Ex parte Hawkins – Case Brief Summary (Texas)

In Ex parte Hawkins, 6 S.W.3d 554, 554 (Tex. Crim. App. 1999), the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals "revisited the question, how many robbery prosecutions may be brought when an actor assaults more than one person in the course of stealing one item of property."

The defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated robbery for holding a gun to the head of one victim while leading him to the cashier, and then holding the gun on both victims while the cashier emptied the register. Id. at 555.

Though only one theft of money occurred, because there were two assault victims, the court held that the defendant was properly convicted of two counts of aggravated robbery. Id. at 561.

The court reasoned that, as defined in the Penal Code, "robbery is a form of assault," and the allowable unit of prosecution for assaultive offenses is determined on a per victim basis. Id. at 560.

Therefore, even though only one theft occurs, the number of victims assaulted in the process of committing the theft determines the number of robbery counts permissible under the Double Jeopardy Clause. Id.