For many people, there is no criminal charge more serious than murder. Murder is a form of criminal homicide, which involves someone ending the life of another person. Prosecuting someone for murder is a way for the state to create accountability for personal behavior and to seek justice on the part of the deceased and their surviving family members.
Unfortunately, in the eager pursuit of justice, innocent people sometimes wind up wrongfully implicated in the death of another person. Those accused of murder are often afraid of the consequences, given that Texas is a capital punishment state. Defendants might consider pleading guilty to a crime they didn’t commit out of fear of the possible sentence.
Knowing some of the different defense strategies available can help people make a more rational decision when responding to pending charges.
Find ways to challenge the evidence or the arrest
The evidence presented by a prosecutor has to be strong enough to convince a jury of someone’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that a defense strategy only has to generate a reasonable doubt about the accuracy of the prosecutor’s case to be successful.
You may be able to challenge evidence because of improper handling, contamination or even questions about the validity of the state’s interpretation of the evidence. You could also challenge the arrest if police officers did something inappropriate before or during the arrest. Even a confession might not be admissible in court in some cases, like if an officer did not Mirandize someone under arrest before interrogating them.
Assert an affirmative defense
Perhaps you did what the state alleges but were not acting with criminal intent. Perhaps your actions were actually self-defense. An affirmative defense involves conceding that you did what the prosecutor alleges but creating a different narrative that makes your actions no longer criminal.
Undermine the state’s theory of the crime
Prosecuting a murder means creating a story with a specific timeline of events. If you can pull apart pieces of that story, you can potentially demonstrate your innocence. For example, if you can prove you were meeting up with an old friend for lunch at the time of the alleged offense, demonstrating that you weren’t present could be enough to prove you didn’t commit the crime.
You could also try to go through medical records or other personal documents that you are not capable of committing the crime in question. Showing that your background or relationship with the deceased person is different than what the prosecutor claims could also help.