What Does a Jury Do?

December 16, 2014

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

There are two core questions which a trial resolves.  The first question is what is the applicable law given the charges and the second question to be answered is what are the facts we accept as true.  When you put those two together, you have a verdict.

A judge decides what the applicable law is in any case and the jury decides which facts are true.  If the parties “waive” a jury, then a judge can decide both the law and the facts and render a verdict on his/her own.

Let’s take an assault trial for example.  Typically an accuser will testify x, y and z happened to them.  Let’s just say for argument sake they say the defendant pushed them into a wall and hit their face with an open hand.

Perhaps others present during the incident testify as well and maybe a police officer who came later too takes the stand.  Let’s also suppose for our hypothetical the defendant also testifies and admits to the conduct — but says they did so in self defense.  The Judge will monitor the testimony, rule on objections of the parties and allow the jury to hear evidence and testimony lawfully admitted.

When the evidence is complete, the Judge will issue a Jury Charge to the jurors which guides their deliberations.  The charge will contain the applicable law and will request the jury to answer one or more questions based on what they saw and heard in court.

In an assault case like the one described above, the judge would give the jury the legal definition of assault and possibly the definition of self defense — depending on the specific facts Defendant testified about.  The jury charge is typically three or four pages long and in a criminal case only has one question to answer — is the defendant guilty or not guilty.

If the jury finds the defendant guilty, they may also decide the punishment, again based on jury instructions from the judge.  Criminal defendants in Texas have the right to elect a judge or jury assess punishment in the event they are found guilty.

As lawyers we take for granted everyone knows what a jury does but we sometimes forget that unless you went to law school — or have served on a jury — the entire process can be a bit fuzzy.  I hope this helps!

 

 


How Do You Get Someone Out of Plano Jail on a DWI?

November 12, 2014

Originally posted on Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges:

By Collin County Criminal Defense attorney Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(214) 724-7065  24-hour line

(972) 369-0577   office line

Getting someone out of jail is a two-step process.  A bond (amount of money paid to the County to secure the release of an arrested person) must (1) be set; (2) and then paid or otherwise satisfied.

Bond can be set one of two ways in Plano, Collin County, for a first, second, or DWI over 0.15 arrest:

1.  Writ Bond

Collin County has a process described as a writ bond as a way to release people from jail without having physically appearing before a magistrate judge.  This is a writ of habeas corpus filed by an attorney on behalf of the accused which triggers an instant cash bond with the county.

Once the bond is paid, the person is released (assuming they have no other holds or unaddressed charges pending).

2…

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Deferred Prosecution for Minors

November 11, 2014

Originally posted on Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges:

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

In Texas juveniles (under the age of 17) that are alleged to have committed crimes can be considered for what is known as “Deferred Prosecution” under Texas Family Code 53.03.

Deferred prosecution means that the juvenile completes an informal probation with the county and if that probation is successfully completed, then the charges are dismissed and not formally prosecuted.  If the juvenile cannot successfully complete the deferred prosecution, then they can be formally prosecuted.

Deferred prosecution for juveniles is better than deferred adjudication is for adults in adult proceedings.  In the adult world, the accused pleads guilty to the underlying charges but forever waives their ability to contest the original charges. Also, in the adult-system, the accused must gain the consent of the prosecutor to get deferred adjudication — not so in the Juvenile Court.  In Juvenile Court, the…

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What is Aggravated Assault in Texas?

November 5, 2014

Originally posted on Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges:

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Aggravated assault can happen one of two ways.  For either way, an assault must be committed pursuant to Tex.Pen.C 22.01 AND one of the following two circumstances must have occurred:

1.  the person causes serious bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; or

2.  uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.

“Serious bodily injury” is defined by Texas Penal Code Section 1.07(46) as, “bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

Aggravated assault is a 2nd degree felony and carries with it a prison term of between 2 and 20 years in the Texas Department of Corrections and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Aggravated assault can be a 1st degree…

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Did I Pass the Field Sobriety Test?

October 9, 2014

Originally posted on Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges:

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

When people are visiting with me about their recent DWI arrest in I’m often asked what constitutes passing or failing the standardized field sobriety tests.

I start by telling them that at least according to the grader– they probably failed — but the officer’s opinion ultimately isn’t what counts. It’s the jury’s opinion that matters and if the tests aren’t done to standard (and they often aren’t), then the jury may give the officer’s tests and opinions very little weight.

The truth is that there are three tests that are typically utilized by police and they are highly subjective in how they are graded. Not only that, but they must be given in the manner prescribed by the officer’s training or the results can be compromised. So when the officer says you failed — I tend not to worry.

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What is Hearsay?

October 7, 2014

Originally posted on Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges:

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

As a general rule, if a witness on the stand is repeating what someone else said who isn’t testifying in a case… there are hearsay issues.  In trial you have a constitutional right to cross examine someone testifying against you — but you can’t effectively cross examine someone who isn’t there.

For starters, a short blog can’t possibly do the concept of hearsay any justice. Hearsay is one of the hardest topics in evidence and is heavily covered on the multistate bar exam.

The hearsay rule can block damaging statements from being admitted into evidence at a criminal trial. In some cases, such as assault/ family violence cases, the entire outcome can rest on a single hearsay objection. Yeah… It’s THAT important.

The legal definition of hearsay is, “a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the…

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Texas Assault/ Family Violence Common Legal Issues

September 29, 2014

Originally posted on Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges:

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

Assault is governed by Texas Penal Code Section 22.01(a)(1).  That section provides that someone has committed the offense of assault if the person “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse.”  At first blush, this statute looks scarily broad but in Dallas and Collin Counties in Texas, these cases are among the hardest to successfully prosecute.

What is the Definition of “Bodily Injury?”

Texas Penal Code 1.07(a)(8) defines “bodily injury” as physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.”  Again, scarily broad.  But not to worry.  There are plenty of strong defenses and other mountains the prosecution has to climb if they want to convict someone.

Self Defense

Self defense can absolutely be an affirmative defense in assault cases alleging “bodily injury.”  Section 9.31(a) defines self defense as stating in part, “a person…

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