Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jenkins v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourth District, San Antonio

December 20, 2017

Deondre Javqueen JENKINS, Appellant
v.
The STATE of Texas, Appellee

         From the 186th Judicial District Court, Bexar County, Texas Trial Court No. 2014CR8396 Honorable W.C. Kirkendall, Judge Presiding[1]

          Karen Angelini, Justice, Rebeca C. Martinez, Justice, Patricia O. Alvarez, Justice

          OPINION

          KAREN ANGELINI, JUSTICE

         In this appeal, we are presented with this issue: does a charging instrument that does not identify the defendant by name, but which is preceded by a caption that does identify the defendant by name, meet the jurisdictional requirement that a charging instrument name a "person" as set forth in article V, § 12(b) of the Texas Constitution? Because we conclude that it does not, we hold that the charging instrument in this case did not vest the trial court with jurisdiction. Therefore, Appellant Deondre Javqueen Jenkins's conviction is void.

         BACKGROUND

         In September 2014, Deondre Javqueen Jenkins was charged with one count of continuous trafficking of persons:

         (Matter Omitted)

         After a jury trial, Jenkins was found guilty and sentenced to twenty-five years of imprisonment. On appeal, he argues the trial court did not have jurisdiction over his case because the charging instrument was fatally defective. According to Jenkins, the charging instrument failed to conform to the Texas Constitution's definition of an indictment because it did not name "a person." Jenkins did not move to quash or dismiss the indictment before trial commenced. On the second day of trial, Jenkins argued that the charging instrument was fatally defective under the Texas Constitution because it did not charge "a person." Jenkins's motion to dismiss the case was denied by the trial court. Jenkins appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The sufficiency of an indictment is a question of law and is reviewed de novo. Smith v. State, 297 S.W.3d 260, 267 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009); State v. Moff, 154 S.W.3d 599, 601 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004).

         DISCUSSION

         The Texas Constitution guarantees to defendants the right to indictment by a grand jury for all felony offenses. See Tex. Const. art. 1, § 10 (providing that in all criminal prosecutions the accused "shall have the right to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof" and that in felony cases, "no person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense, unless on an indictment of a grand jury"). "An indictment serves two functions." Cook v. State, 902 S.W.2d 471, 475 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995). "First, it provides notice of the offense in order to allow a defendant to prepare a defense." Id. "Second, an indictment serves a jurisdictional function." Id. "The filing of an indictment is essential to vest the trial court with jurisdiction over a felony offense." Id. Article V, section 12(b) of the Texas Constitution provides that jurisdiction vests only upon the filing of a valid indictment:

An indictment is a written instrument presented to a court by a grand jury charging a person with the commission of an offense. An information is a written instrument presented to a court by an attorney for the State charging a person with the commission of an offense. The practice and procedures relating to the use of indictments and informations, including their contents, amendment, sufficiency, and requisites, are provided by law. The presentment of an indictment or information to a court invests the court with jurisdiction of the cause.

Tex. Const. art. V, § 12(b) (emphasis added); see Cook, 902 S.W.3d at 476. According to Jenkins, the charging instrument in this case does not comply with article V, § 12(b) of the Texas Constitution because it does not charge "a person." He argues that it is therefore not an indictment pursuant to the Texas Constitution and did not confer jurisdiction on the trial court. The State responds that Jenkins waived this defect pursuant to article 1.14 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure because he did not object to the defect before commencement of trial.

         I. History of Defective Charging Instruments

         A. Defective Charging Instruments Before 1985

         Before 1985, the court of criminal appeals used "the terms 'substance defect, ' 'fundamental error, ' and 'fatally defective' interchangeably when addressing unpreserved errors in charging instruments that could be raised for the first time on appeal." See Smith v. State, 309 S.W.3d 10, 16 (Tex. Crim. App. 2010). The court "called substance defects 'fundamental error' because a charging instrument with a substance defect deprived the trial court of jurisdiction" and a "conviction based on such a charging instrument was void." Id. at 16-17; see Gengnagel v. State, 748 S.W.2d 227, 229 (Tex. Crim. App. 1988); Ex parte Cannon, 546 S.W.2d 266, 268 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976).

         B. 1985 Constitutional Amendment and Reform Legislation

         In 1985, frustrated over the ability of a defendant to raise substantive defects in an indictment for the first time on appeal, the 69th Legislature proposed, and the voters approved, an amendment to article V, § 12 of the Texas Constitution. Smith, 309 S.W.3d at 17. "The amendment provided, for the first time, a ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.