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Texas Penal Code 7.03 Defenses Excluded - Houston Criminal Attorney

Texas Penal Code 7.03 Defenses Excluded - Houston Criminal Attorney



Texas Penal Code Sec. 7.03 deals with criminal responsibility when one person is held accountable for the conduct of another. In such cases, the law states that an actor (person being prosecuted) can be convicted if it is proven that the offense was committed and that the actor was a party to its commission, regardless of certain defenses.


The law specifies two defenses that are not applicable in these situations:


Legal Incapacity Defense: It is not a valid defense to claim that the actor belongs to a group of individuals who, according to the definition of the offense, are legally incapable of committing the offense individually.


Conduct of Another Defense: It is also not a valid defense to argue that the person for whose conduct the actor is criminally responsible has certain legal outcomes, such as being acquitted, not being prosecuted or convicted, being convicted of a different offense or a different type/class of offense, or having immunity from prosecution.


In essence, Texas Law Sec. 7.03 ensures that an actor cannot escape criminal responsibility by using the legal incapacity of their group or the legal outcomes of the person whose conduct they are responsible for as a defense in the prosecution. The law aims to hold individuals accountable for their involvement in the commission of the offense, regardless of these specific defenses.


The law was initially enacted in 1973 and was subsequently amended in 1993 to its current form.


CASE LAW:


The Acquittal of Appellant's Co-Defendant Appellant argues the evidence is insufficient as the jury acquitted his co-defendant. Appellant asserts the verdicts are inconsistent and conflicting, and therefore, his conviction should be reversed. In addition, appellant argues section 7.03 of the Texas Penal Code does not control this situation as, in appellant's view, it only applies when a defendant has been acquitted in a separate trial. We disagree.


Robles v. State, No. 14-05-00713-CR, (Tex. App. Aug. 17, 2006)


"TEX. PENAL CODE ANN. § 7.03 (Vernon 2003). Despite appellant's assertion, there is no language limiting the impact of section 7.03 to cases where the primary actor was tried and acquitted in a separate trial. By its plain language, section 7.03 applies to all prosecutions, including one like appellant's, where he was tried jointly with Mondragon, and appellant was convicted and Mondragon was acquitted. See Ex parte Evans, 964 S.W.2d 643, 646 (Tex.Crim.App. 1998) (holding when a statute is clear and unambiguous, a reviewing court applies the plain meaning of the statute's words)."


Robles v. State, No. 14-05-00713-CR, (Tex. App. Aug. 17, 2006)


"It is well-established that one accomplice may be found guilty of a different, more serious offense than other accomplices. Indeed, the acquittal of the principal does not prevent conviction of his accomplice. And it does not matter whether the acquittal of the principal occurs before or after the accomplice's trial."


Ex Parte Thompson, 179 S.W.3d 549, 553-54 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005)


THE STATUTE:


Sec. 7.03. DEFENSES EXCLUDED.


In a prosecution in which an actor's criminal responsibility is based on the conduct of another, the actor may be convicted on proof of commission of the offense and that he was a party to its commission, and it is no defense:


(1) that the actor belongs to a class of persons that by

definition of the offense is legally incapable of committing the

offense in an individual capacity; or


(2) that the person for whose conduct the actor is

criminally responsible has been acquitted, has not been prosecuted or

convicted, has been convicted of a different offense or of a

different type or class of offense, or is immune from prosecution.


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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