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Facts: Two juveniles set fire to a box and some papers and then a pile of clothing in the middle of our Wal-Mart store during the early morning hours. The papers did not burn, apparently, and the clothing fire was discovered by some customers before it went very far. I have statements from both juveniles confessing their involvement in this offense.

My question is, the arson statute does not seem to cover setting fire to personal property, unless you look at Section 28.02(f). That would seem to make setting fire to personal property inside a building a third degree felony. However, 28.02(f) refers back to 28.02(a)(2), which would not seem to apply under my facts.

I think if I have to go with criminal mischief, I am stuck with at most a Class B. It really is going to tick me off if these two get away with a misdemeanor when they do something so dangerous and destructive. Any comments are appreciated.
 
Posts: 362 | Location: Plainview, Hale County | Registered: January 11, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sounds to me like a good case for attempted arson - a 3rd degree felony.
 
Posts: 200 | Registered: January 31, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Unless you can show intent to damage or destroy the building I think you are SOL. Subsection f is just giving you the puinshment range for a form of (a)(2), it doesn't eliminate your intent element.

This is a frequent juvi issue as the little darlings love to burn things (normally more like toilet paper in a trash can in the school bathroom)but without more, I think its a stretch to prove intent.

Checked their myspace accounts ? If they are computer savvy I'll bet they bragged about it online.
 
Posts: 640 | Location: Longview, Texas | Registered: October 10, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It's still a bit of a stretch, but arguably the fire placed others at risk of serious injury, especially if not discovered in a timely fashion.

It's only a Class A, but.....
 
Posts: 736 | Location: Sweetwater TX | Registered: January 30, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Maybe not so much of a stretch. Check on what other flammables are nearby. Some carpets, clothes, etc. give off highly toxic fumes when burned. Fire department/fire marshal should be able to help you.
 
Posts: 956 | Location: Cherokee County, Rusk, Tx | Registered: July 11, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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(1) I have never understood why you cannot infer an intent to destroy a building when one of these nice kids sets fire to something inside the building, but apparently the law does not allow that inference; and

(2) I just checked MySpace. One of these kids apparently does not have a MySpace page. THe other has several, including one that was last updated a few days ago, but they are all private. I do not think that I can very well invite her (or whatever you do on MySpace) to be my friend and let me see her page. I am reasonably sure she might recognize my name and refuse. Is there some way I can get to look at the page without using outright deception?

I had not thought about deadly conduct. Maybe I will allege attempted arson, criminal mischief, and deadly conduct, and drop some things off along the way. I appreciate the thoughts.
 
Posts: 362 | Location: Plainview, Hale County | Registered: January 11, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Could you have an investigator invite your D as a friend? I would think that'd be no different than chatting up a child molester online, and you'd only have your investigator monitoring the site, not even necessarily engaging in conversation. Just a thought.
 
Posts: 1089 | Location: UNT Dallas | Registered: June 29, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Do you see any problem if a probation officer looks on MySpace, as an investigator would? I am afraid I do not have the luxury of an investigator. We had a scare involving the school, Friday the 13th, and threats of a shooting back in October, and I know that the probation office was able to get on and monitor the chat regarding that incident. I just do not want to have any ethical/evidentiary problems if we happened to get something good from these kids. I should add that they both gave statements confessing to setting the paper on fire, but each fingered the other regarding who set the clothes on fire.
 
Posts: 362 | Location: Plainview, Hale County | Registered: January 11, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think it would be better if it was law enforcement, such as your arresting officer.
 
Posts: 1089 | Location: UNT Dallas | Registered: June 29, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Stacey, How do you check someone's my space acct?
 
Posts: 334 | Location: Beeville, Texas., USA | Registered: September 14, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It can be a complicated process if you don't know your kid's profile name. Best way is to get their profile name (your local SRO might be able to help you with that). If you don't get that lucky then you will have to do it the hard way and go to myspace.com there is a search engine that allows you to search several avenues, web, myspace, people...

I generally start with searching just in myspace.
If you're lucky you can type in their given name and it will take you to their profile. If not, then you have to be creative. Next, I generally try their first name and city, then last name and city, and then if I've come up with nothing and I have some time, I search just the city (not to bad if your searching a little town like Liberty Hill, impossible if you search somewhere like Austin).

