June 9, 2006
Back in January, the Supreme Court ruled in Hernandez v. Kelly that the Adult Parole Authority couldn’t impose post-release controls on a defendant unless he’d been notified about them at the sentencing hearing. This was in accord with the prior case of Woods v. Telb, which held that, because of the principle of separation of powers, the APA couldn’t impose post-release controls unless the trial court included that in its sentence.
Hernandez was a habeas corpus case; the defendant had served a seven-year sentence, then was placed on five years of postrelease control. A few months later, he was stopped by the Texas State Police with $18,000 in his car. The APA determined this was a violation of PRC, and gave him an additional 160 days in prison to ruminate on the error of his ways. Hernandez objected that the APA didn’t have the authority to impose controls, because the trial court hadn’t advised him of that at sentencing, and the Supreme Court agreed.
It obviously flows from Woods and Hernandez that the trial court's failure to advise the defendant of PRC also precludes a later conviction for escape: if because of that failure the APA can’t impose an additional prison sentence, it can’t impose a requirement that the ex-convict report to a parole officer, and if reporting isn’t required, failure to report can’t be criminalized, either.
In fact, the 8th District has ruled that way on several occasions, most recently in State v. Dameron. Keep in mind, too, that since Dameron was decided, the Supreme Court held in State v. Jordan that a defendant must be advised of PRC in both the sentencing hearing and the journal entry sentencing, so be sure to check the transcript of the sentencing. If the judge failed to advise the defendant of post-release controls in either one, the escape charge has to be dismissed.