Double Jeopardy and Intoxication Assault

| Sep 7, 2010 | Criminal Defense |

Following a traffic accident in which he struck a motor cyclist, the appellant in Ex parte Watson pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of failing to yield the right of way while attempting to turn left. Later, he was indicted for the felony offense of intoxication assault.  He interposed a double-jeopardy objection via a pretrial application for writ of habeas corpus, but the trial court denied relief the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed.

The appellant argued that the Court of Criminal Appeals ruling on that original submission was not faithful to the cognate pleadings approach adopted in Hall.  Under the cognate pleadings approach, the elements and the facts alleged in the charging instrument are used to find lesser-included offenses.  The Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the descriptive averment in the intoxication-assault indictment, “failing to yield the right of way while turning left,” did not constitute an element of the offense, but only a means by which the offense was accomplished.
The conduct alleged in the indictment was not sufficiently detailed or complete to deduce the elements of the lesser offense.