Can The State Appeal An Order Dismissing Your Criminal Case?
If you are tried on a criminal charge and acquitted–i.e., the jury finds you not guilty–the state cannot appeal that decision. An acquittal is final. But there are other situations where the prosecution may appeal a ruling favorable to a criminal defendant. For example, if the trial court dismissed the indictment before trial, the prosecution may appeal that ruling. Similarly, if a trial court vacates a prior conviction and orders a new trial, that decision is also subject to possible appeal.
Court of Criminal Appeals: Prosecutors May Appeal Grant of Misdemeanor Habeas Petition
A recent decision from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, State v. Garcia, illustrates how these rules work in practice. In this case, a defendant charged with misdemeanor theft pleaded guilty. He received a sentence of 10 days in jail. That might have been the end of the case, except that the defendant, who was not a U.S. citizen, did not understand at the time of his plea that his criminal record would subject him to possible deportation.
The defendant filed a post-conviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Essentially, he sought an order discharging his earlier conviction on the grounds that his attorney failed to advise him of the potential immigration consequences of pleading guilty. The trial court granted the petition and issued an order directing the defendant to be “discharged and released without delay.”
The prosecution appealed the court’s decision, arguing it was an abuse of discretion. An intermediate appeals court dismissed the appeal, however, finding it lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter. Specifically, the intermediate court held that the state could not appeal an order “discharging” a criminal defendant.
The Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA), however, said that the discharge order was the “functional equivalent” of an order granting a defendant’s request for a new trial. This could be appealed by the state. By granting habeas relief setting aside the defendant’s conviction, the logical consequence was there had to be a new trial. Indeed, the CCA said that reading made sense given the defendant was not in custody at the time of his petition and therefore could not be granted any relief other than reversal of the prior conviction.
To be clear, the CCA did not rule on the merits of the state’s appeal. That is to say, the CCA did not hold that the trial court abused its discretion in reversing the defendant’s conviction. Instead, the CCA remanded the case to the intermediate court with instructions to consider the merits of the state’s appeal.
Contac a Pearland, Texas, Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
As this case illustrates, even a misdemeanor conviction can have serious legal consequences. So if you are facing any sort of criminal charge it is important to work with a qualified Pearland misdemeanor crimes defense attorney who will zealously represent your interests in court. Contact the offices of Keith B. French Law, PLLC, today to schedule a case evaluation today.