It seemed like a wife was trying to turn a bad situation into something good. But shortly after a mother wrote a children’s book to help her children grieve their father’s death, authorities arrested her for his murder.

What led to charges against the mother, and what consequences does she face?

A Father of Three Found Dead

Early in the morning on March 4, 2022, authorities were called to the home of Kouri Darden Richins, her husband of nine years Eric Richins, and their three children aged six through ten.

According to reporting by USA Today, Kouri Darden Richins called 911 because she found her husband unresponsive on the floor of their home in Kamas, a small mountain town in Summit County, Utah. She told authorities she made her husband a celebratory drink before bed. They were celebrating the closing of an investment property. She said she then went to sleep in a child’s room who was afraid that night. When she went into her bedroom around 3 a.m., she found her husband on the floor.

Eric Richins was dead. A medical examiner said the cause of death was a fentanyl overdose. The father of three had nearly five times the lethal dosage of fentanyl in his system.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

What Happened After the Father’s Death?

No immediate charges were filed in the case.

Kouri Darden Richins appeared to continue on with her life. The day after her husband’s death, she signed closing papers on the investment property she said they had planned to buy.

Later, she wrote and published a children’s book about grief. “Are You With Me?” is about a boy who questions whether his father is with him when he is emotional or celebrating a special occasion.

In April 2023, Kouri Darden Richins appeared on Good Things Utah to promote the book which was for sale on Amazon. She said she began researching “to try and understand not only how to grieve as a widow, as a wife, but also with my kids, how to help them, how to help them understand what just happened.”

One month after the appearance on the show, charges were filed in the case. Kouri Darden Richins was charged with her husband’s murder.

Why Was the Wife Charged?

More than a year after Eric Richins’ death, his wife was charged with felony first-degree aggravated murder and three counts of drug possession with intent to distribute, a second-degree felony.

Authorities believe Kouri Darden Richins purchased fentanyl and added a lethal dose to the before-bed drink she gave to her husband, causing his death.

Investigators found inconsistencies in Kouri Darden Richins’ story, and details about her financial situation led them to believe she is responsible for her husband’s death.

  • On the night of her husband’s death, Kouri Darden Richins said she left her phone in her bedroom. An investigation found that her phone had been locked and unlocked several times and had movement during the time she said she wasn’t near it.
  • Court documents revealed that Kouri Richins had an outstanding state and federal tax liability of $189,840, owed a hard money lender at least $1,847,760, and owed her husband $514,346.
  • Kouri Darden Richins took out almost $2 million in life insurance policies on her husband without his knowledge, according to reporting by KSLTV, an NBC affiliate.
  • The couple had been arguing over purchasing a $2 million property that Kouri Darden Richins wanted to flip. Eric Richins had told family members he wasn’t going to sign the closing papers. His wife closed on the house the day after his death.
  • In October 2022, Eric Richins consulted a divorce lawyer and an estate planning lawyer without his wife’s knowledge. He changed his will and placed his estate under the control of his sister for the benefit of his three children.

The details led to the arrest of Kouri Darden Richins.

Related: How to File for Divorce in Florida

What Consequences Does the Wife Face?

Kouri Darden Richins faces multiple charges in the state of Utah.

She faces a felony first-degree aggravated murder charge. In Utah, the punishment for the charge is life in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Kouri Darden Richins also faces three counts of drug possession with intent to distribute. The charges are a second-degree felony with a possible punishment of one to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Kouri Darden Richins’ next hearing is scheduled for June 12, 2023.

Get Legal Advice You Can Trust

If you or a loved one are involved with a civil or criminal legal matter, you need a trusted attorney by your side. When navigating the legal system, you need an attorney who can work for your best interest and lead your case toward the best possible outcome.

Do you have a case to review? Request a free consultation with attorney TJ Grimaldi today. Contact our office or call 813-226-1023.

Verdict in Donald Trump’s Sex Abuse Case

(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

For the first time in history, a former President of the United States has been found liable for sexual abuse and defamation. What does the verdict mean for Donald J. Trump, and what led to the case and the jury’s decision?

What Was the Case About?

In 2019, E. Jean Carroll, a journalist, author, and popular columnist, publicly stated that Donald J. Trump raped her in the mid-1990s. Caroll detailed the account in her memoir, What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal. Parts of the story were also included in an article for New York magazine.

In response to the release of the story, Trump made disparaging comments about Carroll. He said, “I’ve never met this person in my life.” He also called Caroll a “liar” and said, “She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”

In November 2022, Caroll took her story to court.

Caroll filed a civil suit in New York, alleging that Trump raped her and then defamed her after she came out with her story. Carroll was able to file the assault case in civil court despite the statute of limitation due to a new law called the New York State Adult Survivors Act. The law allows litigation for sexual assault allegations that took place even decades ago.

