One of the worst crimes that you can commit in any jurisdiction is the willful taking of another person’s life. In the US, most states follow the felony murder rule under common law, in which a participant in a murder although not the actually the one to commit the act is also criminally liable. However, in most states, the degree of participation will affect the level of punishment, and even in states where the death penalty is in effect, minor participants are not eligible for it.
Not so in Texas.
Under the Texas felony murder rule, also referred to as the law of parties, any participant in a murder regardless of intent or level of participation is considered equally culpable as the person who actually committed the crime if an individual commissioned, aided, abetted, encouraged, or in any way furthered the commission of the act. Since Texas is a death penalty state, the law of parties allows that if convicted, all participants may be given a death sentence.
The law of parties is a controversial issue because it is considered to be unreasonably harsh, but efforts to modify it have so far been unsuccessful. But there is still hope for the unfortunate individuals who were largely in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are several instances where the driver of the car carrying the would-be murderer was sentenced to death, and in many cases, the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
To be charged with felony murder is a terrifying experience, but especially in Texas. A rigorous defense must be mounted without loss of time to avoid being associated at all with the crime, because the consequences are extremely dire. If you are being charged with participating in a felony murder in Texas, do not admit nor say anything before consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.