Danny McBride is known for making over-the-top characters that are incredibly flawed and yet still somehow sympathetic. He’s also well versed at showing how easy it is for one crime to escalate into more and more major criminal acts, particularly in his new show, The Righteous Gemstones. Here are some of the many, many crimes depicted in only the first episode of the show. Needless to say, there will be spoilers, but if you’ve watched the first episode, you should be fine.
Solicitation of Prostitution and Drug Use
The two initial crimes that kick off the rest of the story are solicitation of prostitution and drug use. Jesse Gemstone and his entourage are secretly filmed snorting cocaine and describing the topless women behind them as prostitutes. In California, soliciting prostitution is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and simple possession of cocaine for personal use is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, although many first time drug crime offenders will be eligible for a diversion program that will help them avoid jail and having a conviction appear on their record.
Eavesdropping Laws in California
The good news for the gang is that in most cases, video footage filmed in a private setting without your knowledge cannot be used as evidence against you in court as it would be considered a violation of your rights. In fact, recording the private conversation of someone without their consent is actually a crime under the state’s eavesdropping laws. Since someone filmed the gang, he could be face eavesdropping charges, which are punishable by up to one year in jail if charged as a misdemeanor or three years in prison if charged as a felony.
Blackmail Laws in California
Of course, the person who made the film doesn’t just get this footage and hold on to it for safe keeping, he instead uses it to blackmail Jesse. Blackmail falls under California’s extortion laws and is punishable by up to four years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Additionally, the victim can sue for compensation related to their loses, which could include a damaged reputation if a video like this were to be released.
Jesse is so worried about what the video would do to his and his family’s reputation that he agrees to pay the money, but he is unable to get together one million dollars to pay the blackmailers. Fortunately, his sister Judy happens to have the funds… after embezzling them from the church. It should go without saying that embezzlement is a crime, and in California, it can be a misdemeanor or a felony, punishable by up to one year in jail as a misdemeanor or up to three years in prison if charged as a felony. Aside from court fines, you can also be ordered to pay restitution to the victims.
In many cases though, an attorney can help those accused of this crime avoid prosecution altogether by having defendants pay back the victims before charges have been pressed. If charges are pressed anyway, this can also often go a long way in reducing the charges to a misdemeanor.
Murder and Hit and Run Charges
When Jesse, Judy and Kelvin go to pay off their blackmailers, things go haywire and they end up running over the two people who attempt to collect the money. Generally this could open them up to murder or attempted murder charges, but given as how they reasonably believed their lives were in real danger, they could argue that they acted in self defense. Unfortunately, that doesn’t excuse them from the duty to report an accident and they could still face hit and run charges, which could leave them in facing up to a year in jail if charged as a misdemeanor or up to three years in prison if charged as a felony.
While the Righteous Gemstones might only be fictional, it does an excellent job of showing how one small criminal act can often snowball into a chain of bigger and bigger crimes. If you have been accused of a crime, especially if you are facing multiple charges, it’s important to work with anattorney who is sympathetic to your situation. You can schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case with Peter M. Liss by calling (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024.