Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TRIALS: A Family Affair

Two weeks ago, my client was found guilty by a jury in Williamson County, Texas, of Burglary of a Habitation, a second degree Felony.

He allegedly entered the residence of his own mother, took many of his own belongings, but left with a safe containing important documents and other assorted valuables that were not his. The main witnesses for the prosecution were his own mother and sister. There was a recorded statement, pictures of the pawned valuables, and some circumstantial evidence of entry.

The main question in this trial was whether he had consent to be on the premises. The mother said that had he gathered his own things and left, that it would have been okay. She repeated this three times under questioning. That was at least some evidence that he may have had consent to enter the residence, but not take her stuff.

It's pretty tough to make an argument for a client when his family is aligned against him and he is a rather unsympathetic figure. But the legal argument was there, however, it was rejected by the jury. It was the first time that I argued my client was guilty, but not of what they said. I argued a theft conviction was fair (of course, it would have been a class "C").

For three days I thought I was practicing that dreaded area of Family Law, mediating a family feud that pitted mother and family against son. The result was 10 years in the Texas Department of Corrections for the son, a tough ending for a man who messed with mom.

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