How Is Property Division Decided in a Divorce in Texas

Property Division In A Divorce

Anyone who is considering divorce should understand how property division is decided in a divorce case in Texas. As the Texas Family Code makes clear, Texas is a community property state. Accordingly, in a Texas divorce, property owned by the spouses will need to be classified as community or separate property, and then the court will consider various factors in determining how community property is divided. Depending upon the circumstances of the divorce case, it may be possible for the spouses to reach an agreement through mediation in which they determine how property division will occur.

When you have questions or concerns about how property division will be decided in a divorce in Texas, seek advice from Attorney John E Choate, Jr. In the meantime, we want to provide you with more information that can help you to understand how property division works under Texas law.

Classification of Community and Separate Property

Married couples in Texas typically have both separate property and community property. Community property is property that belongs to the marriage (the “community”), and it will be divided in a divorce. The first step in determining how property division will be decided is classifying separate and community property appropriately. In general, community property will be divided in “a manner that the court deems just and right.”

How can you tell the difference between community and separate property? Community property usually includes any property acquired after the date of the marriage unless it was an inheritance left to only one spouse, was acquired with one of the spouse’s separate assets, was a gift to only one of the spouses, was a recovery for personal injuries, or was expressly excluded in a prenuptial agreement. Any property acquired before the marriage is separate property, though earnings on that property are usually community property. Otherwise, the court will divide most other property acquired after the date of the marriage.

Factors in Dividing Community Property

What does a “just and right” division of property look like in Texas? In deciding how to divide community property in a manner that is just and right, the court can consider various factors, such as:

    Ages and health of the spouses

    Education and employability of the spouses

    Length of the marriage

    Amount of separate property owned by each spouse

    Children from the marriage and costs associated with child-rearing

    Fault in the breakup of the marriage

    Fraud on the community (i.e., one of the spouses intentionally used or wasted community assets)

Dividing Community Property through Divorce Mediation

In some divorce cases, it may be possible for the spouses to play a much more significant role in determining how property division is decided if they go through divorce mediation. In mediation, the parties may be able to reach an agreement about how community property will be distributed between them.

Seek Advice from Attorney John Choate, Jr.

Whether you have concerns about the classification of community and separate property, or you need advice about how community property may be distributed in your divorce, Attorney John Choate Jr. can assist you. He has years of experience assisting clients in a wide variety of divorce matters, and can speak with you today about your case. Contact him at 936.441.2999

Texas Voting: The Unknown

Voting in the State of Texas

We are in full swing of early voting in the Great State of Texas.  This is Primary Election season, but it won’t be long and the General Election will be here. The 2008 US Census Bureau says that only 63% of all people registered to vote did. That doesn’t seem that bad, until you realize that only 72% of America is even registered to vote. In reality, only 45% of America is even voting in these elections, even though they could determine the fate of the country.

Primary vs General Elections

I spoke to friends last week who weren’t aware we were in election season.  Adults who forgot their civics education in high school.

In the Primary elections, voters indicate their preference for their party’s candidate (Democrat or Republican) for the upcoming general election.  This includes local, state and national elections.  In the Primary election there may be 1 or 12 persons running in your party for a position.  Voting in the Primary election narrows the names down to one person in your party to run in the General Election in November.

In the General Election, this is the final vote for your local, state and national elections.  The winners of the various primary elections are the remaining choices for the open positions.

What Do I Need to Vote?

First, you must register to vote.  Applications to vote are very accessible.  You can register when you apply for your drivers license or go to the Library.

You must be at least 17 years and 10 months when you apply.  The application must be received in the County Voter Registrar’s office or postmarked 30 days before an election in order for you to be eligible to vote in that election. 

All voters who registered to vote in Texas must provide the following:

  1. A valid Texas driver’s license number
  2. Texas Personal Identification Card number (issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety.)
  3. Texas Election ID Certificate
  4. Texas Handgun License
  5. U.S. Citizenship Certificate with Photo
  6. U.S. Military ID Card with Photo
  7. U.S. Passport (Book or Card)

What Can I Bring Inside the Voting Booth?

If you feel you need a little help remembering, you can bring printed materials, including a sample ballot into the voting booth with you.  You are NOT allowed to use a cell phone or other devices that can be used to take photographs.

The Art of Voting!

I recommend doing your research on each candidate and then, GO VOTE!

Should you have any legal questions, contact Conroe Law Office, Attorney John E. Choate, Jr. at or 936.441.2999

Consultations are Free.

Deadly Conduct: An Assault Charge in Texas


We’ve all lost our temper at some point or another, and as you’ve most likely experienced yourself, often everything ends up resolved.

Some situations, however, only end when assault charges are filed. What you may not know is there’s more to assault charges than what you see in the movies or on television in a barroom brawl.

