Billingslea v. State

In Billingslea v. State, 780 S.W.2d 271 (Tex. Crim. App. 1989), the defendant lived in a house with his ninety-four-year-old mother. He was prosecuted for injury to an elderly person by omission for failing to secure needed medical care. Billingslea, 780 S.W.2d at 273. The "injury to a child or elderly individual" statute did not itself assign a duty of care to any particular person. Id. at 276. Because no statutory duty of care for elderly persons existed, and the court rejected the notion of deriving duties from the common law, the State failed to establish the offense of injury to an elderly person by omission because it could not show the defendant had a duty to act. Id. Billingslea v. State, held that there must be a statutory duty to act apart from a general statement that "an omission is an offense." Id. at 274. Stated another way, for an omission to be an offense, there must be a corresponding duty to act. Id.