Accomplice Testimony and How it Can Impact Your Case
There’s an old adage that “with friends like that, who needs enemies?” This is never more true that in a situation where you find yourself accused of a crime that you may have committed with your friend or other accomplice. Sure, you may have just been along for the ride, or were feeling peer pressure to do something you probably shouldn’t have done. But once everyone who was there or involved finds themselves facing a criminal case, it’s almost inevitable that your friends are going to start pointing fingers, even at you.
In Texas, the Code of Criminal Procedure section 38.14 states that “a conviction cannot be had upon the testimony of an accomplice unless corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the defendant with the offense committed; and the corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows the commission of the offense.” Basically, in order for you to be convicted of an offense that was committed with other people, there has to be evidence that connects you to the offense itself, other than what your friends say. They could testify that you were there, were involved in some way, or were the one who planned it. But if that is all the evidence the prosecution can present, then they haven’t met their burden and connected you to the offense itself.
Corroboration (or facts that tend to link up accomplice’s testimony to the alleged offense) can take any number of forms, and every case is different because every set of facts is different. What may be a major point in one case, like running away from a certain area, could be insignificant in another, depending on the circumstances. Furthermore, just proving that a crime occurred is not sufficient under the law either.
What courts will often ask is — If, after removing the testimony of any accomplices, co-defendants, and/or co-conspirators, is there evidence that tends to connect the accused with the commission of the offense? If there is not, then the prosecution has not proven their case.
Navigating this tricky area of the law requires a skilled and experienced evaluation of the facts of each individual case. Contacting a lawyer who has experience in this area could be the difference between being the victim of your “friend’s” statements and skillfully defending yourself against the unjust allegations made by someone who is hoping to lessen their own guilt.