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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.
The parties to the crime usually include: a prostitute and a customer or a third person/pimp. In addition to engaging in prostitution, soliciting prostitution, agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution, child prostitution, attempted prostitution are other prostitution related offenses. A person may be guilty of an attempt to commit prostitution when s/he engages in conduct which tends to effect the commission of such crime. In order to prove attempt, it is necessary to establish that a defendant had the intent to commit a specific offense and that a defendant engaged in some affirmative act to carry out that crime.
Houston Prostitution Defense Lawyer: Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson
The elements constituting an offense of prostitution are that a person has engaged in a sexual activity and has done it willfully. Sexual activity may be sexual intercourse or any lewd acts that may arouse sexual feelings. Most jurisdictions make monetary consideration a requisite to constitute prostitution but some jurisdictions do not require it to be an element of the offense. Consideration need not be in the form of money.
In order to constitute an offense of soliciting prostitution, a person has to solicit another person to engage in an act of prostitution and the act must have been done with specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution. A prostitute or a customer may be charged for the offense of solicitation of prostitution depending on the circumstances or who began the interaction. Specific intent of engaging in an act of prostitution is an essential element to constitute an offense. An offer to pay money or other compensation like drugs in exchange for sexual acts may be considered evidence as to the intent of the parties. Some courts have held that the individual being solicited must actually receive the solicitation in order to convict an accused for soliciting prostitution.
Agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution is another prostitution offense. The elements of the offense are that, a person must have agreed to engage in an act of prostitution with another person. It should have been with a specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution and any act in furtherance of prostitution must have had to be performed. This offense is a continuation of solicitation of prostitution because the person who accepts solicitation will be agreeing to engage in prostitution.
A charge under the offense of agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution may be made even if the person who solicited did not have the same intent. This situation may arise when a person who pretended to be a prostitute was an under cover agent. In addition to the intent, an act in furtherance of prostitution must have been performed to constitute the offense of agreeing to engage in prostitution.
An act in furtherance of prostitution can be, driving to an agreed upon location where the sexual activity will take place, mere verbal command to undress, giving the payment agreed upon and the like. The nature of the act is not important as long as it indicates existence of an agreement to engage in prostitution.
Houston Prostitution Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Even though prostitution is (initially) a misdemeanor, a conviction can be devastating. A sex related criminal record can damage a person’s career and family life. If you are facing prostitution or solicitation of prostitution in Houston, Texas, you will find an aggressive, experienced, and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Attorney Charles Johnson.
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If your child is arrested or referred to the juvenile court by some other means-perhaps even by you-you will undoubtedly face a flood of emotions and have a multitude of questions. An attorney experienced in juvenile law can answer your questions and walk you through the process, while helping to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your child. Although the juvenile court process can vary somewhat from state to state, or even county to county, the following summary outlines the basic steps that you can expect if your child should become involved with the juvenile justice system.
- A juvenile court matter comes to the court’s attention when the police apprehend a minor for violating a statute or a school official, parent, or guardian refers a problem with a juvenile to the court.
- The court intake officer then evaluates the case to determine whether further action is necessary, whether the child should be referred to a social service agency, or whether the case should be formally heard in juvenile court.
- If the situation is serious enough, the juvenile may be detained in a juvenile correction facility pending resolution of the matter or he or she may be sent to an alternative placement facility such as a shelter, group home, or foster home.
- If the intake officer decides that a formal hearing in juvenile court is not necessary, arrangements may be made for assistance for the child from school counselors, mental health services, or other youth service agencies.
- If the intake officer decides that the case should be heard in juvenile court, a petition is filed with the court setting forth the statutes that the child is alleged to have violated.
- In cases of serious offenses such as rape and murder, the matter may be referred to the district or county attorney’s office, after which the juvenile may be charged as an adult, tried in the criminal courts, and even sentenced to an adult correctional facility.
- If the matter proceeds to juvenile court and the child admits to the allegations in the petition, a treatment program is ordered.
- If the child denies the allegations in the petition, a hearing like an adult criminal trial is held. The child has the right to be represented by counsel at this hearing. Rather than trying the case to a jury, however, a judge hears the matter and decides whether the juvenile has committed the acts alleged in the petition.
