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Appellant Albert Febus was a registered sex offender. He voluntarily signed a change-of-address form listing his new address as an apartment at “6110 Glenmont” even though he never intended to live there. Months later, when police went to that apartment at “6110 Glenmont” to check on Appellant, Appellant was not living there. At his trial for failure to comply with his duty to register, Appellant claimed he had actually told the police he was moving to an apartment at “6100 Glenmont.” According to Appellant, the police had gotten the apartment number correct, but they had placed the wrong street address in their registry. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted review to address whether the evidence was legally sufficient to support the jury’s determination that Appellant failed to notify the local police regarding his change of address in violation of his duty to register as a sex offender. Finding the evidence was legally sufficient, the Court affirmed the court of appeals’ opinion. View "Febus v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Under Penal Code Section 25.07(a)(2)(A), the State may prosecute an individual who has intentionally or knowingly communicated in a “threatening or harassing manner” with another person in violation of a judicially issued protective order or bond condition. Appellant Paul Wagner was charged and convicted under that statute after a jury determined that he communicated with his estranged wife, Laura, in a harassing manner in violation of a protective order that had been issued against him for her protection due to a history of family violence. The court of appeals affirmed appellant’s conviction on direct appeal over his challenge to the statute’s constitutionality on overbreadth and vagueness grounds under the First and Fourteenth amendments to the federal Constitution. Appellant challenged the constitutionality of Section 25.07(a)(2)(A). The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the court of court of appeals that the statute, if interpreted in accordance with its plain meaning, was not overbroad because it did not reach a substantial amount of constitutionally protected speech, in that it applied only to a limited number of people whose communications have been restricted by a judge through a bond or protective order, and it prohibits only communications that are intentionally or knowingly made in a threatening or harassing manner towards particular protected individuals. Similarly, the Court concluded the statute, as applied to appellant’s conduct, was not impermissibly vague because the plain statutory terms were such that they would afford a person of ordinary intelligence a reasonable opportunity to know that his course of conduct would be prohibited. View "Wagner v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Appellant Bernard Shortt attempted to appeal an order granting him so-called “shock” community supervision under former Article 42.12, Section 6(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure. In that attempted appeal, he sought to challenge a condition of community supervision imposed in the order that required him to make restitution payments. Though the State agreed that the trial court’s order was erroneous in this regard, the court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. It held, in an unpublished opinion, that “there is no statutory authority which confers jurisdiction upon an appellate court to consider an appeal from an order imposing shock probation[.]” The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Appellant’s petition for discretionary review in order to address whether an appellant may appeal an order granting “shock” community supervision. “Given our apparent willingness to read [Code of Criminal Procedure] Section 23(b) to embrace an appeal of the conditions of community supervision from an original judgment that suspends imposition of sentence, thereby ‘plac[ing the defendant] on community supervision[,]’ there is no compelling reason we should not also be willing to construe it to authorize an appeal of the conditions of community supervision from a later order granting ‘shock’ community supervision—an order that suspends the execution of sentence, but just as assuredly ‘place[s the defendant] on community supervision.’” The judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant’s appeal was vacated and the case was remanded to that court for further proceedings. View "Shortt v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Appellee Victoria Velasquez was charged with possessing a usable quantity of marijuana. She moved to suppress evidence, and the trial court decided to hear the motion on the day of trial, right before jury selection. The State objected under Article 28.01 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, claiming it had received insufficient notice of a pre-trial hearing. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that Article 28.01 did not entitle the State to any additional notice beyond what it received in this case. View "Texas v. Velasquez" on Justia Law