“I’m here because Donald Trump raped me, and when I wrote about it, he said it didn’t happen,” Carroll testified during the trial. “He lied and shattered my reputation, and I’m here to try to get my life back.”

Related: What Does It Take to Be an Attorney for a High-Profile Case? 

What Was the Outcome of the Case?

The case was heard in front of a nine-person jury in New York state.

During the trial, Caroll took the stand to share her experience. Her legal team called ten others to testify which included two women who testified that Trump also sexually assaulted them.

While Trump has denied any wrongdoing, his legal team did not present a defense in the case. They called no witnesses, and Trump did not attend the trial. Trump’s team asked for a mistrial, but it was not granted by the judge.

The two-week trial ended with a jury of six men and three women determining that Trump was liable for sexually abusing and defaming Carroll.

The jury said there was enough evidence to believe that Trump sexually abused Carroll, but they did not find enough evidence to say that Trump raped her. 

As reported by CNN, a person is liable for sexual abuse when they subject another person to sexual contact without consent. Under New York law, “sexual contact” means “any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying the sexual desire of either party.”

The jury also said Trump defamed Carroll when he denied her story. 

As reported by NPR, the jury found that Trump had acted “maliciously, out of hatred, ill will, spite or wanton, reckless, or willful disregard of the rights of another.”

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

What Are the Consequences?

The jury awarded Carroll a total of $5 million.

In finding Trump liable for battery, the jury awarded Carroll $2 million in compensatory damages and an additional $20,000 in punitive damages.

In finding Trump liable for defamation, the jury awarded Carroll $2.7 million in compensatory damages and an additional $280,000 for punitive damages.

Because the case was a civil case, Trump will face no jail time.

The verdict does not impact Trump’s presidential race. He can continue his bid for the presidency.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

What Will Happen Next?

Trump continues to say he has done nothing wrong, and his legal team filed an appeal the day the verdict was announced.

One day after the jury found Trump guilty of defaming Carroll, Trump again spoke publicly about Carroll during a televised town hall on CNN calling, her a “wack job.”

According to the New York Times, Carroll’s attorney Roberta A. Kaplan said she is considering filing a new defamation lawsuit against Trump as he continues to speak publicly about Carroll.

Get Trusted Legal Advice

Whether you are bringing a case against a person or company or you are facing civil or criminal charges, seek legal advice right away. Don’t enter into a legal matter without a trusted attorney by your side. Work with a partner who can help you understand the complexities of the law and guide you to the best possible outcome for your case.

Review your case today. Request a consultation with attorney TJ Grimaldi. Request your free consultation by contacting our office or calling 813-226-1023 today.

UT Student Shooting

[The Orchard Park Central School District]

An ordinary night out ended in tragedy when a University of Tampa student tried to get into the wrong car and ended up fatally wounded by a gunshot.

What happened, and why was the shooter not charged in this deadly incident?

What Happened That Night?

On a Saturday night in September 2022, 19-year-old University of Tampa student Carson Senfield went out with friends in the popular nightlife district on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, Florida. He was celebrating his birthday.

When he was ready to go home, Senfield got into an Uber to take him to his house on the 1000 block of West Arch Street. According to reporting by the Tampa Bay Times, he got out of the Uber but never made it into the house.

At around 1:20 a.m., instead of going inside, Senfield tried to get into a car.

An attorney for Senfield’s family says they believe he thought the car was an Uber. They think Senfield couldn’t find his keys, so he called an Uber to take him back to the bar to meet his roommates. But the car wasn’t an Uber.

When Senfield opened the door and attempted to get in the backseat, the driver of the car turned and shot him.

Senfield died from his injuries.

What Do We Know About the Shooter?

The identity of the driver hasn’t been publicly released. Public reports redacted the shooter’s name, citing Marsy’s Law. Marsy’s Law refers to Florida Statutes that are typically used to protect the rights of victims of a crime.

What has been publicly shared about the shooter is their account of the incident and what the state plans to do about it.

The owner of the car said they were afraid when Senfield opened the door and tried to get in. The driver said they didn’t know Senfield or why he was trying to get into the car, and they feared for their life which is why they opened fire.

Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez decided not to file charges against the shooter.

Case Shows Similarities to Other Recent Shootings

News about the state’s decision not to file charges came out shortly after a string of four other seemingly innocent actions led to shootings across the United States.

A car pulling in the wrong driveway, a kid’s basketball rolling in the wrong driveway, a teen knocking on the wrong door, and most similarly, a cheerleader getting into the wrong car all resulted in shots fired — and charges filed.

In each of those cases, the shooters were charged with crimes.

So, what was different in this case?

Related: Will Man Go to Jail for Shooting a Teen Who Knocked on His Door?

Why Weren’t Charges Filed?

