The Ethics of Lawsuits Filed By Christians

Should Christians File Lawsuits?

Should a Christian file a lawsuit or not? Are lawsuits ethical or not? John Choate, Jr, a Conroe lawyer opens up the discussion biblically.

For many in the Conroe area, asking a lawyer if lawsuits are ethical might seem absurd.

However, followers of Jesus should always weigh the ethics of any situation; we walk in accordance with a different, higher standard. Every decision made should not only be weighed against whether one can do it, but also whether one should do it. Furthermore, every decision a Christian makes ought to take into consideration whether the Bible has anything to say about that decision.

The Old Testament: Our Behavior During a Lawsuit

Concerning lawsuits, there are several places in the Biblical text that assume lawsuits and other matters of jurisprudence are a normal part of society. Therefore, guidelines are provided for handling legal disputes.

First, in Exodus, Moses engaged in arbitration between Israelites. His father-in-law counseled him before departing, and provided a more efficient method of handling disputes. Further, he instructed Moses to select and teach others how to handle their disputes (see Exodus 18:13-27). Those whom Moses selected were God-fearing, trustworthy, and above reproach.

Later, the Law stipulates what our attitude should be in a lawsuit. That is, suits should be free from bribes and partiality (see Exodus 23:1-8), given these dynamics twist the execution of justice.

Besides this, subversion (intimidating either those who bring suit or those with the authority to judge a suit) as a tactic was specifically reproved in Jeremiah’s writings (Lamentations 3:36).

The New Testament: Should We Bring Suit?

Moving to the New Testament, Jesus, speaking to the crowds of poor, specifically touches on the inner motive when it comes to responding to lawsuits (Matthew 5:40). Namely, kindness should characterize our response instead of vengeance. Further, we should hunt for a solution that creates a win/win for all parties involved, rather than strife.

Indeed, the purpose of legal suits should at least be twofold :

  1. To correct patterns of abuse or mistreatment.
  2. To arrive at a place of equilibrium between parties instead of constant friction, and, where possible, reconciliation.

Paul’s exhortation to believers in Corinth focused on the squabbles, factions, and divisions that brought disrepute on all Christians. Within the scope of issues that caused division, Paul covered lawsuits between Christians. It appears that believers were suing one another through courts led by unbelievers. Paul told the Corinthians stop using secular courts to settle disputes, and instead see arbitration from other believers.

As believers, we should aim for resolution, and if possible, reconciliation, rather than division. Per the counsel of Scripture, if a lawsuit is going to become an option, then let it be the option of last resort, after arbitration and every other attempt at resolution has failed.

For further insight, see Focus on the Family’s article on the topic. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation with John Choate, Jr, a Conroe lawyer, who has years of experience of handling cases whether by negotiations or mediation to resolve family, business or property disputes.

Drug Trafficking Vs. Drug Possession

When dealing with drug trafficking and drug possession, you need to understand the difference between the two charges. Also, where to find a Conroe lawyer with the experience.

Definitions

Drug Trafficking: The sale and distribution of illegal drugs.

Drug Possession: Possession of a drug without a valid prescription in a quantity usable for consumption or sale.

The Difference Between Possession and Trafficking

Now that we understand they both can involve selling drugs, consider the difference between possession and trafficking. What is it?

Answer: the same as generic sales vs. widespread distribution. It is a question of size.

The major question that distinguishes between trafficking and possession deals with quantity. In order for a charge of trafficking to really apply, there has to be a sufficient amount of a given drug in order to make a business out of the sale. Distribution often implies there is a supplier in place, a number of people who will carry out the sale of the drugs, and a network of willing buyers and sellers.

While trafficking involves a network, possession usually only involves one or a few people.

The Penalties For Trafficking and Possession In Texas

Texas takes a strong stance against the possession and the trafficking of drugs. While penalties for trafficking are generally stronger, the bottom line is quantity of drugs present. Larger quantities can carry felony charges, and smaller quantities can carry misdemeanor charges. Mr. Choate is an experienced Conroe lawyer to direct you.

