Many state laws set out different degrees of murder charges, such as second-degree and first-degree murder. In Texas, there are two separate criminal offenses called “murder” and “capital murder.” Convictions for these offenses can involve years in state prison, life imprisonment, or the death penalty.
When you are arrested on suspicion of murder charges, it is critical that you do not talk to the police. Even if you know you are innocent, answering questions can lead you to say something that might be used against you. Instead, always invoke your rights to remain silent and call an attorney. Immediately seek help from an experienced murder defense attorney at the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker.
Murder Charges and Penalties
Murder charges in Texas require the prosecutor to prove one of the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant intentionally acted in a manner that was dangerous to human life, and the intent to cause serious bodily injury led to the death of another person
- The defendant knowingly and intentionally caused the death of another person
- The defendant committed another felony offense (or attempted the felony), and the course of conduct led to the death of another person
Murder is a first-degree felony, and a conviction can mean five to 99 years in prison. If the defendant can show the murder occurred in the heat of passion, the charge may be reduced to a second-degree felony, which means two to 20 years in prison.
Capital murder is the highest charge possible in Texas, as it allows the death penalty to be sentenced upon a conviction. Murder can be escalated to capital murder under the following circumstances:
- The victim was an on-duty peace officer or a child under age 15
- There were multiple victims from one incident
- The murder occurred in jail or prison, or while the defendant was trying to escape
- The death resulted from a murder-for-hire plot
- The defendant intentionally caused the death during the course of a robbery, burglary, kidnapping, sexual assault, terroristic threat, arson, or retaliation
Upon a conviction of capital murder, there are two possible sentences - life in prison with no possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Defending Against Murder Charges
It is important to aggressively defend against murder charges by having a skilled defense lawyer to develop a clear and strong defense strategy. Some common defenses include:
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge
An attorney can also work to get charges reduced by proving heat of passion or that the murder should not be classified as a capital crime.
Contact a Fort Worth Murder Defense Attorney Right Away
Avoiding a murder conviction or having the charges reduced it critical for your freedom and future. You want to have a Fort Worth murder defense lawyer from the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker defending your case right from the start. Call 817-332-7703 or contact us online today so we can begin building your defense.