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Houston Texas Criminal Defense Blog

Telenovela actress charged with theft

Telenovela fans in Texas might be most familiar with Danielle Stefani Arellano for her dramatic portrayals on screen, but more recent headlines focused on the star's arrest. Arrellano is faced with a theft charge for allegedly stealing several items from an area discount designer store. The allegedly stolen items were apparently all clothing. 

It is claimed that the 52-year-old was seen removing various clothing items from their hangers and then placing them in one of the store's bags. It is not clear how she obtained the bag. After concealing the items, she approached the cashier and exchanged what were apparently previously-purchased items. She did not, however, pay for the clothing she had taken off the hangers. 

Criminal defense: 3 charged with defrauding the VA

Three Texas residents are facing serious criminal charges for allegedly defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs. Of the three, only one actually works at the VA, while one other is his wife who may have used her bookkeeping business as part of the scheme. The third individual is the owner of Whitetail Industries, which provided services and goods to an area VA. Their current criminal defense plans are not clear. 

The 55-year-old worked in the Engineer Department of a Texas VA, where he was employed as an operations supervisor. In Feb. 2012, he and the owner of Whitetail Industries allegedly agreed to submit fraudulent invoices and steal the resulting payments. Authorities believe that his wife created fake invoices that they submitted to the VA. 

Criminal charges filed over alleged daycare abuse

The owner and operator of a Texas daycare was recently arrested for allegedly abusing the children who were in her care. Multiple parents say they suspected that something was not right in the in-home facility, but police were not involved until after one father attached a camera to his son's car seat. She is now facing criminal charges for abuse. 

The unnamed father says he suspected that the 60-year-old daycare owner was mistreating his 6-month-old son, so he placed a small camera on the infant's car seat before dropping him off. The recorded video allegedly shows the daycare worker roughly handling the boy and administering an unknown substance believed to be some type of medication. Police looked at the evidence and then got a search warrant for the woman's home, where she ran the daycare. 

Patience through pretrial motions

If your future is uncertain because of a criminal charge, you may be feeling impatient to get the process started and over with. Like many unpleasant experiences, the waiting can be excruciating.

For you, a large part of this waiting may include frequent trips to the courtroom for motions and hearings. If this is your first experience in the Texas criminal justice system, it may seem like these hearings just delay the inevitable. However, pretrial motions can have a profound effect on your case.

Police charge bartenders for drunk driving wreck

Texas police charged two bartenders for a crash in which they were not physically involved. According to authorities, the bartenders over-served a patron who went on to cause a drunk driving accident in which one person was killed. Both could face up to a year behind bars and a $500 fine. 

In June 2018, a 50-year-old woman allegedly drank heavily at a Texas bar. Surveillance video from that night supposedly shows the woman stumbling and spilling her drinks, and she may have even needed help from fellow patrons in order to stand. Police say that the video also shows the two bartenders -- aged 34 and 56 -- serving her despite her intoxicated state. She then got behind the wheel of her car and struck two people on bicycles. One suffered a broken arm, and the other died. 

Do ride-sharing apps prevent drunk driving?

Going out and enjoying a drink on the weekend is second nature to many in Texas. However, safe driving habits -- such as always having a designated driver -- are not always as common. While drunk driving continues to be a serious legal problem for many individuals, some are crediting ride-sharing apps with reducing the number of intoxicated drivers behind the wheel.  

A sergeant who has worked at the Texas Department of Public Safety for 20 years claims that Houston has seen the highest number of DUI fatalities in the nation during his time there. But could things be changing? One resident thinks so, and pointed out that spending $12 on a ride-sharing service is considerably less than the potential financial and legal consequences of a DUI. 

Texas cleaning lady charged with theft

A Texas woman was recently accused of stealing from at least two houses that she had been hired to clean. Facing multiple theft charges, she posted a $1,500 bond after her first arrest, but is still currently in police custody after being arrested again. A judge has yet to set her second bond. 

A homeowner hired the 29-year-old woman after spotting her Facebook post offering cleaning services. Prior to the cleaner's arrival, the victim stored some cash in two different envelopes, wrote the amounts on the outside and placed them in a drawer. The homeowner then says she left the house for approximately two hours, which she said was to give the woman time and space to clean. She says that when she came back home her house had not been cleaned and that some prescription medicines were missing. She also claims that $600 was missing from the two envelopes, which had been re-marked to indicate new, lower amounts. 

Were police obligated to give you a Miranda warning?

You likely don't make a habit of seeking out situations that place you at risk for arrest. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that police will never take you into custody as long as you live. Any number of situations can arise that can land you in trouble with the law. If it happens, it is critical that you pay close attention to everything the officer says or does.

Texas police are not free to do or say anything they like if they pull you over in a traffic stop or show up on your doorstep at home. While you may avoid further trouble if you cooperate as best you can, you also do not have to sit back and do nothing if someone violates your rights. If a law enforcement agent intends to interrogate you under custody, the arresting officer must give you a Miranda warning.

How does your Texas city fare in drunk driving arrests?

Research into intoxicated drivers and resulting awareness campaigns are credited with helping reduce the number of related arrests over a 30-year period. However, people are still just that -- people. Texas residents are not immune from making mistakes, and when they are arrested for drunk driving offenses they have a right to thorough and vigorous representation. 

Around 1.58 percent of all drivers have had a DUI offense in the past seven years. However, some states and cities have higher rates for DUIs. This is in part due to the presence of larger, more populous cities, in which the arrest rate for drunk driving might be expected to be higher than average. 

2 men charged with violent crimes in robbery incident

Texas police arrested two men they say were involved in a recent attempted robbery. Both are facing charges for aggravated robbery with use of a deadly weapon for what authorities say was a partially unsuccessful robbery that left one woman injured. These types of violent crimes charges are quite serious. 

The victim was a woman who apparently withdrew $75,000 from her bank account earlier that same day. After the withdrawal she stored the money in her purse. Later, she and her husband stopped at the gas station where the attempted robbery occurred, although it is not clear if anyone else knew of the withdrawal or if it was a random incident. 

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

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