How Does Texas Classify Murder Charges and Their Penalties? | Jourdanton Defense Attorney

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How Does Texas Classify Murder Charges and Their Penalties?

 Posted on May 19,2021 in Criminal Defense

IL defense lawyerIn most cases, the lives of those who are convicted of murder are essentially over. A lifetime in prison with or without the possibility of parole is a common sentence for those who have been convicted of murder. In Texas, the death penalty is still a possiblity for those convicted of the most serious crimes, such as murder. In fact, the state of Texas holds the record for the most people executed since 1976. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Texas has executed a total of 570 prisoners since 1976, as of March 2021. Even though a death sentence is a possible penalty for murder, there are several types of murder that you could be charged with in Texas; the specific crime you are charged with will determine what type of sentence you face.


According to Texas law, a person commits murder if they:

  • Intentionally and knowingly cause the death of a person
  • Intend to cause serious bodily harm to a person by committing an act that dangerous to human life and results in that person’s death
  • Commit or attempt to commit a felony during the course of which they commit an act that is dangerous to human life and results in a person’s death

Murder is charged as a first-degree felony, which carries a possibility of a minimum of five years in prison or up to life in prison. If the person committed the murder under “sudden passion,” meaning they committed the act in response to an action from the victim, they can be charged with a second-degree felony, which carries a possible sentence of a minimum of two years to a maximum of 20 years in prison. Both charges carry the possibility of up to $10,000 in fines.

Capital Murder

There are various ways a person can be charged with capital murder, which is a much more serious offense than basic murder. A person commits capital murder if the perpetrator:

  • Murders a police officer
  • Intentionally commits the murder during the course of certain felony crimes
  • Murders someone in exchange for money or hires a person to murder another person
  • Murders someone when attempting to escape from prison
  • Is imprisoned and murders an employee or another prisoner
  • Is imprisoned for a murder offense and commits murder
  • Murders more than one person during or in relation to the same criminal act
  • Murders a child under the age of 15
  • Murders a person in retaliation for the service or status of a criminal justice professional

Capital murder is charged as a capital felony. The sentence for a capital felony depends on whether or not the state prosecutor seeks the death penalty. If the death penalty is sought, the jury must decide between a death sentence and life in prison. If the death penalty is not sought, the mandatory sentencing for a capital felony is life in prison for those who were over the age of 18 at the time of the offense, or life in prison with the possibility of parole if they were under the age of 18.

Contact a Jourdanton, TX Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with any type of homicide, you need to immediately contact an experienced Atascosa County homicide defense lawyer. BRCK Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to provide you with compassionate defense to any type of violent crime you may be charged with, including homicide. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 830-769-1010.


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