In a recent criminal case on appeal before a Texas court, the defendant argued that his indictment for aggravated assault should have been barred by the state’s statute of limitations. Originally, the defendant was indicted almost exactly two years after he committed the aggravated assault. Fighting the indictment, the defendant argued on appeal that the indictment was brought too late and should therefore be dismissed. Considering the defendant’s argument, the court of appeals reviewed the relevant procedures, reversed the lower court’s ruling, and dismissed the defendant’s indictment.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant in this case committed aggravated assault while he was acting in the role of a public servant. The assault happened on July 7, 2019. For reasons unclear from the court’s opinion, the defendant was indicted for the assault on July 9, 2021 – approximately two years after the incident.
Legally, this means that two years passed between the incident and the formal charges that the State presented against the defendant. After being indicted, the defendant appealed.
On appeal, the defendant argued that there was too much delay between the aggravated assault and the indictment. Texas has a statute of limitations for aggravated assault, meaning there is a specific period of time during which the State can formally charge a defendant for this particular crime. The statute of limitations for aggravated assault is two years. Here, said the defendant, just over two years passed between the defendant’s assault and the formal indictment. This was a clear violation of Texas’s statute of limitations.
The court looked closely at the date of the incident as well as the date of the indictment. According to Texas rules of criminal procedure, the court is supposed to eliminate the date of the offense and the day of the indictment from its calculation. Therefore, the period of time at issue was July 8, 2019 to July 8, 2021. This added up to 731 days, which exceeded the two-year period by one day.
Because the period of time between the offense and the indictment was just over two years, the higher court reversed the lower court’s judgment. Therefore, said the court, the defendant’s indictment would be dismissed.
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