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Texas Penal Code 7.01 PARTIES TO OFFENSES - Houston Criminal Attorney

Texas Penal Code 7.01 PARTIES TO OFFENSES - Houston Criminal Attorney



Texas law Sec. 7.01 outlines the concept of "Parties to Offenses" in criminal law. The main points of this law are as follows:


(a) A person can be held criminally responsible as a party to an offense if the offense was committed by their own actions, by the actions of another person for which they are legally accountable, or by a combination of both.


(b) Every individual involved in committing an offense can be charged with the commission of that offense.


(c) This section eliminates the traditional distinctions between accomplices and principals. It allows each party involved in an offense to be charged and convicted without the need to specify whether they acted as a principal (the main actor) or an accomplice (someone who aids, encourages, or assists the principal).


The law ensures that all individuals involved in a criminal act can be held accountable for their actions, regardless of whether they directly committed the offense or played a supporting role. This approach aims to facilitate more effective prosecution and ensure justice is served in cases where multiple parties are involved in criminal activities. The law was enacted in 1974 and later amended in 1994.


Traditionally, criminal law made a distinction between accomplices and principals based on their level of involvement in the commission of an offense. These distinctions were relevant in determining their degree of liability and the charges brought against them. The main differences between accomplices and principals are as follows:


1. Principals:

Principals are individuals who directly commit the criminal act or carry out the offense. They are the main actors and physically perform the illegal act. In other words, a principal is the person whose actions directly cause the crime to occur. For example, if a person robs a bank by physically entering the establishment and demanding money at gunpoint, that person would be considered the principal in the bank robbery.


2. Accomplices:

Accomplices, also known as accessories, are individuals who aid, assist, or encourage the principal in the commission of the offense, without being the main actor themselves. Accomplices play a supportive role, facilitating the commission of the crime but not directly committing the illegal act. For instance, if someone helps plan the bank robbery, provides the getaway vehicle, or serves as a lookout during the crime, they would be considered an accomplice.


Case Law:


To convict appellant of tampering under the law of parties, the jury had to determine that appellant was criminally responsible for the acts of another. Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 7.01(a). Relevant here, a person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by 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." Id. at § 7.02(a)(1).


Ransier v. State, NO. 14-17-00580-CR, 2 (Tex. App. Oct. 24, 2019).


Sec. 7.01. PARTIES TO OFFENSES.


(a) A person is criminally

responsible as a party to an offense if the offense is committed by

his own conduct, by the conduct of another for which he is criminally

responsible, or by both.

(b) Each party to an offense may be charged with commission of

the offense.

(c) All traditional distinctions between accomplices and

principals are abolished by this section, and each party to an

offense may be charged and convicted without alleging that he acted

as a principal or accomplice.


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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