On December 27, 2022, Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez sent a letter to interim Tampa police Chief Lee Bercaw indicating that the state would not file charges against the shooter.

The letter, obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, said, “A review of the facts gathered during the investigation and applicable law compels the conclusion that [redacted] use of deadly force against Carson Senfield was justified pursuant to Florida Statute 776.012(2).”

Florida Statute 776.012 is often referred to as “stand your ground” laws.

What Are “Stand Your Ground” Laws

Florida law says, “A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”

Stand your ground laws say a person in Florida does not have a duty to retreat if they feel their life is in danger. An individual can use deadly force without first trying to get away.

Stand your ground laws can be used as a self-defense defense. If a person is charged with homicide, they can attempt to prove that they felt their life was in danger when they took action that led to the death of another person.

Stand your ground laws can also be used to stop charges from being made. In this case, the State Attorney declined to file charges because they believed the driver was justified in shooting Senfield pursuant to stand your ground laws.

Related: Will “Stand Your Ground” Get Former FSU Receiver Travis Rudolph Out of Murder Charges?

Talk to a Trusted Attorney

If you or a loved one are navigating the complexities of the legal system, work with a trusted attorney who can guide you through the process. Find an attorney who will fight for your best interest and work to get you the best possible outcome for your case. Talk to a trusted attorney today. Call 813-226-1023 or request your consultation with TJ Grimaldi.

Supporting Victims of Gun Violence

TJ Grimaldi is Executive Director and Board Member of The Oulson Family Foundation, a non-profit created to help kids get the resources they need in the wake of being impacted by gun violence. Learn more about The Oulson Family Foundation and see how you can help support children impacted by gun violence.

Rocks First Degree Murder

Photo via Jefferson County, CO Sheriff’s Office

One evening ruined the lives of four young people. The reckless actions of three teenage boys led to the death of a 20-year-old young woman. Now the three teens face serious consequences for their actions.

What did they do to get charged with murder, and how might their lives change forever?

Reckless Actions Lead to a Death

On April 19, three 18-year-olds drove around Arvada, Colorado in a black 2016 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, causing danger and damage. Joseph Koenig, Nicholas Karol-Chik, and Zachary Kwak, all high school seniors at separate schools, were in the vehicle.

As they drove around, the teens threw large landscaping rocks at passing vehicles. The rocks weighed between three to five pounds each, as reported by NBC News.

After hitting six other vehicles, the teen’s car approached the car of 20-year-old Alexa Bartell at around 10:45 p.m.

As Bartell passed the teen’s vehicle, they threw a rock at her. The rock crashed through the window, hitting Bartell.

Bartell had been on the phone with a friend when the rock hit her car. When she went silent, the friend tracked Bartell’s phone and drove to the location. There, she found her friend off the roadway in a field dead.

Reckless Actions Lead to First-Degree Murders Charges

Less than a week after the accident, the three teens were arrested and charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference.

Tips from the public and cell phone data helped identify the three teenagers as the culprits.

After the arrest, Karol-Chik reportedly told police that all three teens threw rocks at cars. He said Kwak threw the rock that hit Bartell and that the boys turned around and took a photo of her car. Kwak reportedly said the teens agreed to never speak of the incident again, according to reporting by ABC News.

The three teens now face serious consequences for their reckless actions.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

What’s First-Degree Murder With Extreme Indifference?

All three of the teens are charged with first-degree murder with extreme indifference.

First-degree murder is the most serious form of homicide in Colorado. It is defined as a homicide that is intentional, malicious, and deliberate.

The punishment for first-degree murder in Colorado is, at a minimum, life in prison. The maximum punishment for first-degree murder is the death penalty.

The first-degree murder charge includes a charge of extreme indifference. 

Murder in the first degree with extreme indifference is defined in Colorado statute 3-1:05 as the crime of murder “under circumstances evidencing an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life generally, knowingly, engaged in conduct which created a grave risk of death to a person or persons other than himself, and thereby caused the death of another.”

The indifference charge is used in cases where a defendant is accused of intending harm with no specific victim.

One example of the use of the indifference charge is in 2012 Colorado movie theater shooting. In 2015, James E. Holmes was found guilty on charges of first-degree murder with indifference. Holmes committed an act to kill with no intended victim when he walked into a movie theater and opened fire.

The teens are accused of taking action to cause harm with no intended victim.

Possibility of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The teens will face criminal charges in court and a possibility of a wrongful death civil suit.

Bartell’s family could sue the teens for wrongful death. To sue for wrongful death, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant acted negligently and that their actions caused a death.

At this time, the family has not said if they will pursue civil charges. According to the sheriff’s spokesperson Jacki Kelley, the family is just grateful the individuals responsible are being held accountable.

Related: Examples of Wrongful Death Cases Worth Fighting For

Get Expert Legal Advice

If you or a loved one are involved in a civil or criminal legal matter, ensure you have a trusted attorney by your side. Get expert legal advice to guide you through the complexities of the legal system and ensure that you get the most fair and just outcome.

