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Arrested for Homicide in Harris County? Why Hiring An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Is Crucial
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Arrested for Homicide in Harris County? Why Hiring An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Is Crucial

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Murder charges are of course the most serious of all charges and the most seriously pursued by the State Attorney’s Office or Federal Prosecutors. A person charged with homicide (murder) in Texas …

Murder charges are of course the most serious of all charges and the most seriously pursued by the State Attorney’s Office or Federal Prosecutors. A person charged with homicide (murder) in Texas risks significant jail time and most convictions will result in never being released from custody. In some cases, they face being sentenced to death. Texas has become infamous in the country for the number of murders.

However not all deaths are criminal, and there are several powerful homicide defenses provided under Texas Law. If you or someone you know is charged with some form of a Homicide charge, then you need the best possible attorney. You are entitled to the best legal defense possible. Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Charles Johnson can deliver that defense for you. Houston Criminal Homicide Lawyer Charles Johnson is available to discuss your case whenever you need him. Contact him directly at (713) 222-7577. His Law Office is headquartered in Houston, with offices conveniently located in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.

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  • 1. Arrested for Murder in Houston? Why Hiring An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Is CrucialAre you currently in a situation where you arefacing criminal charges for Murder? HoustonCriminal Homicide Lawyer CharlesJohnson represents clients charged withHomicide crimes throughout all of Texas. TheCharles Johnson Law Firm can provide legalcounsel at virtually any stage of your case, evenif formal charges have not yet been filed againstyou. Currently, Texas has six types of CriminalHomicide charges:  Capital Murder  Murder  Manslaughter  Criminally Negligent Homicide  Intoxication Manslaughter and  Capital SabotageHomicide is the act of killing another person,either intentionally or unintentionally. It isperhaps the most serious crime you could beaccused of, and the potential penalties you couldface if convicted are equally serious. Your lawyermust be well-versed in Texas andFederal Homicide laws to successfullyrepresent you. If you or someone you love hasbeen charged with any type of Criminal Homicide, you must take these charges very seriously and seek thelegal advice of an experienced and knowledgeable Houston Criminal Defense Attorney right away.The Charles Johnson Law Firm will examine all the details of your case and will challenge the evidenceagainst you. Houston Lawyer Charles Johnson has helped his clients either prove their innocence, or obtain areduction in the charges against them. Whether you or guilty or not, you deserve to have an experiencedattorney on your side who will work aggressively, to protect you and your rights. Contact Criminal DefenseLawyer Charles Johnson anytime night or day directly at (713) 222-7577. He is always available todiscuss your case.Texas Penal Code Chapter 19: Four Types Of Criminal HomicideTPC section 19.01 states that there are four types of Criminal Homicide. They are Murder,CapitalMurder, Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide. 1
  • 2. MurderUnder TPC section 19.02 there are three basic ways to commit murder: 1. intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual; 2. intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual; or 3. commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, he commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.Murder is usually a felony of the first degree, the possible punishment for which is imprisonment in theinstitutional division for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 5 years and/or by a fine notto exceed $10,000. The only exception to this that the crime is a felony of the second degree if therequirements of TPC sec. 19.02 (d) are satisfied:At the punishment stage of a trial, the defendant may raise the issue as towhether he caused the death under the immediate influence of sudden passion arisingfrom an adequate cause. If the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by apreponderance of the evidence, the offense is a felony of the second degree.During the punishment phase of the trial, a defendant may argue that he caused the death while under theimmediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause. “Sudden passion” is “passiondirectly caused by and arising out of provocation by the individual killed or another acting with the personkilled which passion arises at the time of the offense and is not solely the result of former provocation.”“Adequate cause” is a “cause that would commonly produce a degree of anger, rage, resentment, or terrorin a person of ordinary temper, sufficient to render the mind incapable of cool reflection.” Sudden passion is amitigating circumstance that, if found by the jury to have been proven by a preponderance of the evidence,reduces the offense from a first degree felony to a second degree felony.Thus, before defendants are allowed to have the judge or jury consider sudden passion, defendants mustprove: 1. that there was a adequate (legally recognized) provocation for the emotion or passion; 2. an emotion or passion such as terror, anger, rage, fear or resentment existed; 3. that the homicide occurred while the passion or emotion still existed; 4. that the homicide occurred before there was a reasonable opportunity for the passion or emotion to cool (dissipate); and, 5. that there was a causal connection between the provocation, the passion, and the homicide.A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years,and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000. This is where the old offense of “voluntary manslaughter” ended upafter amendments to the TPC effective in 1994. Thus, there is currently no offense of voluntary manslaughterin Texas. 2
