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texas defense lawyerGun rights advocates are celebrating the new law set to go into effect in September that removes firearm silencers from the list of items prohibited by the state, but there are a few things you should know before you run out and try to buy one. 

The new law, dubbed House Bill 957, deregulates sound suppressors made in Texas from federal law as long as they stay in Texas. However, you can only buy silencers from a licensed dealer. Under federal gun law, gun dealers -- and subsequently you -- still have to comply with the lengthy federal process. 

House Bill 957

The Texas governor signed HB 957 into law in June alongside a number of other gun bills designed to loosen restrictions on firearm ownership. These include measures like making Texas a Constitutional Carry state, meaning any law-abiding Texan can carry a gun without a license, and another declaring Texas a Second Amendment sanctuary, which prohibits state officials from enforcing future federal gun laws. 

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plano defense lawyerStarting on Sept. 1, 2021, if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) after you were in a car accident that caused someone a serious injury or death, you will be required by law to have your blood drawn. Despite legal scholars raising concerns about government overreach and Fourth Amendment violations, the state governor signed the bill into law in June 2021 without comment. 

Background on HB 558

According to news reports, the bill was introduced in November 2020 after a Denison school teacher was struck by a vehicle and killed, but the driver was never held accountable. The teacher was on a morning walk with her husband when their neighbor hit them with his truck. The teacher died as a result of her injuries and her husband was seriously injured.

While investigating the case, the responding officer smelled alcohol on the driver’s breath and the driver said he had been drinking the night before. The officer thought his observations were enough to administer field sobriety tests, but the driver passed them and then blew a .06 on the breathalyzer test, which is under the legal limit. Because of those factors, the investigating officer did not request a warrant for a blood draw. Later on, a grand jury reviewed the evidence and declined to indict the driver for manslaughter or criminal negligence. 

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As of Sept. 1, 2021, Texans who are being treated for cancer at any stage or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder will be able to use cannabis products under the Texas Compassionate Use Program, which allows doctors to prescribe cannabis products with low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as a treatment. 

When the program was created in 2015, lawmakers limited who could be prescribed cannabis products to only those who suffer from epilepsy. They expanded it in 2019 to include patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, incurable neurodegenerative disease, multiple sclerosis, seizure disorder, spasticity, or terminal cancer. 

According to The Texas Tribune, lawmakers accepted two arguments for adding cancer at any stage and PTSD to the list of approved conditions. First, THC is thought to alleviate cancer treatment side effects like nausea, loss of appetite, and body pains. THC affects the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear. Marijuana products may help those who suffer from PTSD, particularly veterans, by calming them down when they encounter something that triggers trauma. 

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frisco defense lawyerDomestic disturbances are a major concern for jurisdictions across the country and in the great state of Texas. The reason is an argument could escalate, turn into a fight, and become something worse. In fact, approximately one out of five murder victims in the U.S. were killed by an intimate partner. Needless to say, the concern about domestic violence is real, but how states require police to address it varies. 

Mandatory Arrest Policy

When police officers investigate domestic disturbances, they generally start by separating the parties involved and conducting a preliminary interview. It may feel like an invasive process given that they ask about intimate and sometimes embarrassing details about your life. The goal, however, is to see if there was physical contact. Now, this is where states may differ. 

Some states have a mandatory arrest policy if physical contact was made. Physical contact could be something a simple as a shove or something more severe as a kick or punch. Either way, the officer is required by law to arrest the aggressor. While the purpose of a mandatory arrest policy is to stop one party from hurting the other further, it also forces a cool-down period so things do not escalate. 

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frisco criminal defense lawyerThe U.S. Attorney’s Office in the northern district of Texas filed charges against a New York man for being a felon in possession of a firearm. In late June, he allegedly flew to Dallas to visit a gun range, signed a form saying he wasn’t a felon, and posted a video of himself shooting a rifle on social media.

It is an interesting case. Under federal law, a felon cannot possess a gun but a felon in Texas can, under certain circumstances, have a gun. There are lots of misconceptions about gun laws in the United States, so it is important to understand the laws regulating firearm possession by a felon.

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

In the Lone Star State, you commit “unlawful possession of a firearm” when you have a felony conviction on your criminal record and possess a gun. The language in the law is that straightforward. But as we mentioned above, there are circumstances in which you can have a gun if you have a felony. 

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