Criminal Defense for Texas Murder Cases
In December 2015, Disaster Center compiled a report using data from FBI and other law enforcement agencies across United States. It was found out that Texas alone reported 1,316 murders, a 7.3% spike from the previous year’s 11,123 cases. These incidences, however, remained steady at 13,304 cases in 2016.
1/3rd of Texas Murders Are of African Decent
The worst affected racial group by homicide was African Americans, accounting for over a third of reported cases. Houston and Dallas were the cities most hit by the homicide wave followed by Fort Worth. San Antonio saw the fastest rise in murder cases. 67% of the murders were committed using guns while Knives and Cutting objects were weapons of choice in the 15% of total cases.
Texas Laws on Murder
Murder is knowingly doing an act that leads to loss of life of another person or causing the death of the person while attempting an act that was intended to inflict serious harm to the individual.
In other states and jurisdictions, intentional murder that attracts capital punishment is defined as First Degree Murder. In Texas, this form of murder is identified as Capital Murder. The defendant should meet the following requirements to be considered competent enough to stand conviction;
The defendant should have knowingly or directly caused the death of the person in question.
He/she should have forethought to injure and perpetrate an act considered to be life threatening and the action was the eventual cause of the individual’s death.
He/she should have tried to execute a felony (Besides the manslaughter) and in executing the felony, did an act that led to the killing of the individual in the question.
One of the following should be met for the offense to be considered as a Capital Murder and not merely Murder.
- If the killed individual was a police officer or fireman on duty when the offense took place.
- If the defendant hired or was hired by a third party to commit murder.
- If murder was committed while the defendant was trying to escape from police custody or prison.
- In case the defendant killed the victim and another one person or more.
- If the defendant killed a child not older than six years.
- If the defendant retaliates by killing a person related to or in connection to a member of the judicial team.
Capital murder attracts a life sentence in prison without parole under Texan federal law. In case of murder resulting to first degree felony, a prison sentence of over 5 years and less than 99 years is recommended with a fine not more than $10,000.
Manslaughter is a second degree felony under Texan federal law. It refers to carelessly causing the death of another person. It brings between 2 and 20 years imprisonment with it.
Criminally negligent murder results when an individual causes the death of another person by disregarding standard operating procedures or code for a sane person in a given environment. The punishment involves a sentence between 180 days to2 years in prison.
The homicide section on Bennett & Bennett’s website is very thorough when it comes to explaining the various caveats for the different types of murder offenses.
Criminal defense refers arguments and strategies the defendant employs to counter the accuracy of evidence presented by the prosecution.
Due to complex Texas laws concerning murder and capital murder offenses, the defendant requires a capital murder attorney. There are, however, two choices for the defendant in establishing a defense. The defender can simply insist that the murder was justified or declare his/her innocence. The defendant can also argue the murder took place while he/she was acting on self defiance. Sufficient evidence must however, be produced to support the claim.
The prosecutor’s job in the murder case is to prove the suspect’s guilt and prescribe the harshest punishment possible. The defendant will be considered innocent until the prosecutor clears the burden of proof. The prosecution panel must therefore prove murder was premeditated, deliberate and willfully committed by the defendant.
When can a defiant challenge presented witness
- Accidental Murder- The killing took place while performing a lawful activity.
- Insanity- If a psychiatric report proves the defendant has mental instability.
- Exercise of duty- Incase the defendant was a law enforcement officer and carried the killing under the law.
- Self Defense- Incase the defendant’s own life was under threat necessitating protection.
- Mistaken Identity- If the defendant is being wrongfully indicted as the main suspect.