  • 3. Capital MurderA capital murder is a capital felony. The Texas Penal Code specifically defines Capital Murder (and, thus, thepossibility of the death penalty as a punishment) as murder which involves one or more of the elements listedbelow: 1. 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; 2. the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat, 3. the person commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration; 4. the person commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution; 5. the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders another: a. who is employed in the operation of the penal institution; or b. with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination; 6. the person: a. while incarcerated for an offense under this section or Sec.19.02, murders another; or b. while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for an offense under Sec. 20.04, 22.021, or 29.03, murders another; 7. the person murders more than one person: a. during the same criminal transaction; or b. during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct; 8. the person murders an individual under six years of age; or 9. 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 of the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, a district court, a criminal district court, a constitutional county court, a statutory county court, a justice court, or a municipal court.A capital felony is punishable by death or life imprisonment without parole. If the prosecution is not seekingthe death penalty, life without parole is the mandatory sentence. Prior to 2005, capital felony lifeimprisonment was life with the possibility of parole after 40 years.Under current state law, the crimes of Capital Murder and Capital Sabotage (see below) or a second convictionfor the aggravated sexual assault of someone under 14 is eligible for the death penalty.Note: The Texas Penal Code allows for the death penalty to be assessed for “aggravated sexual assault ofchild committed by someone previously convicted of aggravated sexual assault of child”. The statute remainspart of the Penal Code; however, the Supreme Court of the United State’s decision in Kennedy v. Louisianawhich outlawed the death penalty for any crime not involving murder nullifies its effect.The Texas Penal Code also allows a person can be convicted of any felony, including capital murder, “as aparty” to the offense. “As a party” means that the person did not personally commit the elements of thecrime, but is otherwise responsible for the conduct of the actual perpetrator as defined by law; which includes:  soliciting for the act, 3
  • 4.  encouraging its commission,  aiding the commission of the offense,  participating in a conspiracy to commit any felony where one of the conspirators commits the crime of capital murderThe felony involved does not have to be capital murder; if a person is proven to be a party to a felony offenseand a murder is committed, the person can be charged with and convicted of capital murder, and thus eligiblefor the death penalty.As in any other state, people who are under 18 at the time of commission of the capital crime or mentallyretarded are precluded from being executed by the Constitution of the United States.ManslaughterManslaughter (TPC sec. 19.04) is recklessly causing the death of an individual. Manslaughter is a felony ofthe second degree, which is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years,and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000.Texas does not officially use the term “involuntary manslaughter” or “voluntary manslaughter” which cansometimes be a little bit confusing. Many states do make the distinction between voluntary and involuntarymanslaughter. Instead, Texas combines involuntary and voluntary manslaughter together and it is known asjust “manslaughter.”To convict a defendant of manslaughter, prosecutors must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt thatthe defendant recklessly caused the death of another individual. There is no requirement of premeditation tothis crime and no requirement for there to be intent or knowledge on the part of the defendant. The onlyrequirement is that the defendant’s conduct was reckless.Although manslaughter is defined broadly in Texas, there are specific types of manslaughter that are treatedseparately. For example, intoxication manslaughter is one, and vehicular manslaughter is another.Intoxication manslaughter deals with the defendant recklessly causing the death of another while intoxicated.Cases involving driving while intoxicated would probably be prosecuted under TPC sec. 49.08, IntoxicationManslaughter (see below), rather than under this section. Vehicular manslaughter deals with the defendantrecklessly causing the death of another while driving a vehicle or vessel.Criminally Negligent HomicideCriminally negligent homicide (TPC sec. 19.05) is causing the death of an individual by criminal negligence. Itis a state jail felony under which in general, a person can be confined in a