In Texas, Murder is one of the most serious criminal offenses an accused can face. In other states in the US, what is termed plainly as murder in Texas is often categorized as second degree murder.
Range of Punishment for Murder
In Texas, Murder is a first degree felony that has a range of punishment; from 5 to 99 years imprisonment in a state prison and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000. Anyone facing such a charge must hire a very good attorney who is experienced in the defense of such a serious charge.
Elements State Must Prove for Murder Conviction
For the prosecution to successfully convict a defendant of murder, it must be able to prove beyond any reasonable doubt several factors. The prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly and intentionally caused the death of another person. Alternatively the prosecution must also show that the defendant did intend to cause serious bodily harm or injury and proceeded to commit an act that was by and large clearly dangerous to human life and this particular act ultimately caused the death of an individual.
Another option for the prosecution is; to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the defendant either committed or attempted to commit a felony other than manslaughter and while performing the said felony; the defendant committed an act that was without doubt dangerous to human life and this particular act caused the death of a person. It is worth noting that the prosecution needs only to prove one of the above options, but the key point in all the available options for the prosecution is that the murder has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Possible Defenses to Murder Charges in Texas
In Texas, just like in most states in the US, a defendant has a right to full representation by a qualified attorney. There are also a wide range of defenses he or she can pursue in an attempt to prove his or her innocence. An accused person can claim that the death of the person in question was not intended and was either accidental or caused by natural or unforeseen occurrences; lack of intent is an acceptable defense in Texas law.
One of the most utilized defenses is self defense; a defendant may be acquitted if he can prove that he had reason to believe his life was in danger and he thus needed to defend himself.
Another interesting defense may be the heat of passion argument. The defendant may claim that he was provoked to commit the said crime by some extreme emotion like terror, fear or rage arising from a valid cause. If it is found that the defendant was truly in the heat of passion, he may be charged with lesser included offenses like second degree felony which carries a sentence of between 2 and 20 years in a state prison and /or a fine of no more than $10,000.
It is worth noting also that the laws in Texas are constantly being changed and improved, it is important that you engage a licensed and practicing attorney to advise you accordingly.