Our Number is (972) 369-0577. Put it In Your Phone Right Now. Yes, YOU!

June 13, 2017

By Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Put our phone number in your phone right now.  It is (972) 369-0577.

Why do you want a criminal defense lawyer’s number in your phone?  It should be self explanatory but many don’t think they’ll ever need it.  Fair enough.

There are two main reasons.

The First Reason

I recently spoke to several groups of non-lawyers about criminal justice.  They were interested in my topic but not particularly excited or passionate.  Why should they be?  To them criminal cases happen in newspapers or on television and — like advertising — it might affect a few people out there but it doesn’t affect them.

At the most recent lecture, I decided to bring the topic home for a more engaging discussion.  I wanted the audience to know why they all needed our phone numbers in their phone.  And the answer is simple —  You don’t lead a life of crime and you don’t plan on getting arrested…? GREAT!  Me too!

But Rosenthal & Wadas has built a big criminal defense law practice right here in the suburb of McKinney, Texas?  How did we do that…?  Because people’s sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, grandsons, granddaughters, sisters, brothers, friends and co-workers are getting arrested here.  They get arrested for DWI, domestic violence, drug charges, embezzlement, sexual assault and on and on and on.

Now, when a criminal case gets hot — it gets hot.  When the arrest or accusation happens — the case is hot.  We potentially create more value by getting into a case right at the beginning than at any other time.  This is because we can represent someone during an investigation or sometimes just help put the fire of an arrest out so we can begin getting to the bottom of what happened to get the best end result.

Sometimes key legal advice or representation at the inception of a case can make the whole thing go away.  You read that right.

So if you don’t plan on ever getting arrested — great — but put our number in your phone for when you get an unexpected call from a co-worker, friend, or just a non-conformist family member.  People’s friends and loved ones are being arrested every-day right here in Collin County and they’ll often turn to you looking for direction.  I hope it is never your loved one, but why not be prepared?

Our office has a lawyer on call 24/7.

The Second Reason

Putting our number in your phone is free.  (972) 369-0577.

Do it now while you’re thinking about it.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice about any specific situation you should contact a lawyer directly.

 

 


Can I Get Sued Because of A Criminal Case… Or Vice Versa… Can I Be Charged With a Crime because of a Civil Case?

November 30, 2016

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Today I’ll discuss a question I get from time to time in various forms:

  • “Can I also get sued even though I’m being criminally prosecuted?”

… and the same question in reverse,

  • “I’m getting sued right now (or being threatened with a lawsuit)… could they also criminally prosecute me?”

…another common one is,

  • “Can someone threaten me with criminal charges to get me to settle a civil dispute?”

Could Someone Being Criminally Prosecuted also be Sued?

Yes, but it’s very rare and comparing a criminal prosecution to a civil lawsuit is like comparing a knife fight to a pillow fight.  I might be more biased because I handle criminal cases but I tend to think they’re far more serious than civil cases — though civil cases can be thoroughly unpleasant too.

Most crimes where there is an accuser or victim involved can almost certainly trigger civil liability.  Civil causes of action are far easier to bring and are generally easier to prove-up (because they’re just trying to take your money and not your liberty — or so the theory goes).

Probably the most common scenario I see is a car accident case where DWI might be alleged.  Even that is mostly insurance companies duking out who will pay for what.

A criminal prosecution is often a ‘poor-man’s’ lawsuit.  Going to the police and making the prosecutor’s telephone ring off the hook is free.  Paying for your own lawyer to make someone else’s life miserable is a luxury.  Hence the rarity of seeing both a civil and a criminal prosecution.

Ultimately my instinct is defend the criminal case first and worry about civil liability second.  This is because of the severity of criminal prosecution and the punishments are simply not equivalent.

I’m Being Sued (or Threatened with a Lawsuit).  Could this Turn Criminal?

Again, very rarely.

While most crimes involving victims or accusers trigger criminal liability as well — the reverse is not nearly as true.  Civil causes of action are far more problematic to convert to criminal charges.  This is for all sorts of reasons… civil cases are often based in negligence, or misunderstandings, or questions about who pays for an unexpected loss.

Most parties in a civil proceeding have little, if any, interest in pursuing criminal actions.  Generally they just want whatever relief they think they might be entitled to.  That could be things such as money or an injunction of some sort.

