Attorney Anna Summersett, co-founder and partner of Varghese Summersett, has been named a Forty Under Forty by the Fort Worth Business Press – an annual list that recognizes 40 honorees, all under age 40, who are helping to shape Fort Worth’s future through their professional accomplishments and community involvement.
Summersett and the other award recipients were honored on Wednesday, June 21, during a ceremony at the Fort Worth Zoo. She will also be featured in an upcoming edition of the Fort Worth Business Press.
“It’s an honor to have been selected along with so many extraordinary men and women,” Summersett said. “We represent different sectors of the Fort Worth business community, but all share the same goal of making a positive impact in our city. I can’t help but be inspired by the collective efforts of everyone making Fort Worth a strong and vibrant place to live and work.”
According to the Fort Worth Business Press, the Forty Under Forty awards were first presented in 1994 for the purpose of singling out emerging leaders under the age of 40 for their success in business and in life and for their contributions to the Tarrant County community. Over the years, many of the honorees have gone on to rank among the area’s most accomplished, influential, and recognizable citizens.
Summersett’s selection as a Forty Under Forty honoree reflects her commitment to excellence. Throughout her career, she has excelled at everything she has set her mind to — from becoming one of the youngest board-certified criminal attorneys in the state of Texas to co-owning one of the fastest-growing law firms in North Texas.
In 2014, Summersett and her now-husband, Benson Varghese, left their jobs as prosecutors at the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office to start Varghese Summersett, a criminal defense firm that has since expanded into family and personal injury law. The firm has been named one of the fastest-growing businesses in the U.S. by Inc. 5000 magazine; a best company to work for by Fort Worth Inc. magazine; and recognized as a best place for working parents by the city of Fort Worth.
Summersett has been named a finalist as an Entrepreneur of Excellence, a Top Attorney, and a Super Lawyer Rising Star, among other accolades. She is also heavily involved in her community, serving in numerous legal and community organizations. In addition to being a great lawyer, successful businesswoman, and philanthropic leader, Summersett is a devoted wife and mother to three boys, all under the age of 5.
“I’m incredibly proud of Anna’s accomplishments, both professionally and personally,” said Benson Varghese, managing partner of the firm and her husband. “She has been integral to developing our firm culture, which has been central to our success and ultimately the success of our clients. We are incredibly thankful for all she brings to the firm and thankful for this recognition of her relentless spirit. I honestly don’t know how she does it all.”
Former U.S. President Donald Trump has been federally indicted over his handling of classified documents after he left the White House, marking the first time in history that an ex-president faces federal criminal charges.
[If you are looking for information on the Trump target letter, check out our most recent article.]
The indictment comes two months after Trump was indicted on state charges by a New York grand jury for allegedly falsifying business records in connection with hush money paid to an adult film actress.
The federal charges will differ in many respects from the New York charges and carries carry more severe legal consequences. The former president has denied wrongdoing in both cases and maintains that he is the victim of political persecution.
In this article, Board Certified Criminal Attorney Benson Varghese explains the Trump federal indictment and answers questions about this unprecedented development in the nation’s political and legal history.
The 44-page indictment was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. It lists 37 counts against Trump and also names Waltine Nauta, a Trump aide who worked as a White House valet and later served as his “body man,” as a co-conspirator. The charges include:
The charges carry various maximum penalties – ranging from 5 years in prison to 20 years in prison.
Shortly after Trump left office in January 2021, the National Archives asked Trump to return presidential documents or records, citing that they were the property of the federal government. Trump initially resisted but eventually agreed to turn over 15 boxes of materials – some of which contained documents marked “classified.” Due to the classified nature of the documents, Archives officials alerted the Justice Department which launched an investigation.
In April 2022, the Department of Justice issued a subpoena to Trump ordering him to turn over all remaining classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. In the following weeks, his attorneys handed over a folder containing classified records along with a letter that allegedly assured federal officials that was everything.
Four months later, the FBI raided Trump’s estate and allegedly recovered additional boxes containing classified material, along with personal items and other non-classified presidential records. Two weeks later, Trump sued to reclaim the property and a court battle followed.
On November 16, 2022, Trump announced he will run for reelection. Four days later, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed U.S. Special Counsel Jack Smith to oversee the classified documents investigation.
A grand jury investigation ensued and, on June 8, 2023, Trump announced on social media that he had been indicted. The U.S. Justice Department later unsealed the indictment, which alleges that Trump had stored in his boxes information regarding “defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack.”
The indictment states that the “unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.”
Jack Smith, the man appointed to investigate former President Donald J. Trump, is a long-time prosecutor with the Justice Department.
Born on June 5, 1969, in Clay, New York, Smith graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta in 1991 before attending Harvard Law School. He began his career as a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office shortly after graduating and moving to a similar role at the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn.
Smith’s appointment as special counsel in November 2021 came with the duty of overseeing two investigations into Mr. Trump: one into his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, including the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, and the other into Mr. Trump’s retention of classified materials at his residence in Florida.
A federal indictment is a formal accusation issued by a grand jury that charges an individual or entity with committing a federal crime. It is a legal document that outlines the specific charges and alleges that the person or entity has violated federal law. The indictment is typically presented by a federal prosecutor and serves as the basis for initiating criminal proceedings in federal court. It indicates that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial and allows the accused party to be formally notified of the charges against them.
A federal grand jury is a group of citizens convened by the federal government to determine whether there is enough evidence to formally charge someone with a federal crime. The grand jury is composed of a panel of individuals who are randomly selected from the community and serve a specific term. Their primary role is to review evidence and testimony presented by prosecutors in order to assess whether there is probable cause to bring criminal charges against an individual. Federal grand juries are comprised of between 16 and 23 people and each case must receive at least 12 votes establishing that probable cause exists that the target committed a specific federal offense.