If you have a legal case to discuss, contact attorney TJ Grimaldi. Request your free consultation by contacting our office or calling 813-226-1023 today.

In less than two weeks, four innocent mistakes lead to gun violence. The four shootings, involving mostly young people as the victims, were triggered by seemingly harmless interactions that the shooters perceived as dangerous threats.

What do laws say about the right to protect yourself, and which shooters will be charged for their actions?

Four Mistakes Lead to Four Shootings

Teen Shot After Ringing the Wrong Doorbell

Last week, this blog covered the story of Raphael Yarl. Yarl, a 16-year-old living in Kansas City Missouri, was told by his mother to pick up his siblings at a friend’s house. Yarl mixed up the address and went to the wrong house. Around 10 p.m., he rang the doorbell and was shot by 84-year-old Andrew D. Lester.

Yarl was shot once in the head and once in the arm. He survived his injuries.

Two Teen Girls Shot After Getting Into the Wrong Car

In the same week, two teenage girls were in a grocery store parking garage in Elgin, a town about 25 miles northeast of Austin, Texas. Per reporting, the two girls were on their way home from cheerleading practice. They typically parked in the garage and carpooled to practice. It was around 12:15 a.m. when one of the girls tried to get into the wrong car, mistaking it for her own. She opened the driver’s door and saw a man sitting in the passenger seat. She got out and back into her friend’s car when the man, 25-year-old Pedro Tello Rodriguez Jr., approached the vehicle and fired shots.

The female driving the car was critically injured.

Six-Year-Old and Father Shot After Basketball Rolls into the Wrong Yard

Authorities are still investigating what happened in Gastonia, a town west of Charlotte, North Carolina. According to reports, children were outside playing when their basketball rolled into the yard where 24-year-old Robert Louis Singletary was living. Singletary came out of the house and yelled at the kids. The father of a 6-year-old girl playing outside approached the house and said something to Singletary. Singletary then walked into the house and came back out with a gun and fired shots, hitting the man and his daughter.

The girl had a bullet fragment in her cheek and was released from the hospital. Her father was hospitalized with serious injuries.

20-Year-Old Killed After Pulling Into the Wrong Driveway

During the same week, Kaylin Gillis was a passenger in a vehicle with three friends who were driving around a rural area of upstate New York trying to find a friend’s house. Per reporting, Gillis’ friend pulled into a long driveway mistaking it for their friend’s house. The homeowner, 65-year-old Kevin Monahan fired two shots at the car from the porch.

Gillis was shot and pronounced dead shortly after the incident.

Were the Shooters Charged?

Each of the incidents is reported to have stemmed from innocent mistakes. The victims appear to have not meant any harm to the shooter.

But if the shooters felt in danger, are their actions warranted?

Currently, each of the shooters face charges for their actions.

  • Lester was charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action for shooting the teen at his door.
  • Rodriguez was charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony in Texas, for shooting at the two teenage cheerleaders.
  • Singletary was charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and possession of a firearm for shooting at the six-year-old and her father.
  • Monahan was charged with second-degree murder for shooting and killing the passenger of the vehicle turning around in his yard.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

How Will the Shooters Defend Their Case?

The four shootings occurred in different states and will follow the laws of the states where the incidents occurred. Each state has unique laws as they relate to self-defense.

Three of the states — Missouri, Texas, and North Carolina — have “stand your ground” laws that say an individual has no duty to retreat from a hostile situation before using deadly force if they feel their life or the life of another is in danger.

New York has laws that require a “duty to retreat.” The law says individuals that have an opportunity to retreat should do so before using deadly force.

Lester and Monahan have pleaded not guilty to their charges. It’s not clear whether Singletary or Rodriguez have entered their plea.

If any of the shooters claim self-defense, they will have to prove that they felt their life was in danger when they fired the shots. 

Monahan, who fired at a car from his porch and in New York state with no stand your ground laws, will likely have the most difficult case to prove self-defense. The other cases in states with stand your ground laws may have a stronger defense, but the defendants will have to prove they feared for their life, which may be difficult considering the situation of each case.

If you have questions about a pending criminal case, schedule a call with TJ Grimaldi. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023.

Supporting Children Impacting by Gun Violence

TJ Grimaldi works to fight for children impacted by gun violence. Grimaldi is the Executive Director and Board Member of The Oulson Family Foundation, a non-profit created to honor the life and legacy of Chad Oulson, whose life ended in a senseless act of gun violence.

Grimaldi works to help kids get the resources they need in the wake of being impacted by gun violence. Learn more about The Oulson Family Foundation and see how you can help support children impacted by gun violence.

