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Have You Been Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence?

Have you been falsely accused or wrongly prosecuted for domestic violence?  False allegations and wrongful prosecutions harm the innocent, squander resources, and shortchange true victims.

If you or someone you care about has been arrested or is facing criminal charges related to Domestic Violence (or “Assault Family Violence”), there may be a lot at stake. You may only have a short period of time to learn your rights and what steps could help you protect them. The Charles Johnson Law Firm can help you understand the charges that you are facing, and help you protect your rights with the police and in court.

Criminal charges don’t always mean a guaranteed conviction. A conviction can bring penalties including court fines, probation or jail time – plus a permanent mark on your record – but you may be able to avoid these by fighting for your freedom. Domestic assault is taken seriously by law enforcement personnel and prosecutors. It is vital to have a competent, experienced defense attorney on your side.

Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 713-222-7577 or toll free 877-308-0100.  As the justice system has come to recognize the social and legal effects of domestic violence, the penalties for conviction of domestic assault have become steeper. This is why it is so important to consult a lawyer who is familiar with your local court system. Seek the help of an attorney from the Charles Johnson Law Firm in Houston, Texas to learn more about what you can do to assert your rights.

Why Should Persons be Concerned about False Allegations of Domestic Violence?

Approximately two million Americans experience intimate partner violence each year. These persons need counseling services, legal assistance, shelter resources, and protection by the criminal justice system.

Unfortunately, each year 2-3 million restraining orders are issued in the United States, of which as many as 80% are unnecessary or false. As Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, revealed, “Everyone knows that restraining orders and orders to vacate are granted to virtually all who apply…In many cases, allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage. “

False accusers not only divert resources away from the true victims of domestic violence, they render harm to the targets of their legal abuse. False allegations stain a person’s reputation, deplete that person’s assets, and can ruin a person’s career. They may deprive a child of parental love and attention which every child needs.

What are the Warning Signs of an Impending False Allegation?

A false allegation can be a life-altering experience. But falsely accused persons often don’t see it coming.

These are some of the warning signs to look for:

  • Your partner has gotten a restraining before and knows how to work the system.
  • You and your partner are thinking about separating, and you are worried about an impending child custody dispute.
  • Your partner is moody, unpredictable, attention-seeking, demanding, manipulative, or fails to assume responsibility for family problems.
  • Your partner has been diagnosed with depression, borderline personality disorder, or other a psychological problem.
  • Your partner has made a joke about getting a restraining order.
  • You just discovered your partner is having an affair (do not confront your partner about it!).
  • Your partner has been arrested for domestic violence, and is now considering ways to retaliate.
  • Your partner has told you they are going to request a restraining order.
  • Your partner has friends or family members who have done so.
  • Be on the look-out for warning signs that your partner may file a false allegation of domestic violence against you, so you can take steps now to protect yourself.

What Should I Do if I Think my Partner is Going to Make a False Accusation?

A restraining order is the most commonly used legal tactic to make a false allegation of domestic violence. If you have reason to believe your partner is about to make a false accusation, it is critical that you act quickly to protect your children, your reputation, your assets, and even your career:

  • Contact Attorney Charles Johnson immediately at 713-222-7577 or toll free 877-308-0100 to protect your rights.
  • Assemble your valuable papers (birth certificate, car title, legal documents, etc.) so they can’t be stolen by your partner. Place them in a newly-opened safe deposit box or other safe location.
  • Open a checking account just in your name so your partner can’t take your money.
  • Tell a family member or trusted friend, in case you need to find a place to stay on short notice.
  • Change the passwords on your computer, cell phone, and personal bank accounts. Remove external hard drives and other electronic storage devices. Do not leave your cell phone lying around.
  • If you have any firearms or other weapons, move them to a secure location away from your home. Do not engage in firearms training or target practice until the situation is resolved.
  • Do not send or receive personal emails from your home computer. Use a computer at your office or at the library.
  • Avoid any actions that could later be misconstrued in a court of law:
    • Do not engage in put-downs or insults, especially in writing or by voice mail or an answering machine.
    • Do not talk or joke about violence or suicide.
    • Do not engage in kinky sex or joke about rape.
    • Do not slap you partner, even if he or she asks you to.
    • Do not play rough-house with your children.
    • Do not smash your fist into the wall.
    • Do not throw the TV remote control.
    • Do not admit to doing something wrong or apologize for prior actions, either verbally or in writing.
  • If your partner has engaged in abusive behavior, promptly obtain a restraining order in advance of your partner taking such action. Once you get the restraining order, change all locks to keep your partner out.
  • If you need to see your ex-partner (for example, to exchange your children), do so in a public location, preferably a place with video monitoring.
  • If you need to drop off something at your ex-partner’s residence, go with a witness.
  • Be sure to document any conversation or incident that could later become a focus of attention in a courtroom.

Contact Houston Domestic Violence Lawyer Charles Johnson

It’s important to speak with an attorney as soon as you’ve been arrested. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner work can be done to prevent your charges from escalating into a conviction.

Harris County Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Charles Johnson knows how frustrating and hopeless things may seem right now, but urges you not to give up hope. There are many viable defense strategies for fighting domestic violence charges, and many things that can be done to ensure your charges don’t spiral out of control. You can depend on Attorney Johnson to thoroughly investigate your charges, and trust that he’ll make it known to the judge if he finds anything that may indicate the accusations were fabricated. The Charles Johnson Law Firm is here for you, and will do whatever can be done to make sure this ordeal results in the best possible outcome!

If you have been accused of domestic violence, don’t try to fight your charges alone.

Contact Houston Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson for experienced and dependable representation. He can be reached directly around the clock, 7 days/week at (713) 222-7577.

Related News Stories – Domestic Violence Arrests in Houston, Texas

Expert Help with Houston Traffic Tickets

Houston Traffic Ticket Lawyer Charles Johnson

If you have received a Houston traffic ticket, the experienced traffic ticket attorneys at the Charles Johnson Law Firm can help.  While paying your ticket may seem like the easiest option, traffic violations can have serious consequences. Multiple moving violations may result in a suspended or revoked license. In fact, certain violations, such as passing a school bus, can cause an automatic license suspension even if you have a perfect driving record. The loss of your driver’s license may have far reaching consequences on your personal and professional life. Therefore, it is important that you speak with a Houston traffic ticket lawyer after receiving a traffic ticket to discuss your options and the best strategy.

Traffic convictions not only effect your Texas driving record, but can also negatively impact your insurance rates. Insurance providers believe that a single ticket indicates poor driving and increases the chances of future tickets and traffic accidents. Auto insurance companies review their policyholder’s driving records to determine premium increases and the potential cancellation of policies. A recent study found that a single Texas speeding ticket for 15 mph over the posted limit resulted in an average cost of $744 over the next five-year period!

Our firm provides aggressive representation in order to completely eliminate or minimize the negative impact on your life and ensure the best result possible. We can review your driving record and explain the proper course of action. The goal of our speeding ticket lawyers is to help our clients avoid an insurance rate increase and points or other record of conviction that may lead to suspension or revocation of their licenses. Keeping speeding tickets off of records is usually done through plea bargaining with a prosecutor or state’s attorney, and will involve an amendment of the ticket, probation, or diversion.  We can help you with the following violations:

  • CDL Traffic Violations (commercial drivers)
  • Cell Phone/Texting While Driving Violations
  • Driving with a Suspended or Revoked License
  • Driving Without a Valid License
  • Driving with expired license plates or registration
  • Driving Without Valid Insurance
  • Failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident
  • Failure to Signal
  • Failure to Yield to an Emergency Vehicle
  • Approaching Disabled Vehicles
  • Following too Closely
  • Illegal Transportation of Alcohol
  • Improper Lane Usage
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident
  • Overweight Truck Violations
  • Passing a School Bus
  • Railroad Crossing Offenses
  • Reckless Driving
  • Running a Red Light or Stop Sign
  • Seat Belt Violations
  • Speeding
    • Aggravated Speeding
    • Speeding in a School Zone
    • Speeding in a Construction Zone
  • Street Racing/Drag Racing

It is important to note that commercial drivers (i.e. truck drivers) face more severe license consequences than standard operators. CDL traffic tickets must be handled accordingly, often requiring an amendment to the original charge, or trial where appropriate. We understand that a single traffic violation on your record can effect your livelihood and result in loss of employment.

