Niles v. Texas

Scott Niles, a firefighter, was charged by information with two counts of Terroristic Threat - Class A, for threatening his fellow firefighters. He was arraigned, tried, convicted, and sentenced on the two Class A counts. But the jury charges had tracked the Class B misdemeanor version of the crime; the jury was not asked if the terroristic threats were against public servants. Niles raised an “illegal sentence” claim on direct appeal. The State conceded that the jury charges only authorized convictions for Class B Terroristic Threat. The court of appeals reformed the judgments to convictions for Class B misdemeanors and remanded for re-sentencing in the Class B range. The question before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was whether the court of appeals erred in doing so. The Court held that the failure to include a jury instruction on an element of an offense included within the charging instrument amounted to jury charge error subject to a harm analysis. The Court reversed and remanded the case to the court of appeals to determine whether Appellant suffered any harm. View "Niles v. Texas" on Justia Law