Teen Shot Wrong Doorbell

(Clay County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

A teenage boy made a mistake while picking up his siblings. He rang the wrong doorbell. The mistake left him with two bullet wounds after the homeowner saw him at the door and shot.

The teen will survive his injuries, but what will happen to the man who shot him for ringing the wrong doorbell?

Ringing the Wrong Doorbell

Raphael Yarl’s younger siblings were at a friend’s house on April 13, 2023. Yarl’s mother told him to go pick them up at 115th Terrace, a street in the northern part of Kansas City, Missouri.

But 16-year-old Yarl made a mistake. He went to 115th Street instead of 115th Terrace.

According to Yarl’s aunt and lawyers, Yarl parked in the driveway, walked up to the door, and rang the doorbell. It was shortly before 10 p.m. The homeowner, 84-year-old Andrew D. Lester came to the door. No words were exchanged. Lester opened the main door and used a .32-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver to shoot at Yarl through the storm door, hitting him twice, once in the head and once in the arm.

Yarl’s aunt, Faith Spoonmore shared Yarl’s side of the story, as reported by NPR. “The man inside opened up the door and shot him in the head through the glass door. When Raphael was on the ground, he shot him again,” she said.

The 16-year-old high school junior got up and ran to a neighbor’s house for help. He was taken to a hospital, where he received care and was released three days later.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Why Did the Homeowner Shoot?

Lester called 911 after the incident. He was taken into custody and brought in for questioning.

According to a police statement, Lester said he shot at Yarl because he was afraid. He thought his house was being broken into. He saw a tall man at the door and claimed Yarl was pulling at the storm door handle.

Yarl said he didn’t attempt to open the door, and it appears that he never crossed the threshold of the door.

Lester was released from custody without charges. Missouri law requires that a suspect must be charged within 24 hours or else be released. Police said Lester was released because he was cooperating and not considered a flight risk.

But the case did not end there.

Four days after the shooting, charges were filed. Clay County prosecutor Zachary Thompson determined that Lester’s actions were criminal and charged him with first-degree assault and armed criminal action, as reported by the New York Times.

The shooting took place in Missouri and will follow Missouri law. In Missouri, armed criminal action carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

Related: Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference? 

Will the Shooter See Jail Time?

Lester’s legal team may choose to use two defenses to fight the charges against him. They may use laws often referred to as “stand your ground” and “the castle doctrine.”

Missouri, like Florida, is one of about 30 states with stand your ground laws. In general, stand your ground laws say a person has no duty to retreat from a hostile situation before using deadly force. If a person feels their life or the life of another is in danger, they may use deadly force.

The castle doctrine is another type of self defense law. It says a person has no duty to retreat before using deadly force if they are in their home and believe an intruder intends to harm them or someone else.

For Lester to use a stand your ground or castle doctrine defense, he would have to prove that he reasonably felt his life was in danger when he fired his gun at Yarl. 

Since no words were shared between the man and the teen and Yarl didn’t appear to try to enter the home, it may be a difficult case to make.

When Lester was formally arraigned, he pleaded not guilty. We will wait and see how Lester’s team may try to defend his actions — and if a jury agrees with their position.

Talk to a criminal defense attorney if you or someone you know is facing potential legal charges. The sooner you talk to an experienced attorney, the sooner you can weigh your options and know what to expect. Talk to TJ Grimaldi today. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023.

Supporting Victims of Gun Violence

TJ Grimaldi stands with children impacted by gun violence. As the Executive Director and Board Member of The Oulson Family Foundation, TJ works to help kids get the resources they need in the wake of being impacted by gun violence.

The Oulson Family Foundation was created to honor the life and legacy of Chad Oulson, whose life ended in a senseless act of gun violence. Learn more about The Oulson Family Foundation and see how you can help support victims of gun violence.

What Trumps Charges Mean

(AP Photo/Andrew Kelly via Pool)

For the first time in U.S. history, a current or former American president has been charged with a crime. On April 4, 2023, former president Donald J. Trump was officially charged with 34 crimes.

What led to the unprecedented charges? What are the 34 alleged crimes, and what happens next?

What Is Trump Accused Of Doing?

The case against Donald J. Trump is tied to three primary events.

Trump is said to have engaged in “catch-and-kill” schemes in which he, along with his attorneys and American Media Inc., the company which publishes the National Enquirer, transferred money between individuals and organizations to prevent the release of damaging information about Trump.

The case focuses on three instances of catch-and-kill schemes, as reported by NPR.

  1. One instance relates to $30,000 paid to a former Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child that Trump had allegedly fathered outside of his marriage.
  2. Another instance relates to $150,000 paid to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal who claimed to have an affair with Trump while he was married.
  3. Lastly, and most notably, another instance relates to $130,000 paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels who also claimed to have an affair with Trump while he was married. The payment was made in October 2016 just before the election.

