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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys – Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 1.15

Houston Criminal Defense Attorneys – Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 1.15 – Brian Foley Board Certified in Criminal Law in Houston, Texas.


There is a striking difference in how felony and misdemeanor offenses are adjudicated in Texas Courts. Felonies are filed in District Courts, misdemeanors in county courts or county courts at law. Felonies have longer punishment ranges and carry the consequence of losing the right to possess a firearm and vote. But what new lawyers in the criminal defense profession observe first as the difference between felony and misdemeanor cases is the process by which someone pleads guilty. In misdemeanor cases often times prosecutors talk to the defendant themselves and no lawyer is appointed at the request of the defendant. Although this is unwise it is not illegal. In felony cases pleas only take place with a lawyer because of articles 1.14 and 1.141 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. But something else happens.


The process of a judge accepting a plea from a defendant in a criminal case starts by asking their name, calling the case on the record so that the court reporter may take down the answers of the defendant to various questions from the judge. The judge first swears in the defendant to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The judge will ask if the defendant is a U.S. Citizen and admonish them that they could be deported, denied reentry, or denied citizenship if they apply when pleading guilty to a criminal offense. The judge will also ask if the defendant is mentally competent or if they are under the influence of any drug or alcohol during the plea. Then the judge will ask how the defendant pleads, guilty or not guilty.


After this the procedure differs from felony to misdemeanor. In a felony case the judge will ask if the prosecution has any evidence it would like to offer to help prove that the defendant is actually guilty aside from the defendant’s admission moments before. The prosecutor often rather robotically rattles, “Offer State’s 1” which is court slang for offering into evidence a stipulation and judicial confession marked as State’s Exhibit 1. Defense will say, “no objection” and the plea moves on just like a misdemeanor where the judge goes over the plea bargain offer of the State and then accepts the plea. This difference is required by Article 1.15. It provides that a defendant may waive his right to a jury trial in accordance with Articles 1.13 and 1.14 but only if the state introduces evidence into the record showing the guilt of the defendant and said evidence shall be accepted by the court as the basis for its judgment. The article states that no person shall be convicted upon his plea without sufficient evidence to support the same.



So how does the prosecutor get away with not providing additional evidence like photos, video, physical evidence, or something else? Well, the separate statement of the defendant called the stipulation and judicial confession stands in place of these things. The code provides, “The evidence may be stipulated if the defendant in such case consents in writing, in open court, to waive the appearance, confrontation, and cross-examination of witnesses, and further consents either to an oral stipulation of the evidence and testimony or to the introduction of testimony by [other means].”


Art. 1.15. JURY IN FELONY. No person can be convicted of a felony except upon the verdict of a jury duly rendered and recorded, unless the defendant, upon entering a plea, has in open court in person waived his right of trial by jury in writing in accordance with Articles 1.13 and 1.14; provided, however, that it shall be necessary for the state to introduce evidence into the record showing the guilt of the defendant and said evidence shall be accepted by the court as the basis for its judgment and in no event shall a person charged be convicted upon his plea without sufficient evidence to support the same. The evidence may be stipulated if the defendant in such case consents in writing, in open court, to waive the appearance, confrontation, and cross-examination of witnesses, and further consents either to an oral stipulation of the evidence and testimony or to the introduction of testimony by affidavits, written statements of witnesses, and any other documentary evidence in support of the judgment of the court. Such waiver and consent must be approved by the court in writing, and be filed in the file of the papers of the cause. Acts 1965, 59th Leg., vol. 2, p. 317, ch. 722. Amended by Acts 1967, 60th Leg., p. 1733, ch. 659, Sec. 2, eff. Aug. 28, 1967; Acts 1971, 62nd Leg., p. 3028, ch. 996, Sec. 1, eff. June 15, 1971; Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 1127, ch. 426, art. 3, Sec. 5, eff. June 14, 1973. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 652, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1991.


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