The Texas Accomplice Law

The Texas Accomplice law can have serious consequences. I recently answered the question, ” When can I be charged as an accomplice?” I went over how  a person could be held criminally liable as an accomplice under Texas law.  The Texas accomplice law can even lead to a person being charged with a crime he never had the intent to commit.

Let’s again take the example of Joe, Pete and Luke deciding to rob a 7 Eleven. Same plan as before. Joe will drive the car; Pete will have the gun and Luke will grab the money. No one ever mentions shooting anybody. They just want to get the money and get out. However, things go south when the actual robbery goes down.

Joe is waits in the parking lot with the car running. He is ready for a quick getaway. Pete goes in the store and points the gun at the clerk and demands the money in the cash drawer. The clerk opens the cash register but when Luke comes around the counter to grab the money the clerk suddenly hits Luke in the face. Luke falls to the ground and Pete pulls the trigger and shoots the clerk. The clerks falls to floor and dies. Luke and Pete run out of the store without getting any money and jump in the car with Joe. Joe drives off fast.

They get two blocks away and get stopped for speeding. The police spot the gun and can smell gun powder. The police are notified about the 7 eleven robbery.  The police arrest all three men. Under the Texas accomplice law Joe, Pete and Luke will be charged with Capital Murder. Joe and Luke can be charged with Capital Murder even though they didn’t have gun and there was no agreement to shoot the clerk.

Under the Texas accomplice law, “If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy.”

So, in our example, Joe and Luke should have anticipated that when Pete brought a loaded gun to rob a store clerk, they should have anticipated someone could get shot and killed.

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