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Model complaint, information and indictment


In the Name and by Authority of the State of Texas:

Commencement:[FN2] Use the formal commencement prescribed for

informations or indictments.
Charge:[FN3] Complaints charge that an offense has been committed;
indictments and
informations present that an offense has been committed.
Name of Defendant:[FN4] State the legal name of the defendant if known.
Time:[FN5] “On or about the day of , 20 ” and before the making and filing
of this
complaint or before the presentment of this information or indictment.
Venue:[FN6] Having alleged the County and State in the commencement,
venue is
re-stated by “in the county and state aforesaid” or by “did then and there.”
Name of Injured Party:[FN7] State the legal name of the injured party if
Never allege that the name of the injured party is unknown unless after the
use of
reasonable diligence, the grand jury has failed to ascertain it. The diligence
the grand jury must be alleged and proved.
Manner and Means of Committing the offense:[FN8] The act or omission
which by law is
declared to be an offense should be set forth in the words of the statute. The
manner and means used in the commission of the offense must be alleged
certainty, unless unknown, and then the allegation should be “that the
manner and
means were to the grand jurors unknown.” Where several ways or means are
set forth
in the same statute and are subject to the same punishment, they may be
charged in
the conjunctive (“and”) in one count, but to charge in the disjunctive (“or”)
renders the allegation defective for uncertainty. Several ways or means of
committing the same offense may be alleged in the conjunctive in one count
and the
jury may be instructed in the disjunctive that proof of any one of the
is sufficient for a conviction.
Counts:[FN9] A complaint, information or indictment may contain as many
counts as
may be deemed necessary to meet the expected proof under the statute, but
all counts
must relate to the same transaction. However, the new code provides for the
aggregation of amounts in theft and fraud cases. The statutory
commencement need
only appear on the first count and the statutory conclusion at the end of the
Mental Culpability:[FN10] Where the statute requires conduct to be
knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence the complaint,
information and
indictment must so allege. If the definition of an offense does not prescribe a
culpable mental state, a culpable mental state is nevertheless required (to be
alleged and proved) unless the definition plainly dispenses with any mental
Where the statute authorizes “intentionally” or “knowingly,” good practice
authorizes the allegation “intentionally and knowingly.”
Negligently or Recklessly:[FN11] Whenever it is charged that the accused
negligently or recklessly, the acts relied upon to constitute the negligence or
recklessness must be alleged.
Property Description:[FN12] Personal property should be identified by
name, kind,
number and ownership. A general description is insufficient.
Value:[FN13] Value of property stolen, etc., often determines the
classification of
the offense. It is good practice to allege value within a jurisdictional amount,
i.e.: “$750 or more but less than $20,000.”
Exceptions:[FN14] Exceptions expressed in the statute defining the offense
must be negated. But the exception need not be negated when it is contained
in a
separate section and is not part of the description of the offense.
Against the Peace and Dignity of the State
Conclusion and Signature:[FN15] Use the formal conclusion and signature
for complaints, informations and indictments.


Jurat:[FN16] The complaint must be sworn.


West's Key Number Digest

West's Key Number Digest, Indictment and Information 27, 32, 33, 49, 87,
88, 101 to 105

Legal Encyclopedias

C.J.S., Indictments and Informations §§ 28, 32, 35 to 36, 60 to 61, 92 to 98,

105 to
108, 116

[FNa] Former Presiding Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Austin, Texas.

[FNb] Former District Attorney and Senior District Judge, Austin, Texas.

[FNc] Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist, Austin, Texas and Past
President of
the Texas Defense Lawyers Association.


The caption is used to identify the defendant, the case and the court. The
is not part of the indictment, information or complaint. Miller v. State, 736
643 (Tex.Cr.App.1987).

Texas Constitution Art. 5, § 12; Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 21.02 and art. 21.21
amended in 1985.

Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. arts. 21.02, 21.21, 15.05.

Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 21.07.

Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. arts. 21.02(6) & 21.21(6).

Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 21.06.

Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 21.07.
Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 21.11.
A purported indictment that fails to charge “a person” with committing an
offense as
required by Texas Constitution Art. V, Section 12(b) does not constitute an
indictment and does not invest the trial court with jurisdiction and is not
by a failure to object. Cook v. State, 902 S.W.2d 471 (Tex.Cr.App.1995).

Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 21.24.

V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 6.02.

Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 21.15.

Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 21.09.

V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 31.03 and § 31.08.

V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 2.02.

Texas Constitution Art. 5, § 12; Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art 21.02 and art. 21.21
amended in 1985.
Vernon's Ann.C.C.P. art. 15.04.

© 2006 Thomson/West

7 TXPRAC § 1.2