Solicitation Prostitution Sting Texas

Solicitation of Prostitution in Texas

By | Prostitution

Prostitution is Illegal in Texas

Solicitation Prostitution Sting TexasIn Texas, under Chapter 43 of the Penal Code, all forms of prostitution are outlawed. Whether a person is involved in promoting prostitution, engaging in prostitution, or soliciting another to engage in an act of prostitution, it is all illegal and can result in arrest, conviction, and prison time in Texas.

What is Solicitation of Prostitution Under Texas Law?

As defined in Section 43.021(a) of the Texas Penal Code, “A person commits an offense if the person knowingly offers or agrees to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with that person or another.” This law does not require a person to actually show up to the agreed location in person, since the offense is committed at the time the offer of money for sex is proffered. However, in most circumstances, the police will not make an arrest unless the “John” actually shows up to the scene.

Prostitution Stings in Texas

Many solicitation of prostitution arrests occur as part of undercover police sting operations. Due to the prevalence and increase of human trafficking in Texas, police agencies have ramped up prostitution sting operations in hopes of decreasing the demand for sex services. Most sting operations are widely publicized afterwards, causing embarrassment, job loss, and relationship stress for those caught in the sting, not to mention the follow-on criminal implications. Our firm has represented people across North Texas that have been arrested in prostitution stings with favorable results.

Solicitation of Prostitution is a State Jail Felony in Texas

On September 1, 2021, the offense of soliciting a prostitute in Texas was enhanced from being a Class B Misdemeanor to a State Jail Felony. This means that, even if it is your first offense, if you “knowingly offer or agree to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with that person” you can be convicted of a felony offense and sentenced to a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 2 years in a State Jail facility. If you have a previous solicitation conviction, then the next offense is a 3rd Degree Felony with a punishment range of 2-10 years in prison.

What to do if you are Arrested for Solicitation of a Prostitute?

If you are arrested for solicitation, once you have bonded out of jail, you should contact an experienced and trusted criminal defense attorney in the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred. Our team of criminal defense lawyers at Barnett Howard & Williams handle around a dozen solicitation cases every year, many of which are the product of Tarrant County Sheriff sting operations. Contact us today for a free consultation at (817) 993-9249. We have offices in Fort Worth and Keller.

EPO Drop Protective Order Texas

Lifting an Emergency Protective Order Issued After a Domestic Violence Arrest

By | Domestic Violence

How To Lift an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) Associated with a Texas Domestic Violence Case?

EPO Drop Protective Order Texas

If you were arrested for Assault (Family Violence), chances are that you also received an Emergency Protective Order prohibiting you from going within 500 yards (or similar distance) from the “victim’s” home or workplace, along with other conditions for a period of 31, 61, or 91 days depending on the nature of the alleged assault. Protective Orders can cause big problems, especially when the two parties live together in the same house and share childcare and other family responsibilities.

Can I Lift The Emergency Protective Order So That I Can Go Home?

Yes, you can (in most cases). We are asked this question on a daily basis. A spouse that was arrested for Domestic Violence has been forced to leave the family home because of the EPO. EPOs, however, do not relieve people of their daily responsibilities to take care of children, go to work, or provide for their families. An EPO can certainly throw a wrench into a family dynamic.

We help families modify protective orders to allow a defendant to return home. We do not typically request that the entire EPO be lifted completely, only amended.

Amending an EPO is Not the Same Thing as Lifting an EPO.

So what’s the big difference in lifting an EPO versus amending an EPO. Most judges will not agree to completely lift an EPO, because, as they see it, there was likely a good reason for the imposition of the EPO in the first place. Additionally, in almost every scenario, the District Attorney’s office will oppose lifting the EPO. However, many judges will agree to amend or modify an EPO and change some of the conditions. Usually, if the victim requests it, a judge will amend the protective order to allow the defendant to return home or resume contact with the complainant and the family. However, the remaining conditions, usually involving not committing family violence or threatening the victim, remain in place for the duration of the protective order.

What are the Steps to Amending a Protective Order in Fort Worth?