- If the allegations have not been proven to the court’s satisfaction, the judge will dismiss the case.
- If the judge decides that the allegations have been proven, he or she may rule that the child is a status offender or a delinquent.
- A second juvenile court hearing is then held to determine the disposition of the matter. If the juvenile is not considered to be dangerous to others, he or she may be put on probation. While on probation, the juvenile must follow the rules established by the court and report regularly to his or her probation officer. Serious offenders, however, may be sent to a juvenile correction facility.
- Other treatment options include community treatment, like making restitution to the victim or performing community service; residential treatment, in which a juvenile is sent to a group home or work camp, with a focus on rehabilitation; and nonresidential community treatment, in which the juvenile continues to live at home but is provided with services from mental health clinics and other social service agencies.
Houston Juvenile Offenders Defense Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Don’t let your teenager’s poor judgment or drug use ruin their future. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we are prepared to protect the rights of teenagers in juvenile court, and where a plea bargain, juvenile probation, or other alternative form of sentencing is in our client’s best interests, we will work hard to get the best deal possible. When possible, we work to get juvenile violations removed through expunction, and we committed to getting our clients the treatment for drug and alcohol addiction they need.
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While it may seem minor, an Ecstasy possession or distribution offense can carry serious penalties in Houston and throughout Texas. Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson has proven his success in defending those charged with serious drug offenses. Houston Drug Lawyer Charles Johnson understands what you are up against, and knows the best defense strategies to preserve your rights and your freedom.
Ecstasy is one of the most dangerous drugs threatening young people today. Called MDMA (3-4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine) by scientists, it is a synthetic chemical that can be derived from an essential oil of the sassafras tree. MDMA is also one of the easiest illegal drugs to obtain. Its effects are similar to those of amphetamines and hallucinogens. Distributed almost anywhere, it has become very popular at social events like raves, hip hop parties, concerts, etc. frequented by both adults and youth. While not all “event” attendees use Ecstasy, the drug often makes the circuit of these parties and can set up dangerous circumstances that can affect everyone there.
What is Ecstasy?
MDMA or Ecstasy is a Schedule I, synthetic, psychoactive drug possessing stimulant and hallucinogenic properties. Ecstasy possesses chemical variations of the stimulant amphetamine or methamphetamine and a hallucinogen, most often mescaline. Ecstasy is a semi-synthetic chemical compound. Ecstasy is a white, crystalline powder in its pure form. It is usually seen in capsule form, in pressed pills, or as loose powder. Average cost ranges from $10-$30 (U.S.) a dose. Ecstasy is rarely consumed with alcohol, as alcohol is believed to diminish its effects. It is most often distributed at late-night parties called “raves”, nightclubs, and rock concerts. As the rave and club scene expands to metropolitan and suburban areas across the country, ecstasy use and distribution are increasing as well.
- MDMA is a “mood elevator” that produces a relaxed, euphoric state. It does not produce hallucinations.
- MDMA takes effect 20 to 40 minutes after taking a tablet, with little rushes of exhilaration which can be accompanied by nausea. 60 to 90 minutes after taking the drug, the user feels the peak effects.
- Sensations are enhanced and the user experiences hightened feelings of empathy, emotional warmth, and self-acceptance.
- The effects of ‘real’ ecstasy subside after about 3-5 hours.
- Users report that the experience is very pleasant and highly controllable. Even at the peak of the effect, people can usually deal with important matters.
- The effect that makes MDMA different from other drugs is that it increases a sense of empathy, or the sensation of understanding and accepting others.
Teenagers and young adults are the primary abusers of MDMA; however, MDMA is gaining popularity among older users. According to TCADA, MDMA-related treatment admissions to TCADA-funded treatment facilities increased from 63 in 1998 to 521 in 2002. MDMA is widely available throughout Texas, particularly in metropolitan areas such as Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. DAWN data indicate that MDMA ED mentions in the Dallas metropolitan area increased dramatically from 17 in 1997 to 77 in 2001. Contributing to the threat is increasing MDMA availability in suburban and rural areas. Law enforcement authorities in Bee, Gonzales, and Wharton Counties report increased MDMA availability in their jurisdictions.
