Practice Areas

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Practice Areas

Attorneys at the law office of Scott C. Smith practice in several areas with expertise and experience.

Alcohol Related Offenses Including DWI, Intoxication Assault and DUI

Mr. Smith is a Texas dwi attorney who has handled hundreds of cases involving basic accusations for driving while intoxicated to complex cases involving serious injuries and technical issues pertaining to blood and breath testing. As a certified NHTSA Standard Field Sobriety Test Practitioner and experienced Austin Texas dwi lawyer, he is well versed in evaluation and cross-examination of police officers who conduct DWI investigations. His work as a Texas dwi lawyer has also included work with experts in the fields of toxicology, breath testing and blood testing in successfully challenging intoxication accusations. See frequently asked questions about DWIs for more information about, “What to do if you are stopped for DWI” and “What is an ALR hearing and should I request one?”

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Computer Related Crimes

An increasing number of accusations involve computer related issues including charges of online card fraud, internet fraud, illegal interception of electronic communications and acquisition of stored electronic communications and internet pornography. Mr. Smith handles many cases that pertain specifically to the use of computers and actions taken over the Internet. With increasing frequency many cases involve evidence which originates on or is stored on computers. We have specialized knowledge and experience in dealing with cyber-evidence and issues involving privacy of electronic communications. Mr. Smith has lectured on the topics of Computer Related Crimes -New Problems/Old Solutions (Austin Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association Presentation – 2007), or Lack Thereof and Wiretapping and Spoilation (Austin Bar Association Bench Bar Conference April 4, 2014). We are also experienced in working with cyber-forensic experts to locate, preserve and analyze digital data that may be helpful in defending persons accused of internet related offenses. If your case involves such issues, feel free to contact us to discuss these matters.

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Drug Offenses

Our firm has extensive experience handling a broad array of drug offenses. Lawyer Scott C. Smith is a board certified Criminal Law Specialist with over twenty years of experience handling drug crimes from possession of a small amount of marijuana to federal conspiracy cases involving distribution of controlled substances. Based in Austin, defense lawyer Scott C. Smith has represented hundreds of clients charged with misdemeanor and felony drug charges in Travis, Williamson, and Hays counties as well as throughout Texas.

If you or a friend or loved one are charged with a drug offense, please contact us so that our Texas drug lawyers can help you as soon as possible. You may call us at 512-474-6484 or email us at info@defenselawyer.net. For a number of reasons, it is very important to procure legal representation as soon as possible when facing a drug charge or offense. In some cases it may be possible to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained in violation of the Texas and United States constitutions. In other cases, we can help clients get the best personalized and individual treatment as soon as possible.

Drug offenses are some of the most frequently charged crimes in Austin and Travis County. The War on Drugs, first begun in 1971 by President Nixon, has resulted in the incarceration of thousands of non-violent drug offenders despite studies showing that their incarceration increases their chance of recidivism while costing tax payers millions of dollars. While many have come to see drug addiction as a disease that can be successfully prevented and treated, hiring the best Texas drug attorney is the first step in defending your rights and freedom.

In Texas, drug offenses are either filed in State or Federal courts. Simple possession offenses are almost always filed in the county where the offense allegedly occurred. Larger conspiracies to manufacture or sell drugs may be filed in one of the Texas Federal Courts depending on the facts of the case. Any accusation that an offense extended beyond state lines makes it subject to federal jurisdiction. There are a number of other factors that may also cause a case to be prosecuted in Federal courts rather than State courts.  In some situations, a case may begin in State court and then be moved to Federal court based on further investigation by law enforcement or prosecutors. An experienced drug attorney in Texas must be familiar with all possibilities in order to best protect your rights.

The type of drug being used, possessed, sold, or manufactured will determine the severity of the charge. In Texas state courts, drugs are classified according to the Texas Schedule of Controlled Substances. Drugs listed in Schedules 1 and 2 carry most severe penalties and those in 3 and 4 are less severe and usually filed as misdemeanors. The Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 481 lists the offenses and corresponding punishments for most state drug offenses.