Unlike a trial jury, which determines guilt or innocence, a grand jury’s function is to investigate and decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a criminal case. This is done at a probable cause level. The proceedings of a grand jury are conducted in secret, and the accused person is not present during the jury’s deliberations. The purpose of this secrecy is to protect the integrity of the investigation and safeguard the identities of witnesses.
If a federal grand jury determines that there is sufficient evidence, they issue an indictment, which formally charges the individual with the alleged federal crime. The indictment initiates the legal process and allows for the accused person to be brought to trial in a federal court.
Trump has been ordered to report to the federal courthouse in Miami at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13 for an arraignment. He will appear before a judge to hear the charges against him and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Learn more about the stages of a federal criminal case.
The federal charges for which Trump is accused are serious and carry possible prison time. If he is convicted by a jury – and that is a big IF – a federal judge will determine his sentence after a hearing. Learn more about sentencing in the federal system.
These are two completely separate investigations stemming from entirely different allegations. One case is being prosecuted by the state of New York, while the other is being prosecuted by the federal government. Here’s a quick overview of both:
Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury for 34 counts of falsifying business records stemming from accusations that he provided hush-money payments to a former adult film star in 2016. The payments were allegedly part of a scheme to suppress Stormy Daniels’ claims when had an affair with Trump. The case is being prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. A felony charge of falsifying business records is punishable by up to four years in prison in the state of New York.
Trump has been indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts of violation of federal law, stemming from accusations that he mishandled classified documents. The is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He faces numerous counts, the most serious of which is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in federal prison in the U.S.
And while state and federal cases have some similarities, there are also very distinct differences between the two systems. For example, in state cases, juries typically decide punishment. In federal cases, only a judge decides. Learn more about the difference between state and federal cases.
There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution or federal law that says which case – a federal case or a state case – gets priority or that prosecutions must proceed in the order in which an indictment is issued. So, it remains to be seen which case will go first. Typically, federal cases proceed much quicker than state cases, but there is nothing typical about either one of these cases.
Absolutely. The United States Constitution outlines the requirements to run for President in Article II, Section 1. According to the Constitution, a candidate must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the office of President:
There is nothing that prohibits Trump from running for president while under state or federal indictment. In fact, he has used both criminal cases to invigorate his run for President of the United States.
An affidavit of nonprosecution is a written statement in Texas wherein a victim of an alleged crime declares their desire not to press charges against the accused. Although this document can be considered by the prosecutor, it does not guarantee the case will be dismissed, as the decision to proceed with or drop charges ultimately lies with the district attorney’s office.
When family members or friends get into a confrontation and someone gets arrested, the alleged victim often has “buyer’s remorse” the next day – that is, they regret that the police ever got involved. Not only was their loved one jailed, but now they are facing criminal prosecution and a possible record. The alleged victim tries to take it all back and tells the police or prosecutors that they want to “drop charges” – but unfortunately, that is easier said than done.
In many counties in Texas, and especially Tarrant County, police and prosecutors do not just drop charges solely at the request of an alleged victim. However, there is a mechanism in place – called an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas – that may influence the prosecutor’s decision to proceed with a criminal case. Note, we emphasized the word “may.”
In this article, our experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys explain an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas, how to complete an ANP, why prosecutors are often skeptical of this legal document, and how it may impact a criminal case.
An affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas is a sworn statement made by an alleged crime victim expressing their desire for the accused not be prosecuted and for charges to be dismissed. In Texas, this legal document is often used in cases involving domestic violence, assault, or other crimes where the alleged victim has a personal relationship with the defendant. It is also sometimes used in theft cases where the victim has been fully or partially reimbursed by the accused.
An affidavit of non-prosecution serves as a formal declaration by the alleged victim that they do not wish to participate in the prosecution process. This document can be submitted to the prosecutor’s office or the court as evidence of the victim’s intentions not to cooperate. It must be notarized.
Prosecutors consider several factors when deciding whether to pursue charges, and the victim’s wishes can be a persuasive factor in their determination. However, an affidavit of non-prosecution does not guarantee the dismissal of charges. Prosecutors are not legally obligated to abide by the alleged victim’s wishes in an affidavit of non-prosecution.
In fact, prosecutors generally don’t trust ANPs. They are skeptical that the alleged victim has ulterior motives for completing an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas. It’s not uncommon for prosecutors to move forward with a case against the alleged victim’s wishes.
As mentioned, prosecutors are often skeptical of affidavits of non-prosecution in Texas. While the alleged victim’s intentions may be completely pure and true, prosecutors still may question their motives. Here are some reasons an alleged victim might choose to file an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas:
In some cases, the alleged victim or witness may decide to reconcile with the accused person, particularly if they share a personal relationship, such as family members or close friends. Reconciliation may involve resolving disputes or misunderstandings, leading the alleged victim or witness to reconsider their stance on the case. This change of heart may result in a request to drop the charges or the submission of a non-prosecution affidavit.
The alleged victim or witness may be afraid that the accused or their associates will retaliate against them if they continue to support the prosecution’s case. This fear can manifest as threats of physical harm, emotional abuse, or other adverse consequences. In such situations, the alleged victim or witness may choose to recant their statement, withdraw their support for the case, or request non-prosecution to protect themselves.
If the evidence supporting the allegations against the accused is weak or unreliable, the alleged victim or witness may question the validity of their initial statement or testimony. This doubt may lead them to revise or retract their account of events, potentially impacting the prosecution’s case. In some instances, the alleged victim or witness may request non-prosecution due to concerns about the evidentiary basis of the charges.
The alleged victim or witness may rely on the accused for emotional support, financial assistance, or other forms of dependency. This reliance can create a conflict of interest, as the alleged victim or witness may be hesitant to pursue legal action against someone they depend on. In such cases, they may reconsider their involvement in the case or seek non-prosecution to preserve their relationship with the accused.
