Facts About Criminal DWIs

A driving under the influence (DWI) conviction, sometimes referred to as an Impaired Driving conviction, carries penalties in the form of fines and jail time, which will vary depending on your age, criminal record and incidence of DWI convictions, and blood alcohol content (BAC) level. If you are ever charged with a DWI, it is often advised to retain a DWI lawyer so that your rights and freedoms will be protected as best as possible.

dwi-accident-in-dallasA charge of DWI is almost always based on a chemical or breath test that measures the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the driver. In most states, a BAC of .08 is considered as driving under the influence if you are driving a vehicle and over 21. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, such as a truck, a BAC of .04 is enough to get you charged. If you are under 21 and you smell of alcohol, you can get charged under the zero tolerance law, even with a BAC of .00.

If you refuse to take the test, you will automatically be fined according to the implied consent law. Moreover, your license can be suspended for up to two years and you can be imprisoned upwards of 24 hours depending on the number of previous offenses.

In Texas, there is a sometimes a “no-refusal” period, usually around a holiday weekend, where a person must consent to submitting a blood sample if asked by a law enforcement officer. Texas has one of the highest refusal rates in the nation, so no refusal weekends were introduced in hopes of curtailing the vast amount of people who refuse to submit to breathalyzer tests.

Most state laws bar people who have been charged with a DWI from pleading to a lesser offense. As such, it is important to fight for a dismissal of the charges, so that you do not face the severe penalties. The penalties which a person will face depend on many factors. Should a person be convicted of felony DWI, the most serious of these charges, the consequences could include fines up to $150,000 and minimum of 4 months of jail time.

Applying for Supplemental Security Income in Indiana

The elderly and/or disabled in the US often have to depend on others to meet basic needs such as shelter, food and clothing. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is designed to help those who are not able to help themselves despite a willingness to do so. SSI gives this less fortunate population a measure of dignity and independence. To qualify for the SSI stipend, a person should be 65 years old and above, or blind, or with severe physical or mental disabilities qualified under the Code of Federal Regulations’ list of impairments, with no income or income that falls below poverty levels, and unable to perform Substantial Gainful Activity that will result in earnings of $1,010 a month for at least 12 months.

For people meeting these criteria, applying for Supplemental Security Income in Indiana is relatively simple. The claim is coursed through the Disability Determination Service Bureau for review, and if approved, the first SSI check is typically available a month after of the application. The amount of the benefit will be based on the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR).

However, getting to the point where the criteria are satisfied is not always easy. There are complex ifs and buts in determining the level of disability as well as income which can be confusing for people with little or no understanding of the process. Even if eligibility is finally proven, calculation of the amount of the benefit and receiving the stipend can be a complex process. Factors affecting the FBR include current living arrangements, determining unearned income, cost of living and overpayment of benefits.

The Social Security Administration recommends that anyone interested in applying for SSI should call personally to make an appointment, or to have a representative do it. In most cases, it is best to have an experienced SSI lawyer assist in filling up the forms, gathering the necessary documents and arranging for the requisite medical tests and examinations.

The Real Cause of Adverse Effects – The da Vinci Device or the Surgeon?

FDA’s approval of the da Vinci surgical system for use in minimally invasive surgeries gave surgeons the capability to perform surgeries with the highest precision and accuracy and hospitals, a higher level of quality care for patients. The da Vinci surgical system, a multi-armed robotic surgical device, is, thus far, the only surgical system that has been certified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carry out soft-tissue surgical procedures. Its manufacturer, Intuitive Surgical Inc., is an American firm located in Sunnyvale, California.

The device is most commonly used in procedures like removal of gallbladders, cancerous bladders and prostrates, shrinking of the stomach, heart valve repair, organ transplant, cystectomies, ureteral reimplantation and reconstruction of new bladders. The device is operated by a qualified or trained surgeon who is positioned a few feet from the operating table. The da Vinci provides him/her with an enlarged image of the surgical site, while its other arms, which are capable of 360 degrees movement and tipped with the necessary (detachable) instruments, perform the surgical procedure through his/her command (via the use of a console).

