Murder vs. Manslaughter vs. Criminally Negligent Homicide [TX]

Types of Homicide in Texas

Homicide is the unlawful killing of a person. In Texas, there are four basic types of homicides: capital murder, murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. This article discusses the difference between murder manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in Texas, which differs primarily in the mental state required to establish each offense. They are also distinguished in their punishment ranges.

Types of Homicide in Texas
The difference between murder manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in Texas

Difference Between Homicides in Texas

Crime Definition Mental State Punishment Range
Murder A person commits an offense if they: 1) intentionally or knowingly cause the death of an individual, 2) intend to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual, or 3) commit or attempt to commit a felony other than manslaughter and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, they commit or attempt to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual. Intentional or knowing Felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for life or any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years, and a possible fine not to exceed $10,000.
Manslaughter A person commits an offense if they recklessly cause the death of an individual. Reckless Felony of the second degree, punishable by imprisonment for any term of not more than 20 years or less than 2 years, and a possible fine not to exceed $10,000.
Criminally Negligent Homicide A person commits an offense if they cause the death of an individual by criminal negligence. Criminal negligence State jail felony, punishable by confinement in a state jail for any term of not more than 2 years or less than 180 days, and a possible fine not to exceed $10,000.

What are the Mental States for Result-Oriented Crimes in Texas?

Mental State Definition
Intentional A person acts intentionally, or with intent, with respect to a result of their conduct when it is their conscious objective or desire to cause the result.
Knowing A person acts knowingly, or with knowledge, with respect to a result of their conduct when they are aware that their conduct is reasonably certain to cause the result.
Reckless A person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to the result of their conduct when they are aware of but consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.
Criminal Negligence A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to the result of their conduct when they ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.

What is Capital Murder in Texas?

Capital Murder is the only offense for which the death penalty applies in Texas. Capital murder is murder which at least one special characteristic that makes a person eligible for the death penalty, such as the victim being a child, a police officer, or the killing occurred while committing certain other criminal offenses.

Learn more about capital murder in Texas.

What is Murder in Texas?

Murder in Texas is the unlawful intentional or knowing killing of another person. This is a first degree felony. The punishment is 5-99 years in prison or life. A jury cannot give a defendant found guilty of murder probation. A jury might find that a person who has been found guilty of murder was acting out of sudden passion. A sudden passion murder is still murder (so not probation-eligible) but the punishment range is reduced to 2-20 years.

Learn more about murder in Texas.

What is Felony Murder in Texas?

Murder also includes “felony murder.” This means that in the course of committing a felony if a person commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes a death, that is also considered murder.

Learn more about felony murder in Texas.

What is Manslaughter in Texas?

Manslaughter is the unlawful and reckless killing of a person. The main difference between manslaughter and murder is the mental state – that is, did the defendant act intentionally or was the defendant merely reckless? For example, if a person is driving recklessly and causes a car accident that results in the death of another person, they could be charged with manslaughter.

You could argue that we have involuntary intoxication and voluntary manslaughter in Texas – but the only real distinction we have is that intoxication manslaughter is a different offense than normal manslaughter in Texas.

What is Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas?

Intoxication manslaughter is a specific type of manslaughter offense that occurs when a person operates a vehicle, boat, or aircraft while intoxicated and causes the death of another person as a result. In Texas, a person can be charged with intoxication manslaughter if they were driving while intoxicated and their actions caused the death of another person.

For example, if a person gets behind the wheel of a car after drinking alcohol, was intoxicated, and causes a car accident that results in the death of another person, they could be charged with intoxication manslaughter.

The punishment for manslaughter in Texas is 2-20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Probation is a possibility for manslaughter in Texas.

Learn more about intoxication manslaughter in Texas.

What is the difference between murder and manslaughter in Texas?

In Texas, the difference between murder and manslaughter lies in the intent of the person committing the crime. Murder is the intentional or knowing killing of another person, while manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person. This means that, in the case of murder, the perpetrator had the intent to cause the death of the victim, while in the case of manslaughter, the perpetrator did not intend to kill the victim but their actions resulted in the victim’s death.

What is Criminally Negligent Homicide in Texas?

Criminally negligent homicide is a less serious offense than murder or manslaughter and is defined as an act of criminal negligence resulting in the death of another person. This means that the perpetrator failed to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation, and as a result, their actions caused the death of the victim.

An example of criminally negligent homicide in Texas could be if a person leaves a loaded firearm within reach of a child, and the child accidentally shoots and kills someone with the gun. In this scenario, the person who left the firearm within reach of the child could be charged with criminally negligent homicide because their failure to properly secure the weapon constituted criminal negligence and resulted in the death of another person.

Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in State Jail. A person may be given probation for criminally negligent homicide.

Learn more about criminally negligent homicide.

What’s the difference between murder and criminally negligent homicide in Texas?

In Texas, the difference between murder and criminally negligent homicide lies in the level of intent and culpability involved in the killing of another person. Murder is the intentional or knowing killing of another person, while criminally negligent homicide is the criminal negligence resulting in the death of another person. This means that, in the case of murder, the perpetrator had the specific intent to cause the death of the victim, while in the case of criminally negligent homicide, the defendant did not have the specific intent to kill the victim but their actions or negligence resulted in the victim’s death.

What’s the difference between manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in Texas?

Manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person, while criminally negligent homicide is an act of criminal negligence resulting in the death of another person. This means that, in the case of manslaughter, the perpetrator did not have the specific intent to cause the death of the victim, but their actions or negligence resulted in the victim’s death. In the case of criminally negligent homicide, the perpetrator’s actions or negligence were not necessarily reckless or intentional, but they failed to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation, and as a result, their actions caused the death of the victim.

difference between murder manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide

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About the Author Board Certified Lawyer Benson Varghese

About the Author

Benson Varghese is the managing partner of Varghese Summersett. He is a seasoned attorney, highly esteemed for his comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the field. He has successfully handled thousands of state and federal cases, ranging from misdemeanor driving while intoxicated cases to capital offenses, showcasing his commitment to preserving justice and upholding the rights of his clients. His firm covers criminal defense, personal injury, and family law matters. Benson is also a legal tech entrepreneur. Benson is a go-to authority in the legal community, known for his ability to explain complex legal concepts with clarity and precision. His writings offer a wealth of in-depth legal insights, reflecting his extensive experience and his passion for the law. Not only is Benson an accomplished litigator, but he is also a dedicated advocate for his clients, consistently striving to achieve the best possible outcomes for them. His authorship provides readers with valuable legal advice and an understanding of the complexities of the criminal justice system. CriminalPersonal InjuryFamily Law Contact
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