Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:On June 19, 2003, police issued appellant a citation for speeding on the I-45 freeway in Houston. The citation included a written promise, indicated by appellant’s signature, that he would appear in Municipal Court No. 15 on July 21, 2003 unless he made a prior payment for the violation. On July 21, the deputy clerk filed a certificate of defendant’s failure to appear, verifying appellant did not appear as required by his citation. On the same day, the municipal court judge issued a warrant for appellant’s arrest. Appellant’s cause for failure to appear was tried to a jury. The state presented two witnesses, Houston police officer Alejandro Maciel and Beverly Jones. Officer Maciel testified he issued appellant the citation and appellant signed it. Jones testified she is a municipal court supervisor and is the custodian of records for the court. Appellant presented no witnesses. After deliberating for 10 minutes, the jury returned a verdict of guilty and assessed punishment at a $400 fine. HOLDING:Affirmed. Under Transportation Code �543.009, a person may be charged with failure to appear for willfully violating a written promise to appear in court, as provided by the details in the remainder of the subchapter. The remainder of the subchapter provides that a person may be released from custody on condition that he promises in writing to appear in court at a later date. This procedure is specifically required when the accused is charged with a speeding violation. The elements of the complaint require the state to prove appellant 1. knowingly failed to appear; 2. in Municipal Court No. 15; 3. of the city of Houston; 4. at 6 p.m.; 5. in accordance with the terms of his release; 6. on condition that he subsequently appear. With the exception of the mens rea element, the elements enumerated in the complaint are found in the Transportation Code. The mens rea element in the complaint and the Transportation Code differ. Transportation Code �543.009 uses a word outside the category of culpable mental states permitted by �6.02. Use of “willfully” does not clearly dispense with a culpable mental state such that a violation of the statute would hold someone strictly liable for the violation. Therefore, because some culpable mental state is required, either intent, knowledge or recklessness become a necessary part of the offense. Because “knowingly” was the culpable mental state utilized in the complaint, the complaint contained the necessary elements for a charge under the Transportation Code. Appellant suggests the state should be bound to proceed against him under the city ordinance because the prosecutor declared its intent to do so during the hearing on the motion to quash. The complaint also does not conclude with the words, “Contrary to the said ordinance,” as may be included if appellant was charged with violation of a city ordinance. This phrase alone does not indicate the complaint charged appellant under another penal statute, rather than the city ordinance, but when combined with the elements required by the city ordinance and those included in the complaint, appellant presents a reasonable argument that the state did not actually proceed against him under the city ordinance. Such a result, however, does not require reversal because the face of the complaint gave appellant adequate notice to prepare for his defense and identified the Transportation Code as the applicable penal statute. The appellant alleges the Transportation Code is more specific than the Penal Code, creating an irreconcilable conflict. the class of persons to which Chapter 38 of the Penal Code and Chapter 543 of the Transportation Code are intended to apply is not the same. Accordingly, a charge for failure to appear under the Penal Code and the same charge under the Transportation Code are not in irreconcilable conflict. OPINION:John S. Anderson, J.; Anderson, Edelman and Frost, JJ.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Benefits of a Digital Membership:

  • Free access to 1 article* every 30 days
  • Access to the entire ALM network of websites
  • Unlimited access to the ALM suite of newsletters
  • Build custom alerts on any search topic of your choosing
  • Search by a wide range of topics

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.