In a recent case before a Texas court of appeals, the defendant asked the court to reconsider his guilty verdict for aggravated sexual assault of a child. Originally, the defendant was convicted of the first-degree felony and sentenced to forty-five years in prison. On appeal, the defendant argued that the court erroneously instructed the jury, making him more likely to receive a guilty verdict. The court denied the appeal, ultimately affirming the decision coming out of the lower court.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was at first indicted for three different offenses: continuous sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual assault, and indecency with a child.
The defendant’s case went to trial. Before the jury made its decision, the judge gave jury members written instructions, as is common in any criminal case. In the instructions, the judge indicated that the jury should use “common sense” when making a decision about whether the defendant was guilty or not guilty. After deliberating, the jury delivered a verdict of guilty of both aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child. Promptly, the defendant appealed.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the jury instructions unnecessarily prejudiced him before the jury made their decision. According to the defendant, the judge essentially asked the jury to speculate instead of urging them to look objectively at the facts of the case. By inviting this degree of speculation, the court gave an erroneous instruction and made the jury more likely to find the defendant guilty. Thus, said the defendant, the verdict should be reversed.
The higher court addressed the defendant’s concern by pointing to the fact that courts routinely instruct jury members to use common sense when analyzing a case. Using common sense, said the court, tracks how the law tells jury members to make their decisions. There is nothing about the term “common sense” that invited the jury to speculate about the facts, and the court was not convinced that this instruction made the jury biased against the defendant.
Thus, the court overruled this issue and denied the defendant’s appeal. The original conviction and sentence remained in place.
Are You in Need of a Sex Assault Defense Attorney in the State of Texas?
At Guest & Gray, we have a team of former felony prosecutors committed to using our combined decades of experience to fight for those who have been accused in Texas. We bring a wide array of skills, experiences, and strategies to each case because we recognize that every client faces a unique situation and needs an individualized plan that works for them. When you need the best criminal defense team to handle your sex crimes case, you need Guest & Gray. For a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, give us a call today at 972-564-4644. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case.