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Shoplifting more than $1,500 in Texas can cost you

The state of Texas doesn't deal kindly with shoplifters. Even those accused of taking an item worth $20 could receive a $500 fine and up to a year in jail. First time offenders and those taking things that the court considers basic survival items, such as non-luxury food items, may receive more lenient sentencing. Overall, however, repeat offenders and those taking items for personal pleasure may face serious consequences for shoplifting in Texas. For those accused of shoplifting something worth $1,500 or more, the charges could increase from misdemeanor charges to felony theft charges.

Felony theft charges carry hefty punishments, including between 180 days and two years in jail and a fine of as much as $10,000. If you're facing felony theft charges over alleged shoplifting, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Possessing butane hash oil in Texas is a serious criminal offense

Marijuana has remained popular for decades despite its illegality. Many times, the distinct odor associated with the plant is what helps law enforcement find people who are using or cultivating this prohibited plant. Marijuana users and growers have found a way to minimize that risk - creating butane hash oil. Also called BHO, wax, oil or shatter, this marijuana concentrate comes from chemically extracting the active ingredients in marijuana. While it often retains some of the smell of the plant, it is often fainter and easier to conceal. BHO is also many times stronger than plant-form marijuana.

For those facing charges from law enforcement for possession of BHO and attendant paraphernalia, the penalties are steep. Possessing any amount of BHO, hash or other marijuana concentrate is a felony under Texas state law. If you are facing charges over possession of a marijuana concentrate, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney right away!

Invoking the Fifth Amendment doesn't always work

Most Texas residents know they can invoke their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent if a police officer asks them a question. The Fifth Amendment protects against 'self-incrimination' by allowing you to remain silent and ask for a lawyer.

A recent article published by Vice offers more insight on how to effectively use the Fifth Amendment. The article explains that using the Fifth in the wrong way could be just as damaging as talking to police.

Should Police Be Able To Take Your Stuff?

In Texas, the law allows law enforcement agencies to seize assets from people suspected of crimes. The law does not require that the accused be convicted or even charged with a crime. Assets can be seized on mere suspicion of criminal activity.

According to an article from the Dallas Observer, Texas law enforcement agencies have used this law to the tune of $41.5 million per year on average in assets seized. That is a lot of assets. Now though, lawmakers are pushing a bill to reform civil forfeiture law.

Possession of marijuana and the law in Texas

Over the course of recent years, the opinions of the general population of the nation regarding marijuana and its use have been steadily changing. The rise of the use of marijuana for medical purposes and the growing body of research regarding the drug have done a lot to push the idea of "reefer madness" out of the minds of most people. However, the laws of states are sometimes slow to catch up with public opinion.

This idea was recently exemplified by a California grandfather who was driving into Texas to visit his granddaughter. According to various news sources, Philip Blanton was driving from his home in California to the Houston, Texas area to visit his 20-year-old granddaughter who is currently battling Stage 4 Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Unfortunately for Mr. Blanton, he was pulled over by police on his way for speeding. During the stop, police found doctor-prescribed medical marijuana and cookies containing marijuana extract in his vehicle before arresting him.

Texas Is No Longer The Leader In Executions

Texas has gained a notorious reputation for using the death penalty more than any other state. More than 500 people have been executed here since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. However, according to an article from Dallas News, this year marks a substantial decline in executions. Is this a sign that Texas is lightening up on criminals?

Knowing when to seek help for financial issues

Texas residents may experience financial problems from time to time. However, individuals who are consistently making late payments or have not gotten around to creating a budget may benefit from a talk with a credit counselor so that they can learn more about their options when it comes to overcoming financial issues.

Those who are afraid to pick up the phone or get their mail for fear of creditor calls or letters may benefit from a credit counselor. These professionals may make debtors aware of their rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act that limits when and where debt collectors may try to contact them. When an individual understands his or her rights, it may make it easier to focus on making money and paying down debt.

Strategies for paying off costly credit card debt

Many reasons could cause Texas residents to rack up high credit card bills. A job loss or medical crisis could put someone who normally keeps up with the bills into debt. To tackle it, a person could consider transferring a balance to a new credit card or getting a loan from a 401(k) retirement account.

Numerous credit card companies offer zero percent interest on balance transfers to entice people to sign up. This interest-free period could last several months or even over a year. Although a balance transfer fee will likely be imposed, the cost will be lower than paying high interest rates. While the balance is not accruing interest charges on the new credit card, the person could focus on paying down the debt.

National bankruptcy trends

Bankruptcy has been a serious concern throughout the nation, especially in the years following the 2007 recession. While the rate of filings has finally begun to decline on a national scale, the greatest levels have been recorded in states in the South. Texas residents considering bankruptcy may not be concerned with national statistics, but they may want to evaluate the personal benefits and challenges related to proceeding with this action.

Bankruptcy is often viewed as a last resort for addressing personal finances that have become unmanageable. Chapter 7 is the most common option for personal bankruptcy, which allows for many types of debt to be discharged. However, it is important to understand that state laws can affect one's assets. In some of the states experiencing high levels of bankruptcy, many assets can be seized by creditors to satisfy some of a debtor's obligations. The long-term impact can also be significant. In some cases, it can be difficult to obtain financing in the form of loans or credit cards after going through bankruptcy.

Determining bankruptcy estate assets in Texas

A bankruptcy court in Massachusetts has held that an attorney who accepted $10,000 in legal fees must turn it over to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee. The judge in the case found that the money was earned prior to the bankruptcy being filed by the attorney, which means it was part of the bankruptcy estate. The attorney billed his client $291, $8,924, and $2,070 at various times after asking for Chapter 7 protection from creditors.

This ruling was in response to a motion filed by the trustee overseeing the man's assets. He did try to argue that the money was earned after the case was filed, which would not make the money part of the bankruptcy estate. In a Chapter 7 case, non-exempt assets are liquidated with the proceeds used to pay off creditors.

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