So, why are these payments illegal?

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

What Is Trump Charged With?

The payments are seen as illegal by the New York district attorney’s office because the transactions were not properly recorded. The payments appear to be entered as false business records.

In New York, falsifying business records is a crime defined in Article 175 of the New York Penal Law.

Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor. The action is elevated to a felony if the falsifying business records was done with the intent “to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.”

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

Trump’s charges were elevated to a felony because prosecutors in New York say Trump falsified business records to cover up other crimes. They believe the records were altered to cover up campaign and election crimes such as illegally promoting a candidate and exceeding the federal campaign contribution cap.

Each of the 34 counts is for a violation of the same law.

Each count refers to a document that has been falsified, such as each instance of a false entry in a general ledger or a signed check.

Trump plead not guilty to all 34 charges.

Related: Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference? 

What Are the Potential Consequences?

In New York, felony bookkeeping fraud can be punishable by up to four years in prison for each count. Each sentence could be completed consecutively, one after another.

But, the charge also does not carry a mandatory prison sentence. 

According to The Washington Post, experts believe Trump would be unlikely to serve prison time even if convicted since he has no prior record — and is a former American President running for office again.

Related: What Does It Take to Be an Attorney for a High-Profile Case? 

What Happens Next?

Now that Trump has been officially charged, the next step in the legal process is discovery, per reporting by The New York Times.

During the discovery phase, the district attorney’s office must turn over most of the evidence they have to Trump’s team.

The next deadline in the case is August 8. At that time, Trump’s attorney must file any motions related to the case. Trump’s team says they plan to file a motion to dismiss. A motion to dismiss, if granted by a judge, would throw the case out. They also plan to file a motion for a change of venue as they say Trump won’t be able to get a fair trial in New York City.

Once the motions are filed, prosecutors have until September 19 to respond.

During a hearing on December 4, the judge will rule on all motions.

If the case goes to trial, prosecutors say it would take place in early January 2024. Trump’s team says that is not enough time and wants it to be later in the spring of 2024.

Related: The Best Criminal Defense Attorneys Have These 7 Qualities

Everyone Is Equal In the Eye of the Law

Whether you are a former president of the United States or an average Joe, you deserve fair due process of the law. Every person should be treated fairly in the legal system. If you are facing criminal charges, ensure that you are given fair due process by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights. To talk about a pending case, request your call with TJ Grimaldi today. Schedule or call 813-226-1023 now.

Photo Credit: Meherrin River Regional Jail

Photo Credit: Meherrin River Regional Jail

One man lost his life on March 6, 2023. Irvo Otieno was in police custody when he stopped breathing on the floor of a mental hospital. Now, ten people are charged in his death.

What led to Otieno’s death, and why are so many people said to be at fault?

What Led to Irvo Otieno’s Arrest?

On March 3, 2023, police were called to a possible burglary in Henrico County, Virgina. Irvo Otieno, 28, was in a neighbor’s yard rearranging their lawn ornaments. When police arrived, they determined it was not a burglary but a mental health situation.

Officers were assisted by members of the county’s crisis intervention team, and Otieno’s mother arrived on the scene.

Otieno was placed under an emergency custody order and taken to a hospital, according to CNN. Otieno’s mother supported the decision to take her son to the hospital.

But Otieno wouldn’t stay at the hospital. According to reports, Otieno assaulted three officers and was then taken to the county jail and booked.

What Led to Irvo Otieno’s Death?

Three days after police took Otieno to the county jail, they planned to move him to Central State Hospital located south of Richmond. Otieno didn’t make it past the intake process at the Virginia mental health facility.

Caleb Kershner, attorney for one of the defendants, told CNN that Otieno wouldn’t get out of the vehicle when they arrived at the hospital. Deputies had to force him out.

Video, which has been seen by Otieno’s mother and family but not the public, shows what happened inside of the facility.

Otieno was in handcuffs and leg irons and held on the ground for 12 minutes. At one point, ten people were on top of him. The video shows hands over Otieno’s mouth, hands on his head, and hands holding his braids back. Otieno was put on his stomach and died in that position.

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond says Otieno died of asphyxiation.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill says Otieno was smothered to death, and she criminally charged ten people for their role in his death.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

Who Are the Ten People Charged?

Seven police deputies and three hospital workers were charged with second-degree murder related to Otieno’s death.

Baskervill points to incidents leading up to Otieno’s death as the reason for the charges.

According to AP News, before Otieno arrived at the hospital, he appeared to have been in distress. Video taken at the jail shows that before his transfer, he was naked with feces all over his cell. Otieno was pepper sprayed five or six times before Henrico jail deputies entered the cell and tackled him. Video of the event shows officers rushing into the cell, what appears to be a punch thrown, and Otieno’s lifeless body being carried out of the cell and put in a vehicle.

