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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:A Bexar County grand jury presented an indictment that charged appellant with two second-degree felonies: sexual assault (Count I) and indecency with a child (Count II). For purposes of punishment enhancement, the indictment also alleged in three separate paragraphs that appellant had three prior felony convictions. On direct appeal, the appellant argued that, given his plea of nolo contendere to Count I of the indictment, which alleged a sexual assault, and given his plea of “true” to the second enhancement paragraph, which alleged a prior conviction for an out-of-state offense whose elements were substantially similar to sexual assault, the trial court was required by Texas Penal Code 12.42(c)(2) to sentence him to imprisonment for life. The court of appeals held that appellant’s negotiated plea of nolo contendere was involuntary and that his sentence was illegal. HOLDING:The court reverses the judgment of the court of appeals and affirms the judgment of the trial court. The state may, with the permission of the trial court, “dismiss, waive or abandon a portion of the indictment.” Ex parte Preston, 833 S.W.2d 515 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992). After reviewing the record, the court concludes that that is exactly what happened in this case. At the pretrial hearing, the state abandoned, with the trial court’s permission, that portion of the indictment’s second enhancement paragraph that exposed appellant to the possibility of an automatic life sentence. The court reporter’s record of the hearing makes it clear that everyone in the courtroom understood what the state was doing. It is clear that appellant would not have pleaded “true” to the second enhancement paragraph if the state had not abandoned the portion of that paragraph that exposed him to the possibility of an automatic life sentence, the court finds. In light of the state’s abandonment, the appellant’s 25-year prison sentence was not unlawful. Furthermore, in light of the state’s abandonment, the trial court’s admonishment concerning the range of punishment was not incorrect, and, therefore, the appellant’s plea was not involuntary. OPINION:Holcomb, J., delivered the opinion of the unanimous court.

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