Kerrville Murder Defense Attorney Protects Your Rights
Experienced advocate defends people facing homicide charges in Texas
Being charged with murder in Texas is a serious matter. Texas is the leading death penalty state in the country, having administered nearly 600 executions since 1976. If you are charged with homicide, it is essential to retain an accomplished attorney to counter this most serious allegation. One way to do this is to find a lawyer who is board-certified in criminal defense by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
At the Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison, P.C. in Kerrville, I am a Board-certified attorney who delivers vigorous, determined representation to individuals accused of homicide. I understand that authorities often make errors in their investigation and miss evidence that points to other potential suspects. No matter what led to the criminal count, my firm investigates aggressively to bring crucial facts to light, and fight aggressively to preserve clients’ freedom.
Accomplished lawyer handles murder and other types of criminal homicide cases
Depending on the particular circumstances, prosecutors can choose from the one of the following four types of homicide charges under the Texas Penal Code:
- Murder — Typically a first-degree felony, murder occurs when someone knowingly and intentionally takes the life of another human being, or when someone commits an act that is so inherently dangerous it exhibits a wanton disregard for human life.
- Capital murder — A person who kills a law enforcement officer or firefighter in the performance of their duties could face the death penalty. Murder could also be a capital crime when committed during a serious felony, such as arson, kidnapping, robbery or burglary, terroristic threat, obstruction or retaliation, or sexual assault.
- Manslaughter — The Texas Code defines manslaughter is an unintentional killing that results from reckless activity. For example, a reckless driving accident that kills a pedestrian would be manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
- Criminally negligent homicide — This state jail felony occurs when a person disregards the duty to act safely, directly causing the death of another. Not all accidental killings fall into this category; prosecutors look for more than ordinary or momentary carelessness.
The category of homicide charged depends largely on the mental state of the accused, and that’s also where defenses often begin.
Can murder charges be dropped or changed?
With homicide cases, it’s not unusual for charges to change as facts are revealed. For example, in a fatal assault, prosecutors might charge murder, alleging intent to kill. If facts reveal a fight started in a moment of rage and a single blow caused the death, the charge could be reduced to manslaughter.
When is homicide considered self-defense in Texas?
There are numerous potential defenses to a homicide charge, including:
- Alibi — The defendant claims to have been in a different location when the crime was
- Self-defense — The defendant claims the right to use deadly force to defend their own life.
- Reasonable defense of a third party — The defendant claims the right to use deadly force to protect an innocent third party from an attacker.
In Texas, people have the right to defend themselves and are not required to retreat from an attacker. However, strict rules apply. The defendant must have had a reasonable fear that the deceased was using force in attempting to:
- Enter their home, place of work, or vehicle, or
- Remove them from their home, place of work or vehicle, or
- Commit a serious crime against them, such as robbery, sexual assault or murder
The defendant must not have been the aggressor or have been engaged in criminal activity above a Class C misdemeanor. Also, a self-defense claim cannot be brought if the defendant was merely responding to verbal provocation. Self-defense is often more complicated that people think. Even when the strategy succeeds against the homicide charge, the defendant could face criminal liability for weapons charges.