TOP TEN:  WHAT TO DO (OR NOT DO) IF YOU GET ARRESTED ON THE COMAL RIVER DURING THE FOURTH OF JULY WEEKEND: In New Braunfels, you know it’s summertime when everyone begins frothing at the mouth about those “rowdy tubers” on the the Comal River, especially with the Fourth of July Weekend approaching.  Around here, the pillars of the community honor Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by proposing that aluminum cans be banned and that people be forced to walk on one-way sidewalks (it’s a long story).  The police seem to celebrate the Fourth by arresting everything that moves.  If you happen to one of those unfortunate souls who have their free exercise of liberty curtailed this weekend by a trip to the Comal County Jail, here are a few dos and don’ts for after you get arrested:
1.  DO KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT Once the cop has decided to arrest you, you are not talking yourself out of a ride to the jail.  Anything you say might be used against you in court and might limit the options your lawyer has in defending you.  Confessing to a crime almost never makes law enforcement “go easy on you.”  Doing so just makes it easier to convict you.  Keep your mouth shut.
2.  DON’T SIGN A PROPERTY RECEIPT WITHOUT READING IT FIRST After you are arrested, the property in your possession will be seized and inventoried, so that it may be return to once you get out of jail.  You may be asked to sign a receipt that lists the items seized.  Read it before you sign it.  Make sure all of your valuables are listed.  On the other hand, don’t sign for anything that you don’t care to claim, such as, say, an illegal weapon.  The property receipt can be used against you in court.
3.  DON’T GET “INSTANTERED” If you get arrested for a Class C misdemeanor, you may be asked if, instead of making a bail bond, you just want to sign a “guilty” or “no contest” plea, pay a fine, and have the case done.  This is called being “instantered.”  Don’t do it.  Once you sign on the dotted line, pay, and have judgment entered against you, you are convicted of a crime, and this conviction cannot later be erased from your record.  If your aim is to keep a conviction off of your record, make bail and go to court.
4.  DON’T RESIST ARREST Or evade arrest.  Half of the clients that we see with resisting and evading cases are trying to avoid going to jail for something relatively minor, such as an MIP.  Once you use force against, or try to flee from, the arresting officer, suddenly your legal problems become major.  This is also a good way to wind up in the ER.
5.  DON’T TAKE DRUGS OR WEAPONS INTO THE JAIL This is a big exception to Rule No. 1.   After you are arrested, a cop will often ask if you have any drugs or weapons on you.  If you have drugs or weapons on your person, now is the time to pipe up and say so.  If you are strip-searched at the jail, and drugs or a weapon are found on you, you risk being charged with a felony for transporting drugs or weapons into a penal facility.  If you take prescription drugs for a medical problem, let the cop know.  The cop should make sure that your meds get to a jail nurse or doctor.
6.  DON’T LIE ABOUT YOUR IDENTITY This is similar to Resisting Arrest in that, the people who get charged with Failure to Identify are usually trying to avoid going to jail for a minor offense.  Failure to Identify can carry a potential jail sentence or supervised probation, as well as plant a giant red flag to employers on any future criminal background check.  It’s never worth it to lie about your name, age, or other identifiers.
7.  DO ASK IF YOU CAN RELEASE YOUR VEHICLE/PROPERTY TO SOMEONE ELSE If you have been sufficiently civil to the arresting cop, he may return the favor by not seizing your vehicle and property after an arrest.  Ask if you can give your truck keys or other items of property to some other responsible adult.  It’s a lot easier and cheaper than getting a vehicle out of impound.
8.  DO TRANSFER YOUR CASE OUT OF NEW BRAUNFELS MUNICIPAL COURT Let’s say you get arrested for a Class C misdemeanor, and your case is referred to New Braunfels Municipal Court.  Guess what?  Your prosecutors and judges are hired and fired by the same city council that hires and fires the cops who arrested you.  The same city council that passed the weird ordinance that got you detained in the first place.  And, if you have a jury trial, your jury will likely consist of people who live within five minutes of the Comal River.  But there is hope.  You can transfer your case out of municipal court by filing something called an appeal bond.  Once filed, your case would be transferred to a county court-at-law in which the judges and prosecutors don’t have to worry about the next municipal election.
9.  DO GET NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION OF WITNESSES Nothing is more frustrating to a New Braunfels criminal defense lawyer than to have a client who was arrested on the river, claims he is innocent, and that a dozen people in his tubing group saw what happened, only to have the client, a year later, unable to remember the names of the witnesses, or how to get in touch with them.  If you plan to contest your case, one of your first chores is to get the names and contact information for all of the people who were with you on the river.  They may come in handy later.
10.  DON’T CONSENT TO A BREATH OR BLOOD TEST The Comal County District Attorney’s Office has proclaimed that it is adopting a county-wide “no test refusal” policy for Driving While Intoxicated cases for the duration of the summer.  This means that, if you get arrested for DWI after you float the river, you will be asked to give a breath or blood sample to test for alcohol in your body.  If you refuse, the cop will ask a judge for a search warrant allowing him to draw a sample of your blood without your consent.  Do not consent to any test, let the cop get a warrant, instead.  If they are going to get a sample, anyway, make them jump through hoops.  This increases the odds that their evidence will be either inadmissible or unusable in court. BONUS RULE:
11. DON’T PANIC Most people who get arrested on the Comal River have never been in trouble, and are terrified by the prospect of going to jail.  This causes them to panic and make quick decisions that they often regret for years to come.  Calm down.  Yes, jail in not a fun place.  But, typically, you are not going to be placed in the general population with everyone else, and you probably won’t be there long enough to pledge a gang or get a tattoo.  The cops have an old saying about arresting people: “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.”  But the converse is also true:  If you can’t beat the ride to jail, then by keeping calm, you just might, later on, beat the rap.


The Texas Legislature has finally gotten around to closing a semi-truck-sized loophole in the rules relating to the expunging and sealing of criminal records. You will now be able to sue private companies who release or post your criminal record after it has been ordered expunged or sealed.

Here's how private criminal record collection companies have been able to screw over folks in the past:

Let's say you're riding around in the back seat of someone else's car with a bunch of other people. The car gets stopped by a cop, who finds a baggy of marijuana on the floorboard, which no one claims. Everyone goes to jail, including you. Now you've got an arrest for Possession of Marijuana on your record, even though you've never used the stuff yourself. Your lawyer gets the D.A. to dismiss the charge, but the arrest still shows up on a background search. So you shell out some more fees to your attorney, who goes back to court and gets the arrest expunged from your record. All the law enforcement and government agencies who had a record of the arrest go erase your info from their computers and destroy whatever paperwork they had. You just dodged a potential career-ending bullet, right?



(Or, The Real Reason Why the Can Ban Will Be Overturned) “You have medded with the primal forces of nature, Mr. Beale, and I won’t have it.” --Authur Jensen, from the movie “Network” If you want to understand why the New Braunfels can ban will ultimately be overturned, you only have to remember one number: $350,000.00. That’s the estimated amount of money that the Anheuser-Busch Corporation spent on political lobbying in the state of Texas last year. During the can ban debate, so much focus has been placed on the tubers versus the anti-tourism crowd that it’s easy to forget that the ordinance has political implications that potentially extend far beyond the city limits of News Braunfels and that possibly affect interests a little more powerful than a handful of tube outfitters.


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