When someone is charged with the crime of murder in Texas, it’s the prosecutor’s goal to determine guilt beyond reasonable doubt regardless of motive so a defendant can be convicted and punished as necessary.

It’s the job a criminal defense attorney to establish when there is reasonable doubt because either the defendant did not commit this terrible crime or there were specific circumstances that led to the murder taking place.

Motive must be determined to get a full understanding of what happened and why to ensure a fair trial and appropriate punishment.

How Does the Texas Court Define Motive?

When a criminal defense lawyer is attempting to determine reasonable doubt in a murder case, motive is defined as an idea, an emotion, or a belief held by the defendant that causes them to act based on those thoughts.

An example of motive would be a defendant who killed someone in self-defense because in a particular situation, they truthfully feared for their own life for some reason.

Another example would be a hate crime, since it can be argued that a person has a preconceived belief about a person who is a member of a certain race, religion, identity, and others.

Motive and Intent When Determining Reasonable Doubt

Although they are similar ideas, motive and intent have two separate meanings, both of which are important to criminal defense lawyers working with clients who have been charged with murder.

Motive is what happens when a defendant’s thoughts and emotions prior to a murder cause them to act in a certain way that results in someone being killed.

On the other hand, criminal intent is considered a “thought crime” in which the person doing the killing does so intentionally to achieve a particular end result.

Because motive and intent suggest a defendant’s mind is working two different ways, it’s important for criminal defense lawyers to determine if there is a motive as this can establish reasonable doubt as a murder based on criminal intent suggests there is no reasonable doubt.

How Motive Influences Investigations and Sentencing

Motive is initially used to connect a person to a crime so that an investigation into that connection can begin.

If the motivation for a defendant to have committed the crime exists, criminal defense attorneys strive to then differentiate between motive and intent, since the two have completely different meanings and are likely to receive a different response from a jury.

When motive is established and criminal intent is not determined to be a factor, any determined or declared motive is then taken into consideration for sentencing a defendant who is found guilty.

Some motives such as self-defense might receive lighter sentences, while others like hate crimes might receive more significant ones.

Motive Matters in A Murder Case

To conclude, it’s critical that anyone charged with murder seek the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands the importance of motive and how it can affect a criminal case as there must be a motive involved to establish reasonable doubt as opposed to just the intent to commit a murder.

Motive may also affect sentencing, as it gives the jury a chance to consider the circumstance from the defendant’s point of view which makes establishing a strong defense that considers motive essential to achieve the desired case results!

Reynaldo Garza, III - Attorney at Law

Principal Office
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520

(956) 202-0067