If you seek effective and knowledgeable legal representation, we look forward to hearing from you. From Houston traffic tickets to CDL Traffic Tickets issued anywhere within the State of Texas, our traffic attorneys are happy to discuss your individual situation. The Charles Johnson Law Firm Traffic Ticket Division is devoted to helping clients face their ticketing penalties and overturn the charges against them.

If you’ve been issued a ticket for a traffic violation and want to contest it, why not take advantage of our free evaluation service to see what can be done to help?

Call us locally at (713) 222-7577 or Toll-Free at (877) 308-0100 to discuss your case anytime, night or day.

Facing Charges of Online Solicitation of a Minor? The Right Houston Criminal Lawyer Can Make a Difference

Online Solicitation of a Minor Lawyer Charles Johnson

As a result of the increased efforts of local and national law enforcement task forces to discover Online Solicitation of Minors or Importuning, Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson has frequently represented individuals who have been accused of communicating with a minor using the computer. In fact, the law in most jurisdictions allows for an officer to pose as a minor while communicating with a suspect. Soliciting either an actual minor or a police officer posing as a minor may result in the filing of charges and subsequent prosecution. A common misconception is that no crime is committed unless there is an actual meeting. In actuality, the offense of On-line Solicitation or Importuning may be completed merely through the communication or “chat.” If there is an attempt to actually meet, additional charges may be warranted.

Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is well-versed in the various defenses that must be explored in all cases of this kind. These defenses may include issues of entrapment, client knowledge, or jurisdictional questions.

Accusation of soliciting a minor online can often result from entrapment-type situations commonly depicted on televisions shows. However, soliciting a minor online can also be the result of a mistake or an accident. For example, an individual can be charged with soliciting a minor when they thought they were communicating with an adult on the computer, but may have actually been talking to an underage person. No matter the reason for the false claims against you, it is important to contact an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer who will make every effort to find defenses or other mitigating factors that will result in an acquittal of the charges against you.

An allegation of On-line Solicitation or Importuning calls for great effort and resources, as the stakes are high – one faces not only a potential prison term, but also the stigmatizing and debilitating effects of sex offender public registration, which makes it difficult if not impossible to obtain employment, and may even severely restrict one’s ability to reside in certain locations.

Jurors are often familiar with programs like “To Catch a Predator”, giving them preconceived notions which need to be addressed and diffused. Our lawyers know first-hand that with thoughtful and extensive examination of pertinent case law and pre-trial motions, a successful defense of On-line Solicitation and Importuning allegations can be achieved.

It is important to remember that if you have been accused of soliciting a minor online, the state prosecutor is required to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be a very difficult burden of proof to meet, and any doubt in the mind of the judge or jury can result in a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you. Therefore, it is essential to contact an experienced Child Sex Abuse lawyer to help you begin developing the best legal defense for your particular case. Contact Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson for a free consultation today at 713-222-7577 anytime, night or day if you have been falsely accused of soliciting a minor online.

Online Solicitation of a Minor Defined

Since the 1990’s, the internet has changed the way we communicate, do business, meet people, and almost all other aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, it has also led to new criminal charges, many of which carry steep penalties. The most severe online offenses are those related to the potential harm of an underage person, such as online solicitation of a minor.

Online solicitation of a minor is communication with a minor via the internet that aims to arouse, sexually gratify, harass, or arrange to meet a minor face-to-face in the real world. In Texas, a minor is any person who is 17 years of age or younger. Exchanging sexually oriented materials, conversations, or invitations with a minor is a serious legal offense in our state.

Sexual exploitation can result in numerous physical and psychological consequences for children that may be multiplied for victims of child pornography because they face a lifetime of possible revictimization through the continued distribution of videos, photographs, or computer images depicting their exploitation (Klain, 2001). The mass media continues to feed into the stereotype that all Internet offenders are “predators” or “pedophiles”. According to ABC World News Tonight in June 2006, there are approximately 563,000 registered sex offenders nationally. However, decades of research indicates that only ten percent (10%) of sex offenders are truly predatory in nature.

This is not to discount that Internet victimization is one of the most dangerous Internet threats, but society must be cautious in using such characteristics without empirical data to support such a homogenous label. In the National Juvenile Online Victimization (N-JOV) study, approximately seventy-eight percent (78%) of cases, the offender was one of the victim’s family members, second generation family member such as grandparents, uncle or aunt, or stepparents or parent’s intimate partner.

Children exploring the Internet for education and entertainment are at risk of encountering sexually explicit material, sexual exploitation, and Internet offenses while remaining undetected by parents. The Internet has become a conduit for sexually explicit material and offenses against children. Children are extremely vulnerable to victimization due to their curiosity, naiveté, and trusting nature. These crimes present law enforcement with many complex problems due to the fact that they transcend jurisdictional boundaries and often involve multiple victims in multiple states and countries. Internet crimes must be pursued vigorously by law enforcement.

The greatest obstacle facing law enforcement is that children and parents do not report the majority of Internet crimes. In situations where the abuse is a parent, a relative, or acquaintance, the abuse may be more likely to come to light inadvertently as a result of inquiries by social welfare and reports from neighbors, rather than as a result of police inquiries into online crime (Wolak, 2005, in press). Community involvement, parental supervision, and early intervention and prevention programs on Internet safety are essential in protecting children from online solicitation and exposure to pornography.

General Information

The computer age presents complex challenges for law enforcement, victim services, parents, legislators, and the community. The proliferation of computer technology obviously has enhanced our lives in many ways, such as enabling improved productivity and efficiency at work, school, and home (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001). Unfortunately, this technology is not without potential threats and harm for criminals to prey upon innocent victims. According to ABC World News Tonight in June 2006, there are approximately 563,000 registered sex offenders nationally. End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (EPCAT) International reports violence and harms against children and young people in cyberspace include: the production, distribution, and use of materials depicting child sexual abuse; online solicitation; exposure to materials that can cause psychological harm, lead to physical harm, or facilitate other detriments to a child; and harassment and intimidation.

Today the Internet has approximately two hundred (200) million users worldwide who can communicate with each other. Children of all ages are browsing the Internet. Forty-five (45%) of children in the United States, more than thirty (30) million of whom are younger than eighteen (18) use the Internet. By 2005, it was estimated that there are seventy-seven (77) million children online. Approximately one hundred three (103) million people use instant messaging (IM) programs such as AOL’s AIM, Microsoft’s MSN Messenger, and others. MySpace.com reports more than eighty-five (85) million members and the number of visitors to MySpace went from 4.9 million in 2005 to currently over sixty-seven (67) million. Like most new technological developments, this brings both positive and negative implications, especially for parents and their children.

Some children are especially at risk due to a range of vulnerability-enhancing factors common to all environments. They are in socially and economically difficult situations, have experienced sexual abuse and exploitation, are lonely, or feel alienated from their parents. Others have low self-esteem, feel awkward, are confused about their personal identity and sexuality, and lack confidence. Gender is also seen to be a risk factor, with seemingly more girls than boys appearing to be harmed through cyberspace interactions (although boys are increasingly featured in pornographic images circulating online).

Top Houston Sex Crimes Lawyers

Demographics of an Internet Offender

Sex offenders and child pornographers are a heterogeneous mixture. Before the advent of the Internet, between one-fifth and one-third of people arrested for possession of child pornography were also involved in actual abuse. The majority are male and come from all socio-economic and racial backgrounds. Many are skilled in technology. Not all fit the clinical classification of “pedophilia”. The mass media continues to feed into the stereotype that all Internet offenders are “predators” or “pedophiles”. This is not to discount that Internet victimization is one of the most dangerous Internet threats but society must be cautious in using such characteristics without empirical data to support such a homogenous label. We have to remember that in a previous generation, campaigns to prevent child molestation characterized the threat as “playground predator” or “stranger danger” so that for years the problem of youth, acquaintance, and intra-family perpetrators went unrecognized.

In an analysis of 600 cases of child sexual abuse in which the Internet played a role, either the offender- victim relationship was initiated or conducted online, the case involved the online sharing or distribution of child pornography, or the case involved child pornography stored on a computer or digital media. One hundred twenty six (126) cases involved a face-to-face relationship between the offender and the victim prior to any use of the Internet in committing abuse. N-JOV data indicated that the Internet was involved in eighteen percent (18%) of all sex crimes against minors and that nearly half of the eighteen percent (18%) were committed by acquaintances or family members, with a total of at least 460 arrests a year. This study found ninety-five percent (95%) were non-Hispanic Caucasians and forty-seven percent (47%) were twenty-six (26) or older. Thirty-five percent (35%) were married and over a third lived in small towns. Eighty percent (80%) were employed full time and fifty-one percent (51%) had incomes ranging from $20,000-$50,000 per year.

