West Texas Homicide Criminal Defense Lawyer

Homicide is a very serious criminal offense that can result in substantial penalties. Texas takes legal matters related to homicide very seriously because the death of a person is involved.

There are four types of criminal charges for homicide in Texas:

  • Murder;

  • Capital Murder;

  • Manslaughter; and

  • Criminally Negligent Homicide.

While each of these homicide offenses carries a different penalty, they all can have very serious repercussions. If you have been arrested for homicide in Lubbock County or West Texas, you need to have a criminal defense attorney with years of experience in criminal law protecting your rights, your freedom, and, for capital murder cases, your life. Call me today to schedule a free initial consultation. During this free consultation, I will evaluate your case and explain how I help my clients through situations like yours.

Required Mental States for Criminal Homicide

Under Texas law, a person commits the crime of homicide if they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence causes the death of an individual. The terms “intentionally”, “knowingly”, “recklessly”, and “with criminal negligence” refer to your mental state at the time of committing the offense.

Intentionally

A person acts intentionally when it is their conscious objective or desire to engage in certain conduct or cause a certain result.

Knowingly

A person acts knowingly when they are aware of the nature of their conduct or are aware that their conduct is reasonably certain to cause a certain result.

Recklessly

A person acts recklessly when they are aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a certain result will occur. For a risk to be considered “substantial and unjustifiable”, it must constitute a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would use under the circumstances.

With Criminal Negligence

A person acts with criminal negligence when they should be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk, as defined above, that a certain result will occur.

Relevant Statutes:

Texas Penal Code § 19.01 — Types of Criminal Homicide

Texas Penal Code § 6.03 — Definitions of Culpable Mental States


Murder

You can be charged with murder in Texas if you do any of the following:

  • Intentionally or knowingly cause a death;

  • Intend to commit aggravated assault by causing serious bodily injury but cause a death instead;  or

  • Cause a death while committing or attempting to commit a felony or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt.

Murder is generally a first degree felony. However, at the punishment stage of a trial, if you can adequately prove that you were acting under the immediate influence of a sudden passion that arose from a provocation at the time of the murder, the offense is a second degree felony. To have the charge reduced to a second degree felony, you will have to prove that the action that provoked you would “commonly produce a degree of anger, rage, resentment, or terror in a person of ordinary temper, sufficient to render the mind incapable of cool reflection.”

Relevant Statute:

Texas Penal Code § 19.02 — Murder


Capital Murder

Capital murder is the most serious criminal offense in Texas and the only offense that can be punished with the death penalty. Murder can be charged as a capital felony if certain aggravating factors exist when the offense is committed.

While each case is different, some common aggravating circumstances include cases where:

  • The victim was a peace officer or fireman who was acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty;

  • The person intentionally murdered in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or certain types of terroristic threat;

  • The person murdered for hire;

  • The person hired another to murder for hire;

  • The person murdered more than one person during the same criminal transaction or according to the same scheme or course of conduct; or

  • The victim was a child under 15 years of age.

The jury must find beyond a reasonable doubt that the aggravating circumstance was present to convict the defendant of capital murder. If there is reasonable doubt as to the aggravating factor, the jury can still find the defendant guilty of murder or any other lesser included offense.

Relevant Statute:

Texas Penal Code § 19.03 — Capital Murder


Manslaughter

You can be charged with manslaughter if you recklessly cause the death of an individual. This means that you did not intend to kill anyone, but you consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that your behavior could kill someone. Manslaughter is a second degree felony.

Relevant Statute:

Texas Penal Code § 19.04 — Manslaughter


Criminally Negligent Homicide

Finally, you can be arrested for criminally negligent homicide if you cause the death of an individual through criminal negligence. This means you should have been aware that your behavior created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of killing someone, regardless of whether you actually were aware of that fact.

Relevant Statute:

Texas Penal Code § 19.05 — Criminally Negligent Homicide