Also, police are very reluctant to get involved in what they perceive to be a civil dispute.  They have enough to worry about and a complicated civil matter is often an easy “we can’t help you” situation.

Certain cases criminal value are extremely diminished when civil liability is sought first.  Think of a sexual assault case where the accuser first tries to get a settlement or sues the perpetrator before going to the police.  What might have been a solid case is now stained by questions about what could be the accuser’s real motive.

A normal exception would probably be certain white-collar cases where both victims have abundant resources and state or federal investigating agencies are interested due to the sheer amount or volume of a crime in question.  Again, though, keep in mind these are not your garden variety or every-day case.

Can Someone Threaten Criminal Prosecution To Get a Civil Settlement?

No.  That’s blackmail.  Think about it… “Pay me money or a I’ll go to the police.”  Generally lawyers or companies that make these types of threats word them extremely carefully.  They make it clear you are settling civil liability only.  Don’t get me wrong — they’re normally happy to let you think that by settling the civil case — you’re keeping a criminal matter “hush hush.”

While it’s okay to settle civil liability through a private settlement — no private party or entity can threaten criminal action nor waive the State or Government’s right to prosecute.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is licensed to practice law in the State of Texas.  He is Board Certified in Criminal Law.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice on any situation you should contact an attorney directly.

 

 

 


How Important Is a Police Report in a Criminal Case?

February 18, 2014

By Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

It depends on who is reading it.

Police reports are used for many different reasons.  Insurance companies use them to evaluate car accidents and both criminal and civil lawyers rely on them to prepare for cases.  In and of themselves, a police report typically isn’t admissible evidence in a court of law so they’re importance is often over-stated.  Prosecutors will generally review a report in deciding whether to pursue charges and what charges to pursue.

Combinations of Fact and Fiction

Most police reports in criminal cases are combinations of both fact and fiction.  While there are probably officers who are deceitful enough to fabricate facts in a report — my guess is not many officers are willing to jeopardize their career for the sake of a single arrest.

Instead police combine objective observations (such as the car was blue, the road was wet, or gun was loaded) with supposition, hyperbole and mild exaggeration.  Police will often take subjective observations and attempt to make them more objective in an effort to support their conclusion.

“In My Training and Experience”

Police officers commonly use the phrase “in my training and experience” both when they testify and when writing police reports.  This is a way of converting subjective supposition into objective fact — and it typically makes the defendant look guiltier.  Sometimes the officer actually has such experience and training and sometimes they don’t.

For instance, police are actually trained to detect marijuana through the distinctive odor.  Perhaps the police academy has ways of re-creating the odor chemically or they actually burn marijuana for training.  Also police in the field frequently encounter people smoking marijuana in parks or in cars so officers have enough exposure to marijuana to know the burnt odor.  When an officer says in his/her report they know the odor of marijuana “through their training and experience” this is generally an accurate statement.

On the other hand are examples where a person is reported to be “nervous.”  An officer might suggest in his report the defendant’s nervous demeanor meant he was in the process of selling drugs because “in (his) training and experience” drug dealers act nervous when they get pulled over.

Another example during a DWI arrest might be where the officer states the defendant leaned on the car for support while being questioned by police.  In the officers “training and experience” this is a clue of intoxication but probably just looks like someone with their butt against the car while being questioned.  Maybe the police academy gives training in these areas backed with scientific studies but probably it’s just something made-up in good faith to substantiate the officer’s opinion.

Who Uses the Police Report?

Prosecutors will review offense reports to see if they have the basic elements of each case covered.  Prosecutors typically don’t scrutinize police reports but in their defense it’s not really their job to do so.

…But I Don’t Agree with the Police Report

Most of my clients find reviewing a police report to be an agitating experience.  Both witnesses and defendants alike report they were mis-quoted or statements they did make were selectively included in the report.  A police report carries no actual legal weight other than it’s ability to persuade a prosecutor to move the case forward.  The time to contest the police report is at trial where the judge and the jury can learn the whole truth about what happened — not just the polished events described by the police.

*Jeremy Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice.  For legal advice about any situation you should contact an attorney directly.


