning. A Miranda Warning serves to alert each person to his or her constitutional rights. Here is what you should know about your Miranda Rights should the police stop you. 

What Are Miranda Rights?

Your Miranda Rights are those constitutional rights that you have under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. These rights first originated under a 1966 case called Miranda v. Arizona, in which police went to the home of Ernesto Miranda, who was suspected of stealing eight dollars from a bank worker. While at the police station for questioning voluntarily, he signed a statement of admission that he was guilty of rape and kidnapping. He was tried and convicted, but appealed his case through the court system, with the U.S. Supreme Court eventually agreeing to hear it. 

The Court returned a verdict in favor of Miranda, finding that he had been in police custody at the time of his statements but had never been advised of his rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments (e.g. the right to remain silent, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to an attorney). This was a landmark case, which led to the adoption of specific rules of each state concerning what its police must follow when warning individuals in custody about their rights. 

The Purpose of Miranda Rights

In order for any incriminating statements made by an individual who is being interrogated by the police, they must first read you your Miranda rights. If they fail to do so, such statements are inadmissible as evidence against you. 

Should you request an attorney and state that you do not want to talk after you have been read your Miranda rights, the police are required to immediately cease any questioning. If you are not given a Miranda warning while in police custody and you admit guilt and provide information regarding where evidence is hidden, both the admission and the evidence will likely be inadmissible. However, it is important to note that if you are read your rights and waive them, still continuing to talk, whatever you say can be used as evidence against you to convict you. 

One of the best decisions that you can make after being read your Miranda rights is to request an attorney and cease discussions. The attorney can act as your protector and tell you when you should and should not answer questions. 

When Are They Read?

Once you have been detained by a police officer, which means that you are no longer free to leave, the officer must read you your rights. What often happens is that police officers tell an individual they are questioning that he or she is free to leave at any time, but due to their authority, many people are too intimidated to do so. 

Although your Miranda rights afford you the opportunity to invoke your constitutional right to remain silent, there is certain information that is not included under this protection. If you are asked for your identification and insurance information during a traffic stop, you must provide it – you do not have any right not to. 

Ceja Law Firm PLLC Helps Those in Texas Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

If you have been questioned by the police while in their custody without first being read your Miranda rights, any incriminating statements that you have made may not be used against you. If you have not been read your Miranda Rights, Ceja Law Firm PLLC can help! To learn more about your Miranda Rights or to schedule a consultation call us at 713-766-3769 today!

Ceja Law Firm discusses the defenses you can use if charged with assault.

I’ve Been Charged with Assault in Texas: Now What?

It can be very alarming when you have been charged with assault in Houston. Regardless of whether or not you have committed this crime, the short- and long-term effects and consequences can prove quite severe. There is a lot at stake. Should you be found guilty, you could be facing everything from jail time to fines, including restitution. 

In Texas, there are two different types of assault charges: assault and aggravated assault. 

Assault

Simple assault charges may be brought if you have:

  • Threatened another person with imminent bodily harm;
  • Intentionally or knowingly engaged in physical contact with another person when you knew or should have known that this contact would be considered provocative or offense to them; or
  • Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly caused bodily injury to another person. 

Aggravated Assault

To be charged with aggravated assault, the assault must have either caused serious bodily harm to another person or you wielded deadly weapon during the commission of the assault. According to Chapter 5, Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code, aside from simple or aggravated assault, you may also be charged with any of the following:

  • Abandoning or Endangering a Child
  • Aggravated Sexual Assault
  • Deadly Conduct
  • Injury to a Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual
  • Leaving a Child in a Vehicle
  • Sexual Assault
  • Tampering with a Consumer Product
  • Terroristic Threats

Defenses to Assault

Dependent upon what you have been charged with (which class of misdemeanor or which degree of felony), the consequences can range from a fine of up to $500 all the way to 10 years to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.

Luckily, dependent upon the circumstances of your specific case and arrest, an attorney may have several different defenses that he or she can assert to get the charges reduced or even dropped. Such defenses include the following:

  • You were acting in self-defense
  • This is a case of mistaken identity – you are not the person responsible
  • The victim knew that the conduct which occurred was an inherent risk of their occupation or a recognized method of medical treatment or scientific experiment
  • The victim and/or witnesses are not being truthful
  • Prosecutors failed to meet one of the necessary elements of the crime

Ceja Law Firm PLLC Helps Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with Assault

If you or a loved one has been charged with assault, the possibility of a conviction could leave many negative, long-term effects. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Texas Criminal Defense Attorney. At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we care about you and will fight to get you the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, call us at 713-987-3425 today!

