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Texas Penal Code 6.04 CAUSATION: CONDUCT AND RESULTS - Houston Criminal Attorney

Texas Penal Code 6.04 CAUSATION: CONDUCT AND RESULTS - Houston Criminal Attorney


Criminal responsibility can hinge on establishing a causal link between a person's conduct and the resulting outcome. In Texas, the legal principle of causation is codified in Section 6.04 of the state's law. This provision outlines the conditions under which a person can be held criminally responsible for their actions.


Section 6.04 of the Texas law establishes two primary criteria for determining criminal responsibility based on causation: Conduct and Results.


According to subsection (a), an individual can be held criminally responsible if the outcome would not have occurred "but for" their conduct. In other words, the person's actions must have played a significant role in bringing about the result. It is immaterial whether the conduct operated alone or concurrently with other causes.


However, if another cause is determined to be clearly sufficient to produce the result, and the defendant's conduct is found to be clearly insufficient, the person may not be held responsible.


Under subsection (b), an individual can still be held criminally responsible for causing a result even if the actual outcome differs from their desired, contemplated, or risked scenario. The only conditions under which the discrepancy matters are when (1) a different offense was committed or (2) when a different person, property, or entity was affected. This provision recognizes that a person can be accountable for unintended consequences if they were engaged in unlawful conduct that ultimately resulted in harm.


​Helpful caselaw: Otto v. State


"Under the Texas Penal Code, an accused can not be held criminally responsible for an offense unless the intoxication would not have occurred but for the accused's actions. Section 6.04(a) states: A person is criminally responsible if the result would not have occurred but for his conduct, operating either alone or concurrently with another cause, unless the concurrent cause was clearly sufficient to produce the result and the conduct of the actor clearly insufficient. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 6.04(a) (Vernon 2003)." Otto v. State, 141 S.W.3d 238, 240 (Tex. App. 2004).


​"If a concurrent cause is present, there are two possible ways in which this "but for" requirement may be satisfied: (1) the defendant's conduct may be sufficient, by itself, to have caused the result notwithstanding any concurrent cause; or (2) the defendant's conduct and a concurrent cause together may be sufficient to have caused the result. Marvis v. State, 36 S.W.3d 878, 881 (Tex. Crim. App. 2001); Robbins, 717 S.W.2d at 351. In spite of these possibilities, a jury may not convict a defendant if the concurrent cause alone is clearly sufficient to produce the result and the defendant's conduct alone is clearly insufficient. Robbins, 717 S.W.2d at 351; Medina v. State, 962 S.W.2d 83, 86 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] 1997, pet. ref'd). Otto v. State, 141 S.W.3d 238, 240 (Tex. App. 2004).


​The Statute:


Sec. 6.04. CAUSATION: CONDUCT AND RESULTS.


(a) A person is criminally responsible if the result would not have occurred but for his conduct, operating either alone or concurrently with another cause, unless the concurrent cause was clearly sufficient to produce the result and the conduct of the actor clearly insufficient.


(b) A person is nevertheless criminally responsible for causing a result if the only difference between what actually occurred and what he desired, contemplated, or risked is that:


(1) a different offense was committed; or


(2) a different person or property was injured, harmed, or otherwise affected.


Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994.

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