First, it is important to know that all jurisdictions handle protective orders differently. For instance, the Fort Worth Municipal Court handles protective orders differently from Tarrant County Criminal Court #5. Some courts prefer to hold a formal hearing and others do not. However, in all cases, we request the following:

  • An Affidavit from the Victim Requesting a Change of the Protective Order: This can be drafted and signed in our office, but the victim must be present and indicate that this is what he/she wants. In our experience, if the complaining witness does not want the EPO changed, then the judge is not going to change it.
  • A Motion to Modify the Protective Order: We draft and file the motion with the court having jurisdiction over the EPO. Texas law requires that we allege 3 things in our motion and that the judge find those 3 things to be true before he/she can modify the EPO:
    • (1) The current EPO is unworkable;
    • (2) Modification of the EPO will not place the victim in a greater risk of harm; and
    • (3) Modification of the EPO will not result in harm to any person protected under the order.
  • An Affidavit of Non-Prosecution: This is not a required document, but we allow victims to sign an ANP in our office if they request it. They may end up having to sign another ANP with the prosecutor, but we like to give them the opportunity.
  • Formal or Informal Hearing with the Presiding Judge: Some courts will require an actual hearing with witnesses before deciding whether to modify an EPO. Other courts simply prefer the verified documentation and an informal meeting with the state and the defense.
  • Filing the Amended Order with the Arresting Agency and Sheriff’s Office: If the judge agrees to amend the protective order, we send a copy of the signed order to the defendant, the complainant, the arresting police agency, and the local sheriff’s office. We also advise our clients to keep a copy of the order near the front door in case a nosy neighbor decides to call the police believing that the EPO is being violated.

I Have an Emergency Protective Order. How Do I Get Started in Amending the Order?

If you have an EPO that was issued against you in response to an allegation of Assault (Family Violence), give us a call today to see if we can assist you in getting the order amended so that you can return home to your family. Every case is different, so we want to speak with you and learn more about your situation. This article will not apply to every case, so call us today at (817) 993-9249. We offer Free Consultations in every case with no obligation.

Refuse Field Sobriety Test Texas

May I Legally Refuse Field Sobriety Tests if Stopped for DWI?

By | DWI

Yes. You may legally refuse field sobriety tests in Texas. This article explains why you should consider refusing.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests Can Be the Best Evidence for the State in a DWI Trial

Field Sobriety Test Fort WorthWhen a driver is stopped in Texas and the officer suspects that the driver may be intoxicated, the officer will typically run through a standard DWI roadside investigation. This investigation begins by simply observing the driver (bloodshot eyes, odor of alcohol, slurred speech) and asking some questions:

  • “Where are you coming from this evening?”
  • “Have you had anything to drink tonight?”
  • “How many is a couple?”

If the officer sees enough to warrant a further investigation, they will ask the driver to step out of the car.

“Let’s Make Sure that You’re Okay to Drive Tonight.”

Once the driver steps out of the car, the officer’s body worn camera and dash camera are recording so that the footage can capture the interaction (to be used later at trial if needed). The officer will then explain that they are going to do some tests just to “make sure that you’re okay to drive.” Note: The officer WILL NOT NORMALLY ask permission to conduct the
standardized field sobriety tasks.  He will jump right in and hope that you just go along with it.
There are 3 standard tests that are explained in more detail on our DWI page.

The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests are Not Designed for You to Pass

The 3 standard tests are (1) the HGN test (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus), which is the “eyes test,” (2) the Walk and Turn test (also known as the Walk the Line test), and (3) the One Leg Stand test. I don’t have enough time to go into the many problems with the tests, but to list a few:

  • The Eye Test (HGN) – this test requires the officer to use specific precision in the field which results in mistakes often being made. Further, even with updated body worn camera technology, the video rarely shows what the officer claims to observe in the eyes. So we are usually left with officer testimony alone;
  • The Walk and Turn test – this test is difficult (even for sober people) because it requires the person to take challenging heel to toe steps on an imaginary line in all conditions and officers never take into account the person’s stress level, the weather conditions, footwear, fatigue from a long day, etc.; and
  • The One Leg Stand – this test is also difficult. It requires you to balance on one foot for 30 FULL seconds. TAKE NOTE – if the person puts their foot down at 27 seconds it is a strike against them!

Throughout the years, the tests have been debunked and challenged by experts as unreliable, but the courts are still allowing them as proof of intoxication (they are claimed to be used as evidence of the loss of mental or physical faculties).  In short, these tests exist for the officer to build a case against you in court and we feel ultimately set you up to fail. So what benefit is there for a driver who is suspected of DWI to take the tests if they don’t have to?

