Did you know that you can be held liable for murder in the state of Texas even if you weren’t the person who physically committed the crime? It’s an appalling fact that legal experts believe should make people think twice about their involvement in any nefarious activity.

There are two parts of Texas law (in bold text below) that contribute to the determination that a person can be legally responsible for the criminal acts of other people.

The law of parties dictates that everyone involved in a crime in some form is considered a “party,” meaning that each party to a crime can be accused of committing that same crime. It’s like a group mentality, where if Joe told Jane to kill John, then Joe could be charged with murdering John, even if he never touched the murder weapon.

According to Texas legal code, the law of parties applies to the following situations:

  1. Influencing an innocent person to commit a crime
  2. Promoting or assisting in the commission of a crime through solicitation, encouragement, direction, aid, or an attempt to aid
  3. Having a legal duty to stop a crime and allowing the crime to happen anyway by promoting it, assisting in it, or not acting to prevent it

Under this same law, companies, corporations, and associations can be held liable if their employee committed a crime on their behalf. This is valid whether a high-ranking official or the majority of the governing body of the business entity orders, authorizes, or allows the crime to occur.

The felony murder rule goes into effect in situations when a group of people collaborate in an attempt to commit one felony and end up committing a different felony along the way. Officially, the Texas legal code states: “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.”

Consider an example of two people who decided to break into a wealthy person’s home to steal some items. In their minds, they were focused on theft without alerting anyone inside the house, but during a struggle between the homeowner and one of the burglars, the homeowner falls down the stairs and dies. Both burglars can be held liable for murder in this situation. 

The felony murder rule can apply to other felonies too, but the rule has earned its name because of the tendency for many felonies to be so dangerous that they become deadly, which then places the culpability for murder upon one or more of the parties involved.

Being accused and convicted of a crime can drastically impact a person’s life. Even if a person feels they have been wrongfully accused, LaHood Norton Law Group recommends asking for legal representation. This decision ensures that rights are protected and that the case is handled fairly. In addition, LaHood Norton advises anyone accused to cooperate with an arrest, remain silent, attend any court dates, and to communicate with their attorney. When someone’s future is on the line, any misstep has the potential to make or break a person’s life.

LaHood Norton Law Group is highly experienced in criminal defense law and employs former prosecutors who are familiar with both sides of the courtroom. If you believe you have a case requiring legal representation, visit LaHood Norton Law Group online or call (210) 797-7700 to schedule a free and private consultation.