Price Gouging as Texans Prepare to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus
Price gouging is illegal, and a disaster declaration triggers tough penalties under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Texans who believe they've encountered price gouging should contact the Texas Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at (800) 621-0508 or file a complaint at https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/consumer-protection.
- "Appellant failed to preserve any of the complaints that underlie the court of appeals' opinion."
- "Did the court of appeals misinterpret the record and thus misapply Moore v. State, 295 S.W.3d 329, 332 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009), which held that judges may not play any role in plea negotiation?"
- "Should Moore be reconsidered and Appellant be estopped from complaining in this case?"
At a December plea hearing, Hallmark and the State agreed to a 3-year prison term with the understanding that Hallmark could defer sentencing until January. The trial court admonished Hallmark orally and in writing that if she did not appear at the January sentencing hearing, the trial court could assess any sentence within the punishment range. Hallmark acknowledged understanding the agreement. In January, she failed to appear at the punishment hearing. At a later hearing when she was present, she offered no justification for her absence, and the trial court sentenced her to 10 years' imprisonment. Hallmark objected that the sentence rendered her guilty plea and waivers involuntary.
The court of appeals reversed Hallmark's conviction. It found that the trial court, not the State, had added the condition that Hallmark must appear at the January sentencing hearing. It reasoned that under Moore, where a judge conditionally accepts a plea bargain and then later rejects it, the defendant must be given the opportunity to withdraw her guilty plea.
The State argues that Hallmark's objection to an involuntary plea did not preserve a complaint that the trial court had interjected itself into the plea bargain by unilaterally adding an additional condition. The State also argues that the court of appeals misinterpreted the record and that, unlike in Moore, the trial court did not unilaterally add a condition. Finally, the State urges the court to reconsider Moore or find that Hallmark is estopped from complaining about an agreement that she enjoyed the benefit of.