It goes without saying that you are facing extremely serious allegations the moment a detective or police officer starts asking questions regarding a murder. If you are accused and charged with Murder or Manslaughter, prosecutors will stop at nothing to prove your guilt.
The criminal defense attorneys at Austin Hagee Law Firm understand that things are rarely black-and-white – especially when it comes to serious criminal charges like Murder or Manslaughter. No matter what, you must fight the charges.
You should not choose just anyone, however. You need the help of a defense lawyer who not only intimately understands the law but has proven this by helping clients win cases like yours on a regular basis.
Breaking down murder charges in Texas
In Texas, as in many other states across the country, distinctions are made between different types of homicide charges.
Any act that results in the loss of another person’s life is tragic and liable to be punished, but under Texas state law there are specific factors that must accompany a homicide to make it rise to the crime of murder, or even make it a criminal act at all.
The law deals with these various situations in entirely different ways. This means that legal proceedings—from proving guilt to doling out consequences—will vary depending on which types of charges you are facing.
In Texas, there are four general types of criminal homicide.
Unlike many other states, Texas does not use the term “first-degree murder.” Instead, what is known as “first-degree” murder in other parts of the country is referred to as “capital murder” in Texas. A person can be charged with capital murder if the crime is particularly severe.
For instance, if the victim is under 6 years old or if the crime is carried out during the course of committing another serious crime. If an individual is convicted of capital murder, he or she may be facing life imprisonment without parole – or even the death penalty.
Typically, any act of intentionally and knowingly taking the life of another person can be considered murder. Murder charges usually come with allegations of premeditation, ill intention, and a degree of planning.
In Texas, murder is considered one of the most heinous crimes that a person can commit, and in the worst-case scenario, an individual accused of murder may find him or herself facing a lifetime in jail.
Unlike capital murder or murder charges, which are capital and first-degree felonies, manslaughter is considered a second-degree felony in the state of Texas. Manslaughter typically implies some level of lessened blame or culpability.
In manslaughter cases, unlike murder cases, there is generally no accusation of premeditation or planning on the part of the accused individual. Instead, he or she will often be accused of acting recklessly or failing to consider risks.
Unlike most other states, Texas does not differentiate between what other states refer to as “voluntary manslaughter” and “involuntary manslaughter.” Instead, the two are grouped together, with different consequences depending on the specific circumstances of each case.
Manslaughter charges generally carry less severe penalties than murder charges, such as potential jail time of anywhere from 2 to 20 years.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
Criminally negligent homicide refers to any case in which the defendant can be accused of causing the death of another person by ignoring or failing to take standard precautions.
Criminally negligent homicide is considered a state jail felony, meaning that individuals found guilty of these charges could be facing anywhere from 180 days to 2 years in state prison.
Although there is such a range of criminal homicide charges that an individual can be charged with, each of them comes with its own set of risks, and none of them should ever be taken lightly.
Where homicide is concerned, prosecutors are serious about keeping Texas safe and putting criminals behind bars. You should be just as serious in defending yourself and winning your case.
This means that if you are facing murder charges, you cannot risk equipping yourself with anything but the very best criminal attorney available.
As their long record of success can attest to, the legal team at Austin Hagee Law Firm have the experience and skills necessary to help you fight any homicide charge.
Typical Defenses in a Homicide Case in Texas
Although homicide charges are certainly some of the most serious that you can face, a knowledgeable defense attorney knows that there are always outside factors and extenuating circumstances to consider.
Possible defenses for murder or manslaughter charges include:
Because murder and manslaughter charges generally include some degree of pre-meditation or at least conscious awareness of the situation, a person may not be found guilty if he or she is incapable of adequately processing that situation and knowing the difference between right and wrong.
If the defendant was mentally impaired at the time of a murder, the penalties for a murder charge may be lessened significantly – or even dropped completely.
Both judges and juries understand that everybody has the right to defend themselves in any extreme situation. This is especially true in states with a vibrant self-defense culture like Texas.
This means that if a person fears for their life, they should certainly be able to act in a reasonable manner to protect themselves. If an act of self-defense results in a homicide, the defendant may be found not guilty.
“Heat of Passion” or Sudden Passion
A “heat of passion” defense usually revolves around the argument that the homicide was a result of an extremely emotional situation, such as extreme rage or fear. In moments like these, a person can be so overcome by these emotions that he or she is actually incapable of acting rationally and thus should not be punished as severely.
In Texas, if a defendant proves at sentencing that he acted under sudden passion from an adequate cause, his sentence can be reduced from possible lifetime in prison to that of a second-degree felony, 2-20 years.
These are only some of the more common defenses often argued in criminal homicide cases. Certainly, not all of these defenses can be used in every murder or manslaughter case, but an experienced criminal lawyer will be able to analyze each unique case to determine the best possible defense strategy available to you.
Facing Murder or Manslaughter Charges?
Murder charges can ruin a person’s life—they can take years or decades away from you, cost you tens of thousands of dollars, and ruin the lives of the family members who rely on you.
Do not let your good name be dragged through the mud and your family torn apart. Defend yourself, your name, and your family by contacting an experienced murder defense attorney as soon as possible.
The criminal defense lawyers at Austin Hagee Law Firm are not only well-versed in Texas homicide laws.
But they also believe in you and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that judges and juries understand your case fully, rather than just seeing the twisted image that the prosecution will try to present.
Do not delay. Contact the criminal lawyers at Austin Hagee Law Firm to start building your defense today. Call 210-500-3700.