Accomplice Witness Law and Legal Definition

An accomplice witness is a person who is a participant in the alleged crime either before, during, or after its commission, and must be subject to prosecution for the offense committed. A person is an accomplice witness if s/he can be prosecuted for the same offense with which the accused is charged. Generally, one who cannot be prosecuted for the same offense for which the accused is being tried is not an accomplice witness. A person will not be considered an accomplice witness simply because the witness knew of the offense and concealed it or did not report it. To decide if a person was an accomplice, the court looks to the events before, during, and after the crime, including actions that show an understanding and common design to do a certain act.

In order to sustain a conviction on the basis of accomplice witness testimony, it is incumbent upon the state to corroborate the witness' testimony by other evidence tending to connect the accused with the offense committed and the corroboration is not sufficient if it merely shows the commission of the offense. It is not necessary, however, that the corroboration directly links the accused to the crime or be sufficient in itself to establish guilt; the corroboration need only tend to connect the accused to the crime committed. Merely proving the commission of the offense is insufficient for corroboration purposes. Furthermore, the testimony of one accomplice witness may not be used to corroborate that of another accomplice witness. “An accomplice witness has been described as a discredited witness. It has been said that the testimony of an accomplice witness must be viewed with caution and carefully scrutinized not only because of any interest such witness might have, but because his or her testimony is evidence from a corrupt source. “[Fernandez v. State, 989 S.W.2d 781 (Tex. App. 1998) ].