When the alleged victim or witness and the accused have children together, this shared parental responsibility can further complicate the decision-making process in a criminal case. The alleged victim or witness may be concerned about the impact of the legal proceedings on their children, both emotionally and financially. They may also worry about the potential disruption to their family life, such as custody arrangements or the children’s relationship with the accused parent. As a result, the alleged victim or witness may choose to seek reconciliation, request non-prosecution, or reconsider their involvement in the case to prioritize their children’s well-being and maintain family stability.
In some instances, the alleged victim or witness may have initially provided a false or misleading account of the events in question. This falsehood could be the result of various factors, such as personal animosity, a desire for attention, or a misguided attempt to protect themselves or someone else. If the alleged victim or witness later acknowledges that their initial statement was untruthful, they may decide to recant their testimony or request non-prosecution to rectify the situation and prevent further legal repercussions for the accused.
These factors, individually or in combination, can significantly impact the course of a criminal case and the decisions made by the alleged victim or witness. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for both the prosecution and defense when preparing their strategies and addressing the concerns of those involved in the case.
Filling out an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas is pretty straight-forward. It should state that the victim doesn’t want to cooperate or prosecute. The affidavit must be signed under penalty of perjury, attesting that the information provided is true and correct to the best of their knowledge. The notary public who witnessed the signature will also sign the affidavit, verifying that it was properly signed in their presence. Filing a false statement under penalty of perjury can result in criminal charges. It is important to provide accurate information when submitting an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas.
Here’s an example of an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution Form: Affidavit-of-NonProsecution-Form-2020.
To file an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas, the alleged victim must contact the appropriate District Attorney’s Office or contact a private attorney who can file it on their behalf.
Once the affidavit is filed, the prosecutor will evaluate the case and the affidavit’s content. The prosecutor may also consider the defendant’s criminal history, the severity of the alleged offense, and other relevant factors before making a decision.
Case Dismissal: If the prosecutor decides not to proceed with the case after reviewing the affidavit, they may file a motion to dismiss the charges.
Reduced Charges: In some instances, the prosecutor may offer a plea bargain with reduced charges or penalties, taking the affidavit into account.
Continuation of Prosecution: The prosecutor can still choose to proceed with the case despite the affidavit of non-prosecution, particularly in cases of serious allegations.
Non-prosecution affidavits can be used in various criminal cases, including but not limited to:
ANPs are common in domestic or family violence cases, where an alleged victim decides to reconcile with the accused or believes that pursuing charges would be detrimental to the defendant and family dynamic.
Assault cases are extremely common in Texas. If the alleged victim feels that the incident was a misunderstanding or that the charges against the accused are unwarranted, they may pursue an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas.
In cases where the property has been returned or the parties have reached a civil agreement, the alleged victim may choose to submit a non-prosecution affidavit to request the dismissal of theft charges.
Again, it is important to understand that the decision to dismiss a case ultimately lies with the prosecutor. They will weigh the affidavit’s merits against the interests of justice and the community before deciding whether to proceed with the case.
It may seem counterintuitive, but some prosecutors actually prefer victims who do not want to cooperate. When they go to trial, they just call the officers who responded to the scene and play the 911 call for the jury. That way, they don’t have to worry about what the alleged is going to say on the stand or what is going to come out under cross-examination by the defense attorney.
If you are facing criminal charges in Tarrant County and the alleged victim has submitted an affidavit of non-prosecution – or wants to submit an ANP – it is important to understand that this document alone may not be enough to obtain a dismissal. You should contact an experienced Fort Worth criminal defense attorney with a proven track record of success as soon as possible. Getting a prosecutor to dismiss a case takes skill and experience.
The seasoned criminal defense attorneys at Varghese Summersett have the knowledge and expertise to produce the most favorable outcome possible in your case. We can also arrange for the alleged victim to come to our office to complete an ANP. Contact us today at 817-203-2220 for a free consultation.
There are several ways to get an affidavit of non-prosecution form in Texas including:
After completing the affidavit of non-prosecution form, you will need to sign it in the presence of a notary public. The notary will verify your identity, witness your signature, and affix their notary seal to the document. At Varghese Summersett, we have notaries in our office but you can find notaries in your area with a quick Internet search. After it is notarized, the form can be submitted to the prosecutor’s office.
A well-crafted non-prosecution affidavit should contain the following key elements:
Assault family violence, also referred to as domestic assault, is a threat or act of violence towards a family member or someone with whom the defendant lives. This includes:
Under Texas Penal Code § 22.01, a defendant commits the offense of assault – or in this case, domestic assault – if he or she:
Domestic assault is a misdemeanor, however, it is a gateway into a number of felony family violence offenses that occur after an altercation with a family member, someone with whom they live with, or someone with whom they are dating. Read more about family violence in Texas: https://versustexas.com/felony-family-violence-lawyer/
No, submitting an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas does not guarantee the dismissal of charges in Texas. The decision to proceed with or dismiss a case ultimately lies with the prosecutor, who will take the affidavit into account but is not bound by it. The prosecutor will weigh the merits of the affidavit against the interests of justice and the community before deciding whether to continue with the case.
If an alleged victim changes their mind after submitting an affidavit of non-prosecution in Texas, they should contact the District Attorney’s office handling the case as soon as possible to inform them of the change in their stance. Depending on the circumstances and the stage of the legal proceedings, the prosecutor may choose to reevaluate the case. However, the decision to proceed or not will still be at the prosecutor’s discretion, taking into account the available evidence, the interests of justice, and other relevant factors.
While non-prosecution affidavits can be beneficial in some instances, they are not without their drawbacks including:
Prosecutorial discretion: The final decision to prosecute a case rests with the prosecutor, who may choose to proceed with the case despite the submission of a non-prosecution affidavit. Coercion or manipulation concerns: There is a risk that the accused may pressure or manipulate the alleged victim into signing a non-prosecution affidavit.Impact on future cases: If a non-prosecution affidavit is submitted and the charges are dropped, it may be difficult for the alleged victim to pursue charges in the future.
