Texas Penal Code 15.03 – Criminal Solicitation
WHAT IS CRIMINAL SOLICITATION IN TEXAS?
The Texas law against criminal solicitation punishes a person who requests, commands, or attempts to induce another to engage in specific conduct to commit a capital felony or first degree felony.
WHAT IS THE CRIMINAL SOLICITATION LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Penal Code § 15.03. CRIMINAL SOLICITATION.
(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent that a capital felony or felony of the first degree be committed, he requests, commands, or attempts to induce another to engage in specific conduct that, under the circumstances surrounding his conduct as the actor believes them to be, would constitute the felony or make the other a party to its commission.
(b) A person may not be convicted under this section on the uncorroborated testimony of the person allegedly solicited and unless the solicitation is made under circumstances strongly corroborative of both the solicitation itself and the actor’s intent that the other person act on the solicitation.
(c) It is no defense to prosecution under this section that:
(1) the person solicited is not criminally responsible for the felony solicited;
(2) the person solicited has been acquitted, has not been prosecuted or convicted, has been convicted of a different offense or of a different type or class of offense, or is immune from prosecution;
(3) the actor belongs to a class of persons that by definition of the felony solicited is legally incapable of committing the offense in an individual capacity; or
(4) the felony solicited was actually committed.
(d) An offense under this section is:
(1) a felony of the first degree if the offense solicited is a capital offense; or
(2) a felony of the second degree if the offense solicited is a felony of the first degree.
Tex. Penal Code § 15.04. RENUNCIATION DEFENSE.
(a) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Section 15.01 that under circumstances manifesting a voluntary and complete renunciation of his criminal objective the actor avoided commission of the offense attempted by abandoning his criminal conduct or, if abandonment was insufficient to avoid commission of the offense, by taking further affirmative action that prevented the commission.
(b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Section 15.02 or 15.03 that under circumstances manifesting a voluntary and complete renunciation of his criminal objective the actor countermanded his solicitation or withdrew from the conspiracy before commission of the object offense and took further affirmative action that prevented the commission of the object offense.
(c) Renunciation is not voluntary if it is motivated in whole or in part:
(1) by circumstances not present or apparent at the inception of the actor’s course of conduct that increase the probability of detection or apprehension or that make more difficult the accomplishment of the objective; or
(2) by a decision to postpone the criminal conduct until another time or to transfer the criminal act to another but similar objective or victim.
(d) Evidence that the defendant renounced his criminal objective by abandoning his criminal conduct, countermanding his solicitation, or withdrawing from the conspiracy before the criminal offense was committed and made substantial effort to prevent the commission of the object offense shall be admissible as mitigation at the hearing on punishment if he has been found guilty of criminal attempt, criminal solicitation, or criminal conspiracy; and in the event of a finding of renunciation under this subsection, the punishment shall be one grade lower than that provided for the offense committed.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR CRIMINAL SOLICITATION IN TEXAS?
Criminal solicitation is one penalty category below the solicited offense. Criminal solicitation to commit capital murder is a first degree felony, punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison. Criminal solicitation to commit a first degree felony is a second degree felony, punishable by two to 20 years in prison.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR CRIMINAL SOLICITATION IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for criminal solicitation of capital murder, a first degree felony, is five to 99 years or life in prison, and a maximum $10,000 fine. Criminal solicitation to commit a first degree felony, which is categorized as a second degree felony, carries between two and 20 years in prison, and a maximum $10,000 fine.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR CRIMINAL SOLICITATION IN TEXAS?
A person charged with criminal solicitation may be eligible, in limited circumstances, for probation after a conviction, or deferred adjudication without a conviction. A judge may not grant probation to a person convicted of criminal solicitation to commit capital murder, but may grant deferred adjudication to a person accused of criminal solicitation for a period not to exceed ten years. A jury may recommend probation for a person found guilty of criminal solicitation, only if the jury assesses punishment of ten years or less in prison, and the person has no prior felony convictions.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO CRIMINAL SOLICITATION IN TEXAS?
In addition to other defenses available for all crimes, Texas law authorizes a renunciation defense for criminal attempt, conspiracy, and solicitation.
- What is the renunciation defense to criminal solicitation? A person accused of criminal solicitation may attempt to show he or she voluntarily and completely renounced his criminal objective by rescinding from the agreement before the commission of the object offense, and took further affirmative action to prevent the commission of the offense.The renunciation must be motivated by repentance or change of heart, rather than the increased probability of detection or difficulty in accomplishing the intended crime.
To illustrate, a defendant feared his wife would divorce him and take his kids away. He paid a hit man to kill her, but the hit man procrastinated, asked for more money, and threatened the defendant. Fearing he had become the target, the defendant went to police, claiming he only went along with the murder plot under duress.
The jury rejected his renunciation defense, and he was convicted of solicitation to commit capital murder. The appellate court affirmed. His renunciation was not voluntary; rather, it was motivated by self-interest. Gordon v. State, No. 05-14-00824-CR (Tex. App.—Dallas Aug. 20, 2015, pet. ref’d).
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR CRIMINAL SOLICITATION IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for criminal solicitation is the same as that of the felony solicited. For example, if a person commits solicitation of murder, there is no limitation, because murder has no limitation.
CRIMINAL SOLICITATION IN TEXAS
Texas law punishes “inchoate” offenses, or acts in preparation of committing crimes. These offenses go beyond merely contemplating committing offenses. Rather, inchoate offenses such as criminal solicitation become punishable when a person forms the intent to commit a specific crime, and takes the affirmative step to solicit another to commit the crime.
TEXAS CRIMINAL SOLICITATION COURT CASES
The case law regarding criminal solicitation in Texas reiterates the conduct solicited must constitute a crime if committed by the person solicited.
- In State v. Hunter, a man was charged with solicitation of capital murder after sending threatening text messages urging his girlfriend to get an abortion. Capital murder of a child under ten includes intentionally killing of unborn children, unless it is a mother aborting her unborn fetus. See Tex. Penal Code §§ 19.03–19.06. The Third Court of Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals explained that because the defendant was encouraging abortion, which was legal at the time, he could not be convicted of solicitation to commit capital murder.
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DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
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