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In October 2014, a jury convicted appellant Steven Thomas of capital murder for the November 1980 murder by strangulation of seventy-three-year-old Mildred McKinney in the course of committing or attempting to commit the burglary, robbery, or aggravated rape of McKinney. Appellant was sentenced to death for his crimes. Appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was automatic; the Court conducted its review of this case and appellant’s arguments on appeal. Finding no merit to these contentions, the Court affirmed appellant’s sentence of death. View "Thomas v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Appellee Jose Cortez was stopped by a State Trooper for unlawfully driving on the improved shoulder of the highway because the tires on Cortez’s minivan purportedly touched the white painted “fog line” separating the roadway from the shoulder. Upon searching Cortez’s vehicle, the Trooper found drugs and arrested Cortez. Finding that the Trooper did not have a lawful basis for the traffic stop, the trial court granted Cortez’s motion to suppress. The court of appeals upheld the trial court’s suppression order. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed the Trooper did not have a reasonable basis to stop Cortez’s vehicle, and affirmed the court of appeals' judgment. View "Texas v. Cortez" on Justia Law

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Appellant Ernesto Lerma was charged with possession of four grams or more, but less than 200 grams, of cocaine. After the trial court denied Appellant’s motion to suppress the cocaine, he pled guilty. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the officer’s frisk of Appellant, made during an unjustifiably prolonged traffic stop, was not supported by reasonable suspicion. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals disagreed, holding that the initial frisk was supported by reasonable suspicion and the original stop was not unduly prolonged. View "Lerma v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Appellant Luis Hernandez was convicted of murder and sentenced to fourteen years in prison. The victim, Devin Toler, was sleeping with Quionecia Barber, the wife of his neighbor, Appellant. After Appellant learned of the affair, he and Toler had several verbal confrontations. Barber turned her back to chase after her toddler, and by the time she returned, the fist-fight had ended, and Appellant had gone back to his apartment. Toler then collapsed to the ground. Barber saw blood coming from a wound on Toler’s chest and called 911. Paramedics administered first aid and transported Toler to the hospital, but he died. The issue before the Court of Criminal Appeal in this matter was whether he preserved his complaint about the State’s jury argument even though he did not pursue his objection to an adverse ruling. The Court granted the State Prosecuting Attorney’s petition for discretionary review to determine whether the right not to be subjected to improper jury argument is forfeitable and whether there was a word so inflammatory that its mention in closing argument when unsupported by the evidence incurably tainted the entire trial. The Court held that the right is forfeitable and that the mention of even a very inflammatory word that is outside the record does not dispense with error preservation requirements. Consequently, the Court reversed the court of appeals. View "Hernandez v. Texas" on Justia Law

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Applicant James Jones pled guilty to and was convicted of aggravated assault of a peace officer with a deadly weapon. In this subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus, Applicant sought relief on the ground that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance. Because the factual basis for this claim was not available when Applicant filed his previous applications for habeas corpus relief, his ineffective assistance of counsel claim was not procedurally barred. Because the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the trial court’s findings and conclusions that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance, Applicant was granted habeas corpus relief. View "Ex parte James Douglas Jones" on Justia Law

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In Moon v. Texas, 451 S.W.3d 28 (Tex. Crim. App. 2014), the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the court of appeals that a juvenile court’s transfer order waiving its exclusive jurisdiction is subject to legal and factual-sufficiency appellate review. The issues in this case were whether "Moon" was retroactive, and if so, whether the transfer order in this case was legally and factually insufficient. Applicant Miguel Navarro was fifteen years old when he was charged with murder and two counts of aggravated assault. When the party got too large, the host told a group of people, including Navarro, to leave because he did not know them. An altercation ensued during which three people were stabbed, including the host, who died at the scene. Navarro fled in a car with his friends and returned to his home later that night. The next morning, detectives showed up at Navarro’s home after they were told that he may have stabbed the people at the party. Navarro was eventually taken into custody. The Court did not reach the question of "Moon" because Navarro failed to show that his subsequent writ applications satisfy the Article 11.07 Section 4 subsequent-writ bar of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. As a result, the Court dismissed his writ applications. View "Ex parte Miguel Angel Navarro" on Justia Law