What is the history of ecstasy?
MDMA was patented as long ago as 1913 by the German company Merck. Rumor has it that the drug was sold as a slimming pill along with comic descriptions of its strange side effects, although it was never marketed and the patent doesn’t mention uses. The next time it came to light was in 1953 when the US army tested a number of drugs for military applications – again, folklore says it was tried as a truth drug but there is no evidence for this.
The years between 1977 and 1985 are viewed as the ‘golden age’ of Ecstasy. In psychotherapy, its use only appealed to a few experimental therapists since it didn’t fit in with the usual 50-minute psychotherapy session. The therapists that did use it include some of the most dynamic people in the field, including some who claimed that a five hour Ecstasy session was as good as 5 months of therapy.
By 1984 MDMA was still legal and was being used widely among students in the USA under its new name ‘Ecstasy’. (Rumor has it that a big-time dealer called it ‘Empathy’, although the name is more appropriate, he found that Ecstasy had more sales appeal.) In Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, Ecstasy was even on sale in bars where you could pay by credit card. It replaced cocaine as the drug of choice among yuppies and even spread to people who normally kept well clear of drugs. However, it was this public and unashamed use that resulted in the drug being outlawed.
The criminalisation of ecstasy in America has wide-ranging consequences. The first was to prevent the drug being used by professional therapists, except in Switzerland. The second was to reduce the quality of the drug as sold on the street, because demand was now met by clandestine laboratories and the drug was distributed through the criminal network. Although the number of users was dramatically reduced at first, criminalisation did not prevent the drug’s popularity from spreading worldwide.
Nicknames and Street Names for Ecstasy
Ecstasy usually appears as a small pill or tablet in various colors, sometimes with a logo stamped on it. Here are the common nicknames and street names for Ecstasy:
- X, E, or XTC
- Dancing Shoes
- Disco Biscuits
- Egg Rolls
- Happy Pill
- Hug Drug
- Love Drug
- Malcolm (or Malcolm X)
- Scooby Snacks
- Vitamin E or Vitamin X
Slang Terms for Ecstasy Use and Abuse
Here are some common slang terms for using Ecstasy or to describe someone who uses Ecstasy:
- Drop, Double Drop
- Flip or Flipping
- Roll, Rolling
- Cuddle Puddle, E-Puddle
- Raver, Raving
What does it look like?
Ecstasy usually comes in a tablet form that is often branded. Such logos or trademarks include CK (Calvin Klein), shamrocks, stars, Woody the Woodpecker, Dino, Pinocchio, Snoopy, Love, and many other colors, symbols/logos. A sample of several logo/trademark tablets are shown below:
It is clear that most of the logos/trademarks found on Ecstasy tablets are aimed at young adults. The logos/trademarks entice one to believe that Ecstasy is safe, almost candy-like. Do not be fooled. While attractive and interesting, these tablets, even in their purest form, contain a dangerous controlled substance that could take your life. Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for such pills to be tainted with dangerous substances other than Ecstasy. Ecstasy is not produced in safely regulated laboratory environments where the contents of what goes into the drug are closely scrutinized.
How is it used?
Ecstasy is usually taken in pill form and swallowed and it can also be injected. Some users have been known to crush and snort the resulting powder. Others insert the pill into the anus where it is absorbed. This process is known as “shafting.” Liquid Ecstasy is actually GHB, a nervous system depressant—a substance that can also be found in drain cleaner, floor stripper and degreasing solvents.
What is the dosage?
E is almost always swallowed as a tablet or capsule. A normal dose is around 100-125 mg. Black market “ecstasy” tablets vary widely in strength, and often contain other drugs.
How Is MDMA Abused?
MDMA is taken orally, usually as a capsule or tablet. It was initially popular among Caucasian adolescents and young adults in the nightclub scene or at weekend-long dance parties known as raves. More recently, the profile of the typical MDMA user has changed, with the drug now affecting a broader range of ethnic groups. MDMA is also popular among urban gay males—some report using MDMA as part of a multiple-drug experience that includes marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, ketamine, sildenafil (Viagra), and other legal and illegal substances.
What are its short-term effects?
