What Are the Different Kinds of Bonds in Collin County, Texas?

Texas law describes several different kinds of bonds, but the most popular types of bonds are cash bonds, surety bonds, and personal recognizance bonds.

What is a Bond anyway?

Simply put, a bond is a fixed amount of money given to the court as part of a pre-trial release. Essentially, it is a monetary deposit to insure that an arrested person, who is released from jail, will appear in court when ordered to do so at a later date. If the individual fails to appear in court, the bond (deposit) money is forfeited. And, as a bonus, a warrant is then issued for the person’s arrest.

Cash Bond

A cash bond is a type of bond that requires payment of the entire amount up front, to the court, and in cash. However, at the completion of the case you will get your money back. For example, if someone is arrested for theft and their bond is set at $1,500, a friend or family member can post (pay) the $1,500, and the individual will be released from custody. As long as the arrested person later shows up to court as ordered during the entirety of their case, the $1,500 will be returned when the case is completed. Often someone arrested in Collin County is told by the police or a jailer that they need a lawyer to file a “writ bond” to get a friend or loved one out of jail for a DWI arrest, theft arrest, or marijuana arrest. This means it is possible to get a loved one out of jail quickly before they are taken to a judge to set bond. A “writ bond” is a loose term but it actually means a “writ of habeas corpus” filed with the County by a lawyer for their client (the person arrested) that will trigger a cash bond. If you find yourself in need of a writ bond I can help you with this.

Surety Bond

A surety bond is a type of bond that does not require an up-front payment to the court. Instead, a licensed surety promises to pay to the court the entire bond amount, on behalf of the arrestee, should the arrestee fail to appear in court when ordered. Basically, the surety is “on the hook” for the money if the person does not show up to court. In exchange for this monetary risk, most sureties (aka bail bond companies) will charge the arrestee (or the arrestee’s family) approximately ten-percent of the total bond amount. So, if someone’s bond is $25,000, the surety (bail bond company) will post the $25,000, and charge the arrested person a non-refundable fee of about $2,500.

Additionally, because the surety’s money is at risk, they typically impose strict conditions on the newly-released arrestee (e.g., check-in weekly, no travel, etc.). If you then violate these conditions (break your contract) with them, they may attempt to go “off-bond” (gain a release from their obligation) with you. If the court grants this request – as they often do – your bond will be revoked and a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Occasionally, these types of bonds can be converted to a much less expensive cash bond. If converted, you will get the cash back after the case is finally over, as described above.

Personal Recognizance Bond

A Personal Recognizance (“PR”) bond is a type of bond that does not require you to post any money up front, or to hire a surety bail bond company. Essentially it is a “free” pre-trial release with a written promise that you will show up to court when later ordered to do so. If this promise is broken by not appearing in court, you will then owe the court a certain amount of money (usually specified at the time the PR bond is issued). As an example, someone given a PR bond of $2,500 will “get out of jail free” and will only owe the court $2,500 should they later fail to appear in court as ordered.

If you, or someone you know, is facing charges where a bond may be needed, it is very important that you contact a criminal attorney. I am here to answer any questions you may have. Please contact me at 972-369-0577.

Lawfully Carrying a Weapon Can Turn Unlawful in a Hurry

Last month, former Texas Longhorns Running Back (and recent Houston Texans draft pick) D’Onta Foreman, was arrested for two criminal offenses: 1.) Possession of Marijuana; and 2.) Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon. Initial reports were that he was licensed to carry a firearm which, begged the obvious question: if indeed licensed to carry, how was he charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon?

Certainly, someone with a Concealed Handgun License (“CHL”) may lawfully possess a firearm.  Additionally, in Texas, even those who are not licensed may lawfully carry a firearm if they are:

1.) on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control; or

2.)  inside of, or directly en route to, a motor vehicle or watercraft that is owned by the person or under the person’s control.

So, if Mr. Foreman was indeed inside of his “motor vehicle” as reported – whether licensed or not – how was he charged with unlawfully carrying his weapon? The answer is because, in Texas, weapons laws are such that a lawful carry can (almost instantly) turn unlawful.  

