Category Archives: Avoiding Jail Time

Is this inmate being held illegally at TDCJ?

Legal Question: Is this inmate being held illegally at TDCJ? He entered a plea of no contest to aggravated assault – bodily injury.

Stay out of jail with Mary Beth HarrellThe caption on the indictment reflects states that the charged offense was “aggravated assault-bodily injury.” In the body of the indictment, it says “alleged aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.” However, the appellant waived the reading of the indictment and the trial court, both orally and in writing, admonished appellant that the offense with which he was charged was “aggravated assault-serious bodily injury.”

There is no mention in any of the documents contained in the clerk’s record-except the body of the indictment-or any discussion in any of the reporter’s records of a deadly weapon until the State filed its motion for judgment Nunc pro tunc. The 14th Court of Appeals vacated and set aside the Nunc pro tunc judgment and reinstated and affirmed the original judgment and sentence of 15 years.


No, the inmate is not being held illegally. The appellate court defeated the prosecutor’s attempt to add a “deadly weapon” to the original judgment when it vacated and set aside the Nunc Pro Tunc.  That’s a good thing because adding the deadly weapon finding to the judgment would have seriously hurt his ability to make parole.

As it is, he will probably have to serve close to 50% of his time before he’s eligible for parole. Recommend he stays out of trouble, takes lots of education classes, bible study, and goes to drug or alcohol treatment or 12 step meetings while in prison to help his chances of making parole sooner rather than later.

How, if even, would a retail store contact me if they have video of me stealing?

Mary Beth Harrell dismisses videoLegal Question: I have no excuse, nor do I know why I did, but, I stole a $3 item from a store. I told a friend about it (who worked for the retail store, he was not involved) about it. I had no idea why I stole it and just wanted at least one person to tell me something good.

A week later he called me and said he had heard that the store had become aware the object was missing (a wrapper). He doesn’t know how lost preventions handles such things, if at all. I could say what retail store, but this is a public forum so I will not.

However, I know there is probably video of me stealing the object. If they do come after me, would it be by police, certified mail…how would I get notified? This retail store has almost all my information. Address, name, date of birth, etc. because I worked for them year or so before this event.

Answer: If you’re convicted of Theft under $50, then the court can order you to pay a fine up to $500 plus court costs – but you cannot be sentenced to jail. However any type of theft conviction is considered a crime of “moral turpitude” branding you as a thief and a liar. The theft conviction is permanent and can never be erased. It will follow you the rest of your life and can make it very difficult to get a job or student loan. So if you’re charged with theft then hire a lawyer. And if you really don’t know why you shoplifted then consider enrolling in counseling now. The counseling may help you to correct your poor judgment so you don’t risk ruining your life again.

Will I serve jail time?

Mary Beth Harrell keeps you out of jailQuestion: I am 18 and recently a friend and I got caught stealing from the mall. It was a huge mistake. We stole from 4 different stores and the total came out to over $500 but less than $1000. I have no prior arrests, I have never been in legal trouble. I am currently pregnant and can’t imagine putting my child through any of this. What are the chances of jail time?

Answer: You should not have to serve jail time for this theft. But you need an attorney to negotiate for one of three different plea agreements:
1. Dismissal
2. Pre-trial diversion
3. Deferred adjudication probation.

Any one of those plea agreements would mean that you will not take a conviction. A theft conviction has far-reaching and damaging consequences so consult an attorney before you make a decision about your case.