state jail for not more than twoyears nor less than 180 days. In addition, a fine of not more than $10,000 may be assessed.Criminally Negligent Homicide differs from Manslaughter only in terms of the culpability ormensrea. Criminally negligent homicide involves criminal negligence. Manslaughter involves recklessness. Thus,Manslaughter involves conscious risk creation (the actor is aware of the risk surrounding his conduct or theresults thereof, but consciously disregards that awareness). Criminally negligent homicide involves inattentiverisk creation. The actor ought to have been aware of the riskiness of his or her conduct but failed to perceivethe risk.Recklessness and criminal negligence are more serious forms of culpability than the negligence that can resultin civil liability. Unlike civil or ordinary negligence, recklessness requires some subjective awareness of the 4
  • 5. risk. Ordinary negligence is a totally objective standard. Criminal negligence requires a “gross” deviationfrom the standard of care a reasonable or ordinary person would have exercised under the samecircumstances. Criminal negligence is roughly equivalent to “gross negligence” which is a more serious formof culpability than ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence can be made out by showingany deviation fromthe standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise.Texas Penal Code Section 49.08 Intoxication ManslaughterThe final type of criminal homicide found in Texas Code is found in TPC ch. 49, “Intoxication and AlcoholicBeverage Offenses.” A person is guilty of intoxication manslaughter if the person operates a motor vehicle ina public place, operates an aircraft, watercraft or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement rideand “ is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.”“Intoxicated is defined as having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more or“not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlledsubstance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any othersubstance into the body . . .”This offense is a felony of the second degree. A second degree felony is punishable by imprisonment for notmore than 20 years nor less than 2 years, and/or a fine not to exceed $10,000Note that this is a strict liability offense. Guilt attaches even if the death is caused by accident ormistake. Many observers are critical of strict liability offenses because they arguably punish conduct which isnot blameworthy. Supporters of strict liability offenses counter that such offenses are usually fine-onlyoffenses. This is clearly not the case for sec. 49.08 for which a person could be imprisoned for up to 20 years.Section 49.08 does not apply to injury or death of an unborn child if the offense against the unborn child iscommitted by the mother of the unborn child. Thus, if a pregnant woman is driving while intoxicated and hasan accident which kills her fetus, it is not a crime.Texas Government Code – Section 557.012Capital Sabotage a. A person commits an offense if the person commits an offense under Section 557.011(a) and the sabotage or attempted sabotage causes the death of an individual. b. An offense under this section is punishable by: 1. death; or 2. confinement in the institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for: A. life; or B. a term of not less than two years. c. If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under other law, the actor may be prosecuted under both sections. 5
  • 6. Possible Defenses for Murder ChargesDefenses to first degree murder charges fall into two major categories: claims that the defendant did notcommit the killing in question, and admission that the defendant committed the killing, but did not commitfirst degree murder.Defendants admitting to having killed the victim can assert defenses that theywere justified in doing so (in self defense, for example), or that they weresomehow incapacitated and thus not legally liable. These defenses require thedefendant to put forth proof to support his or her defense.First degree murder defendants also may simply argue that the prosecutionhas not proved all elements of a first degree murder charge typically that thedefendant killed willfully, deliberately and with premeditation. Though thedefendant may support such an argument with evidence, he or she is notrequired to do so, as proof of all elements of the crime falls on the shouldersof the prosecution.As with statutes defining crimes, the defenses recognized for a specific crime can vary by state. Furthermore,which defenses a criminal defendant may have depends on the particular facts of the case in question. Forguidance, defendants should consult an attorney well versed in his or her state’s criminal laws.Mistaken IdentityIn first degree murder cases, as well as other homicide crimes, defendants often argue mistaken identity i.e.,that the prosecution has charged the wrong person with the killing. A defendant arguing mistaken identityoften asserts an alibi if possible, which he or she tries to support with evidence of being somewhere else atthe time of the killing. Other arguments in a mistaken identity defense include challenges to evidence placingthe defendant at the scene of the crime. This can include challenges to witness identification as well aschallenges to forensic evidence. A mistaken identity defense may also point to evidence implicating anotherpossible suspect, but courts do not require defendants to do so.Justified HomicideNot all homicides are crimes, let alone first degree murders. The most common legal justification for a killingis self-defense or the defense of others.Self-DefenseTo succeed, a defendant arguing self defense must show that the killing resulted from a reasonable use offorce to resist a reasonable fear of death or bodily harm. The defendant cannot have instigated thethreatening situation. The degree of force used in self-defense must be proportional to the threat perceived,and the threat perceived must be something that would place a reasonable person in fear of death or greatbodily harm. Mere words or insults do not suffice.The defendant’s reaction to the threat cannot take place after the threat of death or bodily harm has passed.Many states require that the defendant attempt to retreat or avoid danger if possible before resorting to theuse of deadly force. 6