The Law

Specifically, if a person is in lawful possession of their firearm but at the same time is engaged in criminal activity (other than a traffic ticket), they are then unlawfully carrying their firearm.  In fact, the Texas Penal code even includes a specific charge titled Unlawful Carry by a License Holder. For example, someone with a CHL who is accused of Public Intoxication while carrying their firearm, is subject to the additional (and serious) charge of Unlawful Carry by a License Holder.

Here, the allegation that Mr. Foreman possessed marijuana is the “criminal activity” that – in an instant – made his otherwise lawful carry, suddenly unlawful.

Weapons charges in Texas can be confusing, and carry with them extreme consequences. If you, or someone you know, has recently been charged with a weapons-related offense, please contact my office immediately for a free consultation.  The sooner your attorney begins to work on your case, the greater chance there is for a favorable result.

When Controlled Buys Spin Out of Control

Andrew Sadek, a 20-year-old college student with zero criminal history, sold a small amount of marijuana (about $80 worth) to a narcotics officer. Shortly after his arrest he was in an interrogation room being threatened by police with 40 years of prison time (an outright lie). In that room, terrified and exhausted, he was told that if he made some “controlled buys” for the police, “a lot of this could go away.” Six months later he was found dead with a bullet in his head.

Rachel Hoffman, a 23-year-old Florida State graduate, was threatened by police with 10-years of prison after being caught with five ounces of marijuana and a handful of pills. Frightened, she agreed to work as a confidential informant in exchange for “leniency.” Two days after assisting police, Rachel’s bullet-filled body was found in a ditch.

What is a “controlled buy?”

The term “controlled buy” has been created by law-enforcement to replace the more realistic (and dangerous-sounding) term, “confidential informant.” Which sounds more dangerous to you: “We would like you to make a few controlled buys for us?” or, “We would like you to wear a wire, meet with a known drug-dealer, and be a confidential informant for us?” And, while the informant is “promised” anonymity, what happens when the drug-dealer’s case goes to trial and they have the right to learn your identity as part of the discovery process? This is exactly what will happen and is another reason that law-enforcement prefers the sanitized term, “controlled buy.”

This practice is so dangerous that it has been examined and featured in an episode of 60 Minutes.

Empty (and unnecessary) promises

Increasingly, in suburbs across North Texas, young people (many still in high school) are being pressured into making these “controlled buys” in exchange for a release from punishment that may never have even existed in the first place. In fact, I have gone into a local police station, stopped an interrogation, and escorted my client from the premises after he signed a so-called “contract” to make three controlled buys. Importantly, he never made one controlled buy, nor was he ever convicted of any crime whatsoever. So, if he had put himself in danger by wearing a wire and meeting with drug-dealers, he would have been doing so in exchange for absolutely nothing.

While obviously every case is different, there a number of different paths that someone can take after being arrested for a drug offense in Texas that do not result in any jail time, or even a conviction. Oftentimes there is a clear route to some form of a dismissal of the case. And not one of these paths involves wearing a wire and buying drugs for the police. However, these outcomes are not shared in an interrogation room in the middle of the night.

As is often the case, with tragedy comes change. In Florida, Rachel’s Law now exists so that young people are not put into the same situation that cost Rachel her life. In Texas, we do not yet have these regulations. Certainly, as soon as someone dies as a result of a “controlled buy” here in Texas, our laws will change too, with the new law undoubtedly named after the headline-making deceased. Do not be the person whom Texas’ eventual confidential informant law is named after.

If you have been arrested for Possession of Marijuana, or any other controlled substance, you should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact my office for a free consultation by calling 972-369-0577.

Alexa, did you just call the cops?

Smart home devices are becoming more and more popular with homeowners. They can assist with a grocery list, update you on the weather, and play your favorite music. But could they also call the police in certain situations?

Recently, in New Mexico, police reported that a smart home device intervened in a domestic violence incident by calling 911. When Eduardo Barros asked aloud, “Did you call the sheriffs?” as he threatened his girlfriend, the device interpreted it as a request to call emergency services. As a result, a dispatcher overheard the altercation and notified the police, who arrived on-scene and arrested Barros.

