Murder is defined as an unlawful homicide done with malice aforethought. This means a defendant is guilty when there was no legal reason for them to kill another human being. In Texas, a first-degree murder conviction is punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison. But in Texas, a murder charge can also be upgraded to a capital murder charge.
Texas has nine circumstances that will increase a first-degree murder charge to a capital murder charge:
- The victim was a police officer or first responder acting in the line of duty
- The person intentionally committed murder during felonious crime, such as kidnapping, burglary, robbery, arson, aggravated sexual assault, obstruction, retaliation, or a terrorist threat.
- Murder for hire or the promise of money in return for committing murder
- The victim died while the person tried to attempt to or actually escape from prison or jail
- The person murders another while incarcerated
- A person murders the victim in retaliation for, because the service of, or because of the status of a judge or justice
- The victim is younger than 10 years-old
- The person murders more than one victim during single or multiple crimes
A defendant convicted of capital murder can face life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.
Yes. Hiring a Texas criminal lawyer will help you understand the charge and specific defenses you can use.