Identifying Internet Offenders

There is no one type of Internet child pornography user, and there is no easy way to recognize an offender. In the 2005 Wolak survey, solicitors did not match the stereotype of the older male “Internet predator”. Many were identified as other youth and some were female. Having a preconceived idea of a child sex offender can be unhelpful and prove a distraction for investigating police. Those convicted of sexually abusing children will not necessarily seek out or collect pornography, with one study putting the number of offenders who do so at around ten percent (10%).

This explosion of computer use, and the ease with which identities can be concealed on-line, has offered obvious opportunities to those who produce and consume pornography and those who seek to exploit vulnerable populations for sexual gratification. The Internet technology affords perpetrators a foundation for repeated, long-term victimization of a child. These crimes present law enforcement with many complex problems due to the fact that they transcend jurisdictional boundaries and often involve multiple victims in multiple states and countries.

N-JOV data reflected that the most common use of the Internet with family (70%) and acquaintance (65%) offenders was for seduction or grooming of victims either through online conversations or sharing of pornographic images. Forty-nine percent (49%) of family offenders and thirty-nine percent (39%) of acquaintance offenders produced pornographic images of their victims, which they stored or disseminated using the Internet. Forty-three percent (43%) used the Internet to arrange a face-to-face meeting. Relatively small numbers of offenders (2-4%) used the Internet as an inducement to enter the offender’s home and use it to advertise or sell victims online. Seventy-five percent (75%) of these cases involved some form of sexual contact and forty-five percent (45%) involved intercourse or other penetration. In a quarter of these cases, the sexual contact continued for over a year before being reported to the police.

How Sex Offenders Select Victims

A greater number of sex offenders are using the Internet searching for potential child victims through “kid only” or “kid friendly” chat rooms, online games, and instant messenger. The “set-up” for victimization requires long-term thought and planning. But a distinctive aspect of interaction in cyberspace that facilitates the grooming process is the rapid speed with which communication can become intimate. Chat rooms can be frequented by sex offenders that groom and manipulate their victims by playing on the emotional immaturity of children in virtual anonymity. The goal of the “set-up” is to gain control over the victim. The length of time spent during the “set-up” varies upon the vulnerability of the child. The longer an offender knows a child the better they are at “zeroing” in their grooming tactics and strategies.

Grooming is a term used to describe the process of desensitizing and manipulating the victim(s) and/or others for the purpose of gaining an opportunity to commit a sexually deviant act [Title 22, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 810.2(b)(15)]. Grooming inflicts psychological harm on the child. In teen chat rooms, the activities that precede the process of initiating direct contact with a child may simply involve the offender providing a description of themselves to all of the users of the public chat room so that the offender is masquerading as a particular kind of child, of a particular age, in the hope of attracting an equivalent age and the same or opposite sex child (i.e. 14/m/tx) (O’Connell, 2001). A sex offender may begin victim selection by observation in which an offender may “lurk” in chat rooms or massive multiplayer online games listening to conversations between children. An offender may search public profiles that include information such as name, age, location, hobbies, interests, and photographs. The offender will then wait for a child’s response and determine if they will initiate a conversation. After selecting a victim, the offender will introduce him or herself by instant message (IM) or by a private message to the child. Additionally, victim selection can involve viewing the child’s public profile. A victim’s information may be obtained through an Internet service provider request or a URL a child must provide in order to create their own website.

In the initial stages of grooming, the offender will suggest that the child move from a public domain to a private chat room or IM for an exclusive one-to-one conversation. The offender will engage in conversations related to school, home, hobbies, parental relationships, or interests of the child. The offender will gather information regarding the likelihood of activities being detected. The offender will manipulate the child to create an illusion of being the child’s best friend. The interactions take on the characteristics of a strong sense of mutuality (i.e. a mutual respect club comprised of two people that must ultimately remain a secret from all others). During these interactions, the child is praised, made to feel special, and very positive conversations are tailored to the age of the child. Gifts or money may be offered to the child. Sadly, sex offenders tend to target children who are neglected or come from dysfunctional homes. For these children, the sex offender offers an alternative relationship that makes the child feel special and loved.

The offender introduces the idea of trust, affection, and loyalty but it is based on deception and manipulation. This grooming tactic provides a forum to move into the next stage of victimization. The offender will begin to exploit social norms and test the child’s boundaries. The offender could ask the child “have you been kissed?”, “have you ever been skinny dipping?”, or “do you wear a bikini?” If the child does not respond negatively to the boundary violation, it is tantamount to accepting the behavior or language. During boundary violations, the offender has positioned the child into believing that they share a deep sense of mutual trust.

Offenders who intend to maintain a relationship with a child will progress carefully and methodically into sexually explicit language. The nature of the conversations will progress from mild conversations (i.e. “I love you” or “I want to kiss you”) to extremely explicit (i.e. masturbation or oral sex). The target child may be drawn into producing pornography by sending photos, using a web-cam or engaging in sexual discussions. To silence the child and ensure their continued compliance in sexual exploitation, the offender may use a variety of tactics including rewards, violence, threats, bribery, punishment, coercion, peer pressure, and fear (Klain, 2001). Research indicates that this pattern of conversations is characteristic of an online relationship that may progress to a request for a face-to-face meeting.

Child Pornography Under federal law, child pornography is defined as a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting, photograph, film, video, or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where it

  • depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene, or
  • depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex, and such depiction lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value (18 U.S.C §1466A and 18 U.S.C. §2256)

Sexually explicit conduct includes various forms of sexual activity such as intercourse, bestiality, masturbation, sadistic or masochistic abuse, and lascivious exhibition of the genitals. It is illegal to possess, distribute, or manufacture these images.

Pornography and Child Pornography on the Internet

Both adult and child pornography has saturated the Internet due to the lack of censorship by the industry. The Internet provides the social, individual, and technological circumstances in which an interest in child pornography flourishes. Cyberspace is host to more than one (1) million images of tens of thousands of children subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation. Of the estimated 24.7 million Internet users between the ages of ten (10) and seventeen (17), approximately 8.4 million youths received unwanted exposure to sexual material.

Child pornography is the second highest category, after indecent exposure, of sexual re-offense behavior. The vast majority of children who appear in child pornography have not been abducted or physically forced to participate. In most cases the child knows the producer and it may even be their father who manipulates the child into taking part by more subtle means. Most children feel a pressure to cooperate with the offender and not to disclose the offense, both out of loyalty to the offender and a sense of shame about their own behavior.

Physical contact between a child and a perpetrator does not need to occur for a child to become a victim or for a crime to be committed. Innocent pictures or images of children can be digitally transformed into pornographic material and distributed across the Internet without the victim’s knowledge (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001). Digital graphic software (i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, Microsoft PhotoEditor) allow offenders to edit “innocent” pictures. After a picture is scanned into a computer, these image-editing programs can be used to put several photos together or to distort pictures and create a believable image of a reality that never existed. This process is called “morphing”. In some countries, morphed images or pictures are not illegal. Offenders may claim in court that a picture is morphed, no matter how disturbing, is not a picture of a real child or a situation which actually took place, and thus is not illegal.

In April 2002, the United States Supreme Court found that provisions of the Child Pornography Act (CPPA), which prohibited the depiction of virtual and simulated child pornography, were invalid under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Court found that in the absence of a “real” child, the Court could see no “direct link” between such images and the sexual abuse of children. The Court’s majority could not see a substantial risk of producers of child pornography using virtual images of children. Additionally, children can be exposed to “virtual” pornography. Virtual pornography is legal the United States and in some other countries.

In the 2005 Wolak study, almost all of the arrested child pornography possessors (91%) used home computers to access child pornography and almost one (1) in five (5) arrested (18%) used a home computer in more than one (1) location to access child pornography. Additionally, Wolak found that in fourteen percent (14%) of child pornography investigations, the offenders not only had possessed pornography but had sexually victimized children and two percent (2%) possessed pornography and attempted to sexually victimize children. Eighty-four percent (84%) of the investigations involving child pornography did not detect concurrent child sexual victimization or attempts at victimization (Wolak, 2005). According to the United States Postal Inspection Service, forty percent (40%) of child pornographers investigated have sexually molested children. From January 1997 through March 2004, 1,807 child pornographers were arrested and 620 (34%) of these offenders were confirmed child molesters (Kim, 2004).