Of course your next issue will be as above, if they have their account set to private. Then you either have to get their password or make your own account and asked to be invited in. Fortunately, most kids HATE going private and only do so if their parents make them.

Good luck !! I've gotten some GREAT stuff off myspace.
 
Posts: 640 | Location: Longview, Texas | Registered: October 10, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hey, you guys are (in-)famous! Congratulations!

Grits for Breakfast blog
 
Posts: 2395 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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That's my name in lights, in case you didn't get it. Wink
 
Posts: 1089 | Location: UNT Dallas | Registered: June 29, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
And if they don't have probable cause to get a warrant, they shouldn't send cops surreptitiously lurking onto young girls' private MySpace pages, or anybody else's.


OK, so gritsforbreakfast is seriously suggesting that if officers don't have full PC to begin with, then they shouldn't investigate information that leads them to believe a crime may be taking/have taken place? HUH? This is totally circular - "don't collect evidence because you don't have enough evidence to believe that evidence needs to be collected" - Slippery slope it is - next he'll be suggesting *gasp* that our police should not be doing trash runs because they don't have PC to pick up the trash. They aren't just trying to investigate some random person without any basis whatsoever; the information they have can be enough to investigate on but not enough to get a warrant on. Evidence has to come from somewhere, and if it's lawfully obtained, I don't see the problem. Consenting to be someone's friend on MySpace invites the evidence to be lawfully obtained. This is not "surreptitiously lurking onto ... private MySpace accounts..." - this is asking will you be my friend, and having them accept. Instead of investigating a 40-year-old pervert, you're investigating a teenager who's naive enough to put their illegal, immoral, and other activities on the internet.

[This message was edited by Gretchen on 12-07-06 at .]
 
Posts: 1089 | Location: UNT Dallas | Registered: June 29, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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they picked up on this thread? where's the outrage over warm beer? priorities. geez, what's america coming to?
 
Posts: 1243 | Location: houston, texas, u.s.a. | Registered: October 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Let me make sure I understand this...Its OK to set fire to things in a business with heavy holiday public traffic and then brag about it on a mostly public forum, but its "devious" to then look at that public forum to gather evidence...now I remember why I moved to the Austin area!

When I was at Arson school we learned about the fire marshall/investigator who set many "small" fires in open businesses in California, one of which burned the entire place down and killed a four year old boy... guess that should have been a Class B misdemeanor too.

One of my favorite prosecutors from Ft. Bend used to tell me why fight the press they'll never stop making ink, now I guess you have to say they'll never stop making webspace Roll Eyes

He could have at least gotten my name and office correct !
 
Posts: 640 | Location: Longview, Texas | Registered: October 10, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Use a grand jury subpoena. MySpace.com will accept it by fax. Contact them for their law enforcment packet that explains it all.
 
Posts: 7860 | Location: Georgetown, Texas | Registered: January 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Here's a juvenile case on the issue of "intent to commit arson": In the matter of CSB,unpub'd NO. 14-02-00052-CV (Houston 14th 2002). I can email you the pdf, if you need it, Jim. Depending on the details of your facts, it could be helpful.
 
Posts: 24 | Location: Austin, Tx, USA | Registered: October 20, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If I were not ethical and concerned about the constitution and these juveniles' rights, I would have already created a fake profile and invited her to be my "MySpace" friend.

One of these juveniles was placed on probation last year for being expelled from school. We finally filed a CINS case on her when the folks out at JJAEP had to call the police to quiet her and another one of her friends down.

I do not like the thought of someone starting a fire in a store that my wife, kids, and neighbors frequent. That is why I am trying to make an arson charge. I also do not want to waste my time or the court's time; that is why I have sought advice here. I appreciate very much the help of all of you.

On another note, now that my name is out there in the media, perhaps I should change my user name to "JT."
 
Posts: 362 | Location: Plainview, Hale County | Registered: January 11, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well JB according to "grits" you are now my boss, is it too early in my employment to ask for a raise and a bigger office Wink

Clearly, as stated above, I should have listened to Fred.
 
Posts: 640 | Location: Longview, Texas | Registered: October 10, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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