If you have been charged with possession or trafficking in Montgomery County, you should seek a competent and experienced Conroe lawyer to help you navigate the many obstacles. John E. Choate has over twenty years of successful legal experience in handling drug cases. Contact the staff online at contact@conroelawoffice.com to make an appointment.

Citizen’s Arrest! Citizen’s Arrest!

Making a Citizen's Arrest: What You Should Know

Suppose you witness someone breaking the law in Texas officer is around.  Are you allowed to make a citizen's arrest or not?  There are elements to understand when considering the legality of this situation.  First, what constitutes a citizen's arrest?  Second, what must be met in order to arrest someone?

Definition and Reasoning

A citizen's arrest is any arrest made by a public citizen without a warrant.  Per Lacy V. State, The Texas Court of Appeals reasoned necessity was the principle behind citizen's arrests.  The Court highlighted the necessity to promptly restrain wrongdoing.
When few authorities are present, and they are slow to respond to crime, the reality is that crime will increase.  When others are empowered to act, and are quicker, crime will likely decrease.

Prerequisites

In order to effect a legal citizen's arrest in Texas, three conditions must be present.
  1. Compliance:  The arrest must comply with federal and state constitutional provisions pertaining to "unreasonable search and seizure".  In making a citizen's arrest, we must ensure to not abuse those we are detaining or arresting.
  2. Location: The crime must have been committed in the citizen's presence or within his view.  In other words, one may initiate an arrest if the citizen and the criminal occupy the same temporal and spatial zone.
  3. Severity:  The crime must be either a felony or a breach of peace.  Put differently, we are looking at either a significant loss of life and property, or actions calculated to disturb the inhabitants of a place.

Probable Cause In Citizen's Arrests

Those making the arrest must be able to prove "probable cause".  Probable cause is:
the existence of reasonably trustworthy information sufficient to warrant a reasonable person to believe that a particular person has committed an offense.
A Texas citizen may make a citizen's arrest if all are met :
    a.  there is probable cause
    b.  if they are present or an eyewitness to a crime
    c.   if the crime is either a felony or a breach of the public peace
    d.  if the arrestor is complying with constitutional provisions pertaining to search and seizure.

In Summation

I would not advise making a citizen arrest for a variety of reasons.  First, most citizens are not trained to understand what probable cause means and the proper use of force to make an arrest.  Failure to understand the proper procedures can result in liability.  The person the citizen intends to be arrested will probably over react because the “arresting citizen” is not seen as a officer and the situation will escalate.  All citizens have a right to defend themselves, others and their property.  Going beyond that, will only subject yourself to liability.

Call the Police!

 

 

Fraud Types

The Broad Category of Fraud

Have you experienced or been accused of fraud?  Many attorneys understand the concept of fraud, but which Conroe lawyer will work with you for success against fighting fraud?

Fraud is a large category of crimes and carries severe penalties in Montgomery County.  Not only does a fraud conviction garner steep legal penalties, but it also carries significant negative social stigmas.  Fraud can affect something as small as a friendship or as big as a group of businesses.  Furthermore, the consequences that follow fraud can last a lifetime.

Picture of the word fraud, in a red font

What is Fraud?

According to U.S. Legal’s online dictionary:

Fraud is…an intentional misrepresentation of material existing fact made by one person to another with knowledge of its falsity and for the purpose of inducing the other person to act, and upon which the other person relies with resulting injury or damage.  Fraud [also can occur in the context of] an omission or purposeful failure to state material facts, which nondisclosure makes other statements misleading.

In short, fraud happens when one person misleads or withholding information from another.  That misleading or withholding results in personal or financial enrichment of the one at the expense of the other.

Ultimately, the root of all fraud is some form of deception.

 

Some Common Types of Fraud In Texas

  • Adoption Fraud: Providing false or misleading information in an adoption processes.
  • Consumer Fraud: Deception that results in financial enrichment at the expense of consumers.
  • Money Laundering: hiding the origin of illegally-obtained money.   Transferring that money through legally-established businesses is one way of hiding the true source of that money.
  • Identity Theft: Using the identifying information of another to obtain the financial benefit for yourself.
  • Insurance Fraud:  Presenting false circumstances to an insurance company in order to obtain coverage they would not otherwise provide.
  • Tax Fraud: Falsifying records to tax authorities in order to avoid paying the full amount owed.

