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What is the Law of Parties?

The Law of Parties can be found in the penal code under 7.01 and 7.02.  In simple terms, it is a method of conviction that allows a person to be responsible for and convicted based on the actions of another before, during, or after the fact. It is used in many types of cases, but the most concerning is its use in murder charges. The death penalty was abolished when this law was created in the early 1970s. In 1976, the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty, creating the possibility that a person convicted of murder under the Law of Parties could be executed. In the US, there have been 11 people executed who did not kill another. In every state where this occurred outside of Texas. it only happened once. Texas has executed 6 people who have not killed and who were convicted under the Law of Parties. Today, at least 6 more people are on death row under the Law of Parties. Each day these people live in fear, and their families suffer with them. This must STOP. This is not the way Texas wishes to be #1.

Those on death row are not the only ones affected by the Law of Parties. From the stories we have received so far, we find convictions that include murder, robbery, and kidnapping. In each story, a common theme is that the principal party or the primary defendant regularly receives a lesser sentence than those convicted as co-defendants. The reason is plea deals. Those truly guilty take a plea deal, and those who are innocent of the charge, exercise their constitutional rights to a trial by their peers and are punitively punished for defending their innocence. This must STOP as well! 

To bring about change we will need to raise an army of loud voices. Join us as we work to educate the public, our lawmakers, and other affected families about this law. We MUST all step together to end this injustice and create a remedy for those who have already been unconstitutionally convicted. Click on the photo to the right to read the stories of those convicted, and then share them with your friends and families. Be part of positive change.

What can you do?

Take action now!


Upon research, TPCA has realized that there is little data to indicate the extent of the use of the Law of Parties. We hope to use the survey below to begin quantifying this reach and to help us tell the stories of those unjustly convicted and sentenced. Your participation is the only avenue we have, at this time, to begin to understand and communicate what we believe may be happening. Please click the button below to fill out our survey. Thank you for helping us move this conversation forward.



For more information about the Law of Parties, please read the excellent report below.


For Our Lawmakers

"I am now 42 years old and have spent more than half my life inside prison, longer than I was alive and free on the outside. I call this half-life a point of no return that does things to a man. Other things like this that make me reflect back on my life are growing a beard for the first time only to find that there's some grey in it. I didn't have anything to shave when I first came down.  I am guilty of burglary, not murder."
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As mentioned above, there is little data on how far-reaching the use of the Law of Parties is. TPCA believes there needs to be a database that includes tracking for the Law of Parties. What isn't measured can be abused. Many of those sentenced under the Law of Parties are innocent. Some, however, were involved in a crime. Just not the crime they were sentenced for. TPCA would like legislators to re define and limit how this method of conviction can be used. 
Legislators, your constituents need you to take a stand for justice they can be proud of.  
The way Law of Parties is currently being used is NOT justice. Murder is wrong, both legally and morally whether it is perpetrated by the state or a citizen of the state, but executing those who have not taken a life is especially egregious. Abolish the Felony Murder rule and confine the use of Law of parties to methods that promote true justice. 

"I lost my father to cancer while on the inside. Christmas was a big deal in my family. Every year my Mother and us would put up the big artificial tree she was so proud of with its hundreds of lites and ornaments. We'd always leave it up well after Christmas into the New Year. At the time of my arrest, it was up. For 25 years, my mother has kept that tree up in her home, in our home, in hopes of me coming home. She still puts gifts under it for me. She tells me we will take it down together when I come home. Please let me return home to help her with this. This is the type of home I will be returning to. I can count on one hand the number of times my mother hasn't visited in 25 years. She comes to see me every weekend without fail. I am guilty of burglary, not murder."

Jessica Dickerson is the director of the StopLoP campaign. Her first introduction to the Law of Parties was due to the conviction of a long-time family friend, and that story, plus the stories of others brought her to action. The injustice of this law and its impact on Texas citizens and their families is shocking. Texans believe in the law. Jessica believes in the law, but that law must be fair and just. The Law of Parties is anything but that. Some are caught up in the commission of another crime, and others weren't even there and were not involved in planning a crime, but never the less were charged as if they were the primary person. Under the Law of Parties, the burden of proof for the same conviction and sentencing only requires that a prosecutor convince the jury that someone should have known what was going to happen. What happened to means, motive, and opportunity? What happened to proof? These questions are the questions that Jessica plans to ask the public and our lawmakers. Together positive change and true justice will be found, strengthening the Texas justice system, and righting the wrong that this law has been allowed to create.
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