Unlike in open (or invasive) surgery, where the surgeon makes incisions as long as four inches to enable him/her to reach into the patient’s internal organs, the da Vinci device, in minimally invasive surgeries, needs only to make tiny holes, a few millimeters in length, which are big enough for the endoscope and the instruments to go into. Though there may be multiple incisions, their small sizes account for less loss of blood, very small stitches, less pain, quick patient recovery and reduced hospital bills due to shortened hospital stays. More than all these, however, what made many surgeons celebrate the da Vinci is its capability for precision and zero probability for infection (surgical site infection is the cause of many patient deaths, claiming more than a hundred of thousand lives annually in the US).

The capability of the da Vinci device has won the interest of many hospital in the US, Europe and Japan. Thus, in the mid of 2013, Intuitive Surgical Inc. said that it has already sold at least 2,000 units to hospitals around the world and that the number of surgeries where the machine has been used has reached more than half a million.

It seems, however, that with the increase in the number of successful surgeries is the increase in the amount of accidents that are claimed to be caused by the machine. Besides mechanical failure prior to the start of surgery, there are also reported cases of burns, internal bleeding, tears, infection or sepsis and wrongful death. Because of these accidents, many people have hired da Vinci surgical robot lawyers and filed suit against Intuitive. Some of the specific cases reported include:

  • Death of a patient whose blood vessel was accidentally cut by the device during a hysterectomy in 2012
  • A patient who died after a spleen surgery in 2007
  • Perforation of a colon during a prostate surgery
  • One of the robot’s arms not letting go of a grasped tissue during a colorectal surgery
  • One of the robot’s arms hitting the face of the patient during a hysterectomy

Many surgeons claim that it would take more than a dozen (some say more than a hundred) surgeries before one would finally be totally comfortable using the da Vinci. Training is held for only two days and, though, assisted by another expert surgeon during an actual surgery mistakes may really be bound to happen.

But such premise only leads to the question: Is the cause of adverse effects really the device or the lack of experience by the surgeon? Investigations that will really determine the reason behind the adverse effects are still being conducted; in the meantime, hospitals with the da Vinci continue to be flocked by patients who need to undergo surgery and they all want to be operated on using the machine.

Grand Theft Auto in Texas

There’s nothing fun or game-like about being charged with grand theft auto (or grand larceny automobile) in Texas.  If you are convicted of this crime, you can expect to spend a minimum of 180 days in jail plus fines. Aside from that, you may be put on record as a thief, even if all you did was borrow your neighbor’s car. It is in your best interest to get a criminal lawyer as soon as possible after being charged with grand theft auto to mitigate the situation as early as possible.

There is no section in the Texas Penal Code that deals specifically with automobile theft, grand or otherwise. Stealing (or borrowing without permission) a motorized vehicle falls under Title 7 Chapter 31 of the Texas Penal Code which deals with theft of property in general. The severity of the charges will depend on the value of the car. This ranges from a Class B misdemeanor for vehicles with a market value of less than $500 to a 1st degree felony for vehicles valued at over $200,000. Surprisingly though, there is a section dealing specifically with the “Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle” (Texas Statutes – Section 31.07). It is considered a state jail felony with a minimum penalty of 180 days imprisonment and fines up to $10,000.

Charges can be escalated if a weapon was used to execute the theft, if the defendant is a government contractor or in public service, and/or has prior convictions for theft. Other factors that can increase severity of the charges include when the victim is elderly or the vehicle is the property of a non-profit organization.

If you ever come under suspicion for theft of an automobile, don’t wait for an indictment to get legal representation. Not all charges  will end in conviction if the case is handled properly.

Handling False Allegations of Rape

Sexual assault is non-consensual, unwanted contact where the victim is coerced, threatened, or manipulated. Rape is a type of sexual assault that involves penetration of the sexual organ or anus by any means. It is a serious crime in any state, and carries heavy consequences when convicted.

