Arrested for Spanking Your Child? Montgomery County Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan Can Defend You

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

Spanking Your Children is Legal in Texas

Spanking as a form of corporal punishment to discipline children has been used since ancient times and continues to be used as an effective method by parents to raise children into healthy, productive adults.

Texas is among the Bible Belt states of the American South, so it is no wonder then that most people continue to live by the well-known saying “spare the rod or spoil the child” based on Proverbs 13:24 – Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Corporal punishment is also still legal in Texas schools. In fact, parents must sign forms at the beginning of each school year if they don’t want their kids to be paddled. According to the most recent records available, in 2011-2012, more than 4 out of 10 Texas school districts struck unruly students, often with a wooden paddle.

Texas law even gives the parent the duty of reasonable discipline of their child.  The spanking of children as a form of reasonable discipline is legal, but there are limits.

Punishment for Child Abuse in Montgomery County

When corporal punishment crosses the line, CPS considers it to be child abuse. If the child is under the age of 15, the alleged abuser can be charged with Injury to a Child, a Third Degree Felony, which carries a range of punishment from 2 to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  If the child is 16 or 17, the alleged abuser can be charged with Assault on a Family Member, a Class A Misdemeanor, which carries a range of punishment of up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

When does corporal punishment cross the line? The brief answer is when it causes a physical injury that results in substantial harm but before we address this issue of substantial harm let’s first review the relevant law.

Texas Law on Reasonable Discipline of the Child

The Texas Family Code (TFC) in Section 151 states that a parent has the duty of reasonable discipline of the child.

Furthermore, TFC Section 151.003 states that “a state agency [such as CPS] may not adopt rules or policies or take any other action that violates the fundamental right and duty of a parent to direct the upbringing of the parent’s child.”

So, does spanking a child fall under a parent’s duty of “reasonable discipline”? Of course, it does. The law explicitly allows for corporal punishment (such as spanking) and only limits the people who can administer it.

TFC Section 151.001(e) states that corporal punishment for the reasonable discipline of a child may be used but only by a parent or grandparent of the child; a stepparent of the child who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child; and an individual who is a guardian of the child and who has the duty of control and reasonable discipline of the child.

TFC Section 261.001 defines abuse of a child, in part, as physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, excluding reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm.

The Texas Penal Code may also provide a legal defense if you are charged with Injury to a Child or Assault on a Family Member. Specifically, Section 9.61 states that the use of force, but not deadly force, against a child younger than 18 is justified:

  • if the actor is the child’s parent or stepparent or is acting in loco parentis to the child; and
  • when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is necessary to discipline the child or to safeguard or promote his welfare.
  • For purposes of this section, “in loco parentis” includes grandparent and guardian, any person acting by, through, or under the direction of a court with jurisdiction over the child, and anyone who has express or implied consent of the parent or parents.

These two codes both address reasonable discipline but in different ways.  The Family Code allows corporal punishment (such as spanking) that does not cause substantial harm.  The Penal Code allows force, but not deadly force.  The meaning of deadly force is obvious, the meaning of force that is not deadly is vague, so what about substantial harm?

According to Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Rule Section 700.455, substantial harm, in part, means real and significant physical injury or damage to a child that includes but is not limited to any of the following:

  • substantial or frequent skin bruising;
  • substantial cuts, welts, lacerations, or pinch marks;
  • skull or other bone fractures;
  • damage to cartilage;
  • brain damage;
  • subdural hematoma;
  • soft tissue swelling;
  • impairment of or injury to any bodily organ or function;
  • any other internal injury otherwise not specified;
  • permanent or temporary disfigurement;
  • burns;
  • scalds;
  • wounds, including puncture wounds;
  • bite marks;
  • poisoning;
  • concussions;
  • dislocations;
  • sprains;
  • or any other cruel act that causes pain or suffering to the child.

The same TAC section defines “reasonable discipline” as:

discipline that is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree; does not constitute cruelty, reckless behavior, or grossly negligent behavior; and is administered for purposes of restraining or correcting the child. It shall not include an act that is likely to cause or causes injury more serious than transient pain or minor temporary marks. The age, size, and condition of the child; the location of the injury; and the frequency or recurrence of injuries shall be considered when determining whether the discipline is reasonable and moderate.

This issue of spanking children, using corporal punishment and the exercising of a parent’s duty of reasonable discipline of the child is controversial among many far left liberals, but is considered part of the cultural norm in Texas.  Unfortunately, CPS is known to make referrals to law enforcement for a minimal injury (such as a slight bruise) that a child may sustain when he or she is spanked or paddled by a loving parent who cares about their character development and future. And, worse, many CPS agents and judges share the opinion that a single bruise anywhere on the child’s body constitutes child abuse. And, because this is an opinion crime in which reasonable minds may disagree, it is important to find an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Montgomery County Injury to a Child Defense

James Sullivan graduated from the Trial Lawyers College founded by legendary lawyer Gerry Spence. Sullivan has a proven record of defending parents accused of Injury to a Child or Assault of a Family Member because they used corporal punishment as a means of reasonable discipline of their children.  Sullivan has worked to get four such cases dismissed by the grand jury.

Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at (281) 546-6428 about your allegations of child abuse in the areas of Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond), Brazoria County (Angleton), Matagorda County (Bay City),  Waller County (Hempstead), Washington County (Brenham), Liberty County (Liberty), and Chambers County (Anahuac).

