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Monday Morning Lawyering-State of Texas v. Rashee Rice

Let’s clear the air on everything involving Rashee Rice, as there has been too much information and too many people reporting the same things over and over again with some of it being factually untrue. Rashee Rice will eventually be arrested and charged. That is a certainty. However, let me tell you what I expect Rashee Rice to be charged with and why. Finally, we will discuss why Rashee Rice’s attorney’s press conference was ill-advised and flat out bizarre. I was a felony prosecutor for over three years, and I have been a criminal defense attorney for two and a half years. In that time, I have tried forty criminal trials and litigated two thousand criminal cases from start to finish. My analysis is based on personal experience.


The first charge I expect him to be charged with is Street Racing resulting in Serious Injury. We all saw the video where a Lamborghini and a Corvette appeared to be weaving in and out of traffic at high rates of speed. The dash cam video also showed the resulting crash which caused a six car pile-up. Street Racing is always very, very ill-advised as prosecutors, judges, and juries, have no sympathy for an individual driving 100+ mph especially when kids get injured. This charge is a second-degree felony punishable by 2 years in prison to a maximum of 20 years in prison. The Street Racing charge itself is usually a 3rd-degree felony, but the serious injury elevates the charge to a second-degree felony. The serious injury element comes into play because at least one of the alleged victims was hospitalized as a result of the crash. Time will tell how extensive the injuries are in fact. If they are permanent, don’t expect that charge to be reduced.


The second charge that I expect is “Leaving the Scene Accident involving Serious Injury.” Under Texas Law, you are required to do the following:


The operator of a vehicle involved in a collision resulting in the injury or death of a person or damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person shall:

(1) give the operator's name and address, the registration number of the vehicle the operator was driving, and the name of the operator's motor vehicle liability insurer to any person injured or the operator or occupant of or person attending a vehicle involved in the collision;

(2)  if requested and available, show the operator's driver's license to a person described by Subdivision (1); and

(3)  provide any person injured in the collision reasonable assistance, including transporting, or making arrangements for transporting the person to a physician or hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if the injured person requests the transportation.


From all accounts, it doesn’t appear Rice did anything remotely approaching compliance with the statute. In fact, there is video of Rice leaving the accident with three other individuals on the highway itself. Rice’s alleged indifference to human life after allegedly causing this accident is extremely aggravating. Criminal Defendants need to understand that when a prosecutor eventually submits a plea offer, they often do that after speaking with all alleged victims involved. Many states have laws protecting victim’s rights. This charge carries a 2 year to 10-year prison sentence. Am I saying Rashee Rice is absolutely going to prison? Absolutely not. However, these are the sentencing statutory guidelines, and they are supposed to be applied to everyone the same way. That brings me right into my final analysis, which concerns the bizarre press conference that Rashee Rice’s attorney held yesterday.


Free Legal Information: In any criminal case, the greatest leverage that a criminal defendant will always have is that the State MUST prove the charge(s) beyond a reasonable doubt. Admissions are the single greatest piece of evidence a prosecutor has. They are admissible, and a jury doesn’t need to think twice before convicting someone when the Defendants themselves acknowledged their culpability. There were reports that Rice contacted Lamborghini and told them he was driving. I do not know if that is true. However, if it is, that individual Rice admitted to driving to WILL most definitely be a witness in his imminent criminal case. Additionally, his semi-admission on social media will also be used against him. Are we seeing a pattern here? Free Legal Advice: NEVER admit anything to anyone ever (expect maybe your attorney). The police are not going decide to let you off the hook-on serious felony charges because you came clean and said you are sorry. They will make you feel like you are doing the right thing and charge you anyways. They also know they have you cold after that and that you, as the criminal defendant, have lost all leverage to plea.


That brings me to Mr. West’s bizarre press conference: By admitting he is the driver, you are already waiving the white flag for the entire criminal case. The dash cam video showed people exiting the vehicle, but it definitely was not definitive as to who was driving. By admitting to the world he was driving, Mr. West gave away the single toughest element to prove which was Rice was in fact driving the vehicle. Now that this case has gotten so much publicity, Mr. West does not have the ability to negotiate a plea deal behind closed doors outside the many cameras and fingers of the media. If Rice were to get a slap on the wrist, the District Attorney would face major backlash as countless Defendants who have gone to prison for doing the exact same thing that Mr. Rice allegedly did. It would be fair criticism to say that the DA is condoning the creation of two separate judicial systems: One for the rich with high-priced attorneys and well-connected friends and one for the everyday people. With the media attention, the DA is going to have no choice but to treat Mr. Rice like any other Defendant because the case against him is so strong. At trial, this case on these two charges would likely be a 30-minute guilty verdict on both counts. Is Mr. West’s statements admissible at trial? No; however, the prosecutor and the plaintiff attorney now know for sure that Rice’s own attorney views Rice as low-hanging fruit. Neither will have any inclination to negotiate whatsoever absent a godfather offer. They both have pretty strong cases with serious jury appeal. Rule #1 of being a criminal defense attorney: NEVER let the prosecution know how weak you view your own case. What motivates a prosecutor to resolve a criminal case with high media exposure is the potential of losing. That is it. Prosecutors are underpaid, overworked, and overly competitive with each other. If they know you are not going to try this case, you will NEVER get their best offer. Their best offer would undoubtedly be the non-incarceration offer the client is undoubtedly seeking. What incentive does the prosecutor have to cut a deal? They have a high media exposure case with lock and load evidence. It is literally an ambitious prosecutor’s dream.


For Rashee Rice: What’s done is done. However, let me leave you with this: In a criminal case, every time a Defendant opens their mouth, they lose leverage. To quote Detective Alonzo Harris from the film Training Day: “Do you want to go to jail, or do you want to go home?" Thus, if you are ever under criminal investigation, keep your mouth shut and hire an experienced criminal trial attorney as soon as possible. It just may be the difference between going to jail or going home.


Matthew F. Tympanick, Esq. is the Founder/Principal of Tympanick Law, P.A., located in Sarasota, Florida where he focuses his practice on Criminal Defense, Personal Injury Law, and Sports Law. Arrested or Injured? Don’t Panic…Call Tympanick! 1(888)NOPANIC. He is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts School of Law where he served as a Public Interest Fellow and a Staff Editor on the UMass Law Review. He has appeared nationally on television, radio, and podcasts discussing criminal cases specifically sports criminal cases. He was previously a felony prosecutor where he prosecuted thousands of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases. He also has tried over 40 jury and non-jury cases. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @TympanickLaw.

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