The most severe punishment a person can be sentenced to in criminal court is capital punishment. The penalties for capital punishment are death by lethal injection. Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is only applied to specific heinous crimes. If a person commits homicide to another with certain circumstances, he or she may face capital murder charges.
Since 1982, the state of Texas has executed 555 people, which accounts for more than one-third of all executions across the United States. Bexar County in particular is the third-highest sentencing county in Texas. When it comes to your life, there is no time to be hesitant.
If you or someone you know has been charged with capital murder in Texas, it’s vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
San Antonio Attorney for Capital Murder in Texas
Capital murder is one of the most severe offenses under Texas law. The state of Texas is notorious for being particularly harsh with murder charges, often using the death penalty. One trial could end your life forever. It is essential that you find the right attorney to protect your life and liberties.
Managing attorney Gerald Harris Goldstein has handled numerous capital murder cases. He has been listed in both Texas Lawyer’s Legal Legends and The Best Lawyers in America. Additionally, Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr has dedicated associate attorneys who are proud members of several reputable legal associations such as the San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the San Antonio Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, and the Federal Bar Association.
The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr accept clients throughout the greater San Antonio metropolitan area and nearby cities including Universal City, Schertz, Elmendorf, and Sandy Oaks.
Overview of Capital Murder Charges in Texas
- Elements for Capital Murder in Texas
- The Death Penalty in Texas
- Defenses to a Capital Murder Case
- Additional Resources
Elements for Capital Murder in Bexar County, Texas
The prosecution must prove the elements of the murder to charge a person with capital murder. Texas Penal Code § 19.02 states a person is committing the offense of murder if he or she does any of the following:
- Knowingly or intentionally caused the death of a person;
- Committed an act that is dangerous to human life and intended to serious bodily injury to another person;
- Committed or attempted to commit a felony, other than manslaughter, and during the commission of the offense he or she committed or attempted to commit an act that is clearly dangerous to human life which caused the death of another person.
Capital murder, however, has added aggravating factors. If a person does one or more of the following, he or she may be charged with capital murder:
- Intentionally committed murder during the course of committing or attempting to commit burglary, arson, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, terroristic threat, or obstruction of retaliation;
- Committed murder whilst escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;
- Murdered a peace officer or fireman during the course of duty with the knowledge that the victim was a firearm or peace officer;
- Murdered another person for something of value, or hired another person to murder another person in exchange for something of value;
- Murdered another while being incarcerated in a penal institution and:
- The victim was an employee in operation of that penal institution; or
- The act was done with intent to establish, maintain or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination.
- Murdered another inmate whilst serving a prison sentence for life imprisonment, murder, or capital murder;
- Murdered more than one person;
- The victim of the murder was under the age of 10 years old;
- Murdered another person as retaliation for or on account of the service of a judiciary employee.
Will I Receive the Death Penalty for Capital Murder?
Texas law considers capital murder to be a capital felony. Unfortunately, a capital felony offense has a possibility for the death penalty. Texas Penal Code § 12.31 states that a person who has been convicted for a capital felony offense may face death by lethal injection or life without parole. The State decides whether or not the crime is fit to seek the death penalty.
If the individual is a minor, then he or she will face 99 years or life in prison with the possibility of parole. Those who successfully use the insanity plea or prove they are mentally unstable will not be given the death penalty. However, they may face life imprisonment or sent to an appropriate court-chosen mental institution.
Possible Defenses for a Capital Murder Case
A murder or capital murder case can be extremely difficult to defend. Depending on the circumstances, the jury can be harsh when analyzing the defendant’s argument. It is crucial that you have a skilled attorney on your side for this process. An experienced attorney can collect evidence, file motions to suppress incriminating evidence, and find any unlawful procedures during your arrest or investigation.
The following are possible defenses or motions a defendant may use in a capital murder case:
- Lack of Intent – A major component for a murder charge is intent. If the alleged offender did not have intent to seriously injure, kill, or commit a felony then he or she may not be charged with capital murder. However, you will likely be charged with another less severe crime.
- Lack of Knowledge – If the murder happened without the alleged offender’s knowledge, he or she may not be charged with capital murder. For example, if a person commits arson on a building but did not think anyone was inside and a person died, this may be considered a lack of knowledge.
- Self Defense – In some cases, a murder may happen as an act of self-defense. If the alleged offender can provide evidence that the murder was the only reasonable means to defend themselves or others, he or she may be not be charged with capital murder.
- Motion to Suppress – The defense may be able to file a motion to suppress evidence that was collected in an unlawful manner. For example, if law enforcement did an illegal search and seizure of the alleged offender’s property, he or she may be able to suppress that evidence in court.
Texas Homicide Laws – Visit the official website for the Texas Penal Code and find more information about capital murder and other related offenses. Learn the different types of homicide, what separates murder and capital murder, and their potential statutory penalties.
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty – Visit the official website for the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) a non-profit whose mission to repeal the death penalty in the state of Texas. Find more information about their upcoming events, upcoming news regarding the death penalty, and death penalty statistics in Texas.
Lawyer for Capital Murder Charges in Bexar County, Texas
The outcome of a capital murder trial can be the difference between life and death. There is no room for hesitancy or inexperience with a capital felony offense. If your or someone you know has been charged with capital murder, it’s crucial that you act now.
The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr are passionate about their defending their client’s rights. Our attorneys have worked previously with the Innocence Project and have handled numerous capital murder cases. Our attorneys have decades of collective experience and resources in Texas criminal courts system. Find an attorney who is familiar with capital felony offenses with Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr.
The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr represent those accused of manslaughter, murder, or capital murder throughout Bexar County and surrounding counties including Kendall County, Medina County, Guadalupe County, Travis County, and Wilson County.
Call now at (210) 226-1463 to schedule a free consultation surrounding your charges today.
This article was last updated on November 7, 2018.