Juror misconduct occurs when a juror engages in conduct that violates the rules or ethical standards of a court, compromising the integrity of a fair trial. This behavior can take several forms, from improper communication to outside influence, potentially affecting the outcome of a case.
Communication with external parties: Jurors may engage in unauthorized communication about the case with friends, family, or the media, compromising the integrity of the trial.
Independent research: Jurors are expected to base their decisions solely on the evidence presented in court. Conducting independent research on the case or the parties involved may lead to the introduction of external information that could influence their decision.
Inappropriate interactions with parties involved: Jurors may engage in improper interactions with defendants, attorneys, or witnesses, leading to potential bias or the appearance of impropriety.
Social media misconduct: Jurors may post details or opinions about the case on social media platforms, research the parties involved, or attempt to connect with them online, which can affect the trial’s fairness.
Violation of jury instructions: Jurors are expected to follow the judge’s instructions throughout the trial. Failure to do so, such as discussing the case with other jurors before deliberations, can constitute misconduct.
Jury tampering involves attempting to influence a juror’s decision through threats, bribery, or any other form of coercion. This is a criminal offense punishable under Texas Penal Code § 36.05.
A juror communicates with a party involved in the case or their attorney, discussing trial details.
A juror shares their opinion on social media, revealing their bias towards the case.
A defendant’s family member offers a juror money in exchange for a not-guilty verdict.
A witness threatens a juror, demanding they vote in favor of the prosecution.
Juror misconduct can result in a mistrial or a new trial, depending on the severity and impact of the misconduct. Additionally, the offending juror may face penalties, including fines or imprisonment.
Juror misconduct related to social media use is a growing concern in today’s digital age. This type of misconduct can occur in various ways, potentially impacting the fairness of a trial.
Sharing case details: A juror may post details or opinions about the case on their social media profiles, violating the confidentiality of jury deliberations and potentially influencing other jurors or the public.
Researching parties involved: Jurors might search for information on the parties involved in the case, including the defendant, witnesses, or attorneys. This independent research can lead to jurors forming opinions based on information not presented in court.
Connecting with parties involved: Jurors may attempt to connect with or follow the defendant, attorneys, witnesses, or even other jurors on social media platforms. This behavior can lead to inappropriate interactions or the exchange of information that could influence the juror’s decision-making.
Mistrial or new trial: If juror misconduct related to social media use is discovered and determined to have significantly impacted the trial, a judge may declare a mistrial or grant a new trial to ensure a fair and impartial process.
Penalties for jurors: Jurors found to have engaged in misconduct may face penalties, including fines, contempt of court charges, or even imprisonment, depending on the severity of the misconduct.
Judges and attorneys play essential roles in preventing and addressing social media-related juror misconduct:
Clear instructions: Judges should provide clear instructions to jurors about the prohibition of social media use related to the case and the potential consequences of violating these rules.
Monitoring: Attorneys should remain vigilant for signs of juror misconduct involving social media use, taking appropriate action if they suspect misconduct.
Legal representation: If you believe social media-related juror misconduct has affected your case, consult an experienced defense attorney immediately. The team at Varghese Summersett is committed to protecting your rights and ensuring a fair trial. Call us today at 817-203-2220 or contact us online.
If you believe juror misconduct has affected your case, consult an experienced defense attorney immediately. At Varghese Summersett, we thoroughly investigate claims of juror misconduct and advocate for our clients’ rights to a fair trial.
In the Tex McIver case, a prominent Atlanta attorney was found guilty of murder in the shooting of his wife. After the verdict, it was revealed that a juror had communicated with a court employee during the trial. The juror’s text messages contained information about the case, leading to concerns about the impact on the juror’s decision-making. The defense team filed a motion for a new trial, citing juror misconduct, but the motion was ultimately denied.
In the high-profile trial of Enron’s top executives, juror misconduct allegations arose when a juror was accused of conducting independent research on the case. The juror allegedly used the internet to research the legal concept of “willful blindness,” which was central to the case. Although the defense raised concerns about the potential impact of this misconduct on the verdict, the trial judge did not grant a new trial.
In this sexual assault case, the defendant, Chantal Eldridge, was granted a new trial due to juror misconduct. During the trial, one of the jurors had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a witness in the case. The misconduct was discovered after the trial, and the judge granted a new trial based on the impact of the juror’s behavior on the jury’s decision-making process.
These examples demonstrate that juror misconduct can take various forms and have a significant impact on a trial’s outcome. If you suspect juror misconduct in your case, seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney. Call Varghese Summersett today at 817-203-2220 or contact us online.
A defense attorney plays a crucial role in addressing jury misconduct and ensuring a fair trial for their client. Here are some ways a defense attorney can help in a jury misconduct case:
An experienced defense attorney will thoroughly investigate any allegations of juror misconduct. This may involve reviewing court transcripts, interviewing prospective jurors, and examining any relevant evidence, such as text messages or social media posts.
If there is sufficient evidence of juror misconduct, a defense attorney can file a motion for a new trial or a motion to set aside the verdict, depending on the circumstances. These motions must be based on a well-argued legal premise and supported by relevant evidence.
In cases where the court grants a hearing to address the juror misconduct allegations, a defense attorney will present the evidence supporting the claim and make persuasive arguments on behalf of their client. The attorney’s goal is to demonstrate the misconduct’s impact on the trial’s fairness and the need for a new trial or a different remedy.
If the trial court denies the motion for a new trial, a defense attorney can appeal the decision to a higher court, arguing that the juror misconduct significantly affected the outcome of the case and warrants a new trial or other relief.
In cases where a new trial is granted, a defense attorney will work diligently to ensure that the new trial is free from juror misconduct, closely monitoring jury selection and juror behavior throughout the proceedings.
If you suspect juror misconduct in your case, it is essential to consult an experienced defense attorney. The team at Varghese Summersett is committed to protecting your rights and ensuring a fair trial. Call us today at 817-203-2220 or contact us online.
