Texas Courts of Appeals
No. 06-13-00110-CR 2/17/15
In a DWLI case, is the State required to prove that the defendant had been notified that his license was suspended?
Yes. To show that a suspension period was in effect at the time of the alleged violation, the State must proffer competent evidence that it provided notice of the suspension to the licensee, unless the license suspension was an automatic one that requires no notice. Read the opinion.
This is not a case in which the court was imposing an additional element on the offense, nor is this a case in which the court was holding that DWLI was not a strict liability offense. Rather, the holding was based upon the fact that the particular driver’s license suspension in this case did not take effect until the 40th day after the defendant received notice of the suspension. Because the State did not prove when the notice was mailed to the defendant, all that the court had was the defendant’s admittedly self-serving evidence that he did not receive notice until well after he had been stopped for the violation. Another avenue for the State to have taken in this case was to show that the suspension was automatic, but the proof apparently did not show that either.
No. 07-13-0089-CR 2/12/15
When the State moved to adjudicate the defendant’s guilt after he was placed on deferred adjudication pursuant to a guilty plea for aggravated sexual assault of a child (an offense that is not eligible for deferred adjudication), was the defendant entitled to withdraw his guilty plea on a theory of ineffective assistance of counsel?
Yes. Defense counsel’s mistaken belief that the defendant was eligible for deferred adjudication community supervision, compounded by the misguided consensus of the prosecutor and the trial court, resulted in an erroneous understanding of the law applicable to his case, which reasonably induced his plea of guilty. Read the opinion.
Concurrence (Quinn, C.J.):
While this is really not a case where the sentence was illegal (because a sentence requires a conviction and deferring the adjudication is not a conviction and, therefore, not a sentence), the course of action undertaken by the trial court was prohibited by statute. Thus, it was void. Being void, it never occurred. Read the concurrence.
The moral to this story is to read Article 42.12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. OK, it is a huge mess. But at least read §§3, 3g, 4, and 5. Those sections of Article 42.12 explain when a defendant is not eligible for community supervision (depending upon the type of community supervision and whether the judge or jury is imposing it).
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