Criminal law is a very challenging area of law that deals with many types of offenses. Due to the nature of some of these offenses, cultural differences can make handling them more challenging. Therefore, a valid  defense requires legal representation by a criminal defense attorney who understands these differences and their importance to a client’s defense. Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer is essential whenever the defendant is the citizen of another country, a person with different beliefs and different rules of conduct.

How Culture Affects People’s Actions

Different cultures around the world have different acceptable codes of conduct, which poses a large problem when such conduct is not acceptable as part of the laws of the United States.  It is up to defense lawyers to bring these differing standards to light, since often people not originally from the United States do not realize they have done something wrong. While this does not excuse them from disobeying U.S. laws, the courts sometimes take such circumstances into consideration when a person acts according to their country’s acceptable conduct in areas such as age of consent and the rights and roles of women.  These laws regarding familial and public rights and roles can be very different than acceptable conduct in the U.S.

The U.S. Court System and Cultural Differences

In criminal cases where conviction penalties can be severe, particularly in areas such as sexual offenses where these differences in cultural and world views are more common, all Texas criminal defense attorneys should try to understand a defendant’s motives.  This is a very real issue in the United State because of the large number of citizens from other countries who live here. Assimilation and understanding the U.S. legal system takes time, especially when you factor in the barriers posed by language and cultural differences to those people who must learn about such differences.

The important factor regarding these cultural barriers in Texas is that there are many citizens from other countries who live in the state.  These visitors are at a greater risk of breaking the law without realizing it, which makes it so important to understand the culture of their home country. When accused of a crime, defendants may be able to show that their actions reflected their cultural differences and not a true intent to commit a crime.  In some cases, consideration can be given in both guilt-finding as well as penalty assessment if found guilty.  Criminal defense lawyers may not be able to get charges completely dropped; however, it is possible to have punishments reduced by showing the courts that the defendant’s actions were due to cultural differences.

Representation of such client cases is often quite challenging.  It involves determining actual intent in view of cultural differences, then explaining such intent to a judge and/or jury. Working with criminal defense attorneys experienced in cultural issues is essential, especially in locations with a higher number of residents with differing cultural viewpoints about individual actions. Anyone charged with a criminal offense who believes their action was honestly based on differing cultural beliefs, without knowledge or intent of committing a crime, should discuss their case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible!

Garza & Elizondo, LLP

680 East St. Charles, Suite 600

Brownsville TX 78520

(956) 202-0067

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