Permitting Prosecutor to Inform Jury About Automatic Sentencing
In Bevill v. State, 573 S.W.2d 781, 783 (Tex. Crim. App. 1978), the court of criminal appeals held that the trial judge abused his discretion by permitting the prosecutor to inform the jury that if it found both the enhancement paragraphs to be true, punishment would be automatically imposed as life by the trial judge. Id. the court then summarily concluded that the abuse of discretion was not harmless error beyond a reasonable doubt. Id.
Bevill is distinguishable as it was decided under the former TEX. R. APP. P. 81(b)(2) (Tex. Crim App. 1986, amended 1997).
Under the new rule, the proper harm analysis to be conducted depends on the kind of error involved. See TEX. R. APP. P. 44.2(a) & 44.2(b).
For constitutional errors, the old standard remains; however, non-constitutional errors are governed by the new standard formulated in Rule 44.2(b). See Mosley v. State, 983 S.W.2d 249, 259 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998). Under TEX. R. APP. P. 44.2(b) any non-constitutional error that does not affect substantial rights must be disregarded. See Mosley, 983 S.W.2d at 259.