Although most Internet pornography is created offline, technology has evolved to create “real” life pornography that can be viewed in real time, using web-cameras, phone cameras, digital cameras, and streaming video. A user can be notified of the date and time to log on the computer to view a child being sexually abused. The advent of mini-cameras has allowed for pictures and videos to be created without the subject’s knowledge. The user may pay money or exchange images with the direct abuser (Palmer, 2004).
These illegal images can be presented in various forms including print media, videotape, film, compact disc, read-only memory (CD-ROM), or digital versatile technology (DVD) (Klain, 2001) and can be transmitted through computer bulletin-board systems (BBS), USENET Newsgroups, Internet Relay Chat, web-based groups, peer-to-peer technology, and an array of constantly changing world wide web sites.

Using Child Pornography to Groom Children

Children can be exposed to pornography through spam or potential abusers. The accessibility of pornography online, the ease and perceived anonymity of transmission, and the environment of “virtuality” itself makes the use of pornography in online grooming easier for an abuser. Pornography is a tool for inducting and socializing a child into behaviors that reflect the content of the pornographic materials. Sex offenders frequently use pornography as a tool to assist them in the grooming process.

Children exploring the Internet for education and entertainment are at risk of encountering sexually explicit material, sexual exploitation, and offenses against children while remaining undetected by parents. Children are extremely vulnerable to victimization due to their curiosity, naiveté, and trusting nature. The Internet has become a conduit for sexually explicit material and offenses against children. In 2006, Wolak reported fifty-four percent (54%) of boys and forty-six percent (46%) of girls received unwanted exposure to sexual material. Ninety percent (90%) of all solicitations happened to teenagers (ages 13 to 17). Eighty-six percent (86%) received images of naked people and fifty-seven percent (57%) received pictures of people having sex and/or violent or deviant images. Lastly, eighty-three percent (83%) of unwanted exposures occurred when youth were surfing the web and eighty-nine percent (89%) of incidents the senders were unable to be identified.

Sex offenders use pornography to escalate the relationship with the child. According to the Klain study, the most common purposes for which offenders use child pornography are:

  • Pornography creates a permanent record for sexual arousal and gratification.
  • Pornography lowers the child’s inhibitions to engage in sexual behavior.
  • Pornography may be used to teach children how to behave, pose, or re-enact scenes.
  • Pornography may be used to blackmail child victims by threatening to show the photographs, videos, or other depictions to parents, friends, or teachers. The threat becomes more potent because the child may fear punishment by the criminal justice system.
  • Pornography created to sell for profit or trade between individuals. The Internet’s anonymity, enhanced by increasingly sophisticated encryption technology, facilitates the increasing demand for child pornography.

Repeated exposure to adult and child pornography is deliberately used to diminish the child’s inhibitions, break barriers to sexual arousal, desensitize the child that sex is normal, and arouse the victim. Children depicted in pictures are often smiling or have neutral expressions, a factor that appears to be designed to represent the children as willing participants in sexual or degrading acts. There is a recent trend for pictures to be taken in domestic settings such as a kitchen or bedroom, thus further “normalizing” the activity for children who view images.

It has been reported that children under ten (10) who have been exposed to sexually exploitative material have themselves become users of it. Eight percent (8%) of youths admitted to going voluntarily to X-rated sites. Children at most risk of being violated through pornography productions are within the home and family. The child knows their abuser as a parent, a relative, a guardian, or an acquaintance. In these situations, the abuse may be more likely to come to light inadvertently as a result of inquiries by social welfare and reports from neighbors, rather than as a result of police inquiries into online crime.

Reporting Internet Crimes

The impact of online child victimization (i.e. solicitation and harassment) is not completely understood. Family dynamics often play a significant role in children’s denial of a crime and their willingness to participate in the investigation and prosecution. A child’s ability to acknowledge and accept the crime can be linked to family values, peer pressure, and feelings of guilt, shame, and embarrassment. Only three percent (3%) of all incidents of predators harassing children on the Internet is reported. The Crimes against Children Research Center found less than ten percent (10%) of sexual solicitations and only three percent (3%) of unwanted exposure episodes were reported to authorities such as a law-enforcement agency, an Internet service provider, or a hotline. In 2005, only one (1) incident out of more than 500 incidents of sexually explicit material was ever reported to an Internet service provider.

Online Language

Ninety-five percent (95%) of parents could not identify common chat room lingo that teenagers use to warn people they are chatting with that their parents were watching (NCMEC, 2005). Ninety-two percent (92%) of parents did not know the meaning of A/S/L (Age/Sex/Location) (NCMEC, 2005). Parents should watch for the following questionable abbreviations:

  • 53x means “sex”
  • 121 means “one to one”
  • A/S/L means age, sex, location. Watch for personal information being exchanged (i.e. 14/m/tx). This is a 14 year old male from Texas.
  • CYBER used as a verb and means “cybersex”
  • CONNECT means “to talk privately”
  • DIKU means “do I know you”
  • ESAD means “eat sh*t and die”
  • F2F, FTF means “face to face” or “let’s meet F2F”
  • FOAD means “f*ck off and die”
  • GP means “go private”
  • H4U means “hot for you”
  • H&K means “hugs and kisses”
  • ILU means “I love you”
  • IWALU means “I will always love you”
  • KOC means “kiss on the cheek”
  • KOL means “kiss on the lips”
  • LTR means “long term relationship”
  • LMIRL means “lets meet in real life”
  • LUWAMH means “love you with all my heart”
  • LU means “love you”
  • MOSS means “member of the same sex”
  • MOTOS means “member of the opposite sex”
  • MUSM means “miss you so much”
  • NIFOC means “naked in front of the computer”
  • OLL means “online love”
  • P2P means “person to person”
  • P911 means “my parents are coming”
  • PA means “parent alert”
  • PAL means “parents are listening”
  • PANB means “parents are near by”
  • PM means “private message or one on one chat”
  • POS means “parent over shoulder”
  • pr0n is an alternate spelling for porn or pornography
  • PDA means “public display of affection”
  • RL, IRL means “in real life as in “wants to see you IRL”
  • SWAK means “sealed with a kiss”
  • TOY means “thinking of you”
  • WIBNI means “wouldn’t it be nice if”
  • WTGP means “want to go private”
  • WUF means “where are you from”
  • WTF means “what the f*ck”

Acronyms and words used in daily IM or discussion boards

  • AFAIK means “as far as I know”
  • BTW means “by the way”
  • CUL means “see you later”
  • HHOK means “ha ha only kidding”
  • IANAL means “I am not a lawyer”
  • IIRC means “if I remember correctly”
  • IMHO means “in my humble opinion”
  • KEWL means “cool”
  • OMG means “oh my god”
  • OTOH means “on the other hand”
  • WUT^2 “what up with you too”

Characteristics of Youth Who Form Close Online Relationships

  • Sixteen percent (16%) of girls and twelve (12%) of boys have close online relationships.
  • Girls aged fourteen (14) to seventeen (17) were twice as likely as girls ten (10) to thirteen (13) to form close online relationships.
  • High parent-child conflict and being highly troubled were associated with close online relationships. Girls with high levels of parent-child conflict report yelling, nagging, and privileges by parents at higher levels than other girls. The highly troubled girls had levels of depression, victimization, and troubling life events at higher levels than other girls.
  • Boys who had low communications with their parents, and who also reported that their parents were less likely to know where and who they were with were the most strongly associated with close online relationships.
  • Girls and boys who reported high levels of Internet use and home Internet access were more likely to report close online relationships.
  • Youths with problems were most likely to attend a face-to-face meeting with people they first met online.

Warning Signs that a Child may be at Risk

  • Excessive use of online services especially during the late night hours
  • Unsupervised time in unmonitored chat rooms
  • Mood swings and withdraws
  • Greater desire to spend time with people online than with “real life” people
  • Unexplained files downloaded (i.e. .jpd, .gif, .bmp, .tif, .pcx, .mov, .avi, .wmv, or .mpg)

Defenses to Online Solicitation of a Minor

People are often arrested and charged with online solicitation when they meet the minor in question in person. However, it is important to note that a person can still be charged with this offense even if the meeting never occurs. Despite this, a person may be found innocent of online solicitation if one or both of the following apply:

  • He or she is legally married to the minor in question
  • He or she is less than three years older than the minor

Solicitation of a minor laws have frequently been challenged by defendants on the basis that they violate a defendant’s right to free speech, but have survived such claims. Viable defenses remaining will depend on a particular state’s laws. Some earlier laws required a defendant to actually communicate with a child and defendants could raise the defense of impossibility where prosecution involved communication with an officer who was merely posing as a child but who was in actuality an adult. In response to the success of the impossibility defense, many state statutes changed their laws to permit a conviction based on a defendant’s belief that they were talking to a minor. Other states have also built in “Romeo and Juliet” defenses for a defendant who is involved in a dating relationship with a child who was not more than three years younger than the defendant.

