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Mitchell v. State

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

June 20, 2019

DEMETRIUS DOMONIQUE MITCHELL, Appellant
v.
THE STATE OF TEXAS, Appellee

          On Appeal from County Court at Law No. 1 Wichita County, Texas [1] Trial Court Case No. 73108-E

          Panel consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Higley and Hightower.

          OPINION

          Laura Carter Higley Justice

         While driving on a highway, Demetrius Mitchell lost control of his vehicle, struck a private residence, and fled the scene without attempting to locate and notify the homeowner of the accident. Mitchell was charged and convicted of violating Section 550.025(a) of the Transportation Code by failing to report "an accident resulting only in damage to a structure adjacent to a highway." Tex. Transp. Code § 550.025(a). In a single issue, Mitchell argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict because Section 550.025(a) does not require a motorist to report an accident when, as here, the damage occurs to private residential property.

         We affirm.

         Background

         One evening, Mitchell was driving his SUV down Taft Boulevard, a four-lane public road in Wichita Falls, Texas. While driving, he lost control of his vehicle, hit the curb, continued into a yard, and struck a house located at the intersection of Taft Boulevard and Lou Lane, causing several thousand dollars' worth of damage to the house. Mitchell left the scene without calling the police or attempting to contact the homeowner.

         The next day, the homeowner tracked down Mitchell's vehicle and spoke with Mitchell's mother, the vehicle's primary insured. Only then did Mitchell call the police and report the accident.

         Mitchell was charged by information with violating Section 550.025 of the Transportation Code, in this case a Class B misdemeanor. See id. § 550.025(a), (b)(2). As amended, the information alleged that Mitchell, "having been the operator of a vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage of $200 or more to a structure legally adjacent to a highway, to-wit: [a] home located at 2400 Lou Lane, Wichita Falls, Texas, intentionally or knowingly fail[ed] to take reasonable steps to locate or notify the owner of [his] name and address."

         The case proceeded to trial. At the close of voir dire, Mitchell moved for a directed verdict, arguing that Section 550.025 does not apply when, as here, the property damaged is a private residence. The trial court denied Mitchell's motion. When the State rested, Mitchell re-urged his motion, which the trial court again denied.

         The jury found Mitchell guilty, and trial court rendered a judgment of conviction and sentenced him to two day's confinement in county jail, with two days credited for time already served. Mitchell appeals.

         Applicability of Section 550.025

         In his sole issue, Mitchell argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for directed verdict because Section 550.025's reporting duties do not apply when ...


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