General Defense to Criminal Responsibility
In some criminal cases there are defenses under the law that can be asserted to negate a defendant’s legal responsibility for their actions. Under the Texas Penal Code Chapter 8, General Defense to Criminal Responsibility, the reasons allowed by law are laid out.
However, it takes a skilled and seasoned criminal defense attorney to assert one of these criminal law defenses properly and to build a strong case that can lead to a positive outcome for a client. At the Law Offices of Anthony B. Cantrell, we have over 30 years of experience helping people minimize the impact of all types of criminal charges using the defenses available under the Texas Penal Code Chapter 8, General Defense to Criminal Responsibility laws.
We stand ready to protect you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at our New Braunfels or San Antonio offices. Call us210-888-9653 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Since opening our doors in 1989, our founding attorney, Anthony B. Cantrell, has been effectively helping clients declare an appropriate defense under law for all types of criminal matters they are facing prosecution for. These defenses include:
- Mistake of fact
- Mistake of law
- Entrapment defense
- Age affecting criminal responsibility
We can help you determine if one of these defenses or a justification argument, like self defense, applies to your situation. If there is an appropriate defense, we will seek out evidence that affirms your claim and use this as part of our case and comprehensive defense representation.
We work with experts when necessary, such as mental health professionals, forensic experts, and other people who can assist us in helping prove your defense and support your contention. We are exhaustive in our approach because we believe every client in our firm is entitled to the fullest representation possible under the law.
Before you speak with any law enforcement official to try and explain your side, protect yourself and your case by speaking with us. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony B. Cantrell today to schedule your free consultation with our defense attorney, who has been certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Criminal Law.
Texas Penal Code Chapter 8 – General Defense to Criminal Responsibility
Section 8.01 INSANITY
(a) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that, at the time of the conduct charged, the actor, as a result of severe mental disease or defect, did not know that his conduct was wrong.
(b) The term “mental disease or defect” does not include an abnormality manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct.
Section 8.02 MISTAKE OF FACT
(a) It is a defense to prosecution that the actor through mistake formed a reasonable belief about a matter of fact if his mistaken belief negated the kind of culpability required for commission of the offense.
(b) Although an actor’s mistake of fact may constitute a defense to the offense charged, he may nevertheless be convicted of any lesser included offense of which he would be guilty if the fact were as he believed.
Section 8.03 MISTAKE OF LAW
(a) It is no defense to prosecution that the actor was ignorant of the provisions of any law after the law has taken effect.
(b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that the actor reasonably believed the conduct charged did not constitute a crime and that he acted in reasonable reliance upon:
(1) an official statement of the law contained in a written order or grant of permission by an administrative agency charged by law with responsibility for interpreting the law in question; or
(2) a written interpretation of the law contained in an opinion of a court of record or made by a public official charged by law with responsibility for interpreting the law in question.
(c) Although an actor’s mistake of law may constitute a defense to the offense charged, he may nevertheless be convicted of a lesser included offense of which he would be guilty if the law were as he believed.
Section 8.04 INTOXICATION
(a) Voluntary intoxication does not constitute a defense to the commission of crime.
(b) Evidence of temporary insanity caused by intoxication may be introduced by the actor in mitigation of the penalty attached to the offense for which he is being tried.
(c) When temporary insanity is relied upon as a defense and the evidence tends to show that such insanity was caused by intoxication, the court shall charge the jury in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(d) For purposes of this section “intoxication” means disturbance of mental or physical capacity resulting from the introduction of any substance into the body.
Section 8.05 DURESS
(a) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was compelled to do so by threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury to himself or another.
(b) In a prosecution for an offense that does not constitute a felony, it is an affirmative defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was compelled to do so by force or threat of force.
(c) Compulsion within the meaning of this section exists only if the force or threat of force would render a person of reasonable firmness incapable of resisting the pressure.
(d) The defense provided by this section is unavailable if the actor intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly placed himself in a situation in which it was probable that he would be subjected to compulsion.
(e) It is no defense that a person acted at the command or persuasion of his spouse, unless he acted under compulsion that would establish a defense under this section.
Section 8.06 ENTRAPMENT
(a) It is a defense to prosecution that the actor engaged in the conduct charged because he was induced to do so by a law enforcement agent using persuasion or other means likely to cause persons to commit the offense. Conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit an offense does not constitute entrapment.
(b) In this section “law enforcement agent” includes personnel of the state and local law enforcement agencies as well as of the United States and any person acting in accordance with instructions from such agents.
Section 8.07 AGE AFFECTING CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY
(a) A person may not be prosecuted for or convicted of any offense that the person committed when younger than 15 years of age except:
(1) perjury and aggravated perjury when it appears by proof that the person had sufficient discretion to understand the nature and obligation of an oath;
(2) a violation of a penal statute cognizable under Chapter 729, Transportation Code, except for conduct for which the person convicted may be sentenced to imprisonment or confinement in jail;
(3) a violation of a motor vehicle traffic ordinance of an incorporated city or town in this state;
(4) a misdemeanor punishable by fine only;
(5) a violation of a penal ordinance of a political subdivision;
(6) a violation of a penal statute that is, or is a lesser included offense of, a capital felony, an aggravated controlled substance felony, or a felony of the first degree for which the person is transferred to the court under Section 54.02, Family Code, for prosecution if the person committed the offense when 14 years of age or older; or
(7) a capital felony or an offense under Section 19.02 for which the person is transferred to the court under Section 54.02(j)(2)(A), Family Code.
(b) Unless the juvenile court waives jurisdiction under Section 54.02, Family Code, and certifies the individual for criminal prosecution or the juvenile court has previously waived jurisdiction under that section and certified the individual for criminal prosecution, a person may not be prosecuted for or convicted of any offense committed before reaching 17 years of age except an offense described by Subsections (a)(1)-(5).
(c) No person may, in any case, be punished by death for an offense committed while the person was younger than 18 years.