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Is There a Difference Between Manslaughter and Murder?

When a person dies at the hands of another, it is considered a homicide. Criminal homicide charges in Texas are divided into two different categories: murder and manslaughter. While both of these crimes involve the unlawful killing of another, these ...

When a person dies at the hands of another, it is considered a homicide. Criminal homicide charges in Texas are divided into two different categories: murder and manslaughter. While both of these crimes involve the unlawful killing of another, these offenses have many differences and can carry vastly different penalties.

What Is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is the act of recklessly causing the death of another individual. While many other states divide manslaughter into further subcategories of voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, Texas treats manslaughter as one single charge with enhanced penalties for certain circumstances.

A conviction of manslaughter in Texas can carry:

  • Anywhere from 2 to 20 years in prison
  • Up to $10,000 in fines

Manslaughter does not involve any premeditation and is often considered a "crime of passion," or a killing that occurs when a person is in a fragile emotional state and is unable to control their actions. Similarly, a person can be charged with intoxication manslaughter if they recklessly cause the death of another person while intoxicated, usually as the result of a drunk driving car accident.

What Is Murder?

Murder, on the other hand, is a much more serious charge. Unlike manslaughter in which a person recklessly or impulsively causes a death, murder involves the intent to kill and is often premeditated.

A person commits murder when they:

  1. Intentionally and knowingly cause the death of another person;
  2. Intend to cause serious bodily injury and commit an act clearly dangerous to human life; or
  3. Cause the death of another while committing or attempting to commit a felony.

A murder conviction can carry up to 99 years in prison and $10,000 in fines upon conviction. In particularly egregious circumstances in which a murder involves the killing of a police officer, firefighter, child under the age of 6, or multiple people, a person can be charged with capital murder, an offense potentially punishable by death.

Facing Charges? Call (830) 476-7780

If you have been charged with murder or manslaughter, it is imperative you retain the services of a hard-hitting legal team to protect yourself against life-altering consequences upon conviction. With more than 60 years of experience, our trial-tested New Braunfels criminal defense lawyers at Kyle Law Firm can fight to defend you against the prosecution's claims and advocate for a reduction or dismissal of your charges on your behalf. Contact our firm online or set up a confidential case review today to get started towards building your defense.

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