By: Mark Diaz
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What Are The Top 5 Crimes In Texas?
According to Google, these are the top five crimes in Texas. That’s pretty much true in my criminal defense law office in Galveston as well. Although I thought, surely in those top five would be the assault of a family member, but it didn’t make the cut. So let’s talk a little bit about each one.
Drug Crimes In Texas
No. 1 drugs. I’ve talked so much about drug cases that I don’t know that there’s much else I can say. You have drugs classified in different penalty groups, what penalty group they’re in and the drug quantity would determine the level of the charge, be it a felony, or misdemeanor.
We do see misdemeanor drug cases and they usually involve pills. None of the penalty group one drugs, or the hard stuff, cocaine, methamphetamines, heroin, etc… can be charged as a misdemeanor. Penalty group one drugs are always charged as a felony.
However, there are times in “less than a gram cases” that we can get those charges reduced to possession of drug paraphernalia, which is a misdemeanor. Again, no shocker that drug offenses are the number one crime in Texas. We get drug case calls weekly.
Theft Crimes In Texas
No. 2 is theft. We see a lot of theft cases come through the office as well. A lot of the theft cases are misdemeanors, shoplifting cases, people trying to steal from Walmart, and whatnot. We don’t get a whole lot of simple misdemeanors.
In this office, we deal with more serious issues. Theft, sort of like with drugs, the penalty range increases for the dollar amount of the theft. Recently here in the paper, there was a woman who was alleged to have stolen $180,000 from the company that she worked for. That’s theft. Obviously with $180,000 she’s looking at a felony theft charge.
Aggravated Assault In Texas
No. 3 is aggravated assault, which is generally a second-degree felony carrying a range of a minimum of two years, a maximum of 20, and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Aggravated assault can be charged in two ways.
One is because of the injuries. The simplest way to think about it is, if the injury causes a person to lose, even just for a period of time, the function of a body part, that’s an injury that can be considered aggravated. Damage to the eye, broken arm, anything that causes you to lose function of the body would classify as an aggravated assault.
The second way to commit aggravated assault is to use or exhibit a deadly weapon during the initial assault. Don’t bring a knife to a fistfight and there won’t be an aggravated assault charge.
Burglary In Texas
No. 4, which again, doesn’t surprise me very much, is burglary. The main two ways we see burglary, especially in this office, is burglary of a habitation and burglary of a building. The distinction is that with habitation, the structure is built for someone to occupy as a home.
You can commit the offense in an empty house or a house that no one’s living in, if you enter without permission, and with the intent to commit a theft, or some other felony. If someone wants to break into a vacant house to steal appliances, that is still going to be burglary of a habitation.
Burglary of a building is different. That would be the one we see most often. Burglary of someone’s storage shed, not attached to the property, or a business that is clearly not meant to serve as a habitation. The next way we see burglary a lot is burglary of a motor vehicle.
This is, if you listen to social media, a big problem in Galveston. I’m not sure if that’s true, I’ve never dug down on the statistics to know if we have a bigger problem than anywhere else. It just gets bounced around on social media a lot.
There are a lot of burglaries of motor vehicle cases that we see in this office. Burglary of a motor vehicle is what it sounds like, someone breaks into someone else’s vehicle and steals usually something visible, a purse or backpack. The best thing that you can do in that respect is not leave things visible in your automobile. It’s less likely to get broken into. Those are the most common burglaries we see.
Robbery In Texas
No. 5 is robbery. Robbery is very interesting. People can turn simple misdemeanor thefts into robbery simply by resisting. We’ve had several cases where a person is suspected of shoplifting, the store’s loss prevention people attempt to get them at the exit of whatever store it is, and instead of complying and going with loss prevention, they will use force to try and flee the scene. That effort just made it into a robbery.
The easiest way to think of it is robbery is committing theft but then using force in the commission of that theft. At that point, you’re charged with a robbery. Here in my office, we don’t see a whole lot of plain robbery cases. We do see aggravated robberies, which is when you’ve introduced a deadly weapon to commit the theft. Pulling a gun on someone and taking their purse, that’s aggravated robbery. We have more aggravated robbery cases in my office than we do just plain robbery.
That’s all I got there on the top five most common crimes in Texas.
How do I defend them?
Every case and every set of facts are different. There’s not a set way I can say that I defend any one case.
Defending Drug Charges In Texas
In drug cases, there’s a lengthy analysis, how were the drugs discovered? Where were the drugs? Did the officers have probable cause to commence a search? There are so many things that we have to go through, including laboratory testing on the drugs. No two drug cases are alike.
If the encounter with the accused begins with an automobile, then I have to see if the stop of the automobile was lawful. If I determined that it was, then the next step is, did the officer have any reason to detain the person beyond the reasonable amount of time that it should have taken to deal with the traffic offense?
In other words, if you’re stopped for turning without your blinker, what can the officer say to articulate a legal sufficiency to further detain you beyond writing you a ticket for failing to use your signal? If he can not give a reason, then I might be able to win that case. There’s so much that goes into an analysis.
Defending Theft Charges In Texas
Theft cases are often not dealt with in the same way either, it would depend on the nature of the theft. I have a theft case right now, which involves a trailer that my client is alleged to have stolen, but the video quality is extremely poor. From my perspective, I believe it’s impossible to identify who the person on the video is. So that case is still pending. I don’t know where we’ll get with that, but without something more solid, I don’t know that the state is going to get to it on that trailer theft, simply because I can’t identify the person on the video.
I have other cases where the businesses that are stolen from have cameras that make me go wow, their ability to zoom in on a person, their ability to get the details, the ability to pan them the cameras, some businesses invest real money in their cameras.
In those cases, they’re much harder to defend. In defending a theft case, we’d look at what the evidence is and figure out the best way to go forward.
Defending Aggravated Assault Charges In Texas
Aggravated assault again is tough to say how I would defend because each case is so different, especially because now you’re going to have what the state is going to believe is a victim.
There could be self-defense issues, what is the history of the parties, what led to the event that resulted in someone being charged with aggravated assault, were there drugs or alcohol involved, there’s just so much that we have to look at in each case of aggravated assault.
Defending Burglary And Robbery Charges In Texas
Burglary and robbery are the same. You’re starting to see a lot more people with cameras at their house. I think that most of that is due to the invention of the ring camera catching people getting into people’s vehicles. A lot of people will catch something on their ring doorbell or camera system.
Obviously, they alert the police, but then they also put it on social media, trying to identify the person that was getting into their car in the middle of the night. That’s kind of an interesting twist. We have to, again, look at the video quality to determine whether or not someone can be identified.
I had a case a while back where the defendant had a pantyhose over his head but the person’s camera system was so good that you could still tell that it was my client. Another funny thing about the cameras is that sometimes when you can’t identify the face, you can identify tattoos. That has happened.
I have another case right now where my client is accused of stealing something and that house had video as well, but the video is such that there’s no way it could have been my client. The person on the camera and my client are close to 200 pounds different. In that case, the video helps me to show that it’s not my client accused of that theft.
Contact A Galveston Criminal Defense Lawyer
Mark Diaz is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Galveston County serving Galveston, Texas City, Alvin, League City, La Marque, and the surrounding areas.