Although not an outright “defense,” another defensive angle is to prove that the defendant did not know that the person on the other end was a minor. Most states have strict liability laws — which means the state is not required to prove that a defendant knew how old the child was, only that the child was underage. However, some juries have engaged in “jury nullification,” by finding a defendant not guilty if they believed that the defendant did not have a reason to believe the child was underage. Showing that the conversation was just an online fantasy or proving that they never intended to actually meet the minor are generally not good defenses. Before a defendant decides to pursue a defensive theory, they should discuss the practicality of the defense with a criminal attorney in their area.
Top Houston Sex Crimes Lawyers

Solicitation of a Minor: Misdemeanor or Felony?

Online solicitation of a minor is usually classified as a felony level offense. As with most felonies, the range of punishment can include a deferred or suspended sentence, up to several years in prison. A defendant in Texas can receive anywhere from two to twenty years in prison. Although a deferred sentence can allow a defendant to remain free, the restrictions of probation tend to be more intense for online solicitation charges because they are considered sexually related offenses. The court can order a defendant to submit to maintenance polygraphs, complete individual or group sex offender counseling, to submit to a sex offender evaluation, and to refrain from being around any children while on probation. The court can also require a defendant to pay for these programs which can run up to $500.00 or more per month.

The long-term consequences can be even more severe. Because online solicitation of a minor is considered a sexually related offense, a defendant can be required to register as a sex offender. If a defendant fails to register, they can be charged with a new felony offense of failure to register as a sex offender. Once a defendant has a sexually related offense on their record, some states will significantly increase the punishment for a second offense if a defendant is ever charged with another sexually related offense. Beyond the court system, online solicitation will also affect employment opportunities. With more open access to the court systems, more employers are performing background checks and will not hire certain candidates. Applicants with sexually related offenses are generally the first to get cut.

Contact Us

When you have been charged with a severe legal offense, it is very important to understand your rights and defense options. An experienced Houston Criminal Lawyer can help you decide what steps you need to take next. The attorneys of the Charles Johnson Law Firm are aggressive child sex crime defense lawyers who will make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Contact us for a free consultation today at 713-222-7577 anytime, night or day if you have been falsely accused of soliciting a minor online.

Arrested For Online Solicitation of a Minor? The Right Houston Criminal Lawyer Can Make a Difference
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Facing Charges of Online Solicitation of a Minor? The Right Houston Criminal Lawyer Can Make a Difference

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Looking for a Parole Attorney in Texas? The Charles Johnson Law Firm Will Offer Expert Guidance

The Charles Johnson Law Firm has been helping inmates obtain parole for 20 years. As a criminal parole lawyer, Attorney Johnson will not only help you at the parole hearing but will also guide you though the process of preparing you for the parole hearing. Houston Parole Lawyer Charles Johnson knows what programs an inmate should participate in to better increase their chance of parole as well as earning good time. He will help you make and execute an effective plan for early release.

Whether you or your loved one is being reviewed by the Texas Pardon and Parole Board or has been arrested on a parole violation and is facing a parole revocation, you will want an experienced and knowledgeable Texas parole attorney representing you. You can contact Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson directly anytime night or day at (713) 222-7577 or toll free at (877) 308-0100.

What is Parole?

PAROLE is the release of a inmate from the prison prior to the end of their jail sentence. Parole is often awarded to a inmate when the inmate has remained well behaved during their sentence and participated in many of the programs that are offered at the prison. When an inmate is sentenced to jail, that inmate can cut his jail time significanty by remaining out of trouble and activily participating in programs that will help in his rehabilitation. Early release can be achieved in the following two ways: first a defedant may be paroled or second an inmate can accrue good time while at the prison leading to a significant reduction of his or her sentence.

What is a Parole Lawyer?

A parole lawyer works with someone facing a parole hearing to help that person try to gain parole from the board overseeing the hearing. Parole lawyers may also represent clients as defense attorneys during legal proceedings and will sometimes stay with clients after the trial to help them during parole proceedings. Other parole lawyers may be hired by someone facing a parole hearing after a certain amount of time in prison and is looking for more extensive representation. A parole lawyer will also often help someone who has received parole in understanding what that person can and cannot due in terms of his or her parole.

Parole is the process by which someone who has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time in prison is able to be released from prison before the end of that time. Sometimes called “early release”, parole is often used as a means of reward for someone who demonstrates a real desire to change or improve himself or herself while in prison. It can also be used as a way of providing a form of reward for someone who demonstrates good behavior in prison.

What is the Parole Board and how does the Parole Board work?

The Parole Board in Texas is made up of six part-time members and has a full-time chairperson. The parole board is comprised of various professionals including but not limited to law enforcement, social work, medicine, and law. At a parole hearing, the parole board will review the file materials, will meet with the victims of the crimes, and then will have a hearing with the inmate. The inmate is allowed to present materials that may benefit him as well as bring his or her attorney. After reviewing all the material, the Parole Board will consider what is before it and vote on whether it should parole an inmate.

There are numerous factors that are taken into account when the parole board considers parole. The parole board will take into consideration all factors, from the the seriousness of the offense, the inmate’s prison behavior including what programs he or she has been involved with. The parole board will also consider the inmate’s proposed release plans. The parole board website also lists other considerations such as:

  • seriousness of the offense
  • length of sentence
  • prior criminal record
  • inmate’s behavior at the ACI
  • programs the inmate has completed
  • proposed release plans
  • inmate’s attitude
  • inmate’s behavioral changes
  • community safety
  • concerns of families and friends
  • concerns of victims, and others.

Hire an attorney that will help your chance of being released from prison!

If you have an upcoming parole hearing, you may want to consider hiring a Texas attorney who has experience helping prisoners with parole hearings. Hiring an attorney for a parole hearing is not mandatory. Many prisoners rely on their own efforts or that of their family members to do the paperwork and presentation at the hearing. However, it may not be as effective as hiring an attorney who knows how the parole system works.

Inmates get very limited legal help after being sentenced. Often a good lawyer can advise them as to what they should do in order to be released early from prison. Many programs will give an inmate good time off the end of their sentence while at the same time greatly increasing their chance of parole. Do not risk missing a chance to be released early. Contact the Charles Johnson Law Firm today around the clock at (713) 222-7577 or toll free at (877) 308-0100.

Regardless of the reasons for parole, a parole lawyer typically specializes in the proceedings, laws, and systems behind parole in a given state within the United States (US). Each state is somewhat different in how it handles parole, and state bodies are established to govern parole hearings and how parole is issued. The US Department of Justice establishes certain practices and expectations for fairness in parole hearings, but the process is mostly performed at a state level.

A parole lawyer usually specializes in the specifics governing parole in the state he or she practices in. He or she may also know the people on parole boards and better understand how to work with them to ensure better chances of success for the person facing a parole hearing. While parole can certainly be received without a parole lawyer, having one often makes the process simpler and can increase the chances of receiving parole.

Much like probation, which is a form of supervised release rather than time in prison, parole will usually have a number of restrictions that must be observed by the parolee to avoid returning to prison. These can include avoiding certain people and activities, as well as observing travel restrictions. A parole lawyer can usually help a parolee better understand these rules and help him or her avoid returning to prison before the end of the parole period.

Selecting a Texas parole lawyer can be one of the most important decisions you make. Your chance at freedom is at stake. With any appearance before the Texas Pardon and Parole Board, it is important that you are fully prepared to answer questions that may affect the rest of your life.

Houston Parole Attorney Charles Johnson is fully prepared to handle all types of parole and pardon cases. Our legal representation is comprehensive and we are committed to providing you with knowledgeable, aggressive and experienced representation. Call our law office today and speak to Attorney Charles Johnson directly for your complementary case evaluation right over the phone. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100 today.