You DO NOT Have to Submit to Standardized Field Sobriety Tests in Texas

Even though the officer might act as if you must take the tests, you don't. If he asks you to exit the vehicle then you must get out of the car. But as soon as he tries to start the HGN (eye test) on you, you can (and probably should) politely refuse to take the test. Take note of what I said…Politely Refuse. Do not be a jerk about it and go into a diatribe about how you read this
blog and you know these tests are no good and that you refuse to do them. Remember this is all being captured on audio and video; audio and video that will be exhibit #1 at a trial if it goes that far. Simply inform the officer that you do not wish to participate in the standardized field sobriety tests.

Can I Still be Arrested if I Refuse to Perform the Field Sobriety Tests?

Yes you can (and probably will) be arrested if you refuse to perform the FSTs. If the officer already felt like he had enough evidence to administer the tests, then he will probably go ahead and arrest you for DWI if you refuse to take them. But hey, you were probably going to get arrested anyway. Now, however, there will be less evidence against you.  You have an absolute right not to give evidence against yourself.  This constitutional right applies equally in the DWI context.

Should I Take the Tests if I Haven’t Had that Much to Drink?

You are an adult, so it is really up to you, but our advice (from over 10 years of handling DWI cases) is NO. You should not perform the standardized field sobriety tests. Your DWI case becomes tougher to defend if you look intoxicated on the video. Even if you haven’t had that much to drink, there are many reasons why you might appear intoxicated on the video:

  • You are extremely nervous and have a high stress level from being pulled out of your car in the middle of the night by a police officer
  • Your footwear (high heels, flip flops, etc)
  • The wind is blowing hard
  • It is cold outside and you are shivering
  • You have an old injury that causes you to limp or not walk “normally”
  • You have bad balance (even on a good day)

Lastly, these tests are extremely technical. The instructions are long and tedious and can be very confusing for someone who has never attempted these tests before. Officers also like to compound this issue by providing you the instructions very aggressively and rapidly. Your failure to comply perfectly with these instructions can be used against you in court.

Next Time, Please Take an Uber

We hope you will listen to our advice regarding DWI field sobriety tests. Better yet, we hope that you’ll just pay the $40 for an Uber or taxi from the bar or restaurant and avoid this altogether. But if you didn’t take our advice and you didn’t call and Uber, call us and we’ll be happy to be your advocates.

*This article did not discuss whether you may legally refuse a Breath Test or a Blood Test. We’ve written on that many times and the answer is YES. You may refuse breath and blood tests UNLESS the officer has a warrant for your blood. If they have a warrant, you may not refuse.

Scholarship Winners BHW

2022 BHW Scholarship Winners

By | Scholarship

Barnett Howard & Williams PLLC Announces the Recipients of the 2022 Scholarship Awards

BHW Scholarship Winners

This was the 7th year for our law firm to offer scholarships. In honor of the sacrifices of our military veterans, BHW awards 2 scholarships that are connected to military service. The first scholarship is a $500 award for a Military Veteran Law Student and the second scholarship is a $500 award for a Military Dependent undergraduate student. Throughout the year, we received several applications from very deserving students. We appreciate all of the students that took the time to apply for the scholarships and wish them all the best in their studies. For those students that were not selected, we invite you to apply again next year as we plan to continue the scholarship offers as an annual award.

2022 Winner – Military Veteran Law Student Scholarship

The winner of the 2022 Military Veteran Law Student Scholarship is:

CHRISTOPHER KOLKOWSKI

Christopher Kolkowski is an Air Force veteran and C130J pilot. Mr. Kolkowski currently attends University of Arkansas – Little Rock Bowen School of Law. Congratulations CPT Kolkowski. Best wishes as you continue toward your law degree.

2022 Winner – Military Dependent Scholarship

The winner of the 2022 Military Dependent Undergraduate Scholarship is:

MAGGIE EVANS

Maggie Evans is a US Navy dependent whose father served in the US Navy. Ms. Evans currently attends the University of Texas – San Antonio and is pursuing a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, a field that is dear to her heart (and those of the military community). Congratulations Maggie Evans. Best wishes as you continue in your studies.

More Information About Our Scholarship Opportunities:

For more information about how to apply for these scholarships in future years, please visit the scholarship pages:

Military Veteran Law Student Scholarship

Military Dependent Scholarship

Fireworks Laws in Texas2

Fireworks Laws in Texas | Could a Sparkler Really Cost You $2,000?