This is one of Sullivan’s many reviews on AVVO:

Excellent Attorney with proven results

Being arrested for the first time, I wasn’t sure who to turn to for help. Long story short, I did something that I shouldn’t have, spanked me daughter with an umbrella. I was under a lot of stress and it didn’t help that her behavior was drastically changing for the worst. The next day I was questioned by the police. I waived my rights and told the police of the incident. Consequently, I was charged with a felony, Injury to a child.

I was new to Houston and I had no family or close friends. Not knowing any better I first hired the worst attorney in Houston. It was the worst experience EVER. The first meeting went well. He said that he had worked with the prosecutor, he knew the judge personally and that he has dealt with similar cases recently. I paid him the full retainer fee. I felt that I was in good hands until we spoke the next day. His tone, demeanor and attitude had changed. I believe his intentions were to have me indicted then charge me thousands of dollars to attempt to get me probation. He didn’t even consider presenting the case to the Grand Jury. I felt frustrated, hopeless and stuck.

After speaking to my husband we decided to hire another lawyer. After doing hours of research we agreed to speak to attorney Jim Sullivan, and boy we are glad we did! He was very knowledgeable, straightforward and caring. He offers free consultations and his charges are reasonable. Our first 2 conversations lasted about 30-45 mins. I explained everything that happened in detail, he helped me understand the law and spoke about his previous cases. I felt a sense of relief when we ended our conversations. Unlike the previous attorney we had hired, Mr. Sullivan knew what he was doing. Mr. Sullivan told us that we would need to prepare a Grand Jury packet, he explained the process and told me exactly what he needed. Two weeks after submitting the packet to the Grand Jury, my case was dismissed!!!!!!!

There are MANY things that I liked about Mr. Sullivan; he’s the person who picks up when you call (not a receptionist), he is flexible, he accepts payments plans, he is honest, he responds to calls/text within hours, he listens without interrupting, he works outside regular business hours (weekends, after 6p), he treats you like you are his priority and he is very caring. The only thing that I didn’t like about this experience was the fact that I didn’t find him sooner. I would definitely recommend Mr. Sullivan to family and friends.

–Posted by Abbie on December 19, 2016

Stalking Defense | Montgomery County Criminal Lawyers

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

Conroe, Texas Stalking Defense Attorneys

Stalking is a serious felony offense. Stalking allegations in Montgomery County can arise from different situations, such as from a failed relationship where one partner still wants to maintain contact with the other partner.  And, stalking charges are often filed based solely on the accusations of the alleged victim.

If a law enforcement officer in Texas has probable cause that an accused committed the offense, the officer has authority to immediately arrest that person without a warrant. Even if a proper investigation did not take place, an immediate arrest for stalking could still occur based on the accusations.

Stalking charges can result in serious punishment and consequences, including lengthy prison time and a large fine.  Such a conviction can also adversely impact your future, such as by losing many educational, employment, housing and public assistance opportunities. However, if you have been charged with a stalking offense, it is important to know that you do not necessarily have to face a criminal conviction.

It is important to hire an experienced Montgomery county criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for stalking do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences. In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a very difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury.  Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Conroe who will fight for you.

If you have been charged with the criminal offense of stalking in Montgomery county or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428.  Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

Stalking in Montgomery County

According to section 42.072 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with stalking if the person, on more than one occasion and in the same course of conduct that is directed specifically at another person, knowingly engages in conduct that:

  • the person knows or reasonably should know will be regarded as threatening bodily injury or death to the alleged victim, a family member or household member of the alleged victim, or another person the alleged victim is dating;
  • the person knows or reasonably should know will be regarded as threatening damage to the alleged victim’s property;
  • causes the alleged victim, a family member or household member, or person they are dating to be fearful of death, serious bodily injury or property damage;
  • would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death to themselves, a family or household member, or person they are dating; and/or
  • would cause a reasonable person to fear their property will be damaged.

Punishment for Stalking in Conroe

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the felony punishment for stalking in Houston.

A first stalking offense is charged as a third degree felony.  A conviction for such a felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 10 years and a fine up to $10,000.

A second stalking offense is charged as a second degree felony. A conviction for such a felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000.

In addition to the punishment described above, a person that has been convicted of a stalking offense may suffer any of the following penalties and consequences:

  • A criminal record;
  • Unable to apply for certain jobs, professions or occupations;
  • Unable to be admitted into certain educational programs;
  • Ineligible to own or possess a gun or firearm;
  • Ineligible to receive certain kinds of governmental assistance;
  • Ineligible to vote or hold public office;
  • Loss of certain professional licenses; and/or
  • Public humiliation and embarrassment.

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Montgomery County Stalking Lawyer

James Sullivan graduated from the Trial Lawyers College founded by legendary lawyer Gerry Spence. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout Texas.

Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428 about your stalking charges in Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond), Brazoria County (Angleton), Galveston County (Galveston), Matagorda County (Bay City), Waller County (Hempstead), Washington County (Brenham), Liberty County (Liberty), Chambers County (Anahuac), Jefferson County (Beaumont) and throughout Texas.

Kidnapping Defense | Montgomery County Criminal Lawyers

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Conroe, Texas Kidnapping Defense

Kidnapping is a serious felony offense and occurs when a person intentionally or knowingly abducts another person—usually a child. Kidnapping of children most commonly occurs when a couple is separating or divorcing. The people involved are often parents, relatives, or guardians of the victim and the circumstances are both legally complicated and emotionally charged.

