Costilla v. State

In Costilla v. State, 146 S.W.3d 213 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004), the defendant, who claimed he did not speak English, appeared at his plea hearing with his attorney, but no interpreter. When asked how he pleaded, his attorney responded "Guilty." The trial court accepted the plea. Written plea documents also showed a guilty plea. Later, at the punishment hearing, an interpreter was present. Trial counsel asked the defendant if he had pleaded guilty. The defendant did not answer this question, but requested that the trial court put him on probation. The trial court also admonished the defendant, with the help of the interpreter, as to the consequences of the plea and the defendant indicated he understood. On appeal, the defendant complained he had not personally entered his plea in violation of article 27.13 of the code of criminal procedure. The court of criminal appeals disagreed concluding the statute does not require an oral plea. Id. at 217. It concluded the record showed the defendant's voluntary desire to plead guilty and that "the defendant was present, the plea was entered in open court by the defendant, albeit through his bi-lingual attorney. That is all the statute requires." Id.