Posted on 3/13/17

Sidney is a successful jeweler. He owns a jewelry store in Westlake and services many of Dallas’s wealthy residents. Sidney has a reputation for selling only high-quality jewelry. Sidney sometimes travels with a bodyguard and is believed to be armed.

Two criminals, named Jake and Steve, decide to kill Sidney and his bodyguard so that he can no longer operate his business. Jake and Steve figure that Mike, Sidney’s only son, lacks the salesmanship to continue his father’s business. With Sidney out of the way, Jake and Steve figure that they can open their own jewelry store in the neighborhood because Sidney’s store will shut down.

After strategizing, Jake and Steve decide to execute their plan. They call Sidney and claim to be major diamond dealers from New York who want to meet with Sidney in a hotel lobby that is partially secluded. They plan on disguising themselves, asking other patrons to leave, and then shooting Sidney with a silencer.

To keep their cover, Jake and Steve create a website and Instagram page claiming that they are jewelers who sell high-end pieces in Manhattan’s diamond district. They also send a few samples to Sidney’s office to convince him of their worth. After reviewing their pieces and website, Sidney is convinced that these diamond dealers are legitimate. He then agrees to a meeting in the hotel lobby to discuss a possible deal.  

On the appointed day, Sidney strolls into the hotel lobby. To Jake and Steve’s glee, Sidney is alone, without his bodyguard. Jake and Steve arrived some time before, wearing disguises. Jake quickly asks the few patrons in that part of the lobby to leave. The patrons comply. In the meantime, Steve approaches Sidney and introduces himself as the New York diamond dealer. After exchanging pleasantries, they head to a partially secluded part of the lobby. There, Sidney meets a disguised Jake. They lead Sidney to the corner and offer to buy drinks. Immediately, Jake pulls out his gun and fires three shots at Sidney. Two shots hit Sidney’s chest while the third shot hits Sidney’s attaché case. The bullet damages thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry inside the case. Jake and Steve run. Sidney, in the meantime, gets up and calls the police. Sidney’s bullet proof vest saves him.

The police arrest Jake and Steve and charge them with attempted murder and vandalism. Regarding the vandalism charge, Jake and Steve claim that they lacked the mens rea for property crimes.

Legal Analysis

To be criminally liable for a crime under Texas Penal Code, one must have both the mens rea, or criminal mind, and the actus reus, or the criminal act. Thus, under most circumstances, one must intend to commit a crime to be liable for that crime.

In addition, there must be a nexus between the mens rea and actus reus. The nexus need not be a 100% correlation; rather, what occurs need not be too far removed from original criminal intent.

In this instance, Jake and Steve intended to kill Sidney, not rob him. They did not believe that Sidney possessed jewelry on his person. Because there is no nexus between the mens rea and the actus reus, Jake and Steve will not be guilty of vandalism. They will face attempted murder charges.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact the law firm of Christopher Abel, an experienced criminal defense attorney.

(image courtesy of Anne Edgar)

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