Insurance Fraud

November 17, 2011

By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.rosenthalwadas.com

Insurance fraud is governed by Chapter 35 of the Texas Penal Code.  It can be summed up as lying to an insurance company to attain benefits and/or coverage, but you should read the statute to clear up any questions you may have.

The statute makes several types of insurance fraud illegal.  To be guilty of insurance fraud, one must intentionally or knowingly present false or misleading material information to the insurance company.  An example of this might be that someone reports a car accident occurred — which never actually occurred to get insurance money.

Another way the crime is committed is to have instead the person who prepares or causes  to be prepared the insurance claim be accountable for any fraudulent statements.  An example of this is where someone goes to the dentist to have their teeth cleaned.  Unknown to the patient, the dentist has his administrative assistant bill the insurance company for a root canal.  In that instance, the dentist and his assistant are both likely guilty of the insurance fraud though the assistant might be shown more leniency.  The patient would have no liability assuming they didn’t know about the scheme.

Yet another way the crime can be committed is when someone with intent to defraud or deceive receives a benefit  from an insurance policy they know is the result of fraud.  A good example of this would be where a plumber and a homeowner decide to split the money for a bogus insurance claim where the plumber unclogged a toilet and the homeowner and he have a handshake deal where they submit it as a busted pipe which destroyed the bottom floor of a house.

Now, if you ask the insurance company — virtually everything someone tells them about a claim they don’t want to pay is “fraud.”  And, they’ll have the public think that despite raking in oodles of premiums and having one of out stoutest lobbies in Austin, insurance fraud is a wide-spread epidemic and that they, the insurance companies, are somehow victims.  Please contain your laughter.  The vast majority of insurance issues that get hashed out in court are done in civil, not criminal disputes.

Chapter 35 contains a lot of language which shows the degree of deceit has to be somewhat steep in order to trigger a crime because insurance claims are inherently subjective and the subject of bitter disputes.  For example, there must be showing of intent to deceive as well as the ‘materialty’ or importance of the false statement to the over-all claim.  Though some may disagree, blaming the other driver for the car accident probably isn’t going to land you in hot water for criminal insurance fraud assuming you have a good-faith belief for making such a claim.

Truthfully, insurance fraud prosecutions are somewhat rare.  But they are serious charges.  The charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies based on the dollar amount of the alleged fraud, and the charges would almost certainly qualify a crimes of moral turpitude which impair professional licensing and carry a terrible stigma.

*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any situation you should contact an attorney directly.  Contacting the author through this blog does not constitute an attorney-client relationship and such communications are not subject to the attorney-client privilege.


Defending Burglary Charges

July 7, 2010

By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

www.thecollincountylawyer.com

Texas Penal Code Section 30.02(a)(1) governs burglary.  That offense is committed where a person without the effective consent of the owner enters a habitation or a building (or any portion of a building not open to the public) with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault.

Burglary is a State Jail Felony if it is committed in a building other than a habitation, and is a 2nd degree felony if it is committed in a habitation.

While the statute may seem very air-tight on the surface, a bit of digging shows there are all sorts of potential legal issues with regards to what is or is not a burglary for any given set of circumstances.

An extremely difficult element for the State to prove in a burglary is identity if the defendant is arrested somewhere other than the place alleged to have been burglarized.  Rules restrict the prosecution’s use of co-conspirator testimony, and photo line-ups of accused people can also be overly suggestive and thrown out.

Another difficult element for the State to prove is often the element of intent to commit a felony, theft or assault.  The prosecution will invariably point to surrounding circumstances such as equipment brought by the accused and what the accused was alleged to have done.  Obviously a skilled criminal defense attorney can demand a jury acquit the accused where the only evidence is of entry into the habitation or building — but no evidence of the further intent.

Other defenses are apparent with just a bit of digging.  For instance the term “effective consent” is given a legal definition under Tex.Pen.C. 1.07(a)(19) and includes not only the owner of the building or habitation, but also a person legally authorized to act for the owner.

The terms “building” and “habitation” are also specifically defined by statute.  A building is any enclosed structure intended for use or occupation as a habitation or for some purpose of trade, manufacture, ornament, or use.  A habitation is a structure or vehicle that is adapted for overnight accommodation of persons.

