An appeals court in Texas ruled to dismiss one of Rick Perry's two criminal charges. Attorneys representing the 2016 GOP presidential candidate argued that the criminal charge was a violation of the ex-Texas governor's civil right to free speech. The court agreed and on Friday ruled that the criminal statute cannot be enforced in Perry's case.
The dismissed count related to the alleged coercion of a public official in connection with a veto of funding in 2013.
Originally Indicted on 2 Felony Counts
Rick Perry was indicted on two criminal counts last August. The felony allegations originated from Perry's evident threat to abuse his power as governor in 2013 by vetoing millions in funding if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg failed to resign from office. The district attorney was convicted of drunk driving in April 2013, but refused to resign from office. According to the criminal allegations, Perry carried out his threat by vetoing a total of $7.5 million in funding that was intended to fund the Texas Public Integrity Unit.
Could Spend Up to 99 Years in Prison if Convicted
Perry has so far pleaded not guilty to both felony counts. He has also tried to have both charges dismissed on two occasions. If he is convicted of the remaining felony charge, he could be sentenced to a prison sentence of five to 99 years in length. However, even if he is convicted of the charges, the ex-Governor will still have a chance to appeal the decision. He will also have a chance to appeal an extra long or unfair sentence.
Interestingly, Perry is running for president in spite of his pending felony charges. He is currently one out of 16 candidates in the Republican primary. Perry also tried to win the Republican nomination in 2012, but he left the race after a poor performance in a public debate.
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