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Homicide Lawyer in New Braunfels, Texas, Representing Clients Charged With Murder

Texas ranks second in the nation in terms of number of homicides. The FBI reports there were 2,993 homicides in the Lone Star State, making the homicide rate in the state as high as 10.3 per 100,000 people. Being charged with homicide is one of the most severe offenses you may face in Texas, as certain crimes may result in life in prison or even the death sentence. Learn how homicide cases are prosecuted in Texas and see how a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you defend against a homicide charge.

What Types of Crimes Are Considered Homicide in Texas?

Homicide is a term used to describe the killing of one person by another, regardless of cause or intent. Several crimes are classified as homicide. More specifically, Texas lists four offenses that can be considered homicide: murder, capital murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.

A murder happens when a person kills another person intentionally or knowingly or engages in dangerous behaviors and actions that are dangerous to human life and result in the death of another person. In other words, you can be dealing with a murder charge if you killed someone on purpose or did not intend to kill, but your actions were so reckless and dangerous that you ended up killing someone.

Capital murder happens when a person kills a law enforcement officer on duty or a child under the age of 10. You may also be charged with capital murder if you kill someone in the process of committing or attempting to commit another felony, such as kidnapping, robbery, arson, or aggravated sexual assault. Capital murder is one of the most publicized types of homicide because it can lead to the death penalty in Texas.

Manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide happen when a person is killed by another person who did not necessarily have the intention to kill. Both offenses involve deaths caused by reckless behavior. While murder and capital murder are definitely the most severe types of homicide in Texas, being charged with manslaughter or even criminally negligent homicide are also really serious matters that could still result in harsh penalties and prison time.

Are There Different Degrees of Murder in Texas?

Several states have different degrees of murder, such as third, second, and first degree, each with its own set of penalties. First-degree murder is the most severe offense, followed by second and third-degree. However, the Texas Penal Code classifies homicides and murders a bit differently.

Like many other states, Texas does not have third-degree murder. Second-degree murder is charged as murder in Texas, which is typically a first-degree felony. Some murder cases may be dropped to a second-degree felony if the defendant can prove that the murder occurred due to a “sudden heat of passion.” Finally, first-degree murder is charged as capital murder in Texas and can result in life in prison or even the death penalty.

Can Self-Defense Be a Valid Defense Strategy Against Murder Charges?

Self-defense is just one of a few different possible defenses against murder charges. Claiming the defendant killed another person because they feared for their life is a common defense strategy in family violence cases involving abusive relationships, but could potentially be used in other instances as long as the defendant did not instigate the situation that led them to fear for their own life. If you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you used lethal force because you believed your life was in danger, you may be able to justify your actions.

Other potential defense strategies can include mistaken identity (when the wrong person is charged with murder), lack of intent (when the defendant did not intend to kill someone and the death was accidental), accident or misfortune (when the victim dies while performing a lawful activity and the accident was not the result of another individual’s deliberate or negligent actions), and insanity (when the defendant lacks the capability to understand what they are doing). It is worth noting that pleading insanity often means the defendant may be sent for treatment at a maximum security facility.

What Can an Attorney Do to Help Me if I Am Facing Homicide Charges?

It is imperative to retain strong legal representation if you are facing charges of murder or any other type of homicide. Your criminal defense lawyer can conduct their own investigation of your case, examine the evidence the prosecution is presenting against you, and question the charges brought by the state.

Besides devising an appropriate defense strategy, as discussed above, your attorney can also work to get your charges dropped or reduced. For example, your homicide defense lawyer may question the legality of the evidence presented against you and weaken the prosecution’s case by proving that the evidence is inadmissible because it was a result of an illegal search. They can also negotiate a more lenient sentence and provide invaluable advice if you are offered a plea bargain deal. In some cases, accepting a plea deal may be the best choice for your homicide case, but in other situations, your attorney may advise you to take your case to trial if you have any chance of securing a better outcome in that manner. Without firm legal representation, you may end up accepting an unfair plea deal or receive an excessively harsh penalty that will put your life on hold for years or even decades.

Seymour & Vaughn represents clients facing homicide charges in New Braunfels, Texas, and surrounding areas. Our legal team is dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights and fighting to beat your charges. Contact our law firm at 830-282-8751 to learn more and discuss your case.