The Dallas Court of Appeals recently upheld a Rockwall County kidnapping conviction. Let’s look at the laws regarding kidnapping in Texas, and discuss the facts that led to the courts decision. Here’s the case- Wilson vs. State of Texas- I usually go through all the facts of the case, but this one has a really weird fact pattern, and I think that’s why the defendant got probation. It just not what you think of when you think of a kidnapping. So I’m going to skip it so we can cover some other areas.
First, what’s the law on kidnapping in Texas?
Good questions, let’s go to the opinion-
A person commits the offense of kidnapping if he intentionally or knowingly abducts another person. TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 20.03(a) (West 2011). “Abduct” means to restrain a person with intent to prevent his liberation by secreting or holding him in a place where he is not likely to be found or using or threatening to use deadly force. Id. § 20.01(2). “Restrain” means to restrict a person’s movements without consent, so as to interfere substantially with the person’s liberty, by moving the person from one place to another or by confining the person. Id. 20.01(1). Restraint is “without consent” if it is accomplished by force, intimidation, or deception. Id. § 20.01(1)(A)
Let’s see how this works in a facual insufficiency challenge. Factuall insufficiency is one claim you can make when you appeal a criminal conviction. Basically, you are saying that there isn’t enough evidence to sustain a conviction and you want the appellate court to review the facts of the case. But this is Texas and the game is rigged so that the State wins. Don’t believe me? Here’s the standard courts use to review the facts that lead to a conviction.
Here is the standard courts use for factual sufficiency reviews on appeal. From the opinion-
The only relevant standard when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence is the standard set out in Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307 (1979). See Adames v. State, 353 S.W.3d 854, 859 (Tex. Crim. App. 2011). In determining the sufficiency of the evidence, an appellate court is to consider all evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and determine whether any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319. We defer to the factfinder’s determinations of the witnesses’ credibility and the weight to be given their testimony, because the factfinder is the sole judge of
those matters. Id. at 326.
Notice what the don’t mention? Whether there is a chance the defendant is innocent? Whether the evidence could lead to a wrongful conviction. Whether any weight should be given to the defendant’s case, and finally there is no mention of whether there are reasonable doubts in a case. It’s a fake review with a predetermined outcome, the State wins. This is one reason we convict so many innocent people, because our appellate courts refuse to look for reasonable doubts in a case, or apply the same scrutiny to criminal convictions, that they apply when a jury awards a judgment against a corporation.