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.
1. “The Thirteenth Court of Appeals erred in suggesting that the sustaining of a Franks motion and the purging of false statements from a search warrant affidavit triggers a heightened legal standard of ‘clear’ probable cause with regard to the remaining allegations in the affidavit.”
2. “The Thirteenth Court of Appeals erred in concluding that a strong smell of alcohol on the breath of a driver involved in a serious motor vehicle accident does not furnish probable cause for a blood warrant.”
After a Franks v. Delaware hearing, 438 U.S. 154 (1978), the trial court found that the officer intentionally and with reckless disregard for the truth included false statements in his probable cause affidavit for a blood-draw warrant. The judge excised the false statements but nevertheless concluded that the remainder of facts provided probable cause. Hyland had been in a collision, was in a coma, and had a “strong” scent of alcohol on his breath.
On appeal, Hyland challenged the trial judge’s ruling. The court of appeals held that the remaining facts did not “clearly” establish probable cause. The court reasoned that “clearly” is the standard applied when the affidavit contained false statements.
The State contends that the court of appeals’ decision makes “clearly” a legal quantum of proof. However, “clearly” is “merely a reference to the degree to which the tainted or false information is intermixed with, or separable from, the remaining non-tainted factual allegations.” According to the State, “the remaining allegations that Hyland had been driving a motor vehicle, that he was involved in a serious accident in which someone died, and that he had a strong odor of alcohol, have no connection to the false representations . . ., and there is no justification for giving these observations any less weight than the legal standard for probable cause allows.” Finally, the State analyzes the facts and contends that probable cause was satisfied.