Justia Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Opinion Summaries

Texas v. Zuniga

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A police officer pulled appellee Mary Zuniga over after she ran a stop sign in front of her home. During the stop, the officer observed a bottle of medicine in Zuniga’s vehicle. When Zuniga was unable to produce a valid prescription for the syrup, the officer arrested her and placed her in the back of his police car. Soon after, the officer observed Zuniga reach into her groin area and pull something out with her hands cupped. The officer then observed Zuniga move her hands towards her mouth and lean her head down as if to swallow “something.” The officer took Zuniga to the hospital where medical professionals pumped Appellee’s stomach and performed an x-ray. They did not find any illegal substance or a baggie. The State neither tested the results of Appellee’s stomach purge for an illegal substance nor requested any testing of her blood. The State indicted Zuniga on tampering with physical evidence. The issue this case presented for review was when the State charges someone with tampering with physical evidence, was the specific identity of the tampered-with evidence an essential element of the offense? The Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the State and the court of appeals that it was not. However, the court of appeals did not appear to have addressed whether the language in the indictment provided adequate notice of the charged conduct, so the Court remanded the case to give the lower court an opportunity to do so. View "Texas v. Zuniga" on Justia Law