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Appeals Court in Texas Upholds Life Term for Third DWI Conviction

life in prison

This week the Texas Court of Appeals, Third District, at Austin upheld the life-term for a woman’s third DWI conviction (Scroll down to read the unpublished order). The woman, Rose Ann Davidson, appealed against the decision of the lower court in Hays County arguing that life-term was excessive and cruel punishment for DWI offenses. But the appellate court made it clear that habitual felony convictions were not something to be taken lightly, and the punishment was appropriate in the case.

Davidson was convicted by a jury, and the court noted her conviction “of the felony offense of driving while intoxicated … enhanced by two prior felony convictions for the offense of driving while intoxicated, was assessed at life imprisonment.” The opinion recorded, “Davidson asserts that the sentence of life imprisonment is “grossly disproportionate” to the offense that she committed and thus constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.”

The prosecutors submitted that Davidson did not bring up the issue of cruel and unusual punishment during her trial. The appellate court agreed and said, “It is well established that to preserve a complaint of cruel and unusual punishment, a defendant must make a timely, specific objection to the trial court or raise the issue in a motion for new trial.”

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The court said that even if the objection had been raised, Davidson’s complaint lacks merit. The three-judge panel observed, “A sentence of life imprisonment or of similar length is not grossly disproportionate to a felony offense that is committed by a habitual offender, even when the felony is not inherently violent in nature.”

The court added further, “Based on Davidson’s repeated commission of the offense of driving while intoxicated, a dangerous offense that placed her life and the lives of others in jeopardy, we could not conclude that a sentence of life imprisonment was grossly disproportionate to the offense so as to constitute cruel and unusual punishment.”

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