Texas Penal Code prescribes higher sentences for homicide than almost any other crime. It can result in pricey fines and sometimes life in prison, all of which can have serious consequences for you as well as your loved ones.

Depending on the circumstances under which the event has occurred, Texan law differentiates several types of homicide charges. Due to this, the circumstances could mean all the difference when it comes to defending a case in court. In this blog post, we clarify the differences between murder, capital murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.

What is Murder?

In the state of Texas, a person may face murder charges if they:

  • deliberately cause another person’s death,
  • commit a dangerous or life-threatening act,
  • cause dangerous bodily harm,
  • commit or attempt to commit a felony that as a consequence has another person’s death, or
  • flee the commission or attempted commission during which they kill another person.

Circumstances of most murders differ, which means that so do prescribed charges, but in most cases, a person will face first or second-degree felony charges. In case of second-degree charges, the accused will likely face penalties that are otherwise prescribed for manslaughter: up to 20 years of imprisonment and up to $10,000.

On the other hand, first-degree felony charges bring more severe and life-changing consequences, including between 5 and 99 years at a correctional institution, a life in prison, and up to $10,000.

What is Capital Murder?

A person will be found guilty of committing capital murder in case they murder:

  • a person younger than 10 years of age;
  • more than one individual as part of the same offense;
  • another person as a paid murderer or if they hire someone else to commit a murder for monetary profit;
  • a judge;
  • a prison employee while the one committing murder is imprisoned;
  • a person during an attempt to escape from prison;
  • another person while the murderer is imprisoned for aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, aggravated kidnapping, murder, or capital murder;
  • a fireman and policeman while at their duty (and the person who has murdered them was aware of their role and duty);
  • a person while attempting to rob or kidnap them, or while committing aggravated sexual assault, burglary, arson, retaliation, or posing a threat of terrorism.

Capital murder comes with the most severe penalties, including life imprisonment (which is the most common punishment, though with no possibility of parole), or death by lethal injection.

What is Manslaughter?

According to Texas law, any dangerous or careless behavior that has another person’s death as a consequence is considered to be manslaughter. Examples of manslaughter include traffic accidents, drug abuse, and many other instances.

As a second-degree felony, manslaughter comes with fines of up to $10,000 and of up to 20 years in prison.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter is also known as the killing of passion and refers to a murder that has not been premeditated and is a consequence of provoked (provable in court) anger. Penalties include up to 20 years of incarceration and hefty financial fines.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter implies an accidental, unintentional infliction of serious injuries or death to another person. This may happen as a result of strong emotions such as fear, panic, or rage, or simply as an accident. A person can be punished for involuntary manslaughter in Texas with up to 20 years in prison and with financial fines.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Vehicular manslaughter happens when a driver kills another person in traffic. This may happen due to a number of reasons, including intoxication, distractions, disregard for traffic rules, or fatigue. Charges for vehicular manslaughter will depend on the circumstances and are similar to penalties prescribed for the other types of manslaughter.

What is Criminally Negligent Homicide?

Criminally negligent homicide happens in situations in which a person dies as a consequence of another’s uncommon action, one that deviates from ordinary, standard behavior. One example would be death by a surgeon’s negligence, a situation in which a physician (often involuntarily, by accident, carelessness, or omission) causes a complication to the patient’s health, which ultimately leads to death.

Texas Penal Code prescribes a penalty of up to $10,000, and between 180 days and two years of imprisonment for this kind of state jail felony.

Crime Scene

Difference Between Murder and Manslaughter

The main differences are:

  • murder is deliberate and intentional;
  • manslaughter happens as a result of dangerous or reckless behavior;
  • penalties for the first-degree murder include between 5 and 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines;
  • penalties for mansalughter include up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Difference Between Murder and Homicide

The main differences are:

  • ‘homicide’ as such is not a particular crime per se but a general category of crimes including criminally negligent homicide, murder, capital murder, and manslaughter;
  • criminally negligent homicide is a consequence of another person’s actions, such as doctor’s negligence that results in death;
  • murder is premeditated and intentional;
  • penalties for the first-degree murder include between 5 and 99 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines;
  • penalties for homicide (specifically, criminally negligent homicide) include between 180 days and 2 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Difference Between Manslaughter and Homicide

The main differences are:

  • homicide is a category of criminal actions, as we have mentioned above, and as such it incorporates manslaughter too;
  • manslaughter is not always intentional, but can be voluntary, involuntary, and vehicular;
  • depending on circumstances, penalties for criminally negligent homicide will be between 180 days and 2 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines;
  • punishment manslaughter will come with a similar financial burden of up to $10,000 in fines, or up to 20 years in prison.

Call Benjamin Gergen Today for Free Consultations

Without a seasoned criminal defense attorney, you may face a maximum sentence. We can help you avoid such life-changing consequences. Contact Benjamin Gergen at (512) 614-4412 if you or your loved ones are facing homicide charges or are in need of a council.

Blog posts and resources provide researched information and do not represent legal advise or official opinion from Ben Gergen.