When you’re the kind of Texan who exercises your right to bear arms regularly… there’s an increased chance of being charged with “deadly conduct” should an altercation arise.

Deadly Conduct Charges in Texas

The Texas Penal Code (Sec. 22.05) defines deadly conduct as a crime committed when one person “recklessly engages in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.” It is a term for several specific types of assault and heavily focuses on the potential harm of firearms.

Deadly Conduct Charges Usually Accompany Reckless Behavior

Deadly Conduct Charges Usually Accompany Reckless Behavior

While there is some overlap between deadly conduct and aggravated assault, especially at the lower levels, deadly conduct is usually charged in cases of recklessness as opposed to situations where offenders intend to hurt someone else.

Texas Penal Code (Sec. 22.05 (c) says “Recklessness and danger are presumed if the actor knowingly pointed a firearm at or in the direction of another whether or not the actor believed the firearm to be loaded.”

Bearing Arms in Texas is a Right That Comes with Responsibility

Firearms should be handled carefully at all times. This is a basic tenet of every gun safety course on the market. Essentially, you should always act like the gun is loaded, even if you’re sure it isn’t. Otherwise, one mistake could land you a deadly conduct charge.

There are four specific ways you can potentially receive a deadly conduct charge, and there are two primary punishment levels that you might face.

Four Ways a Texan Can Land a Deadly Conduct Charge

The first way you can get a deadly conduct charge is by taking an action that puts someone else in immediate danger of receiving a severe bodily injury. This is the textbook definition of reckless behavior.

Reckless Behavior

Reckless behavior is the lowest level deadly conduct charged and carries the lightest sentence. Intense road rage or other unsafe and reckless driving practices might be considered deadly conduct by law enforcement.

Acting recklessly doesn’t necessarily involve a weapon at all, but if you’re convicted of this Class A misdemeanor offense, you could still wind up in prison for a year and/or paying $4,000 in fines.

The next three charges are all considered third-degree felonies which can lead to a decade in a Texas prison and/or debt of $10,000.

Firing Your Weapon

Texas Penal Code Sec. 22.05,(b)  A person commits an offense if he knowingly discharges a firearm at or in the direction of:(1)  one or more individuals;  or (2)  a habitation, building, or vehicle and is reckless as to whether the habitation, building, or vehicle is occupied.

Firing a gun at a vehicle or building you know is empty is fine. Practice shooting at unoccupied barns or old cars is common. Simply assuming the structure’s empty…is not.

You must do your due diligence and know for certain that you are not firing at an occupied space. Otherwise, you are legally considered reckless and subject to felony deadly conduct charges.

Pointing a Firearm at a Person

If you’re from Texas, then you grew up understanding guns should never be treated as a joke. They should never be pointed at another person upon whom you do not intend to fire. You point your firearm at the ground when it’s not in use.

Texas Penal Code 22.05 (c) Recklessness and danger are presumed if the actor knowingly pointed a firearm at or in the direction of another whether or not the actor believed the firearm to be loaded.

According to the law, even if you sincerely believe your firearm to be empty and don’t intend to fire, pointing a gun at another person is felonious deadly conduct.

Firing at a Person

This is perhaps the simplest and most clear-cut of the deadly conduct behaviors, and borders on aggravated assault (or assault with a deadly weapon). Recklessly firing a weapon at or in the general direction of another person is illegal, and considered a third-degree felony.

Firing by accident or without checking whether the area was clear before firing are two scenarios in which you could be charged. Always check and make certain that there is no one in the direction in which you intend to fire, or you are committing a crime.

As with nearly every rule, there is one exception to the rule on deadly conduct in Texas…

One Exception to the Rule on Texas Deadly Conduct: Consent

If someone has legally consented to the actions taken by the person holding a gun, then the gun-holder has a solid defense against charges. In fact, a sincerely-held belief that someone has consented to the action is enough to present a defense against deadly conduct.

For example, a person may give consent by accepting a job in which potential deadly conduct is an understood risk, or by consenting to a scientific experiment using established methods.

Furthermore, if the action did not result in actual harm, perceived consent becomes an even stronger defense.

The easiest way to avoid deadly conduct charges is to avoid acting recklessly. Always be cautious when handling firearms, and keep others’ safety in mind. The simplest defense is never being charged in the first place.

For criminal advice, contact the Conroe Law Office –John E Choate, Jr Attorney at Law for a FREE Consultation. or 936-441-2999

Could the FDA Soon Be Treating Hemp CBD as a Dietary Supplement?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may soon change its tune on hemp-derived CBD (Hemp CBD) thanks to a bill recently filed by chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and cosponsored by Reps. Thomas Massie (R-KY), James Comer (R-KY) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME).

