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I am constantly amazed at what people will say or text on their Cell Phones. While reviewing Discovery furnished by the Government, I see highly incriminatory texting by my clients which make a Criminal Defense Lawyer’s work much more difficult. People seem to think they can text as candidly as they talk on their cell phones. Not true. Recently a ruling by a Federal Court of Appeals held that a Defendant’s cell phone may be searched without a warrant in order to identify its telephone number. This is important because once the telephone number is identified, the Government can subpoena its call history.

Not only that, once the cops get the cell phone, they are free to thumb through the address book.(See United States v. Rodriguez, 995 F.2nd 776) A phone is a computer; it is akin to the personal diary of an earlier time; and courts have long allowed the search of a diary. Interestingly enough, the personal diary was considered to be a container of information, and containers, defined by courts as “any object that can contain anything else, including data.” can be searched without a warrant.

But wait — personal data is on cell phones, and on computers. Does this mean that any cell phone can be searched as a container of information, whether personal or not? The courts have not gone that far. But, they are teetering dangerously close. This particular case limited its ruling to the finding that police can open the cell phone (diary) in order to obtain its number. But if, as earlier cases have ruled, the police can look through an old-fashioned address book, they will be allowed by the courts to do the same to a cell phone contact list. In my experience, cops are already doing this without a subpoena or a warrant.

If you have been convicted of a federal crime in West Texas (such as a drug related crime or a crime like money laundering or illegal possession/use of a firearm), the law allows you to appeal your conviction to another court. This post and a subsequent one will explain the basics of federal criminal appeals.

If you have entered a guilty plea or you have gotten convicted at trial, you may appeal your sentence to a Federal Court of Appeals. These appellate courts are divided geographically by numbers into “Circuits”. For instance, West Texas appeals go to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. Different rules govern federal appeals. Instead of being called a “defendant,” you will now be called an “appellant.” You will not go before the court. Your federal criminal defense attorney may present oral arguments — but not necessarily. The appellate court will review the transcript of your trial, but you cannot get new evidence admitted. If you don’t have money to pay for your appeal, in many cases you can have counsel appointed to represent you.

What Happens on Appeal

The U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines recognize six categories of criminal history. These categories use a point system to help judges locate a recommended sentence on the U.S. Federal Sentencing Table.

The categories are as follows:

• Category I: 0 or 1 points • Category II: 2 or 3 points • Category III: 4 through 6 points • Category IV: 7 through 9 points • Category V: 10 through 12 points • Category VI: 13+ points

Whether you have been arrested for a federal Internet crime or tagged for illegal behavior while crossing the border from Mexico to Texas, you need a credentialed, results-proven attorney in your corner.

As you research the best lawyer for your case, consider these 7 reasons why to pick a former prosecutor to defend you.

1. Former prosecutors know how other prosecutors think.

What does it mean to be Board Certified in Criminal Defense by the Texas State Bar?

In a word, it means an attorney is credentialed. The Supreme Court of Texas created the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in order to recognize levels of expertise in certain areas of the law.

The Board, whose members are appointed by the President of the Texas State Bar, administers the certification program. If you want more information about the Board, you can call 800-204-2222 or 512-463-1454.

According to the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines, federal crimes can be classified in terms of 43 offense categories. The offense level is matched up with the Criminal History Category (there are six different history categories) to determine sentencing. To find a recommended prison sentence, a judge simply cross-references the offense level with the Criminal History. For instance, an offender who commits a level 16 offense and who has a Criminal History of IV, according to the table, should get 33 to 41 months behind bars, all things being equal.

Of course, sentencing is much more complicated than that. Sentences can be adjusted based on numerous factors, such as:

• Whether a vulnerable victim was harmed during the commission of the crime.

Searching for the perfect federal criminal defense attorney to represent you (or a family member) at trial can be an exercise in frustration. There may seem to be many apparently qualified lawyers are out there. But without deep knowledge about the background of prospective attorneys, how can you make a good decision about who should represent you?

Here is some advice to ground you: Choose an attorney with jury trial experience.

Here’s why.

Four Dangers of Internet Sex Addiction

Internet sex addiction is a vastly under reported problem in the American population. With more and more people logging onto online fantasy sites, chat rooms, forums, and other pornographic arenas every day, psychotherapists and criminal defense attorneys alike are seeing a huge increase in the number of people who have become dysfunctional as a result of their addiction to cyber sex. Below, we review four common dangers.

1. Internet sex addiction drains your money and your time.

Texas Criminal Defense in the San Angelo area starts with a lawyer who knows his way around the courthouses. I say courthouses, because there is also a County Courts building on Harris street behind the main Courthouse on Beauregard. Most DWI and possession of marijuana cases are held in the County Courts building. Felonies are in the big main courthouse.

San Angelo judges also hold court in Eldorado in Schleicher county, Mertzon in Irion County, and Ballinger in Runnels County. Robert Lee and tiny Paint Rock also have courthouses where San Angelo judges preside.There are two County Courts at Law in Tom Green County, which are called The County Court at Law and County Court at Law 2. (You notice I didn’t say County Courts at law 1 & 2) ALR hearings are held before the Justice of the Peace in the basement of the building next to the main Courthouse on Beauregard.
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West Texas is a vast, sparsely populated area west of Fort Worth to the north and San Antonio to the south. The region’s major cities are Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland-Odessa, San Angelo, and Abilene; only the first two have populations over 100,000 people. The further west one goes, the more the population thins out.

Many counties out west have populations of less than ten thousand, and some have fewer than that. Mentone, the county seat of Loving county, has fewer than a hundred souls, making this the least populated county in the state.

I have offices in Snyder, which is an hour and a half drive from Lubbock, Abilene, San Angelo, and Midland. Interstate 20 passes through 30 miles to the south, on its way from El Paso to Shreveport, La, a distance of over 650 miles.

Further south, Interstate 10 crosses the state from its intersection with I 20 east of Van Horn and passes through Pecos, Crockett and Sutton counties, all the way east to the Texas/Louisiana border near Beaumont, a distance of well over 800 miles. I once served as an assistant District Attorney for a sprawling Judicial District extending from Fort Stockton in Pecos County to Sonora, in Sutton County, over 150 miles to the east. Continue reading

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