It is important to hire an experienced Conroe criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for kidnapping or a related offense do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences. You may have been acting fully within your rights and could be eligible for a reduction or dismissal of your charges under the Texas Penal Code. In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt. With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury.  Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Conroe who will fight for you.

Montgomery County Kidnapping Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with kidnapping in Harris County, Fort Bend County, Montgomery County, or any of the surrounding counties, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428. Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

Restrain vs. Abduct under Texas Law

In Texas criminal law, these two terms are very important. The difference in meaning between these terms as applied to the facts of your case could affect the seriousness of the charges against you, how your case is handled and whether or not your case has the potential to be dismissed by the grand jury or prosecutor.

According to section 20.01(1) of the Texas Penal Code, “Restrain” means to restrict a person’s movements without consent by moving the person from one place to another or by confining the person. Restraint is “without consent” if it is accomplished by:

  1. force, intimidation, or deception, or
  2. any means, including acquiescence of the victim, if:
    1. the victim is under 14 years of age and the parent or guardian have not acquiesced; or
    2. the victim is between 14 to 17 years of age and is taken outside of the state and outside of a 120-mile radius from the victim’s residence and the parent or guardian have not acquiesced in the movement.

According to section 20.01(2) of the Texas Penal Code, “Abduct” means to restrain a person without consent with intent to prevent his rescue by holding the individual in a place where he is not likely to be found or by threatening violence.

Kidnapping related charges

The purpose of defining restraint and abduction in the code is to provide guidance on how the three different kidnapping related offenses should be charged. These three related offenses are unlawful restraint, kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping.

Unlawful Restraint

According to section 20.04 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with unlawful restraint if he restrains another person. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the person restrained was younger than 14 years of age; the actor was a relative of the child; and the actor’s sole intent was to assume lawful control of the child.

Unlawful Restraint is a Class A Misdemeanor, except the offense is a:

  1. State Jail Felony if the person restrained is under 17 years of age; or
  2. Third Degree Felony if the actor recklessly endangers the victim; or the actor restrains a public servant.

Kidnapping

According to section 20.03 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with kidnapping if he abducts another person. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the abduction did not involve threats of violence; the actor was a relative of the person abducted; and the actor’s sole intent was to assume lawful control of the victim.

Kidnapping is a Third Degree Felony.

Aggravated Kidnapping

According to section 20.04 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with kidnapping if he abducts another person with the intent to:

  1. hold him for ransom;
  2. use him as a shield or hostage;
  3. facilitate the commission of a felony or the flight after the attempt or commission of a felony;
  4. inflict bodily injury on him or violate or abuse him sexually;
  5. terrorize him or a third person;
  6. interfere with the performance of any governmental or political function.

A person commits an offense if the person abducts another person and uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense.

Kidnapping is a First Degree Felony, except a Second Degree Felony is possible if the defendant voluntarily releases the victim in a safe place.

The penalties for these offenses are severe and can significantly impact your future, such as by losing many educational, employment and housing opportunities. A conviction for kidnapping will also prevent you from ever owning or possessing a firearm. An experienced Montgomery County kidnapping defense lawyer will be able to review your case and fight to get your charges dismissed or reduced.

Punishment for Kidnapping related offenses in Texas

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the punishment for kidnapping related offenses in Texas.

A Class A Misdemeanor is punishable by up to a $4,000 fine; confinement in jail for up to 1 year; or both.

A State Jail Felony is punishable by between 180 days to 2 years in a state jail; and by up to a $10,000 fine.

A Third Degree Felony is punishable by between 2 to 10 years in prison; and up to a $10,000 fine.

A Second Degree Felony is punishable by between 2 to 20 years in prison; and up to a $10,000 fine.

A First Degree Felony is punishable by between 5 to 99 years or life in prison; and up to a $10,000 fine.

Depending on the facts of the case, there may be mitigating circumstances that reduce the severity of the charges. These circumstances include the age difference between the victim and the defendant, the relationship between the victim and the defendant, whether violence was used against the victim and other ulterior motives of the defendant. It is important to contact an experienced Houston kidnapping lawyer to learn if any of these mitigating circumstances might apply in order to get your case reduced or dismissed.

James G. Sullivan & Associates | Montgomery County Kidnapping Defense Attorneys

James Sullivan graduated from Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, the most selective and prestigious trial advocacy program in America. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout southeast Texas.

Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428 about your kidnapping charges in Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond) or Brazoria County (Angleton).

Unlawful Restraint Defense | Montgomery County Criminal Lawyers

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Unlawful Restraint

Conroe, Texas Violent Crime Attorneys

In the United States, people have the freedom to live and move about freely. Thus it is illegal to interfere with a person’s liberty against his or her will by restricting the person’s movements, by moving the person from one place to another or by confining the person. Because illegal restraint or confinement can leave long lasting psychological trauma on victims, the laws regarding unlawful restraint are strictly enforced by Texas law enforcement and prosecutors frequently seek severe punishment. If you have been charged with unlawful restraint, it is important that you contact an experienced violent crimes defense lawyer.

Montgomery County Unlawful Restraint Attorneys

If you have been charged with unlawful restraint in the Greater Houston area, including Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Bellaire, Spring, Humble, Pasadena, Channelview, Conroe, The Woodlands, Hempstead, Richmond, Sugar Land, Missouri City, Pearland, Angleton, Friendswood and Galveston, you can contact the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates at (281) 546-6428 for a free phone consultation and case evaluation. They are experienced criminal trial lawyers who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

What is Unlawful Restraint in Texas?