While every case is different, often drug cases involve issues relating to the legality of the search and seizure of the contraband and how the contraband is linked to the accused to prove that the person charged is responsible for possession of the substance. Defense attorney and Texas drug lawyer Scott C. Smith is experienced in litigating issues that involve complex analysis of the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, federal and state exclusionary rules, and other laws that govern how police may conduct searches and seizures.

Contact Austin Criminal Defense Attorney Scott C. Smith

For detailed, thorough, and aggressive defense of federal or state drug charges in Austin, Travis County, Williamson County, Hays County, and Texas, contact Scott C. Smith at 512-474-6484 or info@defenselawyer.net.

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Sex Crimes

“Sex Crimes” are among the most dangerous and serious accusations lodged today and can have a devastating impact on a person’s life.  Often times, the accusations are based on flimsy evidence and the cases are poorly investigated, leading to false accusations. 

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Domestic Violence & Assault Charges

Scott C. Smith is an experienced domestic violence attorney with over 20 years of experience helpings clients charged with assault, domestic violence, and family violence.  These types of cases are very serious and must not be taken lightly. Finding the right domestic violence lawyer to aggressively defend against these accusations is crucial.   

Allegations that are characterized as “domestic violence” usually involve charges of assault, though they may also encompass other charges such as harassment, interference with 911 calls, and criminal mischief. It is not unusual to see situations in which charges like these are filed even though all parties to the alleged offense desire that no charges be filed. This occurs because the prosecutors who file charges are not bound to follow the desires of the parties. It is also common for false charges to be lodged by one spouse or partner against another as a means of retaliation or to gain advantage in divorce proceedings. Scott C. Smith is a board certified criminal law specialist who has successfully defended hundreds of domestic violence cases and can often negotiate a dismissal of charges.

Domestic violence cases may be filed as either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the facts in each case.  Accusations of serious bodily injury, use of a deadly weapon, strangulation, or prior convictions for assault family violence may result in a case being filed as a felony.  In Travis County, most misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases are filed in Travis County Court at Law Four which exclusively handles family violence cases and defendants charged with domestic violence. Our attorneys are very familiar with this court and can help you successfully protect your rights and defend your freedom.

If you are arrested in Travis County on suspicion of domestic violence, there may be several immediate consequences simply based on the arrest.  The judge may require you to be assessed by Travis County Counseling and Education Service and follow their recommendations.  There may also be an Emergency Protective Order which restricts contact with the complaining witness in the case and can prohibit you from returning home if you lived with them.  Under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 17.292(j), these emergency protective order can remain in effect for up to 61 days for misdemeanor accusations and 91 days for felony accusations.  The complaining witness may also apply for a permanent protective order which can last for up to two years.  It is important to talk with a domestic violence lawyer familiar with these obstacles who can advise you about the best course of action.  If you or a loved one have been charged with assault or domestic violence, please feel free to contact us.

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Grand Jury & Investigation Representation

Mr. Smith is experienced in providing advice and representing clients who are under investigation before charges are filed in a case. Many people make the mistake of not immediately securing legal representation when they learn that they have been accused of a crime. In many such situations, it is critical to carefully assert legal rights afforded to the accused and respond to the accusations appropriately. Failure to do so can significantly reduce one’s ability to successfully defend against the accusation, even if it is false. On the other hand, a careful response to the accusation can lead to a successful conclusion of the investigation before any charges are filed.

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Federal Criminal Defense Attorney – Austin, Texas

Though the majority of criminal cases filed in Texas are filed in Texas State Courts and prosecuted by Texas District and County Attorneys on behalf of the State of Texas, some cases are filed in United States Federal Courts and prosecuted by the United States Attorney on behalf of the federal government.  In addition to being certified as a criminal law specialist, Scott Smith is an experienced federal criminal attorney licensed to practice in U.S. federal court.  As an experienced federal criminal defense attorney, Scott Smith has defended a multitude of criminal cases in federal court involving accusations of conspiracies, high level drug crimes, federal weapons offenses, matters involving national security issues, computer offenses, child pornography crimes, and large scale financial crimes involving mortgage fraud, bank fraud, and visa fraud. 

