February 6, 2015

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Riles v. State

No. PD-1757-13         2/4/15


After her deferred adjudication was revoked and the defendant was sentenced to prison, was she permitted to appeal an order to pay her attorney’s fees for the first time even though she was only made aware of the amount of the fees after her probation was revoked?


No. Because she had knowledge of the existence of the order when her community supervision was originally granted, she was required to directly appeal at that time even if she did not know the amount of the fee. Read the opinion.

Concurrence (Keller, P.J.):

Because the bill of cost listed the attorney’s fees and the original judgment incorporated the bill of costs, the defendant was on notice that the requirement to pay the fee was an independent obligation and not a condition of probation. Read the concurrence.

Concurrence (Alcala, J.):

Even if the defendant had not been procedurally barred from the appeal, she would have lost on the merits because the evidence showed she should have been aware of both the existence of the fee and the approximate amount of the fee. Read the concurrence.

Dissent (Johnson, J.):  

The defendant was represented by appointed counsel because she was indigent. There is nothing on the record that indicates the court considered her ability to pay any fees before assessing them. Therefore the order was void and challengeable at any time. Read the dissent.


This decision should be mainly of interest only to appellate prosecutors. It is a straightforward application of Manuel v. State, 994 S.W.2d 658 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999), stating that a defendant raising a claim related to when the defendant was placed on probation should be raised then and not in an appeal from the judgment revoking the defendant’s probation or adjudicating his guilt. So do not necessarily expect the same result in an appeal from a judgment placing the defendant on probation or in a non-probation conviction.

Villarreal v. State

No. PD-0332-13         2/4/15


When the court failed to include a jury instruction regarding the presumption of reasonableness as to the defendant’s belief that deadly force was immediately necessary to protect himself, was the defendant entitled to have his murder conviction overturned?


No. Not only was that presumption most likely not available under the facts, even if it had been given, the jury would also have been authorized not to apply that presumption under these circumstances. Read the opinion.


This decision is important because it quotes with approval the Texas Criminal Pattern Jury Charges, which may be applied in more and more cases as time goes by. This decision is otherwise a good application of a harm analysis when there has been a technical error in the jury charge on self-defense. 

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