OPINION ON STATE'S PETITION FOR DISCRETIONARY REVIEW
The offense alleged in the indictment in this cause is aggravated assault—intentionally, knowingly and recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another by shooting him with a handgun. V.C.T.A. Penal Code, §§ 22.01(a)(1) and 22.02(a)(1) and (4). In an unpublished opinion the El Paso Court of Appeals found there was evidence to support a requested instruction on what appellant calls the "defensive issue of accident," but was transformed in the court below into a "defense of involuntary conduct;" the court held that refusal of such instruction was error and, accordingly, reversed the judgment of conviction for assault and remanded the cause. George v. State (Tex.
Sufficiency of evidence to support conviction for assault is not challenged; the material facts of the matter are not substantially disputed. We set them out practically as found by the court of appeals, supplementing its account with an exposition in greater detail when deemed helpful to an understanding of our resolution of the problem presented.
On the late afternoon of a March day, thirteen year old Leonard Martin was visiting younger brothers of appellant in the home of appellant and other members of his family. Appellant was then seventeen. All present were friends. Standing in front of a seated Martin, appellant demanded a dollar from him; when the latter verbally refused to produce it appellant drew a .22 caliber revolver from a pocket, thumbed its hammer partially back and, pointing it at Martin's face, told Martin to "give me the dollar;"
In his confession and testimony at trial appellant described in greater detail that after he asked Martin a second time for a dollar he cocked the hammer back short of its locked position; that he "stuck [the gun] up in [Martin's] face;" that Martin "turned his face away;" that then "the hammer slipped off my thumb" and the gun "went off." Appellant further told the jury that he did not know the gun would nor did he mean for it to go off "when he cocked the hammer back;" he denied ever pulling the trigger and stated that he did not intend to shoot Martin or harm him in any way—it was an accident.
The offense of assault is committed when one intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; the assault becomes aggravated when the conduct causes serious bodily injury or involves use of a deadly weapon. Sections 22.01(a)(1) and 22.02(a)(1) and (4). In the instant case the trial court fully charged the jury with respect to both offenses, and in a general verdict the jury found appellant guilty of assault. That is, that appellant "intentionally or knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to Leonard Martin by shooting him with a handgun." While we do not presume to say what culpable mental state the jury believed had been proved, the fact is that the theory of the case presented by the State was that appellant recklessly caused serious bodily injury.
In full Section 6.01(a) reads: "A person commits an offense only if he voluntarily engages in conduct, including an act, an omission, or possession."
In Williams v. State, 630 S.W.2d 640 (Tex.Cr.App.1982) this Court found that "[t]here is no law and defense of accident in the present penal code," but it further discerned that the Legislature had not jettisoned the notion.
However, the Court found that overruling an objection to the charge in that respect was not error since "there was no evidence that the appellant did not voluntarily engage in the conduct which injured the complainant; he merely said he did not intend the resulting injuries." Ibid.
By its ellipsis of the remaining underscored language of Section 6.01(a), obviously the Williams opinion focused on the meaning of "voluntarily" engaging in conduct rather than examining the meaning of "conduct" as used in the penal code. Thus, while instructive on the matter of "voluntariness," Williams alone will not solve our problem.
The metamorphosis of Section 6.01(a) is traced in the Practice Commentary following it, and the view of the writers is that the underscored phrase "appears to be a partial definition of `conduct'"—partial because there is a general definition of "conduct" in Section 1.07—and, therefore, redundant. According to § 1.07(a)(8), "`Conduct' means an act or omission and its accompanying mental state." And under § 1.07(a)(1), "`Act' means a bodily movement, whether voluntary or involuntary, and includes speech."
While the § 6.01(a) phrase may be somewhat redundant, it also may be in conflict with §§ 1.07(a)(1) and (8) insofar as one can read parts of those two general definitions to mean that "conduct" may consist of an involuntary act and its accompanying mental state. Nonetheless, we construe the provisions to mean that one voluntarily engages in conduct when the conduct includes, inter alia, a voluntary act and its accompanying mental state, if any. That such conduct also includes an involuntary act does not necessarily render engaging in that conduct involuntary.
Stiles v. State, 520 S.W.2d 894, 896 (Tex. Cr.App.1975).
While there was disagreement on the rationale in Dockery v. State, 542 S.W.2d 644, 647-655 (Tex.Cr.App.1976) (Opinion on Appellant's Motion for Rehearing), all agreed that the "intentional—unintentional" formulation of Stiles v. State, supra, is no longer valid. Similarly, the present penal code has changed the focus of reckless criminal assault from an act of violence with intent to injure to the result that bodily injury is recklessly inflicted. See Practice Commentary following § 22.02. An intent to injure is not required. Williams, supra, at 644.
In Dockery there was also disagreement over whether in a homicide case the present penal code requires the State to prove "both voluntary conduct and a culpable mental state," Dockery, supra, at 650, or just "a culpable mental state," id., at 654-655.
In the instant case the court of appeals found that the evidence raised what it characterized as appellant's "handling a weapon in a reckless manner so that it discharges involuntarily or by accident." But "handling" is surely a voluntary act and "reckless manner" is simply another way of saying one is acting "recklessly." Thus appellant is shown to have voluntarily engaged in conduct up to that very second when appellant would have it that "the hammer slipped off my thumb," and the handgun discharged a bullet onto the face of Martin. Under strikingly similar circumstances the Dockery court held that "[his] actions were sufficiently voluntary to establish the offense ...," 542 S.W.2d at 650.
Under the circumstances of this case, however, factually whether appellant's precise bodily movement that released the hammer of his handgun was voluntary or involuntary is of little moment. Where the issue is whether an accused recklessly caused bodily injury by shooting with a gun and the evidence shows that the accused voluntarily engaged in conduct that includes, inter alia, one or more voluntary acts leading to the actual shooting, we hold as a matter of law the fact that when such conduct also includes a bodily movement of the accused sufficient for the gun to discharge a bullet, without more—such as precipitation by another individual, as in Garcia and Simpkins, both supra—a jury need not be charged on the matter of whether the accused voluntarily engaged in the conduct with which he is charged. For that reason also the court was correct in refusing appellant's requested instruction.
The judgment of the El Paso Court of Appeals is reversed and the judgment of conviction entered by the trial court is affirmed.
ONION, P.J., and TEAGUE and MILLER, JJ., dissent.
In Garcia the offense charged was murder; this Court noted his testimony that as they were walking along together the deceased gave him a gun with its hammer "already pulled," and when he told deceased that he was going to throw the gun into a canal, the deceased suddenly grabbed Garcia's right elbow with one hand and the gun with his other hand in a move to take it away from Garcia, at which point the gun went off; such testimony was held sufficient to raise an issue of fact as to "the voluntariness of appellant's conduct," id., at 566. When Garcia is contrasted with Dockery (see note 7, ante and accompanying text), the perception of the court of appeals that such a rule is developing may be correct. However, it did not apply that rule in the instant case, though "the hammer slipped" and conduct of a third party is not implicated.