The Crime of Murder in Texas

Jan 25, 2009

Murder isn’t just plain and simple in Texas. It comes in various types and in order to get the best defense, you need to know (and so does your criminal defense attorney) precisely what type you could be charged with. Usually what makes the overall difference in the classifications is the higher consequences – for instance capital murder is punishable by death or life in prison.

Capital murder is killing a cop during the lawful discharge of his or her duty; or killing while committing another felony such as kidnapping, robbery, assault, arson or killing for money (call this murder for hire).

Texas has three classifications of murder – capital murder, murder manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. Murder is intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another person or intending to cause serious bodily injury, but it results in death. It is classed as a first-degree felony and is punishable by 5 years to 99 years or life in prison.

The next class is manslaughter, and this is charged if you recklessly cause the death of somebody. It is usually classed as a second-degree felony and is punishable with a sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years.

Since the classifications are not always that clear, nor likely was your intent clear when the murder happened, this is the crucial time to contact a highly qualified board certified criminal defense attorney. Don’t say a word to anyone and head for the phone to make that call. Only your lawyer needs to hear what your circumstances are in order to mount a viable defense.

Don’t guess what charge you may be facing. Pick up the phone and call an expert criminal defense lawyer. This may be the smartest thing you will ever do if you wish to retain your freedom.

Since criminal law is such a mixed bag at the best of times, spending time trying to figure out how to beat the system if you have been charged with a serious crime won’t do you a lot of good. This is your lawyer’s job, and this is also why you are told to not say anything to anyone until you have spoken to a lawyer. What you say to your attorney may make all the difference in the world between doing time or being set free.

Daniel Wannamaker is a board certified criminal law specialist and has 24 years of criminal trial experience with proven results as a Dallas criminal defense lawyer practicing in Austin criminal defense and Houston Texas. To learn more, visit

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