Users report that Ecstasy produces intensely pleasurable effects — including an enhanced sense of self-confidence and energy. Effects include feelings of peacefulness, acceptance and empathy. Users say they experience feelings of closeness with others and a desire to touch others. Other effects can include involuntary teeth clenching, a loss of inhibitions, transfixion on sights and sounds, nausea, blurred vision, chills and/or sweating. Increases in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as seizures, are also possible. The stimulant effects of the drug enable users to dance for extended periods, which when combined with the hot crowded conditions usually found at raves, can lead to severe dehydration and hyperthermia or dramatic increases in body temperature. This can lead to muscle breakdown and kidney, liver and cardiovascular failure. Cardiovascular failure has been reported in some of the Ecstasy-related fatalities. After-effects can include sleep problems, anxiety and depression.
- Impaired judgment
- False sense of affection
- Sleep problems
- Severe anxiety
- Drug cravings
- Muscle tension
- Faintness and chills or swelling
- Involuntary teeth clenching
- Blurred vision
What are its long-term effects?
Repeated use of Ecstasy ultimately may damage the cells that produce serotonin, which has an important role in the regulation of mood, appetite, pain, learning and memory. There already is research suggesting Ecstasy use can disrupt or interfere with memory.
- Long-lasting brain damage affecting thought and memory
- Damage to portions of the brain that regulate critical functions such as learning, sleep and emotion
- It is as if the brain switchboard was torn apart, then rewired backwards
- Degenerated nerve branches and nerve endings
- Depression, anxiety, memory loss
- Kidney failure
- Cardiovascular collapse
What are some types of paraphernalia associated with Ecstasy use?
- Pacifiers, Blo-pops, Popsicle sticks
- M&Ms, Skittles, Tootsie-Rolls, Candy necklaces
- Glo-sticks, Bottled water
- Dust / surgical masks
- Vicks Vapor Rub
- Strobe lights
- Suppository bottles
The pacifier is used to prevent the grinding of teeth that is often a physical side effect when using Ecstasy. Glow sticks are used to increase the visual psychedelic effects associated with the use of Ecstasy. Vapor rub in a surgical mask that is placed over the nose and mouth is used to enhance the euphoric effects of Ecstasy. None of these items alone indicates use of Ecstasy. However, in the right context, such items are tools which enhance the Ecstasy “high,” and cut down on the undesirable effects of the drug.
How Does MDMA Affect the Brain?
MDMA exerts its primary effects in the brain on neurons that use the chemical (or neurotransmitter) serotonin to communicate with other neurons. The serotonin system plays an important role in regulating mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep, and sensitivity to pain. MDMA binds to the serotonin transporter, which is responsible for removing serotonin from the synapse (or space between adjacent neurons) to terminate the signal between neurons; thus MDMA increases and prolongs the serotonin signal. MDMA also enters the serotonergic neurons via the transporter (because MDMA resembles serotonin in chemical structure) where it causes excessive release of serotonin from the neurons. MDMA has similar effects on another neurotransmitter—norepinephrine, which can cause increases in heart rate and blood pressure. MDMA also releases dopamine, but to a much lesser extent.
MDMA can produce confusion, depression, sleep problems, drug craving, and severe anxiety. These problems can occur soon after taking the drug or, sometimes, even days or weeks after taking MDMA. In addition, chronic users of MDMA perform more poorly than nonusers on certain types of cognitive or memory tasks, although some of these effects may be due to the use of other drugs in combination with MDMA. Research in animals indicates that MDMA can be harmful to the brain—one study in nonhuman primates showed that exposure to MDMA for only 4 days caused damage to serotonin nerve terminals that was still evident 6 to 7 years later. Although similar neurotoxicity has not been shown definitively in humans, the wealth of animal research indicating MDMA’s damaging properties strongly suggests that MDMA is not a safe drug for human consumption.
For some people, MDMA can be addictive. A survey of young adult and adolescent MDMA users found that 43 percent of those who reported ecstasy use met the accepted diagnostic criteria for dependence, as evidenced by continued use despite knowledge of physical or psychological harm, withdrawal effects, and tolerance (or diminished response). These results are consistent with those from similar studies in other countries that suggest a high rate of MDMA dependence among users. MDMA abstinence-associated withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, depressed feelings, and trouble concentrating.
