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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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Frisco, TX criminal defense traffic lawyerThere is no doubt that law enforcement officers are a crucial component in a safe and functioning society. However, the U.S. Constitution, as well as other legislation, Limits the authority of police officers and other government officials in order to protect citizens’ rights. If you are ever stopped by police or arrested for a criminal offense, it is crucial that you assert your rights and avoid these common mistakes.

Acting Suspiciously or Aggressively During a Traffic Stop

If you are pulled over for speeding, running a stop sign, or another alleged infraction, it is important to remember that many traffic stops result in little more than a warning or minor fine. The actions that you take during the traffic stop can directly influence how the traffic stop ends. When you see flashing lights, pull over and turn the vehicle off. When the officer walks over to your car, roll down the window and respond politely in a non-aggressive tone. Give the officer your license, registration, and insurance information if asked for it.  

Answering Police Questions Without Your Lawyer Present

Being calm and polite can help prevent a police interaction from escalating. However, this does not mean that you should incriminate yourself by answering police questions. You have a Constitutional right to remain silent and decline police questions without your lawyer present. If the police ask you questions like “Do you know why I pulled you over?” or “Do you know how fast you were going?” The best answer is usually “No.” Trying to explain yourself or offering additional information can give the officers more evidence to use against you in any future proceedings. If you are arrested, immediately invoke your right to remain silent and inform officers that you will not answer questions without your lawyer.

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Frisco, TX criminal defense attorney unlawful searchIt is not always easy to understand where police officers’ authority ends and citizens’ constitutional rights begin. If you are like many people, you may be unsure of what rights are afforded to you by state and federal law. You may also be unsure of how those rights apply to police searches and seizures. It is crucial for every citizen to know when police do and do not have the right to search personal property. If police officers discover evidence of a crime in an unlawful search, that evidence may be inadmissible or unusable during criminal proceedings.

Rights Protected by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The Fourth Amendment enforces our right to be free of “unreasonable searches and seizures” by government officials like police officers. A government official cannot simply search a person’s home or belongings or take a person’s property for no reason. However, police searches that meet certain criteria are permissible under the Fourth Amendment and other legislation. Our expectation of privacy also varies depending on the type of property in question. For example, police do not have to obtain a search warrant before they search a motor vehicle.

When Can Police Search My Car?

In order to legally search your car, truck, van, or another vehicle, at least one of the following elements must be present:

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TX defense lawyerTexas is known for having some of the most lenient gun laws in the country. However, there are still a number of rules and regulations regarding the possession, use, sale, and transport of firearms. If you violate Texas firearm laws, you could face criminal charges and jail time. This is why it is essential for every Texan to know the law regarding unlawful possession of a firearm.

Who Is Prohibited from Owning a Firearm in Texas?

Certain people are prohibited from owning a gun by federal law, including people who are:

  • Convicted of a felony crime
  • Subject to a restraining order
  • Convicted of certain domestic violence offenses
  • Addicted to illicit substances
  • Fugitives from justice
  • Deemed “mentally defective” or have been committed to a mental institution
  • Illegal immigrants or individuals who entered the U.S. under a nonimmigrant visa
  • Dishonorably discharged from the military

In addition to these federal restrictions, Texas state law prohibits people who are convicted of family violence assault or individuals subject to a family violence protective order from possessing a firearm.

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TX defense lawyerShoplifting is one of the most common crimes in the country. In fact, it is estimated that there are over 500,000 incidents of shoplifting every day in the U.S. Most people know that taking something from a store without paying for it is against the law. However, few realize the consequences that retail theft can lead to. Shoplifting in Texas can damage your personal reputation, limit your employment opportunities, and in some cases, even lead to jail time.

Shoplifting Falls Under the Category of Theft

Unlike other states, there is not a law in Texas that specifically deals with shoplifting. If you are caught shoplifting, you face charges for theft. While shoplifting often brings to mind images of someone stuffing stolen items in a jacket or bag, this is not the only form of shoplifting that can result in criminal charges. Other situations that can lead to theft charges include:

  • Using a self-checkout register and not scanning every item
  • Returning a stolen item for cash or store credit
  • Changing barcodes or price tags on items
  • Working with a cashier who agrees to under-ring items or “forgets” to scan items

It is also a criminal offense in Texas to possess a device used to facilitate shoplifting. For example, some individuals use aluminum-lined bags nicknamed “booster bags” to prevent anti-theft devices from functioning correctly. Manufacturing, distributing, or merely possessing a device such as this is punishable by a heavy fine and jail time in Texas.

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