Jumping bail is not the most common issue, but is very serious. Jumping bail, or failing to appear for a court hearing after posting bail with the intention of avoiding prosecution, sentencing or going to jail is associated with having some very serious consequences. Not many people jump bail, because the chances of getting caught are very high. However, if you are considering jumping bail, there are a few things that you should know.  

You have to appear in court, no matter how serious your charge is, whether it be a misdemeanor or a felony. The hearing is set so that the judge can determine how severe your crimes are and they need to consider what previous charges you have. In this hearing the judge will also decide what your bail will be and whether or not it should be raised, lowered, etc. After this hearing, you will be released until your next scheduled court appearance.

What Happens If You Do Not Appear

Posting bail and being released is a privilege that the court systems offer to keep you from sitting in jail throughout the entire legal process. If you do not appear in court, this privilege will be taken away from you. A judge will issue a “bench warrant” and your arrest will be ordered immediately.

Law enforcement officers may actively seek you out, if you have failed to appear at your scheduled court date. If they do not, you can and will be arrested and taken into custody if you are pulled over or stopped by a police officer for any other infraction. Besides having your bail privilege revoked, the courts will keep the money that you gave them for bail.

If you used a bail bondsman to help post your bail, jumping bail is not just an issue for you, but is for them as well. If you do not appear in court, they are then responsible for making sure you are brought to the court. They will be given a timeline in which they have to get you back into the legal system. If they cannot find you, they will be responsible. This makes bail bondsmen incredibly motivated and they will do whatever they can to contact you. Bail bondsmen have been known to contact family, friends and coworkers of the person in question that has jumped bail. They may also go to your home or workplace in search of you. To avoid this embarrassment, it is better to not jump bail in the first place.

Fighting Failure To Appear Charges

In order for a court to issue the warrant for your arrest and revoke your bail, they must prove that you intentionally and knowingly avoided going to your scheduled court date. The courts are understanding that accidents do happen, and are likely to work with you if you are unable to attend due to a car accident, medical emergency, etc. and another court date can be set.

If you or someone that you know has jumped bail, or you have any questions regarding any criminal defense cases, please do not hesitate to call us at The Law Offices of Gregory R. Terra. We hope that you do not need our services, but are here to help you if you do. Our office can be reached at 512-635-4368.

Forging or altering a prescription is a serious offense that is treated like any other drug offense. The government takes prescription drug fraud very seriously and the consequences can be serious for anyone involved. Anyone can be charged with prescription drug fraud, including: doctors, doctors assistants, nurses and private individuals. These crimes are difficult for law enforcement to investigate because there are many privacy laws surrounding medical situations.

Situations In Which A Prescription Can Be Altered or Forged

  • Altering a current prescription by hand

  • Altering a current prescription by use of a computer

  • Forging a prescription

  • Impersonating a medical professional by forging the signature of a medical professional in order to obtain unauthorized prescription drugs

  • Calling in a prescription, impersonating a medical professional, in order to receive unauthorized prescription drugs

  • A medical professional prescribing a controlled substance for no apparent medical reason

In many cases, prescription drug fraud is committed by patients that steal the prescription drug pad of a medical professional for their personal use. After obtaining the pad, the patient then forges the prescription and signature of said medical professional.

Another common occurrence is a patient altering a current prescription by altering the dosage so that they receive a higher dosage than originally prescribed, or altering the quantity of the medication so that they receive a larger quantity of said medication.

Though the above are common cases of forging and altering of prescriptions by private individuals, medical professionals are not immune from committing such crimes. These charges are serious for medical professionals because not only can they lose their medical licenses, but they also will be charged with fines and possible jail time.

Common Illegally Obtained Drugs

  • Vicodin

  • Xanax

  • Codeine

  • Hydrocodone

  • Oxycodone

  • Adderall

Many of the substances that are commonly obtained illegally are addictive in nature, which explains why prescriptions are often forged or altered.

