Being charged with homicide in Texas can be a scary, overwhelming, and isolating time. However, it’s important to understand that you are entitled to a fair trial under the United States Constitution. Additionally, you have the right to a Houston violent crime attorney who can represent you during these matters. As such, understanding the potential defenses you can use for a homicide charge is critical to preparing for your trial. The following blog explores the penalties you can face if convicted and the different avenues you can explore as a defense.

What Penalties Does Texas Impose for a Homicide Charge?

Homicide is a broad term used to describe the act of taking another person’s life. As such, Texas classifies this act in four different ways. They are as follows:

  • Capital Murder: Capital murder is the most egregious offense on this list and is only charged under certain circumstances, like who the victim is or what else was happening at the time of the crime. The penalties for capital murder are life in prison or the death penalty.
  • Murder: Murder is any other instance in which someone commits a premeditated act of killing. Essentially, if someone thinks about killing someone and intentionally does so, they can face this charge. The penalties for a murder offense are five to ninety-nine years in prison, and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • Manslaughter: Manslaughter can be involuntary, which occurs when you accidentally cause the death of another person with no malicious intent, while voluntary can occur when there is no premeditation but the act is intentional. This is also referred to as a “crime of passion.” The penalties for this offense are two to twenty years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide: The least severe of the homicide charges in Texas, this offense is charged to anyone who knowingly acts recklessly which leads to the unintentional death of another person. Those convicted will face six months to two years in jail with the potential for up to $10,000 in fines.

What Defenses May Be Applicable to My Case?

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you may be able to utilize a defense to avoid or reduce charges. One of the most common defenses those charged with homicide rely on is that they were acting in self-defense. Because Texas is a “Stand Your Ground” state, meaning those faced with a threat are legally allowed to subdue the threat if they fear for their life, many rely on this to help avoid charges. If you can show you reasonably feared for your life, you may be able to avoid a conviction.

Another defense many rely on is proving they could not have committed the crime, most commonly achieved through an alibi. This is essentially a claim as to why you could not have committed the crime. For example, you may be able to prove you were in a town 20 miles away from the crime at the time it was committed. This can help prove your innocence in the matter.

Regardless of what homicide charge you’re facing, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is in your best interest. At the Sparks Law Firm, PC, our dedicated legal team will do everything possible to help you overcome the legal challenges that lay ahead. Reach out today to connect with a member of our team to learn how we will fight for you.