Texas Accomplice Law

Under Texas law, as in most states, a person can be charged with a criminal offense as an accomplice. If a person assist, encourages, directs, or aids another person in committing a criminal offense then that person can be charged with the same criminal offense.

As an example let’s say  Moe, Larry, and Curly agree to rob a bank. The plan calls for Moe to carry a gun in and rob the bank teller. Larry will stand at the door and act as look out, while Curly waits in the get away car. If the three are caught by the police all three would be charged with aggravated robbery. Even though Curly only drove the car he aided Moe by providing a quick get away. Larry did not have a gun but he helped Moe by keeping an eye out for the police. The three may receive different punishments but they can all be convicted of aggravated robbery provided the prosecutors can meet their burden of proof.

Texas law also requires that a person actually participates or aids in the commission of the crime before they can be convicted as an accomplice. When a citizen is being tried as an accomplice the judge will always instruct the jury that “mere presence alone” is not enough to convict a person as an accomplice. Some times a person may be brought into a crime without knowing it. Let’s say in our example Curly had no idea Moe and Larry were going to rob a bank. Moe may have told Curly he needed a ride to the bank and Curly sat outside unaware Moe was inside pointing guns at bank tellers. Under that set of facts Curly is not an accomplice but his lawyer better be able to convince prosecutors or a jury of that fact.

Texas law does not require a lot of evidence to convict a person as an accomplice. The courts have ruled that the state only needs evidence that “tends to connect” a person to the crime. If a client is charged as an accomplice in Texas the criminal attorney must determine what evidence connects his or her client to the crime. Then decisions have to be made what the best strategy to defend the client and protect their rights.

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