In Texas, there is nothing more serious than being accused of causing the death of another person. Not only do homicide cases carry massive penalties, but they are also often high-profile and very complex. When a case receives media attention, prosecutors tend to be harsher with their offers. That’s why it is imperative to have an experienced, aggressive Fort Worth homicide lawyer by your side every step of the way if you are accused of capital murder, murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.
Our attorneys have handled dozens of homicide cases, first as prosecutors and now as highly-coveted criminal defense attorneys. We will closely examine all of the evidence, enlist experts, and identify flaws in the prosecution’s case in an effort to build a solid strategy for your defense.
Categories of Fort Worth Homicide
Texas law divides homicide charges into four primary categories under Texas Penal Code Section 19.01. These are capital murder, murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. Our Fort Worth homicide lawyers will thoroughly explain the charge, potential consequences, and how your case will proceed through the criminal justice system
- Murder of a peace officer or fireman in the line of duty;
- Murder during the commission or attempted commission of the following felonies: kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat;
- Murder-for-hire — that is, killing for payment or promise of payment;
- Murder during an escape or attempted escape from a penal institution;
- Murder, while incarcerated, of a correctional employee;
- Murder, while incarcerated, in conjunction with organized criminal activity;
- Murder while already incarcerated for capital murder or murder;
- Murder while serving a life sentence or 99-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault or aggravated robbery;
- Murder of more than one person during the same criminal transaction or during different transactions but under the same common scheme;
- Murder of a child under age 10;
- Murder of a judge or justice or in retaliation for the services of a judge or justice
Anyone facing a capital murder charge should immediately seek guidance from a Fort Worth homicide attorney. What happens during the early stages of a homicide investigation can drastically impact or influence the case. A proactive defense is your best defense.
Under Texas law, both murder and capital murder are classified as criminal homicide. The biggest differences between the two charges are the way in which the offense is alleged and how it is punished. A person commits murder when he or she:
- intentionally and knowingly causes the death of an individual;
- intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act that causes the death of an individual;
- causes the death of an individual during the commission or attempted commission of a felony; or
- knowingly manufactures or delivers a controlled substance in Penalty Group 1 – which includes fentanyl – and an individual dies as a result of injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or introducing into the individual’s body any amount of the controlled substance manufactured or delivered by the actor, regardless of whether the controlled substance was used by itself or with another substance, including a drug, adulterant, or dilutant.
This last subsection – which is commonly referred to as “fentanyl murder” was passed in 2023 by the 88th legislative session.
When someone recklessly causes the death of another person, they can be charged with manslaughter. In order to be considered reckless, an individual must be aware of the risk of their conduct, but consciously disregard that risk. Prosecutors must show that the accused departed from the standard of care a reasonably prudent person would have followed in the same scenario. For instance, a driver who is racing another vehicle and loses control and slams into car that kills a person could be charged with manslaughter.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
Criminally negligent homicide occurs when a person negligently causes the death of another. The actions of the accused will be measured against the standard of care that an ordinary person would have exercised in the same situation. We often see the charge of criminally negligent homicide with accidental deaths.
What are the Penalties for Homicide?
→ Capital murder is punishable by the death penalty or life in prison with no possibility for parole.
→ Murder is a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
→ Manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
→ Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony category punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine.
Retain an Experienced Fort Worth Homicide Attorney
As you can see, there is a broad spectrum of cases that are considered homicides in Texas. The offenses and their punishment ranges vary drastically. If you or a loved one is facing a homicide charge, the first order of business should be to stop talking and to contact an experienced Fort Worth homicide lawyer. We can help. We have decades of experience handling all types of homicide cases, including death penalty cases. Call our office today for a free consultation.