Texas Law Requires Culpability


Under Texas Law a person does  not commit an offense unless they do so intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence. The definition of the particular offense will state which mental state is required.

Culpable mental states are classified according to relative degrees, from highest to lowest, as follows:

(1)  intentional;

(2)  knowing;

(3)  reckless;

(4)  criminal negligence.

The definitions of the mental states are codified in Texas Penal Code Section 6.03:

a)  A person acts intentionally, or with intent, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to a result of his conduct when it is his conscious objective or desire to engage in the conduct or cause the result.

(b)  A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to the nature of his conduct or to circumstances surrounding his conduct when he is aware of the nature of his conduct or that the circumstances exist.  A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to a result of his conduct when he is aware that his conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result.

(c)  A person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.  The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.

(d)  A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.  The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.

In trial the State must prove all of the elements of the crime, including the culpable mental state. The jury may infer from the defendant’s acts and words as well as surr0unding circumstances whether the state proved the required mental state.

If you or someone you know is in need of an experienced trial attorney, call Houston Criminal Defense Attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

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