Homicide & Murder Attorney in Austin
Homicide is the general term used to describe one human killing another human. It isn’t specific to the circumstance under which the killing happened, but simply referrers to the fact that a human life was taken by another. It is in court that the crime is given a more specific name and penalty if the accused is found guilty.
A specific homicide is considered voluntary or involuntary depending on the state of mind of the assailant and the unique situation. Any form of manslaughter is considered less culpable than murder in court. In common law Involuntary manslaughter is divided into two categories: constructive or ‘unlawful act’ manslaughter and negligent manslaughter.
Constructive or ‘unlawful act’ manslaughter
Constructive manslaughter refers to the level of malice the accused had during which the crime was committed. For example, if a person speeds through a stop sign and hits and kills a woman walking across the street, the person obviously had no prior intent to inflict harm or take that person’s life and will thus be charged accordingly.
Negligent manslaughter refers to any duty unperformed by someone responsible that ultimately lead to the death of an individual. In Texas, both types of Involuntary Manslaughter are charged as Criminally Negligent Homicide.
This is a serious offenses, but typically has room for a defense led by a capable attorney.
Voluntary manslaughter is considered the offense of someone who came into the situation with no prior malice or intent to kill. Often, someone who acts in ‘the heat of the moment’ is charged with voluntary manslaughter rather than murder because there was no pre-meditation involved, which is part of the definition of murder. State of mind can also weigh heavily on a manslaughter case and can ultimately reflect the severity of the charge and length of the sentence.
Murder is defined as taking the life of another person with malicious intent. It is premeditated and planned out. That said, there are a host of different definitions of murder and things similar to murder that carry less weight in court. There are subcategories within subcategories. Building a case that leaves you the least culpable possible is my goal as a criminal justice lawyer in Texas.
Types of Murder
Murder is killing with the outright intent to kill. It generally requires premeditation. First degree murder also includes murder that is committed during the act of an additional felony. For example, if someone were to rob a bank (a felony on its own) and shoot the bank teller in the act, he could be charged with the bank felony and first degree murder as well, even if it wasn’t his original intention to shoot and kill the teller.
2. Capital Murder
Capital murder is any murder that makes the accused eligible for the death penalty. Texas has used the death penalty more than almost any other state. As of July 18, 2013, 1,253 people have been executed using lethal injection in the state of Texas. Capital murder offenses include murder of an on-duty safety officer or firefighter, intentional murder during a felony such as a robbery, murder for money, murder while escaping a penal institution, multiple murders, murder of anyone under the age of ten..
Manslaughter is when a person causes the death of an individual due to his reckless conduct.
4. Felony Murder
Texas has their own version of felony murder known as the ‘law of parties.’ This law states that a person can be criminally responsible for aiding in a murder. This includes solicitation, aiding, and conspiracy. Felony Murder is also covered under the Capital Murder Statute.
5. First Degree Felony Murder
To be convicted of a first degree felony murder, the state must prove the following three things:
1. That the victim is dead
2. That the death occurred as a consequence of and during the alleged crime
3. That the defendant actually killed the victim
6. DWI Murder
DWI murder is just as it sounds. It is the murder of someone while under the influence of an illegal substance or a substance that is not legal to drive with. In Texas, DWI Murder is charged as Intoxication Manslaughter.