Anderson v. State (2006)

In Anderson v. State, 182 S.W.3d 914 (Tex.Crim.App. 2006), the Court of Criminal Appeals determined the standard for appellate review of harm suffered by a defendant who pleads guilty to an offense requiring registration as a sex offender without the benefit of an admonishment of that requirement. In Anderson, the trial court neglected entirely to give the admonition required by article 26.13(a)(5). Id. at 917. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that such an error is subject to the harm analysis under Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.2(b), by which we assess whether the error affected substantial rights of the defendant. Tex. R. App. P. 44.2(b). In the particular instance of an error consisting of the failure to admonish under article 26.13(a)(5), the court further held, the question on appeal is "considering the record as a whole, do we have a fair assurance that the defendant's decision to plead guilty would not have changed had the court admonished him?" Id. at 919. In its analysis of the record for an answer to the issue of harm, the court noted that Anderson adduced punishment testimony about the conditions that would be imposed on him if he were granted probation, including the registration requirement, and adduced the testimony of a therapist who opined he would be compliant with the rules of probation. Id. at 920. Recognizing that the effect of the trial court's failure to admonish him of the registration requirement "would be much less" if he were already aware of the requirement, the Court of Criminal Appeals found the calling of these witnesses some, but not conclusive, evidence from which to infer that Anderson had personal knowledge of the registration requirement when he plead guilty. The court went on to consider the strength of the evidence against Anderson. Id. at 920-21. The court concluded the record as a whole gave it "fair assurance that no substantial right involving Anderson's decision to plead guilty was affected" by the failure to admonish him of the registration requirement. Id. at 921.