Facing a murder charge can be one of the most frightening experiences a person can endure, especially in Texas where laws regarding crime are stringent. Depending on the severity of the charges brought against you, you may be sentenced with a long or permanent prison term if convicted. You may even face the death penalty. The prospect of a ruined future or no future at all may make you feel hopeless and abandoned, but fighting is the only option you have. Just remember that you do not have to fight your legal battles alone. A qualified Austin murder defense attorney can be an invaluable partner in such a trying time.
The Austin criminal defense legal team at Peek Toland & Castañeda PLLC has provided representation to the criminally accused for many years. From our experience in the practice, we have gained a nuanced education of Texas criminal law and trial procedures. If you are seeking an attorney who can give you a comprehensive understanding of your situation and your rights, please call our office today at (512) 474-4445.
How is Murder Defined in Texas Law?
According to Chapter 19 of the Texas Penal Code, an individual is a murderer if he or she:
- Intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual;
- Intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that cause the death of an individual; or
- Commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.
In order for an individual to be found guilty of murder, the prosecution must prove that the defendant clearly intended to commit the murder or seriously hurt the victim, or, if intent was not involved, that he or she committed an act “clearly dangerous to human life” while being aware of the very fact.
Murder is considered one of the most serious crimes and is treated as a first degree felony. A conviction may result in a prison sentence of five to 99 years, or a life sentence.
What are the Different Types of Murder and What are Their Penalties?
There are four types of murder crimes under Texas law, each with their own circumstances, penalties, and degrees of severity. Capital murder is treated as the most serious murder crime, then there’s “regular” murder, then manslaughter, and then finally criminally negligent homicide.
- Capital Murder: Capital murder usually involves the murder of multiple persons or exceptional persons, such as a child or a police officer, or the simultaneous performance of another felony crime, such as kidnapping or robbery. A conviction may result in life imprisonment without parole or death.
- Murder: These are crimes in which the defendant allegedly killed a victim either intentionally, through causing intentional bodily harm, or committed the murder during a felony crime. However, the action did not have the extra qualifying factors found in capital murder.
- Manslaughter: An individual has committed manslaughter if he or she took someone’s life through sheer recklessness. He or she must also have been aware of the great risk of danger behind his or her action at the time, but made a conscious decision to perform it anyway. A conviction is classified as a second degree felony, which carries a penalty of two to 20 years behind bars.
- Criminally Negligent Homicide: An individual is guilty of this crime if he or she caused the death of another due to gross negligence. In other words, he or she must have deviated so far from the standard of care expected from all people that he or she created a circumstance of unnecessary risk. A conviction is considered a state jail felony, meaning a conviction can result in a jail sentence lasting no less than 180 days but no more than two years.
Helping You Avoid the Worst Outcome
The burden of proof lies on the prosecution. Do not give them anything that can later be used against you, including your own words. Speak with an attorney before you speak with anyone else, especially the police. Contact Peek Toland & Castañeda PLLC today, and we will treat your case with the gravity it warrants.