Reading between the lines from this KXAN news story, “Man Faces Life In Prison for Perjury”:

A Liberty Hill man faces life in prison for aggravated perjury charges after claiming he was innocent following a plea bargain with the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors say Markus Peavy had made false statements in his plea bargain and the writ when claiming he was not guilty of DWI charges. Peavy is two years into a 55-year sentence for a fourth DWI conviction.

Continue Reading Perjury For Filing A Writ Of Habeas Corpus?

I sent an open records request just now to Austin Police Department to find out the costs to taxpayers for this:

In an undercover prostitution-reversal sting, the Austin Police Department Central Metro Tactical Unit arrested 23 males, all varying in age.

Undercover police officers posed as prostitutes and when men agreed to service terms, they were arrested on the scene.

I’ll update the post when I get a response. In the meantime, any one care to hazard a guess as to how much it cost taxpayers to dress up female officers as prostitutes and make 23 arrests for prostitution?
 

Mike, of Crime and Federalism, reads an article about sex trafficking, “San Francisco Is A Major Center For International Crime Networks That Smuggle And Enslave”, and proclaims:

I’d always said, gee, of course prostitution should be legal. I’m changing my mind. San Francisco has de facto legalized prostitution. You can go to MyRedBook.com to read reviews of "massage parlors." Prostitution is, more-or-less, legal.

 

Continue Reading De Facto Legalization of Prostitution?

AKA the phrase you’ll never see written in an appellate decision or hear spoken out loud.

Gideon’s post about the fifth consecutive failed attempt by Connecticut’s legislature to pass an open container law got me thinking:

So, come to CT, where you can drink and drive (just not drunk and driving).

Well, in Texas we do indeed have an open container law, but we also have drive through liquor stores. Go figure. That’s got to be illegal in (most? perhaps all?) other parts of the country.

Anyone?

Update: A little googling and I find that Fox Noise reports that Texas is not alone. At least we were the first, and apparently the best at it. (Everything’s bigger in Texas.)

Texas boasts the most drive-thru liquor stores in the country. And despite legal controversy for drinking-and-driving-related reasons, they have also popped up in Maryland, Louisiana, Arizona and Hawaii, to name a few.

Filed under ‘sad but true’ comes Stephen’s post at South Texas Defense on over-criminalization being one reason he practices in juvi court:

Fighting at school is a good example. When I was growing up, if you got into a fight at school, you got detention (at school, not at a juvenile facility) or maybe, suspension. Now, thirteen year-old kids are taken into police custody and end up in court.

As a result of their dispositions in court, many of the kids will end up on probation, with a probation officer checking in on them every so often. All of this for a fight at school.

Put it down to fear.

Parents these days fear a Columbine type incident, and I don’t necessarily blame them. But the over reaction to that fear is felt in ways that they themselves are surprised at. Stephen’s post is titled “Let me get this straight, my kid is a felon?”

So in an effort to combat another Columbine in our hometown high school, we have police at the ready. For any situation.

Hey, there’s a couple of kids fighting. No need to look up the penal code to know that sounds like assault. Crime committed. Police available. Predictable result.

The principal – or other administrator in charge – that calls for the police in this situation is the one to blame. Doesn’t he remember this happened at Lincoln High every week when he was a kid? Did the police need to come “handle that situation”?

My wife often asks me if there isn’t some sort of ‘common sense’ written into the criminal laws. I keep telling her there’s not.

A former police officer, county Sheriff, and corrections officer asked Simple Justice a simple question: “When does a felon become an ex-felon? Is even a low grade nonviolent felony conviction a life sentence? And, if it is, should it be?” To which he replied, in part:

Mr. Woodward is old enough to remember when we used to say that a person who completed his sentence had "paid his debt to society."  How quaint that sounds today, like some line by Atticus Finch to Scout.  When is the last time (other than here) that you heard someone use this archaic phrase? 

Actually, Scott, I hear it all the time, at least, if you allow me to tweak the question.  I hear all about “I’ve paid my debt to society” or something similar, when I start explaining Texas’ enhancement provisions to clients. They want to know about the “constitutionality” of holding past criminal convictions against them, you know… the ones for which they have already “done their time”.

