Under Texas law, you can be convicted of a crime even if you did not actually partake in the crime if the state can show you aided in the planning and commission of the crime. This was illustrated in a recent case out of a Texas court of appeals, Wheeler v. Texas, in which the court upheld a conviction for armed robbery, based on testimony that the defendant was involved in the planning of the crime and drove the getaway vehicle, despite the fact he was not involved in the actual robbery. If you are charged with robbery, you should retain a knowledgeable Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to assess what evidence the state may introduce against you and to help you develop a plan that will provide you with a good chance for a favorable result under the circumstances of your case.
Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest and Conviction
A bank robbery occurred in December 2015. A car reportedly pulled up to a bank, and three men exited the car. One of the men was allegedly carrying a gun. A teller working in the bank ducked behind the counter and one of the men began hitting her and tried to drag her to the vault. The man then placed a gun in another bank employee’s face and demanded money. He then struck the second employee in the head with the gun and dragged her to the teller counter, where the employee proceeded to place money in a bag.
Allegedly, the vice president of the bank was also held at gunpoint during the robbery. When the men left, the vice president observed them driving away in a dark four-door vehicle and attempted to follow them in his vehicle. He could not find the car the men left in but observed a small red car enter the road slowly from a side road. He believed the men switched cars and relayed this information to the police.
The car stopped, and all of the men in the car ran. One of the men in the car got caught in a fence and was apprehended by police. Following an investigation, the defendant was charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. At the defendant’s trial, the state’s position was that he was not one of the men that actually robbed the bank, but he partook in the planning of the robbery and assisted in the getaway. A jury found the defendant guilty, and he subsequently appealed, arguing that the state produced insufficient evidence to support his conviction.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
On appeal, the court stated that the sufficiency of the evidence is weighed against the elements of the crime as outlined in the jury charge. Here, the applicable law stated that an individual commits a robbery if he or she threatens another person or places that person in fear of death or harm while committing theft with the intent to keep the stolen property. The crime is aggravated if the person committing it uses a deadly weapon. Additionally, the court noted that under Texas law, a first person is responsible for a second person’s criminal conduct if the first person promotes or assists the second person in committing the crime. If the defendant charged with a crime is not the primary individual that committed the crime, the state must show that the crime was committed and that the defendant acted in a manner intended to promote or assist the conduct.
Here, there was testimony and evidence introduced at trial that money bands, duffle bags, gloves, and guns were found in the red car in which the defendant was riding, and the defendant’s DNA was found in the car. Additionally, the man who was apprehended by the police testified he was involved in the robbery, and that they drove away from the bank in one vehicle, then got into a red car driven by the defendant. The defendant’s girlfriend also testified that she lent him her red Dodge Dart on the day of the robbery, after which he advised her it was involved in an incident and to report it as stolen. The court found that the jury could reasonably find the defendant engaged in a common plan to commit a robbery, and affirmed his conviction.
Retain a Seasoned Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
If you face criminal charges, you should retain a seasoned criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help you determine how to handle the charges against you. Rick Davis is an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney who can advise you of your legal rights. Contact him at (979) 779-4357 or via the online form to schedule a meeting.
More Blog Posts:
Texas Court Okays Jury Instruction on Assault with a Deadly Weapon Where Defendant Only Used His Hands During the Assault November 26, 2018, Rick Davis & Associates Blog
Rejected Forensics Case Makes Strange High Court Bedfellows November 26, 2018, Rick Davis & Associates Blog
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Rules a Written Judgment Does Not Prevail Over an Oral Sentence Imposed by a Jury October 29, 2018, Rick Davis & Associates Blog