By | Criminal Defense

Do Not Lose Your Liberty on Independence Day

Fireworks Laws in TexasIndependence Day is right around the corner. You will probably start seeing the notices spread across social media from local police departments, warning that setting off fireworks (including sparklers) is illegal inside of city limits. We know that you’re probably going to do it anyway, but we wanted to let you know what Texas law provides regarding fireworks on the 4th of July.

Texas Fireworks Law | Are Sparklers Illegal Inside of City Limits?

While state law in Texas permits possessing and using fireworks, it’s important to note that where and when a person can possess them is still highly regulated. There are State laws that limit the use and display of fireworks but use is predominantly regulated by way of city ordinances.

Specifically, under state law, a person may not:

  1. Explode or ignite fireworks within 600 feet of any church, a hospital other than a veterinary hospital, an asylum, a licensed child care center, or a public or private primary or secondary school or institution of higher education unless the person receives authorization in writing from that organization;
  2. Sell at retail, explode, or ignite fireworks within 100 feet of a place where flammable liquids or flammable compressed gasses are stored and dispensed;
  3. Explode or ignite fireworks within 100 feet of a place where fireworks are stored or sold;
  4. Ignite or discharge fireworks in or from a motor vehicle;
  5. Place ignited fireworks in, or throw ignited fireworks at, a motor vehicle;
  6. Conduct a public fireworks display that includes Fireworks 1.3G unless the person is a licensed pyrotechnic operator;
  7. Conduct a proximate display of fireworks that includes Fireworks 1.3G or Fireworks 1.4G as defined in NFPA 1126 Standards for the Use of Pyrotechnics Before a Proximate Audience unless the person is a licensed pyrotechnic special effects operator and has the approval of the local fire prevention officer; or
  8. Sell, store, manufacture, distribute, or display fireworks except as provided by this chapter or rules adopted by the commissioner under this chapter.

Texas Occupations Code, Subchapter F, Sec. 2154.251

These violations are Class C Misdemeanors, which can be punishable by a fine up to $500.

Fireworks licensing violations are Class B Misdemeanors which can result in a jail term up to 180 days and a fine not to exceed $2,000.

Fireworks City Ordinances | Local Fireworks Rules in Fort Worth, Keller, and Southlake

In addition to State law, most cities in Texas regulate the use and display of fireworks by way of specific city ordinances. For example, Fort Worth, Texas has enacted an ordinance making the sale, discharge or possession of fireworks within the incorporated city limits a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2,000.00 fine. Similar ordinances exist in Keller and Southlake, and most other Texas cities.

Before your celebrations, it’s always best to review the above regulations under the Texas Occupations Code and check your local city ordinances online to ensure that you’re legally possessing, using and displaying fireworks.

Final Four DWI Texas

DWI Madness | “The Final Four” Reasons Texans are Stopped for DWI

By | DWI

Final Four DWI TexasMarch Madness is here again. With the Final Four approaching, we built a bracket of our own. In this article, DWI attorney Jason Howard discusses the top four reasons people are stopped or detained for a DWI investigation in Texas. We’ve compiled and power-seeded our list based on the numerous Tarrant County DWI cases we handle every year. Before we get to the “Final Four,” here are some honorable mentions that didn’t quite make the tournament list:

  • Sleeping in a running vehicle
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Rolling through a stop sign
  • Expired registration as seen by police scanner
  • No license plate light

Of course, there are many more reasons that folks are stopped and investigated for DWI, but below are the top four reasons that we see the most.

The Top Four Reasons Drivers Are Stopped for a DWI Investigation in Texas

#4 – Auto Accident

By auto accident, we mean everything from a head-on collision to a run-in with a mailbox. More serious accidents will usually generate the presence of officers on scene within a matter of minutes. Officers are usually looking to rule out the possibility of someone being intoxicated as soon as they arrive on scene. Minor accidents where there are no injuries might elicit a call to 911 (when there would otherwise just be a swap of insurance) if the other party involved suspects a DWI. Easy to see that if you’ve consumed alcohol and are involved in an accident, there is a high probability of a DWI investigation.

#3 – Swerving or Weaving

Please note – there is a difference between the two. Swerving is the more blatant failure to maintain a single lane by driving the vehicle all across the road. Weaving, on the other hand, is usually more subtle and sometimes observed within the lane. Regardless, if it’s late at night and a police officer is behind you and observes either of these driving behaviors, the red and blues are probably going to come on and the driver asked to step out of the vehicle for field sobriety testing.

