Bien v. Texas (original by judge newell)Annotate this Case
Appellant Michael Bien hired an undercover officer to kill his ex-wife’s brother. Based on his efforts, Appellant was charged with and convicted of two crimes: attempted capital murder and criminal solicitation of capital murder. The court of appeals found that Appellant’s convictions on both charges violated the Double Jeopardy Clause's prohibition against multiple punishments for the “same offense.” The court, deeming criminal solicitation the “most serious” offense, upheld that conviction and vacated the conviction for attempted capital murder. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the court of appeals that conviction for these two offenses violated double jeopardy, but disagreed with the court of appeals that these offenses each required proof of a different element. Applying the cognate-pleadings test, the Court determined the elements of the offense of attempted capital murder were functionally equivalent to the elements of solicitation of capital murder. The Court affirmed the court of appeals, agreeing that criminal solicitation was the most serious offense.