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.

In re T.V.T.

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

December 19, 2019

IN THE MATTER OF T.V.T., Appellant

          On Appeal from the 314th District Court Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2017-04208J

          Panel consists of Justices Zimmerer, Spain, and Hassan

          OPINION

          Jerry Zimmerer Justice

         Appellant, 13 years old at the time of the offense, was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 14. After the trial court denied appellant's pretrial application for writ of habeas corpus, motion for summary judgment, motion to quash the petition, and motion to dismiss the petition, appellant entered a stipulation of true to the allegation and was found to have engaged in delinquent conduct. Appellant filed this appeal challenging the order of adjudication. In his first two issues on appeal appellant argues the trial court erred in failing to dismiss or quash the petition because a child under the age of 14 cannot be prosecuted for aggravated sexual assault of a child under section 22.021 of the Texas Penal Code. Appellant further argues that section 22.021 is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to him. Concluding that the trial court abused its discretion in denying appellant's motion to quash the petition, we reverse the order of adjudication and render judgment dismissing the case with prejudice.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         The State filed a petition in which it alleged that appellant, on or about March 1, 2017, intentionally and knowingly caused the penetration of the mouth of the complainant, a person younger than 14 years of age, with appellant's sexual organ. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 22.021(a)(1)(B)(ii), (2)(B). Appellant was born February 15, 2004; at the time of the offense appellant was 13 years old; the complainant was 12 years old.[1]

         Appellant filed a pretrial application for writ of habeas corpus in which he alleged that section 22.021 of the Texas Penal Code was unconstitutional. Appellant argued in his application that section 22.021 was unconstitutional on its face because there was no set of circumstances under which the statute could be valid for a child younger than 14 years of age. Appellant amended his application for writ of habeas corpus alleging that section 22.021 of the Texas Penal Code was unconstitutional as applied to him.

         Appellant also filed a motion to quash the petition and a motion to dismiss the petition in which he requested the trial court to quash or dismiss the petition because the petition failed to state a claim on which appellant could be found guilty or prosecuted.

         The trial court held a non-evidentiary hearing on appellant's motions and his application for writ of habeas corpus. At the beginning of the hearing the State stipulated that both appellant and the complainant were younger than 14 years of age at the time of the offense. Appellant argued at the hearing that he did not have the legal capacity to knowingly or intentionally commit the offense. The trial court denied appellant's motions to quash or dismiss the petition and denied his application for writ of habeas corpus. Following the trial court's denial appellant entered a stipulation and a plea of true to the petition. The trial court adjudicated appellant delinquent and assessed punishment pursuant to an agreement with the State. Appellant was placed on probation until he turned eighteen and required to attend sex offender treatment to avoid lifetime registration as a sex offender.

         In four issues appellant challenges the trial court's denial of his motion to quash, motion to dismiss, and application for writ of habeas corpus.

         Analysis

         Standard of Review

         Juvenile proceedings are generally governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. See Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 51.17(a). As such, a complaint about a pleading defect in a juvenile proceeding should be raised by special exceptions, not by a motion to quash. In re M.T., No. 13-05-00434-CV, 2007 2007 WL 2265072, at *2 n.1 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi Aug. 9, 2007, no pet.) (mem. op.); see Tex. R. Civ. P. 90, 91. Courts, however, construe pleadings liberally and treat improperly filed "motions to quash" as special exceptions. See Mena v. State, 633 S.W.2d 564, 565 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 1982, no pet.).

         We review a trial court's interpretation of the law de novo. State v. Shumake, 199 S.W.3d 279, 284 (Tex. 2006); In re K.D.H., 426 S.W.3d 879, 882 (Tex. App.- Houston [14th Dist.] 2014, no pet.). A trial court has no discretion in determining what the law is or in properly applying the law. In re Tex. Dep't of Family & Protective Servs., 210 S.W.3d 609, 612 (Tex. 2006). A trial court abuses its discretion if it fails to properly interpret the law or applies the law incorrectly. In re B.R.H., 426 S.W.3d 163, 166 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 2012, no pet.). In reviewing whether the trial court ...


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.