Facing Criminal Charges for Homicide? Houston Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson is the Right Lawyer for You

Houston Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson

Are you currently in a situation where you are facing criminal charges for Murder? Houston Criminal Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson represents clients charged with Homicide crimes throughout all of Texas. The Charles Johnson Law Firm can provide legal counsel at virtually any stage of your case, even if formal charges have not yet been filed against you. Currently, Texas has six types of Criminal Homicide charges:

Homicide is the act of killing another person, either intentionally or unintentionally. It is perhaps the most serious crime you could be accused of, and the potential penalties you could face if convicted are equally serious. Your lawyer must be well-versed in Texas and Federal Homicide laws to successfully represent you. If you or someone you love has been charged with any type of Criminal Homicide, you must take these charges very seriously and seek the legal advice of an experienced and knowledgeable Houston Criminal Defense Attorney right away. The Charles Johnson Law Firm will examine all the details of your case and will challenge the evidence against you. Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson has helped his clients either prove their innocence, or obtain a reduction in the charges against them. Whether you or guilty or not, you deserve to have an experienced attorney on your side who will work aggressively, to protect you and your rights. Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson anytime night or day directly at (713) 222-7577. He is always available to discuss your case.

Texas Penal Code Chapter 19:  Four Types Of Criminal Homicide

TPC section 19.01 states that there are four types of Criminal Homicide.  They are Murder,Capital Murder, Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide.

Murder

Under TPC section 19.02 there are three basic ways to commit murder:

  1. intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual;
  2. intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual;  or
  3. commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission
    or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.

Murder is usually a felony of the first degree, the possible punishment for which is imprisonment in the institutional division for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years and/or by a fine not to exceed $10,000.  The only exception to this that the crime is a felony of the second degree if the requirements of TPC sec. 19.02 (d) are satisfied:

At the punishment stage of a trial, the defendant may raise the issue as to
whether he caused the death under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising
from an adequate cause.  If the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by a
preponderance of the evidence, the offense is a felony of the second degree.

During the punishment phase of the trial, a defendant may argue that he caused the death while under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause. “Sudden passion” is “passion directly caused by and arising out of provocation by the individual killed or another acting with the person killed which passion arises at the time of the offense and is not solely the result of former provocation.

Adequate cause” is a “cause that would commonly produce a degree of anger, rage, resentment, or terror in a person of ordinary temper, sufficient to render the mind incapable of cool reflection.” Sudden passion is a mitigating circumstance that, if found by the jury to have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence, reduces the offense from a first degree felony to a second degree felony.

Thus, before defendants are allowed to have the judge or jury consider sudden passion, defendants must prove:

  1. that there was a adequate (legally recognized) provocation for the emotion or passion;
  2. an emotion or passion such as terror, anger, rage, fear or resentment existed;
  3. that the homicide occurred while the passion or emotion still existed;
  4. that the homicide occurred before there was a reasonable opportunity for the passion or emotion to cool (dissipate);  and,
  5. that there was a causal connection between the provocation, the passion, and the homicide.

A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.  This is where the old offense of “voluntary manslaughter” ended up after amendments to the TPC effective in 1994.  Thus, there is currently no offense of voluntary manslaughter in Texas.

Capital Murder

A capital murder is a capital felony. The Texas Penal Code specifically defines Capital Murder(and, thus, the possibility of the death penalty as a punishment) as murder which involves one or more of the elements listed below:

  1. the person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman;
  2. the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or
    retaliation, or terroristic threat,
  3. the person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;
  4. the person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;
  5. the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another:
    1. who is employed in the operation of the penal institution;  or
    2. with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination;
  6. the person:
    1. while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Sec.19.02, murders another;  or
    2. while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under  Sec. 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another;
  7. the person murders more than one person:
    1. during the same criminal transaction;  or
    2. during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct;
  8. the person murders an individual under six years of age;  or
  9. the person murders another person in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of the other person as a judge or justice of the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, a district court, a criminal district court, a constitutional county court, a statutory county court, a justice court, or a municipal court.

A capital felony is punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole.  If the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty, life without parole is the mandatory sentence.  Prior to 2005, capital felony life imprisonment was life with the possibility of parole after 40 years.

Under current state law, the crimes of Capital Murder and Capital Sabotage (see below) or a second conviction for the aggravated sexual assault of someone under 14 is eligible for the death penalty.

Note: The Texas Penal Code allows for the death penalty to be assessed for “aggravated sexual assault of child committed by someone previously convicted of aggravated sexual assault of child”. The statute remains part of the Penal Code; however, the Supreme Court of the United State’s decision in Kennedy v. Louisiana which outlawed the death penalty for any crime not involving murder nullifies its effect.

The Texas Penal Code also allows a person can be convicted of any felony, including capital murder, “as a party” to the offense. “As a party” means that the person did not personally commit the elements of the crime, but is otherwise responsible for the conduct of the actual perpetrator as defined by law; which includes:

  • soliciting for the act,
  • encouraging its commission,
  • aiding the commission of the offense,
  • participating in a conspiracy to commit any felony where one of the conspirators commits the crime of capital murder

The felony involved does not have to be capital murder; if a person is proven to be a party to a felony offense and a murder is committed, the person can be charged with and convicted of capital murder, and thus eligible for the death penalty.
As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime or mentally retarded are precluded from being executed by the Constitution of the United States.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter  (TPC sec. 19.04) is recklessly causing the death of an individual.  Manslaughter is a felony of the second degree, which is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.

Texas does not officially use the term “involuntary manslaughter” or “voluntary manslaughter” which can sometimes be a little bit confusing. Many states do make the distinction between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Instead, Texas combines involuntary and voluntary manslaughter together and it is known as just “manslaughter.”

To convict a defendant of manslaughter, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant recklessly caused the death of another individual. There is no requirement of premeditation to this crime and no requirement for there to be intent or knowledge on the part of the defendant. The only requirement is that the defendant’s conduct was reckless.

Although manslaughter is defined broadly in Texas, there are specific types of manslaughter that are treated separately. For example, intoxication manslaughter is one, and vehicular manslaughter is another. Intoxication manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while intoxicated. Cases involving driving while intoxicated would probably be prosecuted under TPC sec. 49.08, Intoxication Manslaughter (see below), rather than under this section. Vehicular manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while driving a vehicle or vessel.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

Criminally negligent homicide (TPC sec. 19.05) is causing the death of an individual by criminal negligence.  It is a state jail felony under which in general, a person can be confined in a state jail for not more than two years nor less than 180 days.  In addition, a fine of not more than $10,000 may be assessed.

Criminally Negligent Homicide differs from Manslaughter only in terms of the culpability or mens rea.  Criminally negligent homicide involves criminal negligence.  Manslaughter involves recklessness.  Thus, Manslaughter involves conscious risk creation (the actor is aware of the risk surrounding his conduct or the results thereof, but consciously disregards that awareness).  Criminally negligent homicide involves inattentive risk creation.  The actor ought to have been aware of the riskiness of his or her conduct but failed to perceive the risk.

Recklessness and criminal negligence are more serious forms of culpability than the negligence that can result in civil liability. Unlike civil  or ordinary negligence, recklessness requires somesubjective awareness of the risk.  Ordinary negligence is a totally objective standard.  Criminal negligence requires a “gross” deviation from the standard of care a reasonable or ordinary person would have exercised under the same circumstances.  Criminal negligence is roughly equivalent to “gross negligence” which is a more serious form of culpability than ordinary negligence.  Ordinary negligence can be made out by showing any deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise.

Texas Penal Code Section 49.08 Intoxication Manslaughter

The final type of criminal homicide found in Texas Code is found in TPC ch. 49, “Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverage Offenses.”  A person is guilty of intoxication manslaughter if the person operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, watercraft or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride and “  is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.”

“Intoxicated is defined as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more or

not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body . . .

This offense is a felony of the second degree.  A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000

Note that this is a strict liability offense. Guilt attaches even if the death is caused by accident or mistake.  Many observers are critical of strict liability offenses because they arguably punish conduct which is not blameworthy.  Supporters of strict liability offenses counter that such offenses are usually fine-only offenses.  This is clearly not the case for sec. 49.08 for which a person could be imprisoned for up to 20 years.

Best Houston Criminal Defense LawyerSection 49.08 does not apply to injury or death of an unborn child if the offense against the unborn child is committed by the mother of the unborn child.  Thus, if a pregnant woman is driving while intoxicated and has an accident which kills her fetus, it is not a crime.

Texas Government Code – Section 557.012 Capital Sabotage

  1. A person commits an offense if the person commits an offense under Section 557.011(a) and the sabotage or attempted sabotage causes the death of an individual.
  2. An offense under this section is punishable by:
    1. death; or
    2. confinement in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for:
      1. life; or
      2. a term of not less than two years.
  3. If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under other law, the actor may be prosecuted under both sections.