Rape carries with it not only legal sanctions but also social ones. Once a person is convicted of, or even charged with, rape, a stigma is attached that can deeply affect that person’s life and career. It is therefore important that when allegations of rape are brought against you to reserve your defense and engage a competent criminal lawyer at once.

It is difficult for most people to imagine that anyone would ever falsely accuse another person of committing rape, so the default reaction is to believe the accuser even when there are no witnesses and no physical evidence to support the accusation. But the fact is there are numerous, well-publicized instances in which a victim, with or without malice, falsely accused someone of rape for a variety of reasons. This may include:

  • Anger
  • Desire for fame and/or financial gain
  • False memories
  • Fear of parents or other figures of authority
  • Inebriation
  • Revenge

It is very difficult to counter allegations of rape unless the defendant has a verifiable and undeniable alibi. Oftentimes it involves questioning the credibility of the plaintiff and making a thorough investigation of the case. Many unpleasant facts are uncovered in these investigations, but it cannot be helped. A criminal lawyer handling false allegations of rape needs to be aggressive to mount an effective defense.

Rape charges cannot be taken lightly at any time, and simply denying them or attacking the victim is not the way to make it go away. Individuals facing such serious charges need to take action immediately and do everything they can to avoid the potentially devastating effects that a conviction for sexual assault can bring.

Understanding Assault

Assaults are one of the most common kinds of violent crimes committed in the United States, but many people are unaware of the exact way an “assault” is defined.

violent crime in the USMost people know that one way for an assault to occur is for one individual to physically attack another. However, by law, an assault does not need to involve a physical act of violence. In fact, when another person’s actions are sufficiently threatening to make you fear for your personal safety, you may be a victim of assault.

Because an individual can be accused of assault if his or her behavior is threatening, police are able to intervene before anyone is actually hurt. Nevertheless, words alone can never constitute an assault and must be accompanied by some form of threatening behavior.

Depending on your state’s laws, there can be different kinds of assault. While most states differentiate between an assault and an aggravated assault (specific cases of assault that include those involving weapons or that occur with intent to rape), some have various degrees of assault encoded in their statutes while others do not.


Kiddie Crime is Serious Business

“Juvenile delinquents” refer to minors who engage in activities that would be considered criminal if done by an adult. Some are petty crimes while others are more serious. The most common offenses include:

  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism
  • Shoplifting
  • Burglary
  • Auto theft
  • Drug offenses
  • DUI

A minor between the age of 7 and 18 will most likely be tried as a juvenile, although there are circumstances where a minor may be tried as an adult, such as repeat offenses or serious crimes like first-degree murder. Children below the age of 7 are generally not tried at all; in some cases it is the parents who are prosecuted.

However, there is a growing trend among prosecutors to get minors tried as adults for crimes such as DUI, sexual assault, or drug possession because the penalties are more severe than what they would be in juvenile court. Whether the minor is tried in juvenile court or in normal court, formal charges and convictions become a matter of record and this can have significant consequences for future education and employment opportunities.

If your child is arrested for a crime, it is important to immediately engage the services of a criminal lawyer experienced in dealing with juvenile cases. If it is at all possible, the lawyer will take steps to avoid formal charges. Failing that, the next best thing would be to avoid the child being tried as an adult, as those records are more difficult if not impossible to expunge (destroy) than if the conviction is that for a juvenile. In Texas, once an individual reaches the age of 21 and has not been convicted of any crime after the age of 17, juvenile records are automatically placed on restricted access. A petition to have the records expunged may also be executed; expunction is not automatic.


Man Dressed as Cookie Monster Accused of Endangering Child

A man dressed up as Sesame Street’s popular Cookie Monster was arrested on Sunday and is now being charged with aggressive begging and endangering the welfare of a child. The man, a Queens resident, was arraigned yesterday.

