On the broad continuum of criminal offenses, situations that cost someone their life are inarguably among the most serious. When one person does something that claims the life of another human being, not only does the victim lose their future, but their entire community loses out on everything that person would have done in their life.
Deaths can occur because of all kinds of situations, some of which are intentional and others that are accidental. It will be the official narrative around the circumstances that led to someone’s death that will determine how the Texas Courts charge the person involved. The person the states alleges is responsible for the death will likely face either homicide or manslaughter charges.
Manslaughter charges stem from negligence rather than intent
When someone commits a violent criminal act, they’re intent or reason for doing so is often a significant factor in how the state penalizes the crime. There are situations where a person had no intention of causing harm to other people that eventually lead to someone’s death.
Drunk driving would be an example. A person who gets behind the wheel after a few too many beers might just want to take their car home and fall asleep. They may not realize how impaired they are or have any desire to hurt anyone. However, if they fall asleep at the wheel and strike a pedestrian, the state might charge them with manslaughter because their negligent behavior directly contributed to someone death.
Manslaughter charges in Texas are second-degree felony offenses that can carry up to 20 years in jail and as much as $10,000 in fines.
Murder charges reflect a desire to cause harm
If the state charges someone with murder and not manslaughter, they effectively imply that they believe there was an intent to cause harm, rather than just a negligent mistake that led to harm.
Murder doesn’t always stem from straightforward circumstances like an attack with a deadly weapon. Murder could also stem from a physical altercation that eventually proves deadly due to brain injuries suffered by one party. Different factors will influence the kind of murder charges, but they will typically be a first-degree felony that can result in up to life in prison.
There are many circumstances that can lead to either murder or manslaughter charges. Knowing the difference can make it easier for you to find the right way to defend yourself against pending charges.