Obviously, advancements in technology are moving at remarkable speeds. Equally as obvious, is that the law does not. As a result, law-enforcement and judges all over the country are often working through these extremely complicated questions of legality “on-the-fly.” This is all happening as you bring more voice recognition technology into your home, thereby increasing the risk of words and actions being misinterpreted.

Criminal investigations can become highly technical and can involve many complex rules of evidence. It is essential to have a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer handling your case to be certain that your rights are not violated during an investigation or prosecution of your criminal case.

Fourth of July DWI or BWI – Immediate Assistance Required

Whether you are celebrating in Addison at Kaboom Town, McKinney at Red, White & Boom, Rockin’ the River in Fort Worth, or actually on Lake Lewisville; if you land in jail as a result of a Driving (or Boating) While Intoxicated charge over the holiday weekend the consequences will be serious. You could be jailed for an extended time and face hefty fines. Additionally, a conviction will be on your record forever. Importantly, a record that any potential employer, landlord, or bank could will be able access easily. If you find yourself under arrest for DWI or BWI, immediately contacting a criminal defense attorney is vital.

Obviously, a holiday weekend will see an increased presence of law enforcement on the roadways (and lakes – where a Boating While Intoxicated charge is as equally painful as a DWI). Without immediate assistance from a criminal defense attorney, you will likely spend an extended weekend in jail. And with the legal holiday falling on a Tuesday this year, local courts may be running with a less-than-full staff – or no staff at all – until the middle of next week. This means that if you are arrested over the Fourth of July weekend, you may not see a judge for 48 hours – thereby significantly delaying your release from custody.

Do not delay in retaining a legal defense. The most important thing you can do for yourself and your family if you are arrested for Driving (or Boating) While Intoxicated is to consult with a criminal defense attorney about your case right away. I, or any Rosenthal & Wadas attorney, can assist with immediate release from jail, then carefully guide you through the legal process that will be ahead of you. Our office is available to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 972-369-0577.

What Does It Mean to Plead No Contest in Texas?

When you are arrested in Collin County and charged with a criminal offense such as DWI, you are brought before a judge and asked to enter a plea. Typically, a person pleads either “guilty” or “not guilty.” But there is a third option: a plea of “nolo contendere,” or no contest.

A Criminal Record, But No Admission of Guilt for Civil Purposes

Texas law permits defendants to enter a plea of no contest in any misdemeanor or felony case. By pleading no contest, the defendant neither admits nor denies guilt but chooses, for whatever reason, not to take the case to trial. A no contest plea effectively ends the case.

In terms of criminal law, a no contest plea has the same “legal effect” as a guilty plea. For example, say you are charged with DWI and enter a no contest plea. The judge can still sentence you the same as if you had pleaded guilty. The DWI will also become a part of your criminal record.

So why then would anyone plead no contest? For one thing, since there is no admission of guilt, the no contest plea cannot legally be used against you in any civil suit arising from the same underlying act. To continue the above example, suppose your DWI involved an accident with another vehicle. The other driver files a personal injury lawsuit, claiming your negligence–i.e., drunk driving–caused the accident. If you pleaded guilty to the criminal DWI charge (or were convicted after pleading not guilty), that conviction could be used as evidence against you in the civil case. But a no contest plea has no such effect; the other driver would still have to prove that you caused the accident.

Negotiating a No Contest Plea

Even if you are not worried about potential civil liability, a no contest plea may simply allow you to get on with your life. Some people want to avoid the time, expense, and public exposure of a trial. And in many cases, especially first-time DWI offenses where nobody was injured, defendants may be able to secure a favorable sentencing agreement with prosecutors in exchange for a no contest plea.

For instance, former University of Texas and NFL quarterback Vince Young entered a no contest plea earlier this year to a DWI charge. The judge did not order any jail time, but fined Young $300, ordered him to perform community service, and required him to attend a DWI Education class and use an ignition interlock device on his car for nine months.

