Austin Attempted Murder Lawyer
Providing Aggressive Defense to Attempted Murder Charges Texas
Have you been arrested and charged with attempted murder in Texas? The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC are here for you. We will clarify your legal options and can help ensure you are well defended and that your rights are protected.
Attempted murder is one of the most serious crimes behind homicide that an individual can be charged with in Texas. As a result, an attempted murder charge and conviction can severely impact someone's life even if they are not required to spend most of their life in prison. Due to the severity of an attempted murder charge, you may be thinking:
- How does attempted murder occur?
- What does the prosecution have to prove to convict someone of attempted murder?
- What are the penalties for attempted murder?
- What are possible defenses for attempted murder?
Legal Definition of Attempted Murder in Texas
Under Texas law, some crimes are considered specific intent crimes, requiring an individual to commit the crime intentionally. However, in the case of attempted murder, reckless disregard for another person's life may also result in an attempted murder charge. However, proving attempted murder because of recklessness is more difficult than proving intent.
What Is the Penal Code for Attempted Murder Charges in Texas?
In Texas, there are no attempted statutes; instead, the attempted crime is one degree lower than the offense the defendant attempted to commit. Therefore, attempted murder is one degree lower than murder. Under Texas law Section 19.02, murder is a felony of the first degree unless the defendant was under a sudden passion arising from an adequate cause; then, the charge would be a second-degree felony. Furthermore, if any deadly weapon is used while committing attempted murder, then the penalty increases to life imprisonment or even death depending on individual circumstances.
Elements of Murder
In Texas, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did the following:
- Intentionally or knowingly kills another person;
- Intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act that is clearly dangerous to human life and causes the death of an individual; or
- Commits a felony or attempts to commit an act that is clearly dangerous to human life and causes an individual's death.
Under Texas law, sudden passion means emotion that is caused by a provocation by the individual who is killed or someone who is with the person who is killed.
Adequate cause means someone that would reasonably cause anger, rage, resentment, or terror in a person with an ordinary temper.
Elements of Attempted Murder in Texas
In Texas, attempted murder is defined as an up-tilted act with the intent of killing another person. Attempt crimes do not have separate statutes; therefore, for a defendant to be convicted of attempted murder, the prosecution must prove that the defendant tried to commit the elements of murder but failed to do so. For example, suppose someone shoots another person in the head, and doctors miraculously save the individual. In that case, the prosecution must prove the elements of murder and show that the defendant merely failed to cause death.
To be convicted with attempted murder in Texas, four elements must be proven:
- Criminal intent - the individual attempted to kill another with willful purpose as opposed to recklessness or negligence.
- Specific prohibited act - when there is evidence of an attempt to cause death or serious bodily injury.
- Causation - establishes a connection between the attempted murder and the consequences—this helps demonstrate that the attempted murder led to attempted harm even if it was never ultimately completed.
- Lack of consummation - shows that although the perpetrator attempted to commit murder, they did not succeed in doing so which seeks to minimize their sentence.
Understanding these elements will help anyone facing allegations of attempted murder in Texas comprehend what needs to be established for proving this crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
What are the Penalties for Attempted Murder in Texas?
In Texas, attempted murder is seen as a serious crime with graver consequences than attempted manslaughter. Depending on the underlying offense, attempted murder may result in either a second-degree or third-degree felony. For example, if the underlying offense would have been a murder caused by sudden passion arising out of an adequate cause, the defendant would likely be charged with a third-degree attempted murder charge.
- Second-Degree Felony: A second-degree attempted murder conviction may result in up to a minimum of two years or up to twenty years in prison. In addition to the prison sentence, an individual can also be required to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
- Third-Degree Felony: A third-degree attempted murder conviction may result in between two to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Additionally, if charged with attempted murder, it's possible that the individual may see enhancements or additional punishments due to any prior criminal history. In addition to the prison sentence and fines that a defendant may be required to pay, there are penalties following release from jail that may occur, such as community service and parole. No matter the attempted crime, attempted murder carries serious penalties in TX and should be taken seriously by anyone accused of such an offense.
Parole in Texas
Parole is considered a discretionary release of someone from prison and enables the parolee to serve the rest of the prison sentence under what is considered community supervision. During parole, the individual will have specific rules and regulations that they must abide by or risk being sent back to prison. For example, during parole, an individual will be required to do the following:
- Follow all federal and state laws;
- Reporting to the assigned parole officer;
- Not leave the state without written consent from the parole officer;
- Avoid other felons;
- Avoid possession of a firearm; and
- Follow other rules specific to the individual's parole, including community service, random drug tests, etc.