Consequences

Though above we have mentioned how forging or altering a prescription can affect medical professionals, the most common offenders are private individuals. Like the medical professionals, private individuals can severely affect their lives by committing such an offense. If the situation is the first offense of a private individual, in the state of Texas it is considered to be a Class B misdemeanor. If the event has happened several times with the same individual, it will be considered a Class A misdemeanor. The individual may be charged with fines, jail time or time in a rehabilitation center depending on the severity of the crime.

Defense Against Forging and Altering Prescription Drugs

A lawsuit involving such charges can be difficult for both parties. The prosecutors must prove that the prescription was altered or forged by the individual. The severity of the charges depend on what type of drug was illegally “prescribed”. Therefore, it is best to know what your exact charges are and what the consequences are for the drug that was illegally prescribed.

If you have committed such a crime it may be possible to get the judge to waive the fines and/or jail time by offering probation or time in a rehabilitation center. This can be achieved if the judge is lenient and you use an experienced and qualified attorney.

If you or anyone that you know has been charged with prescription drug fraud, contact The Law Offices of Gregory R. Terra. The Terra Law firm is experienced in prescription drug fraud cases and can offer legal counsel, so contact us today to schedule a consultation!

With the recent controversy in Austin, Texas there has been a significant amount of speculation on what the Texas “failure to identify” laws are. There is confusion about when an individual must provide a peace officer with the requested information. Texas Law states that if arrested, you must provide your name, address and date of birth. Police may ask for more information. However, the real controversy lies in situations where the stopped person is not being arrested. A person must be stopped lawfully, in order for them to have to provide the peace officer with information. Several things have to occur for an individual to be lawfully stopped and there are two situations that can result in a failure to identify charge.

A) A person commits an offense of failure to identify if he/she intentionally refuses to give his name, address or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information.

B) A person commits an offense of failure to identify if he/she intentionally gives a false name, address or date of birth. (Giving fictitious identification cards to a police officer may be a different charge in itself).

These apply whether a person is being arrested or detained, lawfully. The officer can also request information from a person if he/she has good cause to believe that they are a witness to a criminal offense.

Lawful Detainment

Before being stopped, an officer must have reasonable, articulable suspicion that a crime has occurred or is about to occur. They must be able to state facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a crime occurred or will be occurring soon. If the detainment or arrest is lawful, the officer may ask questions and request information.

Defense Against These Claims

Fighting Failure to Identify claims is possible, but can be difficult. The person in question would have to prove that their detainment or arrest was unlawful and without probable cause. A person may also fight a failure to identify claim if the law that they were questioned about or detained/arrested for, is vague. Such an example is the public intoxication of a homeless person or a person without means to support themselves. A homeless person does not have a place of residence and lives in public space. Therefore, making the law vague.

Penalties For Failing To Identify

The penalties for failing to identify are typically Class C misdemeanors, unless the person in question is a fugitive at the time of the arrest or the detainment. If this situation occurs, failing to identify can be considered a Class B misdemeanor. A person that has been charged with failing to identify can receive up to 6 months in a county jail, if the Court sees fit. The Court can also decide what kind of jail the person in question serves time in. A person who fails to identify themselves may also receive fines up to $2,000.00 from the Court and probation. It is not uncommon for those who fail to identify to have to report to a probation officer to discuss terms and conditions following a charge. Community service is also a common probation term that is associated with failing to identify. The Court decides how many community service hours are required for the individual to complete.

If you or anyone that you know is in need of legal counsel for failing to identify or any other criminal defense claims, contact The Law Offices of Gregory R. Terra today!

Money laundering is a very serious white-collar crime that is punishable by state and federal laws. Money laundering is when criminals disguise the original ownership or control of the proceeds of criminal activity by making such proceeds appear to have come from a legitimate source. A simpler definition for money laundering is someone making a profit out of a crime. You can be charged with money laundering if you knowingly acquire, have a constant interest in, conceal, possess, transport or transfer the proceeds of a criminal act. You can also be charged with this white-collar crime if you invest, expend or receive the proceeds of a criminal activity, or by offering to do so. It often occurs that business partners and employees of someone that is involved in money laundering also receive charges. This can be fought in court, since it is likely that these individuals had no knowledge of the activity.