According to §20.02 of the Texas Penal Code, a person can be charged with unlawful restraint if he or she intentionally or knowingly restrains another person without consent by using force, intimidation, or deception. However, unlawful restraint can be done by any means, including acquiescence of the victim, if:

  • the victim is a child less than 14 years of age or an incompetent person and the parent, guardian, or person or institution acting in loco parentis has not acquiesced in the movement or confinement; or
  • the victim is a child between 14 years of age or older and younger than 17 years of age, the victim is taken outside of the state and outside a 120-mile radius from the victim’s residence, and the parent, guardian, or person or institution acting in loco parentis has not acquiesced in the movement.

In addition, there are affirmative defenses which might be used by the defense to get the charges dismissed.

Punishment for Unlawful Restraint in Montgomery County

Unlawful restraint is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, however it can be enhanced to a State Jail Felony if the victim was a child less than 17 years of age.

It can also be enhanced to a Third Degree felony if the offender recklessly exposes the victim to a substantial risk of serious bodily injury, the offender knowingly restrains an on duty public servant, or the offender while in custody restrains any other person.

According to Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code, a person charged with unlawful restraint can receive any of the following punishment and consequences if they are convicted of the offense:

  • A person convicted of a Class A misdemeanor can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, and/or a fine of up to $4,000;
  • A person convicted of a State Jail felony can be sentenced between 180 days to 2 years in a state jail, and a fine of up to $10,000; and,
  • A person convicted of a Third Degree felony can be sentenced between 2 to 10 years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.

Although the punishment for unlawful restraint is less severe than that of kidnapping, it is still a serious offense. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will provide effective and aggressive representation.

Unlawful Restraint Defense in Conroe

If you have accused of unlawfully restraining someone in Harris County, Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Waller County or Brazoria County, contact the law offices of James G. Sullivan and Associates. We are experienced defense lawyers in northwest Houston who will make every effort to help you receive the best outcome for your particular case.  Call (281) 546-6428 for a free phone consultation and case evaluation, the first step in providing you a strong defense.

Aggravated Assault | Montgomery County Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Conroe Texas Aggravated Assault Defense

Aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon is a serious felony offense in Montgomery County Texas. A conviction for aggravated assault can result in severe penalties, including lengthy prison time and a large fine.  Such a conviction can also adversely impact your future, such as by losing many educational, employment, housing and public assistance opportunities.  A conviction for such a crime of violence will also prevent you from ever owning or possessing a firearm.

It is important to hire an experienced Conroe criminal defense lawyer because criminal charges for aggravated assault do not have to result in a conviction and the resulting lifelong consequences.  In order to convict you, the state prosecutor must prove to a jury that you committed every element of the felony offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  With an experienced trial lawyer defending you, this is a very difficult burden to meet, and any reasonable doubt in the mind of any of the members of the jury can result in a not guilty verdict or a hung jury.  Therefore, it is vital to contact an experienced criminal attorney in Conroe who will fight for you.

If you have been charged with the criminal offense of aggravated assault in Montgomery county or any of the surrounding counties in Texas, contact James G. Sullivan and Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428.  Attorney James (Jim) Sullivan is an experienced trial lawyer who will fight for your rights, freedom and future.

Aggravated Assault in Conroe

According to section 22.02 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual can be charged with aggravated assault if they cause serious bodily injury to another or use or exhibit a deadly weapon during the commission of an assault offense.

According to section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual can commit assault in Texas if they intentionally or knowingly cause or threaten to cause bodily injury to another person, or cause offensive physical contact to another person.

What is Bodily Injury and Serious Bodily Injury in Texas?

According to section 1.07(a)(8) of the Texas Penal Code, “bodily injury” means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.

According to section 1.07(a)(46) of the Texas Penal Code, “serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

What is a Deadly Weapon in Texas?

According to case law, three things can qualify as deadly weapon:

  1. firearms;
  2. anything manifestly designed, made, or adapted for the purpose of inflicting death or serious bodily injury; or
  3. anything else that in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.

Examples of Deadly Weapons

There are not many deadly weapons listed as such per se.  According to Section 46.01 of the Texas Penal Code, deadly weapons commonly used during the commission of aggravated assault offenses can include any of the following:

  • Clubs
  • Explosive weapons,
  • Firearm,
  • Handgun,
  • Illegal Knife (such as a knife with a blade over five and one-half inches; a hand instrument designed to cut or stab another by being thrown; a dagger, including but not limited to a dirk, stiletto, and poniard; bowie knife; sword; or spear.)
  • Knife,
  • Knuckles,
  • Machine gun,
  • Short-barrel firearm,
  • Switchblade knife
  • Chemical dispensing device, and
  • Zip gun.

Deadly by Manner and Means of Use

Furthermore, according to case law, there is an extensive list of things that can be proven to be deadly by the way the accused used them during the commission of the aggravated assault offense, including:

  • HIV
  • Hammer
  • Pipe
  • Fire
  • Hand
  • Foot
  • Coke bottle
  • Leg of a bar stool
  • Ax handle
  • Motor vehicle
  • Shank
  • Screwdriver
  • BB gun
  • Wooden stick
  • Dustpan
  • Gasoline
  • Dumpster in which a baby is discarded

Punishment for Aggravated Assault in Montgomery County

Chapter 12 of the Texas Penal Code lists the felony punishment for aggravated assault in Conroe.

Aggravated assault is usually charged as a second degree felony.  A conviction for such a felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine up to $10,000.