While the above list shows common types in Texas, these are not the limits of fraud.  Fraud can also affect marriages, child support, child custody, and business negotiations.

If you are a victim of fraud, you should seek an experienced Conroe lawyer to help you through the process.  Contact the Conroe Law Office for your free initial consultation.

Marijuana concentrates and its shocking penalty group.

Marijuana Activism in Texas

Texas activist march on the State capital espousing “It’s mans right to consume the plants that come from the earth,” known as “natural rights” movement.  The Endocannabinoid system, exist in the human body for a reason,  but what happens when, that natural plant is concentrated with chemical process to make it concentrated in ways nature never intended? is it still a natural right?

Protesters in from of the Texas state capital

 

How concentrated is it?

The concentration of THC (the active ingredient  in a normal marijuana cigarette) is between 13 and 20% normally and normally a person only feels the need to smoke less than 10-30mg to feel a strong high and the desire to consume more THC is sated. The contracted butane resins (at a purity of 70-90%) bypass the desire to stop but supersaturating the body with the compound before the user realizes how much they have consumed, having consumed as much as 600 mg.

rigging for smoking THC oil
Dabbing rig, for smoking THC oil and resins

 

The real controversy is the penalty group this class of drug falls into. Normally marijuana, which as you may know takes four ounces to become a felony, instantly becomes a fellony when in the form of concentrated oil become a felony regardless of weight, as is treated in the same penalty group as  meth.

 

 

 

 

When are warrantless searches actually legal

Can I be searched without a warrant? It depends and it’s more complex than you ever would have imagined, especially at the border.

truck being stopped at checkpoint

Other reasons you can be searched without a warrant exist too.

If the time it takes to obtain the warrant, would result in the evidence being destroyed or altered in some way, police are allowed to make a warrantless search.

For example, the police are called about the smell of cat urine coming from a house in the country (the strong smell of urine in the air often times linked to meth labs) and the police see a man entering the house with a bottle of bleach (bleach makes meth oxidize into an unstable form of salt that is no longer chemically meth and cannot be tested or the accused tried as such, the police are within their rights to engage an exception known as “exigent circumstances exception.”

The border officers seem to be gaining power, as more creative criminal activities require more and more right given to law enforcement.

Woman submitting to field sobriety

Is this a violation of my 4th amendment? Are we living in a police state?

The reason exceptions are normally written into law is that higher laws exist, for example, the government has the mandate to control the border, in cases that the border could be in danger in some way, the government argues that the higher law succeeds the lower and it’s really that easy sometimes.

In a general sense, the police must demonstrate probable cause. However, this isn’t the case for checkpoints, the U.S. supreme court rules several situations that can result in the setting up of such checkpoints. All the stops the police want-no 4th amendment violation.

What they can’t do

However, the supreme court has ruled that “general crime control” does not qualify as a reason to initiate a checkpoint. The checkpoint must have a clear aim. To asses the sobriety of individuals, the citizenship status of vehicle occupants, etc.

It all comes together by the border, several legal reasons that authorize checkpoints to converge

picture of man under car attempting to cross border

Since local police cannot use traffic checkpoints for drug interdiction, but federal officials can use permanent checkpoints for immigration enforcement, various law enforcement agencies use permanent immigration checkpoints to also look for illegal drugs. The border search exception assists them in this effort. This has led to a wide range of drug seizures, showing evolving tactics among both the people charged with interdicting illegal drugs and those accused of transporting them. These include allegations of transporting marijuana in a van disguised an oil field service vehicle, in a casket in the back of a hearse, and within shipments of local produce.

Complex laws? you have no idea how complex it can be

Laws, in general, are kinda complex, exceptions exist and even experienced attorneys many times have to research when I interview people, we spend a lot of time just talking about details because many times the details or some strange exception are just what a person needs to make a strong case as to why the charges need to be dropped.

