The Texas Prosecutor, May-June 2018

Transferred intent and the ­mistake-of-fact defense

In Rodriguez v. State, prosecutors asked the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) to overrule Thompson v. State, a case that gave a nearly universal right to a mistake-of-fact defense in any case that involved transferred intent.1 The CCA declined to overrule Thompson, but it did narrow its reach. More importantly, the Court clarified other issues about aggravated assault and the mistake-of-fact defense that will make future cases easier to understand.

Thompson v. State
In 2007, the CCA decided Thompson v. State, an injury to a child case.2 The defendant was an associate pastor at a church who worked with the children’s Bible-study program. When the Bible-study teacher reported that an 11-year-old boy was misbehaving, Thompson and his brother drove to the boy’s house, and Thompson beat the boy with a tree branch more than 100 times over an hour and a half