Fort Worth/Dallas Homicide Defense Attorney
Homicide is the legal term for causing the death of another person. In Texas, there are four types of criminal homicide: murder, capital murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.
A person commits the offense of murder if the person:
- Intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual; or
- Intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.
Murder is a first-degree felony, unless it was committed under the influence of what the law calls “sudden passion arising from an adequate cause,” in which case it is a second-degree felony. If you killed someone in self-defense or to protect others from imminent harm, however, then that is not murder.
Texas has a felony murder statute, under which someone can be charged with murder for a death that occurred during the commission of another felony, even if the killing was accidental or done by someone else. To convict a defendant under the felony murder law, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant:
- Committed or attempted to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and
- In the course of and in furtherance of the felony (or “in immediate flight” therefrom),
- The defendant committed or attempted to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life
- That caused the death of an individual.
Felony murder cases can be very complex, and a defendant’s fate may hinge on the smallest detail. It goes without saying that murder charges or allegations are extremely serious. A conviction can mean life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. You need the help of a dedicated Fort Worth/Dallas criminal defense lawyer immediately if you have been arrested or are under suspicion of committing murder. There are certain defenses to a murder charge if you have the right attorney at your side.
Capital murder is the most serious crime in the Texas Penal Code in the sense that it is the only crime that the State will execute someone for committing. The lightest sentence a person convicted of capital murder in Texas will receive is life in prison. A person commits capital murder if:
- The person murders a peace officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty and who the person knows is a peace officer or fireman;
- The person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction, retaliation or terroristic threat;
- The person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration (financially motivated murder);
- The person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration (murder for hire);
- The person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;
- The person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another who is employed in the operation of the penal institution;
- The person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination;
- The person murders another while incarcerated for murder or capital murder;
- The person murders another while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault or aggravated robbery;
- The person murders more than one person during the same criminal transaction (mass murder);
- The person murders more than one person during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct (serial killing);
- The person murders an individual under 10 years of age; or
- The person murders another person in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of the other person as a judge or justice.
This list is exclusive; to prove a defendant guilty of capital murder, the state must prove one of the things on the list. Further, a person can only be guilty of capital murder if the person intentionally or knowingly caused the death of an individual. The only exception to this is the Law of Parties, which allows offenders to be convicted of death if they were “criminally responsible for the conduct of another;” to be convicted under the Law of Parties, a defendant must have been present while a capital crime was being committed.
When someone is charged with capital murder, it is the State’s choice whether or not to seek the death penalty. If the State does not seek the death penalty and the defendant is convicted of capital murder, then the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison. However, if the State seeks the death penalty, then no one convicted of capital murder can be sentenced to death in Texas unless:
- A jury unanimously finds there is a probability that the defendant would commit criminal acts of violence that would constitute a continuing threat to society, and
- 10 or more jurors agree that, taking into consideration all of the evidence, including the circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s character, background and personal moral culpability, there is/are not a sufficient mitigating circumstance or circumstances to warrant that a sentence of life imprisonment without parole rather than a death sentence be imposed.
If the person was convicted as a party to the capital murder under the Law of Parties, then the defendant cannot be sentenced to death unless the jury also finds that the defendant:
- Actually caused the death of the deceased, or
- Did not actually cause the death of the deceased but intended to kill the deceased, or “anticipated” that a human life would be taken.
If you have been arrested for or charged with murder, or if you are concerned that you or someone you know caused someone’s death, then contacting a skilled, experienced criminal defense lawyer right away could literally save your life. David Owens is a former prosecutor who knows the law and has the skill and experience to effectively defend clients’ rights and provide them with a strong and vigorous defense. Contact The Owens Law Firm right away for an initial consultation.
A person commits manslaughter if the person recklessly causes the death of an individual. The law says that a person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the person’s standpoint. To prove a defendant guilty of manslaughter, the prosecution does not need to prove that the action was premeditated or that the defendant had the intent to kill; they simply have to show that their reckless actions were the reason for death. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Texas.
Fort Worth/Dallas defense attorney David Owens understands the fear and emotional stress manslaughter allegations cause for the client. He is committed to doing everything he can to get the charges dismissed and prevent your future from being ripped away from you. The Owens Law Firm carefully examines every piece of evidence and every report concerning the case in order to build a strong and aggressive defense. You deserve to have someone on your side that will fight for you.
Criminally Negleigent Homicide
Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony committed when a person causes the death of an individual by what the law calls “criminal negligence.” A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when the person ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the person’s standpoint.
Criminally negligent homicide cases can be very tricky because a person may be charged with criminal negligence, not because of an intentional or reckless act, but rather for a failure to act. Often times, the State will prosecute someone for criminally negligent homicide not for anything the person did but for what he/she failed to do. When someone is accused of negligence, their legal concerns are generally focused on civil liability. If someone has accused you of negligence or you suspect that you might be held responsible for the death of another, then don’t wait to find out whether you can be prosecuted for a crime. Contact an experienced Fort Worth/Dallas criminal defense attorney today!
Hard-Hitting Legal Representation and Defense for the Accused
If you have been charged with a homicide offense, then you should retain the services of an attorney as soon as possible. With the proper investigation by a devoted criminal lawyer, there are tactics that can be used to your advantage. Our criminal defense team has the knowhow and resources to swiftly revisit the crime scene, interview witnesses and review evidence. We understand that there are certain instances and circumstances that are often out of your control. Additionally, we realize that you very well may be the victim in your case. We understand the different possible defenses–self-defense, mistaken identity, duress, defense of a third person, necessity, insanity–that may be applicable in your case. When it comes down to it, our legal team takes into account that people will do anything they can to defend themselves, their family and their loved ones if someone is trying to hurt them. If a threat presents itself, then your mindset to protect and your adrenaline may result in brutal actions, potentially in the form of deadly force. Protect your freedom and enlist the help of a qualified Fort Worth/Dallas homicide defense attorney without delay.
Entrusting your case with The Owens Law Firm may be one of the best choices you make in the aftermath of an arrest. Having previously worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, David Owens has the experience and knowledge to provide clients with a strong and effective defense. We are able to utilize this experience from the other side of the courtroom and help protect the rights of countless individuals throughout the Metroplex.
At The Owens Law Firm we pride ourselves on our commitment to each and every client we take on. If you are concerned that you will be held responsible for the death of another, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office today at (817) 860-8888.Your future and freedom are on the line; don’t waste another moment!