Failure to follow any of the above rules or any rules specific to the individual grant for parole will result in parole being revoked and the parolee being returned to prison. Additionally, the parole board may be less likely to grant parole in the future, even if the individual is eligible.
Generally, an individual may be eligible for parole after serving twenty-five (25) percent of their sentence. However, in some instances, such as for aggravated offenses, the individual must serve fifty (50) percent of their sentence. For example, if the individual is convicted for attempted murder and is found that they must serve fifty (50) percent of their sentence before being eligible for parole and they are sentenced to 20 years in prison, they may be eligible for parole after serving ten (10) years.
Factors Considered by the Parole Board
Several factors may be considered by the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons, which include, but are not limited to the following:
- The nature of the offense the inmate was convicted;
- The inmate’s criminal history;
- The length of time the inmate was in prison;
- The inmate’s willingness to participate in programs while in prison;
- The inmate’s education level;
- The inmate’s age;
- The inmate’s family support; and
- Whether the inmate is likely to commit another crime in the future.
Is Attempted Murder Hard to Prove?
Proving attempted murder can be complex and difficult, as prosecutors must be able to demonstrate that the defendant had specific intent to harm or even kill another person. In essence, proving that a crime was actually attempted requires proving an intent to commit the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Essentially, prosecutors have to prove that the defendant fully intended to carry out their plan, even if the plan itself was never fully acted upon. This requires looking into specific aspects of both circumstantial evidence as well as any motive or premeditation that may have been present in order to build a solid case for proving intent.
Defenses to Attempted Murder
Several defenses are available to a defendant when fighting a charge of attempted murder, a knowledgeable and experienced defense team will be able to review the facts of a case and determine the most strategic defense. Some potential defenses include:
- The “Castle Doctrine”
Self-Defense or Defense of Others
Under Texas law, an individual is entitled to use reasonable force to protect himself or another person against a threat of imminent harm or death. Self-defense would not be an available defense if the individual did not believe they or someone else would sustain an imminent bodily injury. For example, if someone threatens to kill someone but has no means or ability to do so at the time of the threat, using force against them is not legal. On the other hand, if someone is waving a gun and threatening to kill someone, so the defendant shoots the defendant, and they survive, self-defense will be a viable defense against an attempted murder charge.
Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground in Texas
The Castle Doctrine allows someone to use deadly force when defending themselves from an intruder in their home. This doctrine has been expanded by the stand your ground law which allows someone to use deadly force against another person when they believe they are in imminent danger. Under the stand your ground, an individual is no longer required to retreat, if possible. Instead, they can stand their ground and use deadly force if their life or another person's life is in imminent danger. Therefore, if someone was attempting to rob a store and the defendant believed their life or the cashier's life was in imminent danger, so they shot the robber, they could use the stand-your-ground defense against their attempted murder charge.
Abandonment of Plan to Kill
The abandonment defense is available if the defendant freely and voluntarily abandoned their plan to kill the individual before taking direct action. Abandonment is an affirmative defense that the burden is on the defendant to show that they met all the requirements to successfully abandon the crime.
Provocation into the Crime
Provocation is a partial defense to attempted murder, meaning that if the victim of the attempted murder provoked the defendant into the crime, then the offense will be reduced because it resulted from a sudden passion arising from an adequate cause. Similar to abandonment, provocation is an affirmative defense meaning that it is the defendant's burden to show that they were provoked.
What Is the Statute of Limitation on Attempted Murder in Texas?
In Texas, the statute of limitations for attempted murder is three years. This statute was enacted to ensure that a fair and legal trial can take place, as evidence can diminish over time. Without a statute of limitations, it would be possible for individuals to be charged with attempted murder decades after the event took place without any solid evidence proving guilt. Thus, if someone is suspected of attempted murder in Texas and are not brought to court within the three-year period from the time of the incident, they cannot be charged with attempted murder in that state on statute of limitations grounds.
Get Help from our Attempted Murder Attorneys in Austin, Texas
The criminal defense attorneys here at Cofer & Connelly, PLLC have a track record of successfully defending individuals against attempted murder charges. Our success is due to our ability to defend our clients strategically and aggressively. Do not assume that just any attorney will be able to effectively handle your attempted murder case.
Make the right call by reaching out to our highly skilled and professional team of attempted murder lawyers. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us by calling (512) 991-0576 or by filling out a form online.
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