Crumpton v. State
In Crumpton v. State, No. PD-1634-07, 301 S.W.3d 663, 2009 WL 4640622 (Tex. Crim. App. Dec. 9, 2009), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was asked to review "the propriety of a deadly weapon finding in a judgment of guilt of the offense of criminally negligent homicide."
In concluding that the deadly weapon finding was proper, the court held "a verdict of homicide necessarily is a finding that a deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime." Id.
The court noted that the statutory definition of "deadly weapon" includes "anything that in the manner of its use . . . is capable of causing death . . . ." Id. (citing TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. 1.07(a)(17)(B) (Vernon Supp. 2009).
The court went on to explain:
"The statutory definition of "deadly weapon" includes "anything that in the manner of its use . . . is capable of causing death . . . ." TEX. PENAL CODE 1.07(a)(17)(B). Having found that the defendant was guilty of criminally negligent homicide, the jury necessarily found that the defendant used something that in the manner of its use was capable of causing--and did cause--death. Therefore the verdict was an adequate basis for the trial court's entry of the deadly-weapon finding in the judgment." Id.
Prior to Crumpton v. State, there were only three instances in which the trial court could properly find the jury made an affirmative deadly weapon finding:
(1) the indictment included a deadly weapon finding, and the jury found the defendant guilty as charged in the indictment;
(2) the jury answered affirmatively to a special issue on the use of a deadly weapon; or
(3) the deadly weapon was a deadly weapon per se or a firearm. Polk v. State, 693 S.W.2d 391, 394 (Tex. Crim. App. 1985).
Crumpton v. State has added to this list by allowing the trial court to find the jury made an affirmative deadly weapon finding by finding the defendant guilty of homicide.
In Crumpton, the jury verdict also stated the jury found the defendant guilty as charged in the indictment, which expressly alleged the defendant committed the offense with a deadly weapon.
The court of criminal appeals noted this too was a sufficient basis for the trial court's entry of the deadly weapon finding in the judgment.
The Court of criminal appeals affirmed the imposition of a ten-year prison sentence for criminally negligent homicide with a deadly weapon. Id.
The issue presented in Crumpton was whether the jury's verdict of guilt "as included in the indictment" was sufficient to constitute a deadly weapon finding. Id. at 664.
The divided court held that it was, but based its ruling on two separate rationales. Id. at 664-65.
First, the court determined that the verdict included a deadly weapon finding because it referenced the indictment, and the indictment alleged that the offense was committed with a deadly weapon. Id. at 664.
Second, the court concluded that "a verdict of homicide necessarily is a finding that a deadly weapon was used" because something used must have been "capable of causing--and did cause--death." Id.
In this second rationale, the court found that a guilty verdict for homicide is itself a sufficient basis to conclude that the jury made an affirmative deadly weapon finding. Id.
Furthermore, the court posed the following question: "In the face of such statutory requirements for deadly-weapon findings, how could a jury convict a defendant of homicide . . . without finding that a deadly weapon was used?" Id. at 665.