Typically, at least in Texas, enhanced misdemeanor offenses fall into one of a few general categories:

  • DWI: Class B Misdemeanor, Class A Misdemeanor, then 3rd Degree Felony
  • Assault Family Violence: Class A Misdemeanor, 3rd Degree Felony
  • Theft: Any Class of felony or misdemeanor based on the combined value of the items alleged stolen, until finally the 3rd theft becomes a State Jail Felony. 

For some reason, folks don’t seem to get enhanced on Theft charges until they’ve hit their 10th or more; but DWIs and Assaults are almost always enhanced, at least in Travis County. Seems like most clients are either of the first time variety, or the “Wow, you’ve really got a rap sheet” variety. I know that can’t be actually true (how did anyone ever get those convictions numbers two through nine?) but I don’t remember the last time I had a third or fourth “only” type theft client.

Of course, Texas also has Felony enhancement provisions too. Probably better left for another post, but suffice it to say, those DWIs and Assault charges can be raised to higher charges still, if the defendant has prior pen trips.

So, yeah, I hear about that quaint concept of “not holding my priors against me”. But as for everyone else, it’s a forgotten concept.

Still in DC, and my sister in law (who has been an excellent host this week) notices this AP story reproduced in the Washington Post. 

“Two years for a beating and stabbing attack on a homeless man?” she exclaims, looking to me for a reasonable explanation. When you’re the defense lawyer in the family, you get these sorts of inquiries.

In Texas, we don’t have degrees of murder and manslaughter, as most other states do, so I don’t know what constitutes attempted second degree murder in Florida. Not many details in the story, but it sounds like something that would be prosecuted in Texas as Aggravated Assault and/or Attempted Murder, both 3g offenses and second degree felonies with punishment ranges of 2-20 years.

“Guess they gotta keep those prison beds open for marijuana and drug offenders,” is the best I can reply.

The Sheriff’s Office publishes a list of everyone booked into the Travis County Jail, and I’ve been watching it over the last week or so to keep track of the new policy of housing Immigration (ICE) in the jail. The numbers of folks listed under ‘INS Detainer’ has certainly increased exponentially.

But today I noticed that there were over thirty arrests for prostitution this weekend, and while I don’t look at the list regularly, much less keep detailed statistics,  I’m pretty sure that means there was a john sting operation.

This must mean that the Austin Police Department spent a ton of your money, dressing an undercover officer up as a hooker, and sent her out to solicit sex from ‘johns,’ that is to say, men looking for prostitutes. Or maybe they were stopped at a light because it was red, and had no intention of doing anything but passing through, until they were propositioned by a cop.

It used to be that I’d see these things publicized in the local paper – not the names of the arrestees, but the fact that the police department had run a sting, and how proud they were that they had arrested so many people, etc. But I’ve searched Google News and the Austin American Statesman, and I can’t find a press release or anything.

Hey, if you guys aren’t going to brag about this, is that some sort of indication that you think public support for these stings is waning? And if so, any chance you could use our money on something more useful?

Also See:

I have a specific question regarding a recent arrest in [XXX] Texas.

My boyfriend was arrested for possession of marijuana (less than two grams) during a traffic stop – he had recently had body work done on his car and the front license plate was missing.

This is his first offense and he was very compliant and was released on a PR bond (after the magistrate had made fun of him first and said he looked like a girl about a half dozen times – quite unprofessional in my opinion).

Anyways, he travels out of the country quite a bit for his job and he’s worried that if he is given a long probation sentence it would cause him to lose his job.

Another friend of mine got a DUI and elected to pay a hefty fine and do a little jail time in lieu of probation so that he too could leave the country.

Would this be possible in my boyfriend’s case (I know you can’t predict what will happen, but I’m wondering if that is even a possibility or if probation is mandatory for a class b misdemeanor first offense)?

He is currently in the process of finding a defense attorney with experience in possession cases.

[Anonymous – via email]

Answer:

Class B Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana is punishable by ‘up to’ 180 days in jail and ‘up to’ a $2000 fine. This means a sentence, after conviction, of as low as 1 day in jail with credit for the time he spent in jail already with a $0 fine is a possibility. 