Sadly, often burglary cases are often part and parcel of drug problems by the accused.  While an aggressive criminal defense lawyer is fighting the legal aspects of the case, part of the attorney’s role as counselor is to make sure that if there are collateral substance issues — that those are non-judgmentally addressed so that punishment can be mitigated if the case gets to a Judge or Jury.

*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For specific legal advice about any legal matter you should consult an attorney directly.


Female Shoplifting and Depression – A Link?

April 19, 2010

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.thecollincountylawyer.com

(972) 369-0577

I’m not a psychiatrist or a psychologist.  My law license says “Counselor” and I joke that I’m not exactly sure why.

Regardless of the disclaimers, it seems to me that there may be a link between depression and theft when it comes to women.  Just in surfing the internet, there is article after article about the links between the two from medical professionals and non-professionals alike.  Even Winona Ryder, famed shoplifter from 2001, suffered from depression and anxiety disorders.

Putting on our lawyer’s hat, the question isn’t necessarily the same question that medical professionals may ask themselves.  The legal question is two-fold.  First, how does this apparent phenomenon translate into legal reality — and second, what are appropriate treatments assuming conventional criminal justice punishment misses the mark?

Texas Penal Code 8.01 is the insanity defense.  That statute states,

“(a)  It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that, at the time of the conduct charged, the actor, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, did not know that his conduct was wrong.

“(b)  The term “mental disease or defect” does not include an abnormality manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct.

As you can see, the statute expressly prohibits diagnoses such as kleptomania or other “abnormality manifested only by… antisocial conduct.”  This language may tend to have courts highly scrutinize an insanity defense in a shoplifting or theft case.  Indeed, Texas case law is somewhat scant in these cases as well providing little useful guidance.

Not only do courts highly scrutinize the insanity defense for theft cases, but many jurors have an extremely difficult time acquitting or excusing someone who is factually guilty of any criminal offense.

Based on the legislature, courts, and jurors view of the insanity defense, an insanity defense could be an extremely difficult defense to raise in a theft or shoplifting situation.

As far as treatment is concerned, most courts in Texas send persons that have either plead guilty to theft to “anti-theft classes” for probation.  Also, not being a medical professional, my guess is that therapy, counseling, and/or medical treatment for the underlying depression and discussion of the triggers for the theft actions can never be a bad idea.  The problem is that the counseling and treatment may come along with a painful criminal record.

Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For specific legal advice, you should always consult an attorney.


Don’t Plead Guilty to Theft If All You Did was Really Bounce a Check

April 18, 2010

By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

www.rosenthalwadas.com

(972) 369-0577

Theft by check is governed by Texas Penal Code 31.03(e).  Issuance of a bad check (“IBC”), is controlled by section 32.41.  The differences are simple, but major — one charge is like any other theft charge, and the other is simply writing a bad check.  Most theft by check charges are class b misdemeanors or above ($20 to $500 are class b misdemeanors) while an IBC charge is a class c misdemeanor — the lowest level of offense in Texas.

Theft is a crime of moral turpitude while IBC is not.  Further, class b misdemeanors are more difficult to have expunged than class c misdemeanors.

Theft in Texas is simply defined when a person, “…unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.”  A Theft by check is merely a theft where the check was the instrumentality of the offense.

Issuance of a bad check is where a person, “issues or passes a check or similar sight order for the payment of money knowing that the issuer does not have sufficient funds in or on deposit with the bank or other drawee for the payment in full of the check or order as well as all other checks or orders outstanding at the time of issuance.”

The theft and IBC statutes have many different mechanisms for legal presumptions which may be used at trial to try and prove that the accused had knowledge of bad nature of the check which you can review if you are interested here.

Here’s what you need to know if you’re being charged — know exactly which charge you are accused of!  In Collin County, the District Attorney’s office prosecutes many theft by check cases.  Quite possibly many of these could also have been brought as a class c IBC.  The State in these types of cases have very technical and difficult tasks of proving knowledge of the check being bad at the time it was issued — and as a result these cases can be very winnable.

Never simply “pay the ticket” without knowing exactly what it is you are being accused of doing.  This is a recipe for disaster when you discover 3, 4, or 10 years later that you really plead guilty to theft when all you did was bounce a check!

*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed in the State of Texas.  Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice.  For legal advice, you should always consult an attorney.