Houston Misdemeanor Lawyer
JUVENILE CRIME DEFENSE
As an Assistant Harris County District Attorney, James Alston prosecuted all types of Texas misdemeanor cases, including:
- Drug offenses
- Driving while license suspended
- Evading arrest
- Family violence
- Public lewdness
- Resisting arrest
With over 100 jury trials, he has extensive experience with the investigation and trial of all types of misdemeanor crimes in Houston, Texas or any of the surrounding areas. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor offense contact James Alston today.
MISDEMEANOR CHARGE EXPERIENCE
While employed with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Mr. Alston was a chief prosecutor in the misdemeanor division. He supervised misdemeanor prosecutors and was responsible for teaching them trial advocacy skills.
As a prosecutor, Mr. Alston has worked in many of the Harris County Criminal Courts and has extensive courtroom experience in front of many Harris County judges. Let James Alston put this experience to work defending you.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MISDEMEANOR AND A FELONY?
In most counties in Texas, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is what court the case is in. Often, misdemeanors are in county courts and felonies are in district courts. The big difference between misdemeanors and felonies is the length of punishment.
A Class A misdemeanor is the highest degree misdemeanor and the maximum punishment is one year in jail and up to a $4,000 whereas felony starts at a state jail or a fourth degree felony, which is called a state jail felony, and that punishment is from 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a $10,000 fine. The next felony is a third-degree, and the next is a second-degree. The most serious felony is a first-degree felony or capital felony.
CAN MY PRIOR ARREST OR CONVICTION BE SEALED OR EXPUNGED IN TEXAS?
You can only get an expungement if your case has been dismissed or if you’ve been found not guilty. An expungement is an order from a civil district court for the arresting agency and the prosecuting agency to destroy their file, which means it’s erased, as if there was never an arrest or anything like that.
The other avenue to get a case sealed is a motion for non-disclosure, and that depends on particular crimes that you’ve been charged with. You can only get a motion for non-disclosure if you’ve been placed on deferred adjudication. You cannot get a motion for non-disclosure if you’ve received any type of jail sentence or straight probation. Generally, there is a waiting period to apply for a motion disclosure, awaiting period after the period of probation has been terminated.
IS THERE EVER A LOOK BACK PERIOD WHERE MAYBE A SECOND OFFENSE IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE FIRST?
Generally, there is not a look back period where a second offense would be considered to be a first offense. Usually in the state of Texas, they will hold any prior criminal history against you so that your new offense is a second offense or higher degree offense because of your prior criminal history.
WHAT DO PEOPLE DO TO RETURN BACK TO NORMALCY AFTER A CRIMINAL CASE?
If there is a possibility of getting their case expunged or motion for non-disclosure, it helps get them back on their feet. Often, it’s best to get some type of training or maybe even start a job working for yourself.
WHAT DO CLIENTS TYPICALLY ASK DURING THEIR INITIAL CONSULTATION?
They want to know what the maximum punishment is, and they often want to know what I can predict is going to happen on their case, including whether they are going to get probation or have to do any jail time, and of course they want to know if I can get their case dismissed.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS THAT YOU ASK CLIENTS DURING THE INITIAL CONSULTATION?
I want to know if they’ve ever been in trouble before, I want to know if they’re working, I want to know about their family background and their educational background. I basically try to interview my clients to see if there is any type of mitigation evidence that can help in reducing the crime or possibly getting the crime dismissed.
CAN A CLIENT DO SOMETHING TO EXPEDITE THE CRIMINAL LAW PROCESS?
They can get any documents that may be required. Often, it’s good to have copies of diplomas, resume, character letters, anything like that can help their attorney represent them, also return any calls that their attorney may make to them, and be sure that they show up in court on time.
WHAT TYPE OF WITNESSES ARE USED IN A CRIMINAL CASE?
There are facts witnesses, which may be witnesses that actually observe the crime being committed, or those facts witnesses may be an alibi witness that could verify and validate that my client was not at the location where the crime occurred.
There is also circumstantial evidence which may be evidence that could lend one to believe that a crime was committed or maybe lend one to believe that a crime was not committed. There could be documentary evidence, some type of bank records, telephone calls, school records, any type of medical record, there could also be character witnesses which would speak to a person’s character. It may be that they do not have the trait or character to commit that type of offense, they’re not a violent person, they’re an honest person, or not one that steals such thing.
There are also expert witnesses. There may be an expert accident reconstructionist, someone who’s had training and years of experience and reconstructing how a vehicle accident may occur. There are also experts from the medical field, any type of science or forensic field.