Defenses to Auto Theft in Texas

Auto theft is a very serious crime that is commonly charged as a felony. If you have been charged with the crime of auto theft in the state of Texas, it is important that you understand exactly what you are dealing with.

Proving Auto Theft in Texas

Auto theft in Texas, often referred to as Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, is a state felony. It is rather easy to prove. An individual has committed unauthorized use of a vehicle in Texas if he or she:

  1. Intentionally or knowingly operates another’s vehicle; and
  2. Does so without the effective consent of its rightful owner.

The Consequences of a Conviction

If convicted, it is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and six months to two years in the state jail. Some prosecutors will choose to charge auto theft under the general theft statute, though generally only when the automobile in question has a value greater than $30,000 and therefore chargeable as a third-degree felony, which carries a fine of up to $10,000 or anywhere from two to 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections.

Unauthorized use of a vehicle differs from general theft in Texas in that general theft also requires proof of the intent to deprive the owner of the property. This is a big reason as to why prosecutors generally tend to charge auto theft as unauthorized use of a motor vehicle rather than theft; they do not need to prove intent.

Defenses

There are however, two main defenses to auto theft. They are:

Consent
In a case where an individual is charged with use of a motor vehicle or theft, the defendant may argue that he or she thought that the owner gave him or her the consent to use the vehicle.

Lack of Intent
In a case where an individual is charged as a general theft, the defendant may argue that he or she did not have the requisite intent to deprive the owner of the his or her vehicle.

As mentioned, a conviction for either unauthorized use of a vehicle or general theft can have a seriously impact. You may face a fine, jail or prison time, or even both as well as community supervision and a criminal record. Also, since the crime of theft is one of moral wrongdoing, it will become much more difficult to obtain employment with such a criminal conviction on your record.

Ceja Law Firm PLLC Helps Those in TX Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

Such a conviction can affect everything from where you live to where you work, to whether you can even find work. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the severity of the charge and the enormity of what is at stake. We will fight to minimize or even eliminate a conviction. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 713.568.5380 today!

Supreme Court Feuding Over Religious Reprieve of Texas Death Row Inmate

The U.S. Supreme Court Justices have found themselves add odds with one another after a recent decision was made to grant a temporary reprieve to a Texas inmate facing the death penalty due to his spiritual adviser not being present.

Request for a Buddhist Priest

In 2000, Patrick Murphy was part of a group of inmates who escaped from a Texas prison. He had committed a number of robberies in which a police officer was shot and killed. During his time on death row, Murphy became a practicing Buddhist. As such he requested that his spiritual adviser, a Buddhist priest, be present at his execution.

Texas officials maintained that the only religious personnel allowed in the death chamber were chaplains who were inspected and vetted thoroughly by the prison system. After Murphy’s lawyers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, he was granted a temporary reprieve from execution by the justices.

Though Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the majority opinion that “…discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech – violates the Constitution,” the Justices failed to come to that same decision in a similar case, only weeks earlier.

Request for a Muslim Imam

Not long before this case, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a similar request by Dominique Ray, a Muslim from Alabama, who had requested that, his imam be allowed to attend the execution. Ray’s attorneys argued for a federal appeals court that his execution violated the Constitution in that it favored Christian inmates over Muslim inmates.

A Contradictory Precedent?

After the federal appeals court stopped his execution, the Supreme Court reversed that decision. A majority of the Justices argued that Ray had waited too long to flle an appeal; he did so fewer than two weeks before the date of his execution. Murphy’s attorneys filed his appeal only about a month before the date of his scheduled execution. However, Murphy’s appeal at the state level was also based upon Texas bills that would limit the death penalty for those who assisted but did not kill anyone at a crime scene.

Ray, who was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, was executed on February 7.

Ceja Law Firm PLLC Will Fight for Those Accused of Capital Murder in TX

Despite the number of executions falling significantly on a national level, the number of inmates who have been put to death in Texas actually rose in 2018. That’s why it is so important for those who have been accused of capital murder to seek out a knowledgeable and experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we have years of experience in criminal law. Our Texas criminal defense attorneys understand the significance of such a charge. We will fight for you. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 713.568.5380 today!