The Texas Supreme Court has addressed jury misconduct in various cases, establishing guidelines and principles to handle such issues. While the specific rulings depend on the circumstances of each case, some general themes emerge from the Texas Supreme Court’s decisions on jury misconduct:
The Texas Supreme Court has consistently emphasized the importance of a fair and impartial jury trial in accordance with the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution. Jury misconduct, when it affects the integrity of the trial, can infringe upon a defendant’s constitutional right to a fair trial.
The Texas Supreme Court has held that for jury misconduct to warrant a new trial, the misconduct must have had a material effect on the trial’s outcome. In other words, there must be a reasonable probability that the jury’s decision would have been different had the misconduct not occurred.
The Texas Supreme Court has established that the trial court should assess whether the misconduct was harmful or harmless. The trial court should consider factors such as the nature and severity of the misconduct, the evidence presented in the case, and the potential impact of the misconduct on the jury’s decision-making process.
In reviewing a trial court’s decision to grant or deny a new trial based on jury misconduct, the Texas Supreme Court has held that appellate courts should apply an “abuse of discretion” standard. This means that the appellate court should defer to the trial court’s decision unless it is determined that the trial court acted arbitrarily or unreasonably in its decision.
A: Juror misconduct occurs when a juror violates court rules or ethical standards, compromising the integrity of a fair trial.
A: Yes, depending on the severity and impact of the misconduct, it can lead to a mistrial or a new trial.
A: A juror guilty of misconduct may face penalties, including fines or imprisonment.
A: Yes, jury tampering is a form of juror misconduct and is punishable under Texas law.
A: Contact an experienced attorney to discuss your concerns and assess the legal terms of the potential impact of the misconduct on your case.
A: If juror misconduct significantly impacted the outcome of your case, you may be able to appeal the verdict.
A: Under Texas Penal Code § 36.05, the punishment for jury tampering depends on the specific circumstances of the offense. Generally, jury tampering is classified as a third-degree felony, which carries a potential penalty of 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, if the offender committed the act of tampering in retaliation for or on account of the juror’s service or prospective service in the official proceeding, the offense is elevated to a second-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
A: A juror can be disqualified for misconduct if they engage in behavior that compromises the fairness of the trial, such as discussing the case with external parties, conducting independent research, or having improper contact with all the jurors or parties involved.
A: Yes, a juror can be replaced by an alternate juror during a trial if the judge determines that the juror engaged in misconduct that affects the trial’s integrity.
A: If you are a juror and suspect misconduct by a fellow juror, report the issue to the judge’s discretion as soon as possible. If you are a defendant or attorney who suspects juror misconduct, promptly bring the issue to the judge’s attention to address it appropriately.
A: Yes, if the judge determines that the jury misconduct has significantly impacted the trial’s fairness or impartiality, they may declare a mistrial. In some cases, a new trial may be granted.
A: In some cases, if juror misconduct is discovered after the verdict and it is determined to have had a material effect on the trial jury’s deliberations and outcome, a court may overturn the verdict and grant a new trial.
A: Judges can prevent juror misconduct by providing clear instructions about the conduct expected from jurors, outlining the potential consequences of misconduct, and closely monitoring jurors for signs of improper behavior.
A: Yes, depending on the severity of the misconduct, a juror can face penalties such as fines, contempt of court criminal charges, or even imprisonment.
A: An attorney must present evidence of juror misconduct, such as witness testimony, affidavits, or other documents, to demonstrate that the misconduct occurred and had a material effect on the trial’s outcome. The burden of proof is on the party alleging the misconduct.
A: Yes, during the jury selection process, attorneys, court officers and the judge may uncover potential misconduct or bias, such as a juror’s prior relationship with a party involved in the case or a juror’s preconceived opinions about the case. In such situations, the juror may be disqualified before the trial begins.
A: If you suspect juror misconduct after a trial has concluded, consult an experienced defense attorney immediately. They can help you assess the situation and determine the appropriate course of action to address the misconduct, which may include filing a motion for a new trial.
Contact visits for Texas inmates are face-to-face meetings between inmates and their loved ones without physical barriers, allowing for limited physical contact. In Texas, both jails and prisons have specific rules and regulations governing contact visits, including eligibility criteria, scheduling, and procedures.
Inmates must be classified as minimum or medium custody and maintain a good disciplinary record. Inmates with disciplinary infractions or a history of violence may be denied contact visits.
Visitors must be approved by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) before being allowed to make visitation information and participate in contact visits. This involves submitting a visitation application and undergoing a background check. Only approved visitors, such as immediate family members and close friends, will be allowed to participate in contact visits for Texas inmates.
Conjugal visits, also known as extended family visits or private family visits, are visits that allow inmates in prison to spend time with their spouses or significant others in a private, home-like setting. These visits are typically unsupervised and can last for several hours or even days, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific rules governing the visits.
As of now, Texas does not allow conjugal visits for inmates in its state prisons. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has consistently maintained a policy against allowing these visits, citing concerns over safety, security, and costs associated with implementing such a program.
Once a visitor has been approved, they must schedule their contact visit. Contact visits for Texas inmates in prison are typically held on weekends and holidays, with a limited number of slots available. It is essential to schedule your visit in advance to ensure a spot.
During contact visits, both the visitor and the inmate must follow strict rules to ensure the safety and security of everyone involved. These rules may include:
Violating these rules may result in the termination of the visit or loss of contact visitation privileges.
No, conjugal visits are not allowed for Texas inmates. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) does not permit conjugal visits, which are private visits between an inmate and their spouse, typically for the purpose of maintaining intimate relationships. In Texas, only contact visits are allowed, and these visits have strict rules and limitations, including restrictions on physical contact and online video visitation.
In Texas, inmates do not get privacy with visitors during regular visits, including contact visits. Visits are closely monitored by correctional staff to ensure the safety and security of everyone involved. In contact visits, there may be limited physical contact allowed, such as brief hugs and handshakes, but there is no privacy provided for inmates and their visitors. This restriction is in place to prevent contraband exchange and other security risks associated with private visits.