Possible Defenses for Murder Charges

Defenses to first degree murder charges fall into two major categories: claims that the defendant did not commit the killing in question, and admission that the defendant committed the killing, but did not commit first degree murder.

Defendants admitting to having killed the victim can assert defenses that they were justified in doing so (in self defense, for example), or that they were somehow incapacitated and thus not legally liable. These defenses require the defendant to put forth proof to support his or her defense.

First degree murder defendants also may simply argue that the prosecution has not proved all elements of a first degree murder charge typically that the defendant killed willfully, deliberately and with premeditation. Though the defendant may support such an argument with evidence, he or she is not required to do so, as proof of all elements of the crime falls on the shoulders of the prosecution.

As with statutes defining crimes, the defenses recognized for a specific crime can vary by state. Furthermore, which defenses a criminal defendant may have depends on the particular facts of the case in question. For guidance, defendants should consult an attorney well versed in his or her state’s criminal laws.

Mistaken Identity

In first degree murder cases, as well as other homicide crimes, defendants often argue mistaken identity i.e., that the prosecution has charged the wrong person with the killing. A defendant arguing mistaken identity often asserts an alibi if possible, which he or she tries to support with evidence of being somewhere else at the time of the killing. Other arguments in a mistaken identity defense include challenges to evidence placing the defendant at the scene of the crime. This can include challenges to witness identification as well as challenges to forensic evidence. A mistaken identity defense may also point to evidence implicating another possible suspect, but courts do not require defendants to do so.

Justified Homicide

Not all homicides are crimes, let alone first degree murders. The most common legal justification for a killing is self-defense or the defense of others.

Self-Defense

To succeed, a defendant arguing self defense must show that the killing resulted from a reasonable use of force to resist a reasonable fear of death or bodily harm. The defendant cannot have instigated the threatening situation. The degree of force used in self-defense must be proportional to the threat perceived, and the threat perceived must be something that would place a reasonable person in fear of death or great bodily harm. Mere words or insults do not suffice.

The defendant’s reaction to the threat cannot take place after the threat of death or bodily harm has passed. Many states require that the defendant attempt to retreat or avoid danger if possible before resorting to the use of deadly force.

For example, if someone incapacitates a mugger with pepper spray, he or she may need to attempt to flee to safety instead of taking out a pistol and shooting the mugger. States differ in the degree to which they require an attempt to retreat if the threat they face occurs in the defender’s home.

Defense of Others

The reasonable and proportional defense of others also justifies some killings. The same requirements as self-defense typically apply: the use of force must be timely and proportional to the threat faced, and the perceived threat of death or bodily harm must be reasonable.

Exercise of Duty

Certain killings by law enforcement and other public officers qualify as justified homicides. If an officer kills someone in the exercise of duty and without an unlawful intent, recklessness or negligence, that killing generally does not constitute murder, let alone first degree murder.

Accident or Misfortune

Killings committed by accident in the course of lawful activities do not constitute murder. Some such killings may result in liability for manslaughter, but unless an accidental homicide takes place during the commission of a crime or as a result of other criminal intentions, they would not be covered by first degree or second degree murder statutes. In certain cases, such as parental discipline of children which results in even accidental death, the use of physical force beyond excepted norms can push the killing into murder and possibly, depending on state law, first degree murder.

Insanity Defense

Most states recognize an insanity defense to charges of first degree murder. Even states which allow the defense, however, treat it differently and often apply different tests. Most states define insanity, for purposes of determining criminal liability, as cognitively being unable to appreciate the quality of the act being committed, or unable to realize that the act is wrong. Some states also recognize a volitional aspect to “insanity” giving some defendants with disorders affecting impulse control access to the insanity defense.

Hire the Best Criminal Homicide Lawyers: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Murder charges are of course the most serious of all charges and the most seriously pursued by the State Attorney’s Office or Federal Prosecutors. A person charged with homicide (murder) in Texas risks significant jail time and most convictions will result in never being released from custody. In some cases, they face being sentenced to death. Texas has become infamous in the country for the number of murders.

However not all deaths are criminal, and there are several powerful homicide defenses provided under Texas Law. If you or someone you know is charged with some form of a Homicide charge, then you need the best possible attorney. You are entitled to the best legal defense possible. Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson can deliver that defense for you.Houston Criminal Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson is available to discuss your case whenever you need him. Contact him directly at (713) 222-7577. His Law Office is headquartered in Houston, with offices conveniently located in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.

 

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Arrested on an Assault Charge? Call the Charles Johnson Law Firm for a Free Consultation

Assault may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the law of the jurisdiction. If you have been accused of assault, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Houston Assault & Battery Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

If you have been charged with assault or are facing allegations of domestic violence, you are encouraged to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, our attorney has been defending clients against charges of criminal assault, domestic abuse, and restraining orders violations for over a decade.

For aggressive representation from an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer, contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation. We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100. Major credit cards are accepted.

Assault – An Overview

Being convicted of assault can bring serious penalties including jail or prison time, fines and probation. Although the specific definition of assault varies by jurisdiction, it is typically viewed as the act of putting another person in fear of harm or offensive contact by the use of force or the threat of force. Some jurisdictions also consider an intentional injury to be an assault. If you have been charged with assault, it is important to know the law and procedures of your state and county. Seek the advice of an experienced attorney, Charles Johnson Law Firm in Houston, Texas, as you determine how to fight the charges.

Assault is an attempt to hurt someone physically; it is also the threat of force or use of force, making the victim apprehensive of harmful or offensive contact. Battery, on the other hand, is typically defined as the actual touching of the victim in a harmful or offensive manner.

If the assault occurs while the defendant is using a deadly weapon or attempting to commit a serious crime, it is an aggravated assault. Because this is a more serious crime than simple assault, the punishment is usually more severe. Injury does not necessarily have to occur for the crime to be aggravated assault.

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Assault & Battery

Assault and battery are two separate crimes. Each may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on how the crime was allegedly carried out, the nature of the injuries that resulted and the laws of the jurisdiction. If you are facing a charge of assault or battery, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your legal rights and options.

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Sexual Assault

Many states have undertaken a revision of their rape and sexual assault laws, creating a broad set of sexually related crimes. These crimes are often referred to collectively as sexual assault, criminal sexual conduct or sexual abuse. The chief characteristic of these laws is that they prohibit doing any type of sexual act with another person against that person’s will. Generally, it is not necessary to show physical resistance on the part of the victim, only that the victim did not consent to the act. If you have been accused of sexual assault, seek the advice of an attorney.

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Domestic Assault

If you have been accused of domestic violence, you may be facing an uphill battle. Many states have strengthened their laws on domestic violence, making arrest and prosecution mandatory regardless of what the alleged victim wishes to do. No matter how your state or county handles allegations of domestic violence, it is important to mount a vigorous defense. Speak with an attorney to discuss your case and develop a strategy for fighting the charges.

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Coping With the Assault Arrest of a Family Member

If someone in your family has been arrested for assault, you probably aren’t sure where to turn or what to do next. If you (or another family member) were the victim of the assault, that only complicates the situation. While your family member’s arrest is a daunting situation, you can do several things right away to gain information and control. A positive first step is to contact an attorney who will guide you through the complicated maze of the justice system.

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Assault Resource Links

Criminal Law: An Overview
The Legal Information Institute (LII) provides basic information on how the criminal law system works.

Uniform Crime Reports
The Uniform Crime Reporting Program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tracks the overall crime numbers and statistical fluctuations of 17,000 law enforcement agencies.

Bureau of Justice Statistics
The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics gathers, analyzes and publishes information on how both offenders and victims are treated by the criminal justice system.

The Sentencing Project
The Sentencing Project works to reform criminal sentencing laws and promote alternatives to incarceration.

Violence Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is committed to the prevention of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual crimes and youth violence.

Criminal Procedure: An Overview
LII outlines how people are prosecuted for crimes in the US and describes their rights during this process.

US Constitution: Eighth Amendment
FindLaw offers a look at the source of a prisoner’s constitutional rights.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
This Web site contains information on domestic violence, including resources for people who think they may be abusing a loved one.

National Crime Prevention Council
The NCPC works to educate people on how to prevent crime through personal safety measures and community programs.

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Houston Solicitation Charges Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Criminal solicitation is an inchoate crime, consisting of offering something of value to induce another person to commit a crime with the intent that the person asked actually commits the crime.

Examples of solicitation include:

  • Prostitution (solicitation of sex in exchange for money);
  • Murder (offering an individual money in exchange for killing someone); and
  • Drug crimes (offering an individual money in exchange for drugs or illegal contraband).

