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Experienced Criminal Defense
Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
Serious repercussions can occur if you are convicted of a State or Federal criminal offense. Serious State of Texas punishments can range from deferred adjudication to a life sentence or even the death penalty. A crime will fall within the Federal court’s jurisdiction if a federal law enforcement agency such as the FBI, DEA, ICE, or USPS is investigating the crime, or if the crime falls within the jurisdiction of federal charges, such as on federal property, related to interstate commerce, violating Federal Statutes or the Constitution. Penalties for Federal charges typically carry much higher sentences than State criminal charges, and federal judges have much less discretion regarding sentencing than state judges. Federal sentences may be increased or “enhanced” depending on certain factors, and in federal court you will serve at least 85% of your sentence if convicted.
Misdemeanors in Texas
|Class C Misdemeanor||Up to a $500 fine, no jail time|
|Class B Misdemeanor||Up to 180 days in county jail, up to a $2,000 fine|
|Class C Misdemeanor||Up to 1 year in county jail, up to a $4,000 fine|
Felonies in Texas
|State Jail Felony||180 days to 2 years in a state jail, up to a $10,000 fine|
|Third Degree Felony||2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Justice – Institutional Division, up to a $10,000 fine|
|Second Degree Felony||2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Justice – Institutional Division, up to a $10,000 fine|
|First Degree Felony||5 to 99 years, or life imprisonment, in the Texas Department of Justice – Institutional Division, up to a $10,000 fine|
|Capital Felony||Life without parole in the Texas Department of Justice – Institutional Division or death by lethal injection|
Experienced Title IX Defense
Jay is an experienced Title IX defender of students and educators who are accused of sexual and other misconduct in university settings. He works with other prominent experienced attorneys in a team approach to assemble a “strike force” to promptly investigate misconduct allegations, gather evidence, and prepare the client and other fact and expert witnesses for university administrative hearings and appeals. These proceedings are conducted according to federal Title IX, university and college conduct rules and very little or no formal procedural or court evidentiary guidelines.
Title IX is part of the Education Act of 1972 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. This effectively requires equal opportunities in recruitment, sports and curriculum, as well as protection against sexual harassment and assault. Historically, federally funded schools have been allowed to investigate and “adjudicate” all allegations with an internal process that does not apply traditional judicial standards of procedural due process. Instead, Title IX school misconduct “investigations” are internal, which means that the “investigators” and conduct panel decisionmakers are often teachers and other school administrative officials acting in a volunteer capacity with some Title IX training. School administration officials are very sensitive about how these cases are resolved because federal funding to their schools hang in the balance. School conduct hearing rules and procedural practices governing the adjudication of the internal investigations may or may not allow witnesses to testify, or to even allow legal representation at the hearing. Once a “verdict” is rendered by these conduct panels, there are scant, narrow options to appeal and to reverse their decisions other than pursuing expensive civil litigation to seek damages for unconstitutional deprivation of property rights. Since completing one’s education has been ruled a constitutional property right the federal courts have consistently held that procedural due process is required before depriving students of their education.
Recently, in response to federal court rulings, the US Department of Education has published for public comment new regulations requiring more stringent procedural due process, including the right to counsel, the right to call witnesses to testify at hearings, and the right to attorney cross-examination of accusers and witnesses. Should these regulations be accepted and become active, accused students will have the opportunity to have their cases resolved on a more level playing field than has been the case in the past. Until then, a very careful detailed approach is necessary to protect the accused’s options.
I urge any accused college student and all parents of such students to take any kind of school misconduct allegation very seriously. They should consider immediately retaining experienced legal counsel to properly investigate and aggressively defend Title IX cases, even though they are not heard in a courtroom at the university administrative level. Evidence – witnesses and their recollections, e-mail and texting records, and other physical evidence – can disappear quickly in a college setting, and an aggressive parallel, independent investigation can be the key to a successful defense to a Title IX accusation, or making a helpful record for a subsequent civil lawsuit. A proper collateral investigation by experienced counsel can also provide the very real benefit of protecting the student from criminal prosecution by the local or state police and prosecuting authorities.
A Title IX finding of responsibility can result in lengthy (2-3 years or longer) suspension from a school, or even expulsion from that school with an indelible negative mark on the student’s transcripts. A fulfilling, perhaps even lucrative career that a student worked hard for and dreamed of can be suddenly ended or curtailed by any combination of false accusations; negligent, insufficient or biased school administrative investigations or proceedings; or insufficient collateral investigation by accused’s counsel. There can even be immigration consequences for a visiting foreign student administratively found by a school to be responsible for misconduct.
In these kinds of cases, time is NOT on the accused’s side because schools have an accelerated investigative and hearing schedule for the purpose of minimizing disruption to students and educators involved in the process.
Experienced Civil Mediator
Jay Karahan is an experienced mediator with certification in mediation from the A. A. White Dispute Resolution Center, part of the University of Houston. The mediation certification process involves 40 hours of training through lecture, discussion, role-play and individual videotape sessions to learn mediation skills. Jay has successfully mediated over 75 civil cases ranging from automobile accidents to contract disputes.
Mediation may be the only opportunity for potential litigation to remain under your control. It provides a forum and an atmosphere in which parties gain understanding, become understood, and work together to explore options for resolution without the need or expense of a trial. By resolving disputes in mediation, with the guidance of an experienced retired trial judge as your mediator, parties determine for themselves what is important and, ultimately the outcome of the situation.
Jay has consulted with large and small companies on corporate compliance matters, internal investigations and other criminal and quasi-criminal issues arising in corporate governance and operations.
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