Now, there is no guarantee you would get similar treatment if charged with DWI. But if you have been charged and need help understanding all your legal options–including the benefits and risks of entering a no contest plea–you should speak with an experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney right away. Call Eddie Cawlfield today at 972-369-0577 to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

DUI or DWI? In Texas, there is a difference.

As a criminal defense attorney, I obviously come in contact with people who have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated, otherwise referred to as “DWI.” That, in and of itself, is not terribly interesting. What is interesting though, is the high number of these individuals who refer to the offense as DUI. Certainly, the distinction can be confusing for at least two reasons:

1.) what is termed a DWI in Texas, is, in fact, called a DUI in many other states; and
2.) the offense of DUI does indeed exist in Texas, but it is an entirely different charge called Driving Under the Influence.

DWI or DUI?

In Texas, under Section 49.04 of the Penal Code, any person commits the offense of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) if the person is intoxicated while operating a vehicle in a public place. As most people know, Intoxication is defined as either having a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .08, or higher; or having lost the normal use of one’s physical OR mental faculties due to the introduction of alcohol or drugs (including lawfully prescribed medicines).

However, under Section 106.041 of the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Code, DUI is committed when a minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place, or a watercraft, while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.

Stated simply, a DUI is an offense reserved only for minors – people under 21 years of age – who are believed to have consumed any detectable amount of alcohol. In other words, if a police officer smells alcohol on the breath of a minor while driving, the minor is subject to being arrested for DUI.

So obviously, only people under 21 years of age can be charged with DUI, and those over 21 cannot. Importantly though, minors can be charged with either offense. A minor – just like someone over 21 – may still be arrested for DWI if it is alleged that not only is there some alcohol in their system, but they are, in fact, intoxicated (as defined above).

DUI Punishment

Punishment for a DUI (first offense) includes:

  • a fine up to $500.00;
  • 20 to 40 hours of community service;
  • and a driver license suspension for 60 – 180 days.

Additionally, attendance in an Alcohol Awareness Course is required for the minor and may be required for the parent.

If you, or a loved one, are ever charged with DUI or DWI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

*Edward “Eddie” Cawlfield is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. For specific legal advice about any case please schedule a free consultation at 972-369-0577.

Did You Forget That Firearm in Your Carry-On?

Unlawful Carry of a Weapon – AIRPORT

Many of us have found ourselves in an airport security line and realized – after it is too late of course – that we left our large bottle of shampoo, new toothpaste tube, and a way-too-expensive bottle of skin lotion in our carry-on bag. A completely honest mistake with the “punishment” being either running it all the way back to your car, or seeing it dumped into the nearest garbage can.

But what if someone makes a similarly honest mistake and forgets that their lawfully owned handgun (whether loaded or not) is also in their carry-on baggage. Unfortunately, while the gun will be confiscated just like the shampoo, this mistake will also result in the person being charged criminally.

Certainly, readers in north Texas will recall that in 1997, Barry Switzer – while the Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys – found himself in this exact predicament.

The Law

Specifically, Section 46.03(a)(5) of the Texas Penal Code states that: a person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly possesses or goes with a firearm…in or into a secured area of an airport. Importantly, this means that even if you “just forgot it was in there,” you will still be charged with the commission of this crime. In Texas, this offense is a 3rd Degree Felony, which means it is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and an additional $10,000 fine. So, obviously, it must be handled with extreme care and attention to detail.

Section 46.03 also makes it clear that it is not a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor possessed a handgun and was licensed to carry a handgun under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code.

Importantly though, in 2015 the Texas Legislature created a provision that allows Concealed Handgun License (“CHL”) holders to potentially avoid a felony arrest if found in this situation. Specifically, the law now states that:

it is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(5) that the actor:

(1) possessed, at the screening checkpoint for the secured area, a concealed handgun that the actor was licensed to carry under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code; and

(2) exited the screening checkpoint for the secured area immediately upon completion of the required screening processes and notification that the actor possessed the handgun.