HR 5587 is an Act “To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [(FDCA)] with respect to the regulation of hemp-derived cannabidiol and hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substances.” As of the time of this writing, the bill’s text is not available on but is provided by Marijuana Moment’s Kyle Jaeger, who wrote a great article on the bill.

If passed in its current form, HR 5587 would amend the FDCA’s definition of dietary supplement (21 U.S.C. 321(ff)(3)(B)) as shown below in bold:

The term “dietary supplement” does not include—

(i) an article (other than hemp-derived cannabidiol or a hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substance) that is approved as a new drug under section 355 of this title, certified as an antibiotic under section 357 of this title, or licensed as a biologic under section 262 of title 42, or

(ii) an article (other than hemp-derived cannabidiol or a hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substance) authorized for investigation as a new drug, antibiotic, or biological for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public,

which was not before such approval, certification, licensing, or authorization marketed as a dietary supplement or as a food unless the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, has issued a regulation, after notice and comment, finding that the article would be lawful under this chapter.

The bill would also amend the FDCA to clarify that federal law does not prohibit a person from introducing Hemp CBD into interstate commerce, as shown by the proposed amendments to 21 U.S.C. 331(ll):

The introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food to which has been added a drug approved under section 355 of this title, a biological product licensed under section 262 of title 42, or a drug or a biological product for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public (other than hemp-derived cannabidiol or a hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substance)[.]

This would be a significant change as the FDA has long held that Hemp CBD cannot be classified as dietary supplement because the FDCA’s definition of dietary supplement explicitly exempts any article that is approved or investigated as a drug unless the article was marketed as a dietary supplement or food prior to being publicly investigated as a drug. The FDA’s view is that Hemp CBD was not marketed as such prior to the investigation of CBD as a drug. The FDA could deal with this through regulation, as the FDCA does grant the FDA Secretary the authority to regulate around the definition of dietary supplement. That hasn’t happened, though, and it appears that the FDA is running out of time.

HR 5587, as currently drafted, only would apply to Hemp CBD, not other cannabinoids such as CBN or CBG. The 2018 Farm Bill encompasses all hemp-derived cannabinoids in its definition of “hemp,” so HR 5587 could encompass more than just CBD without having to amend the Farm Bill. It’s likely that this bill was drafted in light of the CBD craze over the last few years, so it isn’t all that surprising that CBD is the only cannabinoid listed. If HR 5587 picks up steam, it will be interesting to see whether the language is revised to encompass other, less popular cannabinoids, in order to prevent recurring problems.

In addition to removing obstacles related to making Hemp CBD a dietary supplement, the bill would also require the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), in consultation with other federal agencies, to submit to Congress a study on the following:

the costs and requirements for establishing and operating a hemp testing program, including the costs and requirements for operating or contracting with a laboratory approved by the Drug Enforcement Agency;
the costs and requirements for the destruction of hemp crops determined to be in excess of 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or opportunities for remediation or alternative uses;
the feasibility of producer compliance with sampling timetables;
the feasibility of producer compliance with reporting requirements; and
other known or potential challenges by the participation of States or producers in the domestic hemp production program.

It’s probably too early to tell whether this HR 5587 has a chance to become law. It was presented with bipartisan support, but the legislative process can be unpredictable. Even if this bill does eventually become law, it will likely be subject to significant changes along the way. We simply don’t have enough information at this point to know what will happen.

We do know, however, that HR 5587 sends a clear message to the FDA, and to a lesser extent to the USDA, that lawmakers are not pleased with the treatment of hemp. For the FDA, this seems to be based on the agency’s continued hostility towards Hemp CBD. For the USDA, it seems that lawmakers have heard the backlash against the USDA’s testing requirements including the need to test for total THC at DEA-certified labs.

Remember, federal agencies only exist because of federal lawmakers. They are creatures of statute, statutes that were crafted by lawmakers in Congress. If agencies fail to interpret a statute in the way the legislature wants, it has the unique power to amend the statute. That’s what is happening here.

This may seem like an outright rebuke, but in all fairness to the FDA, former commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has told Congress that a legislative change may be needed in order for the FDA to regulate Hemp CBD in a timely manner. In addition, the USDA has publicly stated that testing hemp for THC content has proved challenging.

We’ll keep an eye on HR 5587 and all things Hemp CBD. 2020 is likely going to be another big year for cannabis, especially at the federal level. Stay tuned.

Conroe Law Office John E Choate, Jr
Call for FREE Consultation 936.441.2999

Testing drivers for cannabis is hard. Here is why.