Otieno’s family says he was not given the medication he needed while in jail.

Once at the hospital, Baskervill says officers and hospital staff created a situation that caused Otieno to stop breathing, and they failed to help him when he needed aid. Some accounts of the incident say Otieno was given a shot to calm him down, but Baskervill says the shot was given after Otieno was already dead.

Baskervill says there was a lack of urgency to help Otieno after he appeared lifeless and to be not breathing. Otieno was brought to the facility at 4:00 pm but state police weren’t called to investigate his death until 7:28 pm.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

What Charges Do the Ten Defendants Face?

The ten defendants face second-degree murder charges in Virginia.

Virginia defines murder that isn’t capital, first-degree murder as second-degree. As opposed to capital murder, second-degree murder is not premeditated. Second-degree murder is a homicide that happens in the heat of the moment or due to recklessness, among other situations.

While each of the ten people likely had different levels of involvement in Otieno’s death, they face the same charges. In Virginia, the penalties for second-degree murder include a minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison.

We will wait and see if the court system finds the ten defendants responsible for Otieno’s death and what criminal punishments they might face. We will also wait to see if a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court may also be pursued against the ten people involved.

Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death? 

Talk to a Legal Expert

If you have questions about a pending civil or criminal case you are involved with, do not delay talking to a legal expert. An attorney with experience and expertise will be able to offer you advice and guidance to get the best possible outcome for your situation. Don’t let any more days pass. Talk to a legal expert today. Schedule a free call with attorney TJ Grimaldi. Schedule or call 813-226-1023 today.

Gwyneth Paltrow Skiing Lawsuit

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool)

Seven years ago, Gwyneth Paltrow was skiing with her family in Park City Utah. That day would be the reason why Paltrow was in court this week facing a personal injury lawsuit and pursuing a countersuit that asks for $1.

What are the details of the case, and why is Paltrow asking for $1 in damages?

A Collision on The Sky Slopes

On February 26, 2016, actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow was enjoying a day of skiing with her husband and two children. The family hired Eric Christiansen, a ski instructor with 44 years of experience, to provide lessons for Paltrow’s son.

At the same time, retired optometrist Terry Sanderson, now 76, was also on the slopes at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.

At some point on the beginner’s course, Paltrow and Sanderson collided.

Paltrow and Sanderson have very different descriptions of what happened, and their perspectives are at the core of a personal injury case that is scheduled to last for eight days in front of a jury.

He Said — She Said

Sanderson alleges that Paltrow ran into him in a type of “hit and run” on the slope. He says she crashed into him and then got up and left without aiding or assisting him. Sanderson said the crash left him with four broken ribs and a brain injury.

Paltrow has a different version of events.

She said Sanderson ran into her and told her he was fine before leaving the scene.

Christiansen, the ski instructor with Paltrow’s family, didn’t see the accident but he was one of the first people to respond to the incident. He filed a report with Deer Valley Resort saying Sanderson hit Paltrow from behind.

But, the impact of the crash didn’t end there.

He Sued — She Sued

Three years after the crash on the ski slopes, Sanderson filed a personal injury lawsuit against Paltrow.

The lawsuit claims that Sanderson experienced damages due to the injuries he sustained from the collision with Paltrow. Sanderson said he took three years to file the lawsuit because he had problems with attorneys and couldn’t function properly because of his injuries. Sanderson originally sought $3.1 million in damage but his initial lawsuit was dropped, according to USA TODAY.

He is now suing Paltrow for $300,000.

Sanderson is also suing Deer Valley Resort. Sanderson says the resort filed a false report indicating that he caused the crash.

Paltrow responded to the lawsuit with one of her own.

She filed a counterclaim against Sanderson. Her lawsuit says she is seeking “symbolic damages in the amount of $1, plus her costs and attorney’s fees to defend this meritless claim.”

The personal injury lawsuit filed in 2019 in Utah was finally brought to trial on March 21, 2023.

Related: Personal Injury Compensation: What Can You Fight For?

How to Prove Fault in a Personal Injury Case

The personal injury case is filed in Utah and will follow Utah laws. To prove fault in a personal injury case in Utah, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was liable.

Sanderson must prove:

  • Paltrow had a duty to provide a safe space for Sanderson
  • Paltrow was negligent and breached that duty
  • The breach caused an accident
  • The accident led to harm and damages for Sanderson

Paltrow’s legal team is fighting these allegations while pointing blame back on Sanderson.

Related: Types of Personal Injury Cases: Do You Have a Claim? 

What Has Happened in the Trial So Far?

So far in the trial, each side has brought individuals to testify to support their case.

Radiologist Dr. Wendell Gibby testified that Sanderson’s head trauma appeared to be an injury caused by someone crashing into him. Neuropsychologist Dr. Alina Fong testified that she couldn’t say with certainty that the crash directly led to Sanderson’s health issues.

