Texas likes to maintain its “tough on crime” image by aggressively prosecuting people accused of crimes, especially violent crimes like homicide. The crime often is considered one of the most heinous, and it can carry some of the most severe criminal and civil consequences.
If you have been accused of murder or homicide, you are facing the most serious set of penalties under Texas or federal law. If convicted, your life will never be the same. Your choice of a criminal defense lawyer is extremely important and should be made as quickly as possible so your defense efforts can begin in earnest.
San Antonio Homicide Attorney
At Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr, we have more than 40 years of experience representing people accused of serious and heinous crimes, such as murder and homicide. If you have been charged with or are being investigated for someone’s death, do not hesitate to contact us at our offices in San Antonio. The attorneys understand the sensitive situation you are in, and they will work to make sure your rights are represented.
Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr represents clients throughout the San Antonio area and throughout Texas. They will handle your case with the utmost importance and work one-on-one with you to try to get the best possible result in you case. Call (210) 226-1463 to schedule a free case evaluation. The attorneys never charge for initial consultations.
Information Center for Homicide Charges
- Analyzing the Charges
- Murder Charges in Texas
- Investigating the Facts to Make Your Case
- Resources for Dealing with Homicide
Being accused of a homicide is one of the most serious crimes a person can be charged with. However, there are various forms of homicide and a variety of charges. Each case involving accusations of murder and homicide is unique, and if the state believes you were involved in someone’s death, they may charge you with one or more of the following offenses:
- Capital murder
- Felony murder
- Sudden passion or second-degree murder
- Murder for hire
- Solicitation of murder
- Conspiracy to murder
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Vehicular homicide
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Involuntary manslaughter
No matter the charge, you should not speak to law enforcement or anyone else until you have met with an attorney. You have the right to remain silent, and because of the severity of the consequences of a homicide charge, you absolutely should do so. An attorney can help you navigate through the investigation and help you avoid any missteps with law enforcement.
The Texas statutes for murder charges are found in subsection 19.02(b)(1) for intentional or knowing murder and in subsection 19.02(b)(2) for “act clearly dangerous to human life” murder. A person commits murder if he or she:
- Intentionally or knowingly causes the death of another person
- Intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of a person
- Commits or attempts to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and in the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempt, or in immediate flight from the commission or attempt, he or she commits or attempts to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of a person.
In the first two instances, a person must have the intent to kill someone or the intent to inflict serious bodily injury. This is different from the other situation in which there is no intent.
The third section describes with what is commonly known as the Felony Murder Doctrine, in which a person is guilty of murder if he or she kills someone by committing an act clearly dangerous to human life even if he or she did not intend to kill or cause serious bodily injury.
A person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree he reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other person’s use or attempted use of unlawful force. Texas Penal Code § 9.31(a). A person is justified in using deadly force:
- If he would be justified in using force under section 9.31 of the Texas Penal Code
- When and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the another person’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force
Murder is a first-degree felony and is punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison.
Capital Murder Under Texas Law
There are several instances in which a crime could be considered capital murder under Texas law. For example, if a person knowingly murders a peace officer or a firefighter or commits a murder for hire, it could be considered capital murder, according to Texas Penal Code Annotated § 19.03(a)(2).
A homicide also could be considered capital murder under Texas law if someone murders more than one person during the same criminal transaction or pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct. If a person murders someone under age six, it also would be a capital murder charge.
A person also could commit the offense of capital murder if he or she intentionally commits murder “in the course of committing or attempting to commit” one of the following felony offenses:
- Aggravated sexual assault
- Obstruction or retaliation
- Terroristic threat
Felony Murder Charges
The felony murder statute is set out in Texas Penal Code § 19.02(b)(3). To be charged with felony murder, the accused must have committed or attempted to commit an act clearly dangerous to human life while in immediate flight from the commission or attempt of a felony other than manslaughter. This had to cause the death of a person.
Manslaughter under Texas Penal Code Section 19.04 means recklessly causing the death of an individual. This often is called involuntary manslaughter in other states. Under Texas law, manslaughter is a felony of the second degree. It is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years nor less than 2 years, a fine not to exceed $10,000 or a combination.
When the death results from a vehicle crash and it is alleged that the driver causes the crash due to intoxication, the charges are normally prosecuted under Texas Penal Code § 49.08 for Intoxication Manslaughter.
Criminal Negligent Homicide in Texas
A person commits the offense of criminally negligent homicide if he or she causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence, according to Texas Penal Code Annotated § 19.05(a). A person acts with criminal negligence with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.
Criminally negligent homicide is a state-jail felony and is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in prison.
If you are facing murder charges, you may feel like their is no way out. However, an attorney can help you build a defense. The criminal defense attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr work with forensic experts in a number of fields to critically examine the government’s case and fortify your defense. Scientific evidence against you may be flawed, and we have experience debunking flawed evidence, including autopsies.
If you acted in self-defense or under duress, we will assert these defenses. We also can explore mental defenses, including the insanity defense and challenges to our client’s competency to stand trial. In addition, we also may be able to argue the death was caused by reckless or careless behavior, but the elements of murder were not present
The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr can use their vast experience in defending individuals under investigation for or charged with homicide to determine what defense will work in your particular case. Each instance is difference, and the attorneys can analyze the facts of your case to help you fight the charges.
Survivor Resources – Survivor Resources is a private, non-profit organization committed to providing immediate and long-term emotional support and help for those affected by an unexpected death through homicide, suicide or accident.
National Archive of Criminal Justice Data– This Homicide Data Resource Guide was designed by the NACJD staff to provide easy access to data collections related to homicide. It provides quick links to certain types of homicide studies and links to studies available for online data analysis.
San Antonio Police Department Homicide Unit – The San Antonio Police Department Homicide Unit is directed by Lieutenant Chris Benavides and is staffed with five sergeants, 47 detectives, one patrolman and nine civilian support personnel.
Finding the Best Homicide Defense Lawyer in Bexar County
If you have been accused this violent crime, don’t hesitate to contact us to get experienced lawyers on your side. For homicide investigations throughout the state of Texas, including the greater San Antonio area, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr to discuss your case. Call (210) 226-1463 today.