Criminal charges can turn lives upside and offer an uncertain future. They can lead to hefty fines, imprisonment, and a lasting social stigma. Convictions remain on your criminal record and may even inhibit your ability to obtain jobs and live the way you want. Dallas criminal lawyers Keith and Kevin Harris are former prosecutors who understand the dangers of a criminal conviction.
The following answers do not constitute official legal advice and are for informational purposes only. Contact Harris & Harris Law Group today for advice about your specific legal situation.
What is the difference between DWI and DUI?
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a charge for individuals who drive while above the legal limit for alcohol. The legal limit is measured by blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is 0.08 percent for most drivers and 0.04 percent for commercial drivers. Punishments typically involve license suspension, fines, and jail time.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a crime that occurs when individuals under 21 consume any alcohol and drive. If a driver under the age of 21 has a BAC beyond the legal limit, the individual may also be charged with a DWI.
If someone leaves an illegal substance in my house or car, can I be charged with possession?
Potentially, yes. This situation is known as "constructive possession," which means a person knows about the object and has the ability to control it. Often, the law considers you in constructive possession of the objects in your car or home. Similarly, if you are exposed to an illegal substance, or if you are a minor and come into contact with alcohol, you may be charged with possession.
How long do sex offender registrations last?
Some sex crimes, such as indecent exposure to a child, require the convicted individual to register as a sex offender for 10 years, at which point the individual can deregister. Despite this, many convictions require sex offenders to register for the rest of their lives.
How do I eliminate an offense on my criminal record?
In many cases, the information on a criminal record is permanent. However, if a judge defers a determination of guilt and allows you to serve a probation period, you may apply for non-disclosure of the crime once the probation is completed. This essentially removes the crime from your record.
Additionally, if no charges were filed against you, the charges were dismissed, or you were acquitted or otherwise forgiven due to actual innocence, you may expunge the offense from your criminal record.
What must the prosecution prove in a criminal case?
In most criminal cases, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the act with criminal intent. The standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the highest standard of proof in the law, and such a standard requires that the jurors or judge have little if any doubt that the defendant is guilty. “Criminal intent,” also known as “mens rea,” indicates that an individual was aware of his or her criminal actions.
How do I defend myself from a criminal conviction?
Dallas criminal defense attorneys Keith and Kevin Harris know how to provide you with a strong defense against criminal charges. Having worked as both prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys, they have unique insight into the Texas justice system. Keith and Kevin can use this experience to help you effectively fight fines, prison time, and other penalties that can come with a criminal conviction.