Last month, the Fourth Court of Appeals issued an opinion related to a defendant’s conviction for assault on a peace officer. Originally, the defendant was charged and found guilty after an incident in which officers showed up to his home to arrest him. The defendant ran away, the officers chased him, and an altercation ensued. On appeal, the defendant argued that the indictment against him actually authorized a conviction for a lesser crime when in reality he was convicted for a more serious crime than his indictment allowed.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant in this case and his wife got into a domestic dispute one evening. His wife called the police, and two officers came to the house to investigate. Upon entering, they noticed that the defendant was rocking back and forth while seated in the corner of the living room, apparently intoxicated.
There were two outstanding warrants for the defendant’s arrest, so the officers advised him that they were going to arrest him. Immediately, the defendant began yelling, then he started to kick and push the officers out of the way. He got up and ran to the back of the house, throwing a ladder at the officers when they began to catch up. As the altercation continued to escalate, the defendant kicked the officers in the stomach, hoping to ward them off.
Eventually, the officers were able to handcuff the defendant, and he was immediately arrested for the assault.
The defendant was indicted for assault on a peace officer, which is a second-degree felony. Importantly, assault on a public servant is a separate crime in Texas, which is a third-degree felony and therefore, inherently less serious than assault on a peace officer.
The indictment phase of a case is when the prosecutor presents evidence to a grand jury about what charges a person is facing. Here, the defendant’s indictment indicated that he was facing charges of assault on a peace officer. On appeal, he argued that he was wrongfully indicted for assault on a peace officer, when the charge he was convicted of was assault on a public servant.
Ultimately, the court reviewing this appeal declined to agree with the defendant. According to the court, the State gave the defendant enough notice of the crime that would be presented to the grand jury. He was properly charged with and convicted of assault on a peace officer, and the issue would therefore be sustained.
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