However, aggravated assault can be charged as a first degree felony if the assault was committed against:

  • a family member or significant other and causes that person serious bodily injury;
  • a public servant while the public servant was discharging an official duty
  • a security officer while the officer is performing a duty as a security officer; or
  • in retaliation against a witness, prospective witness, informant, or person who has reported the occurrence of a crime.

A conviction for a first degree felony is punishable by a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Criminal charges for aggravated assault can also result in a first degree felony conviction if the accused is:

  • in a motor vehicle,
  • knowingly discharges a firearm at or in the direction of a habitation, building or vehicle,
  • is reckless as to whether the habitation, building or vehicle is occupied,
  • and causes serious bodily injury to any person.

The punishment for this offense is also a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

Defenses to Aggravated Assault in Montgomery County

Occasionally, and in certain circumstances, there may be legal defenses available to aggravated assault.  It is important to discuss with an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney the elements of your criminal charges as that attorney can evaluate your case and advise you as to any appropriate defense.

  • Self-Defense.  According to Section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code, a person is permitted to use force, and sometimes deadly force, against the immediate threat of injury or bodily harm.
  • Lack of a Deadly Weapon.  If your criminal defense attorney can show that a deadly weapon was not present, used or exhibited during the commission of the assault offense, the state prosecutor may reduce or dismiss the aggravated assault charges against you.
  • Lack of Intent.  Intent is a required culpable mental state to all assault offenses.  If your criminal defense lawyer can demonstrate that you did not have the requisite intent to commit assault, the state prosecutor may reduce or dismiss the aggravated assault charges against you.

Grand Jury Defense for Aggravated Assault Charges

If you are accused of aggravated assault, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away because he may be able to win your case at the grand jury.  Once your felony case has been indicted by the grand jury, this option is no longer available.  Attorney James Sullivan has fought and won many felony cases at the grand jury level throughout his almost 20 years of legal practice, including over 30 felony cases in just the past few years.  When a case is dismissed (no billed) by the grand jury, the accused has the immediate right to seek an expunction of the felony charge from their record.  Sullivan has been able to do this for many of his clients accused of felony offenses.  One of his many client reviews on AVVO:

Thanks Mr. Sullivan for getting my son’s aggravated assault charge dismissed by the grand jury in Montgomery County

On March 4, 2016, my son was arrested and charged with aggravated assault in Montgomery County. Around 1am that night 5 men came to my son’s apartment in 2 different vehicles, one stolen along with guns, ski masks and gloves. My son heard them outside and looked from the balcony and saw one of them attempting to steal his car. Afraid and uncertain he grabbed his gun and yelled “get the hell away from my car!” The other 4 guys were heading to his apartment so my son fired 3-4 warning shots with the intention to scare them away. Unfortunately he struck one of them in the chest and they took off.

Not realizing at the time that one of them was hit he went back into the apartment. A couple hours later my son’s apartment was surrounded by state police and detectives. After receiving a phone call from the officers telling him what he had done he was left to surrender, but before he surrendered and afraid to go outside he dismembered the gun because he didn’t want the officers to think he was armed and dangerous.

Four days later we hired criminal defense lawyer James Sullivan to defend my son. That same day James visited my son in the jail and began to investigate his case. My son’s bond was $100,000 and he was a first time offender with a good history and awesome background, however he had gotten into a situation and we needed the best lawyer with a lot of experience and knowledge regarding criminal matters.

James Sullivan asked the prosecutor to hold the case from the grand jury so he could prepare a defense and also fought to get his bond lowered. After 3 court and bond hearings, James got the bond lowered from $100,000 all the way down to $15,000 and then we got him out. James then worked meticulously with my son, prepared and turned in a defense packet. A month later the grand jury dismissed my son’s aggravated assault, however the prosecutor pushed for and got an indictment for tampering with evidence. The next day James went to court and fought to get a low bond on the new case of only $1,500 so that my son would not go back to jail.

We were thrilled to get the aggravated assault charge dismissed because it was the most serious but fully expected him to have to plead to the new charge. However at the next court hearing James Sullivan refused to settle and persuaded the prosecutor to do the right thing and dismiss the tampering charge as well. James knew that my son was not only a first time offender but also a hard working young man that was afraid for his life and simply defended himself and his property at nighttime. After an almost 6 month ordeal, my son got his life back. I have never personally met Mr. Sullivan. I live several states away, but he handled these cases as if I was a resident in Texas. I am so pleased with his good work that not only would I highly recommend him to others but I will definitely keep him around. Hopefully we will never need his services again but if we do James Sullivan is definitely the man that you can count on to help you and defend you properly.

–Posted on August 25, 2016

James G. Sullivan and Associates | Montgomery County Aggravated Assault Attorney

James Sullivan graduated from the Trial Lawyers College founded by legendary lawyer Gerry Spence and was invited to join The National Trial Lawyers organization. Sullivan has a proven record of defending people from all walks of life, faiths and countries in courts throughout Texas.

Contact James Sullivan & Associates for a free phone consultation at 281-546-6428 about your aggravated assault charges in Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond), Brazoria County (Angleton), Galveston County (Galveston), Matagorda County (Bay City), Waller County (Hempstead), Washington County (Brenham), Liberty County (Liberty), Chambers County (Anahuac), Jefferson County (Beaumont) and throughout Texas.

Certainly each case is different.  Similar results may not be obtained in your case and past performance is no guarantee of future results.