What Other Adverse Effects Does MDMA Have on Health?
MDMA can also be dangerous to overall health and, on rare occasions, lethal. MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants, such as cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure—which present risks of particular concern for people with circulatory problems or heart disease—and other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness, and chills or sweating.
In high doses, MDMA can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature. On rare but unpredictable occasions, this can lead to a sharp increase in body temperature (hyperthermia), which can result in liver, kidney, cardiovascular system failure, or death. MDMA can interfere with its own metabolism (breakdown within the body); therefore, potentially harmful levels can be reached by repeated MDMA administration within short periods of time. Other drugs that are chemically similar to MDMA, such as MDA (methylenedioxyamphetamine, the parent drug of MDMA) and PMA (paramethoxyamphetamine, associated with fatalities in the United States and Australia), are sometimes sold as ecstasy. These drugs can be neurotoxic or create additional health risks to the user. Furthermore, ecstasy tablets may contain other substances, such as ephedrine (a stimulant); dextromethorphan (DXM, a cough suppressant); ketamine (an anesthetic used mostly by veterinarians); caffeine; cocaine; and methamphetamine. Although the combination of MDMA with one or more of these drugs may be inherently dangerous, users who also combine these with additional substances such as marijuana and alcohol may be putting themselves at even higher risk for adverse health effects.
What Treatment Options Exist?
There are no specific treatments for MDMA abuse and addiction. The most effective treatments for drug abuse and addiction in general are cognitive-behavioral interventions that are designed to help modify the patient’s thinking, expectancies, and behaviors related to their drug use and to increase skills in coping with life stressors. Drug abuse recovery support groups may also be effective in combination with behavioral interventions to support long-term, drug-free recovery. There are currently no pharmacological treatments for addiction to MDMA.
What are the symptoms of ecstasy withdrawal?
The most common ecstasy withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
- panic attacks
- paranoid delusions
Ecstasy is NOT legally produced anywhere in the world. Most of the MDMA abused in Texas is produced in the Netherlands and Belgium. MDMA production may be emerging in Texas, but to a very limited extent. MDMA is smuggled into Texas from Canada, Europe, and Mexico primarily by Israeli criminal groups. To a lesser extent, Dominican criminal groups also smuggle MDMA into Texas. MDMA transporters use several means to smuggle the drug, including couriers on foot entering the United States from Mexico, couriers traveling on commercial and private aircraft, private vehicles, and via package delivery services.
Caucasian local independent dealers and, to a lesser extent, Asian criminal groups, are the primary wholesale and retail distributors of MDMA in Texas. Many retail-level MDMA distributors in Texas are middle and upper-middle class Caucasian high school or college students. MDMA typically is distributed at colleges, raves, nightclubs, and private parties. MDMA distributed in Texas often is stamped with a brand name or a logo. According to DEA, in the fourth quarter of FY2002 MDMA sold for $25 per tablet in Dallas, $16 to $20 per tablet in El Paso, and $10 to $30 per tablet in Houston.
MDMA also is transported from Texas to destinations in other U.S. states. For example, some Asian criminal groups transport shipments of MDMA from Texas, primarily overland, to major drug markets on the East Coast.
A large proportion of the retail trade is conducted by people buying for their friends without making a profit, although usually gaining a few free tablets for their own consumption. Then there are the dealers who are trusted as connoisseurs of the drug, and will describe the subtle qualities of the particular batch from personal experience. This type of dealer never sells to the public but only to regular clients who respect them, so the dealer cannot afford to provide poor quality.
Another variation, more common among working class men, is for friends to arrange a meeting place, usually a pub, before a rave. One person knows of a supply and collects money on behalf of the others, then returns with the drugs which cost each person less than if they had bought separately. This method carries more risk, either of losing your money or of getting poor quality. The person buying for the others also runs the risk of far greater penalties.
