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:
- You cause or aid an innocent or non-responsible person to engage in criminal behavior;
- 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
- 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.
When there are several parties involved in a case, you will need to hire an experienced aggressive criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. Call Varghese Summersett PLLC for trial attorneys who understand the dynamics of your case.