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Types of Homicide in Texas - Part 2

 Posted on July 14, 2024 in Criminal Defense

Blog ImageAny type of murder charge leaves you in severe legal jeopardy. When someone has died as a result of your criminal conduct, you could face extreme penalties. Even if you are charged with one of the lower degrees of homicide, your life is going to change forever if you are convicted. While capital murder and first-degree felony murder are the two most serious forms of homicide, murder charged as a second-degree felony can also leave you facing an incredibly long - even lifelong - prison sentence with little hope of parole or early release. If you are facing second-degree felony murder charges, you need a highly experienced Collin County, TX homicide defense lawyer to help you.

When is Murder a Second-Degree Felony? 

Murder can be decreased from a first-degree felony to a second-degree felony if the defendant can show that they were responding to adequate provocation and acted in the heat of the moment with no reasonable chance to cool down. This means that the provocation and the killing must have happened in very quick succession. If you had time to reflect or calm down in between the provocation and the killing, you could instead be charged with a first-degree felony, as the murder could be considered premeditated.

The type of provocation you experienced must have been enough to cause a reasonable person to become so enraged or terrified that he would become incapable of cooling down and thinking through his actions. Being insulted or even assaulted in a way that could not be perceived as life-threatening would not suffice. People are expected to be able to handle being insulted or offended without killing others.

Adequate provocation must be rather extreme. Examples of things that might constitute adequate provocation include:

  • Witnessing a sexual assault against your wife or child, 
  • Finding out that your neighbor has burned your house down, 
  • Learning that someone intentionally injured your child while caring for him,
  • Catching your spouse in the act of intercourse with an affair partner, 
  • Killing someone intentionally during a physical fight but not in reasonable self-defense, 
  • Killing someone who has been abusing you for years and during another act of abuse
  • Witnessing a significant act of abuse against your elderly and vulnerable family member. 

Texas law does not provide a clear and exact list of types of provocation that are or are not sufficient to downgrade a murder charge from a first-degree felony to a second-degree felony. This leaves courts significant discretion in deciding what constitutes adequate provocation.

Contact a Plano, TX Murder Defense Attorney

Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C. is experienced in defending people who have been accused of murder in Texas. Our dedicated Collin County, TX homicide defense lawyers will work to have the charges against you reduced or are prepared to take your case to trial. Contact us at 469-333-3333 for a complimentary consultation.

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