CaseFactsResult
Aggravated AssaultClient believed he was about to be robbed by 2 men outside a bar; client claimed self-defense.Not guilty
Aggravated AssaultClient, a disabled vet, shot and seriously wounded a former friend who was high on drugs, broke in his house right after being ordered to leave the premises and attempted to attack him.No billed
Aggravated Assault in Montgomery CountyClient shot and seriously wounded a violent felon who was trying to steal his car at nighttime.No billed
Aggravated Assault Family ViolenceClient accused of throwing a 12 lb glass trophy at his father and hitting him in the back.No billed
Aggravated Assault Family Violence (Felony Habitual)Client accused of slashing her ex-girlfriend's face. A witness at the scene supported client's version that her ex-girlfriend attacked her first with a broken wine bottle and cut her wrist and that her ex-girlfriend was accidentally injured in a struggle over the bottle.No billed
Aggravated AssaultJuvenile client accused of attacking an older boy with a handmade weapon after the older boy came over to his house to kill him.Dismissed on trial date
Aggravated Assault Family ViolenceClient accused of trying to run her baby's daddy over with her Jeep and with their young son on the front passenger seat and in view of two nearby independent witnesses. In reality, he threw his bicycle in front of her Jeep to cause her to come to a screeching halt and then cursed at her. After she drove off, he lied to the witnesses about what happened.No billed
Aggravated Assault Family MemberClient shot his brother in the side after his brother stabbed him in the arm. The client's brother was high on synthetic marihuana.No billed
Aggravated AssaultClient accused of shooting another guy's motorcycle twice while the guy was on it after the guy had broken the client's custom table.No billed
Aggravated AssaultJuvenile client ran over drug dealer to save friend's life. The complainant suffered a broken hip. The case was re-filed as a Failure to Stop and Render Aid and then the new case was also later dismissed.Dismissed
Aggravated Assault Family ViolenceJuvenile client was accused of threatening her mother with a steak knife.Dismissed
Aggravated Assault Family ViolenceClient accused of intentionally trying to drive into and strike his girlfriend.No billed
Aggravated AssaultJuvenile client was accused of threatening to stab classmate in the neck with a pair of sharp scissors.Dismissed
Aggravated Assault Family ViolenceClient with mental illness stabbed his girlfriend in the arm and upper back. State only offered prison time.Deferred Adjudication after PSI hearing
Aggravated Assault Family ViolenceClient accused of intentionally driving into and hitting the new girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend.No billed
Aggravated AssaultClient accused of hitting man in head with beer bottle outside a bar; client claimed self-defense.No billed
Aggravated Assault Against a Public ServantPolice Officer shot at 4 unarmed teenagers in a truck and claimed that client pointed a gun at him. State only offered prison time.No billed
Aggravated AssaultClient accused of hitting other woman in head with metal pole.No billed
Aggravated AssaultClient allegedly brandished a knift and threatened another guy who had stolen his property.No billed
Aggravated AssaultJuvenile client accused of threatening several other juveniles with a baseball bat.Dismissed on trial date
Aggravated Assault in Montgomery CountyClient accused of pistol whipping 4 teenagers that endangered him and his family by egging the front windshield of his car early in the morning and causing him to run off the road, causing over $4,000 in damages to his car. Case reduced after case was set for trial.Reduced to misdemeanor unlawful restraint with deferred
Aggravated Assault in Galveston CountyClient was accused of threatening a woman with a firearm. Case reduced to misdemeanor after it was set for trial.Reduced to misdemeanor assault
Aggravated Assault in Brazoria CountyAt age 16, Juvenile client got into a fight with an 18 year old drug dealer that resulted in the dealer requiring brain surgery. The State only offered 5 years determinate probation or to certify him as an adult with deferred adjudication. Sullivan insisted on a jury trial or a regular probation that could be sealed at age 19. The State finally backed down and agreed to 9 months probation.Juvenile probation instead of certification as adult

Conroe Texas Theft Crime Attorney | Montgomery County Theft Defense Lawyer James Sullivan

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

courtroomMontgomery County Theft Crimes Defense Law

Conroe Texas Theft Crime Defense Lawyer James Sullivan represents clients on misdemeanor and felony theft offenses in Conroe and the surrounding counties.  Theft of any amount is a very serious crime.  It is a crime of moral turpitude (dishonesty) and a conviction for theft can negatively affect you for the rest of your life.  You really cannot afford a conviction for theft on your record.

Each year, hundreds of people contact Montgomery County Criminal Attorney James Sullivan in order to get their theft convictions expunged from their record because they cannot get a job, but unfortunately a theft conviction cannot be expunged or sealed (non-disclosed).  Young people especially may not know about or consider the far-reaching effects of having a theft conviction on their record.  Attorney James Sullivan can discuss with you the possible options in order to later get your criminal case sealed or expunged.

Call Conroe Theft Crime Lawyers James Sullivan at (281) 546-6428 for a free consultation.

A person commits theft if he unlawfully takes another person’s property without their consent and with the intent to deprive the owner of the property [Texas Penal Code Sec. 31.03].  Obviously, if he did not intend to take the other person’s property, then it is not theft.  For example, in an alleged shoplifting case, if you place a case of beer on the rack under your shopping cart, forget about it and then walk out of the grocery store without paying for it, you should not be held responsible.  Or, if your child puts an item in your shopping bag without your knowledge and you leave the store without paying for it, you should not be convicted of theft.