It is important to have a respected federal criminal lawyer when facing  these types of accusations.

Federal prosecutors tend to focus on fewer cases and more serious accusations. They also have more resources available to do so. Therefore, all federal accusations and investigations should be taken especially seriously. When accused of an offense in federal court, it is extremely important to be represented by a federal criminal defense attorney familiar with federal criminal laws and procedures which differ greatly from those of state courts.  If you are accused of a federal offense or have reason to believe that you are the target of a federal investigation, please feel free to contact our office for assistance.

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Expunctions and Nondisclosure Orders

In many cases our goal is to not only defend the innocent, but to also clear his or her name. Even if a charge is ultimately dismissed or the accused is acquitted at trial, records of the accusation will usually continue to exist and be visible to the public at large unless action is taken to stop this. Despite the prosecution’s failure to prove guilt in such situations, the accused can continue to suffer adverse effects, including discrimination in employment, housing, and many other contexts, unless the arrest record is cleared in some way. In Texas there are two ways to accomplish this – expunctions and nondisclosure orders (also referred to as sealing orders).

Expunctions in Texas provide for the complete destruction of arrest records.

Expunctions are generally available only after charges have been dismissed or the accused is acquitted at trial. Usually it is not possible to expunge records pertaining to a case in which the accused has been placed on probation, sentenced to serve a term of confinement or fined (though occasionally there are exceptions to this rule).

If someone cannot expunge their records, they may have some relief available by filing a petition to seal records. To be eligible for a nondisclosure order one must first successfully complete a term of deferred adjudication probation in Texas. When records are sealed, they are not destroyed as in the Texas expunction process. However, the general public’s access to them is restricted. Though the Texas criminal records could still be viewed by many government employees and law enforcement personnel after they have been sealed, Texas nondisclosure law allows an accused to not disclose the arrest on applications for employment and in other situations.

We have successfully filed many petitions to expunge and seal arrest records in Texas courts…

…and would be pleased to discuss the possibility with you. Feel free to call us at 512-474-6484.

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Jail Releases

When a person has been arrested in Austin, Texas and other locations there are many reasons why it is important to arrange a jail release to get out of jail as quickly as possible.

  • To reduce pressure to accept a plea bargain;
  • To avoid jail time when none is likely to be imposed;
  • To be able to freely work with defense counsel in preparing a defense; and
  • To continue living one’s life in vital ways such as keeping a job, continuing one’s education, continuing to care for one’s family, etc…

The United States and Texas Constitutions guarantee everyone the right to have a reasonable bail set in their case so that a person who has been accused of an offense, but still is presumed to be innocent, will have a chance to defend oneself and to be guaranteed due process, which includes the right to a fair trial.  There are several ways to arrange a pretrial jail release including personal bonds, cash bonds, security bonds.

When a person is arrested, almost always a judge will set a bail that requires paying a certain amount of money.  When this money is paid, it is called a cash bond.  After the person accused makes all court appearances required for his case, that money is refunded, minus a small fee.

A personal bond, also referred to as a personal recognizance bond or a “PR bond”, is a judge’s decision to release a person from jail based on the accused’s promise to appear in court whenever summoned to do so.  Personal bonds often tend to be the least expensive way to secure a person’s release from jail in Austin, Texas, before trial since they do not require posting money with the jail to be held as security. In Travis County in Austin, the Pretrial Services office will typically interview all persons arrested and held in a Travis County Jail and then make recommendations to judges regarding whether to grant or deny personal bonds for jail release. In order to qualify for one, generally a person must show they have established connections in the county, will appear in court whenever directed to do so, and do not constitute a hazard to the community.