The crime of solicitation is complete upon asking, meaning that the whether or not the person solicited actually does what is asked of them, the person doing the soliciting has already committed the crime, just by asking. The person asked does not have to be willing to commit the crime as long as the person asking asks with the specific intent that the other person carry out the crime. For example, a person can be charged with solicitation when the person they are asking is an undercover agent, who has no intention of carrying out the crime.

Criminal solicitation is requesting, encouraging or demanding someone to engage in criminal conduct, with the intent to facilitate or contribute to the commission of that crime. Most commonly, “solicitation” refers to solicitation of prostitution – the crime of soliciting someone to engage in prostitution.

Defenses to Solicitation Charges

As in all criminal cases, a solicitation defendant can challenge that they did not commit the act, or that they did not have a criminal intent if they did commit the act. For example, someone charged with solicitation of prostitution might argue that he or she was not the person who did it, or that there was no offer or intent to compensate the other person for performing sex acts.

In some cases, a person is not liable for solicitation if he or she recants their intention to commit the subsequent crime, and notifies the other person that their request is off the table. Depending on what type of criminal behavior the person was soliciting, recanting might also require notifying the police in order to prevent subsequent criminal conduct from unfolding.

Often, evidence in addition to any testimony from the person propositioned is required in order to convict someone of solicitation.

Punishment for Solicitation

Solicitation usually applies to serious offenses. Separate statutes exist under most state criminal codes to account for criminal solicitation. Under federal law, the solicitation of a felony crime is punishable by no more than half of the punishment available for the actual crime. Also, the law does not allow for a person to be charged for solicitation in conjunction with the underlying crime. Thus, a person can either be charged for the underlying crime or for soliciting the crime. Not both.

If an individual who is guilty of solicitation voluntarily abandons the criminal conduct, he may be able to use such a renunciation as a defense during trial. Sometimes notifying of the police is required. If the crime is complete, it is likely too late for renunciation. Other defenses may also be available depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident. If an undercover police officer is involved in the case, there is a chance that entrapment may be involved.

State laws regarding solicitation will vary from federal laws. Solicitation laws can be complex and difficult to understand without the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Houston Solicitation Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Don’t wait to seek legal help. You may face severe punishments ranging from jail time to loss of certain rights, heavy fines, mandatory rehabilitation, and more. Let us help you. Contact Attorney Charles Johnson for a FREE consultation with a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case and help you determine a course of action to obtain the best possible outcome.

We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.

Houston Solicitation Charges Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

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Arrested for Public Lewdness? Get Proven Aggressive Defense from Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson

Generally speaking, an act of public lewdness according to the Texas Penal code is public fornication. A person commits an offense when he or she knowingly engages in any of the following acts in a public place or, while another person is present who might be offended or alarmed by his or her:

  • act of sexual intercourse;
  • act of deviate sexual intercourse;
  • act of sexual contact; or
  • act of sexual contact with an animal or fowl.

An offense is punishable by a maximum fine of $4,000 and/or not more than one year in prison.

Under the Texas Penal Code, public lewdness is considered a misdemeanor. A conviction, however, could have as much impact as a felony. Public Lewdness cases are almost exclusively enforced in situations involving two men. Many men each year are charged by the Vice Squad in adult movie theaters, spas, parks or outside of gay clubs and bars.

Houston Public Lewdness Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

If you are arrested for public lewdness, contact our office as soon as possible. We have a better sense of what you should and should not say to law enforcement officers to avoid being misinterpreted or misunderstood.

We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.

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Facing Indecent Exposure Charges? Hire Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson

Indecent exposure is a crime that is defined as exposing one’s genitals or socially deemed “private parts” (such as behind or breasts) in a public place where others are present and may witness the act. A person who commits indecent exposure does so intentionally with an understanding that his/her conduct will likely alarm and offend others. Indecent exposure is often performed for the offender’s personal sexual excitement or satisfaction, though in some cases it is a form of social rebellion.

The definition of indecent exposure has changed throughout time and place, as what is considered indecent is often socially defined. Many lawmakers have had difficulty creating and implementing laws which are founded on social and cultural mores. Indecent exposure can have varying effects depending on its intent and context. Despite this variance, many laws will prosecute those charged with indecent exposure the same.

There are, however, some aggravating factors that may increase the severity of an indecent exposure charge. Indecent exposure is typically charged as a misdemeanor offense, which is less serious than a felony. A person who commits indecent exposure in the presence of a minor may face harsher penalties for their criminal offense. Other specific circumstances may also enhance the punishment for indecent exposure.

An indecent exposure charge can have devastating effects on those accused. Indecent exposure carries a significant social stigma and may adversely affect a convicted offender for years to come. An indecent exposure conviction may prevent an offender from gaining or maintaining employment. In some cases an indecent exposure conviction can even require that an offender register as a sex offender in a national database for years to a lifetime.

There are current indecent exposure laws that are being considered on the federal level. These indecent exposure laws would increase the penalties for indecent exposure and mandate that those convicted of this crime be immediately added to the sex offender registry.

Houston Indecent Exposure Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

The combination of state law discrepancies and the drastic potential legal ramifications of indecent exposure necessitate the need for professional legal help when charged with an indecent exposure offence. If you would like to learn more about indecent exposure laws in your area, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney who can evaluate your case to determine how best to protect your legal interests.

We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.

Facing Indecent Exposure Charges? Hire Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer Charles Johnson

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Facing Sex Crime Charges? Proven Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is Your Best Ally

Facing Sex Crime Charges? Proven Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is Your Best Ally

Crimes falling into the “sex crimes” category generally involve illegal or coerced sexual conduct by one person towards another. There are laws against unlawful sexual conduct in every state, and each state has its own time limit to bring a sexual-related lawsuit. People convicted of sex crimes are considered “sex offenders” by the state and face having their names added to state and federal sex offender registries. Below is a collection of crimes that are sexual in nature, and that carry severe consequences and penalties.

  • Child Pornography – Federal and state laws make it a crime to produce, possess, distribute, or sell pornographic materials that exploit or portray a minor.
  • Criminal Solicitation of a Minor (Under 17) – On-line solicitation of a minor for a sexual purpose, that is, with intent to commit a sexual activity with that minor, is one of the most investigated and targeted activities by both federal and state law enforcement in this day and age.
  • Improper Relationship Between Educator and Student – Although the relationships are typically consensual, the teacher is prosecuted under a specific provision of the penal code prohibiting an Improper Relationship Between Educator & Student. It is important to note that the offense is neither limited to teachers nor limited to sexual contact; risqué text messages are enough
  • Indecent Exposure – Indecent exposure laws in most states make it a crime to purposefully display one’s genitals in public, causing others to be alarmed or offended. Indecent exposure is often committed for the sexual gratification of the offender, and may reach the level of a sexual assault if any physical contact is made.
  • Public Lewdness –  It is generally defined to be the intentional exposure of the genitals, buttocks or female breasts or committing  or attempting to engage in a sexual act in public where there is reason to believe you will and can be observed.
  • Prostitution – Generally, prostitution is the act of engaging in sexual activity by a person for a fee or a thing of economic value.  But the scope of the crime of prostitution has been widened to include all prostitution related offenses.  Thus a person is considered to commit an offense of prostitution if s/he engages in an act of prostitution willfully, solicits prostitution, or agrees to engage in an act of prostitution.
  • Sexual Assault/Rape – Sexual assault generally refers to any crime in which the offender subjects the victim to sexual touching that is unwanted and offensive. These crimes can range from sexual groping or assault/battery, to attempted rape.
  • Sexual Assault of a Child (Statutory Rape) – Statutory rape refers to sexual relations involving someone below the “age of consent.” People below the age of consent cannot legally consent to having sex. This means that sex with them, by definition, violates the law.
  • Solicitation – It’s illegal to entice someone else to commit a crime (such as prostitution). This article explains the elements to prove solicitation, as well as defenses and penalties.

Houston Sex Crimes Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm

Sex crimes can carry very significant criminal penalties, and even those that carry relatively short jail sentences can result in lifelong registration requirements, public notice, employment restrictions and many other problems.

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime, it’s critical that you understand all of the risks involved before taking any action. You may not have the knowledge and experience necessary to take the steps required to protect yourself and your future. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Attorney Charles Johnson for more clarification and guidance.

We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.

Facing Sex Crime Charges? Proven Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson is Your Best Ally

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Related News Stories – Sex Crimes Arrests in Houston

We can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.
Major Credit Cards Accepted.

 
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