Texas’ Law of Unintended Consequences

Recently, a teenage prankster who was alleged to have thrown eggs at other motorists was charged with murder after one of his alleged targets chased him and caused an accident with a third driver who died in the accident (read the full article here).

The moral of this story is that a person can be charged with ANY crime that results from that person’s conduct, even if he did not intend the more serious harm that occurred.

Under Texas Penal Code section  6.04, the law states that:

 (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.

A lower Texas Court of Appeals held  that “Transferred intent” occurs when a defendant, with the required culpable mental state, intends to injure or harm a specific person but injures or harms a different person or both.”  Sholars v. State (App. 1 Dist. 2009) 312 S.W.3d 694, petition for discretionary review refused, certiorari denied 131 S.Ct. 156, 562 U.S. 867, 178 L.Ed.2d 94.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in Texas, said, “Given the plain language and the history of the provisions at issue, we conclude that § 6.04(b)(1) does indeed authorize the transfer of a culpable mental state between offenses contained in the same statute and also between greater and lesser included offenses.” Thompson v. State, 236 S.W.3d 787, 800 (Tex. Crim. App. 2007).

It’s important to remember that sometimes actions have unintended consequences and you can be held responsible for those consequences. 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.

 

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