Murder Defense Attorney in Fort Worth, Texas
Murder is one of the most complex crimes that an individual can be charged with. Due to the complexity of these cases, the high emotional stress of the situation, and the intense media coverage, individuals charged with murder need a strong defense team.
The criminal defense attorneys at Gebhardt & Eppes has dedicated their lives to ensuring that the individuals of Fort Worth, Texas, and the surrounding areas have access to an assertive defense team that will fight for their right to a fair trial. We do not allow the prosecution to bully our clients and we ensure that your side of the story is heard. Here is more information on our murder defense services:
What Are the Different Types of Homicide in the State of Texas?
The state of Texas has four different categories of murder. These are as follows:
- An individual intentionally or knowingly kills another person;
- An individual intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits and act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual; or
- An individual 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, commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.
What Are the Penalties for Murder in the State of Texas?
Texas State law considers murder a felony in the first degree and carries the following penalties:
- A prison sentence between 5-99 years or life; and
- A fine not to exceed $10,000
If the defendant can prove that the murder was a crime of passion, then it may be lowered to murder in the second degree. In this case, the penalties for this crime are as follows:
- A jail sentence of 2-20 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
Capital murder is defined by the Texas Penal Code Section 19.03 as:
- The individual killed a police officer or fireman while they were on duty;
- The individual killed another person during a robbery, burglary, or part of a sexual assault or kidnapping;
- The individual killed multiple people;
- The victim was under the age of 10 years of age;
- The individual killed someone as part of a service (or hired killer/assassin);
- The individual killed someone while attempting to escape or while escaping from a penal prison;
- The individual, who was employed in a penal institution, killed an inmate;
- An individual, who is incarcerated for an offense of murder or capital murder, murders another inmate or employee of the prison;
- The individual murdered someone else in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of the victim, such as a judge or justice of the supreme court;
What Are the Penalties for Capital Murder in the State of Texas?
Texas state law defines capital murder as a capital felony offense. If the defendant is convicted of a capital felony offense, they can face harsh penalties such as life in prison without parole or the death penalty. The minimum age that an individual can be charged with the death penalty in the state of Texas is 18 years of age. When the death penalty is not sought out in a capital felony crime, the other penalty options are as follows:
- Life in prison (mandatory for a capital offense): If the person is 17 years of age or younger, they would not be able to receive parole until they served 40 calendar years in prison;
- Life in prison without parole (mandatory): if the individual committed the crime when they were 18 years of age or older.
Manslaughter and Vehicular Manslaughter
Chapter 19 of the Texas Penal Code defines manslaughter as an individual that recklessly causes the death of another. In other words, the individual must be aware of the risk surrounding their actions and the potential consequences of those actions but consciously choose to do the action anyway.
What Are the Penalties for Manslaughter in the State of Texas?
Manslaughter in the state of Texas is considered a second-degree felony. The consequences of a manslaughter conviction will lead to the following:
- A prison sentence of 2-20 years
- A fine of up to $10,000
Criminally Negligent Homicide
Criminally negligent homicide is defined by Texas state law as a crime that involves the death of another by an individual who should have been aware of the risks and danger that their actions or the conditions of their property presented.
What Are the Penalties for Negligent Homicide?
The state of Texas considers criminally negligent homicide a state felony. The conviction usually carries a penalty of the following:
- 180 days – 2 years in jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
What Are the Defenses Against a Murder Charge?
Regardless of guilt or the degree of murder, you have been charged with, the penalties for any classification of a murder charge are severe and can be life-altering. The attorneys at Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC uses the following strategies to defend against a murder charge:
Self-Defense, The Defense of Property, or the Exercise of Duty
The right to self-defense is protected under the Texas State Penal Code Chapter 9. In these cases, the use of force, even if that force results in the death of another, is a completely valid defense. This allows individuals to protect themselves and their property, such as their home or vehicle.
For this defense, it has to be proven that the victim was trying to harm either the defendant, another person, or the defendant’s property, and the defendant was acting in a manner that was proportional to the level of threat.
For the exercise of duty, it needs to be proven that the defendant was acting in the defense of others who were at risk of serious injury or death due to the threatening actions of the victim. Again, the actions of the defendant have to match the risk that the victim was presented for this defense to be valid.
In other words, the level of force used to defend one’s self, others or property must match the level of force that is being brought upon them. Deadly force can be used when deadly force is used upon them.
There Was a Case of Mistaken Identity
In some cases, the accused individual may have been wrongly charged with a crime they didn’t commit. This is often the case when a witness to the crime was either coerced or mistaken due to the trauma they witnessed or just simply identifies another person out of some sense of appeasing law enforcement.
For this defense to be valid, the defense has to show that the defendant had an alibi that showed that there was no way they could have committed the crime or show that there is reasonable doubt about the evidence that places the accused at the crime.
There Was a Lack of Intent
One of the most important factors in a murder case is whether there was the intent to kill someone. If there was a lack of intent, the charges may be lowered. Lack of intent is often used for arguments such as “the crime was committed in a heat of passion” which involves an extreme emotional response that resulted in the defendant being incapable of rational thought and resulted in murder.
If the defendant did not intend to kill the victim and instead died as a result of reckless or negligent behavior, this can be shown as well to help reduce the charges and penalties being placed against them.
The Prosecution or the Police Violated the Defendant’s Constitutional Rights
Regardless of whether one is guilty of murder or not, every United States Citizen is guaranteed a list of protections. This includes the right to a fair trial and that one is innocent until proven guilty. Violations of this constitutional right, such as the wrongful treatment of the defendant, being denied access to an attorney, or failure to obtain a warrant can cause a murder charge to be dropped or the reduction of the charges and punishment.
If you have been mistreated by law enforcement or the investigators handling your case, always bring this to the intention of your defense attorney so we can ensure that your rights are being protected.
A plea of insanity can help an individual avoid jail time, though the evidence has to be very strong to support this claim. It may also result in the defendant having to spend time in a mental institution instead. For this plea to work, the defense has to prove that the defendant was unable to understand the criminality of their actions or how their actions would affect the victim due to their mental illness or defect at the time of the alleged offense.
Have You Been Charged With Murder in Fort Worth, Texas?
If you or a loved one has been charged with murder, you need to have a knowledgeable defense attorney on your side. The prosecution and the investigators in your case will be ruthless in their pursuit of convicting you for this crime, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it. The team at Gebhardt & Eppes is dedicated to ensuring that your rights are protected and your voice is heard. We dedicate our lives to being an advocate for those who need someone in their corner. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule a consultation to go over the facts of your case.
Defend Your Rights
Murder Defense FAQs
Homicide is a legal term that refers to the killing of any one person by another individual, even if the killing was legally justified, such as self-defense.
Murder refers to the killing of an individual intentionally and with malice. Murder is always a crime, regardless of the situation surrounding it.
1. First-Degree Murder
2. Second-Degree Murder
3. Capital Murder
5. Criminally Negligent Homicide