(e-2) A peace officer investigating conduct that may constitute an offense under Subsection (a)(5) and that consists only of an actor’s possession of a concealed handgun that the actor is licensed to carry under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, may not arrest the actor for the offense unless:

(1) the officer advises the actor of the defense available under Subsection (e-1) and gives the actor an opportunity to exit the screening checkpoint for the secured area; and

(2) the actor does not immediately exit the checkpoint upon completion of the required screening processes.

Stated more plainly, if a CHL holder has a firearm in their carry-on, law enforcement shall notify the person that the firearm is in the bag, and give the person the opportunity leave the area without being arrested. For CHL holders, this is obviously great news. Obviously though, for people who do not possess a CHL and forget that the gun is in their bag, they will be arrested for a Felony.

Successfully defending these charges is subject to a number of variables, oftentimes resulting in the reduction of the charges to a misdemeanor, or an even more favorable outcome. If you, or a loved one, ever “accidentally” find yourself in this predicament, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.

*Edward “Eddie” Cawlfield is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. For specific legal advice about any case please schedule a free consultation at 972-369-0577.

Sexual Assault Charges End In A No Bill

Recently, my colleague Jeremy Rosenthal and I were hired to defend a man whose world had been turned completely upside down, to say the least. Our new client was arrested for two felony offenses: 1.) Sexual Assault of a Child; and 2.) Indecency with a Child by Sexual Contact. His bond was set at $40,000, an amount too high for his family to pay. Therefore, he simply sat in jail. If guilty of these offenses, he would very likely spend the rest of his life in prison and be registered for life as a sex offender.

Obviously, charges of a sexual nature – especially those involving children – carry with them an emotional jolt. My guess is that you likely felt something powerful when reading them. Candidly, they hit me emotionally when I first read them as part of the initial police report in this case. These were serious, life-altering charges.

Importantly though, criminal cases are not decided on emotion. Immediately after meeting with our client’s family we began to investigate. This investigation eventually uncovered that not only were these charges completely false, they were developed by a third-party with an interest in harming our client. And finally, after spending nearly 90 days in jail, our investigation, paired with a strong, thoughtful, and justice-focused prosecutor, resulted in our client being NO BILLED by a Grand Jury. This means that he will not be prosecuted for the offenses for which he had been arrested, and was immediately released from jail. He will obviously never get those 90 days in jail back, but he has gotten his life back.

I do not share this experience in any sort of look-at-me, boastful manner. Instead, I share it as a reminder that in some (obviously not all, but more than you imagine) criminal cases, things are not always as they appear at first glance. That the presumption of innocence is more than a throwaway-line in an episode of The Good Wife. Our client, who never in a million years imagined that he would ever need a criminal defense lawyer, now knows this better than most.

July 4th Weekend Is Here

July 4th weekend is here, and the furthest thing from your mind is being arrested for DWI. But keep in mind that law enforcement agencies will be out in force, watching for any signs of erratic driving, and ready to pull you over for the slightest reason.

What should you do to avoid being pulled over?
First and foremost, don’t drink and drive; designate a driver, use Uber or Lyft, or stay at home and host the barbecue yourself. Watch how much you drink, and by all means don’t take “one for the road.” Make sure all of your vehicle’s lights are in working order – headlights, brake lights, turn signal indicator lights, and don’t forget that little light over your car’s license plate. Be sure to obey all speed and traffic laws, and remember to use your turn signals. Many times, a driver will believe they are ok to drive after a drink or two. A police officer only needs “reasonable suspicion” to pull you over. Meaning, they saw an action that gave him enough reason to believe that you may have committed even the most-minor of traffic violations. These could include:

  • Not wearing your seat belt
  • Only having one license plate
  • Failure to use a turn signal 100 feet prior to your turn
  • Improper tinting
  • Taking a wide turn
  • Not yielding to right-of-way traffic

In Texas, there are harsh penalties for DWI convictions. If you or a loved one is arrested for DWI, act quickly and hire an experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney. Don’t risk your future, add my contact information to your cell phone 214-924-1592.
Have a safe and fun holiday weekend!