Man in handcuffs

Driving home late at night, a man is reeling over being served divorce papers while he was at work. A marriage of 15 years is now destroyed, all in a matter of moments. Gripping the steering wheel hard, the man fights back the tears as he speeds down the road, anxious to be alone with his thoughts.

Due to the heavy emotional trauma, he fails to notice that the cars in front of him have come to a stop. He plows into them, going full speed, and blacks out.

At the hospital, a set of police officers come over to inform him that he is being charged with criminally negligent homicide. The passenger in the back of the vehicle he hit died on impact. The driver and the other passenger are seriously wounded.

Crime or Tragic Accident?

Cases like this, unfortunately, happen every day. Someone faces an intense change in their life, the loss of a loved one, or the signal of a divorce, and they take matters into their own hands. When an accident causes the death of another, then the responsible party may be facing more than just a hefty ticket and guilt. They may also face a felony charge of negligent homicide. 

If you are facing a charge of criminally negligent homicide in the state of Texas, you do not have to face it alone. Instead, the criminal defense attorneys at Gebhardt & Eppes will walk alongside you, ensuring that your trial is fair and that you are treated with respect. Our team strongly believes that all individuals are innocent unless proven guilty. Here is more information about our negligent homicide defense services:

What Is Negligent Homicide?

The Texas Penal Code Sec. 19.05, criminally negligent homicide is when a person causes the death of another by criminal negligence. 

Criminal negligence is defined by the Texas Penal Code Section 6.03 as an individual who ought to be aware of the substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. In layman’s terms, the behavior or situation that the individual finds themselves in should be enough to let them know that their actions cause a serious and life-threatening risk to not only themselves but those around them. They also should be able to guess the outcome of continuing said behavior or failure to warn others about said situation. The risk, in this case, has to be of a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it, constitutes a gross deviation from the ordinary standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the person’s standpoint. 

For example, the man at the beginning of our article is overcome by grief for the dissolution of his marriage. This causes him to drown in sorrow, speed on the road, and fail to notice the brake lights in front of him. Had the man not been overcome by grief, he wouldn’t have acted in this way, and therefore had a momentary lapse in judgment where he disregarded the reasonable duty that all drivers share to follow the laws and keep other drivers safe on the road.

Common Examples of Criminally Negligent Homicide

A person texting and driving.
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Physical altercation
  • Failing to call emergency services for a seriously sick or injured individual
  • Leaving a child in a hot car
  • College students being hazed

What Is the Difference Between Manslaughter and Negligent Homicide in the State of Texas?

Most individuals often confuse manslaughter and negligent homicide as the same charge. However, under Texas Law, they are completely different charges.

Manslaughter is a second-degree felony that carries a much harsher penalty than criminally negligent homicide. Manslaughter is when an individual, through their actions or inactions, recklessly causes the death of another individual

Recklessness is defined as deliberately acting in a way that could potentially cause harm to others without regard for the risk or the danger.

The major difference between the two is that negligent homicide involves risks that the individual should have been aware of but wasn’t. Manslaughter is when an individual was aware of the risk and its consequences but continued to act in the risky behavior regardless. 

What Are the Penalties for Negligent Homicide in Texas?

cop car with his lights on

Criminally negligent homicide is considered a state felony in the State of Texas. This is the lowest category of felonies but still carries serious consequences that can damage one’s life and reputation. On top of 180 days to 2 years of jail time and a fine of up to $10,000, individuals can expect to find their reputation tarnished, making it harder for them to find jobs once their sentence is up. 

What Are the Possible Defenses Against a Charge for Criminally Negligent Homicide?

For an individual to be convicted of criminally negligent homicide, it has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, that the individual should be aware of the damage their actions or inactions would make. If the prosecution cannot prove this, then the charge may be reduced or completely dismissed.

This can be done with the following:

  • Showing that the defendant’s actions did not cause the victim’s death
  • The risk of the defendant’s actions was not unreasonable or unjustifiable
  • A reasonable person would have acted the same way under the same circumstances

There will be some cases where the defendant will have truly been negligent. However, these charges can also be mitigated through a plea deal. You will want an experienced negligent homicide attorney on your side to help you decide which route should be taken for your defense.

Are You Facing a Criminally Negligent Homicide Charge in Texas?

If you are being charged with negligent homicide in the State of Texas, you do not have to fight it alone. Instead, the team of trusted negligent homicide defense attorneys at Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC can help! With years of experience under our belts, we can help fight for your right to be heard and ensure that you receive a fair trial and verdict. 

We work around the clock to build a personalized defense strategy that shows your innocence. Contact our team today for more information on our services or to schedule an appointment to go over the facts of your case.

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Negligent Homicide FAQs

What Are Examples of Criminally Negligent Homicide?

Common examples go negligent homicide are as follows:
1. Texting while driving a motor vehicle and running at top speed into another vehicle or pedestrian.
2. Firing a deadly weapon in the air during a celebration.
3. Leaving a child unattended car in hot weather

Is Manslaughter Worse Than Criminally Negligent Homicide?

Most individuals incorrectly assume that manslaughter and negligent homicide are the same thing. However, Texas deals with these two crimes differently. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony and carries harsher penalties than criminally negligent homicide which is a state jail felony.