Deshais v. State, 01-97-00447-CR

CourtCourt of Appeals of Texas
Citation964 S.W.2d 166
Docket NumberNo. 01-97-00447-CR,01-97-00447-CR
PartiesArmand Philip DESHAIS, Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee. (1st Dist.)
Decision Date22 January 1998

Page 166

964 S.W.2d 166
Armand Philip DESHAIS, Appellant,
The STATE of Texas, Appellee.
No. 01-97-00447-CR.
Court of Appeals of Texas,
Houston (1st Dist.).
Jan. 22, 1998.
Opinion GrantingRehearing Feb. 26, 1998.

David Cunningham, Houston, for Appellant.

John B. Holmes, Alan Curry, Houston, for Appellee.



COHEN, Justice.

This is an appeal from a denial of appellant's application for habeas corpus relief, asserting that the assessment of a controlled

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substance tax in addition to criminal prosecution for possession of a controlled substance violates the double jeopardy prohibitions of the Texas and U.S. Constitutions. We reverse and render judgment that habeas corpus relief be granted barring criminal prosecution.


Appellant was arrested on November 19, 1993 for possession of cocaine. On November 23, 1993, the State Comptroller of Public Accounts issued notice of a controlled substance tax lien to appellant in the amount of $25,650,000 (including penalties) for failure to pay taxes on the cocaine. See TEX. TAX CODE ANN. § 159 et seq. (Vernon 1992). Appellant received the notice. The lien was recorded in the Harris County Clerk's Official Public Records on December 3, 1993. A grand jury subsequently indicted appellant for aggravated possession of that cocaine. The Comptroller tried to collect the taxes for more than the next two years. The Comptroller issued directives freezing appellant's assets held by others. Appellant's bank account was frozen as well as $789 seized by the Houston Police Department on his arrest. The lien adversely affected appellant's credit. In April 1996, appellant paid $100 toward the tax. The Comptroller accepted the payment and credited his account. On March 24, 1997, more than three years after the imposition of the tax lien, the Comptroller issued a document stating the lien was released, but nothing in the record indicates the release was ever filed or recorded with the Harris County Clerk's Office. Appellant received a letter indicating the lien would be released and his $100 would be refunded, yet nothing in the record indicates the Comptroller ever delivered the release to him.

At the hearing, the State introduced a copy of the $100 refund check, dated April 23, 1997. 1 Appellant testified he had not yet received it. Though appellant's credit report 2 indicated the tax lien still existed, a witness from the Comptroller's office testified the release of the tax lien meant that as of that date, appellant no longer owed the State any taxes or penalties.


Appellant asserts the assessment of the controlled substance tax and the criminal prosecution for possession of the same controlled substance violates the double jeopardy clause. 3 We agree.

Assessment or imposition of a controlled substance tax constitutes punishment for double jeopardy purposes, and therefore, it precludes further prosecution. Stennett v. State, 941 S.W.2d 914, 916 (Tex.Crim.App.1996) (assessment of controlled substance tax is punishment within double jeopardy prohibition); DeLeon v. State, 951 S.W.2d 283, 286 (Tex.App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1997, pet. filed) (one is punished for double jeopardy purposes when controlled substance tax is assessed); State v. Rocha, 944 S.W.2d 701, 705-06 (Tex.App.--Corpus Christi 1997, pet. filed) (assessment, rather than full or partial payment of the tax, is punishment for double jeopardy purposes); Ward v. State, 915 S.W.2d 941, 946 (Tex.App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1996, pet. granted) (imposition or assessment of controlled substance tax is the operative event). We hold that this tax assessment bars prosecution for possession of this cocaine for the same reasons stated in Department of Revenue of Montana v. Kurth Ranch, 511 U.S. 767,...

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