Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What is a "Final Conviction" for DWI Enhancement Purposes?

More specifically, can a prior judgment be "final" even though the judgment itself specifically states:

IT IS THEREFORE CONSIDERED, ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that the finding of guilty herein shall not be final, that no judgment be rendered thereon, and that Defendant be, and is hereby placed on probation in this cause for a period of two years.
The Court of Criminal Appeals says YES, the judgment is final.

Overruling the 13th District Court of Appeals (Corpus Christie) precedent in State v. Kindred, 773 S.W.2d 766 (Tex. App.-Courpus Christi 1989, no pet.), the CCA held that the above-paragraph "does not pertain to the finality of the judgment of the conviction for enhancement purposes, but rather to the suspension of the sentence necessary to grant community supervision."  Thus, "the court of appeals erred in holding that appellant's offense was not a final conviction."

The case from which this post is derived is Gonzales v. State.  Full opinion HERE.

I realize that this issue is not terribly sexy or interesting, but I just thought I'd pass along the info in case you ever run into this situation in a felony (enhanced) DWI case.