Conjugal visits were never allowed for Texas inmates. TDCJ has not permitted conjugal visits in its history. Texas only allows contact visits, which are face-to-face meetings between inmates and their loved ones without physical barriers, but with strict rules and limitations for special visits, including restrictions on physical contact. The rationale behind not allowing conjugal visits in Texas, as in many other states, includes concerns about security risks, potential contraband exchange, and the cost of maintaining facilities and staff for such visits.
Only a few states in the United States allow conjugal visits, also known as extended family visits or private family visits. These states are:
It is essential to note that policies regarding conjugal visits may change over time, and each state may have its specific eligibility requirements and regulations. Before planning a conjugal visit, check the most recent policies and guidelines provided by the respective state’s department of corrections.
Visitors are generally not allowed to bring items directly to inmates during visits at Texas correctional facilities. However, there are specific items that may be allowed in the visitation area for the visitors’ use during the visit. These prohibited items may include:
It is crucial to check the specific rules and regulations for the jail or prison you plan to visit, as each facility may have its guidelines regarding items allowed during visitation.
Most Texas correctional facilities have a commissary system, where friends and family members can deposit money into an inmate’s account, allowing the inmate to purchase approved items such as food, personal hygiene products, and stationery.
A contact visit is a face-to-face meeting between an inmate and an approved visitor without physical barriers, allowing for limited physical contact.
You must submit a visitation application and undergo a background check by the TDCJ. Only immediate family members and close friends may be approved for contact visits.
Contact visits are typically held on weekends and holidays, with a limited number of slots available.
No, only inmates classified as minimum or medium custody and with a good disciplinary record are eligible for contact visits.
Rules for contact visits may include dress code requirements, restrictions on items brought into the visitation area, and limits on physical contact between inmates and visitors.
Violating contact visit rules may result in the termination of the visit or loss of contact visitation privileges.
Once you are an approved visitor, you must schedule your contact visit in advance, typically through the prison’s visitation office.
Yes, contact visits can be denied for various reasons, such as the inmate’s disciplinary record, visitor background check results, or if visitation rules are violated.
If you believe your visitation rights have been violated, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you understand and assert your rights.
Call Varghese Summersett today at 817-203-2220 or contact us online for expert legal assistance regarding visitation rights and procedures.
No, simply having your name on a drug dealer’s phone does not automatically lead to criminal charges. The police must have sufficient evidence of your involvement in illegal activities before charges can be filed.
In general, the police need a warrant to search your mobile phone. However, there are exceptions, such as when you give consent or when there are exigent circumstances.
To protect your rights, remain silent, refuse consent to searches, and request an attorney. Contact Varghese Summersett at 817-203-2220 for legal representation.
Use strong passwords, enable encryption, avoid suspicious apps, and maintain up-to-date security software to protect your personal information on your phone.
Yes, an experienced criminal defense attorney from Varghese Summersett can help you build a strong defense against drug conspiracy charges, challenging the evidence and the prosecution’s case.
Penalties for drug offenses in Texas can range from fines and probation to lengthy prison sentences, depending on the type and amount of the illicit drugs are involved, prior convictions, and other factors.
The length of a drug-related investigation can vary greatly, depending on the complexity of the case, the resources allocated to the investigation, and other factors.
Select an attorney with experience handling drug cases, a strong track record, and a deep understanding of Texas drug laws.
Under certain conditions, you may be eligible for expungement or non-disclosure of a drug conviction. Consult with an attorney from Varghese Summersett to discuss your options.
Internal link suggestion: Expunction and Non-Disclosure in Texas
If the evidence suggests you were involved in a drug conspiracy or a drug crime that crossed state lines, you may face federal charges. A criminal defense attorney can help you navigate both state and federal charges.
Yes, you can get in trouble for texting about drugs if the messages are discovered by law enforcement and indicate that you are involved in drug-related activities, such as buying, or selling drugs, or conspiring to distribute drugs.
Police can use text messages about drugs as evidence to support criminal charges if they indicate your involvement in drug-related activities. These messages may also lead to further investigation, surveillance, or search warrants.
If your drug dealer is arrested, it is possible that law enforcement could investigate their contacts, including you. If there is evidence linking you to drug-related activities, you could be at risk for investigation or criminal charges.
Yes, you can potentially face jail time if text messages about drugs are discovered by law enforcement and are used as evidence to support criminal charges, such as possession, distribution, or drug conspiracy.
Yes, asking for drugs via text message can be considered a criminal act under solicitation or drug conspiracy laws, depending on the circumstances and jurisdiction. If law enforcement discovers messages in which you are asking for drugs, you could potentially face criminal charges.
Yes, you can get in trouble for texting about drugs if law enforcement discovers messages that indicate your involvement in drug-related activities. These messages can be used as evidence to support criminal charges for drug use, such as possession, distribution, or conspiracy to distribute drugs.
It is not advisable to text about drugs, as it may expose you to potential legal consequences. Engaging in drug-related activities or discussing them through text messages can lead to criminal charges if discovered by law enforcement. It is best to avoid discussing illegal activities through any form of communication.
April 4, 2023 Update:
Former President Donald Trump’s indictment is for 34 counts of falsifying business records. A count can be any unique manner and means to commit an offense. In other words, it is not that the indictment alleges 34 unique offenses in the way most people would understand an offense. Instead, each ledger entry and check has been made its own “count.”
Falsifying a business record is a misdemeanor in New York, but it becomes a felony if the intent of falsifying the business record was to commit or conceal another crime. Notably, nothing in the indictment says what the other crime is supposed to be.
The purpose of the indictment is to give notice to the accused what he is being charged with. If faced with this type of a indictment in state court, Varghese Summersett would assuredly respond with a Motion to Quash the indictment.
April 2, 2023
Former President Donald Trump was indicted on March 30, 2023, by a Manhattan grand jury, becoming the first current or former president to face criminal charges in the last century.
