First, if you have been accused of homicide (murder), you will be facing the most serious set of legal consequences that exist under Texas or federal law. If you are convicted, your life will change forever. So, your choice of the proper Dallas or Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer is vitally important and should be made with all haste, so your legal defense strategy can begin immediately.

Texas law has four distinct categories of murder charges with murder and capital murder being the worst. The punishment that you will face will depend on the type of charge and on the circumstances under which the victim’s death occurred. In general, the more deliberate, planned, and heinous the killing was, the more severe the punishment.

There are usually two major defenses used in these cases, that you either acted in self-defense or the defense of another person. There are, however, important legal limitations to any right to self-defense.

Some examples of these limitations are:

  • You cannot be the aggressor in the confrontation. In other words, you cannot attack the other person and then claim self-defense when you kill them unless the other person responds with deadly force.
  • You cannot claim self-defense where the other person only engaged in verbal provocation. This means that you cannot punch or batter a person who simply insults you.
  • The force you used must be proportionate under the circumstances. For example, you would usually not be able to claim self-defense if you stab your attacker multiple times with a knife when the other person simply punched you.
  • Deadly force (and usually self-defense) is only allowed when deadly force is threatened against you, or when used to prevent the imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery or someone unlawfully tries to enter your home, your vehicle, or your place of work.

Simply put, you must have a reasonable belief that the use of force is warranted and justified under the singular circumstances. Admittedly though, this is judged on an objective level, but if a reasonable person, in the same situation would not have felt imminently threatened, then you may not escape criminal liability by attempting to claim self-defense.

Your consequences are desperately serious, and your best defense is the professional knowledge, experience, and diligence of your Dallas criminal defense lawyer. These cases are all legally complex, and there are many seemingly inconsequential details in your case that your lawyer may use in your defense.

In Texas What Are the Four Types of Homicide?

Homicide (murder) or the intentional taking of the life of another, is prohibited by laws in all states including Texas, but Texas commonly has four main types of homicide charges, they are:

  • Murder – You intentionally or knowingly killed the individual and intended to cause serious bodily injury and committed a dangerous act that resulted in the death of an individual. A murder conviction can carry from 5-99 years or life in prison.
  • Capital Murder – capital murder is charged under certain specific conditions:

– If you kill a peace officer or firefighter who was acting in the lawful discharge of official duty and the defendant knew the person to be a peace officer or firefighter.
– When the murder occurs while committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat.
– When the murder is committed as a “murder-for-hire.”
If you’re convicted of capital murder you may either receive imprisonment for life or could be put to death.

  • Manslaughter – Manslaughter is a charge when you kill another “recklessly.” “Recklessness” exists where there is a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a death will occur. Manslaughter is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison.
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide – You could be charged with criminally negligent homicide when you kill another because of “criminal negligence.” “Criminal negligence” exists when you are not aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm but should have been aware of the risk. Criminally negligent homicide is punishable by imprisonment for 180 days to 2 years.

There are times that your criminal defense lawyer may be able to mitigate or reduce the type of charges against you. This is another form of defense that could severely lessen the impact of your punishment on your life.

How Can My Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me With My Defense?

First, by thoroughly investigating all the facts that make up your case!

If you are facing murder charges, you may feel like there is no way out, and hope is lost. However, an experienced lawyer can help build a defense and legal strategy that will work for you. They may collaborate with forensic experts in several fields to critically examine the prosecutor’s case and fortify your defense. Scientific evidence against you may be flawed, and your lawyer has the experience to disprove flawed evidence, including autopsies.

If you did act in self-defense or were under duress, they will assert these defenses.

They can and will use their experience in defending you if you are under investigation or charged with homicide. They then will strategize as to what defense will work in your case. Each murder case is different, and your lawyers will analyze the facts of your case to help you find all the legal means to fight the charges.

What Must the Texas Prosecutor Prove to Convict Me of Murder?

This is a complex question, that only your Dallas or Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer can really answer, but simply, they must prove that:

  • You intentionally and knowingly caused the death of the other person.
  • You intended to cause serious bodily injury and committed an act that was dangerous to human life and this act caused the death of another.
  • You committed or attempted to commit a felony (other than manslaughter) and by doing so, committed an act that was dangerous to human life and this act caused the death of another

This is all legally simplistic, and your lawyer will explain all that you are charged with in detail. However, by disproving, debunking, or poking holes in any of the above issues, your lawyer may successfully get you acquitted of the charges or have them seriously mitigated downward.

I Have Been Charged With Murder in Texas, What Should I Do First?

Murder is the worst charge you can receive in Texas. If convicted, it can result in life-changing consequences or even the death penalty. If you have been charged, you must understand the law, all defenses available to you, and the likelihood of mounting a credible defense. The Medlin Law Firm in Dallas and Fort Worth, have a professional and successful history in defending serious criminal charges and helping their clients get their lives back. Consult with them first, and don’t leave your future up to chance.