Texas employs what is commonly known as the law of parties, which means that, in certain situations, you can be held responsible for someone else’s criminal conduct, including murder. In order to face charges of murder by association, you need not be accused of having participated directly in the crime. Being present when the perpetrator commits the murder can be enough to face charges that lead to a conviction.
If you are facing a murder by association charge – or any other serious criminal charge – in Texas, it is time to consult with an experienced Gatesville criminal lawyer.
Key Points to Consider
The key points that apply to the law of parties and that make it especially problematic legally include:
You can be convicted of a crime that you did not commit and that you did not intend for anyone else to commit.
While someone accused of murder or capital murder must have been highly intentional in his or her actions in order to be convicted, all the prosecution needs to demonstrate in relation to a law of parties charge is that the accused should have been aware that the convicted person was going to commit the crime in question, which is a low legal bar.
The law of parties allows the state to sentence people to death who do not meet its own criteria for the death penalty, which involves the most egregious offenses. Under the law of parties, the potential exists for someone who did not kill anyone – nor intend anyone to be killed – to face execution by the state.
The law of parties is especially harsh when the accused is a juvenile or young adult who is, therefore, far more susceptible to impulsive and/or reckless behavior that is driven by peer pressure, but who is unlikely to continue offending.
The Conspirator-Party Rule
The conspirator-party rule relates to the law of parties in that it is based not on what the accused actually did or intended to do in relation to the crime in question but on his or her relationship with the person who actually committed the crime. The conspirator-party rule holds that a person who enters into a conspiracy to commit a crime with someone else but fails to recognize the reasonable possibility that his or her co-conspirator might commit another crime – such as murder – in the course of committing the planned crime is just as culpable as the murderer in the case.