What is a Lack of Criminal Intent?

Before anyone can be convicted of a crime, Texas law specifies that they must have knowingly or intentionally committed the action they’re accused of. While this may sound like a semantic point, proving criminal intent is an essential part of the Texas rule of law. How your attorney handles criminal intent could make or break your case, so knowledge of criminal intent is integral to a quality defense.

To start, a lack of criminal intent does not mean a lack of knowledge of the law. Claiming to not know that theft is illegal does not absolve a thief of their crime, nor does it stop a conviction of any criminal case. The defining attribute of criminal intent is the knowledge and intent to commit the action, meaning that the person both knew what they were doing and meant to do so. Without proving this, many cases in Texas fall flat. 

As an example, if someone were to try and back out of a parking space and their gas pedal became stuck resulting in their car driving through the wall of a nearby building, they likely wouldn’t be held responsible for doing so – provided that it was a genuine malfunction of the vehicle. If this accident were caused due to the driver being impaired due to drug or alcohol use, they could still be found guilty despite not intentionally committing the crime due to one of the pitfalls of this defense.

Pitfalls of the Lack of Criminal Intent Defense

While proving a lack of criminal intent may work for many criminal cases, it can often be superseded by an argument of recklessness. While an individual may not have committed a crime with intent, their recklessness in their actions may be considered criminal. A common example of this is the difference between first-degree murder, which requires proof of intent and pre-planning, and manslaughter, which is an accidental killing due to criminal recklessness or negligence. 

Often, statements given by suspects when talking to the police are cited as evidence of intent. As such, it’s always recommended to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible when accused of a crime. If you’re facing criminal charges, contact  Attorney Charles A. Banker, III today. With years of experience defending clients from criminal charges, we’re able to provide you with a defense that makes a difference. Contact us today at (713) 227-4100 to schedule your free consultation.

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The Law Offices of Charles A. Banker, III

Our firm’s founder, Charles A. Banker III, has been a solo criminal defense practitioner with offices in Houston and McAllen, TX for over 30 years. He understands what it means to work independently in today’s hyperconnected world, but he also knows that sometimes you need to lean on others.

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