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Schroeder v. State - Nos. 3-13-00379-CR, 13-13-00380-CR, 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 3436 (Tex. App. Apr. 9, 2015)

Rule:

To establish that a defendant was convicted of prior offenses, for purposes of punishment enhancement, the State has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) the prior convictions exist, and (2) the defendant was the defendant in those prior convictions. No specific document or mode of proof is required to prove these two elements. While evidence of a certified copy of a final judgment and sentence may be a preferred and convenient means, the State may prove both of these elements in a number of different ways, including: (1) the defendant's admission or stipulation, (2) testimony by a person who was present when the person was convicted of the specified crime and can identify the defendant as that person, or (3) documentary proof (such as a judgment) that contains sufficient information to establish both the existence of a prior conviction and the defendant's identity as the person convicted. Ordinarily the proof that is adduced to establish that the defendant on trial is one and the same person that is named in an alleged prior criminal conviction or convictions closely resembles a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces standing alone usually have little meaning. However, when the pieces are fitted together, they usually form the picture of the person who committed that alleged prior conviction or convictions.

Facts:

A Dallas County jury convicted appellant, Traci Sheppard Schroeder a/k/a Traci Lee Schroeder, of one count of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information and one count of possession of methamphetamine. After finding two enhancement paragraphs true, the jury sentenced Schroeder to prison terms of nine and one-half years and four years for the respective offenses, and the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

Schroeder raises several issues on appeal. She contends that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to show that she fraudulently used or possessed identifying information; (2) the trial court erred by refusing her request to include a definition of "harm" in the jury charge; (3) the trial court erred by admitting evidence obtained from underneath a mobile phone battery; (4) the trial court erred by requiring her to wear shackles during trial; (5) the trial court erred by admitting prior judgments of conviction in the fraudulent identification case; (6) the trial court erred by admitting prior judgments of conviction in the methamphetamine possession case; (7) there was insufficient evidence to support enhancement paragraphs in the fraudulent identification case; and (8) there was insufficient evidence to support enhancement paragraphs in the methamphetamine possession case. Schroeder further raises four issues seeking to correct clerical errors in the judgments.

Issue:

Did the evidence support the jury's findings as to two enhancement paragraphs?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

Sufficient evidence supported defendant's conviction of fraudulent use or possession of identifying information, Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 32.51(b), as an officer testified that when he stopped a car for driving at night without headlights, a passenger told him that her name was the name of another individual and the other individual testified that she was not involved in a traffic stop on that date and had not given defendant consent to use her identifying information; The evidence did not support the jury's findings as to two enhancement paragraphs, as the evidence was insufficient to link defendant to prior convictions; The record substantiated defendant's claim that she pleaded "not true" to the enhancement paragraphs; and it clearly reflected that she was charged with, tried for, and convicted of state-jail felonies, not third-degree felonies, requiring modification.

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