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Lindy Lou Layman, right, stands with her defense attorney Justin Keiter after making an appearance in court, Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018, in Houston. Layman is challenging allegations that she caused at least $300,000 in damage to a prominent Houston attorney’s art collection at the end of their first date. She is charged with felony criminal mischief for the Dec. 23 incident in the home of attorney Tony Buzbee.

It is correct that criminal mischief over $300,000 is a first degree felony under the Texas Penal Code, but under Sec. 12.32(a), the punishment for a first degree felony is imprisonment “for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years.” That is, the statute gives very wide discretion to sentence for a term as short as 5 years or as long as 99 years or else to sentence for life, so it is irresponsible and attention-grabbing, to borrow one of the reporter’s own phrases, for the article to begin by emphasizing the unrealistic possibility of a life sentence here. Moreover, an article in the Texas Lawyer should give specific citations to any relevant statutes and cases referred to in that article.

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