A more commercial form of supply is by individuals who buy 100 or so and are either ‘known’ at certain clubs, or go around offering them for sale. They may be honest, especially if they are known, but they may also be selling fake pills. A new trend is for ‘retail specialists’ to sell in a club or at a rave. These are organized gangs, but probably not part of a large syndicate. They cooperate with security staff or the promoters of raves and clubs. The club or rave organisers put on a show of heavy security, searching people on their way in so as to exclude dealers. This leaves the way open for the gang to sell inside. Some members go around asking people if they want to buy drugs without carrying stock themselves so that, if arrested, they will not be accused of ‘supply’ and may get off with a fine. The stock and money is carried by members who are well protected by body guards, and lookouts warn of police activity inside and outside the venue. They have contingency plans worked out in case of a surprise raid, for example members who are free of drugs might cause a fight so as to attract the attention of the police while those carrying drugs and money escape.
Punishment for Ecstasy Possession, Distribution or Manufacturing
MDMA is a controlled substance in Texas. Unlike a state such as California, which has not explicitly scheduled MDMA, but instead considers it as within its broad “controlled substance analogue” provisions, MDMA is an explicitly scheduled substance in Texas. MDMA has been placed it in “Group 2” of the Texas controlled substance hierarchy. (See Tex. Health & Safety Code, Sec. 481.103).
Punishment for Simple Possession of MDMA
The punishment for simple possession of MDMA in Texas is dependant upon the weight of the MDMA (See Tex. Health & Saf. Code, Sec. 481.116):
- Less than 1 gram = “state felony” with a mandatory minimum of 180 days in county jail up to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000. (Tex Pen. Code, Sec. 12.35).
- 1 gram, but less than 4 grams = “felony 3rd degree” with a mandatory 2 year minimum, up to 10 years, and a fine of up to $10,000. (Pen. Code, Sec. 12.34.)
- 4 grams, but less than 400 grams = “felony 2nd degree” with a mandatory 2 year minimum, up to 20 years, and fine of up to $10,000 (Pen. Code, Sec. 12.33)
- 400 grams or more = mandatory 5 year minimum, with possible life imprisonment (Health & Saf. Code, Sec. 481.116)
Punishment for distributing or manufacturing MDMA, possessing it with the intent to distribute
Distributing or manufacturing MDMA, possessing it with the intent to distribute it is punishable as follows. (See Tex. Health & Saf. Code, Sec. 481.113):
- Less than 1 gram = “state felony ” with a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in county jail up to 2 years and a fine of up to $10,000. (Tex Pen. Code, Sec. 12.35).
- 1 gram, but less than 4 grams = “felony 2nd degree” with a mandatory 2 year minimum, up to 20 years, and fine of up to $10,000 (Pen. Code, Sec. 12.33)
- 4 grams, but less than 400 grams = “felony 1st degree” with a mandatory 5 year minimum, up to possible life imprisonment and maximum $10,000 fine. (See Pen. Code, Sec. 12.32)
- 400 grams or more = mandatory 10 year minimum, with possible life imprisonment (Health & Saf. Code, Sec. 481.113)
Hire the Best Houston Criminal Lawyer: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
If you or your child has been arrested or charged with any crime involving ecstasy, you must act quickly. The drug laws are incredibly complex and difficult to navigate without the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Texas treats all Ecstasy crimes harshly. No one accused of an Ecstasy crime should attempt to handle their case without a good lawyer. The law provides the maximum possible sentence and it is up to your attorney to fight for your rights and work to improve your situation. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we have successfully defended many types of drug charges throughout Texas and we can expertly handle your Houston Ecstasy case.
Anyone under investigation for sales, possession, under the influence, manufacturing, trafficking, importing, distributing or transporting ecstasy can expect very serious penalties if convicted. At the Charles Johnson Law Firm, we help clients who have been arrested for drug crimes involving ecstasy. Do not give up hope, even if you feel there may be solid evidence against you or a loved one, there are still many legal defenses that may help to have your charges minimized or dismissed entirely. Take advantage of the free initial consultation to discuss your options. The free consultation is an opportunity to discuss your case in detail and Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson will answer any questions that you may have regarding your ecstasy charges.
Houston Criminal Lawyer: Arrested for Ecstasy Possession or Distribution?
Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles Johnson has proven his success in defending those charged with serious drug offenses, including Ecstasy Possession or Distribution. Attorney Johnson understands what you are up against, and knows the best defense strategies to preserve your rights and your freedom.
