Criminal Homicide Defense
Facing charges of murder or manslaughter can be a terrifying experience. If you have been accused of homicide, you deserve to have an experienced legal defense team fighting for your future.
At Barbieri Law Firm, we are committed to proving your innocence, and we have decades of experience helping clients reach the best possible outcome when charged with serious criminal offenses such as homicide. During this challenging ordeal, we will be by your side every step of the way with advice and advocacy you can trust.
Texas Law Defines Four Types of Homicide
Under Texas criminal statutes, an individual can be charged with one of four types of homicide. Each crime will have essential elements that the prosecution must prove, so defense will often focus on showing that one of these elements is lacking in the case.
Types of criminal homicide defined in the Texas penal code include:
- Capital murder
- Criminally negligent homicide
The penalties have a tremendous range of severity, so when your criminal defense team can work to establish that the conditions justify a reduction in the charges, that can make all the difference in the outcome. While capital murder is a capital offense, for example, criminally negligent homicide is a state jail offense punishable by no more than two years of imprisonment.
Manslaughter in Texas
Texas statutes define manslaughter differently than in some other jurisdictions. Section 19.04 of the Texas Penal Code specifies that an individual can be convicted of manslaughter if they “recklessly” cause the death of another person. That seemingly simple definition leaves considerable room for argument in defense. The issue often centers on whether conduct in a case was reckless or merely negligent.
What does it mean to act recklessly? The term is generally defined to specify that a person acts recklessly when they know that their action (or failure to act) can lead to a certain result but they continue with it regardless of the risk. If someone causes a death while acting with criminal negligence rather than recklessness, then the homicide should be considered the lesser offense of criminally negligent homicide.
Manslaughter is usually penalized as a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The Texas Penal Code also includes a specific manslaughter offense, intoxication manslaughter, which is also a second-degree felony. This offense occurs when someone accidentally causes the death of another person while operating a vehicle or amusement ride in a state of intoxication.
When Homicide is Treated as Murder
The classic definition of murder requires an individual to be acting with “malice aforethought” to plan and execute the death of another person. Under modern Texas law, an individual can be found guilty of murder even in situations where they had no plan or intent to kill. Under Section 19.02 of the Texas Penal Code, murder can be committed through any of the following actions:
- Intentionally causing someone’s death
- Knowingly causing someone’s death
- Intending to seriously injure someone and committing a “clearly dangerous” act that leads to an individual’s death
- Committing or trying to commit a felony and causing the death of another person during the act or while fleeing due to conduct that was “clearly dangerous”
- Manufacturing or delivering certain types of controlled substances that lead to someone’s death
In most cases, murder under these circumstances is penalized as a first-degree felony. The penalties for this type of offense can include life imprisonment. However, the severity of the crime may be reduced to a second-degree felony if the person convicted can prove that they acted in a “sudden passion.”
A murder offense can be aggravated by a variety of circumstances that cause the crime to be treated as Capital Murder, which is punishable by a life sentence without the possibility of parole, or at the prosecutor’s discretion, the death penalty.
Factors that can aggravate a murder include:
- Killing a police officer or firefighter in the line of duty
- Murder committed intentionally while committing another serious felony
- Murder for hire
- Murder of a prison employee or while attempting escape
- Murder of more than one person
- Murder of a child or young teen
- Murder of a judge in retaliation
The statute reiterates that guilt must be established beyond a reasonable doubt, and our defense team knows how to persuasively establish that doubt.
Trust Barbieri Law Firm to Fight for Your Future
No one needs to tell you what’s at stake if you are facing charges of murder or manslaughter. You need to act to secure representation by an attorney with the experience and dedication to fight for your life. Every moment you wait can allow valuable evidence to disappear, so delays can be very costly.
Have you been arrested for a homicide? Call Barbieri Law Firm today at 972-424-1902 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our Plano murder and manslaughter attorneys and get started on the strongest possible defense. We will never stop trying to save your life.