As a growing number of states legalize cannabis, health officials are increasingly sounding the alarm for technology that can quickly determine when drivers are stoned.A solution for measuring alcohol intoxication has existed since 1954: the Breathalyzer. No such technology yet exists for cannabis, but several tech startups and university scientists say they’re close to commercializing something resembling a cannabis breathalyzer. Still, others are quick to caution the answer is not that simple. Critics note the technology must detect recent cannabis use and also prove that cannabis in a person’s system impaired his or her driving. A cannabis breathalyzer that does both of those things has proven elusive, because, unlike alcohol, cannabis can stay in people’s bodies long after their “high” has worn off. Cannabis’ largest trade show is pretty ordinary, and that’s what the industry wants“We’re applying the alcohol rules to a substance that doesn’t play by them,” said Nick Morrow, a retired Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigator who now serves as an expert witness in areas such as drug symptomology and field sobriety testing.

Some legalization advocates and lawmakers want cannabis to be regulated like alcohol and a handful of states have established “per se” limits making it inherently illegal to drive with specific concentrations of the psychoactive cannabis compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in one’s system. Although the effects of alcohol have been extensively researched, the same can’t be said for cannabis.Some studies have shown that cannabis consumption can affect response times and motor performance; however, research remains limited and there isn’t conclusive evidence of how cannabis affects people and how to classify impairment. “The National Transportation Safety Board has advised that ‘about two alcoholic drinks’ within an hour will cause a 160-pound male to experience decline in visual functions and in the ability to perform two tasks at the same time,” wrote David Randall Peterman, Congressional Research Service transportation analyst, in a May 2019 report on cannabis use and driving. “Based on current knowledge and enforcement capabilities, it is not possible to articulate a similarly simple level or rate of marijuana consumption and a corresponding effect on driving ability.”

How cannabis can be detected in breath

Yet several companies and scientists say they’re close to a breakthrough: They’ve made advancements in detecting and capturing THC in breath, where it can linger for two to three hours. In July, Clinical Chemistry published the findings of a University of California-San Francisco study that showed THC could be detected in breath for up to three hours after smoking and that there’s a correlation between THC concentrations and blood concentrations for that initial period. The study was sponsored by Oakland, California-based Hound Labs, a venture capital-backed company that has raised $65 million to develop a dual alcohol and THC breathalyzer.

Hound Labs’ THC breathalyzer After a person blows into the handheld Hound device for two minutes, the cartridge is read in a separate bay that acts like a mini mass spectrometer, which can measure the mass and concentration of specific molecules. If THC is detected, the word “warning” will display on the screen. The Hound device is intended to capture and measure tiny particles of THC in human breath to help determine if someone consumed cannabis in the two-to-three hours prior to testing. “We aren’t measuring impairment, we’re measuring THC in breath where it lasts a very short period of time, providing objective data about THC in breath to law enforcement and employers to use in conjunction with other information they have gathered,” said Hound Labs founder Mike Lynn, an emergency room doctor, reserve deputy sheriff and venture capitalist.

The problems with testing drivers for cannabis

Cannabis compounds, notably THC, don’t behave like alcohol does in the body. Alcohol is classified as a depressant that can slow down the nervous system. It’s quickly absorbed in the blood and metabolized quickly, according to the CRS report.Cannabis has a complex interplay with the body’s endocannabinoid system, and its effects can be either immediate or delayed depending on the form of consumption. THC potency can vary in strains and in products. Hybrid strains can be bred to enhance certain effects such as pain relief, anxiety reduction and muscle spasticity, Morrow said, adding that people can have different reactions to cannabis’ effects.Minimal research exists on how cannabis affects driving. Although some of the most notable cannabis research has occurred in Israel, there are longstanding complaints that federal research in the US has been hindered by low-potency and poor-quality cannabis samples. It’s yet to be determined exactly how the hundreds of other compounds in the cannabis plant could potentially affect the testing processes. Further complicating matters are attitudes that it’s safer to drive while high than it is drunk.It’s been difficult to detect and capture THC in breath, leading to some skepticism about the accuracy of the early stage breathalyzers. A battery of peer-review studies showing the devices in action would go a long way, said Brian Clowers, an associate professor of chemistry at Washington State University. The elephant in the room remains that the devices do not determine impairment. Someone could conceivably use or consume a small dose without being high, yet still could have THC detected in their breath. Because pass-fail tests do not prove impairment, that can create problems for patients in the more than 30 US states where cannabis is a legal medicine, said Benton Bodamer, an M&A, private equity and cannabis attorney at Dickinson Wright’s office in Columbus, Ohio.”That’s a recipe for a public health disaster,” he said. “There’s not a pass/fail opioid breathalyzer, so why would some different rules apply in the context of medical cannabis?” Additionally, even the seemingly tried-and-true drug and alcohol tests haven’t been completely foolproof and some states have tossed driving-under-the-influence convictions for technology failures such as poor calibration.An alcohol giant cut bait on a big craft beer holding. What’s next for its even bigger cannabis investment?“Scientific precision requires the absence of bias, for example,” he said. “One look at the mass prosecution, conviction, and incarceration of communities of color for simple non-violent drug possession shows how that particular story ends.”And the issue of impairment is not limited to cannabis.”Anybody who believes you’re going to look at alcohol or other drugs in a vacuum is mistaken,” said Sheriff Justin Smith, of Larimer County in northern Colorado. Smith said that his office continues to see more incidences in which suspects were under the influence of multiple drugs. Some polydrug tests have been increasingly adopted following cannabis legalization. That’s been the case for healthcare company Abbott’s SoToxa rapid mobile drug screening test. The handheld device, which analyzes a saliva sample in five minutes, is being used in Canada, Spain and US states such as Michigan, Alabama and Oklahoma, said Fred Delfino, Abbott’s senior law enforcement liaison.”Because marijuana isn’t the only drug that can cause impairment, Abbott has engineered SoToxa to detect if someone has also recently used cocaine, opiates, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and methamphetamine, in addition to marijuana,” he said via email.Colorado and other states that legalized cannabis are also turning to Drug Recognition Experts, law enforcement officers that undergo special training to help determine if a person is too impaired to drive.