If you have been charged with shoplifting or any other theft related crime, you need a Conroe theft crime attorney to represent you.  You may face serious consequences if you have been arrested for theft in Conroe or the surrounding area.  Your penalties will vary depending on the value of what you allegedly stole and other factors.  Theft crimes include shoplifting, hot checks, fraud, embezzlement and identity theft.  Theft crime can range from class C misdemeanor (such as a traffic violation level offense) to 1st degree felony.  Burglary of a motor vehicle is a class A misdemeanor.  Auto theft is usually charged as a felony offense unless the value of the motor vehicle stolen is less than $1,500.  Other felony theft related crimes include credit card abuse (state jail felony), burglary of a building (state jail felony) and burglary of a habitation (2nd degree felony).

Montgomery County theft crime lawyer James Sullivan will discuss with you the seriousness of your charge and the various effective defense strategies that are best suited for your particular case.  Before you make your plea in court, it is important that you consult a theft crimes defense lawyer.  Conroe Criminal Attorney James Sullivan gets proven results.

Contact Houston theft crime trial lawyers James Sullivan and Associates at (281) 546-6428 for a free initial consultation and case evaluation.

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Montgomery County Texas Court Information

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Courtroom-Witness-StandMONTGOMERY COUNTY COURTS

 

County Court at Law 1

Judge Dennis Watson

Atrium Building

210 West Davis

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-539-7831

Fax: 936-538-8090

 

County Court at Law 2

Judge Claudia Laird

Atrium Building

210 West Davis

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-539-7832

Fax: 936-788-8357

 

County Court at Law 3

Judge Patrice McDonald

301 North Main

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-539-7973

Fax: 936-760-6942

 

County Court at Law 4

Judge Mary Ann Turner

210 West Davis, Suite 400

Conroe, Texas 77301

Phone: 936-538-8174

Fax: 936-760-6904

 

County Court at Law 5

Judge Keith Stewart

210 West Davis, Suite 250

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-538-3615

Fax: 936-538-3617

________________

 

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Montgomery County District Courts

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

MontgomeryCourtSealMONTGOMERY COUNTY DISTRICT COURTS

9th District Court

Judge Kelly Case

Montgomery County Courthouse

207 West Phillips, Suite 306

Conroe, Texas 77301

Phone: 936-539-7866

Fax: 936-788-8381

 

221st District Court

Judge Lisa Michalk

Montgomery County Courthouse

301 North Main

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-539-7808

Fax: 936-788-8364

 

284th District Court

Judge Cara Wood

Montgomery County Courthouse

301 North Main, Suite 201

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-539-7861

Fax: 936-538-3572

359th District Court

Judge Kathleen Hamilton

Montgomery County Courthouse

300 North Main

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-539-7900

Fax: 936-538-8187

 

410th District Court

Judge K. Michael Mayes

Montgomery County Courthouse

301 North Main

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-539-7860 or 281-364-4200

Fax: 936-538-8160

418th District Court

Judge Tracy A. Gilbert

Montgomery County Courthouse

301 North Main, Suite 217

Conroe, Texas 77301

Phone: (936) 538-3618

Fax: (936) 538-3660

 

435th District Court

Judge Michael Seiler

Montgomery County Courthouse

301 N. Main, Suite 107 – Offices

301 N. Main, Suite 113 – Courtroom

Conroe, Texas  77301

Phone: 936-538-3532

Fax: 936-538-3619

________________

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Montgomery County Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan Explains Juvenile Law

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

teen crime - kid in handcuffsJUVENILE LAW IS NOT CRIMINAL LAW 

Juvenile law is not criminal law. There are fundamental differences between these two areas of law. Many criminal defense attorneys are not aware of these differences nor are they aware of the significant ongoing changes in juvenile law enacted by the Texas legislature. The proper representation of juveniles is a complex and multi-disciplinary practice that requires knowledge of both civil and criminal law.

Legal Knowledge Required for Effective Juvenile Representation

A Montgomery County Juvenile Attorney at minimum must have a thorough understanding of the relevant interacting Texas law, including:

  • the Juvenile Justice Code,
  • the Penal Code,
  • the Family Code,
  • the Code of Criminal Procedure,
  • the Rules of Evidence,
  • the Controlled Substances Act, and
  • the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

The Montgomery County Juvenile Lawyer must also understand other issues such as the psychosocial and psychological development of adolescents. For a successful juvenile defense, all of these factors, including the facts of the case, must be thoroughly evaluated. 

Woman wearing handcuffs looking ashamedEvolution of Texas Juvenile Law

Historically, juvenile law focused on rehabilitation of the youth. However, it is now an area which also looks toward punishment and, as a result, juvenile records and adjudications can affect your child for years to come. Indeed, for the most serious offenses, a child could be made to stand trial as an adult, and if found guilty could have a criminal conviction that could follow him the rest of his life. For sex offenses, juveniles can be made to register as a sex offender until age 28. Even a misdemeanor offense could affect his future education and employment.

What is Deferred Prosecution?

Deferred prosecution (pretrial diversion) may be an option for some. It is a contractual agreement with the prosecutor that can enable a juvenile to avoid an adjudication (conviction) on his juvenile record. If a juvenile fulfills the requirements of a six month deferred prosecution, then the prosecutor will non-suit (dismiss) the case, and the juvenile then has the immediate right to petition the court to seal his records. Even though the prosecutor is opposed to deferred prosecution in many types of cases, Montgomery County Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan is effective in persuading courts to grant deferred prosecution anyway.

juvenileboyanklecuffedJuveniles in Texas Must Be Represented by a Lawyer 

Texas law requires all juveniles in juvenile court to be represented by an attorney. Great care should be taken in selecting an attorney who can effectively represent your child in juvenile court. Even seemingly simple cases can involve complex legal issues that could become a nightmare for parents with a less knowledgeable or inexperienced attorney.

