VAUGHAN - 1*805 737 S.W.2d 805 Court of Criminal Appeals of...

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1*805 737 S.W.2d 805 Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, En Banc. VAUGHAN AND SONS, INC., Appellant, v. The STATE of Texas, Appellee. No. 339-83. Sept. 16, 1987. Corporate defendant was convicted in the Criminal Court, Harris County, Neel Richardson, J., of criminally negligent homicide, and it appealed. The Court of Appeals, 649 S.W.2d 677, reversed, and State petitioned for discretionary review. The Court of Criminal Appeals, Onion, P.J., held that crime of criminally negligent homicide can be committed by a corporation. Reversed and remanded. Clinton, J., filed concurring opinion. Teague, J., filed dissenting opinion. Robert C. Bennett, Houston, for appellant. John B. Holmes, Jr., Dist. Atty., Ray Elvin Speece, Asst. Dist. Atty., Houston, Robert Huttash, State's Atty., Austin, for the State. Before the court en banc. OPINION ON STATE'S PETITION FOR DISCRETIONARY REVIEW ONION, Presiding Judge. Appellant, Vaughan and Sons, Inc., a Texas corporation, was convicted by a jury of criminally negligent homicide. V.T.C.A., Penal Code, s 19.07. The information alleged that appellant, acting through two of its agents, caused the death of two individuals in a motor vehicle collision. See V.T.C.A., Penal Code, s 7.22(a)(1). Punishment was assessed by the trial court at a fine of $5,000.00. See V.T.C.A., Penal Code, s 12.51. On appeal the appellant contended, inter alia, that the "penal code provisions for prosecution of corporations and other artificial legal entities do not extend to any type of criminal
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homicide, therefore the trial court erred in failing to grant appellant's motion to set aside the information." The Court of Appeals agreed and reversed the conviction. Vaughan and Sons, Inc. v. State, 649 S.W.2d 677 (Tex.App.-- Texarkana 1983). The Court of Appeals wrote in part: "A superficial reading of the negligent homicide statute construed with the Penal Code definition of 'person' [s 1.07(27) ] indicates that a corporation could indeed be found guilty of the crime charged. But the actual question before this court is whether a legislative intent plainly appears which includes corporations within the criminal field of negligent homicide by use of the term 'person.' " After reviewing other statutes, etc., the Court of Appeals concluded: "Therefore, without a stronger, clearer indication from the legislature that the policy for holding corporations criminally responsible for homicide has changed, we decline to so hold. We should make haste slowly when it is in the direction of holding either an individual or a corporation criminally liable for a crime, especially one so serious as homicide, when it is committed by someone other than the person charged." *806 Thus, the Court of Appeals ruled that even though the statutes so state, the Legislature could not have intended to include corporations within the class of culpable parties because corporations are unable to formulate "intent" in their "artificial and soulless" form. 649 S.W.2d at 678. We granted the State's petition for discretionary review to
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VAUGHAN - 1*805 737 S.W.2d 805 Court of Criminal Appeals of...

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