In this article, Board Certified Criminal Attorney Benson Varghese explains what’s the behind the prosecution, the criminal process, and answers questions about this precedent-setting prosecution.
The indictment was originally kept under seal. It is not uncommon for judges to keep indictments under seal until the arraignment. The indictment will become public on Tuesday at the arraignment.
What we do know is that the grand jury has been looking at a $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels. She alleges the payment was to keep her from going public about a sexual affair.
There is nothing inherently illegal about paying hush money under most circumstances. In many regards, it is no different than paying someone for a nondisclosure agreement or requiring someone to maintain trade secrets.
However, how payments are structured could open a person up to become the target of a prosecutor. For example, Michael Cohen was prosecuted federally for how he handled payments to Daniels. Notably, federal prosecutors did not charge Trump.
It is likely the prosecutor is looking at some sort of fraud charge. For example, New York state law prohibits the falsification of certain business records. They could make an argument that the payment Cohen made to Daniels was falsified with the intention of committing another crime.
At this point, that seems like a stretch, which is part of the reason why everyone is eager to see what is in the indictment on Tuesday.
An indictment is a formal, written accusation that charges an individual with a crime. It is issued by a grand jury, which is a group of citizens convened to determine whether there is probable cause to believe the individual – in this case, former President Trump – has committed the alleged offense. If the grand jury believes there is probable cause, they will issue an indictment, which serves as the first step in the criminal prosecution process.
Grand jury proceedings are secret and take place behind closed doors. Prosecutors present evidence by reciting facts or providing witness testimony or exhibits. The process is not an adversarial process. The defendant is not present, and the defense attorney does not have a right to be in the room. That’s part of the reason why no one knows when an indictment is coming down.
Once an individual has been indicted, they will typically face an arraignment, where they will be advised about the charges against them.
Former President Trump is set to be in court on Tuesday for an arraignment. An arraignment, in this context, is the process by which a judge informs the accused of the charge against them and addresses whether a bond will be set and the amount.
It is hard to ignore the political realities. First, the prosecutor is a state District Attorney. He is a democrat who ran on the platform that he would indict Trump.
Second, the old adage that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich has some truth to it – grand jury presentations are made only by prosecutors. The defense is not present. It is basically a prosecutor making a pitch to average citizens that “there is probable cause to believe this offense took place.” The pitch is not, “this is a strong case that we know we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
You bet. The United States Constitution outlines the requirements to run for President in Article II, Section 1. According to the Constitution, a candidate must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the office of President:
There is nothing that prohibits Trump from running for president while under indictment.
Former President Trump is expected to “surrender” himself on Tuesday and appear voluntarily in court. We should not expect handcuffs or a “perp walk.”
He will likely be fingerprinted and photographed before seeing the judge, who will inform him of the charge against him and address any bail matters. There’s really no reason for the judge to set a bond, as bonds are merely a promise to appear in court. The former president is not a flight risk nor does he have any criminal history.
Given the fact that District Attorney Alvin Braggs made a Trump indictment a major part of his political platform, it is impossible to say politics did not play a part in this prosecution. I wouldn’t be surprised if the charges actually galvanize Trump’s political base and put him in a better position than he was before the charge.
Now that Trump has been indicted, the case will wind its way through the criminal justice process. That will include a number of court settings until the case is resolved either through a plea-bargain agreement or a trial. Of course, no one expects Trump to ever plead guilty to the charges – or the DA to dismiss the charges – so the reality is that we may see a very high-profile trial of a former president in the next year or two. Stay tuned.
Benson Varghese is the founder and managing partner of Varghese Summersett, one of the largest and fastest-growing criminal defense, personal injury, and family law practices in North Texas. He is a Board Certified Criminal Lawyer and an experienced litigator who has tried more than 100 cases before state and federal Texas juries. Before going into private practice and starting his own firm, Benson served as a prosecutor at the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. Read more about Benson here.
Benson is frequently asked to weigh in on local or national stories as an expert legal analyst. If you are a member of the media and would like to speak to Mr. Varghese, please contact his media relations director, Melody Lanier, at 817-203-2220 or 817-821-3935
Intensive Day Treatment (IDT) programs in Tarrant County provide an alternative sentencing option for eligible individuals charged with certain criminal offenses. These programs are designed to rehabilitate and reintegrate individuals into society by addressing underlying issues such as substance abuse, mental and behavioral health, and behavioral problems. IDT programs are typically court-ordered and involve a structured, daily schedule of counseling, education, and therapy sessions.
To be eligible for an IDT program, individuals must meet the following criteria:
IDT programs aim to reduce the likelihood of future criminal behavior by addressing the root causes of criminal conduct. Participants who successfully complete the program may avoid jail time, have their charges reduced, or receive a more lenient sentence.
IDT programs focus on both mental health services and substance abuse treatment, providing participants with resources and support to address their underlying issues. This holistic approach promotes personal growth and long-term recovery.
By participating in an IDT program, individuals and youth can gain valuable life skills training, education, and employment training. These opportunities can help participants achieve self-sufficiency and establish a stable, productive future.
The IDT program in Tarrant County comprises the following:
Many Tarrant County organizations offer mental health, substance abuse, or developmental disability services. These organizations may have IDT programs or other intensive outpatient programs. Among those most prominent are:
Tarrant County MHMR (Mental Health My Resources) is a community-based organization providing mental health, intellectual and developmental disability, and substance abuse services to residents of Tarrant County in Texas, United States. The organization is typically referred to as “My Health My Resources (MHMR)” of Tarrant County. MHMR of Tarrant County aims to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by mental health issues, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and addiction by offering a range of services, including counseling, therapy, crisis intervention, and case management.
These services are designed to help individuals lead healthier and more independent lives, with a focus on early diagnosis, intervention, recovery, and overall well-being. MHMR of Tarrant County may collaborate with other local agencies, medical professionals, and community organizations to ensure comprehensive support for those in need.
