An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in San Antonio Helping People Accused of Homicide
Texas laws governing homicide are complicated, and the potential penalties are severe. If you are facing homicide charges, you need an experienced San Antonio criminal defense lawyer on your side. Without the representation of an attorney, you are putting your future and your freedom at risk. It is crucial that you understand the charges against you, their potential penalties, and the defenses your attorney could use on your behalf to lessen or dismiss your charges.
Attorney Patrick Hancock is a skilled criminal defense lawyer who is dedicated to protecting the rights of people accused of serious crimes. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
What is Homicide?
The Texas Penal Code defines homicide as causing the death of another person either intentionally, knowingly, or with criminal negligence. There are four types of homicide charges in Texas; murder, capital murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. Each has its own potential penalties and defenses, and penalties that a court can impose depends on the type of homicide with which a defendant is charged.
Typical murder charges constitute a first-degree felony. Intentionally or knowingly taking someone’s life or intentionally committing an act that is severely dangerous to life that causes the death of another person warrants a murder charge. If convicted of murder, you could face between five and 99 years in prison as well as a maximum fine of $10,000.
In some cases, it may be possible to mitigate a murder charge by showing that you acted due to “sudden passion.” A common textbook example of when the sudden passion defense is available is when a person comes home to find his or her spouse engaged in sexual activity with another. If successful, the maximum penalty you will be facing is imprisonment of 20 years.
This charge is a capital felony. You can be charged with capital murder if you:
- Kill a fireman or a member of law enforcement
- Intentionally kill someone while committing arson, kidnapping, robbery or burglary, terroristic threat, obstruction or retaliation, or sexual assault
- Commit murder for money
- Hire another individual to commit murder on your behalf
- Commit murder while escaping or attempting to escape jail or prison
- Kill an employee of a jail or prison while you are incarcerated
- You commit murder while serving a life sentence
- You kill someone while incarcerated for a homicide offense
- You kill more than one person during a single illegal incident
- You kill a child ten years of age or younger
If convicted of capital murder charges, you could receive the death penalty performed by lethal injection. Other penalties include life in prison without parole and financial penalties.
Manslaughter is a second-degree felony. Recklessly causing the death of another person will lead to a manslaughter charge. Manslaughter lacks premeditation, whereas murder is premeditated. Texas does not distinguish between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter but does recognize the crime of intoxication manslaughter. Intoxication manslaughter occurs when a homicide is the result of drug or alcohol impairment and is most often applied to impaired motorists who cause fatal accidents. In Texas, a manslaughter conviction can result in 2 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
This charge applies if you take someone’s life while acting with criminal negligence. Sometimes criminally negligent homicide charges will apply when a person accidentally kills someone. Criminally negligent homicide lacks premeditation. The focus of this charge is generally what the defendant knew about the risks of what happened and what they should have known. If your San Antonio criminal defense attorney can prove that you were unaware of the risks associated with the events leading up to the death, the charge could be reduced.
This charge is a state jail felony punishable by 180 days to two years in prison and fine of up to $10,000.
Defenses for Homicide Charges
The consequences of a homicide conviction can be severe, to say the least. To help reduce the risk that you will face the worst of them, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in San Antonio who knows what defenses to apply in your case. Remember that the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. You are presumed innocent until the prosecution can prove otherwise.
Possible defenses for homicide charges that a San Antonio criminal defense lawyer could use in your case include:
- You were acting in self-defense
- Mistake of fact
- Involuntary intoxication
- You were acting in an exercise of duty as a law enforcement officer
- You were unable to appreciate the gravity of the act that you committed (insanity defense)
Have you Been Charged with Homicide? Hire an Experienced San Antonio Criminal Defense Attorney
Any type of homicide charge can have a far-reaching impact on the rest of your life and those you love. For this reason, if you are accused of murder, manslaughter, intoxication manslaughter, or criminally negligent homicide, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. To schedule a free case evaluation with a criminal defense lawyer in San Antonio, all Patrick L. Hancock at 210-223-8844 or contact us online.