While both are classified as homicide crimes, the difference between manslaughter and murder is whether or not the killing was intentional or premeditated to any degree. Murder generally requires the intent to kill, whereas manslaughter will lack this intent in the circumstances surrounding a homicide.
The difference between manslaughter and murder is an important one to understand because the severity of the punishment for each can be drastically different. Manslaughter is a less serious charge than murder because the killing of another person wasn’t intentional, but this doesn’t mean there won’t be serious consequences if convicted.
Manslaughter Charges in Texas
In Texas, the state charges manslaughter when someone recklessly causes the death of another person. The key word here is “reckless” because it implies that someone may be engaging in dangerous behavior without the intent to cause harm to anyone else. Even so, though, someone may be killed as a consequence of reckless behavior.
Behavior that could result in manslaughter charges includes the following:
- Driving While Intoxicated by alcohol and/or drugs
- Street racing or disregarding other traffic laws
- Carelessly discharging a firearm around other people
- Any other negligent behavior that could kill someone else
Voluntary vs. Involuntary Manslaughter
Manslaughter may be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter refers to intentionally killing someone, but it lacks the criminal element of premeditation or forethought. Other mitigating factors surrounding a homicide may distinguish it as manslaughter instead of murder. Voluntary manslaughter may be charged when someone allegedly kills another person due to a sudden provocation or by using excessive force in self-defense.
In contrast, involuntary manslaughter is alleged when a killing is caused by negligence or recklessness; it was an unintended consequence of some other act or behavior. A conviction for either offense could result in many years of imprisonment, with the maximum possible penalty being 20 years and a $10,000 fine.
Murder Charges in Texas
In Texas, murder is the intentional or knowing killing of another person without legal justification.
First-degree murder occurs when a person intentionally causes the death of an individual while committing or attempting to commit certain felonies such as kidnapping and arson. This type of murder requires premeditation and deliberation and carries a punishment of five to 99 years in prison, life imprisonment, or even death penalty depending on various factors related to a case.
Second-degree murder is defined as the intentional killing of another person without premeditation or deliberation, and charges may be reduced to voluntary manslaughter in some cases. If convicted of either offense, a person may be sentenced to prison for two to 20 years.
Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney for Help
If you or someone close to you has been charged with manslaughter or murder, it’s important to act quickly. Rodriguez & Gimbert P.L.L.C. can provide you with the legal guidance and representation you need in such a situation. We are compassionate and experienced criminal defense attorneys who understand how overwhelming these types of charges can be for individuals and their families.
At Rodriguez & Gimbert P.L.L.C., we are dedicated to providing our clients with high-quality legal support. We understand how serious these charges can be and will do everything in our power to help you achieve the best possible outcome.
For more information, contact us online today and request a consultation.