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Relating to the extent of a defendant's criminal responsibility for the conduct of a coconspirator in a capital murder case.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
HB 1340 would limit the applicability of the law of parties to defendants in capital murder cases. A conspirator in a capital murder case would only be guilty as a party if they were a major participant in the conspiracy, they acted with reckless indifference to human life, and the capital murder was committed in the furtherance of an unlawful purpose. When a jury considers the culpability of a defendant found to be a party in such cases, they would no longer be able to consider whether the defendant anticipated that someone was going to die, only whether they actually caused or intended to cause a death.
Texas Action supports HB 1340 because it would promote individual culpability and limit the power of the state to execute someone not directly responsible for a crime. A just criminal justice system punishes only those who are individually responsible for criminal acts. HB 1340 would limit death sentences for conspirators in capital murder cases, making it more difficult for the state to execute those found only to be a party to the murder.