Criminal Case Updates: Dec. 19, 2019

It has been a rewarding week as we build up to the Christmas holidays.
Here a couple of case outcomes we obtained this week:

Minor in Consumption:

In a small town, several high school students were written citations for Minor in Consumption (MIC). This is something “relatively” new. Back in my day, it was only Minor in Possession (MIP). Now the police can cite kids who may have “consumed” alcohol underage – without doing any sort of testing such as a breathalyzer. It is a Class C ticket, but it can have a long-lasting impact on a young person’s record and driver’s license.

About (8) of these students hired us. Later, we consulted with the mother who was home and providing a safe place for these kids to do what they were going to do anyway. She had been arrested at the scene for providing alcohol to minors, but that was a disputable fact.

One of the parents of the kids was adamant that the police illegally entered the home and asked us to dig deeper by obtaining the video footage from the officer(s) bodyware camera. With collaboration from another lawyer’s office, we obtained the video and sure enough, the officer entered the residential back gate without permission and without a warrant.

The local city prosecutor relied on an exception to needing a warrant called “exigent circumstances.” This means that in the officer’s mind, he needed to make entry without a warrant or permission to prevent evidence from being destroyed.

Unsatisfied with this, we appealed the city citations to the county level and discussed with the District Attorney. After providing the video footage to the Assistant District Attorney in charge of these matters, it was decided that the Office would not move forward with prosecuting the mother.

We are still working on getting the kids’ cases dismissed. Eventually they will be dismissed – the question is whether they will be dismissed due to the illegal entry or whether they will be dismissed because the kids took an alcohol awareness class. At the time of the citations the kids were disciplined by their coaches, which was harsher than anything the State could require.

What is frustrating to the parents is that they pay high taxes to have their kids attend school in this particular small town. Their tax dollars pay the salaries of these police officers. It was a controlled environment for the safety of all. Yet the officers who are paid by the citizens initialized these criminal prosecutions against the residents who pay their salaries. Then the parents and their children were blasted in a weekly email that goes out to the entire small town, they had to pay money for a lawyer, plus the stress of having this hanging over their kids’ heads as these good students start their college application process. The icing on the cake was when we learned that the officer made an illegal entry to get to the kids.

Once all these cases are dismissed, I am certain that the City Council and local police department will hear from these folks.

Intoxication Assault

In another case, the client is a Marine. He is 100% disabled with real PTSD. A combination of his PTSD medication and some beer during a stressful time caused him to lose consciousness while driving down I-45. He rear-ended another driver with his F-250 truck while the other driver was at a standstill. The client does not remember anything about this incident. He left the scene and continued to drive home without a front right wheel where a 911 caller followed him and the client was arrested at his home. Eventually, the client was charged with Intoxication Assault in Harris County and DWI in Galveston County. He had no prior criminal history prior to these charges.

Yesterday, the client was accepted into the Harris County Veterans Court program where he will be on probation for several years for the Intoxication Assault while working closely with the VA, the courts and other folks who are qualified to work with Veterans like this client of ours. Before the court pronounced sentence, the State brought the victim to give a statement to our client in open court. It was a very emotional statement. After expressing her anger, describing her ongoing medical procedures, permanent disfigurement and losses incurred as a result of our client’s actions, she softened and expressed forgiveness and love for our client, citing Bible passages.

When it was over, our client was allowed one-on-one time in a private room with the victim where he cried as he told her how sorry he is for his actions and the impact his choices have had on her and her life. They hugged each other and cried together. It was a beautiful moment. Even I cried watching the interaction.

In the end, our client asked the victim if when the time came for the client to graduate from the Veteran’s court, would the victim attend his graduation. With love, she accepted his offer. I look forward to that day. Ultimately, it was their mutual love for Jesus Christ that bonded these two folks from different sides of this awful criminal case. How awesome is that as we approach Christmas?

Government Closes for Holidays

During the Christmas holidays and leading up to the New Year, the Government basically shuts down. Not much movement occurs over the next two weeks, although our office is open and we continue to work. It is usually a good time for us to catch up on clients’ casework since I am not in court every day.

Update: State of Texas v. Antonio Armstrong Jr.

As a reminder, remember that after the holiday on January 6, 2020, we start picking a jury in the State of Texas v. Antonio Armstrong Jr., the re-trial of the capital murder allegation against this young man accused of murdering his parents. It is expected that this case will take the entire month of January. You can follow the trial in the local news, especially with Courtney Fischer at ABC13 (@CourtneyABC13).

More Updates Coming

Just like we did in April, I will be working on our other clients’ cases before and after court and on the weekends. We will keep everyone posted on their cases as we work through them. Most of our open cases are pending right now are waiting for the State to provide us discovery.

In the meantime, wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!
May God’s blessings rain down on each and every one of you during this special time and as we close out one year and start a new one.

…And remember, if you know someone who goes to jail, have ‘em call JL! 713.201.6767