Consequences of Violating Juvenile Probation 

It is natural that teenagers go through a period of rebellion as they make their way through adolescence, and of course some teens rebel more than others. However, if your child is on probation, it is very important that he follow the rules. If he breaks the rules, he may be removed from his home and placed in a juvenile facility or for felony cases committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) up to the age of 19. Obviously, each case is different and must be evaluated on an individual basis.

Children Need Effective Representation to Get Best Result 

Many parents have the opinion that their child got himself in trouble despite their best efforts and therefore they are not willing to spend any money on a defense attorney, or worse they encourage their child to talk with the police without first consulting an attorney. These approaches, however, have led to many heartbreaking realizations later on. Your child is a blessing. Decisions made during these difficult years of his adolescence are critical to his future well-being. Your child needs an attorney who not only can relate to and counsel him but also who specializes in juvenile law and can effectively represent him. Be proactive and make your decision on retaining an attorney wisely.

Montgomery County Juvenile Defense Attorney James Sullivan 

Conroe, Texas Juvenile Defense Attorney James Sullivan is very passionate about defending, counseling and inspiring his juvenile clients to get on the right path, to stay in school and to plan for the future.  He wants all of his clients to have a successful future, just as all parents want their children to do better than they did. He strives to keep his clients at home and to keep their record clear, although he realizes that some are so out of control that for their own safety they need to be placed in a secure facility or residential drug treatment center. Many teens need the adversity and discipline of an out of home placement such as at boot camp to learn to accept responsibility for their actions, to stop blaming others for their behavior and to build character.

Montgomery County Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan is Board Certified in Juvenile Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Note: Among the more than 83,000 active lawyers in Texas, there are only 38 lawyers Board Certified in Juvenile Law in private practice. The other 27 such lawyers work for the government. 

Contact Montgomery County Juvenile Lawyer James Sullivan

Montgomery County Juvenile Lawyer James Sullivan handles all juvenile offenses in the juvenile courts in Montgomery County and throughout the state of Texas. 

TBLS-Logo-tag-RWhether your child is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, Board Certified Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan can provide effective representation and advice. Don’t let one mistake ruin your child’s future. To schedule a free confidential consultation, call Conroe Juvenile Attorney James Sullivan at 281-546-6428.

 

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Montgomery County Criminal Record Expunction and Nondisclosure Lawyer

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

gavelbookflagMontgomery County Texas Criminal Record Expunction Lawyer

If a person took their felony or misdemeanor case to trial and was found not guilty the offense for which they were charged, that person can get their criminal record expunged.  Also, in a felony offense, if the case was no billed (dismissed) by a grand jury, that person can also get their criminal record expunged.

Call Conroe Texas Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan at (281) 546-6428 to get your criminal records sealed or expunged.

Comparing Expunction to Non-Disclosure (Sealing) 

The sealing or Non-Disclosure of a Criminal Record is different from the Expunction of a Criminal Record.  The Non-Disclosure process mainly applies to those who pled guilty to a criminal offense, received Deferred Adjudication probation and successfully completed it.  However, if a person hires a Houston criminal defense attorney, fights their case at trial either before a Judge or a Jury and is found not guilty, that person can get his criminal record expunged.  The two other ways to seek an Expunction is when the Grand Jury no bills (dismisses) the case or the Prosecutor dismisses the case.  However, with a dismissal by the prosecutor, the person may have to wait until the statute of limitations passes.  With a dismissal by the grand jury, the person has the immediate right to get their records expunged.

Contrasting the Effect on the Criminal Record between Expunction and Non-Disclosure

When a criminal record is expunged, the criminal records cannot be released, maintained or disseminated.  In fact, the person who has had their records expunged can legally deny ever having been charged or arrested and can even deny the existence of the expunction order.

By contrast, when a person’s criminal record is sealed (non-disclosure), that person is not required to disclose or mention their criminal record when applying for a job.  Because the record is sealed, the public employer will not have access to the criminal record.  However, certain state entities may receive the criminal history from a criminal justice agency.  These entities include as an example: State Medical Examiners; State Board for Educator Certification; public or non-profit Hospital Districts; Board of Nurses; a School Board District including private and charter schools; and other licensing authorities and State agencies.

Clearly, an Expunction is much better than a Non-Disclosure.  For that reason, before you consider a probation or a conviction, talk to a Conroe criminal lawyer who can evaluate your case, aggressively represent you and whose legal fees are affordable, reasonable and fair. James Sullivan is a seasoned criminal trial lawyer.

Contact a Conroe Criminal Lawyer

Contact James Sullivan and Associates for a free consultation at (281) 546-6428 about your case or situation in Harris County (Houston), Montgomery County (Conroe), Fort Bend County (Richmond), Brazoria County (Angleton), Matagorda County (Bay City),  Waller County (Hempstead), Washington County (Brenham), Liberty County (Liberty),  Chambers County (Anahuac) and Jefferson County (Beaumont). 

James Sullivan is an experienced Conroe Texas Criminal Trial Lawyer who gets results and will work hard to get you the best result for your particular situation.

You can call Montgomery County Criminal Lawyer James Sullivan right now at (281) 546-6428 to discuss your case.

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