When can a person be charged as an accomplice? In Texas, a person can be arrested and charged as an accomplice if they aided or assisted in the commission of a crime, or if they advised or encouraged the commission of a crime.
To convict a person as an accomplice, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person:
- Intentionally aided or assisted in the commission of a crime, or
- Intentionally advised or encouraged another person to commit a crime.
Additionally, the prosecution must also prove that the principal (i.e., the person who actually committed the crime) actually committed the crime.
The evidence that may be used to prove that a person is an accomplice can include:
- Eyewitness testimony,
- Physical evidence (such as fingerprints, DNA, or other forensic evidence),
- Confessions or admissions of guilt,
- Circumstantial evidence (such as the presence of the accomplice at the scene of the crime),
- Financial or other transactions that suggest a link between the accomplice and the commission of the crime, and
- Evidence of prior statements or conduct that suggest the person had knowledge of or involvement in the commission of the crime.
It’s important to note that a person can be convicted as an accomplice even if they did not physically participate in the commission of the crime, as long as they aided, assisted, advised, or encouraged the commission of the crime.
The accomplice law holds everyone who participated in a crime responsible. For example Joe, Pete and Luke decide to rob a 7-Eleven. They decide Joe will be the getaway driver, Pete will have the gun and Luke will grab the money. They go to the store, Joe drives and stays outside with the car running and Pete walks to the counter, points his gun at the store clerk and says give me your money. Luke runs behind the counter and grabs the cash. Luke never says a word. Pete and Luke run to the car, and they all drive away.
They get about two blocks and the police stop them for speeding and see the gun and cash in the front seat. The police hear the call about the robbery and quickly make an arrest . All three will be arrested and charged with the crime of Aggravated Robbery. It doesn’t matter that Joe and Luke never had a gun. They all participated in the crime.
Once the case gets to the prosecutor Joe, Pete and Luke may get different plea offers and all have different outcomes in their cases. It all depends on all the facts and their criminal background. The law is called the Law of Parties in the Texas Penal code. Anyone person arrested as an accomplice should hire an experienced criminal attorney right away. A good criminal lawyer will research the facts. The attorney can then decide how to deal with the case. The sooner the lawyer is hired the better.