  • 7. For example, if someone incapacitates a mugger with pepper spray, he or she may need to attempt to flee tosafety instead of taking out a pistol and shooting the mugger. States differ in the degree to which they requirean attempt to retreat if the threat they face occurs in the defender’s home.Defense of OthersThe reasonable and proportional defense of others also justifies some killings. The same requirements as self-defense typically apply: the use of force must be timely and proportional to the threat faced, and theperceived threat of death or bodily harm must be reasonable.Exercise of DutyCertain killings by law enforcement and other public officers qualify as justified homicides. If an officer killssomeone in the exercise of duty and without an unlawful intent, recklessness or negligence, that killinggenerally does not constitute murder, let alone first degree murder.Accident or MisfortuneKillings committed by accident in the course of lawful activities do not constitute murder. Some such killingsmay result in liability for manslaughter, but unless an accidental homicide takes place during the commissionof a crime or as a result of other criminal intentions, they would not be covered by first degree or seconddegree murder statutes. In certain cases, such as parental discipline of children which results in evenaccidental death, the use of physical force beyond excepted norms can push the killing into murder andpossibly, depending on state law, first degree murder.Insanity DefenseMost states recognize an insanity defense to charges of first degree murder. Even states which allow thedefense, however, treat it differently and often apply different tests. Most states define insanity, for purposesof determining criminal liability, as cognitively being unable to appreciate the quality of the act beingcommitted, or unable to realize that the act is wrong. Some states also recognize a volitional aspect to“insanity” giving some defendants with disorders affecting impulse control access to the insanity defense.Hire the Best Criminal Homicide Lawyers: The Charles Johnson Law FirmMurder charges are of course the most serious of all charges and the most seriously pursued by the StateAttorney’s Office or Federal Prosecutors. A person charged with homicide (murder) in Texas risks significantjail time and most convictions will result in never being released from custody. In some cases, they face beingsentenced to death. Texas has become infamous in the country for the number of murders.However not all deaths are criminal, and there are several powerful homicide defenses provided under TexasLaw. If you or someone you know is charged with some form of a Homicide charge, then you need the bestpossible attorney. You are entitled to the best legal defense possible. Houston Criminal DefenseLawyer Charles Johnson can deliver that defense for you. Houston Criminal Homicide Lawyer CharlesJohnson is available to discuss your case whenever you need him. Contact him directly at (713) 222-7577.His Law Office is headquartered in Houston, with offices conveniently located in Dallas, Austin and SanAntonio. 7
  • 8. Posts Related to Arrested for Murder in Houston? Why Hiring An ExperiencedCriminal Defense Lawyer Is Crucial  Charged with Intoxication Manslaughter? Choose Your Houston Criminal Lawyer Wisely Any DWI arrest carries the potential for significant penalties and requires the attention of a highly experienced lawyer. But when that DWI arrest involves serious ...  Houston Criminal Lawyer: Defense of Sexual Assault of a Child Charges Sexual allegations where children are involved are delicate and complicated cases to defend. This type of sexual accusation can be devastating in every aspect of ...  Facing An Arrest for Conspiracy? Hire the Best Houston Criminal Lawyer A charge of drug conspiracy or intent to distribute drugs carries much harsher penalties than a drug- possession charge. Federal and state drug laws are more ...  Facing Assault Charges? The Leading Houston Assault Lawyer Offers a Powerful Defense If you have been charged with Assault in Houston, you may face serious jail time. When facing criminal charges it is crucial that you act ...  Charged with DWI in Harris County? Representation By The Best Houston DWI Lawyer Is Critical The odds are higher that you may get pulled over for DWI this holiday season, thanks to a $295,000 state grant that will put at ...Original article may be found at:Arrested for Murder in Houston? Why Hiring An Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Is CrucialHouston Lawyer Charles Johnson can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Call us at 713-222-7577 or toll free at 877-308-0100.Major Credit Cards Accepted.Houston Criminal Lawyer Charles JohnsonSolving Problems...Every Day®http://www.houstoncriminallawyers.com815 Walker Street #1047Houston, TX 77002E-Mail: charlesjohnson@houstoncriminallawyers.comPhone: (713) 222-7577Toll-Free: (877) 308-0100Map to Office 8

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