Montgomery county sexual assault lawyer 

Montgomery county sexual assault lawyer

The issue of consent is tricky, very tricky, sometimes the only difference is sexual assault and consensual sex might be the rise of an eyebrow expressing interest, the tone of voice expressing inclination of interest, expressing those events to a jury is a job best performed by a serious, experienced and well-trained lawyer.

We can all agree that a line exists that actions match the definition of sexual assault, but as with all human relationships, gray areas exist. For example, consent can, in theory, be taken away? It’s commonly understood from case law that the act of having sex after a fight equals reconciliation? What if the woman is saying that the what the man understood as reconciliation sex was perceived as an assault on her?

man and woman committing sexual assault.

Legal Defenses

Each specific situation has legal defenses tailored to the situation, and the good news is that many times tailored legal defenses have the most positive outcomes. The #metoomovement has created a situation in which it becomes a tad trendy to be included in the victim-hood of having been a helpless woman. We don’t want to deter from the illegitimacy of real rape and sexual assault, the pain and consequences it causes is unimaginable, but we are saying that a lot of gray area situations are being sold to the public as legitimate rape, when in actuality a strong argument could be made that the women in such cases were, in fact, profiting from the situations more than they were taken from.

Forcible, violent and non-nonsexual sex are crimes

We are not proponents of lawlessness in any form, we take on our clients problems and demonstrate the surrounding evidence that contributed to the situations, many many times troubled women have been known to create and imagine situations in which they need a villain, and sometimes, healthy strong normal boys are (excuse the Don Quixote reference) but the imaginary dragon, the scourge of society and at this office we feel we have more realistic understandings of the working dynamics of such relationships.

Victims of sexual assault in Montgomery County can also contact  The Montgomery County women’s center for assistance at-http://mcwctx.org/.

 

 

Priorities for Montgomery County parents divorcing of children with disabilities

Priorities for Montgomery County divorcing parents of children with disabilities

beautiful down syndrome child

Special considerations for Conroe divorce cases.

Divorce is always a difficult time for kids, children with disabilities might need different considerations to process the situation, we have a few tips that we wanted to share

 The clarity of your final decree of divorce is key

For example, a statement like visitation will be bi-monthly might mean every other month or every other week. The order involving medical care and community events also needs to be clearly laid out. “It’s a saying that he who signs an order in haste signs twice.”  It’s not that we want to drag anything out, in fact not at all, our experience shows that as fast as prudent is the most responsible, but the details all need to be attended to.

Inventory your child’s needs

We use a systematic approach to thoroughly divide the needs into two categories, short-term, and long-term. The short-term normally are normally repeating daily, monthly and yearly. long-term needs are normally one-time expenses, but can also involve short-term goals such as savings plans for higher education.

It’s highly likely that choices about schools, the reoccurring medical cost will not be contested, but the agreement still needs a language that gives a framework these  eventualities

It is important for divorcing parents to decide where their child will attend school and what accommodations they will need, how medical costs will be covered and where the child will receive any necessary medical care. Depending on your child’s needs and the specifics of your divorce, these decisions may be easy to make. If one divorcing parent is moving away or if your child needs extra care, both divorcing parents will need to decide what changes should be made.

Long-term visitation is on the table for the noncustodial parent, if planned correctly

Most of the time, one parent steps up to be the caregiver, while one parent is normally tasked with being more productive in business, one thing to consider is that if you plan your personal life to live near your child as a non-custodial parent you can arrange for  longterm visitation

Make Communication a Priority

The best way for divorcing parents and their children to handle a divorce is through clear communication. When divorcing parents communicate effectively with one another, their child’s needs are more likely to be met. Additionally, honest communication between divorcing parents will make it more likely that each party gets what they want from the divorce.

What to do about disagreement

It’s the opinion every relationship is different and every situation needs to find a mutually enriching agreement in which all parties give and take to achieve harmony, some pieces of music will be simple and others complex, but ultimately mutual satisfaction needs to be the goal. I’m willing to fight your spouse and their counsel to make sure you get fair representation in your divorce.

Fear of loss and what to do if you are being sued in Montgomery county ?