#2 – Lane Change Problems

The #3 and #4 seeds were probably the top guesses, right? Surprisingly, we see more of numbers 1 and 2 than any other. And they probably weren’t the ones you guessed. I’ve grouped lane change issues because they can vary from the failure to signal a lane change or turn to the failure to make a proper turn at intersection (aka the “wide right” or “wide left” turn.) If you monitor your daily driving (when you’ve consumed no alcohol,) you’ll probably see that you commit many of these types of traffic infractions constantly. You’ll certainly see other people commit them. So, how does that translate to a police officer’s suspicion of drinking and driving? If it’s late at night on a Friday or Saturday, most patrol officers are quick to pull people over for any traffic violation just to check them out and make sure they’re not DWI.

That brings us to our number one reason people are stopped prior to a DWI arrest…

#1 – Speeding

We’re not talking 100mph in a 30mph zone, although we have seen some crazy speeds. No, we’re talking general, everyday speeding; 5 or 10 miles an hour over the speed limit. Nighttime patrol officers love to use their speed detection devices to initiate stops to find DWIs. That’s right! Patrol officers aren’t just looking for obvious impaired driving clues. It’s clear from our experience in handling DWI cases in Tarrant County that most officers are suspicious of anyone out late at night (especially on the weekends.) They know they only need a legal reason to stop someone at any given time. And once they establish their legal reason (even if it’s just speeding,) they then get to proceed with the “where are you coming from, where are you going, have you had anything to drink?” line of questioning. Once they get an admission of “yeah, I had a couple” or smell even the faintest odor of alcohol from the vehicle, they then get the driver out of the vehicle and begin the field sobriety tests. And once they start with the field sobriety tests, the possibility of being arrested goes up astronomically – even if you’re not intoxicated!

If we were to play out the DWI Final Four tournament, Speeding would be your Texas State Champion.

What Should You Do If You Are Suspected of Driving While Intoxicated?

We’ve written on this topic several times, including:
DWI Information Page
May I Legally Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

If you have been arrested for DWI in Tarrant County after being stopped for one of these four reasons (or any other reason), contact our Tarrant County DWI attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Swatting False Report of Crime in Texas

New Texas Offense: Swatting (Making a False Emergency Report)

By | False Report, Legislative Update

Swatting False Report of Crime in TexasTexas legislators enacted several new criminal laws in the 2021 legislative session. Below, we highlight one of them – Swatting. Being from Texas, I initially thought this might have something to do with mosquitoes, but, as it turns out, Swatting is the act of falsely reporting a crime or emergency to law enforcement or emergency personnel. This new offense is a Class A misdemeanor unless the prosecutor can show that you’ve been convicted of this same offense in the past.

 

NEW OFFENSE: Article 42.0601, Texas Penal Code – Swatting (False Report to Induce Emergency Response)
Senate Bill 1056: Summary of the legislation

Text of the new law:
     Sec. 42.0601. FALSE REPORT TO INDUCE EMERGENCY RESPONSE.

(a) A person commits an offense if:

(1) the person makes a report of a criminal offense or an emergency or causes a report of a criminal offense or an
emergency to be made to a peace officer, law enforcement agency, 9-1-1 service as defined by Section 771.001, Health and Safety Code, official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies, or any other governmental employee or contractor who is authorized to receive reports of a criminal offense or emergency;
(2) the person knows that the report is false;
(3) the report causes an emergency response from a law enforcement agency or other emergency responder; and
(4) in making the report or causing the report to be made, the person is reckless with regard to whether the emergency response by a law enforcement agency or other emergency responder may directly result in bodily injury to another person.

PENALTY: A violation of the Swatting statute is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a range of punishment of 0-365 days in jail and a fine up to $4,000. The offense is enhanced to a State Jail Felony if the actor has been convicted of the same offense twice before. The offense is enhanced to the 3rd Degree Felony if a person is killed or seriously injured as a result of the false emergency call and response.

EFFECTIVE DATE: The Swatting law went into effect on 9/1/21.

SPONSORS: Senate Bill 1056 was a bipartisan bill sponsored by Senator Joan Huffman (R) and Representative Eugene Wu (D). It was approved by both the Senate and the House in unanimous votes.