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Many men and women wonder why an individual arrested for a criminal offense probably would not testify in their own court trial. The most appropriate answer is that testifying can open the flood gates to virtually all kinds of detrimental evidence. Such evidence would otherwise be inadmissible. This dangerous step is designated “opening the door”. Whether or not a defendant’s past conviction is admissible in a brand new criminal case is determined by a variety of factors. These are the criminal offenses of which the defendant is currently accused, whether or not the defendant within the existing case testified in a prior case, as well as the purpose for which the conviction is asked to be admitted.
Best Houston Criminal Defense Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
In many situations, anytime a defendant loses at trial or takes a plea offer, a judge could very well use a defendant’s previous conviction to enhance the individual’s sentence. Theoretically, this doesn’t count as admitting the past conviction into evidence. The judge has not put the conviction on the record to determine whether or not the defendant committed the criminal offense within the existing case. The judge has the discretion to use a previous conviction to enhance the sentence for the defendant within the existing case. If the defendant goes to trial, the sentencing can occur separately from the trial. If the jury leaves before the sentence is imposed, they might never find out that the defendant had a past conviction.
In many situations, most notably DWI cases, a judge will likely be required by law to enhance a sentence if the defendant has a past conviction for the same type of criminal offense on their record. Generally, prosecutors are incredibly zealous. The State often seeks to introduce particularly old previous out-of-state convictions to encourage, or require, the judge to enhance a sentence. Many prosecutors also seek to introduce past convictions of significant out-of-state felonies to ask a judge to enhance a sentence.
Except in a few instances, a criminal defendant can often prevent admission of a previous conviction by refusing to testify at trial. Typically, when a prosecutor or a defense lawyer would like to introduce a defendant’s previous conviction, they need to notify the court, meaning the judge, of their intention. A prosecutor generally succeeds in getting a previous conviction admitted into evidence if the defendant makes the decision to testify or if the defendant decides to make their character an issue in their case. Generally, a prosecutor can’t introduce a criminal conviction to establish that the defendant has a bad character if the defendant hasn’t made their character an issue. Additionally, the prosecutor generally can’t introduce a criminal conviction to demonstrate that a defendant has or had a propensity to commit criminal offenses.
If the criminal defendant decides to testify, their previous conviction could very well become admissible for purposes of impeaching their credibility. This kind of impeachment asks the judge or jury to question the truthfulness of the defendant’s testimony. The general rule is in cases where a prosecutor or defense lawyer wants to use a previous conviction to impeach a defendant’s testimony, the past conviction has to be for a felony or a criminal offense involving dishonesty. This indicates that a defendant may perhaps not be impeached with a past conviction for a minor criminal offense, most notably possession of drug paraphernalia, which has nothing to do with dishonesty.
Whether or not the defendant makes a decision to testify, a judge won’t necessarily rule that a past conviction is admissible. A good number of courts use a balancing test to figure out if the past conviction will be admitted. The judge weighs the probative value of permitting the criminal offense to be introduced contrary to the prejudicial impact on the defendant. If the previous conviction is for a similar criminal offense, the judge could possibly determine that the risk is too great. Within these situations, the judge uses the reasoning that the jury will decide, “If this individual did it previously, this individual probably did it on this occasion.”
Usually, a prosecutor or defense lawyer can ask that a past conviction or set of convictions be admitted as evidence of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.
Given that the admissibility of previous convictions is an issue of evidence, it becomes an issue of law. Constitutional amendments and proposed bills may affect the evidence rules. If you are defending criminal charges, it is imperative that you speak to a qualified criminal defense attorney. Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson is going to be able to evaluate your record and he will understand how the rules pertaining to past convictions might affect you. Lawyer Johnson is going to be able to advise you on the benefits and drawbacks of testifying. Only you can make the final decision.
Houston Criminal Defense Attorney: The Charles Johnson Law Firm
Should you have past convictions and have been arrested or are under investigation for a criminal offense in Texas, get in touch with Houston Criminal Attorney Charles Johnson ASAP – and protect your legal rights and reputation.
Houston Criminal Attorney Charles Johnson can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Contact us at 713-222-7577 or toll free of charge at 877-308-0100.
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