Playing with deferred adjudication is playing with fire.

Morris v. State (Unpublished Memo): Morris got deferred adjudication community supervision on a theft charge.  Roughly a year and a half into it, Morris blew off reporting to his supervision officer, paying restitution installments, and doing monthly community service hours.  The State asked the trial court to proceed to final adjudication and sentence Morris to prison.  The trial court did.  Three years.

Morris appeals.  This is new, as appeals from deferred adjudication have only been allowed since 2007.  The State filed its motion to proceed to final adjudication just eleven days after the change in the law took effect. 

But the appeal is on the same terms as a revocation of probation.  Morris must show that the trial court’s judgment is void.  Quoting the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Tyler court notes that:

[A] judgment is void only in very rare situations-usually due to a lack of jurisdiction . . . . A judgment of conviction for a crime is void when (1) the document purporting to be a charging instrument (i.e. indictment, information, or complaint) does not satisfy the constitutional requisites of a charging instrument, thus the trial court has no jurisdiction over the defendant, (2) the trial court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the offense charged, such as when a misdemeanor involving official misconduct is tried in a county court at law, (3) the record reflects that there is no evidence to support the conviction, or (4) an indigent defendant is required to face criminal trial proceedings without appointed counsel, when such has not been waived . . . . While we hesitate to call this an exclusive list, it is very nearly so.

The next bad news for Morris is that a guilty plea counts as “some evidence” to support the trial court’s judgment.  Having pled “guilty” to the underlying theft charge, and “true” to the State’s grounds for revoking the deferred adjudication, Morris is out of luck on appeal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *