Austin Homicide Attorney
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Homicide – the intentional act of taking another person’s life – is a severe offense in all states. Texas law in particular recognizes four primary categories of homicide: murder, capital murder, manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide. The exact penalties depend on the nature of the act and its circumstances; the more deliberate and heinous the killing, the more severe the punishment. Lance Kennedy, an experienced homicide attorney in Austin, is here to help you navigate these serious charges and provide the resources you need to get your life back.
Murder and its Legal Implications
In Texas, a defendant commits murder if they intentionally or knowingly cause the death of another person, intend to cause serious bodily injury that results in death, or commits a dangerous act while attempting to or committing a felony. This last scenario is known as the “felony-murder” rule, which applies in instances such as when a defendant fleeing a robbery strikes and kills a pedestrian.
As your homicide defense attorney, Lance Kennedy comprehends the intricacies of these laws. He understands that a conviction for murder can result in a prison sentence ranging from five to 99 years, or even life imprisonment. With the help of a proficient homicide lawyer, you’ll have a fighting chance against these severe penalties. Know more about Lance Kennedy and how he can help you get your life back.
Capital Murder and its Consequences
Capital murder, a more specific type of homicide, occurs under limited circumstances. These can include:
• When the defendant kills a peace officer or fireman who was acting in the lawful discharge of official duty, and the defendant knew the person to be a peace officer or fireman;
• When the murder occurs during the course of committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat;
• When the murder is committed as a “murder-for-hire,”;
• When more than one person is murdered, either as part of the same criminal act or according to a scheme of conduct or plan; or
• When the defendant murders a child under six years of age.
The major difference between murder and capital murder lies in the penalties: a conviction of capital murder can lead to life imprisonment or execution. However, with Lance Kennedy as your homicide defense lawyer by your side, you can present the strongest defense possible.
Manslaughter and Criminally Negligent Homicide
Texas law defines manslaughter as recklessly causing the death of another individual. Manslaughter occurs when the defendant kills another “recklessly.” “Recklessness” exists where there is a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a death will occur. The defendant must be aware of this risk but disregards the risk. The defendant’s act must represent a gross deviation from the standard of care an ordinary person would have exercised under the circumstances. Suppose someone shot a loaded gun at a crowd but did not aim at anyone in particular or above the group. If someone is shot and dies from the wound, the State could prosecute this person for manslaughter. Courts will examine what a “reasonable person” acting in the defendant’s situation would have known and understood.
Criminally negligent homicide, on the other hand, occurs when a defendant should have been aware of a substantial risk but failed to recognize it, resulting in death. Both offenses carry their own sets of penalties, with manslaughter punishable by two to 20 years in prison, and criminally negligent homicide leading to a state jail term of 180 days to two years.
As a homicide attorney with experience in Texas law practice areas and federal law practice areas, Lance Kennedy is well-equipped to help you understand these charges and build a robust defense strategy to counteract them.
Criminally Negligent Homicide
Criminally negligent homicide occurs when the defendant kills another due to “criminal negligence.” “Criminal negligence” exists where the defendant is unaware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm but, under the circumstances, should have been aware of the risk.
Suppose two friends are “playing guns” by aiming and pulling the triggers of guns the defendant believes are unloaded. The defendant is likely engaging in criminal negligence. Suppose the defendant’s gun is loaded and the other friend dies. In that case, the State can prosecute the defendant for criminally negligent homicide. Again, the court will examine what a “reasonable person” in the defendant’s situation would have understood and what they would be aware of.
Criminally negligent homicide can be punished by a state jail term of 180 days and two years.
Defenses to Homicide Charges
Defendants charged with homicide offenses might be justified in killing another person if they acted in self-defense or defense of another person. Generally, a person has the right to use force against an aggressor who is attacking the person, is committing or is threatening to commit certain crimes against the person, or who enter the person’s residence.
There are significant limitations to this right to self-defense:
• The person must not be the aggressor in the confrontation. In other words, Person A cannot attack Person B and then claim self-defense when he kills Person B when Person B responds with violence (unless Person B responds with deadly force);
• The person cannot claim self-defense where the other person only engaged in the verbal provocation. In other words, a defendant cannot punch or batter someone who hurls insults at the person.
• The force used must be proportionate and reasonable under the circumstances. A person is not entitled to claim self-defense if they stab an attacker multiple times with a knife when the other person punches the person.
• Deadly force is only authorized when deadly force is threatened against the person, when used to prevent the imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery, or when used against a person who unlawfully and with force enters your home, your vehicle, or your place of work.
The defendant must have a reasonable belief that the use of force – as well as the particular level of force used – is warranted and justified under the circumstances. The judge or jury looks at this objectively. Suppose a reasonable person in the same situation would not have felt imminently threatened or the use of deadly force was called for (for instance). In that case, the defendant may not escape criminal liability by claiming self-defense. It is immaterial what the defendant believed.
A defendant is also justified in using deadly force when used in defense of a third person when:
• The defendant reasonably believes the third person would be justified in using self-defense; and
• The defendant reasonably believes their immediate intervention is needed to protect the third person.
Again, the court or jury will judge the reasonableness of the defendant’s actions on an “objective, reasonable person” standard. Suppose a reasonable person would not have had the defendant’s beliefs in the same circumstances. In that case, this defense will not justify a homicide – regardless of the defendant’s subjective beliefs.
Every accused individual has the right to present a defense. A reliable homicide defense attorney like Lance Kennedy will explore the possibility of justifiable self-defense or defense of another person. However, the right to self-defense comes with specific limitations and requirements that need careful navigation. Lance Kennedy, as your committed homicide lawyer and criminal defense attorney, can guide you through this legal process.
Lance Kennedy Law: Homicide Defense Lawyer in Central Texas
If you’re facing homicide charges in Central Texas counties, including Hays County, Guadalupe County, Travis County, or Bexar County, Lance Kennedy is here to assist you. With extensive experience as a homicide defense lawyer, Lance Kennedy can provide you with a robust legal defense. Get your FREE case review by Lance Kennedy today.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What should I do if I am accused of homicide?
If you are accused of homicide, the first thing you should do is contact Lance Kennedy, your homicide attorney, immediately. You have the right to remain silent and the right to legal representation. Do not discuss your case with anyone other than your attorney.
Can a homicide defense attorney handle cases involving different degrees of homicide charges?
Absolutely. A proficient homicide defense lawyer like Lance Kennedy is equipped to handle all degrees of homicide charges, from manslaughter to capital murder.
What are the potential penalties for homicide convictions?
Penalties for homicide convictions vary depending on the degree of the charge. Murder can lead to 5 to 99 years in prison or life imprisonment, capital murder can result in life imprisonment or execution, manslaughter is punishable by two to 20 years in prison, and criminally negligent homicide can lead to a state jail term of 180 days to two years.
The complexity of homicide cases necessitates the guidance of a competent homicide defense attorney. If you are facing such charges, homicide lawyer Lance Kennedy is ready to help protect your rights and your future.
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