Criminal Charge: Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon
Case: State of Texas v. X [Collin]
Result: Dismissed with Prejudice
Because this long-time military veteran’s felony case was dismissed with prejudice [meaning it can never be refiled] by the Collin County DA, his felony arrest will be expunged from his record and his name is omitted here. Likewise, the companion misdemeanor case will be expunged after the deferred adjudication probation period has ended.
This gentleman was originally charged with Class A misdemeanor deadly conduct when his rifle laser strayed into a neighbor’s window while bore-sighting it on his own backyard fence. The prosecutor, however, trumped up the thin racial dimension of the allegation and managed an indictment for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second degree felony carrying up to 20 years in prison. The County even refused to admit him – a veteran with no criminal history and an honorable discharge – to its Veteran’s Court program.
The Defendant hired a former local prosecutor to defend the case, but fired him after a few month’s work.
Haslam’s first motion was a writ of habeus corpus to remove the expensive leg monitor imposed on him. With the monitor removed, Haslam moved to suppress the police’s illegal entry and search of the Defendant’s home. The Court agreed and excluded certain evidence and testimony that eroded the strength of the case.
As the weakened felony moved to trial Haslam forced another, related misdemeanor to trial first in order to have a less risky opportunity to cross-examine the complaining witnesses. In the course of this effort, he moved for the production of their criminal histories – a motion the State and the Court remarkably refused. Texas law requires the production of this material under circumstances that existed here, yet a myth persists it can’t be done. This is what is known as “building error” into a case: it’s a ready-made appeal in the event of a trial conviction.
Weeks later, the day before the misdemeanor trial, the prosecutor announced she was dismissing the felony and offered a 2 year deferred adjudication on the related misdemeanor. She tried to quietly preserve the right to refile the felony; however, Haslam negotiated a dismissal with prejudice – meaning the felony can never be refiled. Remarkably, despite the express agreement to dismiss the felony with prejudice, the prosecutor presented her order dismissing to the trial court that omitted this language. Haslam filed yet another motion and proposed order [a so-called order nunc pro tunc] to enforce the agreement to dismiss with prejudice and the trial court quickly signed it. After two years of misdemeanor probation, this defendant will walk away legally unscathed.