Despite aggressive prosecution of drug crimes in Texas, an arrest and conviction on drug charges does not always that a defendant be locked up for the rest of his life. Possession of drugs can result in a number of different sentences, and the result can often depend largely on the legal representation an arrestee has.
A 48-year-old Fort Worth man, convicted of rape and serving a life sentence, was recently exonerated due to new DNA testing. The man was convicted in 1989, based on the testimony of 14-year-old who picked him out of a line-up, despite the fact that his fingerprints did not match those found at the crime scene. New DNA testing has now proven his innocence.
Headlines can sometimes seem like a joke, but being accused of a drug crime is not. Recently a Baptist minister, a board-certified physician, and two office workers were accused of running a pill-mill after police raided a large-volume pain clinic associated with a Baptist church in Houston, Texas. The group runs a well-intentioned, inner-city oasis for those who have few options; now they are accused of organized criminal activity.
Sometimes Facebook can be the source of problems for people, since an admission of a criminal act on the website is admissible in court. But, a conversation on Facebook regarding the status of two brothers serving a prison sentence, led to a new trial and their release last week.
The collection of DNA is a major tool employed by police departments in Texas and across the country. The proper collection of DNA is also important to the criminal defense of a person accused of a serious crime. Some law enforcement agencies in the United States collect DNA samples from individuals who have been arrested but the collection is completed without a warrant. An arrest is not a conviction because an individual is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, and the collection of DNA without a warrant may violate the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure. The U.S. Supreme Court may review a case on the issue.
Proper sentencing is an integral part of criminal defense, and sentencing for juveniles in Texas and across the United States forever changed with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling that bars mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders. The Supreme Court ruled last week that laws requiring minors convicted of murder to be sentenced to life in prison violate the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Since the February shooting of Trayvon Martin, stand-your-ground laws and their relation to criminal defense have been in the news across the country. More recently, Texas's stand-your-ground law, referred to as the Castle Doctrine, has also been in the local news because of a deadly dispute between neighbors.