Murder is a serious offense, and it can land you in prison for life under some circumstances. By being accused of murder, you’ll know that the prosecution believes that you knowingly, intentionally, recklessly or negligently caused another person’s death. In Texas, this is called criminal homicide.
You should be aware that Texas does use capital punishment, which is also known as the death penalty. It holds executions only in the most severe cases, but it is still a risk that you could face if you’re found guilty of a murder that meets capital punishment requirements.
Do all murder trials have the risk of capital punishment?
No, not all. To face capital punishment, the prosecution has to show that the defendant committed an offense that involved a police officer or peace officer on duty or intentionally murdered someone while committing a burglary, kidnapping, arson or one of several other criminal offenses. Assassinating someone for hire is also a capital offense. It’s also possible to face capital charges if a murder takes place while fleeing a penal institution or while housed in a penal institution.
There are many other scenarios that may lead to a capital murder trial, so it’s important to be clear if your case will rise to that degree.
Is Texas’s death penalty unique?
It’s fairly rare, but not necessarily unique. Many states have the death penalty option for certain murder cases. However, Texas is one of only two states that have continued executions in 2021. Many other states have placed a hold on executions temporarily.
Death sentences are on the decline, which is good news if that is a potential punishment in your case. The jury and judge still have the ability to sentence someone who murdered another person differently, such as by sentencing them to life in prison without the opportunity for parole.
Fortunately, many cases don’t have the risk of the death penalty. Regardless of the severity of a crime you’ve been accused of, remember that your defense does matter. You should fight for your rights and to protect yourself against serious punishments, like long-term prison sentences or the death penalty.