Gale Law Group
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Corpus Christi, TX 78404

Manslaughter FAQ

Manslaughter in Texas is included in a set of crimes that are classified as “criminal homicide.” This can also include other crimes (such as murder, capital murder, and criminally negligent homicide). You can commit criminal homicide if you kill someone else intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence. It’s one of the most serious crimes you can commit in the State of Texas. Even a manslaughter charge can lead to severe consequences. Understanding the charges that have been placed against you (including what the prosecutor needs to prove and what the penalties are if you’re convicted) is important, which is why you need to find a qualified attorney to help you.

manslaughter faq
How is manslaughter defined in Texas?

Texas manslaughter is referred to as a type of criminal homicide. Anyone who “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal intent” causes the death of another person has committed an act of criminal homicide. This can include any of the following crimes:
–    Murder.
–    Capital murder.
–    Manslaughter.
–    Criminally negligent homicide.
Knowing the elements of manslaughter and how it’s different from other types of criminal homicide is helpful if you want to understand the severity of the charges.

What are the elements of Texas manslaughter?

Section 19.04 of the Texas Penal Code considers manslaughter to be any offense that “recklessly causes the death of an individual.” In Texas, “reckless” is one step above “negligent” and one step below “intentional.” In other words, you must have acted in a way that was more than negligent, but not to the point where you intended to cause the death of that person. This can happen in two ways — as either an actual act or the failure to act.

Unlike most other states, Texas manslaughter isn’t divided into two separate crimes (voluntary or involuntary). But Texas does have two other manslaughter offenses, with one that doesn’t exist in any other state. It’s the only state that has an intoxication manslaughter offense, where someone’s death was caused by an intoxicated individual (whether it’s from alcohol or with drugs). This type of crime is often committed by impaired drivers, but vehicular manslaughter is another type of offense that’s associated with the operation of a motor vehicle.

How is manslaughter different from other types of criminal offenses?

According to the Texas Penal Code, the other types of criminal homicide are murder and capital murder. To prove a murder charge, the offender’s intent to cause the death of someone else or to inflict life-threatening injuries to that person must be established. For capital murder, the offender must have committed a murder when there was an “aggravating factor” (such as killing a peace officer or fireman). The State must be able to prove intent for a murder charge, but that isn’t the case for Texas manslaughter.

What are the penalties for manslaughter in Texas?

A manslaughter conviction is considered a second-degree felony, but the circumstances of the case and whether you had any previous convictions will determine the sentencing process. You could face a minimum of two years in prison, but you could face up to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000. This doesn’t include the long-term effects that being a convicted felon could have on your future and your career.

What are some possible defenses for Texas manslaughter?

The types of defenses you can use will depend on the circumstances of your case, but here is a list of some of the common ones:
–  Insanity — You admit that you committed the crime, but you believe you’re not criminally responsible because of insanity. According to the Texas Penal Code, you must prove that you have a “mental disease or defect” that makes you incapable of knowing that your actions were wrong.
Self-Defense — This is a viable defense in the State of Texas through what is referred to as the “Stand Your Ground Law.” If you’re a homeowner, you’re not legally obligated to retreat into your home before you can use deadly force against someone in the act of self-defense. But, you must be in a place legally (whether it’s at home, at work, or in a car). You also must not have provoked the confrontation and be in “reasonable fear” for your life.
Heat of Passion — You made a response that’s motivated by “immediate and intense emotion.” This is often used to persuade the jury that your actions were because of some extreme level of rage or fear, but you must have acted in a way that any reasonable person would in those circumstances.

If you’re looking for a criminal defense attorney in Corpus Christi that can help you with your case, be sure to get in touch with Gale Law Group.