The Prosecutor Must Prove:

In order to be convicted, the prosecutor must prove that the person in question was aware that the activity, in which the proceeds came from, was of a criminal nature.

Defense Against Money Laundering Charges

The person in question cannot be convicted if they had absolutely no knowledge of where they money or proceeds were actually coming from. The person in question can also escape or be excused from conviction if they were part of the money laundering process to aid law enforcement in seizing the funds and catching the real criminals. Certain attorneys can escape conviction if the proceeds that they were given were legal fees and that they did not know that the money came from a source that was involved in money laundering.

Penalties of Money Laundering

Potential jail time and fines are at risk with any form of money laundering at any amount of money being laundered. If found guilty of laundering money in a federal court, you can receive up to 20 years of jail time. However, the severity of the charges and how much money was laundered affect what charge is being given.

  • An amount of $1,500.00 to below $20,000.00 is considered to be a felony under state law.

  • An amount of $20,000.00 to below $100,000.00 is considered to be a third degree felony.

  • An amount of $100,000.00 to below $200,000.00 is considered to be a second degree felony.

  • An amount of $200,000.00 and higher is considered to be a first degree felony.

A great example of how a money laundering scheme can end up is the story of Jordan Belfort. Belfort wrote The Wolf of Wall Street, a real life account of what he did and how he ended up serving time for money laundering and fraud. A movie was recently produced and released, based off of his book.

If you or anyone that you know has been involved in money laundering, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. If you live around the Georgetown area in Texas, contact The Law Office of Gregory R. Terra. Terra Law Firm is experienced in money laundering charges and many other charges. Contact our office at 512-635-4368 if you have questions regarding money laundering or need legal assistance.

 

In Texas, interfering with an emergency telephone call is punishable by law. If anyone is trying to contact the police, for any reason in an emergency situation, such as domestic violence or witnessing a hit and run, it is against to law to prevent them from doing so. This offense is taken very seriously and anyone accused can have life altering punishments from committing this crime.

There are several ways that one could be charged with this offense according to the Texas Penal Code Section 42.062. (a) The individual commits the offense if the individual knowingly prevents or interferes with another individual’s ability to place an emergency telephone call or to request assistance in an emergency.

(b) The individual recklessly renders unusable a telephone that would otherwise be used by another individual to place an emergency telephone call.

Section (b) is typically charged as as a Class A misdemeanor. However, this charge is bumped up to a more severe charge if the individual has previously been convicted of this type of emergency call interference.

Requirements For This To Be A Punishable Offense

  • In order for the offense to be truly an interference with an emergency call, it has to be real and not a fake call.

  • The (attempted) emergency call has to be prevented– either by physically or verbally restraining the one attempting to place the emergency call

  • The (attempted) emergency call has to be seeking protection or to report the occurrence of a crime. The situation has to be an emergency for the reporting of a crime.

  • The (attempted) emergency call was interrupted intendedly by the one interfering.

The consequences for this crime can be severe. Possible jail time can be assigned for up to a year. Possible fines can be given up to $4,000.00 and the convicted individual can possibly lose the right to own firearms. Additional penalties will be added if this is not the first offense, and depends on the severity of the case.

The Court has to prove several things before convicting anyone of interfering with a telephone call. The Court has to firstly prove that the individual in question intended to interfere with the call. This is sometimes very hard for them to do. The Court also has to prove that threats, suggesting that physical harm would come to attempted caller, were given to the attempted caller by the individual in question.

