Criminal Homicide In Texas: The Types You Can Be Charged With

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Criminal homicide in Texas is a very serious offense, and if you are charged with homicide, it can lead to a very complex legal proceeding that requires the guidance and counsel of a criminal defense attorney. The penalties that can be charged are wide-ranging but heavy. Much of the penalty you receive depends on the type of homicide you are charged with.

When it comes to criminal homicide, there are four types that exist. Here are the details of each and what you can expect in the different types of cases that you may face.


Murder is most often a 1st-degree felony. When a person commits murder, he or she intentionally and knowingly causes the death of an individual. It is also murder when a person intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits a clearly dangerous act that causes the death of an individual. Additionally, murder can be when a person commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course action, he or she commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.

There are two main causes of murder by law in Texas: adequate cause and sudden passion. If the defendant can prove that the death was caused by sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, it can become a 2nd-degree felony. The range of punishment for murder can be 5 to 99 years in prison, in addition to a financial penalty.

Summary – The different cases of murder typically fall under a 1st-degree felony, and the punishment can be very severe, including 5 to 99 years in prison, plus a financial penalty.

Capital Murder

Capital murder is a capital felony, and there are many different instances in which a homicide is defined as capital murder. When a person knowingly murders a peace officer or fireman on official duty, it is capital murder. When a personally intentionally commits murder while committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terrorist threat, it is capital murder.

Capital murder is also one when a person is paid to commit murder or pays someone to commit a murder. It can also be a murder committed while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution, or while incarcerated, a person murders an employee of a penal institution or another incarcerated person. Additionally, it is capital murder when a person murders more than one person during the same criminal transaction or during the same scheme or course of conduct, as well as when a person murders an individual under 10 years of age.

To be charged with capital murder, the judge has to find that beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of an offense under Section 19.03 of Texas Penal Code, and if not, the person may be charged with murder or of another lesser offense. A person who is charged with capital murder could be sentenced to the death penalty or receive life imprisonment without parole, in addition to financial penalties.

Summary – Capital murder occurs during a number of very serious instances, and if charged, one can receive the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.


Manslaughter is a 2nd-degree felony, and it is when a person recklessly causes the death of an individual. Manslaughter, unlike murder, is not premeditated, and it is not as serious of a charge as murder. There are two types of manslaughter: voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter is often an intentional, “in-the-moment” passion killing that wasn’t premeditated, but it was provoked. Voluntary manslaughter can happen due to provoked rage or anger, and it can also be a result of fear or desperation.

Involuntary manslaughter is when a person kills another human being without intending to kill or seriously harm the person; it was simply a result of their reckless actions. A common case of involuntary manslaughter is when, while driving under the influence, a person caused an accident that resulted in the death of another person.

If you are charged with manslaughter, you could receive up to 20 years in prison, in addition to a financial penalty.

Summary – Manslaughter is a murder that is not premeditated, and it can be either voluntary or involuntary, resulting in up to 20 years in prison with a financial penalty.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

Criminally negligent homicide is when a person causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence. A mainstream example of criminally negligent homicide is the crash of Aeroperu Flight 603 near Lima, Peru. Criminally negligent homicide can include some accidental murders, such as playing with a gun and accidentally shooting another person, then not calling for medical help immediately, which results in death. In addition, if a person is going 80 miles per hour in a 30 mph zone and hits a pedestrian, there is a clear cause and effect for the death.

There is no premeditation with criminally negligent homicide. It focuses on what the defendant did know about the risks during the event, as well as what the defendant should have known. There must be a direct link between the negligent action and the death of the person. If the defendant can prove that he was unaware of the risks associated with the events that led to the death, it can become a less severe charge. Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony.

Summary – Criminally negligent homicides are a state jail felony, and they occur when a person causes the death of another person due to criminal negligence.

What To Do If You’re Facing A Criminal Homicide Charge

Since criminal homicide cases require that you face proceedings in a criminal court, it is highly important to work with a criminal defense lawyer to help get the best possible results for your case. When you’re facing a criminal homicide charge, your future is at stake, including your career and reputation.

At the Law Office of Aaron W. Perry, PLLC, we will dive into every aspect of your case and help you get the best outcome. We will fight for you and successfully navigate the in’s and out’s of your criminal homicide case using our years of experience and success.

Our top-rated law firm is ready to help you with your criminal homicide matters at any time. Contact us today to get started with a free consultation and like us on Facebook to stay in touch with our team!