Unfortunately, it’s only possible to do this if convicted, and while I don’t practice in [XXX] Texas, I imagine that some form of deferred probation without a conviction is a very reasonable possibility.

The local probation department will want him to be employed, so traveling may have to be pre-arranged, but will not likely be prohibited.  If we knew in advance that only a final conviction with jail time, or a deferred probation withou a conviction were possible, he still might need to at least consider the deferred to avoid the conviction – and to set himself up to eventually file a motion for non disclosure to seal the records.

Finally, with no prior arrests of any sort, a good defense lawyer will possibly be able to get your boyfriend a reduction to a Class C (traffic ticket level) offense, or perhaps even a dismissal, with counseling and/or community service done up front. Obviously, either of these outcomes are within the range of best case scenario, and I appreciate your realizing up front I can’t predict a particular result.

However, to answer the question directly, there is no mandatory probation for possession of marijuana in Texas – as is there is, for example, for 3rd offense enhanced Class B public intoxication.

Quick. What’s the definition of prostitution? Having sex for money, right?

Yes, if you are using the Webster’s dictionary definition:

Main Entry: pros·ti·tu·tion
Pronunciation: "präs-t&-‘tü-sh&n, -‘tyü-
Function: noun
1 : the act or practice of engaging in promiscuous sexual relations especially for money
2 : the state of being prostituted : Debasement

Perfectly correct, but that’s not the complete legal definition of the crime ‘prostitution’, at least not in Texas. And I doubt in any other state.

The legal definition of prostitution in the Texas Penal Code:

§ 43.02. Prostitution. 

(a)    A person commits an offense if he knowingly: 

            (1) offers to engage, agrees to engage, or engages in sexual conduct for a fee; or

            (2) solicits another in a public place to engage with him in sexual conduct for hire.

(b) An offense is established under Subsection (a)(1) whether the actor is to receive or pay a fee. An offense is established under Subsection (a)(2) whether the actor solicits a person to hire him or offers to hire the person solicited.

(c) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, unless the actor has previously been convicted one or two times of an offense under this section, in which event it is a Class A misdemeanor. If the actor has previously been convicted three or more times of an offense under this section, the offense is a state jail felony.

Most criminal prosecutions of prostitution cases rest on the “knowingly offers to engage or agrees to engage in sex” part of the statute. In other words, no consummation necessary.

That’s what makes so called ‘John Stings’ work. The police (usually female) dress up as, well, as something other than policewomen, and approach men in their cars, and offer sex for money. When the man agrees, the officer directs him to drive down the street where she tells him the hotel is.

Of course, it’s not her hotel room, it’s the jump out boys, and they arrest him and take him to jail.

Clients frequently come in and tell me that it wasn’t prostitution; it was ‘solicitation of prostitution’ or perhaps they call it just ‘solicitation’. I pull out the Penal Code and show them the definition itself.

All of this came to mind when I ran across a story in the Chicago Sun-Times Group Beacon News titled ‘Reverse prostitution sting nets 13 arrests’:

Eleven men and two women were arrested and charged Tuesday night during a four-hour reverse prostitution sting, Aurora police said.

The men were charged with solicitation of a sexual act after police said they offered undercover female officer cash in exchange for sex acts. The two women, ages 17 and 16, were charged with obstructing police after they continually interfered with officers conducting the operation, police said.

It’s not a reverse prostitution sting. 

It apparently seemed like the reverse of prostitution to the reporter, because the police were the ones initially coming up with the ‘idea’ while the guy in the car was merely assenting to it. But I’d bet dollars to donuts that the Illinois statute covers this the same way Texas does.

Perhaps I’ll come up with a tag I call “Your Tax Dollars at Work” and report on every time Austin Police Department sets one of these things up. They do get quite expensive.

And I still need to write up a post on asking for a 38.23 instruction based on the illegal police behavior. But in the meantime, here are some related posts on the subject:

Are Prostitution Stings Entrapment Under Texas Law?

Prostitution Banishment Zones