Christmastime Arrests Texas

Top 5 Reasons for Arrests During the Christmas Holiday Season

By | Criminal Defense

Christmastime Arrests TexasWhen you think about the Christmas season, you probably think about family time, presents, good food, and celebration. We think about those things too, but as criminal defense attorneys, we also think about the reasons that some of our clients get arrested during the holiday season. For this article, we took a look at the last 6 years of holiday season arrests (for clients that we represented) and compiled an (anecdotal) list of the top 5 reasons that folks get arrested during the Christmas/New Year’s season. Our goal is that this list will serve as a warning, so that your holiday season can be filled with the good stuff, rather than jail, bail, and calls to our office. Here goes:

5. Shoplifting

Many retailers slash their prices and offer steep discounts in the weeks leading up to Christmas and even bigger discounts after Christmas, but we have yet to see any retailer offer the “five finger discount” for their merchandise. Regardless, we see plenty of shoplifting cases during the Christmas season, making it our #5 reasons that people get arrested during Christmas. Depending on the regular price value of the item (not the discounted price), shoplifting theft charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies. Learn more about Theft law in Texas here.

4. Package Theft

In a similar vein to shoplifting, our #4 reason for holiday arrests is package theft. Many shoppers choose the convenience of online shopping and have their Christmas purchases delivered right to their front door. Some people see this as an easy target, following behind UPS or FedEx trucks to steal those would-be Christmas gifts from the front porch. However, with the increase in doorbell cameras, it is getting easier to catch the porch pirates in the act. Further, some law enforcement agencies have begun using dummy packages to bait thieves into getting caught. Package theft can range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on what unknown treasure lay inside the brown box.

3. Airport Contraband (Guns and Drugs)

Going to visit grandma can require air travel for many families. This means that thousands more people than usual flood through DFW Airport between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It matters not from where these travelers hail. From Maryland to Oregon to France, if a person is arrested at DFW Airport, their case will be filed in Tarrant County, Texas and they will have to travel back to DFW to attend court. During the holidays, we see a surge in airport arrests when people bring items into the airport that are not allowed. These mostly consist of:

Even if the state from which a traveler is coming has legalized marijuana and the state to which they are traveling has legalized marijuana, if they are caught possessing marijuana in the airport, they will be arrested and charged. The combination of airport gun arrests and airport drug arrests make these types of cases our #3 reason for holiday arrests.

2. Assault Family Violence

In the movie Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold showed an enormous amount of restraint when his extended family pushed him to the limit (especially Cousin Eddie), but not everyone is blessed with such a cool head. Christmas time brings added stressors into the family environment that can sometimes lead to verbal or physical altercations between family members, so much so, that these arrests rank at #2 in our book. Depending on the nature of the assault, a domestic violence arrest can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Learn more about Family Violence under Texas law.

1. Driving While Intoxicated

With all of the Christmas and New Year’s parties and the increase in No Refusal Weekends, it is not hard to guess that DWI arrests are #1 on our list. Driving While Intoxicated in Texas can range from a misdemeanor (if it is a first or second offense) to a felony (if there is a child in the car or if the person arrested has been convicted of DWI twice in the past). Our advice is to plan ahead and do not even take your car to a Christmas party when you plan to drink. Catch a ride from a friend or take an Uber or Lyft. That would be a lot cheaper than hiring an attorney and a lot less hassle too. Learn more about Texas DWI law here.

We Hope You Never Need Us, But We’re Here if Your Do.

We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. As always, we hope you never need us to represent you or one of your loved ones for a criminal offense. This is even more true during the Christmas season. Hopefully this list will help you avoid trouble that looms during the holiday season. If you do happen to need us, we are only a phone call away at (817) 993-9249.

New Criminal Laws 2021

Texas Legislature Update: New Criminal Laws 2021

By | Legislative Update

New Criminal Laws 2021The 2021 Texas legislative session has now closed and there were several updates to our criminal statutes. Below are some of the more notable changes or additions to Texas criminal laws that took effect on September 1, 2021:

Constitutional Carry – HB 1927

All Texans over the age of 21 are now able to carry a handgun in public without a license or training as long as they are not prohibited from possessing a gun by state or federal law. In addition, the carrying a firearm while intoxicated is now a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine, and the carrying a firearm in a vehicle by a gang member is now a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. HB 1927 also allows a peace officer to disarm a citizen at any time if they believe it is necessary to protect the individual, the officer, or another person. The officer, however, must return the handgun before leaving the scene if the officer determines the person was not a threat and didn’t commit a violation. Finally, HB 1927 allows for the expungement of records for those previously convicted of Unlawful Carrying a Weapon before September 1, 2021.