The best way to fight an accusation of interfering with an emergency call is to seek legal help from an attorney that has had significant experience in dealing with charges such as these. The Law Office of Gregory R. Terra can help offer legal counsel in the Georgetown, Texas area. Terra Law Firm serves clients in the surrounding areas to Georgetown such as Austin and Round Rock. Contact his office today at 512-635-4368 for a free consultation. If you have any other questions about the legal services and charges handled that the Law Office of Gregory R. Terra offers, the staff can help.

A common charge for many high school and college students is a Minor In Possession (commonly referred to as M.I.P) charge. These charges can sometimes be expunged off of permanent records, but can still be quite the process to deal with. Most importantly: what constitutes a Minor In Possession?

 

A Minor In Possession means:

A person under the age of twenty one years old has been given a citation by a police officer or Texas Alcohol and Beverage Control Officer for being illegally in possession, ownership, or control of an alcoholic beverage.

 

Minors put themselves at risk of receiving one of these citations every time they choose to attend a party, go to a nightclub or bar, or are in a vehicle that alcohol is present (even if it is not theirs).

 

To Avoid Receiving This Citation a Minor Cannot:

  • touch an alcoholic beverage

  • hold an alcoholic beverage

  • transport any alcoholic beverage

  • attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages

  • consume or have contact with any alcoholic beverages

 

The above are sure ways for a minor to receive a MIP charge. However, there are other ways to receive the charge as well. This type of possession is referred to as Constructive Possession.

 

Constructive Possession Can Be:

  • A minor is standing at or near a table in which alcoholic beverages or cans are present

  • A minor is cleaning up empty alcoholic beverage cups or cans, for someone who is over the age of 21

  • A minor merely holds an alcoholic beverage for an older friend to put on a jacket or grab a purse

  • A minor uses an empty alcoholic beverage container for something other than drinking, ex: spitting into the can, etc.

  • A minor helping to carry grocery bags for an older friend in which alcoholic beverages are present

Consequences:

If a Minor In Possession citation is received in the state of Texas, it is considered to be a Class C Misdemeanor and a fine up to, but not exceeding, $500 will be added. Sometimes, judges allow a deal to be made between the offender and the court, in place of a conviction. In this case, a judge may add community service hours that can range from 8 to 40 hours (the number depending on the number of previous offenses and severity of the case), require alcohol education and abuse courses be taken, and possibly reduce fines for the citation holder. If the citation is given while a minor is driving or in possession of the keys to a vehicle in which alcohol is present, the citation holder possibly may have their license suspended from between 30 to 180 days. Previous convictions or charges may lead to increased punishment or added consequences.

 

In order to receive maximum legal help in the case of a Minor In Possession citation, hiring a lawyer experienced in this type of citation is encouraged. The Law Office of Gregory R. Terra is such an attorney that can help in a situation such as this. His office is located in Georgetown, Texas and can be reached at 512-635-4368 or contact can be made through his website. If you have any questions regarding M.I.P citations or any other legal matters in criminal defense, feel free to contact the office to set up a free consultation.

 

Driving under the influence is a serious offense, even if you are being charged for the first time. To be guilty of DUI, a person must “operate a motor vehicle” in a “public place” while “intoxicated.” Though getting a DUI is life altering, it is not the end of the world. If you have recently been arrested for a DUI, there are several steps that need to be taken in order to get your life back on track. The necessary steps are:

  1. Seek legal counsel immediately: It is important to fully understand the laws in your state when it comes to DUI’s and hiring a qualified attorney who has had experience dealing with them can be all the difference in getting your license reinstated
  2. Report to Court: it should go without saying, appearing to Court on your court date is extremely important. It is not optional.
  3. Carry out your punishment in full: Punishments can include: fines, classes probation, license revoking or restriction and/or possibly jail time
  4. Carry the correct insurance: Insurance companies often terminate policies after DUIs so you must regain coverage as well as filling out and filing a SR-22 document. You must carry this document and your insurance with you for a minimum of 3 years
  5. Attempt to get your license back: If punishment is carried out in full and insurance coverage is regained, there is a possibility of license reinstatement. After a DUI, licenses may be temporary or have restrictions such as you may only drive to and from work, etc.