The man was posing for photos in his costume in Times Square. After a Connecticut family snapped their photo, he demanded they pay him $2. The family refused to pay, which, according to a criminal complaint, resulted in the man shoving the 2-year-old boy with which he had been photographed and yelling swear words at the family.

The 33-year-old did not submit a plea and his attorney has been tight lipped so far.

Costumed individuals in Times Square have become a bit of a nuisance and the city is looking for a way to address this issue while protecting their right to free speech.

Domestic Violence Charges

When tempers flare in the household, some regrettable things are said and done that can ruin relationships, and depending on the situation, may even land you in jail. Domestic assault or violence charges can be levied against anyone for threatening a partner or family member with violence or a deadly weapon. No actual injuries have to occur; it is enough that the victim has a reasonable apprehension of danger.

Domestic assault is a misdemeanor, but it is by no means taken lightly. A law enforcement officer summoned to a domestic quarrel can arrest someone who is being accused of domestic violence if there is probable cause, such as a witness to the assault. The police officer does not have to personally witness the crime. If convicted, the penalty could be as much as a fine of not more than $500 for a first-time offender with no bodily injury, to possible imprisonment of up to 20 years plus fines for a repeat offender and/or in incidents that include bodily harm.

A judge may issue a restraining order against the accused barring contact with the alleged victim even before an indictment or any formal investigation is carried out. This is in the nature of “just in case.” In many cases of domestic violence, the charges are withdrawn when things have cooled down or issues are resolved at home before the case can be brought to court. In this case, the defendant is usually released and there is no further need for a criminal lawyer. But if that is not likely to happen, it would be wise to get legal representation as soon as possible, especially if the defendant has had previous convictions.

The worst case scenario for a domestic violence charge is when it is compounded by the use of a deadly weapon resulting in grave injury. This elevates the misdemeanor to a first degree felony, carrying a potential sentence of imprisonment for life.

There are some signs that can help others recognize if someone is being abused at home. If you see that a friend or loved one is going through some of these signs, they may be undergoing a difficult situation in their household:

  • Physical injury
  • Emotional stress
  • Feelings of helplessness or desperation
  • Expressing hurt or fear of their partner

If you or someone you know show signs of abuse, an experienced and knowledgeable domestic violence lawyer may be able to guide them through the next steps to a healthier situation.


The Laws on Cocaine Possession

Being convicted of anything drug-related is a big deal. Both the federal and state governments are cracking down on unsupervised use of even drugs which are considered “legal” i.e. prescribed or medicinal drugs; more so with illegal drugs such as cocaine. Cocaine is in the Penalty Group I category for illegal drugs. Mere possession of cocaine carries a penalty of up to 2 years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines even for first-time offenders if the case is not handled competently.

Possession of a schedule 1 drug charges are particularly serious, as there are stiff penalties if one is convicted. A charge of cocaine possession can take several forms. Simple possession is when only a small amount of cocaine is found (which in Texas, for example, is less than 1 gram), and the presumption is that it is for personal use. A charge of possession with an intent to sell is much more serious, and it doesn’t matter if there was any intention of selling; the charge will stick if there is one gram or more of cocaine found. The penalties for this charge are a minimum of 2 years up to 99 years, and fines of not more than $50,000.

It is not necessary for cocaine to be found on a defendant’s person or to prove actual use of the substance for a charge of possession of cocaine. Any quantity found in the car, locker, apartment, or place of business of the defendant is enough. This is called “constructive” – as opposed to actual – possession. For example, if you offered a ride to a friend and a packet of cocaine fell out, which police subsequently found when you were stopped for an unrelated traffic violation, you could be charged with possession. It may not seem fair, but it’s the law.

If you are charged with any Cocain possession charge, it may be possible to avoid the maximum possible penalties, but in most instances, it is not possible to achieve this outcome without the help of a criminal lawyer. However, drug-related charges can affect an individual’s life for years to come, so it is important to do everything possible to avoid a conviction for cocaine possession.