When cannabis breathalyzers will become available

Research is ongoing. Some scientists are looking at non-traditional and less-invasive roadside approaches to detect impairment from cannabis and other substances. “There’s a really strong push in the field to see what we can do to better determine impairment and behavioral function rather than just rely on fluid measures,” said Thomas Marcotte, the co-director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC-San Diego.In the state-funded study at UCSD, scientists are researching whether cognitive assessments on an iPad could aid in field sobriety tests for cannabis-impaired driving. Other clinical trials under way include the establishment of cannabis-specific field sobriety tests and the development of virtual-reality-enabled eye-movement sensors. Research takes time, but there’s a kneejerk reaction to want to implement newly created devices, said Morrow, the former narcotics investigator. Technology and toxicology are not always the answers, he said. “Under the influence signs are not necessarily proof of impairment. Use of marijuana is not a crime. You can drive with bloodshot eyes. You can drive smelling like marijuana. You can drive with an elevated pulse or slightly dilated pupils,” he said. “Under the influence signs along with clear evidence of physical and mental impairment sufficient to affect the operation of a motor vehicle are what is necessary to competently opine a person is impaired due to a particular substance.”If the Hound breathalyzers make their way to market early next year as announced, they initially could see more use on job sites than the roadside. Companies across a variety of industries — and especially those in which workers use vehicles or heavy machinery — expressed interest in the device, Lynn said. Hound Labs’ digital drug sniffer is touted as leading the pack, but other breathalyzer devices appear not to be far behind. Earlier this year, University of Pittsburgh researchers announced they advanced a technology previously used to analyze and identify breath biomarkers for asthma, halitosis and diabetes. Professors Alexander Star and Ervin Sejdic used carbon nanotubes and machine learning to ferret out THC molecules in breath.

Ervin Sejdic (left) and Alexander Star (right) hold the THC breathalyzer prototype they developed at the University of Pittsburgh.

Ervin Sejdic (left) and Alexander Star (right) hold the THC breathalyzer prototype they developed at the University of Pittsburgh.The handheld device is designed to measure the electrical resistance of semiconductor-enriched carbon nanotubes that are 100,000 times smaller than a human hair and are good at conducting electricity. THC and other compounds bind to the surface and change the electrical acoustics. A mathematical algorithm was applied to increasingly select THC over other more volatile components found within breath such as carbon dioxide, water and ethanol. The Pitt crew’s findings were published in the American Chemical Society’s ACS Sensors journal in July.”The device is more or less ready [for a company to commercialize it],” Sejdic said. Drug testing company Lifeloc Technologies (LCTC) earmarked real-time drug tests, notably a THC breathalyzer, as a top priority for research and development dollars. Dräger, an industry leader in the drug testing field, was watching closely as to how this area develops, Brian Shaffer, a company spokesman, told CNN Business last fall.And several breathalyzer technologies are under development in Canada, where adult-use cannabis was legalized in 2018. Nanotechnology is the backbone for startup SannTek Labs’ handheld breath test. Cannabix Technologies (BLOZF) is partnering with researchers at the University of Florida and the University of British Columbia to develop two THC breathalyzer devices, including one that that potentially could be 3D-printed.”It’ll likely be that there will not be one de facto technology,” said Rav Mlait, Cannabix’s chief executive officer.

