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Houston Texas Criminal Defense Blog

Criminal defense: Teen charged for viral ice cream video

Ice cream might be an ideal summer food, but police in Texas say that a teenage girl took things a little too far. She could possibly face a felony charge for tampering with a consumer product, but since she is still a minor she will not be charged as an adult. While it is possible that prosecutors could choose to reduce her charge because she is still a minor, creating a criminal defense for a juvenile is different than doing so for an adult.

Police were first made aware of an incident in a grocery store involving a carton of Blue Bell ice cream after an internet video went viral. The video showed a teenage girl licking the top of the ice cream, replacing the lid and then returning it to the freezer shelf. She later posted the video to a social media account, where it quickly spread. The teen's boyfriend who filmed the act could also possibly face criminal charges.

Woman charged in fatal drunk driving accident

A recent Fourth of July fireworks celebration ended in the arrest of a woman who allegedly crashed her vehicle into an area that had been blocked off for the celebration. Accused of drunk driving, the woman is facing two counts for intoxication manslaughter, which is a second degree felony. Two minors were killed in the incident.

According to Texas police, the 36-year-old driver was under the influence when she drove her vehicle through a barricade blocking off the end of a highway road. She then allegedly crashed into a generator light that had been pulled to the area by a trailer. Twin girls were in the area at the time of the wreck because their family was selling fireworks at a nearby stand. The driver is accused of striking both girls during the wreck. The girls were transported to an area hospital where they later died.

Criminal defense: Nurse arrested and charged with theft

Texas police arrested a nurse on multiple charges after he allegedly stole vials of medication from his place of work. It's likely that the nurse has been let go from his position, though it was not officially reported. At last update he was still in police custody. He is charged with drug diversion and tampering with a consumer product, both of which usually require a strong criminal defense.

According to police, the 29-year-old nurse stole at least five vials of the powerful narcotic hydromorphone from a dispenser at his place of work. These thefts reportedly took place in Feb. 2019, although he was not arrested until recently. He also apparently admitted that he had injected himself with the hydromorphone, and then refilled the vials with lidocaine, an anesthetic.

Know your rights: Can Texas police search your cell phone?

Advanced technology has prompted the use of numerous types of electronic devices that you might not only not have had as a child but, perhaps, had never even heard of. Like most adults in Texas, you likely have multiple devices in your home, some of which you might carry with you when you travel. You probably don't go many places without a cell phone and may also have an iPod, personal computer or other device, as well.

What happens if police pull you over in a traffic stop and ask you to get out of your vehicle? Situations like this typically suggest that the officer in question suspects you of drunk driving or some other crime. If he or she asks to take a look at your cell phone, should you consent? It's critical that you know your rights ahead of time if you hope to protect them during a traffic stop or if police show up at your door.

Uber driver arrested on drunk driving charges

Ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft are relatively popular among groups who otherwise do not have or want a designated driver. Police in Texas say one group's plan to use Uber after a night out drinking backfired when they ended up getting into a vehicle with a driver who was allegedly intoxicated. The Uber driver has since been charged with drunk driving.

The driver had been providing rides in the early hours of the morning on a recent Thursday. She was later pulled over at approximately 1:30 a.m., shortly after providing a ride to a group of three passengers who had recently left a bar. It is not clear if her passengers thought she might have been intoxicated or if they had contacted authorities, but police also said her vehicle had been spotted speeding and drifting across lanes of traffic.

New law will affect mail theft charges

Online shopping is easier than ever. Whether with a single click of a computer mouse or a few swipes on a smartphone, all it takes is a few moments to make a purchase. The rise in online shopping also means that there are more and more deliveries, many of which sit on people's porches while they are out at work or school. Thefts involving these packages has been increasing over recent years, and a new Texas law means some of those thefts could be considered felonies.

House Bill 37 proposed changing how charges for package theft are classified. Taking a package off of another person's property could lead to a mail theft charge anywhere between a class A misdemeanor all the way up to a first-degree felony. Greg Abbott -- the Texas state governor -- recently signed the bill into law.

Police can seize property if they suspect drug crimes

Being arrested is a frightening experience. Texas defendants may be unaware of the process or their rights, or how police officers handle civil forfeiture when dealing with things like drug charges. Here are a few things that defendants might want to know about how civil forfeiture works and their options for addressing their related criminal charges.

In Texas, police officers are able to seize property through civil forfeiture if they believe the property is associated with a crime. This practice is surprisingly common. One notable example happened in Jan. 2016, when police seized $955 because they thought a man was selling prescription painkillers. He was arrested and charged, but those charges were later dropped when it became evident that he had a prescription. His money was never returned.

Accident involving police officer leads to drunk driving charges

A Texas police officer is currently recovering after she was struck by an alleged drunk driver. The driver is facing a drunk driving related charge for intoxication assault on a public servant. He has also been charged for failure to slow, causing serious bodily injury. Police might still be waiting on the results of a toxicology report.

The incident occurred at approximately 9:45 p.m., when the officer was responding to a traffic hazard. At that same time, a 58-year-old man was traveling in the same area. For reasons that are still not clear, the driver struck the officer as she stood along the road. The officer was transported to an area hospital with what were described as life-threatening injuries. She has since undergone emergency surgery.

What makes a misdemeanor different from a felony?

Facing a criminal charge is a threat to your future, freedom and opportunities. You understand that it's important to present a strong and thoughtful defense, but where should you start? Are you facing misdemeanor or felony charges? It can be smart to start with a complete understanding of the specific charges you are up against.

You will find it helpful to learn more about the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony charge. This important factor will determine the types of penalties you could be facing and what type of defense strategy you may need. When you understand the case against you, it will be easier to fight to protect your future with a personal, carefully-crafted defense strategy.

Criminal defense: Senate considers bill re Texas arrest practices

Facing jail time is often a frightening experience that can leave defendants struggling with a range of emotions. However, ending up behind bars for an offense that is not punishable by jail time can be even more frustrating. The Texas House of Representatives is currently reviewing a bill that would change that, and it could have significant implications for how some defendants end up approaching their criminal defense process.

Under current state law, defendants can be arrested and jailed for Class C misdemeanor charges. The problem with this situation? People facing these types of misdemeanors cannot serve jail time for the offenses. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by fines.

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John M. Petruzzi, Attorney at Law
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Houston, Texas 77056

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