Frequently asked Questions

Should I consult with an attorney if I am only under investigation for a crime?

Even if you have not been charged with a crime, you should seek the advice of an attorney. If you have been informed that you are under investigation for a crime, you have a right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during all questioning. The questions asked during an investigation can be used against you later.

If you need a criminal lawyer for any reason, contact the Austin, Texas firm of Minton, Burton, Bassett, & Collins, P.C. Let our Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists put decades of experience to work for you. Contact us for a confidential consultation through our online form or by phone at (512) 476-4873. We represent clients charged with federal crimes in Austin, TX and the surrounding communities, including: Hays County (Buda, Dripping Springs, Kyle, San Marcos, Wimberley); Travis County (Creedmoor, Elroy, Manor, Pflugerville); Williamson County (Cedar Park, Georgetown, Liberty Hill, Florence, Leander, Round Rock, Taylor); Bastrop County (Bastrop, Clearview, Elgin, Rockne, Smithville); Comal County (Bulverde, Canyon Lake, Gruene, New Braunfels, Sattler, Startzville); Burnet County (Bertram, Burnet, Marble Falls); and Caldwell County (Lockhart, Luling).

What is a federal crime?

Basically, there are two reasons that a criminal case is filed in federal court. Either (1) there is an alleged violation of federal, as opposed to state, law; or (2) the crime alleged took place on federal property.

What is the difference between state law and federal law?

State governments have the power to determine what constitutes a crime statutorily (through the legislature) and through common law. They also have the power to protect their citizens from criminal activity by prosecuting criminals. In contrast, the federal government has limited jurisdiction and must link any crimes it prosecutes to its Constitutional powers such as the commerce power, the taxing power, and the postal power. Examples of successful federal criminal legislation are the federal gun laws, federal drug laws, and federal computer laws.

Are deferred adjudication records public?

Yes. It is a common misconception that deferred adjudication records are removed from a defendant's criminal history upon successful conclusion of the probation period. However, the law does not provide for automatic expunction of deferred adjudication records. Accordingly, unless there is a court order directing otherwise, records of a prosecution resulting in a deferred adjudication are publicly available in court records.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

Generally, a crime punishable by imprisonment of less than one year is considered a misdemeanor. Felonies are more serious offenses and are punishable by imprisonment of one year or more. People convicted of misdemeanors are sentenced to local, city, or county jail while people convicted of felonies are sentenced to state or federal prison. In Texas, felonies are categorized into five different categories (capital murder and felony in four degrees) while misdemeanors are categorized into three classes.

How are children who are accused of a crime treated by the criminal justice system?

The same criminal code that applies to adults also applies to children. Although there is not a special juvenile code, there is a special court system to handle juvenile crime and children cannot be imprisoned with adults. Sentences imposed on juveniles are designed to educate and rehabilitate, rather than punish.

Are white collar crimes limited to business professionals?

No. Although white collar crime used to focus on the occupational status of the accused, the current definition focuses on the actions committed by the accused. White collar crime is defined as using illegal acts involving deceit to obtain property or services or to gain a business or professional advantage. Examples include embezzlement, mail fraud, forgery, and extortion. A specific law known as RICO, which punishes anyone who engages in a pattern of racketeering to generate income to buy a business or to conduct a business, has been applied to drug dealers and other non-organized crime defendants.

What are computer crimes?

Computer crimes concern illegal activity involving one or more components of the Internet such as email, websites, and chat rooms. Internet crimes use the Internet to communicate false or fraudulent representations. These crimes include cyber stalking, computer hacking, identity theft, Internet fraud, and Internet sex offenses.

Are all illegal drugs treated equally when it comes to punishing drug offenses?

No, sentencing for drug crimes varies greatly. Penalties depend on the criminal conduct (possession, manufacture, distribution, etc.) as well as the classification of the drug (cocaine, marijuana, heroin, etc.) and the amount of the drug. Federal sentencing guidelines begin with 43 base offense levels and add or subtract levels depending on certain specified criteria. The higher the offense level, the more severe the sentence imposed.

What is the difference between rape and sexual assault?

Historically, a very specific set of circumstances had to occur in order for an unwanted sexual act to be considered rape. The sexual act at issue had to be forced intercourse, the rapist had to be a man, and the victim had to be a woman other than rapist’s wife. Instead of the term "rape," many modern penal codes now use the term sexual abuse or sexual assault to define the prohibited acts. Rape is covered by these statutes and may be designated as sexual abuse in the first degree. Lesser offenses such as unwanted touching or lascivious acts may be included in the definition of sexual assault.

Can a person be guilty of drunk driving if he or she only had a few drinks?

Yes. Drunk driving occurs either when a driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) above 0.08 or when a driver is operating his or her vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Under the first definition, if it is proven that the person's BAC at the time of the incident was 0.08 or greater, he or she can be convicted of drunk driving, regardless of how much alcohol was actually consumed. Under the second definition, the evidence focuses on the person’s driving behavior instead of any particular BAC. If the person's driving is impaired by the consumption of alcohol, he or she can be found guilty of drunk driving.

Law Awards

Awards given to our attorneys for excellence.

Michael Burnett -

  • Recognized in 2008 and 2005 as a "Rising Super Lawyer" by Texas Monthly.
  • A.V. Rated by Martindale-Hubbell

Jeffrey David Miller -

  • Recognized in 2008 as a "Rising Star Super Lawyer" by Texas Monthly Magazine.
  • Elected in 2008 as a Fellow of the Texas Bar Association.