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In re A.A.R.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Eighth District, El Paso

April 28, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF A.A.R., Appellant.

         Appeal from the 65th District Court of El Paso County, Texas (TC# 1400329)

          Before McClure, C.J., Rodriguez, and Hughes, JJ.

          OPINION

          YVONNE T. RODRIGUEZ, Justice .

         This appeal arises from a juvenile's plea of true during his adjudication hearing. A.A.R., a juvenile, was charged with criminal mischief.[1] At the time the offense was alleged to have been committed in 2014, criminal mischief was a felony of the third degree if the amount of the pecuniary loss is $20, 000 or more but less than $100, 000. Act of June 19, 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., ch. 638, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2009, amended by Act of June 20, 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., ch. 1251, § 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2015 (current version at Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 28.03(b)(5))(criminal mischief now third-degree felony when pecuniary loss is $30, 000 or more but less than $150, 000).

         A.A.R. waived a jury trial, stipulated to evidence of his guilt, and pleaded "true" to the allegations in the State's petition. The trial court accepted the plea of true, adjudicated A.A.R. delinquent, and entered a disposition of probation. On appeal, A.A.R. argues the trial court erred in denying his motion to withdraw his plea of true because the plea was: (1) not knowingly or intelligently made; (2) not knowingly made as the result of counsel's alleged failure to review the evidence with him; and (3) not knowingly made as he nor his parents were correctly informed as to the legal consequences of him waiving a jury trial and entering a plea of true. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         At the beginning of the adjudication hearing, the trial court first inquired whether A.A.R. understood the accusations against him, and stated its understanding that A.A.R. intended to admit to them. A.A.R. responded affirmatively to the question and statement. The trial court then explained to A.A.R. in the presence of his father, A.R., and mother, S.G.:

THE COURT: But before we go on with your hearing, I need to go over your rights and some other matters so that you understand the consequences of your decision. So as I go along if you don't understand something make sure you stop me and we'll go back over it again. All right. I want you to make sure you understand what you are doing here
. . . .
You have the right to have Judge Gutierrez hear your case, she is the juvenile court judge for El Paso County or you can have me hear the case today. I am the juvenile court referee for the County. My understanding is you want to go ahead and proceed today, is that correct?
[A.A.R.]: Yes.
THE COURT: You also have the right to remain silent. You don't have to say anything if you don't want to. You have the right to be represented by an attorney, Ms. Reyes is right there with you. If you need to talk to her during the hearing, just go ahead and do so. And you have a right through your attorney to cross-examine any witness called by the State.
You have a right to have ten days to prepare for trial. You need to know that as you sit there right now you are presumed innocent. So that means legally at this stage of your case you haven't done anything wrong. Because of that you don't have to prove anything. The State is the one that's brought the allegation against you. They have to prove it and they have to prove it by bringing enough evidence into court to satisfy the jury or the judge that you did what you are accused of. So if they can't do that for some reason you'll be found not delinquent. But keep in mind that even though you don't have to do anything, if you do want to submit evidence in your defense you are free to do that, just make sure you discuss that with your attorney.
And then I'll tell you one of your most important rights is to have a jury decide your case, that's a jury trial. That is what you are scheduled for next week, so if you want to deny the allegations, we would come back next Friday or a week from this Friday and so that day we bring in a group of citizens from the community, we talk to them, eventually we would select 12 people out of that group to be your jury. They would sit here in the jury box. We start taking the evidence on Friday probably continue on until the following week. All the evidence is presented to the jury during the trial and then at the end of the trial, the jury decides if you did what you are accused of.
But my understanding is you do not want to have a jury trial, is that correct?
[A.A.R.]: Yes.
THE COURT: All right. Now, if you admit to the allegation here today there is a consequence for your actions that will be decided at the next hearing on October 7th and the options available to the court will be to place you on some kind of probation up to the age of 18, it can be either in home or out-of-home or commit you, that means send you away to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department up to the age of 19. We'll make that decision at the next hearing.
And then also you need to know you have a juvenile record now and this record can be used against you as an adult if you get in trouble as an adult. So from 17 on in Texas you are considered an adult in the criminal system. If you go out after that date and you commit a crime and you are convicted then during that indication they can find out about this case here today. If they do it's probably going to have some negative impact on them. So as long as you stay out of trouble[, you] don't need to worry. But if you do get in trouble as an adult[, ] it will come back on you.
The last thing you need to know is if you are not a U.S. citizen it could jeopardize your status in this country. That only applies if you are not a ...

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