Obstructing Emergency Vehicles – HB 9

HB 9 makes it a state jail felony to knowingly block an emergency vehicle with its lights and sirens on or to obstruct access to a hospital or health care facility. This offense is punishable by six months to two years behind bars and a maximum $10,000 fine. Individuals convicted of this offense are required to spend at least 10 days in jail, even if they are sentenced to probation.

False Reporting to Induce Emergency Response – SB 1056

SB 1056 makes it a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine, to falsely report a crime or an emergency to elicit an emergency response from law enforcement or other emergency responders. The charge becomes a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in state jail, if the defendant has been previously convicted twice of the offense and a third-degree felony, punishable by two or ten years in prison, if a person is seriously injured or killed as a result of the emergency response.

Enhancement for Reckless Driving Exhibition – SB 1495

SB 1495 heightens the penalty for obstructing a highway or passageway from a Class B misdemeanor to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine, for an individual who engages in a reckless driving exhibition. SB 1495 enhances the penalty to a state jail felony for a person who has been previously convicted of this offense, a person who operates a vehicle while intoxicated, or who causes someone to suffer bodily injury.

Harassment Extension to Social Media Posts – SB 530

SB 530 makes it a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine, to harass another person by publishing repeated electronic communications on a website with the intent to harass, annoy, alarm, torment, or embarrass that person. The penalty, however, can be increased to a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum $4,000 fine, if the actor has been previously convicted of the offense or it if involved a child under age 18 with the intent to cause the child serious bodily injury or to commit suicide.

Silencer Legalization – HB 957

HB 957 removes firearm silencers from the list of weapons that are prohibited in Texas. In addition, firearms suppressors that are manufactured and remain in Texas are not subject to federal law or regulation.
Enhanced Punishment for Offenses against Public Servants – HB 624
HB 624 increases the penalty by one level for people who commit an offense against someone whom they know is a public servant or against a member of the public servant’s household or family. The increased punishments apply to arson, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, breach of computer security, harassment, stalking, or fraudulent use of possession of identifying information.

Enhanced Punishment for Offenses against Public Servants – HB 624

HB 624 increases the penalty by one level for people who commit an offense against someone whom they know is a public servant or against a member of the public servant’s household or family. The increased punishments apply to arson, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, breach of computer security, harassment, stalking, or fraudulent use of possession of identifying information.

Scholarship Winners BHW

2021 BHW Scholarship Winners | Veteran Law Student & Military Dependent

By | Scholarship

Barnett Howard & Williams PLLC Announces the Recipients of the 2021 Scholarship Awards

BHW Scholarship WinnersThis was the 6th year for our law firm to offer scholarships. In honor of the sacrifices of our military veterans, we decided to that the scholarships should be connected to military service. The first scholarship is a $500 award for a Military Veteran Law Student and the second scholarship is a $500 award for a Military Dependent undergraduate student. Throughout the year, we received several applications from very deserving students. We appreciate all of the students that took the time to apply for the scholarships and wish them all the best in their studies. For those students that were not selected, we invite you to apply again next year as we plan to continue the scholarship offers as an annual award.

2021 Winner – Military Veteran Law Student Scholarship

The winner of the 2021 Military Veteran Law Student Scholarship is:

SAMANTHA DOWNEY

Samantha Downey is an Army veteran that served for 6 years as a Combat Medic. Ms. Downey currently attends Notre Dame Law School. Congratulations Samantha Downey. Best wishes as you continue toward your law degree.

2021 Winner – Military Dependent Scholarship

The winner of the 2021 Military Dependent Undergraduate Scholarship is:

JEREMIAH BROOKS

Jeremiah Brooks is a US Marine Corps dependent whose father served in both the Marine Corps and Florida Army National Guard. Mr. Brooks graduated from Canyon Lake High School in 2021 and will be pursuing a career in Cyber Security. Congratulations Jeremiah Brooks. Best wishes as you continue in your studies.

More Information About Our Scholarship Opportunities:

For more information about how to apply for these scholarships in future years, please visit the scholarship pages:

Military Veteran Law Student Scholarship

Military Dependent Scholarship