Of all the crimes you can be charged with in Texas, murder is the among the most serious.
Texas executes killers at a higher rate than any other state in the country. Even if you don’t get charged with capital murder, you will be likely to face a term of life imprisonment for murder. The penalty for second-degree murder in Texas is between five and 99 years in a state prison.
Texas hands down extreme punishments for murder. Even from the moment of your arrest, there’s a good chance you’ll be denied bail. A killing carries great social stigma. Your friends and family may desert you.
There have been many cases of people who were convicted of murder in Texas only to be exonerated at a later date. Some of them have wound up on Death Row.
If you have been charged with murder, we will look at possible defenses.
1 Lack of Intent
If you did not intend to kill someone, you have a defense to murder. If you killed someone accidentally, you clearly lacked the intent. The most important distinguishing factor between murder and manslaughter in Texas involves the intent of the defendant. If he or she intended to cause serious bodily harm or death to the victim, or intended to commit a felony other than manslaughter that led to the death, he or she can be charged with murder.
2 Mistaken Identity
We see many cases in Texas in which the wrong person is charged with a homicide. When a killing takes place suspicion inevitably falls on the partner of a victim. One of the highest profile wrongful convictions in recent years was that of Michael Morton who spent 25 years in a Texas prison for the murder of his wife. He was exonerated in 2011 when DNA evidence liked the killing to another man.
The defense of mistaken identity is often backed by an alibi to prove that the defendant was elsewhere when the crime was committed.
3 Justified Homicide
Self-defense is one of the most common forms of murder defense. It’s often used in abusive relationship situations where one partner may claim the other was killed because they had a reasonable fear of death, harm or serious bodily injury. The degree of force used must be proportional to the perceived threat and the defendant should not have instigated the incident that led to the death.
4 Accident or Misfortune – when a death occurs when the victim is performing an otherwise lawful activity, a murder charge cannot be brought. For example, if the victim is bungee jumping and dies when the restraint fails, the organizer of the jump can’t be charged with murder unless the equipment was deliberately sabotaged. A charge of manslaughter might be brought if there were failures on the behalf of the jump organizer.
5 Insanity – If a defendant is unable to comprehend what he or she is doing on the grounds of insanity, an insanity defense can be brought. The burden of proving the evidence of insanity lies with the defense. Killers who are found not guilty by reason of insanity, are routinely committed for treatment in a maximum security facility.
Gary Medlin knows how to help people charged with murder in Texas. The Medlin Law Firm will help take the burden of this stressful charge from your shoulders and identify the best defense for your case.
Call us for experienced legal representation in and around Fort Worth at (682) 204-4066.