INDECENCY WITH A CHILD SEXUAL CONTACT
Case Number: 09-14-00487-CR
Judge: LEANNE JOHNSON
Court: Court of Appeals Ninth District of Texas at Beaumont
Plaintiff's Attorney: William J. Delmore III
Defendant's Attorney: Oscar L. Sommers III
Description: Gary Edward Vines was found to be a sexually violent predator, and on April
25, 2012, a Final Judgment and Order of Civil Commitment was entered by the 435th
Judicial District Court for Montgomery County, Texas, in Cause Number 11-11
12117-CV, In Re: The Commitment of Gary Edward Vines. Vines was then assigned
to a halfway house and subject to the Order of Civil Commitment. Vines was then
charged with violating the terms of his Order of Civil Commitment. A jury convicted
Vines for the offense of violating the terms of his civil commitment as a sexually
violent predator, a third-degree felony. See Act of May 27, 2007, 80th Leg., R.S.,
Ch. 1219, § 8, 2007 Tex. Gen. Laws 4109, 4110 (amended 2015) (current version at
Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann. § 841.085 (West Supp. 2017). Vines was sentenced
to life in prison.
On appeal in this Court, Vines’s appellate counsel did not argue that the
conduct for which Vines had been convicted had been decriminalized.1 We affirmed
the trial court’s judgment of conviction. See Vines v. State, No. 09-14-00487-CR,
2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 2462 (Tex. App.—Beaumont Mar. 9, 2016) (mem. op., not
1 Vines later filed a pro se letter and another Texas inmate filed an amicus brief in his appeal to this Court, wherein an argument was made that section 841.085 as revised decriminalized the conduct for which Vines had been convicted. We expressly did not address Vines’s pro se argument or the amicus argument because Vines was not entitled to hybrid representation and an amicus brief may not raise an issue not raised by the parties. See Vines v. State, No. 09-14-00487-CR, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 2462, at **2-3 n.1, 21 (Tex. App.—Beaumont Mar. 9, 2016) (mem. op., not designated for publication) (citing Marshall v. State, 210 S.W.3d 618, 620 n.1 (Tex. Crim. App. 2006); Garcia-Melendez v. Ashcroft, 351 F.3d 657, 662 n.2 (5th Cir. 2003)), rev’d, No. PD-499-16, 2018 Tex. Crim. App. Unpub. LEXIS 198 (Tex. Crim. App. Feb. 7, 2018) (not designated for publication). Nevertheless, Vines raised the issue in his petition for discretionary review filed in the Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court of Criminal Appeals has held that a defendant may complain for the first time in a petition for discretionary review that a statute has been held to be void, and that such a complaint should be addressed in the interest of judicial economy. See Smith v. State, 463 S.W.3d 890, 895 (Tex. Crim. App. 2015). Although the statute in question has not been held to be void, the amendment and decriminalization of certain violations has been held to be retroactive and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Vines relief and remanded the case to this Court.
designated for publication), rev’d, No. PD-499-16, 2018 Tex. Crim. App. Unpub.
LEXIS 198 (Tex. Crim. App. Feb. 7, 2018) (not designated for publication).
Vines filed a petition for discretionary review with the Court of Criminal
Appeals arguing that the Legislature had decriminalized the conduct for which he
had been convicted. The Court of Criminal Appeals granted the petition for
discretionary review, and applying its holding in Vandyke v. State, No. PD-0283-16,
2017 Tex. Crim. App. LEXIS 1311 (Tex. Crim. App. Dec. 20, 2017), vacated our
prior judgment and remanded the case to this Court. 2018 Tex. Crim. App. Unpub.
LEXIS 198, at *2.
Effective June 17, 2015, while Vines’s appeal to this Court was pending,
Senate Bill 746 amended Chapter 841 of the Texas Health and Safety Code in several
respects. See Act of May 21, 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., ch. 845, 2015 Tex. Sess. Law
Serv. 2700, 2700-12. The savings clause to S.B. 746 provided that the change was
applicable to any conviction not yet final. Id. at 2711. A judgment of conviction is
not final while the conviction is on appeal. See Vandyke, 2017 Tex. Crim. App.
LEXIS 1311, at **10-11 (citing Lundgren v. State, 434 S.W.3d 594, 598 (Tex. Crim.
Vines was initially charged with violating conditions of his civil commitment
authorized by both subsections (a)(3) and (a)(4) of section 841.082 of the Health and
Safety Code as amended and renumbered. See Tex. Health & Safety Code Ann.
§ 841.082(a)(3), (a)(4) (West Supp. 2017). However, the State abandoned certain
allegations in the indictment during trial, and the abandoned charges were not
included in the trial court’s jury charge. See Vines, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 2462, at
*7 n.2. After remand to this Court, the State filed a Letter Brief stating that it did not
oppose reversal of the trial court’s judgment, and conceding that Vines was
“convicted of violating a condition imposed under subsection (a)(3)—conduct which
the Legislature retroactively decriminalized.”2
At the time of Vines’s indictment and trial, section 841.085(a) criminalized a
violation of subsection (a)(4) of section 841.082. See Vandyke, 2017 Tex. Crim.
App. LEXIS 1311, at *9. When the Legislature amended section 841.082, it re
designated former subsection 841.082(a)(4) as 841.082(a)(3). Id. Under the current
version of section 841.085(a), a failure to participate in and comply with the
treatment program provided by the Texas Civil Commitment Office is a violation of
subsection 841.082(a)(3), but it no longer subjects the violator to criminal
prosecution. Id. Because of these statutory changes, the conduct for which Vines
was convicted is no longer a crime. See id. at *33.
Outcome: Accordingly, we have no choice but to reverse Appellant’s criminal
conviction and render judgment dismissing the indictment.