These steps are completely necessary and must be taken whether or not your end goal is to get your license reinstated.

Cost

Another thing to consider after getting a DUI is how much it is going to cost you, so planning for the cost correctly is important. In the state of Texas, the average cost for your first DUI offense ranges from $9,102 to $11,502. However, every state has a different average cost, so doing research can help you plan for this financial burden accurately. OneDUI’s website has an excellent list of average DUI costs for US each state.

Type of Charge

Something else to consider is the type of charge your DUI is. In Texas, your first DUI is a Class-B Misdemeanor if there is not a child passenger present. If it is your second DUI you will be charged with a Class-A Misdemeanor. Your third DUI will be charged as a felony. If there is a child passenger present in the vehicle, the DUI will also be charged as a felony, even if it is your first offense. Also,the motor vehicle in question does not have to be a car in order to get a DUI. There have been cases of DUIs being given to those driving golf cart drivers and go-carts before, so driving under the influence is taken extremely seriously. The type of vehicle may also contribute to the type of charge and cost of the DUI. An experienced attorney can help break this down further if any other questions arise.

Though DUIs are taken seriously, no attorney is going to judge you over the whole ordeal. They are here to help. Attorney George R. Terra is an experienced in criminal defense and can answer any further questions about your recent DUI. Contact his office to make an appointment for a free 15-20 consultation.

Assault is a civil tort or it can be a criminal charge. Like any alleged legal wrongdoing, assault must be proved by meeting specific elements.  It is often connected to battery which is unlawful physical contact, but we will discuss that in a separate post.

Some elements of assault are:

  1. It is an intentional act;

  2. To create apprehension;

  3. Of imminent harmful or offensive contact.

  4. Aggravated Assault

Intentional Act

The first element of assault involves an intentional act.  Simply put, the alleged must make an attempt to frighten, intimidate, scare, or otherwise cause apprehension.  It cannot be that Person A sneezed so hard that it caused them to bump into Person B.  That is not assault.  That is an accident.  Intent is an essential element for an assault charge.

Creating Apprehension

It is important to note that while fear is a form of apprehension, apprehension is not a form of fear.  Apprehension is, simply put, a state of being on edge or expecting something to happen.  Apprehension must be which would affect a reasonable person.  The apprehension must be for imminent harm or offensive contact.  Simply put, the threat must make the person believe it is about to occur.

One of the best known examples of whether or not this element was met is to consider someone that is sleeping.  If a gun is pointed at a sleeping person, will that person feel apprehension?  No.  That person is asleep. Since this element is not met, there is no assault.

Imminent Contact

Imminent means that the person believes it is about to happen. If a person screamed, “I’m going to shoot you in the face!” and this person does not have a gun in their hand, assault did not occur.  The reason it did not occur is because someone cannot expect to be shot in the face at that moment when no gun is present.  Would that statement cause apprehension?  In a lot of people, it most certainly would cause feelings of apprehension.  A threat of bodily harm is an unpleasant experience.  However, if there is no means to follow through in a forthcoming moment, it is not assault.

Aggravated Assault

All assaults are not created equal.  Aggravated assault is punishable as a felony.  Common aggravated assaults may be included in cases that involve the intent to murder, rob, or rape an individual.  If there is intent to inflict serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon may be charged as aggravated.

Punishment

Punishment for assault may depend on many factors if an individual is adjudged guilty.  In civil assault, the victim could be awarded compensatory damages.  In some jurisdictions, punitive damages may be awarded in an attempt to deter similar future behavior.  In criminal assault, an individual that pleads or is found guilty may be punished by a fine, imprisonment, and both.

If you are charged with assault, it is important that you hire an experienced attorney.  The right attorney can assist in a good defense; they can also, if necessary, advocate for a lesser punishment.