Paltrow told her version of the story on the stand, saying Sanderson “categorically hit me on that ski slope.”

Ski instructor Christiansen testified that he found the two intertwined with Paltrow on top. Paltrow told him she was hit and never saw it coming. He also testified that Paltrow had a strong skiing ability, according to Insider.

Terry Sanderson took the stand to say he heard a “bloodcurdling” scream before he was hit from behind which sent him “flying.”

Now, it will be up to the jury to decide which side caused the accident and who is entitled to damages — even if the damages are just $1.

Related: How to Prepare for a Personal Injury Deposition

Protect Your Rights with a Trusted Attorney

If someone’s negligence led to an injury to you or a loved one, you are entitled to damages. Talk to a personal injury attorney about whether or not you have a case worth fighting for. Contact TJ Grimaldi for your free consultation to discuss the details of your case and possible next steps. Contact us to schedule today or call us at 813-226-1023.

Three women in Texas are accused of offering assistance to a friend who wanted to end her pregnancy. Now the three women each face a $1 million wrongful death lawsuit.

What does Texas law say about this type of wrongful death case, and is this the new normal?

An Abortion Leads to a Wrongful Death Civil Case

In February 2023, Marcus Silva and his wife Brittni officially divorced. Brittni Silva filed for divorce in May 2022, two months before Marcus Silva says she became pregnant, hid it from him, and had an abortion.

In a lawsuit filed in Galveston County, Texas, Marcus Silva claims his wife discovered she was pregnant in July 2022 and reached out to friends for help in attaining an abortion. The lawsuit points to text messages exchanged by three women and Brittni Silva. Screenshots show conversations where the women discussed the legality of having abortion pills shipped to Texas.

Marcus Silva says two of the women sent his wife information about Aid Access, an international group that sends abortion pills through the mail, and the third woman delivered abortion-inducing medication to Brittni Silva.

Marcus Silva recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the three women and is seeking $1 million in damages from each woman, as reported by the New York Post.

Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death? 

Who Is Named in the Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

The wrongful death lawsuit names three defendants: Jackie Noyola, Amy Carpenter, and Aracely Garcia. The lawsuit also states it would like to include the manufacturer of the abortion pill once the manufacturer is known.

Who the lawsuit does not name is Marcus Silva’s ex-wife, Brittni.

Silva’s lawsuit explicitly states he is excluding his ex-wife from the filing and not pursuing any legal action against her.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

What Laws Did The Women Break?

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, laws related to prosecuting abortion on the civil and criminal level have been mostly unknown, unclear, and untested. The attorneys representing Marcus Silva point to new and old Texas laws for the basis of their case.

Texas Senate Bill 8

Marcus Silva’s attorneys include Briscoe Cain, a practicing attorney who is also a Republican serving in the Texas state House, and Jonathan Mitchell, a former state Solicitor General who has been credited as one of the architects of Senate Bill 8, as reported by CNN.

Texas Senate Bill 8, often referred to as the Texas Heartbeat Act which made most abortions illegal after approximately six weeks of pregnancy, took effect on September 1, 2021. The law allows for private citizens to file civil suits against any person who, “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing the costs of an abortion through insurance or otherwise.”

Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code

The lawsuit also alleges that assisting a self-managed abortion qualifies as murder under the state’s wrongful death law outlined in Chapter 71 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

In Texas, a surviving spouse, child, parent, or personal representative of the deceased can file a civil wrongful death complaint against a person or entity if their wrongful act, neglect, carelessness, or unskillfulness led to the death of a person or a fetus.

Related: Examples of Wrongful Death Cases 

Will the Women Be Held Liable?

With no similar cases making it this far in the court system since major changes have impacted abortion laws, it’s unclear how the case will end.

Texas Senate Bill 8 is a relatively new law and hasn’t been brought to a trial yet. For Marcus Silva to win his case against the women, he will need to prove that they actively helped Brittni Silva end her pregnancy.

Wrongful death cases are nothing new in Texas, but Silva’s case will be one of the first of its kind to come to courts after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. To win his case, Marcus Silva will need to prove the various elements of a wrongful death claim. He must prove that the three women:

  • Had a duty of care for the deceased
  • Breached their duty of care
  • Acted in a way that directly caused the wrongful death

The outcome of the case will likely set a precedent for other cases that will come after it and determine what future civil and criminal cases on abortion will look like.

The Law Can Be Complex

The law isn’t always clear and simple. Conflicting and changing laws can impact guidelines that direct civil and criminal cases. If you are dealing with legal issues in either civil or criminal courts, make sure you have an attorney by your side who can interpret the law and understand how it will impact your unique situation.

To talk to an experienced attorney, schedule a consultation with TJ Grimaldi. Get advice about your case. Contact us to schedule today or call us at 813-226-1023.