Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 26.13(a) - Interpretation

In Aguirre-Mata v. State, 992 S.W.2d 495, 499 (Tex.Crim.App.1999), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals held that the admonishments required by Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 26.13(a), are not constitutionally required. The Court reasoned that the purpose of the admonishments was to "assist the trial court in making the determination that a guilty plea is knowingly and voluntarily entered." Id. The Court concluded that, because the admonishments are for the benefit of only the trial judge, they did not involve any constitutional protections. Id. Therefore, the Court held the error should be reviewed for non-constitutional error under new Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.2(b). Id. Article 26.13 states in part: (a) Prior to accepting a plea of guilty or a plea of nolo contendere, the court shall admonish the defendant of: (1) the range of the punishment attached to the offense; (3) the fact that if the punishment assessed does not exceed the punishment recommended by the prosecutor and agreed to by the defendant and his attorney, the trial court must give its permission to the defendant before he may prosecute an appeal on any matter in the case except for those matters raised by written motions filed prior to trial; (b) No plea of guilty or plea of nolo contendere shall be accepted by the court unless it appears that . . . the plea is free and voluntary. (c) In admonishing the defendant as herein provided, substantial compliance by the court is sufficient, unless the defendant affirmatively shows that he was not aware of the consequence of his plea and that he was misled or harmed by the admonishment of the court. (TEX. CODE CRIM. P. art. 26.13.)