The Legal and Financial Consequences of a Texas Identity Theft Conviction
Identity theft is a serious crime that involves stealing someone’s “Identifying information” to commit fraud or otRead More
In the Harris County Criminal Courts, some members of the judiciary routinely abuse the poor. Judicial abuse of the poor is particularly galling. Picking on poor people is cowardly at best. Yet, On any given day, poor people who manage to make bond on criminal cases, find themselves abused by some of Harris Counties less than humane judges.
These poor folks, having just made bond, appear in court alone. Often these folks ask for a court appointed lawyer. Quite often their lawful request for appointed counsel is summarily denied. A number of our judges apparently never heard of a guy named Gideon.
These judges guffaw at the request. They often incorrectly point out that the accused had sufficient funds to make bond, therefore he must have sufficient funds to hire counsel. These judges are typically wrong on both counts.
The truth is that many poor people cannot afford to hire counsel. The fact their family and friends may have scraped together enough money to make a bond is irrelevant to the ability of the accused to hire counsel.
Some judges will respond to the request for court appointed counsel with a belittling inquiry. They will publicly and indignantly question the accused about his lack of funds or foresight in not saving for this very moment. They will ask the most intimate questions about the accused’s financial status, all in front of a packed courtroom. They will humiliate the accused that is unemployed. They will chastise the presumptively innocent and order them to get a job – as if jobs are falling off of trees.This degrading process will be followed by the court giving the poor person two weeks to hire counsel- or else.
The average County or State Criminal Court Judge makes well over $100,000 a year, not counting perks. They certainly do not live in poverty. The people they are ordering to hire counsel, quite often do live in poverty. This basic fact, apparently is not basic enough for some members of our judiciary to get it. So here is some raw data to perhaps help them understand.
Minimum wage remains at
$7.25 an hour. That’s $58 a day, or $290 a week. If a minimum wage worker manages to work 40 hours a week, every week of the year, he or she will make $15,080. That’s all he or she will make. I wish our judiciary would ponder for a moment just how little that is. I wish they would ponder for a moment just how ridiculous it is for them to expect anyone making that little, to find the money to hire counsel.
I wonder how some of our judges would do if they were living in poverty? I wonder how they would do on $15,080 a year? There would be no fundraisers. The poor don’t have self -aggrandizing fundraisers to generate additional money. That is the province of the privileged few. I often wish those in power, who rule in such an ugly manner, would trade places for just a day with those who stand before them.
The Federal Poverty Line (FPL) is the set minimum amount of gross income that a family needs for food, clothing, transportation, shelter and other necessities. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines what constitutes the Federal Poverty Line.
The Federal Poverty Line for a family
of 1 is $11,490. The Federal Poverty Line for a family of 2 is $15,510. A minimum wage worker, likely does not have sufficient funds to provide food, clothing, transportation, shelter and other necessities for his family. That being the case, It is beyond absurd for anyone to expect a minimum wage worker, a poor man , to find money to hire counsel. It’s cruel, pointless and mean-spirited to order a poor man to do that which common sense dictates he cannot do.
In Texas, the number of families that live in poverty has increased. In 2000, 15.4% of Texans lived in poverty. By 2010, 16.8% of Texans lived in poverty. So the situation is not getting better.
The Harris County Criminal Court Judiciary needs to take a look at themselves. The pervasive, long-standing verbal humiliation and abuse of the presumptively innocent poor needs to stop. It’s disgraceful, ignores Gideon, and it’s Un-Texan.
I suspect those who perversely enjoy beating up on the poor, are the least likely to engage in any meaningful introspection or change. The low odds on any judicial epiphany, Do not keep me from pointing out the need. Hell, it’s Sunday, maybe a bolt of lighting will strike.
Client was charged by Federal Indictment with making a social media post that threatened Malicious Damage and Destruction of a Building by Means of Fire and Explosives in violation of Federal law. The Defense showed that Client was a law-abiding citizen. The Defense further showed that the alleged threat was not made with any criminal intent.
The client, a public official with a long history of public service, was accused by a former girlfriend of engaging in non-consensual sexual relations. The Defense investigation and analysis showed through a detailed timeline that the allegation made absolutely no sense. Phone records, including calls and texts, were relied on to help establish an accurate timeline. The Defense met with law enforcement and reviewed a detailed package that exonerated the accused.
Client, a Houston area professional who frequently travels for work, was accused by his wife of assaulting her in his family home. Defense showed that wife’s story lacked credibility and there was no physical evidence in support of the wife’s allegation.
The client, a young Black male, was driving his car when police pulled him over for no apparent reason. It looked to be a profile stop. The client was accused of possessing a controlled substance in his vehicle. The Defense showed that there was no lawful basis for the police to stop the Client’s car. The Defense also showed that there was no lawful basis for the search of the Client’s car. It was a bad search, so the seized evidence was not admissible.
Client charged in Federal Indictment In “Operation Wrecking Ball” with 55 named co-defendants. Client faced seven charges. Client was charged with Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine and Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering. Client was also charged with four counts of Distribution of Cocaine and one count of Money laundering.
Allegations involved client’s alleged use of his home to distribute cocaine. Government’s lengthy investigation involved numerous wiretaps, surveillance, video, pole cams, search warrants, vehicle stops and use of cooperating co-defendants.
Client went to trial with four remaining defendants. After a two-week trial, Judge granted Motion for Acquittal on four of the seven charges. Jury found Client Not Guilty of remaining three charges.
Client charged in Federal Court with two counts of Wire Fraud related to Five SBA EIDL loan applications. The Government alleged the client, a Houston professional, defrauded the Small Business Administration out of over $150,000. The Client faced up to 20 years in prison on each count. The Defense investigated the case and negotiated a deal that included the Government not opposing a probation. The Federal Guideline calculation was for a prison sentence and the Probation Department recommended a prison sentence. Attorney Fickman submitted a 90 page Defense Sentencing Memorandum asking for Probation.
Client was retired professional. Client was accused of being involved in a road rage incident in 1960 Area. Defense put together a 100 page memorandum that demonstrated complainant was actual aggressor.
Client was accused of touching child. Case involved thousands of pages of psychiatric and Child Protective Services records as well as investigations by multiple police departments. After three- year fight, case dismissed.
Client accused of shoving and knocking down family member causing injury. After investigation, charges were dismissed.
Client was accused of knocking disruptive student against the wall. Videotape of incident was obtained. Witnessed located and interviewed. On the day of trial, case was dismissed
Identity theft is a serious crime that involves stealing someone’s “Identifying information” to commit fraud or other illegal activities. “Identifying information” includes:
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