As a criminal defense lawyer in Houston I see many types of cases. Some of the hardest types of charges for my clients to understand are charges where they claim they were not the ones responsible for the action, or they did not know it was going to be as bad as it turned out.
For example, I had a client charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. My client decided with a few friends that they were going to fight with a kid and steal his shoes. When the person they wanted to fight showed resistance, one of his friends pulled out a gun and robbed him at gunpoint. My client did not understand why they would charge him with a deadly weapon, when he did not have the gun.
Another case I had was a burglary of a habitation. In this case my client was the getaway driver. Her friends broke into a house and stole items, while my client served as a lookout and as the driver. When they were caught, she did not understand why she was being arrested for burglary of a habitation since she never went into the house.
The answer for both lies in section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code. Section 7.02 states:
§ 7.02. CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR CONDUCT OF ANOTHER.
(a) A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if
- acting with the kind of culpability required for the offense, he causes or aids an innocent or nonresponsible person to engage in conduct prohibited by the definition of the offense;
- acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense; or
- having a legal duty to prevent commission of the offense and acting with intent to promote or assist its commission, he fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent commission of the offense.
(b) 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 with this section that they often call the “law of parties”, a person can be charged with a crime if they are acting with the individuals who actually committed the crime. These matters can sometimes get very complicated, and if you have a similar situation it is very important that you get assistance from a criminal defense attorney in your area.