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General Information
Texas has more people on death row than most nations. The United States is one of only a few countries that still has a death penalty. Some states in the United States have banned the death penalty. Texas has more people on death row than any other state. To be sent to Texas death row, an individual must be found guilty of the crime of "capital murder." In order for a murder to be a "capital murder," it must meet one of the circumstances required by law:
* Murder of an on-duty public safety officer or firefighter with knowledge of the public servant's job
* Intentional murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit a felony offense (such as burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat)
* Murder for remuneration or for promise of remuneration (both the person who does the actual murder and the person who hired them can be charged with capital murder)
* Murder while escaping or attempting to escape a penal institution
* Murder while incarcerated with one of the following three qualifiers:
1. While incarcerated for capital murder, the victim is an employee of the institution or the murder must be done "with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination,"
2. While incarcerated for either capital murder or murder, or
3. While serving either a life sentence or a 99-year sentence under specified Penal Code sections not involving capital murder or murder.
* Multiple murders (defined as two or more murders during the same "criminal act," which can involve a series of events not taking place at the same time)
* Murder of an individual under six years of age
* Murder of a person in retaliation for, or on account of, the service or status of the other person as a judge or justice of any court

Law of Parties
A person can be on death row having never killed anyone. This is due to a law in the Texas Penal Code called the "law of parties."
A person can be convicted of any felony, including capital murder, "as a party" to the offense. "As a party" means that the person did not personally commit the elements of the crime, but is otherwise responsible for the conduct of the actual perpetrator as defined by law; which includes:
* soliciting for the act,
* encouraging its commission,
* aiding the commission of the offense,
* participating in a conspiracy to commit any felony where one of the conspirators commits the crime of capital murder. This has been used to sentence a man to death row who drove the car in which the murderer rode, also to sentence a man not present at the time of the murder but who had taken part in the planning, a man who gave guns to men who later killed someone using the guns even though the man who gave them the guns did not know their planned use of the weapons. The felony involved does not have to be capital murder; if a person is proven to be a party to a felony offense and a murder is committed, the person can be charged with and convicted of capital murder.

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