Our experienced attorneys at Varghese Summersett can assess your case to determine if you qualify for an IDT program in Tarrant County. We’ll analyze your specific circumstances, criminal history, and current charges to recommend the best course of action.
We’ll evaluate your eligibility for the IDT program and prepare a strong case to support your participation in the program.
If you’re eligible for an IDT program, our attorneys will advocate on your behalf to the court, highlighting the benefits of the program and how it aligns with your rehabilitation needs. We’ll work tirelessly to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case.
The duration of the IDT program varies depending on individual needs, but it typically lasts between three to six months.
There may be fees associated with the program, but financial assistance may be available. Contact our team to discuss your options.
Yes, the IDT program is designed to accommodate participants’ work schedules.
Failure to complete the IDT program may result in legal consequences, such as probation revocation or jail time.
Our experienced attorneys can help you apply for an IDT program.
We understand navigating the legal world and is Intensive Day Treatment process can be overwhelming. Our team will provide guidance and support, answering your questions and addressing any concerns you may have along the way.
Call Varghese Summersett today at 817-203-2220 or contact us online to discuss your case and explore the possibility of Intensive Day Treatment.
Fights break out daily among middle and high school students across North Texas. They occur at school, after school, sporting events, parties … the list goes on. Many of these fights begin and end quickly with no serious, long-term consequences – other than a trip to the principal’s office or a call to a parent.
If police are contacted, however, it can be a completely different story. Fighting – even among teens – is a crime in Texas. It’s called assault, and a charge can bring serious consequences if not handled properly by an experienced juvenile defense attorney. In this article, we will discuss misdemeanor juvenile assaults in Texas and what you should do if your child has been accused of or arrested for fighting.
At Varghese Summersett, we are fortunate to have one of the best juvenile assault defense attorneys in Texas on our team. Lisa Herrick is a highly-renowned attorney who is Board Certified in Juvenile Law. This means she is an expert in juvenile law and has a wealth of experience in representing minors accused of assault.
In Texas, children between the ages of 10 and 16 are considered juveniles for purposes of criminal prosecution. Once a teen turns 17, they are considered an adult and will be handled by the adult criminal justice system.
The juvenile justice system is much different than the adult system, in that the focus is on rehabilitation and treatment rather than punishment. If a juvenile is accused of committing a misdemeanor assault, he or she will be handled by a juvenile court or municipal court, rather than the adult criminal justice system.
In Texas, most juvenile assaults are misdemeanors (as opposed to felonies). Under Texas law, there are four types of misdemeanor, or simple, assaults. They are defined in Section 22.01 of the Texas Penal Code, but we also offer some hypothetical situations that may help to illustrate the different offenses.
Hypothetical Scenario: Two 14-year-old middle school students are playing basketball in the gym. An argument breaks out, and one of the boys pushes the other and spits on him. The coach breaks it up and calls the school resource officer. The school resource officer determines that the teen committed assault by contact and issues a ticket.
Hypothetical Scenario: Two 16-year-old girls get into an argument in the school cafeteria. One of them stands up, points her finger at the other girl and yells “If you don’t leave me alone, I swear I’m going to beat your a– in front of everyone.” The school resource officer is called and determines that the teen committed assault by threat and issues a ticket.
Hypothetical Scenario: Two 15-year-old boys get into an argument at an off-campus homecoming party. One of them punches the other in the face, causing a busted nose and visible bruise and redness to his eye. A parent at the party calls the police. The police arrive and take the teen into custody for assault bodily injury.
Hypothetical Scenario: A 15-year-old teen is playing video games at 2 a.m. when his 24-year-old brother comes in and abruptly turns the game off, causing him to lose. Furious, the teen starts yelling and starts punching him. Wanting to resolve the situation by not sure how, the mother calls the police for help. The teen is taken into custody for assault bodily injury against a family member.
When police get involved, teens face legal punishment for juvenile misdemeanor assault (as well as possible discipline by their parents, school, coaches, etc.) The legal ramifications could include probation, fines, and for more serious offenses, possible placement in a residential or treatment facility. Here’s a look at the penalties for misdemeanor juvenile assault in North Texas.
** Confinement in the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), which is the prison for juveniles, is not a possible punishment for misdemeanor juvenile assaults
Teenagers get into fights for various reasons, some of which make sense while others do not.
Every case is different, but there are some common defenses that may be raised in a juvenile misdemeanor assault case, including but not limited to:
It is important to note that these defenses may not be applicable in every case, and the specific circumstances surrounding each case will determine the validity of each defense. An experienced juvenile assault defense attorney can advise the juvenile and their family on the best defense strategy for their case.
When it comes to your child, it’s important not to leave anything to chance. This is especially true when it comes to juvenile assault charges. An experienced juvenile assault defense attorney can help you protect your child’s future and make sure they get the best possible outcome.
An experienced juvenile assault defense attorney will have in-depth knowledge of juvenile laws, processes, and procedures, as well as alternative resolutions and diversion programs. A seasoned attorney will also provide guidance and support throughout the legal process, giving the juvenile and the parents peace of mind during what can be a challenging time.
Juvenile law is a very nuanced, specialized area of law. You wouldn’t want a general practitioner handling a major surgery; the same holds true for juvenile assault defense. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and make sure your child’s rights are protected every step of the way.
If your child was ticketed or arrested for juvenile misdemeanor assault in North Texas, your next step is to call an experienced juvenile assault defense attorney. At Varghese Summersett, we understand that juveniles make mistakes and are not immune to making poor decisions in their moment of anger or frustration. We also know that mistakes should not define them for the rest of their lives.
Board Certified Juvenile Defense Attorney Lisa Herrick has devoted her career to helping juveniles who have found themselves in legal trouble. With extensive experience navigating the juvenile justice system, Lisa knows how to get the best outcome for her clients and their families. Call 817-203-2220 today for a free consultation with Lisa.
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