Domestic Violence On the Rise During the Holidays

For some, the holidays are synonymous with family tension and fighting, especially given the larger quantities of alcohol people often consume during this time. However, according to some studies, this is actually a major misconception. According to a report released by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, statistics do not back up claims that link the holidays to an increase in domestic violence. In fact, according to data from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, there is often a decrease during the holidays.

However, this does not necessarily mean that abusers take a break from violent or controlling behavior. Instead, researchers believe that victims are less likely to call for help during the holiday season, especially if they have children, because they feel pressured to keep the family together. As a result, it is more likely for victims of domestic abuse to reach out for help after the holidays.

Understanding the Myth

Despite evidence to the contrary, people still believe the holidays are a more violent time for families. After all, with the additional financial stressors and visiting family members, it seems only reasonable to assume fights are more likely to break out. Although this myth has effectively been debunked time and time again, the evidence only accounts for reported incidents of domestic violence. It is possible and likely that, despite the drop in calls for help, abuse continues to happen during the holidays. It explains why calls to domestic violence centers experience a rise once the holiday season comes to an end.

Whether there is actually a decrease in domestic violence during the holidays or victims are desperately trying to keep the peace can never be known for sure since these incidents are not always reported. However, one thing is for sure – the holidays can be a troubling time for many families.

Reach Out to an Attorney Today

If you are facing domestic violence charges, you are likely already aware of the severity of this situation. A conviction will become part of your criminal record and can result in severe penalties. A felony conviction can cost you the right to possess a firearm, the right to vote, and you might even lose certain professional licenses. At the Conroe Law Office, John E Choate, Jr.-attorney, will fight on your behalf and help you obtain the best possible results for your case.

Free Consultation

Contact us at (936)441.2999 for a Free Consultation

Who Can Find My Arrest Information? John E Choate, Jr – Attorney at Law

Who Can Find My Arrest Information?                          John E Choate, Jr – Attorney at Law

One of the questions we get frequently is who all has access to arrest records.  How do individuals or local news companies see mugs shots?  There are actually two different answers, depending on what you are asking about.

Public records of any arrest

First, arrest information including a mug shot is considered a public record. That is why you see lists in some newspapers, especially online, of whom all was arrested. That is also how news agencies find out about cases. They monitor the lists, and when someone newsworthy shows up, they start digging. Or if it's a slow news day, they might follow up on something that looks serious (like murder), or interesting.  In Montgomery County, it is a political push to list specific types of arrests.

Records of arrest are generally kept in two places. One is the agency who arrested you, and the other is the jail where the individual was booked into. If someone makes a specific request to either of those places, they have to furnish the information. However, the information that can be released is limited. Generally, it is the date you were arrested, and what the charge or charges were. Offense reports which describe the arrest are not public records, and cannot be disclosed.

Criminal history records

The other type of record is a person’s criminal history. This would include a print out of every time someone has been arrested, and the disposition of that charge. It also includes all court activity, including what happened. This information is confidential, but that only means it cannot be disclosed to the public. Instead, it is only available to certain types of people - generally, those are people associated with law enforcement. That means the press cannot request your criminal history. It also means an employer or potential employer cannot request the information.

Public databases

Since people want this type of information, it’s not surprising that companies have stepped in to fill the demand. There are several companies, which will pull together the public information about someone, and provide that - for a fee. The information they obtain is generally obtained from court records. For example, if charges are filed in court, there is a record of that. The companies go out and get that information, and then put it into their database. Anyone willing to pay can get it. Human Resource Departments utilize companies with these databases to determine hiring eligibility.

Sealing records

What most people want to know is whether these records can be sealed, so no one can access them. The answer depends on what happened with the case. In some cases, records can be expunged, while in other situations an order of non-disclosure can be entered. It's important to know what options might be available BEFORE you make a decision on your case. This is where an experienced criminal defense attorney can help.

There are numerous occasions where the databases have errors OR erroneous information which can cause harm.

Contact the Conroe Law Office to speak with our attorney, John E Choate, Jr to protect your name or if you have any questions.  Consultations are FREE! or 936.441.2999


Legal Check Up


Legal Check Up

As we’re coming to the end of the year, it’s time to do a legal check up. It’s the perfect time, since you’re probably getting all your medical, insurance and tax information together for the end of year.

Let’s make sure your personal legal well being is in order and you are protected.

Your attorney can review tax documents to make sure you have adequate records and also review any contracts you’ve signed to make sure you are protected.


If you have had a marriage, divorce, birth or death you may need to revise your will. Your attorney can make sure your spouse and children (grandchildren) are protected and receive the benefits you are leaving for them. If you have young children you will also need to clearly identify who the guardians would be of your children if something should happen to you.

Medical emergencies happen. Your attorney can make sure you have all the legal forms in place, such as health care power of attorney and do you want extraordinary measures taken to save your life or not.

