Most crimes are committed by people who intentionally and knowingly committed
them, but what about those crimes that are committed accidentally? For
example, what if you had a small $20 item at the bottom of your shopping
cart and it somehow got missed during checkout.
You didn’t see the small $20 item sitting in your cart; you forgot
all about it. So, you paid for your other items and then rolled your shopping
cart out the door and 100 feet to your car in the parking lot. Are you
still guilty of shoplifting?
This type of question is more common than you might think and similar questions
can be raised in various criminal cases. From shoplifting, to credit card
theft, burglary, and everything in between, are you still guilty of committing
a crime if you didn’t you were doing it?
Voluntary Acts and Omissions
Title 2, General Principals of Criminal Responsibility, Chapter 6, Culpability
Generally, of the Texas Penal Code addresses the issue of “culpability”
and “criminal responsibility.”
Section 6.01 of the Texas Penal Code, a person
only commits a criminal offense if he or she voluntarily engages in criminal
conduct; this includes an act, an omission, or possession.
Under Sec. 6.01(b), possession is only voluntary if the person is aware
that he or she obtains or receives the item possessed, or as long as he
or she learns of their control for a sufficient time that they can terminate control.
In the shoplifting example above, once the shopper gets to their car and
realizes that they left the store without paying for the item, they should
head straight back into the store and either pay for it, or return it
to the store.
On the other hand, if the shopper found the item at the bottom of their
cart, realized they didn’t pay for it and tossed it into one of
their shopping bags and drove away, then they would be guilty of shoplifting.
Culpability Under the Texas Penal Code
Culpability is defined as being responsible for a wrongdoing. Under Section
6.02 of the Texas Penal Code, a person does not commit a crime unless
he or she recklessly, intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence
engages in criminal conduct.
Sometimes people unintentionally or unknowingly commit crimes. They get
arrested and charged, yet they don’t understand what the law says
about criminal responsibility and how it applies to them. That said, it’s
important to fully address “intent” with a skilled criminal
defense lawyer when you’re facing criminal charges.
If you are facing criminal charges for a crime you did not mean to commit,
we urge you to
contact our Plano
criminal defense firm to discover your defense possibilities.