Murder VS. Manslaughter: The Differences You Need To Know

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In Texas, murder and manslaughter are considered homicide crimes. Murder and manslaughter charges may sound the same, but if you are facing criminal homicide charges, you need to know that the different types of homicide charges are anything but the same. There are distinct differences between the four types of homicide crimes and their applicable consequences.

If you have been charged with a homicide crime, criminal defense attorney Aaron W. Perry can help. As you know, these charges are serious, and a conviction could significantly impact the rest of your life. Our legal team will provide you with compassionate service and an aggressive defense strategy.

What Is Murder?

Under Texas law, murder occurs when someone intentionally or willingly causes the death of another person. It is also murder when someone intends to cause serious bodily harm to a person that results in death, or when someone attempts to commit a felony (other than manslaughter) that results in death.

When certain aggravating circumstances are present, charges may be elevated from murder to capital murder. Aggravating circumstances include killing more than one person, killing a law enforcement officer, killing for hire, and killing in prison.

Capital murder penalties are more severe than regular murder charges, as discussed in more detail below.

What Is Manslaughter?

Instead of intent, the critical element in proving manslaughter is the defendant’s behavior and conduct. For a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors must prove that the defendant’s conduct was reckless and that his or her recklessness caused the victim’s death.

What separates murder from manslaughter is the defendant’s intent versus reckless conduct. If prosecutors are not able to prove intent, the alternative may be manslaughter charges if they can prove that the defendant’s conduct was reckless.

In Texas, you can be convicted of regular manslaughter or intoxication manslaughter if drugs or alcohol were involved in the accident that resulted in death. Intoxication manslaughter convictions are typical in fatal drunk driving or boating accidents.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

Criminally negligent homicide is the third type of criminal homicide in Texas, and it has the least severe consequences of all homicide offenses. To prove criminally negligent homicide, prosecutors have to show that the defendant’s conduct was criminally negligent.

Criminal negligence means that the defendant’s conduct was a gross deviation from what a reasonable or ordinary person’s conduct would have been under similar circumstances.


Consequences For Criminal Homicide Convictions

Consequences for criminal homicide convictions vary significantly, depending on the specific conviction.

  • Capital murder is the most serious type of criminal homicide. and consequences may result in up to life in prison, the death penalty, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Murder consequences may result in up to life in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine. Unlike capital murder, the death penalty is not a consequence of murder.
  • Manslaughter convictions may result in a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
  • Criminally negligent homicide convictions may result in a maximum of 2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Negotiating With Prosecutors

Prosecutors try to avoid the time and expense involved in homicide trials by negotiating plea deals with defendants. Because consequences for different types of homicide vary, defendants need criminal defense attorneys who are skilled negotiators.

A good criminal defense attorney will find the weaknesses and holes in the prosecution’s case and use those as leverage to argue for a reduction or dismissal of charges altogether.

Defenses To Homicide Charges

Depending on the circumstances of individual cases, defense strategies will be to reduce the defendant’s charges, dismiss the charges, or achieve a not guilty verdict. Common defenses to homicide charges include the following:

  • The defendant did not intend to commit serious bodily harm or kill the victim
  • The defendant’s conduct was not reckless
  • Someone else was responsible for the victim’s death
  • The defendant was acting in self-defense
  • The defendant was defending another person
  • Mental incompetence
  • The defendant was intoxicated
  • Involuntary intoxication
  • Due process violations
  • Police misconduct

Murder And Manslaughter Attorney

Only experienced attorneys should represent defendants who have been charged with murder or manslaughter. They understand the technical differences between different homicide charges, and they will fight for the most favorable outcome in your case.

If you have been charged with a homicide crime, contact the Law Office of Aaron W. Perry at 713-393-7788 or submit an online form. We know that the stakes are high when it comes to homicide crime cases. We will do everything we can to protect and defend your rights and freedom.

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