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Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyers for Homicide, Manslaughter, and Murder Charges

If you were charged with manslaughter or homicide in Texas, contact Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian immediately to speak with an experienced and aggressive defense team. We might be able to represent you in your case and try to get the charges against you reduced or dropped.

Homicide is a broad term referring to multiple types of criminal offenses. Manslaughter and murder fall under this category but involve different circumstances. A conviction for either crime can destroy your life. You might spend the rest of your life or years behind bars.

Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian is passionate about advocating for our clients. We will investigate your case and create a defense to try to reach the best possible outcome in your situation. Call us at (972) 369-0577 for a consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Types of Criminal Homicide in Texas

Chapter 19 of the Texas Penal Code defines criminal homicide as recklessly, intentionally, or knowingly or with criminal negligence causing someone’s death. There are four types of criminal homicide under state law.


A person murders if they:

  • Cause someone’s death by committing an act that clearly endangers human life and intends to cause serious bodily injury;
  • Intentionally or knowingly cause an individual’s death; or
  • Attempt to commit or commit a felony other than manslaughter that is clearly dangerous to human life, leading to a person’s death during or in the immediate flight from the attempt or commission.

Capital Murder

Capital murder is another type of homicide that occurs when someone commits murder and:

  • Kills a peace officer or fireman acting in the lawful discharge of their official duty knowing they are a peace officer or fireman;
  • Intentionally murders while attempting to commit or committing arson, kidnapping, terroristic threat, burglary, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or retaliation or obstruction;
  • Commits murder for the promise of payment or for payment or employs someone to murder for payment or the promise of payment;
  • Kills an individual while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;
  • While incarcerated in a penal institution, murders someone employed in operating the penal institution or with the intent of maintaining, participating in, or establishing a combination or in profits of a combination;
  • Kills someone while incarcerated for murder or capital murder or murders a person while serving a 99-year or life prison term for aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, or aggravated robbery;
  • Murders more than one person during the same criminal act or a different criminal act, but the murder relates to the same course of conduct or scheme;
  • Kills someone under 10;
  • Murders an individual at least ten years old but younger than 15; or
  • Murders another person on account of or in retaliation for their status of service as a judge or justice of the supreme court, a district court, a statutory county court, a court of appeals, the court of criminal appeals, a municipal court, a constitutional county court, a criminal district court, or a justice court.


Manslaughter involves recklessly causing a person’s death. Intent is not a factor in this crime. Instead, the prosecutor must prove the offender acted recklessly. For example, drunk driving is reckless and can lead to a manslaughter charge if the driver gets into an accident and kills someone.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

State law defines criminally negligent homicide as causing someone’s death by criminal negligence. That means engaging in behavior involving circumstances a person should know carry unjustifiable and substantial risk.

For example, accidentally killing someone while playing with a firearm or driving recklessly can lead to a criminally negligent homicide charge.

Penalties for Criminal Homicide in Texas

penalties criminal homicide in texasSentencing for criminal homicide depends on the type a person commits.

Murder is a first-degree felony, punishable by:

  • Up to a $10,000 fine
  • Five to 99 years or life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

If the defendant can prove they caused someone’s death under the immediate influence of sudden passion due to an adequate cause, the charge drops to a second-degree felony. Sentencing can include no more than a $10,000 fine and two to 20 years in prison.

Sudden passion means passion resulting from provocation or caused by the person killed or someone acting with that person. The passion must arise when the crime occurs and not from former provocation. Adequate cause refers to a cause that would commonly produce a degree of terror, rage, anger, or resentment in someone with an ordinary temper and that is sufficient to make them incapable of cool reflection.

Capital murder is a capital felony. Sentencing depends on whether the state seeks the death penalty. If the case involves the death penalty, the sentence can include death or life without parole in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

When the state doesn’t pursue the death penalty, the punishment will depend on the offender’s age when they committed the crime. Someone under 18, when the offense occurred, will face life imprisonment. If at least 18 at the time of the offense, the offender will serve life in prison without parole.

Manslaughter is a second-degree felony with penalties including the following:

  • Between two and 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
  • No more than a $10,000 fine

Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony. Sentencing can include:

  • A maximum of a $10,000 fine
  • 180 days to two years in state jail

The offense becomes a third-degree felony if:

  • The defendant has a previous felony conviction for continuous trafficking of persons, continuous sexual abuse of a young child or disabled individual, or a crime under Article 42A.054(a) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure; or
  • With a judgment containing an affirmative finding under Article 42A.054(c) or (d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

A third-degree felony can lead to penalties such as:

  • A fine not to exceed $10,000
  • Two to ten years in prison

Defense Strategies for Homicide, Manslaughter, and Murder Charges

strategizing defense in texas for manslaughterThe defense strategy most beneficial to your case will depend on the charge and circumstances of the crime. One of the most common defenses is self-defense.

According to Texas Penal Code § 9.31, a person can use force against someone else when and to the degree they reasonably believe it is necessary to protect themselves from the other person’s attempted use or use of unlawful force.

Other defenses against homicide, manslaughter, and murder charges include:

  • Defense of others
  • Alibi placing the defendant somewhere else when the offense occurred
  • Constitutional violations, such as illegal search and seizure
  • Wrongfully or incorrectly identified as the perpetrator
  • Accidental death
  • Insanity

Contact an Experienced Collin County Defense Lawyer Today

Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian understands your life and future are on the line. You need to call us as soon as possible so we can start preparing your legal defense. When your freedom is at stake, you can count on our team to dedicate the necessary time and resources to fight for you.

If you were arrested or charged with murder, manslaughter, or homicide, call Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian at (972) 369-0577 for your consultation now.

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Written by: Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian Last Updated : August 14, 2023