What Is the Law of Parties In Texas ?

If the evidence supports a charge on the law of parties, the trial court in a criminal case may instruct the jury on the law of parties and apply the law to the facts even if there is no such allegation in the indictment. See Jackson v. State, 898 S.W.2d 896, 898 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995), overruled on other grounds, Malik v. State, 953 S.W.2d 234, 239 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997); Montoya v. State, 810 S.W.2d 160, 165 (Tex. Crim. App. 1989), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 961, 116 L. Ed. 2d 446, 112 S. Ct. 426 (1991). Similarly, in a bench trial, the trial court may use the law of parties if the evidence supports that theory despite the absence of such allegation in the indictment. See Diaz v. State, 902 S.W.2d 149, 151 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1995, no pet.). Under the law of parties, a person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by another if, acting with the intent to promote or assist in the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the person to commit the offense. See Tex. Penal Code Ann. 7.02(a)(2) (West 1994). To determine whether a person acted as a party to an offense, the trier of fact may look to events occurring before, during, and after the offense, and may rely on actions that show an understanding and common design to engage in an act. See Burdine v. State, 719 S.W.2d 309, 315 (Tex. Crim. App. 1986), cert. denied, 480 U.S. 940, 94 L. Ed. 2d 779, 107 S. Ct. 1590 (1987). Thus, applying the theory of parties, a person can be guilty of burglary even though he did not personally enter the burglarized premises if he acted together with another in the commission of the offense. See Clark v. State, 543 S.W.2d 125, 127 (Tex. Crim. App. 1976); Wilkerson v. State, 874 S.W.2d 127, 129 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1994, pet ref'd).