Felony murder rule (Texas)

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For the felony murder rule in other jurisdictions, see felony murder rule.

Texas' felony murder rule, known as the law of parties, is a variation on the common law felony murder rule. Codified in Texas Penal Code § 7.02,[1] the law states that a person can be criminally responsible for the actions of another if he or she aids and abets, or conspires with the principal. However, all common law jurisdictions find that an accessory to murder will be criminally responsible. This liability can arise through solicitation, aiding and abetting, conspiracy, or any other doctrine of complicity.

The law of parties is significantly different from the felony murder rule in other jurisdictions and attracts heated debate, particularly when capital punishment is a possible sentence,[2][3][4] as under Texas law someone convicted of capital murder under the felony murder rule is as eligible for the death penalty as the one actually committing the murder.

In 2009, the Texas Moratorium Network led an advocacy campaign to pass a bill to end the death penalty for people convicted under the law of parties. The bill was approved by the Texas House of Representatives, but did not pass the Senate.[5]

Convictions under the felony murder rule[edit]

See also Lists of people executed in Texas

People convicted under the law include Kenneth Foster, Jeff Wood, Clinton Lee Young, Steven Michael Woods, Jr., Robert Lee Thompson,[6] John Adams,[7] Ray Jasper,[8] Joseph Nichols,[9][10] Randy Halprin, and Patrick Murphy Jr. (the latter two were part of the Texas 7). Foster's sentence would later be commuted to life imprisonment, one of only two persons convicted of capital murder to have his sentence commuted since restoration of the death penalty in the 1980's.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Texas Penal Code – Section 7.02. Criminal Responsibility For Conduct Of Another – Texas Attorney Resources – Texas Laws". law.onecle.com. 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  2. ^ "Why the Texas Law of Parties is a Good Thing". urbangrounds.com. 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "TEXAS AND THE LAW OF PARTIES". lairdcarlson.com. 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "On Death Row: Texas' 'Law of Parties'". austinchronicle.com. 2011. Retrieved 13 September 2011. 
  5. ^ "Measure banning execution of people who haven't killed won't advance.". statesman.com. 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Document – USA: Choosing death again: Texas governor rejects clemency recommendation". amnesty.org. 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011. Robert Lee Thompson, a 34-year-old African American man, was put to death on the evening of 19 November 2009 for the murder of a store worker 13 years earlier. 
  7. ^ "Document – USA (Texas): Death penalty / Legal concern, Gregory Edward Wright (m)". amnesty.org. 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be Executed, Hamilton Nolan (m)". gawker.com. 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 
  9. ^ "Document – USA: Breaking a lethal habit: A look back at the death penalty in 2007". amnesty.org. 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011. 
  10. ^ "Document – USA: One county, 100 executions : Harris County and Texas – a lethal combination". amnesty.org. 2011. Retrieved 14 September 2011.