Some of the most serious cases that criminal defense lawyers in Texas take on are those involving some type of homicide.

In these cases, punishment can be severe, especially if murder convictions are involved.

There are actually four types of homicide that defense lawyers must differentiate between in order to defend a client facing such serious charges.

Based on what happened, how, and why it happened, criminal defense lawyers will build their defense to reflect one of the four different types of homicide charges.

1. Capital Murder

Capital murder is recognized by the courts and criminal defense lawyers as the most serious type of homicide and subject to serious penalties.

Capital murder is committed with the additional criteria that makes this act of intentionally causing the death of another individual especially heinous.

The criteria for capital murder include: being paid to commit murder; killing a person while escaping from prison or within the confines of a jail; killing a peace officer, fire fighter, or as retaliation against someone within the judicial system; killing a child, or multiple murders.

It also includes a murder that is committed while committing another felony such as a robbery, arson, sexual assault, kidnapping, or an act of terrorism.

Those convicted of capital murder are subject to penalties that include life imprisonment and the death penalty for those over the age of 17.

Defense lawyers point out that the death penalty is not applicable for those who have been declared mentally incapacitated or unstable by the courts, in which case incarceration for life is the primary punishment.

2. Murder

As standardly recognized by criminal defense lawyers and the legal system if it does not include the above additional criteria, murder is defined as the intentional killing of another person.

This charge also includes intentionally injuring someone severely enough that they die as well as causing a death during or while fleeing after committing a felony.

Considered a 1st degree felony, the penalties for murder can greatly vary depending on individual circumstances.

They may include jail time of five years to life in prison and in some cases, the death penalty.

3. Manslaughter

Manslaughter is defined as the unintentional killing of a person as a result of reckless behavior.

It is possibly the most common homicide charge that most criminal defense lawyers encounter.

Charges of manslaughter are typically made in DWI and other accident cases where a person behaved recklessly to the endangerment of someone else.

In these cases, prosecutors must prove that a person acted recklessly to make a conviction.

Penalties can vary from fines and community service to jail time and probation, depending on the circumstances.

4. Criminally Negligent Homicide

Similar to manslaughter but based on negligence rather than recklessness, defense lawyers recognize criminally negligent homicide as the least serious of all homicide charges.

This charge is made when it can be proven that a person’s unintentional negligence caused the death of another person.

In these cases, prosecutors attempt to prove that the defendant's actions were unreasonable and resulted in the death of an individual, while a reasonable person would have taken more caution.

The penalties for negligent homicide can also vary depending on the circumstances with fines, community service, probation, and shorter jail terms common.

Final Thoughts

If you have been charged with any kind of homicide, it is essential that you contact criminal defense lawyers who can help you.

Whether you are charged with murder, manslaughter, or homicide, defense lawyers will ensure your rights are upheld and that you receive a fair trial to prove your innocence or if convicted, reasonable penalties based on the circumstances.

Garza & Elizondo, LLP

Downtown Brownsville
Principal Office
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
(956) 202-0067

San Benito
Meetings With Attorneys By Appointment Only
2395 La Palma Street, Suite A
San Benito TX 78586
(956) 202-0067