Your attorney can also check your insurance, retirement plans and investment accounts to make sure you are covered and on a healthy track financially.

John E Choate, Jr - Attorney at Law

Just like you need to have a family doctor and yearly checkups, having a family lawyer can keep you legally healthy.
If you need a family lawyer, contact Attorney John Choate Jr at the Conroe Law Office.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent, The Red Flag Law of Texas

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Red Flag Law

Let’s meet Sam and Sally Smith. Law abiding citizens of the great state of Texas. They run their own business, pay their taxes, go to church on Sunday and Wednesday, vote in every election. They are just good people. Sam and Sally enjoy hunting and target shooting on their ranch. Sometimes they will video the target shooting and post it on social media for their friends to enjoy.

Now meet Richard Right. He feels that anyone with a gun is a criminal. He also knows Sam and Sally have a different political affiliation than he does, and he knows anyone who doesn’t think like he does is mentally ill. What can he do? These mentally ill people have guns. But since the great Gov. Abbot passed the Red Flag Law, he can now just go online to the IWatchTexas website and report them. And the best thing...they will never know they are on the LIST. Richard doesn’t even have to give his name.

Sam and Sally are just living their lives never knowing that somewhere some government official is keeping track of them.

If you think this doesn’t happen, ask the people of the former Soviet Union or the Germans.

Red Flag Laws and the 5th Amendment

Fifth Amendment - U.S. Constitution

Fifth Amendment - Rights of Persons
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury , except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Red Flag Laws
In the United States , a red flag law is a gun control law that permits police or family members to petition a state court to order the temporary removal of firearms from a person who may present a danger to others or themselves. A judge makes the determination to issue the order based on statements and actions made by the gun owner in question. Refusal to comply with the order is punishable as a criminal offense. After a set time, the guns are returned to the person from whom they were seized unless another court hearing extends the period of confiscation.

Such orders are known by various names, including "Extreme Risk Protection Orders" (ERPO) (in Oregon , Washington , Maryland , and Vermont ); "Risk Protection Orders" (in Florida ); "Gun Violence Restraining Orders" (in California ); "risk warrants" (in Connecticut ); and "Proceedings for the Seizure and Retention of a Firearm" (in Indiana ). As of August 2019, 17 states and the District of Columbia have passed some form of red-flag law. The specifics of the laws, and the degree to which they are utilized, vary from state to state.

I Watch Texas Community Reporting System
Welcome to the Texas Suspicious Activity Reporting Network iWatchTexas website, where you can report suspicious activities or behaviors that may indicate criminal, terroristic, or school safety-related threats.

This site is not designed to report emergencies. If this is an emergency, call 911.

Every report will be reviewed by analysts. Although not required, providing your contact information will allow follow up questions, and if you prefer to report by telephone, please contact 844-643-2251
In Gov. Abbot SAR release (report at bottom)

No.4. Educate physicians and behavioral health professionals about the law concerning disclosure of confidential information to law enforcement.

Sounds like to me they want to “educate” them to break the law. Have they never heard of HIPPA?

No. 5. DPS should coordinate with fusion centers across the state to promote continuous improvement and accountability.

The fusion centers are used to collect information on Texans. If you think I’m talking about criminals, no they collect information on innocent people who “anyone” can file a suspicious report on. So Texas is encouraging Texans to spy on other Texans and report them!

Proposal 10.The Legislature should spur cooperation to encourage social media companies to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.

So who exactly at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc are going to be deciding what is suspicious activity?

Our elected officials are trampling over our Constitutional Rights. If we as citizens do not make our voices and votes heard NOW! We and our children will not recognise our State or Country. We will sit around and talk about the good ol’ days when we could think for ourselves.

Make your voice heard to the Governor and all your representatives.


Governor Abbott Releases Texas Safety Action Report

September 12, 2019 | Austin, Texas | PressRelease

Following weeks of meetings with nearly 50 experts in the aftermath of tragedies across the state, Governor Greg Abbott today unveiled the Texas Safety Action Report. The Governor’s report elaborates on the Executive Orders issued last week that are intended to bolster the public safety coordination that can prevent mass shootings. The Texas Safety Action Report also provides additional ideas for the Texas Legislature and state agencies to consider that can make our communities safer while also respecting the Constitution.

Governor Abbott’s Texas Safety Commission convened community leaders, law enforcement officials, federal officials, business representatives, faith leaders, tech experts, counselors, advocates, lawmakers, and survivors of mass shootings to study what has happened, identify any shortcomings in our current systems, and explore ways to prevent these horrific tragedies from taking place. The strategies laid out in the Texas Safety Action Report are a result of these meetings.

