Ash v. Texas (original by judge hervey)Annotate this Case
The issue presented for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in this case was whether the court of appeals erred when it held that a witness could not be an accomplice as a matter of law unless the witness was charged with the same offense as the defendant or a lesser-included offense. Police pulled a Suburban over driving with its high beams on. Five people were in the car; the smell of marijuana emanated from an open window. Everyone was removed from the car. Seeing one occupant wipe a green substance off her clothing, everyone was detained and police conducted a search of the vehicle. Cocaine was found in a door panel. Though everyone was arrested, only Appellant Andre Ash was convicted of possession of cocaine, for which he received a 30-year sentence and a $5,000 fine. Ash appealed, arguing he was entitled to accomplice-as-a-matter-of-law jury instructions as to each passenger at trial, or at least accomplice-as-a-matter-of-fact instructions. The court of appeals affirmed. The Court of Criminal Appeals found that because the witnesses in this case were not charged with the same offense as Ash or a lesser-included offense, and the evidence was not uncontradicted or so one-sided that a rational jury would have had to believe that the witnesses were accomplices, it agreed with the court of appeals that Ash was not entitled to accomplice-as-a-matter-of-law instructions.