If a person cannot afford to post a cash bond, or secure a personal bond, the accused may hire a surety who will charge a fee to guarantee payment of the bail amount if the person accused fails to appear in court as required.  Typically sureties will charge from ten to twenty per cent of the full bail amount.  The money paid to the surety is a fee that they charge for this service and is usually nor refunded when the case is concluded.  This tends to be the most expensive way to secure a release from jail, however, when a Personal Recognizance bond or a cash bond cannot be arranged, it is usually much better to spend this money than sit in jail for months or years awaiting trial.

If you would like to arrange for someone you know to be released from jail, feel free to call us at any time at 512-474-6484.

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Sex Offender Deregistration

Most persons who are convicted of any offense involving a “sex crime” will be required to register as a sex offender in Texas, even those whose offenses involved relatively minor crimes, consensual sex, or no sexual contact at all with any person.  Many of these people completed years of court ordered sex offense counseling and reported to professionals who believe they do not pose any substantial risk to re-offend.  Unfortunately, many of these people have suffered substantial negative consequences from sex offense registration, including exclusion from employment, restrictions on where they live, harassment, threats and social ostracization.  Until recently, sex offender deregistration was not possible for anyone.

Fortunately, Sex Offender Deregistration is now available for some of these people. In 2005, Texas lawmakers passed House Bill 867 which was designed to improve the rules for sex offender registration in many ways. See Article 62.401, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Those changes included a new procedure for certain sex offenders to request early termination of their requirement to register as a Texas sex offender if they are determined not to present a continuing threat to society. This would allow law enforcement authorities and the state to focus their resources on offenders who threaten public safety and would serve the interests of justice for offenders who are not a threat to re-offend.

In 2011, Senate Bill 198 and House Bill 227 were passed and enacted as the “Romeo and Juliet Bill”. See article 62.301, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. Like Article 62.401, this statute allows certain offenders to be removed from the Texas sex offender registry. It provides for a more streamlined path to deregistration, but applies only to a much smaller group of offenders.

The process for Early Termination of Sex Offender Registration in Texas requires strict adherence to statutory requirements enacted by the legislature as well as stringent rules adopted by the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment. This four-step process is designed to allow only a limited number of people to deregister.

 

Steps for Sex Offender Deregistration

  • Step Two – Application to the Council on Sex Offender Treatment for Deregistration EvaluationA written request must be submitted in order for the Council to determine the eligibility for the deregistration evaluation, along with documentation including court documents from the case, criminal background checks, and documentation of successful completion of sex offender treatment.  For more information, see the sex offender eligibility checklist published by the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment.
  • Step Three –  Deregistration Evaluation by Licensed Sex Offender Treatment Provider – Deregistration SpecialistAfter an application for deregistration has been reviewed and the applicant has been found to be fully qualified, the applicant must be evaluated by a licensed sex offender deregistration specialist. The specialist will use approved standards to assess the applicant’s threat to re-offend and prepare a final report.
  • Step Four – Petition to the Sentencing Court for Early TerminationAfter the risk assessment has been completed, the applicant for early termination may petition the court in which the underlying case was prosecuted for permission to terminate the duty to register as a sex offender.  Though each of the above steps involves rigorous scrutiny under strict standards, this final step may be one of the most difficult since each judge will be allowed wide discretion in granting the application.

Though the process for sex offender deregistration is likely to be a long and difficult one, it will be well worth it for many to apply.  Since so much is at stake and review of such applications will be rigorous, it will be extremely important to be represented by counsel who is knowledgeable in this area of law. The Law Office of Scott C. Smith represents individuals who wish to be able to deregister as sex offenders under Texas law.  We also assist attorneys throughout the state of Texas who wish to work with co-counsel located in the capital and familiar with the specialized rules and procedures of the Texas Council on Sex Offender Treatment and unique issues associated with sex offender deregistration. If you are interested in exploring the sex-offender deregistration procedure, you may contact us at 512-474-6484.

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