If you are being tried for a misdemeanor or felony charge in Texas, the outcome of your case will depend on the evidence presented by both the prosecutor and defense team.
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If your arrest followed a traffic stop in Houston, any video recordings of the event can be powerful evidence in showing what actually happened during the stop.
Video Evidence Can Prove Guilt or Innocence
Video evidence can be an effective way to prove an individual’s guilt or innocence to a jury. It can condemn them by showing the defendant in the act of committing a crime or placing them at the scene of a crime, but it can also show that you did not commit the traffic violation you were stopped for, that your behavior during the stop did not indicate that you were impaired or intoxicated, there were inaccuracies in the police officer’s testimony or report of the stop, and that law enforcement did not follow proper procedures during the stop or arrest.
If you get pulled over by the police in Houston, or witness suspicious activities during a traffic stop, a good idea would be to record the stop using your cellphone’s video camera.
Is Videotaping Your Traffic Stop Legal in Texas?
Contrary to what a police officer may tell you, it is perfectly legal to record public officials, such as those in law enforcement, while they are performing their official duties. You do not require their consent, either. Texas state law allows recording with the consent of just one party to the conversation.
Although videotaping your traffic stop is your legal right, you can’t interfere with their investigation. If an officer asks you to move back or give them room, obey their wishes. Announce your intention to record the events to the officers. As always, remember to be polite and never physically resist a law enforcement officer. If an officer asks you to stop recording, remind them that you are exercising your rights under Texas state law and the U.S. Constitution.
Know Your Rights
Police cannot seize your phone, demand to see any footage or photos, or delete any photos or videos. Despite this, there continue to be cases of law enforcement officers in Texas ordering people to stop taking photographs or recording videos and harassing, detaining and arresting those who do not obey.
Police have dash-cams and body-cams that are supposed to record the stop. But these measures are more to protect them than to protect you. In some cases, especially those in which the civil rights of a suspect may have been violated, police departments and prosecutors choose not to share this evidence with the defendant’s lawyers; the footage somehow gets destroyed or goes missing; or the cameras weren’t turned on or working properly during this particular incident.
Answers to Your Questions About Criminal Defense
Getting arrested can be a huge headache. It can come up when you’re applying for a job, college, a mortgage, or even renting housing. And unlike your credit report, which only goes back 7-10 years, a criminal arrest can stay on your record for life. The are two ways to make sure an arrest does not come up when an interested party looks; expungement and orders of non-disclosure.
In Texas, you can petition the court to have your arrest expunged from the public record. If the court agrees, it will be as if the arrest never happened. You can legally say that you were never arrested.
Texas record sealing, also known as orders of non-disclosure, does not completely remove the arrest from the public record like expungement, but it does seal it from view by most parties. City officials will still see the arrest, but orders of non-disclosure might help you get that job or an apartment.
Neither of these outcomes are easy to obtain. You’ll need an experienced attorney like Lisa Shapiro Strauss to help you through the process.
Your attorney will likely ask you a LOT of questions during your first meeting in order to get to know you and your case. In addition, you may also be asked to fill out a written questionnaire. The questions may seem like they never end, but this is an important part of the process.
You’ll also be asked to bring documentation to your meeting. Documents such as arrest and bail paperwork, as well as written info regarding court dates are very important. If you have any evidence in your favor, such as photos or witness contact info, you should bring those as well.
Come to this first meeting with a long list of your own questions to ask your lawyer, such as their experience with cases similar to yours, their success rate, initial thoughts about your defense, and more.
An officer of the law is required to read your Miranda Rights before interrogating a suspect. But this rule is not always as simple as TV shows make it appear. You may need a lawyer to make sure you are interpreting the situation clearly.
Two factors determine when your rights must be read — custody and interrogation. If your rights are read to you and you are taken into custody and interrogated, then anything you say can be used in the case against you. If you were arrested and questioned without your rights being read, then the prosecutor generally can’t use what you said against you. But in either of these situations, the question of exactly what “custody” is might not be as obvious as it seems. Along the same lines, when does an interrogation actually begin?
And even if you find that your rights weren’t properly read, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your case will be dismissed. You could still be found guilty of the crime in question.
Speak with a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney about Your Rights
If you have been arrested on a misdemeanor or felony charge in Houston, a guilty or innocent verdict will be decided by the evidence the state has against you. Experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer Lisa Shapiro Strauss is here to protect your rights. She has the legal skills and expertise to thoroughly examine the evidence in your case and use it to your advantage.
If you’ve been charged with crime in Houston, please schedule a free consultation with Lisa Shapiro Strauss today.