If you have been charged with manslaughter or another type of homicide crime in Texas, you know that you are facing significant criminal charges. In Texas, manslaughter charges are not as severe as murder charges, but manslaughter is more serious than criminally negligent homicide. If you have been charged with manslaughter or another crime, you need to speak with an attorney right away.
Houston criminal defense attorney Aaron W. Perry is a former felony prosecutor who defends clients facing criminal charges. His experience as a felony prosecutor gives him unique insight into the prosecution side of criminal cases that most other criminal defense attorneys do not have. He knows that defendants who never intended to cause anyone’s death are often surprised to be charged with manslaughter.
Common Manslaughter Scenarios
Any deliberate participation in bad acts or misconduct that leads to someone else’s death can result in manslaughter charges. See below for common scenarios in manslaughter cases:
- Reckless driving or texting while driving can lead to vehicular manslaughter charges if you are involved in an accident that results in fatal injuries.
- If you are involved in a fatal car accident, and you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you can be charged with intoxicated manslaughter.
- Heat of passion crimes involves being suddenly provoked into attacking another person who suffers fatal injuries as a result of the attack.
- A physical altercation that accidentally leads to someone’s death. For example, if you push someone who then trips and hits his head, causing a fatal injury, you might be facing manslaughter charges.
- Recklessly discharging a firearm that unintentionally strikes and kills someone.
Distinguishing Manslaughter From Murder
Manslaughter is one of several types of criminal homicide in Texas. As mentioned above, manslaughter charges are not as severe as murder charges. In most cases, the prosecutors must show that the defendant had an intent to kill and that the death was premeditated for a murder conviction. The elements of manslaughter do not require intent or premeditation, however.
In general, prosecutors charge defendants with manslaughter when they think they can prove that the defendant’s reckless conduct (without premeditation or intent) resulted in another person’s death. Prosecutors will sometimes charge defendants with murder, hoping to avoid a trial by reaching a plea agreement to reduce the charges to manslaughter instead.
Charges And Plea Agreements
We frequently see the tactic of overcharging defendants to intimidate them into agreeing to a lesser charge, and we protect our clients from making decisions based on fear and intimidation. We do not encourage clients to accept a plea offer until we have conducted a thorough case investigation. Once we have investigated all of the facts and evidence, we only recommend plea agreements if we think it is in our clients’ best interests to do so.
Consequences Of Manslaughter Convictions
The consequences of a manslaughter conviction are not as steep as those for a murder conviction, but it is still a serious crime that comes with major penalties. If you are convicted of manslaughter, you will be facing 2 to 20 years of incarceration. You will also be responsible for court costs and a monetary fine of up to $10,000.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
Criminally negligent homicide is similar to manslaughter in that the defendant is charged with being responsible for someone’s death even though he or she did not consciously intend to cause his or her death. Criminally negligent homicide is different from manslaughter in that the prosecutors only need to prove that the defendant’s actions amounted to criminal negligence rather than reckless conduct.
Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony, and convictions can result in 180 days to 2 years in jail, with a fine of up to $10,000. Manslaughter charges are sometimes reduced to criminally negligent homicide charges in plea agreements or when the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove the elements of manslaughter.
Contact A Houston Manslaughter Attorney
If you have been charged with manslaughter, we can help. We will thoroughly investigate your case to help find exculpatory evidence and determine if the police or prosecutors violated your rights. We will negotiate with prosecutors to reduce or dismiss your charges. We will also provide you with an aggressive defense strategy and fight to protect your constitutional rights.
Contact the Law Firm of Aaron W. Perry at 713-393-7788 or submit an online form, and we will be in touch with you to schedule a free consultation. Follow our Facebook page for more information about our law firm and areas of practice.