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Mason v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

June 29, 2017

TREVION MASON, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

         On Appeal from the 176th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Case Nos. 1450537 & 1489379

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Keyes and Massengale.

          OPINION

          Sherry Radack Chief Justice

         Appellant Trevion Mason and several other defendants were arrested during a sting operation, accused of participating in a scheme to steal multiple kilos of cocaine. Appellant was indicted on four charges, i.e., possession with intent to deliver over 400 grams of cocaine, [1] two counts of engaging in organized criminal conduct, [2] and assault of a public servant.[3] He pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver and engaging in organized criminal activity, and he was sentenced to 20 years' confinement.

         Appellant challenges the voluntariness of his plea based on allegedly incorrect admonishments about the availability of probation. We affirm.

         A. Appellant Formally Rejects Plea-Bargain Offers and Proceeds to Trial

         On May 16, 2016, the trial court called appellant to trial on all four charged counts. Before the jury was brought in to the courtroom, appellant confirmed on the record that his attorney had conveyed to him the State's plea-bargain offers and that appellant rejected the offers. When queried, appellant described for the court the State's offers he was rejecting: "One was 35 years, and the last one was a PSI."

         The State then announced ready and its intention to proceed at trial on only one of appellant's charges, i.e., engaging in organized criminal activity.[4] The court then explained to appellant that-with enhancement allegations and a prior conviction-the charge carried a sentence range of "15 years up to life":

Q. All right. On 1489379, that's an engaging, it's a first degree felony as alleged, there's a deadly weapon allegation, and then there's a prior conviction. It's alleged, Mr. Mason, that you were convicted in the 263rd of assault family violence back in 2011 on Cause No. 1299268. With that enhancement your range of punishment, if they're able to prove it and you're found guilty, your range of punishment would be a minimum of 15 years up to life in prison. Is that what you understand?
A. Yes, ma'am.

         Appellant then confirmed, again, that he was rejecting the State's 35-year offer. But appellant told the court that the State had not previously told him that it was proceeding to trial on only one charge: "I thought they was going to proceed on four cases, that's why I didn't accept the PSI."

         The State clarified that, under its "PSI offer, " the State would dismiss the assault-on-a-public-servant charge and one of the original engaging-in-organized-criminal-activity charges. Appellant would then be required to plead guilty to both the remaining engaging-in-organized-criminal-activity count and the charge of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance over 400 grams. This was the same offer that had been made to appellant's co-defendants, and accepted.

         Appellant stated again that he was rejecting the State's offer. The court called a break for appellant to get ready for trial and for the court to seat the jury.

         B. Appellant Changes his Mind and Accepts State's Offer

         When the proceedings were back on the record, a plea agreement had been reached. The record picks back up with the court stating that the proceedings were on the record to reflect that the State was proceeding on two cases against appellant, (1) possession with intent to deliver and (2) engaging in organized criminal activity. Because both charges were accompanied by an enhancement paragraph, appellant was asked whether he would plead true to a prior conviction on a 2011 charge of "assault - family violence." Appellant confirmed the prior conviction, pleading true.

         C. Written Plea and Admonishments

         During the break, appellant had signed two sets of documents related to his guilty plea on the two charges. Among other things, each packet contained a "Waiver of Constitutional Rights, Agreement to Stipulate, and Judicial Confession, " and a written admonishment of appellant's rights.

         The written admonishment on the engaging-in-organized-criminal-activity specified that "the punishment range is confinement in prison for 15 years to life and a fine of up to $10, 000." The written admonishment on the possession-with-intent-to-deliver charge specified that "the punishment range is confinement in prison for 15 to 99 years or life and a mandatory fine of up to $250, 000."

         The written admonishments in both cases state:

The only type of community supervision that the court can give you is deferred adjudication. Shock probation and regular community supervision are not available.
If you are placed on community supervision, the Court will determine the conditions of that supervision. The conditions may include your incarceration for a significant period of time.

         D. The Court's Admonishments and Appellant's Guilty Pleas in Open Court

         The court verbally explained to appellant the potential sentencing range he faced, and appellant entered guilty pleas to both charges:

THE COURT: With those enhancements on each of those cases, sir, the range of punishment you face on your possession with intent to deliver along with your engaging is a minimum of 15 years up to life in prison. You understand that's ...

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