Montgomery County Civil Lawyer

A strange car pulls in the driveway, a man with a clipboard gets out of the car,  nocks on the door and you answer. In the most ominous voice, he says “Good afternoon, are you, Mr. Jones? I have some papers for you please report to the 359th courtroom in three weeks, you been served.” Process servers seem to run on melodrama. `

The psychology of being sued starts with a little pea shaped portion of your brain called the amygdala, You might know about its fight or flight response, It’s my job as your lawyer to engage the fight portion of that response of mind. You can’t back down in these situations, to quote Plato “we marshal our forces with all the strategy of war.”

The Process of being sued

Normally the process follows a fairly ordinary routine, notwithstanding exceptions.

  • Calculate your deadline to respond
  • Evaluate your options
  • Prepare a response
  • File your response with the court
  • Give plaintiff a copy of your response
  • Know what to expect next

 IMage of contract being signed in Montgomery county

A Civil lawsuit happy generation

Just because you are being involved in a suit is no indicator you have done anything wrong in fact many clients from many firms are found to have no wrongdoing and modern judges are good at figuring out what’s actually going on and getting to the bottom of it, but you can still be looking at settlements or default judgments if you do nothing or don’t prepare well.

Be at least few moves ahead in Civil Law

I’ve been surprised in court a few times, but normally I know the range of what to expect is fairly ordinary,  Perry Mason, Matlock, and surprises witnesses are the things of television. in the real world, prep work and a systematic approach always seem to win the day.

The Work of a Conroe Civil Lawyer

I love my work, my job lets me fight for justice on behalf of people of Montgomery county. I think those are my favorite days in court, “to be tired from a good fight,  fighting on my personal field of battle on behalf of of my clients.

 

 

Montgomery County DWI no refusal weekend.

Montgomery County DWI no refusal weekend.

It’s Labor Day, and while that means a day off work for most of us, the boys in blue are going to be pulling double shifts in the name of roadway safety.

No refusal weekend

Starting Thursday, May 24, 2018, and continuing through September 3, 2018, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office, in concert with both state and local law enforcement agencies, will increase No Refusal Operations on the roads of Montgomery County. The goal of this initiative is to prevent boating and traffic-related crashes and deaths caused by impaired drivers during the upcoming summer season – the roughly 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day when alcohol and drug-related crashes and fatalities are on the rise

blood test for no refusals weekend

During this time period, the District Attorney’s office will provide access to prosecutors, nurses, and investigators at various locations throughout the county and on the Lake to assist law enforcement in obtaining blood evidence in cases were a DWI/BWI suspect refuses to provide a sample for testing. The process is simple but effective:

 

  1. An officer makes a DWI/BWI arrest and asks the suspect for a breath or blood sample.
  2. If the suspect refuses, the officer then meets with a prosecutor who will draft a search warrant for the suspect’s blood.
  3. The warrant is sent to an on-call judge who will review the warrant for probable cause
  4. If probable cause is found, a nurse will then take a sample of the DWI/BWI suspect’s blood.

Montgomery County & Texas DWI & Fatal Crash Fact Sheet:

In 2016, 3,773 people died on Texas roadways; 987 of those were in crashes where a driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and 455 deaths were the result of distracted driving.
In 2016, 265,076 people were injured in Texas motor vehicle crashes.
Montgomery County, Texas, has the highest fatality rate in the state for counties with over 500,000 residents.
Each year in Montgomery County, there is on average 60 fatal crashes. Of those fatal crashes, more than half occur because a driver is intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. And of the alcohol/drug related fatalities, more than 50% of the time, the intoxicated driver kills themselves in a single car crash.
In 2016, the average Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) for those DWI suspects arrested in Montgomery County where a blood search warrant was obtained was 0.18, over double the legal limit.
In 2016, 751 blood search warrants were obtained in DWI cases in Montgomery County.
After being arrested for DWI, a person can spend on average $12,000.00 in attorney’s fees, driver’s license suspensions, and fines and court costs.
Source: Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Vehicular Crimes Division – “100 Deadliest Days of Summer”