"We must act with resolve in response to the despicable acts of violence we have witnessed in Texas," said Governor Abbott. "Solving the problems that have led to these horrific events will take more than governmental action. The complete solution will require more than what is outlined in this paper. It will require parents, families, churches, law enforcement, community groups, schools, and others working together to fortify the social fabric of our society. Texans are at our best when we are tested. Together, we will transcend this test, and forge an even better future for our state."

A summaryof the Texas Safety Action Report can be found below.
Here are the Executive Order and Legislative Proposals from the Governor's report, released on 9/12/19.

Additional Executive Actions:
1. Strengthen Domestic Violence High Risk Teams across the state.
2. Expand law enforcement training offered through the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center at Texas State University, and develop a public awareness campaign for the “Avoid, Deny, Defend” program.
3. Refresh training for all licensed peace officers on the procedures and criteria for “emergency detention.”
4. Educate physicians and behavioral health professionals about the law concerning disclosure of confidential information to law enforcement.
5. DPS should coordinate with fusion centers across the state to promote continuous improvement and accountability.
6. Accelerate the development and implementation of the DPS safe firearm storage campaign, supported by the recent $1 million appropriation.

Legislative Proposals

1. The Legislature should consider expediting the reporting of criminal convictions to the Texas Department of Public Safety
2. The Legislature should consider prohibiting straw purchases of firearms under state law. A primary goal is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
3. The Legislature should consider laws that crack down on criminals who try to illegally buy or possess guns.
4. The Legislature should consider laws that crack down on criminals who try to illegally buy or possess guns.
5. The Legislature should consider requiring courts to inform convicted criminals, both orally and inwriting, that they may no longer possess firearms.
6. The Legislature should consider stiffer consequences for criminals convicted of violent offenses.
7. The Legislature could consider requiring that any stolen firearms be reported to the county sheriff within 10 days of when the owner becomes aware of the theft.
8. The Legislature should consider ways to make it easy, affordable, and beneficial for a private seller of firearms to voluntarily use background checks when selling firearms to strangers.
9. The Legislature should consider prohibiting juvenile offenders convicted of certain violent crimes from legally purchasing firearms.
10. The Legislature should spur cooperation to encourage social media companies to report suspicious activity to law enforcement.
11. The Legislature should consider implementing and funding a Texas program, similar to federal initiatives, which uses a multi-pronged strategy of policing and prosecution, agency integration, and identification of violent crime hot spots. The focus would be on criminals with guns, not law-abiding Texans.
12. The Legislature should consider a law that works in conjunction with the proposed federal “Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act” of 2019.

Additional Strategies:
1. The Legislature should work with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to develop strategies to improve parental engagement in schools.
2. When updating the Health TEKS, the State Board of Education (SBOE) should emphasize student mental health issues, including depression, social media immersion, and drug abuse.
3. The Legislature should consider amending state law to ensure schools are notified when former students are arrested.

If you or someone you love has legal needs in Montgomery County, you should seek a qualified attorney such as John E. Choate, Jr who can handle your case with skill.

We are a Conroe Law Office focused on winning your case. Established in Spring 1995, we serve Montgomery, Harris, and the surrounding counties. Founded on the pillars of respect, diligence, and loyalty, we are here to help you through the most difficult times in your life.

Make an appointment TODAY for your free initial consultation.


Preparing for Your Divorce

Getting divorced is never fun.

No one grows up dreaming of their divorce. If you are the one considering divorce, you need to plan for the divorce suit like you planned your wedding and marriage. Put your anger or hurt aside and think about the vision you have of your future. Having a qualified attorney help you plan things out will make your life easier. It’s a tough time emotionally, your attorney will be your voice and advocate during the legal process.

Residency requirements for filing a divorce suit:


A suit for divorce may not be maintained in this state unless at the time the suit is filed either the petitioner or the respondent has been:

(1) a domiciliary of this state of Texas for the preceding six-month period; and
(2) a resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period.


If one spouse has been a domiciliary of this state of Texas for at least the last six months, a spouse domiciled in another state or nation may file a suit for divorce in the county in which the domiciliary spouse resides at the time the petition is filed.

In Montgomery County, Texas, the judges have agreed that in divorce and child custody cases that affect children, the parties must follow the “Montgomery County Standing Orders. Listed below are some headings of the standing orders.

● No disruption of children
● Protection of family pets or companion animals
● Conduct of the parties during the case
● Preservation of property and use of funds during divorce case
● Personal and business records in divorce case
● Insurance in divorce case
● Specific authorizations in divorce case
● Parties encouraged to mediate

If you or someone you love is thinking of filing a divorce suit or have been served with a divorce suit, you should seek a qualified attorney such as John E. Choate, Jr. who can handle your case with skill. Contact Attorney John Choate at the Conroe Law Office.