Example of a Jury Instruction on ''Weight of the Evidence''

In Garcia v. State, 919 S.W.2d 370, 396 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was asked to determine whether an instruction constituted an impermissible comment on the weight of the evidence. Garcia, 919 S.W.2d at 396. There, the trial court instructed the jury that "intent or knowledge may be inferred by acts done or words spoken." Id. Without explanation, the Court of Criminal Appeals assumed it was error for the trial court to so instruct the jury, but nevertheless concluded that such error was harmless in light of the overwhelming evidence supporting the jury's conclusion that the defendant acted with intention. Id. Following the implicit holding of Garcia, we find that the challenged instruction in the instant case constituted an impermissible comment on the weight of the evidence, and therefore, we conclude the trial court erred in submitting it to the jury. See id.; Peterson, 942 S.W.2d at 207-08. The standard of review of jury charge error depends upon whether the error was objected to at the trial level. Mann v. State, 964 S.W.2d 639, 641 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998); Almanza v. State, 686 S.W.2d 157, 171 (Tex. Crim. App. 1984). When, as in the instant case, the defendant does not object to the charge, we reverse only if the error caused the defendant egregious harm. Abdnor v. State, 871 S.W.2d 726, 732 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994); Almanza, 686 S.W.2d at 171. Egregious harm consists of error affecting the very basis of the case or that deprives the defendant of a valuable right, vitally affects a defensive theory, or makes the case for conviction or punishment clearly and significantly more persuasive. Saunders v. State, 817 S.W.2d 688, 692 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991).