What is the Law of Parties in Texas?

the law of parties in texas

The Law of Parties in Texas

Can you be held criminally responsible for another?

Yes. Texas has specifically abolished any distinctions between “accomplice” and “principal” culpability. That makes each person criminally responsible as a “party” to the offense. This is sometimes referred to as the “Law of Parties in Texas” and is codified under Section 7.01 of the Texas Penal Code.

Section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code sets out several things that can make you criminally responsible for the actions of someone else:

  1. You cause or aid an innocent or non-responsible person to engage in criminal behavior;
  2. You intentionally promote or assist the commission of the offense, solicit, encourage, direct, aid, or attempt to aid another person to commit the crime; or
  3. You have a legal duty to prevent the commission of a crime and you intentionally promote or assist the commission of the crime and fail to make a reasonable effort to prevent it.

Texas also has what’s called the Felony Murder Rule under 7.02(b) of the Texas Penal Code. If you are engaged in a criminal conspiracy to commit one felony, then you can be held criminally responsible for any other felony committed by a co-conspirator that was one you should have anticipated.

For example, if you conspire to commit an armed robbery by acting as the get-away driver, and during the aggravated robbery an innocent bystander is shot and killed, you could be charged with capital murder even though you never had the specific intent to hurt someone and you were not involved in the shooting yourself. In Texas, a person can be even be charged with a capital offense under the Felony Murder Rule.

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Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese